Silver FAQs

What was in the drops you took? (Posted January 1999)

Where can I find medical literature on silver & argyria? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Are you sponsored by any government, medical or pharmaceutical organizations? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Do you know how greedy the pharmaceutical industry is? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

How much silver causes argyria? (Posted January 1999)

What do you know about the machines that you use to make your own silver supplements with? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Can CS cause argyria? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Won't I notice when my skin starts turning gray? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Can't other things besides silver cause argyria? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Silver helps me. How do you explain that? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Do you know that knowledgeable people believe that CS works? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

How can anyone afford to study silver? It can't be patented. (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Is yours the only contemporary case of argyria? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Have people gotten argyria from "modern CS?" (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

What is your motivation? (Posted January 1999)

Wasn't it an MD who hurt you? (Posted January 1999)

Isn't argyria only caused by large particles of silver? (Posted January 1999)

Isn't silver used to treat burn patients in hospitals? (Posted January 1999)

Isn't silver germicidal? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002 & March 2005)

Would I turn gray if I used a silver filtration system to purify water? (Posted January 1999. Revised November 2002)

Have you read the Brigham Young University studies reported on the Web showing what a very effective germ killer CS is? (Posted November 2002. Revised March 2005)

What do you say to silver promoters who say that Stan Jones's photos were doctored by the media? (Posted November 2002)

You're really happy that Jones turned gray, aren't you? (Posted November 2002)

What is the matter with silver promoters? (Posted November 2000)

Why hasn't the FDA stopped people from making false claims about the silver supplemennts and the home generators that they sell? (Posted November 2002)

What can I as an individual do to protect myself and my loved ones from quacks? (Posted November 2002)

Is there a cure for argyria? (Posted March 2005)

Challenge to Silver Drug and Supplement Promoters

There is a whole body of medical literature on argyria and silver. All the evidence that I have seen indicates that ingesting silver in any form, amount or particle size is at best useless and at worst harmful! If you have evidence to the contrary, please show it to me. Silver in my body certainly has never helped me. I had breast cancer in 1984 at the age of 42. My face was so gray that the nurses in pre-op thought that I was in cardiac arrest.

To the Promoters Presently Harassing Me

First, I do not take collect phone calls from people I don't know with the initials CS, colloidal silver.

Second, I am tired of having you ask me for toxicity studies on the products that you sell. You are the ones who should be showing me and all your customers those studies. You should have done them and published them for scientists with no financial interest in your products to see and verify before you ever started selling your merchandise. That is what people who manufacture and sell drugs have to do.

In fact, I think that every manufacturer in the U.S. has to show that their product has met safety standards established by independent experts such as food scientists, mechanical, structural, electrical or automotive engineers, unless of course they are selling dietary supplements which are unregulated by any government agency in the U.S. (URLs to be posted.)

Third, all the evidence I have seen indicates that silver, and only silver, causes argyria. Your product allegedly contains silver and water yet you tell me it cannot cause argyria. How do you know this? Do you think that the water magically prevents silver from forming chemical bonds with human tissue, or do you have some evidence demonstrating that it does?

To General Readers

Here are some of the FAQs that promoters have been requesting. More will follow as well as material on related subjects that I have a lot of information on.

I am sorry if I appear annoyed at times. Most of the questions are valid and have also been asked by honest people who really want to know. I get tired of having the same people continually ask the brand of silver I took, the amount and particle size. I get annoyed that they cannot accept, "I don't know."

I also get angry when people who don't know me call me names like Nazi. I yell right back at them. Most apologize. I am tired of writing about silver and argyria. There is a whole body of medical literature on the subject. I got my information by reading that and speaking with doctors who have seen argyric people.

There is no way around it. If you want detailed, accurate information about a medical subject you have to read the med. lit. or find someone to do the studies required to answer your questions, if you don't have the resources to do them yourself. Without the studies to produce the data there are no answers, just guesses.

And of course even with all the resources in the world to use for research, many questions just cannot be answered. That is how things are in the real world. It isn't my fault.


