Have you met the ‘The Welsh Blue man of Ealing? I have to say I haven’t met him to speak to but I have seen him around in the street after a patient told me about him. He really does have a blue appearance!
It was reported in California that a man nicknamed Papa Smurf has revealed how he accidentally turned his skin permanently blue.
He suffered from stress-related dermatitis after his father’s death 14 years ago, and decided to treat it himself with home-made colloidal silver, an old medicine widely used before the discovery of penicillin.
But, he said, he has “no more acid reflux, no more sinus troubles; my arthritis went away.”
Silver was still found in some over-the-counter medicines in the US until it was banned in 1999 because it causes argyria – the condition which turns the skin blue.
My patient then told me how he had been using colloidal silver and was I aware of silver’s amazing medical properties. He had used it to cure conjunctivitis and several infected lacerations.
I recall from my basic chemistry that the chemical symbol for silver is Ag from the Latin argentum. Colloidal Silver is a mineral solution containing silver ions & very small charged silver particles suspended in a medium (distilled water). As the particles have the same electrostatic charge (Zeta potential), they repel each other and this keeps them in uniform suspension throughout the medium. This is why it is called a colloid. It is not a medicine, it is an antimicrobial mineral solution.From research, Colloidal silver seems to have natural antibiotic properties against biological one cell germs AND viruses. It helps to boost the immune system and acts as a second defence against infections.
Moreover, wound dressings which go under the name of Ag aquacel are used widely by nurses as they are excellent for healing severely infected leg ulcers, burns or wounds.
Silver has long been appreciated by the medical community. Hippocrates, “thefather of medicine,” knew of its healing and anti-disease properties. In World War I, before the advent of antibiotics, it was an important weapon against disease on the battlefield.
More recently, the FDA approved a breathing tube with a fine coating of silver, after it was established that it reduced the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia. And that’s just one example of the many roles silver plays in medicine today. It is also added to bandages and wound-dressings containing silver sulfadiazine or silver nanomaterials which treat external infections. It is used to line catheters it is effective in reducing catheter-related urinary tract infections as well as other medical instruments and is a key part of the technology behind X-rays.
The silver ion (Ag+) is bioactive and in sufficient concentration readily kills bacteria in vitro. Silver and silver nanoparticles are used as an antimicrobial in a variety of industrial, healthcare and domestic applications.
In 2007 M&S started selling Silver-lined pyjamas, which are designed with thin silver threads running through the material: the nightwear is worn to help prevent the spread of MRSA. Silver, known for its infection-fighting properties, is intended to act as a “fly swatter” for any harmful bacteria. Some were sceptical about how beneficial the garments were when they were introduced in 2007, and the idea hasn’t taken hospitals by storm, but the pyjamas are still being sold, particularly for young children.
In the past, for the upper classes, most cutlery/serving utensils were made of solid silver and it would be ingested and entered the blood stream. This is where the term “Blue bloods” comes from which is actually the silver content in their blood. Although there are other factors why the upper classes lived longer such as the ate well, had better sanitation, kept warm and as a result, the will to live!
Churches use silver chalices to prevent transmission of infection when taking communion. The thought of sharing wine between dozens of people would be an ideal way of spreading an infection. There is no recorded incident where this has happened & One would expect the media wouhave picked up on any medical issues arising from it.
The disparity of longevity between the upper and lower classes was quite considerable. The “Not so fortunate” drank and ate from pewter which because of the high lead content, would often cause poisoning.
HOW DOES SILVER WORK?
In metallic (elemental) form, silver is unreactive and cannot kill bacteria. To become bactericidal, silver atoms (denoted as Ag or Ag0) must lose an electron and become positively charged silver ions (Ag+). Elemental silver ionises in air, but ionises more readily when exposed to an aqueous environment such as wound exudate. In contrast, silver compounds contain positive silver ions bound to negatively charged ions or molecules. When exposed to aqueous environments, some of the silver ions become detached from the compound.
Silver ions are highly reactive and affect multiple sites within bacterial cells, ultimately causing bacterial cell death. They bind to bacterial cell membranes, causing disruption of the bacterial cell wall and cell leakage. Silver ions transported into the cell disrupt cell function by binding to proteins and interfering with energy production, enzyme function and cell replication.
Silver ions are active against a broad range of bacteria, fungi and virusesincluding many antibiotic- resistant bacteria, such as meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin- resistant Enterococci (VRE).
Studies of the effects of silver dressings on experimental models of biofilms have suggested that silver may reduce bacterial adhesion and destabilise the biofilm matrix, as well as kill bacteria within the matrix and increase susceptibility of bacteria to antibiotic.
Other effects of silver
Some laboratory studies have suggested that silver may have beneficial effects on wound healing other than the control of bioburden alone. For example, silver nitrate, nanocrystalline silver, and some silver-containing dressings have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects and to encourage blood vessel formation (neovascularisation). The clinical relevance of these findings is not yet known.
WHAT HAPPENS TO SILVER?
Only a small proportion of silver presented to a wound site in a dressing is involved in antimicrobial action. Most of the rest remains within the dressing or binds to proteins in the wound or wound debris. Very little is systemically absorbed and even if it is absorbed systemically, silver is excreted mainly via the biliary route in the faeces and some is excreted in urine. Silver is not absorbed into the central or peripheral nervous systems.
Ancient civilizations reportedly used silver because they recognized a connection between the metal and their health. Today, people are also finding silver to be increasingly useful in health-related applications.