Argyria is extremely rare and associated with ingestion of large quantities
of soluble silver compounds or salts. The individual described here is the
poster child for argyria because she was given silver salts in very high
concentrations as nose drops when she was a child. It is virtually
impossible to acquire argyria from CS preparations on the market today. Mild
silver protein is more concentrated and less effective. The best form is
electrochemically prepared silver in distilled water. It's quite easy to
make your own. Argyria has been reported in patients who have silver
catheters inserted for prolonged periods. Why are catheters made from
silver? Because it is a broad spectrum antimicrobial. Silver sulfadiazene
cream saves hundred of burn victims every year. The FDA knows silver is safe
and effective for fighting infection. They only recognize products that are
produced by pharmaceutical companies. Where's the fraud?
Anyone got any comment as to the validity of this?
The Silver Supplement Fraud
Guess who took the colloidal silver (CS)? Rosemary did. That's why she is
slate-gray. The condition is called argyria. It is irreversible and cannot
be covered by makeup.
Actually, Rosemary's doctor in New York prescribed CSP for her back in the
fifties as a treatment for allergies. It was sold as a drug then. Today it
is sold as a dietary supplement. You can find it in "health food" stores and
on the Internet. You can even buy the equipment to make your own. It was
snake oil when it was given to Rosemary. It is snake oil now.
The only thing Rosemary recommends CSP for is a gray skin dye. She knows
that it is safe, effective, and permanent when used for that purpose. She
also knows that being a gray person in a black and white world can have a
serious negative impact on your social and economic life.
Promoters claim that CSP prevents and cures 650 diseases including Aids and
cancer. They say that people with even a trace of silver in their bodies
don't get sick!
Both Rosemary and the FDA have asked them for their proof. All they get are
quotes from old quacks who manufactured the stuff at the turn of the
century, misquotes from reputable authors and wonderful anecdotes. "I've
taken it everyday for four years and feel great," the saleslady says.
The only problem Rosemary has with the anecdotes is that they are
selectively chosen to sell CSP. The promoters refuse to include her negative
anecdotes or those of all the other argyric people recorded in the medical
literature. Rosemary had breast cancer at the age of 42. The silver in her
body made her face so gray that the nurses in pre-op thought that she was in
cardiac arrest! The promoters won't tell you this though.
The FDA has told the promoters that if they want to continue making medical
claims for CSP they will have to first have it approved as a drug. Of
course, that doesn't stop them from selling the stuff as a "dietary
supplement." It just prevents them from legally writing their claims on the
label or putting them in their ads.
And, oh yes, if you do decide to use CSP, have the product analysed by an
independent lab. According to the dietary supplement industry itself, a lot
of the stuff tested that is labelled colloidal silver really isn't. You see
"dietary supplements," thanks to intense industry lobbying are unregulated
by any government agency. So very often what is on the label isn't in the
bottle. In fact, what is in the bottle may even be something more toxic than
CSP. Buyer beware!
P.S. Rosemary will gladly provide you with documentation and references.
Just ask! <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here's Rosemary's story in her words...
For forty years I tried to blend into the crowd, but when I discovered that
the quacks were back, I knew that I couldn't do that anymore. I had to stand
up and shout, "Look at me! I'm gray." I had to warn the public. A local
newspaper broke my story with the headline, "The silver woman from Long
Island. The face that no one forgets."
I wasn't always gray. I was born white in Brooklyn, New York, in 1942. When
I was eleven years old, my mother mentioned to an MD -- an eye, ear, nose
and throat specialist on Long Island -- that I always had a cold. He told
her that it had to be allergies and prescribed nose drops that contained
silver with instructions to take them "intermittently as needed."
Rosemary, Mom, the family dog
Right after starting high school at the age of 14, my friends and I
volunteered to work in the local hospital as "candy stripers." The hospital
was run by a Catholic order of nursing sisters who required that all new
volunteers attend a class at their convent once a week on Saturday mornings.
The nun who gave the course was also a nurse and a pharmacist. One morning
when I walked in she was very startled by my appearance.
"Why are you that color?" she asked. What color? No one had noticed that my
color was weird until then. She repeated, "Why are you that color? Ask the
doctor." Suddenly everyone noticed. I was slate-gray. We had a family
friend, a general practitioner, who made an appointment for me to see a
dermatologist. Meanwhile, Saturday rolled around again and I went back to
class. This time Sister greeted me with, "You're taking nose drops, aren't
you?" I told her I was. "Stop," she said. "They have silver in them. That's
why you're gray."
She had seen another nursing sister at the hospital with the same skin
discoloration which was also caused by nose drops, probably from the same
doctor who was on their staff. The dermatologist took one look at me and
diagnosed argyria - a permanent, irreversible skin discoloration caused by
the ingestion of silver.