What exactly was in the nose drops that you took? What was the brand name? Did they contain silver salts, nitrates, protein binders or were they small particles of silver suspended in water? How much did you take?

As I explain on my webpage, I do not know the answers to these questions. All I know is that they contained silver. However, my case is just one of many. There are over 300 cases of argyria reported in the medical literature and thousands more are likely to have gone unreported.(1) That lit. contains a whole body of material on argyria and silver drugs showing that every form of silver used, including metallic, has caused argyria. (2,3,4)

To understand the pharmacology of silver you have to read all the relevant literature. If you don't find the answers that you are looking for there, then you have to do controlled studies to produce new data to answer your questions. Looking at any one case alone will give clues but not definitive answers.

Where can I find the medical literature that you refer to?

You can find some of the medical literature on argyria and silver medications in the bibliography on my webpage.
Start with these:
Fung MC, Bowen DL: Silver Products for Medicinal Indications: Risk - Benefit Assessment Clinical Toxicology, 34(l), 119-126(1996).
Fung MC, Weintraub M, Bowen DL: Colloidal silver proteins marketed as health supplements (letter) JAMA 1995 Oct 18:274(15):1196-7.
Goodman LS, Gilman A: The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. 5th edition New York:MacMillan, 1975:930-931, 999-1000.

You will also find more information as well as reports of new cases of argyria caused by products presently on the market if you search PUBMED using the terms "argyria" and "colloidal silver".
If you find something that you want to read and you are in the US, go to the library at your local hospital where you can read the books and journals in their collection. The librarian can order articles from journals that they do not subscribe to, but there may be a fee for this. Obviously, the larger the institution, the bigger the collection. Something old like the 1975 edition of Goodman and Gilman may be hard to find. I was lucky enough to have had a copy on hand in 1995 when I discovered that silver had been dragged from the trash heap of useless and dangerous drugs by alt. med. practioners. To get the very old references that they cited as proof of safety and efficacy, I had to travel to an annex of the medical library at a medical school two hours drive from my home. It houses the library's historical collection of medical literature. I believe, but am not certain, that each state in the US has such a collection. Your local medical librarian should be able to tell you where the one nearest you is. If you live in a big city, the public library may also have a good collection of medical journals and reference books. If you are affiliated with a major university, they may subscribe to data bases that provide huge amounts of scientific and medical literature that includes online versions of a great many of the articles in the PUBMED index. Scientists who read my webpage sometimes send me relevant material that they have obtained this way. All but one of the new cases of argyria were picked up and sent to me before they appeared in PUBMED.

In order to obtain accurate information about a medical subject you have to read the whole body of material on it, not just one or two articles, and you have to read the articles in their entirety, not just the abstracts. You must also remember that scientists don't usually write and publish articles about what doesn't work although most people in their field will hear about such failed experiments and not repeat them unless they believe that the failed studies were seriously flawed. Scientists generally publish reports on studies that work. So if you search for a substance like silver or some other supplement and do not find anything, the chances are astronomically high that it has either never been adequately studied or studied and found to be worthless. In that case anyone making claims about benefits and safety is pulling them from a hat or passing off their beliefs as facts when they have no evidence to demonstrate that they are really true.

Are you sponsored by the FDA, the pharmaceutical companies or the medical establishment?

Of course not! That is the response that I posted here in 1999. Yet promoters have continued to make that claim without a shred of evidence to back it up. Here is just one of many examples: The author, Mark Metcalf, makes the wildest assumptions about me showing a complete and utter disregard for the facts. As just one small example among many, Mark suggests that my skin discoloration was caused by radiation and chemotherapy which he refers to as the "orthodox" treatment that I had for breast cancer. He disregards the fact that I've been gray since I was a teenager and had breast cancer at the age of 42 even though this is quite clearly stated on my web page and in the report on my case in The New England Journal of Medicine. [NEJM Vol. 340, #20, May 20, 1999, Images in Clinical Medicine, Argyria p.1554, BA Bouts] The fact that I've never had chemotherapy, may not be clearly stated, but if he had bothered to ask me, I would have told him that. His complete and utter disregard for the facts about me is just like his complete and utter disregard for the facts about the silver supplement he promotes. That is scary and I know of at least one person who also sells "home generators" who believes that Metcalf is a reliable source of info on silver supplements. Unfortunately, this disregard for facts about me and their products is not unique to Metcalf. It is typical of silver promoters.

