Silver Antibiotic, Rediscovered

July 01, 2013

Silver Antibiotic, Rediscovered 

 Reference:  Science Translational Medicine,   

 This isn’t a huge study but it is very interesting.  Dr. Morones-Ramirez and colleagues show that silver makes some antibiotics work better when applied to mice with lab-induced gram-negative infections.   That’s interesting.  Silver was also shown to help break up biofilms in which bacteria can survive the effects of antibiotics.  Biofilms are layers of protein, cells and fibrin that form in parts of the body that antibiotics can’t easily penetrate.   I got interested when I heard a lecture on it from the PhD of Microbiology for NASA who is worried about bacterial resistance on the space station.  It’s a problem having resistance on 2-year missions to Mars. 

 How does silver work?  In very delicate suspension where silver is formulated with just 4-5 atoms together, it can penetrate bacterial, fungal, and viral membranes and denature their DNA.  There is no resistance to that.  Human (and all mammal) membranes resist silver penetration so we are not prone to DNA damage.  We are plagued with antibiotic resistance right now and are running out of effective antibiotics. This makes silver a big deal.  And it’s not new.  Roman soldiers used to put a silver coin in their animal skin water bottles so that no bacteria would grow and the water would stay fresh.  American soldiers in Afghanistan have silver in their uniforms so that, if injured, they have silver applied to their wound early.  Emergency doctors have applied silver sulfadiazine to burns for the last century. You can make those silver suspensions at home but you risk making formulations that don’t have the delicate balance of just a few atoms. 

When you take too much colloidal silver, you risk turning “blue”.  (Scroll down).   Other than the blue color, silver is not exactly toxic.  For those who haven’t seen Smurfs before, they are real. But it’s pretty clear that the stuff works.  Giving it IV is quite a delicate matter as it lasts just seconds and has to be infused very slowly so as not to damage your red cells with the water it’s suspended in.  It only last about 10-15 seconds in your blood before it is all taken up and disposed of. When properly formulated, you can take about 50 ccs a day, every day of your life and only get to 10% of toxicity – because the effective proper dose is so dilute. 

 Silver has been around a long time.  Why isn’t it being used more?  Several reasons are likely. First, it’s very hard to give internally as it has to be given so slowly and carefully.  My belief is more focused on the second reason.  The amount you give is so tiny, you are getting such miniscule amounts that it doesn’t cost much, and hence has no profit attached.  You can’t patent a mineral.  Not many pharmaceutical companies want to pursue a strategy with little profit. 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  I’ve tried a couple of treatments on myself.  I got two identical blisters on both my feet from an imprudent 5-mile hike in Crocs with no socks.  The silver-treated side got better in half the time.  So, I keep a tube of it around the house.  I’m pretty sure I won’t turn blue with that dosing, but I’m not throwing out my silver polish just yet.  If you want to give it a try, we have it in the office for sale.  It’s cheap and soothing.  Now, the oral stuff, that’s another whole story.   

 Pop Quiz 

 1.   Silver coins can be used to prevent infections.  T or F                            Probably false.  Romans used to carry a coin in their animal skin water bottles to prevent water going bad, but that's the best we know.  There are reports of Roman soldiers looting water bottles instead of weapons.  Priorities, you know. 

 2.  Silver can penetrate the membranes of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.  T or F                    Answer:   True. That's how it works. 

 3.  Mammalian membranes aren't penetrated by silver.  T or F                         Answer:  True. 

 4.  We have used silver in modern medicine in burn units, in newborn eye drops, and other topical antibiotics?  T or F                        Answer:  True 

 5.  Too much silver ingested orally with improperly prepared solutions can lead you to look like Papa Smurf.  T or F                           True. Strange, but true. 

 6.  Silver may have some promise as a future IV antibiotic.  T or F                        Answer:.May. We need something if we keep running out of antibiotics.

Column written by Dr John Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield,WI.