A biopsy confirmed the diagnosis showing all the little specks of silver in
my skin. Unfortunately, that is the only information that I have ever been
able to get about the drug that disfigured me. No one ever sued doctors back
When as a young adult I had difficulty getting jobs because people didn't
like my appearance, the lawyers I consulted told me that New York is one of
the few states with a statute of limitations on malpractice suits. I never
really wanted to sue the doctor. He was a good person who made a tragic
mistake. He read the ads from drug companies instead of the medical
All kinds of silver medicinals, as well as many other dubious and noxious
drugs, were used by desperate physicians before the advent of antibiotics.
Any student of history can tell you how ineffective they were.
Colloidal silver (CSP) is not a new alternative remedy. It is an old,
discarded traditional one that homeopaths and other people calling
themselves "alternative health-care practitioners" have pulled out of the
garbage pail of useless and dangerous drugs and therapies, things mainstream
medicine threw away decades ago.
In 1935 Gaul & Staud wrote about colloidal silver in The Journal of the
American Medical Association (JAMA), "The alarming increase of argyrosis
leaves little doubt as to our purpose in this report. There has been an
accumulation of indubitable clinical evidence which makes it imperative to
present before those who prescribe, dispense or use these drugs the danger
entailed therein...The obvious responsibility for this injudicious
medication rests with the circularized advertisements by the various
manufacturers to the physicians;" (4)
In 1940 Bryant added, "Conscientious observers in the field of
otolaryngology can no longer doubt the occurrence of generalized argyria
caused by intranasal silver medications," and "A persistent indifferent
attitude to this on the part of otolaryngologist might be condoned if it
were possible through the use of such medication to achieve beneficial
results for the patient which could not be achieved other wise, but quite
the contrary is the case."
He goes on to state that these silver preparations should be supplanted by a
weak ephedrine or neosynephrin in an isotonic solution. (5) He continues,
"The use of silver-containing nasal medication over even a few weeks is
dangerous and accomplishes nothing that cannot be accomplished safely and
more efficiently by other means." (6)
The New Old Miracle
In 1995 I discovered that CSP, one of the drugs that causes argyria, was
again being aggressively promoted. It was being sold over the Internet where
you could buy equipment to make your own, in "health food stores" and by
MLMs (multilevel marketers). Promoters were claiming that silver is an
"essential mineral" and that even a trace amount in the body prevents
serious illness. They also claimed that it was a pre-1938 OTC
(over-the-counter drug) that cures 650 specific conditions and diseases such
as cancer, AIDS, acne, and lupus. They passed off their promotional material
on the Internet and in books and magazines as if it were the gospel truth.
I thought the promoters were ignorant people who had made a terrible
mistake, but when I contacted several of them and discovered that they were
not interested in hearing my story, they would not change their ads and they
refused to include my negative anecdotes along with their positive ones, I
knew that they weren't ignorant.
They were quacks who were deliberately lying to sell their product.
The response I got from the owner of a store that sells the stuff was pretty
typical. I told him that my skin is gray from the ingestion of silver adding
that silver in my body has never benefited me. I had breast cancer at the
age of 42. In the year that I was born, 1942, a Dr. Levine wrote an article
in the New England Journal of Medicine stating that all doctors had seen
cases of argyria, but it was rarely reported in the medical literature. (7)
In searching that literature for thirty years I have never found any
evidence that silver in a person's body benefits anyone other than the quack
who sold it.
If, in fact, it did do all the wonderful things that the promoters claim,
Queen Victoria and the Rockefellers would still be alive and they would be
gray like me.
I gave the merchant a fist full of medical literature to substantiate my
claims and asked for proof that the product he sold with the colloidal
silver label on it was in fact safe and effective for something, anything. I
wanted to know how he knew that it actually did all the great things claimed
and how he knew that it wouldn't cause argyria. He said he'd have to contact
his supplier and get back to me.
When he phoned and said that he had the material I had requested, he added
that he didn't think it would interest me.
How wrong he was.
He wasn't there when I went to pick it up. His wife, visibly uncomfortable
with me in the store, seemed to be hoping that I'd glance at the "evidence"
and leave. Instead, I asked if I could take it next door to copy.
Reluctantly, she agreed.
What a gold mine that turned out to be. The same names, Dr. Henry Crookes,
Sir Malcolm Morris, A. Legge Roe, and R.J. Hartman -- to name a few -- kept
popping up in all the promotional material. While most promoters pretended
that these people were contemporary researchers, some of the material that
the store owner gave me contained citations with dates. These "authors" were
I went to the nearest medical history library and pulled the citations.