I just hope that the reason Mark and the others attack me so rabidly is because my story has had a great big negative effect on their bottom lines. Hopefully, it has prevented many people from being quacked and prevented them from developing argyria.

Right now in Novemeber of 2002 silver salespeople still say that greedy doctors, "the drug cartel", and government officials are trying to stop the sale of silver supplements because silver will put them out of business. Hello, there! Anybody home? Are any of you promoters living in the real world? Visit a "health food store". Most of those in the US sell silver supplements. So do many of the alt med practitioners who prescribe it. Search the Internet using the term "colloidal silver" and see all the hits you get. I get email from silver supplement users from all over North America, Europe, Austraila and New Zealand. I've even heard from some in South Africa, Asia and South America. My story from my web page has been translated into German and posted on the Net. I forgot how to speak German a very long time ago and have had to whip out my German/English dictionary to respond to questions I get in that language. I've been interviewed for stories about silver for articles that were published by several US publications including the Wall Street Journal. [June 14, 2001, Marketplace, Regulators to Enforce Restrictions On Web's New Cure: Colloidal Silver By Jill Carroll] And I've been interviewed by both a British journalist and a Dutch one for stories they were doing on the subject. People write to tell me about the radio ads they've heard for silver supplements. If you look on the Net, you will find instructions on how to make your own "home generator" for about $10US. With that you are supposed to be able to make a gallon of CS for $1.00.

Obviously silver supplements and claims about them are all over the place. Now tell me, have you heard of any pharmaceutical companies going out of business? Have you heard of any of them dropping prices on their drugs? Have you heard that they are giving away antibiotics because they can't get rid of them because people with bacterial infections are now being cured by silver sups? I certainly haven't. In fact I've heard just the opposite. I've heard that the prices of approved drugs keep going up and that the public who feels that they are a necessity for life is screaming for the US government to do something about it.

Do you know how greedy the pharmaceutical industry is?

Greed is a part of human nature that we are all only too well aware of. To protect innocent people from greed and criminals, businesses in industrialized countries are regulated. This is especially true for medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.

By comparison, supplement companies have the license to do pretty much what they please, especially in the U.S. Now who do you think owns the supplement companies? Mother Teresa? How do you know that they didn't get their venture capital from the pharmaceuticals who, I bet, would just love to get governments off their backs.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you regulate every bank in town but one, that is the one that the crooks will flock to.

How much silver causes argyria? Can you give a rough estimate?

No, I can't. There are cases in the literature in which the source of the silver was never identified (5), so obviously the amount ingested could never be quantified. There is a documented case in which a woman did not turn gray until five years after she stopped taking the drug. (6)

In one instance 4 grams of injected silver arsphenamine produced argyria. In another it took 20 grams. (7)(According to Hill and Pillsbury six grams of silver arsphenamine are equivalent to 0.9 grams of metallic silver.) (8) In 1998 a Japanese man developed argyria after ingesting an estimated 55 grams of metallic silver over a fifteen-year period. He consumed sugar tablets coated with silver as a way to stop smoking. (9)

A Spanish woman applied a silver nitrate stick to the inside of her mouth and developed argyria after using about 1.5 grams over a fifteen-day period. (10) A German woman did the same thing for nine years. Her doctors estimated that it took 124g of silver to turn her gray. (11)

Ingesting 10 grams of silver nitrate, presumably all at once, has killed a person but recoveries have been reported with much higher doses. (12) Based on these reports and the hundreds of others recorded in the medical literature, I don't think that anyone has ever determined the amount of silver it takes to cause argyria.

Remember, too, that what matters is the total amount of silver that you take in from all sources over a lifetime. You ingest silver in your food. (13) Sometime previous to 1937 Stillians, who did not have gray skin, had Gaul measure the amount of silver in his skin biopsies. To his surprise the amount corresponded to 8 g of silver arsphenamine. He had no idea how he had accumulated so much silver in his body but speculated that it may have been from "amalgam dental filings which I wore for a number of years." (14)

It certainly appears as if there could be very wide variations in individual manifestations of silver toxicity. As yet, no one can tell if that is true, or if it is, who is the most susceptible or why. Silver was extensively studied in the early part of the century. Scientists could never produce argyria in animals. (15) Therefore, any studies to determine the amount of silver that turns skin gray will have to be done on humans.

I suspect that if anyone could present good evidence that silver in any amount, form or particle size successfully prevents or treats any serious disease or medical condition, people would line up to be test subjects and salespeople would do the studies and publish them for all the world to see. It would be good business as well as a service to humanity.

Also, remember that all heavy metals accumulate in the body and are toxic to varying degrees as evidenced by the warnings about lead in paint and mercury in fish. Silver toxicity has usually been limited by argyria. When people's skin turned gray, they discovered and eliminated the silver source. I think that it is quite reasonable to assume that if they had continued ingesting silver that other manifestations of toxicity may have occurred. Actually, there are reports in the literature of this happening. (16)

Do you know anything about the machines that people use to make their own silver supplements with?

I know that several people who have drunk home brews made with such machines have developed argyria. One is Stan Jones, the 2002 Libertarian Senate candidate from Montana. His case was reported by media across the US as well as by the BBC beginning in the first week of October 2002. I could give you links to some of the reports, but they probably will not be active when you read this. For that reason I'd suggest that you use a search engine to search the web using the term "stan jones argyria". If that fails, go to a big public library and ask the reference librarian to help you find the Jones story in the newspapers they subscribe to.

Presently, many manufacturers claim to use an electrical process to produce their products which, they claim, produces a suspension of very tiny silver particles which are evenly dispersed in distilled water. They often call their product "true" or "properly prepared" CS (colloidal silver) and claim that it cannot produce argyria. What is your opinion?

I know that many promoters are presently making that claim. I'm absolutely astounded that in spite of the new cases caused by electrically produced CS that they are still doing that.

Lost of the diehard silver useres are not afraid of developing argyria. They expect that they will notice if their color is changing and stop taking the silver before the condition becomes noticeable. They think that turning gray is a joke. What do you think?

Turning gray is no joke. Many current users speak about signs of "turning gray." Neither I nor those around me ever noticed any signs of my turning gray. I don't know if that was because it happened so gradually that the daily changes were so small as to be imperceptible or whether it happened suddenly overnight, so to speak. I suspect it was probably the former, but I didn't realize I was gray until a nurse who hadn't seen me for a week was startled by my appearance. She asked, "Why are you that color?" At that point, I and everyone else noticed that my skin was a very strange color.

A Spanish woman applied a silver nitrate stick to the inside of her mouth for fifteen days. She went to the beach a few days later and got a bad sunburn. About two weeks after that, her skin turned gray. (17) Heavy metals, like silver, cause a great increase of melanin, the pigment in our skin that causes sun tans and makes black people's skin dark. Argyria is often more pronounced on the areas of skin usually exposed to the sun. (18) For this reason many doctors believe that exposure to light causes the silver in our skin to darken the way that light develops a photograph. I personally do not find the evidence for this in the literature or on my own body convincing enough to agree with this conclusion.

Couldn't argyria be caused by the other things that were contained in the old silver medications like the nitrates, salts and proteins?