Henry Crookes was a pioneer CSP manufacturer in England at the turn of the
century. (8) He sold many different alleged colloidal preparations under the
Collosol trade name. (9) Collosol Argentum was the brand name of his
colloidal silver. (10) Malcolm Morris was rumored to be on his board of
In 1919 JAMA's Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry ruled that Collosol
Argentum, along with several other of the Crookes' Laboratory products, were
"inadmissible to New and Nonofficial Remedies," stating that "In the few
cases in which the therapeutic claims for these preparations were examined,
the claims were found to be so improbable or exaggerated as to have
necessitated the rejection of these products." (12)
Further down in the same article referring to Collosol Hydrargyrum and
Collosol Ferrum they said that, "If either of these preparations were
injected intravenously as directed, death might result, making the physician
morally if not legally liable." (13)
A. Legge Roe did write about the great success he had treating gonorrhoeal
opthamalia with collosol argentum. He also stated, "It is the most useful
preparation that has been placed in our hands since the introduction of
In 1939 Hartman, a chemist not a medical doctor, included a chapter on
colloids in medicine in his chemistry book. On p.536 he said that CSP is
safe enough to be put into the eyes and nose. He also stated on the same
page that, "Intramuscular injections of colloidally suspended lead are of
value in arresting certain cancerous growths." (15) His source for all the
material on colloids in medicine was Crookes Laboratories.
I felt as if I were doing quack genealogy. A quack quoting a quack quoting a
Misquoted Reputable Authors
Another article about silver that colloidal silver promoters often referred
to was one by Jim Powell which appeared in the March 1978 edition of the now
defunct popular magazine Science Digest. They always referred to it as "Our
Mightiest Germ Fighter."
When I tracked down the magazine, I discovered that the article didn't
mention colloidal silver and that the full title was, "Perhaps it soon will
be recognized as OUR MIGHTIEST GERM FIGHTER."
Why do you think promoters never mention the first half of the title? Could
it be because they know that the promise never materialized and they don't
want readers to find out?
Another reference constantly appearing in the quack promotional material is
the book ARGYRIA, (16) which truly is the definitive work on the subject. It
was written in 1939 by Hill and Pillsbury. Promoters say that it states that
"properly prepared colloidal silver" never caused argyria and that 95
percent of the cases resulted from silver nitrate.
What the book really says, and I'm probably one of the few people on earth
who has a copy, is that in a study of 214 cases for which data was
available, "silver nitrate is the responsible compound in over half the
cases. Again it must be pointed out that the number of cases due to other
compounds may be no real indication of their relative capacity for the
production of argyria, but rather an evidence of their popularity as a
medicinal agent." (17)
Regarding CSP, "It is impossible to make a definitive statement concerning
the amount of a colloidal silver compound which may be instilled into a body
cavity without the possibility of argyria." (18)
The authors called for further studies and warning labels on all silver
medicinals. (19) They also pointed out that it had never been determined
whether or not individual susceptibilities exist. Are some people more
likely to develop argyria than others? (20) We still don't know.
Hill & Pillsbury added, "there is no evidence indicating that the giving of
extremely small amounts of silver over a prolonged period in any way lessens
the danger of argyria from any given amount of silver compound." (21)
In 1975 Goodman & Gilman stated that, "There is no acceptable evidence that
the routine use of silver solutions for the prophylaxis of colds or other
respiratory tract infections is at all efficacious, and cases of argyria
have resulted from this practice. Fortunately, the colloidal silver
preparations are now in a deserved oblivion." (22)
There is no animal model for argyria. (23) It can take decades to develop.
(24) There have been reported cases in which it did not appear until several
years after the drug was discontinued. (25)
Silver workers have developed argyria, presumably from inhaling silver dust.
(26) One person's skin discoloration was caused by the electrolytic action
between a gold and a silver filing. Saliva caused the silver to go into
1990s Snake Oil
Contrary to promoters' claims, we still ingest silver in our diets. (28)
Some drinking water contains silver. At what concentration of silver does
drinking water turn into CSP? I've never been able to get a salesperson to
tell me this. Hopefully all they are really selling is very expensive,
distilled water, but no one knows for sure since CSP is now sold as a
"dietary supplement." As such it is unregulated by any government agency.
Only the manufacturer knows what's in the bottle.
On p. 26 of the April 1997 issue of Vegetarian Times, a magazine that
promotes supplements, it states that the National Nutritional Foods
Association (NNFA), a trade group in Newport Beach, CA, says that "some
metal colloid products have been found to be high in toxic metals such as
aluminum. Others have no detectable levels of the desirable metal listed on
the label." NNFA advises consumers taking colloidal silver to have it
analyzed by an independent laboratory.
A doctor told me that he had a bottle of CSP prepared by a pharmacist
analyzed and discovered that it was just very expensive tap water. I find it
very interesting that probably thousands of people are all reporting similar
wonderful health and medical benefits from products that only have one thing
in common, the labels all say "colloidal silver."
I believe this is ample proof that individuals and doctors are not capable
of determining whether or not a drug is safe and effective. Scientific
investigations start with anecdotal evidence, but they don't end there.