Promoters tell me this all the time. The only thing in the bottle that they haven't blamed yet besides the silver is the water. In 1999 I wrote that, "Argyria is caused by silver. The thing that all the drugs that have caused argyria have in common is silver. It is silver that is found in our skin not the nitrates or the protein binders." Now in 2002 promoters are saying that the Stan Jones case was caused by the minerals found in the tap water he used to make his brew. The fact that so many people have drunk huge amounts of tap water containing minerals for decades on end without getting argyria and the fact that the one who drank tap water that he had used electric to add silver to did get argyria plus the fact that people have gotten argyria from ingesting metallic silver which is in no way in contact with minerals, indicates to me that the problem is the silver and nothing else. Incidently, CS manufacturers are now disagreeing about what their CS really is. Some call what they sell ionic silver. Seasilver call theirs "non-metallic, phyto-silver". Chemists who have looked at the promotional literature find most of it very funny. They say that very few of the promoters and manufacturers know a twit about chemistry.

Scientists who have studied argyria all agree that it is caused by silver. Silver is the active ingredient in all the substances that have caused argyria and there is no substance that does not contain silver which has caused argyria. It is silver that is found in the skin of argyric people not the nitrates or the protein binders. Everything that I write pertains to silver in every form and from every source. It refers to all silver supplements no matter what names the manufacturers give them like ionic, phyto or colloidal.

I believe that colloidal silver has helped me and hundreds of others effectively treat our illnesses. How do you explain that?

Coincidence or the power of suggestion. Some of the silver supplements out there are nothing more than mislabeled, overpriced water. So I suspect that at the very least a few of those who preceive these marvelous benefits are getting them from ingesting water that they believe is a "natural remedy" with fantastic therapeutic powers. I'd love to see scientists do lots of studies using mislabeled, colored water which they tell test subjects has tremendous healing powers and then see how many of their test subjects experience the benefits they expect to get.

One of the many things I find so incredible about silver users is that most seem to be using it to prevent diseases they aren't at risk of getting. I suspect that is what Stan Jones did. However, I do not know that for sure. I've tried contacting Mr. Jones to find out this and other things about his case but he has not responded.

I also thought that silver was helping me until I turned gray and stopped taking it. I took it to get relief from a stuffy nose. When I stopped, I realized that if anything the stuffiness came less frequently and went away faster. Both my parents smoked heavily and now I suspect that my "allergies" were caused by cigarette smoke. As I got older, I got out of the house more. The drops hadn't helped at all. It was reducing my exposure to cigarette smoke that did. I had mistakenly attributed relief of symptoms to the drops. Of course, I do not know that any of this is true. I am just speculating.

Cause and effect are very difficult to determine accurately. History is full of things that were used in medicine for long periods of time because people thought that they worked but which were later discarded as evidence to the contrary mounted. Blood letting is one example. The first silver drugs were used to treat insanity and epilepsy. They were ineffective, but it took a long time for individuals to realize that. (19) Silver arsphenamine was used to treat neurosyphilis. Some doctors thought it an effective treatment, others didn't. (20) The history of civilization demonstrates that individuals, be they doctors or patients, cannot accurately evaluate the safety and efficacy of drugs and therapies based on personal experience alone. If they could, the scientific method never would have been developed.

Some very knowledgeable people, engineers, naturopaths, university professors, and the like have told me about the wonderful results that they have experienced using silver supplements.

Are you saying that I should believe what they say because they have degrees?

The one thing I learned being injured by a doctor's mistake early in life was never to trust an expert. That goes for engineers, health practitioners, university professors, MDs and most especially naturopaths who practice pre-scientific medicine, the kind that people used for thousands of years, the kind that didn't work. I look at the evidence. To date none of those claiming to have experienced benefits has shown me any objective, much less scientific, evidence demonstrating that ingesting silver is in any form, amount or particle size offers any benefits whatsoever.

No one will do controlled studies with silver supplements because they can't afford to. They can't be patented.

That's not true. If you search PUBMED, you will find that many supplements such as St. John's Wort which cannot be patented are being studied. I haven't followed this closely recently, but I don't think any of supplements has been found to be effect the way that promoters have claimed and that many like St. John's Wort have been found to be ineffective and also to have serious side effects that prescribers and users hadn't noticed and associated with them until they were studied scientifically.

If anyone actually had seen evidence that silver or anything else was an effective way to prevent or treat a horrible disease like AIDS or cancer, do you really think scientists would not test it because they didn't want to make the investment? When scientists suspect or find evidence that something offers important health benefits, they test it to see if their suspicions are correct. When alts suspect something offers benefits, they prescribe and sell it to their patients. That's the difference between scientific medicine and the alt kind.

As far as I can see, yours is the only contemporary account of argyria I know of. Are there any others?

There are other argyric people living today. So far I am the only one willing to speak out. There is at least one account in the lit. of a woman with argyria becoming reclusive. (22) I wrote that in 1999. Unfortunately, now in November 2002 there are many new cases of argyria caused by products presently on the market. This is tragic. I and everyone else familiar with silver and argyria have been predicting these new cases for years and we expect more. Incredibly, many salespeople still claim that their products are "non-toxic" and cannot cause argyria. As they have being saying for years, the other guys product can cause it but not theirs. The only way on earth they can say that with certainty is if they know that their products do not really contain silver.

Are there people living with argyria today who got it from taking "modern CS," as opposed to silver nitrate?

I have unsubstantiated reports of two new cases from "modern CS." Contrary to the promotional claims, silver nitrate is not the only drug that has caused argyria. It has been produced by every from of silver used, including metallic, (23, 24) but why would you expect to find new cases of argyria now? There are cases in which a silver drug was used for close to two decades before argyria developed. (25) People have just started using "modern CS" and hopefully a lot of it is just water. I posted this in January of 1999.

Unfortunately now in November 2002, as everyone familiar with argyria and silver has predicted for years, there are cases caused by "modern CS". One is the case of Stan Jones, the Libertarian Senate candidate from Montana. His case was reported by media beginning in the first week of October of this year. I could give you links to some of the reports, but they probably will not be active when you read this. For that reason I'd suggest that you use a search engine to search the web using the terms "stan jones argyria". If that fails, go to a big public library and ask the reference librarian to help you find the Jones story in the newspapers they subscribe to.

Several other new cases of argyria have been reported in the medical literature. You can find them by searching PUBMED using the term "argyria".

Keep checking PUBMED. Everyone familiar with silver and argyria expects that we will continue to see new cases caused by products presently on the market, and if you really want to know about the topic, reading the abstracts will not be sufficient. You will have to have the librarian at your hospital (if you live in the US) order copies of the articles so that you can read them in their entirety. If the librarian has to order them from other institutions, there may be a fee for the service.

Several more new cases of argyria have been reported directly to me. Many of those were caused by home brews. There is also a media report from Australia of a child who developed it there. [Sunday Herald-Sun; May 5, 2002; Child herbal medicine risk by Robyn Riley] So far besides Jones and me none of the other victims will speak publicly. One that I know of has refused to let doctors photograph her. Another has refused to let his MD write his case up for a medical journal even though he would not be identified in the article. [Author's private correspondence.]

In a report on recent cases [Hori K, Martin TG, Rainey P, Robertson WO. Believe it or not--silver still poisons! Vet Hum Toxicol. 2002 Oct;44(5):291-2.] the authors note that their poison center had been in operation for forty years without seeing a case of argyria and then within a two month period, they had five cases.

What is your motivation? Why did you write your webpage and speak out about colloidal silver.

I am motivated by two things.

First, I have a very strong desire to protect innocent people from physical harm. I am a street fighter who has been blessed with a wonderful family and friends who knew what was important in life. I decided when I was quite young that I would not let being gray stop me from living the life I wanted to lead. I went wherever I wanted to go. When I was called names in the street by strangers who didn't like the way I looked, I yelled back at them. But many people with argyria have had their lives ruined emotionally, and they have not gotten any physical benefits from the silver that they ingested either. Some became recluses.

A doctor I know had a patient who died a few years ago. She developed argyria in 1943. For the remainder of her life, over 40 years, she would not let anyone take her picture! I don't know her first name. I call her Jane. I do it for all the Janes and Johns who were afraid to go out of the house. As I speak or write, I think, "This one's for you, Jane!"

Second, I am furious that people selling goods and services can get away with passing off beliefs and unsubstantiated claims as facts. If someone sells cars and puts out ads saying that they get 100 miles to the gallon and never need oil, I think they should have to be able to present evidence that is verified by others who know the subject and don't have any financial interest in the product before they can publish ads with their claims.

Regarding consumer products like cars, most people demand such evidence, but somehow when it comes to drugs, and silver is a drug, they are as naive as my MD was. It never occurs to them that anyone would pass on such information without investigating and seeing evidence or worse yet, lie to sell a dangerous product. So they believe the claims without verifying them and pass them on to other innocent people.

Your condition came from the hand of a medical doctor, didn't it?

My disfigurement was caused by an MD who, back in the 1950s when drugs were not strictly regulated, naively believed fraudulent ads from manufacturers and salespeople. If he had read the medical journals that were written by people who did not have a financial interest in the products that they evaluated, he would have realized that ingesting silver is at best useless and at worst harmful. I have copies of the ads and articles warning about them which are older than I am.

Medical doctors learned decades ago that there is no reason to ingest silver. My doctor may have been one of the last to get the message. Most others learned long before him to get med. info. from investigators who did not have a financial interest in the products that they wrote about. Heaven knows how long it will take alt medders to learn that.

Now if someone has new evidence showing that ingesting silver in any amount, form or particle size is beneficial, I bet MDs will recommend it again. I know I sure will. Just show me the evidence. People who believe in scientific medicine value objective evidence. Alts. do not. They prescribe and sell all kinds of supplements for which there is no scientific evidence of safety and efficacy. They also prescribe and sell supplements like silver for which there is a whole body of scientific literature showing that it is useless and dangerous.

The one thing I learned being injured early in life by a doctor's mistake was never to trust an expert. I investigate. I look at the evidence. I wish my doctor had done that and I hope that you do it now too. If you do, I really doubt that you will use alt. medicine, a system that rejects objective, scientific evidence, a system that believes that personal experience alone is the best way to accurately evaluate the safety and efficacy of drugs and therapies.

From what I have read, I would suspect that argyria is only caused by silver in which the particle size is too large. It gets trapped in the capillaries.

Nonsense. That is what the promotional material claims in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Tissue samples from the bodies of people with argyria, living and dead, have been extensively examined. They do not show any evidence of capillaries being clogged with silver particles.

In fact, all the evidence seen under the microscope demonstrates that silver does exactly what chemists would expect it to do. It forms strong chemical bonds with tissue all through out the body having great affinity for some types, like that around the sweat glands, binding there, deep in the skin. This is what causes gray skin.

Silver is used in major burns units. Did you know that?

Of course I did. I've read the medical literature on silver. There are approved drugs that contain silver which are applied topically to burn patients. They don't drink the silver medication and I believe that in a very few cases topical silver drugs used on burn patients have caused argyria. Now, if you had to choose between dying of massive infections caused by burns and recovering and turning gray which would you choose? Silver nitrate drops are also used in the eyes of newborns to kill gonococci bacteria. They are used once, not repeatedly, and they prevented many babies from becoming blind before the discovery of antibiotics.

But silver is germicidal, isn't it?

Silver, like bleach and peroxide, is a disinfectant. It does kill bacteria in test tubes. No one has yet demonstrated that it does that when ingested by a human or animal, not that they haven't tried. One problem probably is that it doesn't ever reach the site of infection. It forms strong chemical bonds with lots of different body tissues, such as that around the sweat glands, which results in argyria. (26)

Silver and other noxious substances were used extensively by desperate doctors and patients before the advent of antibiotics. They didn't work. My maternal grandfather died at the age of forty-five of pneumonia back in the 1930s when silver drugs were in use, but they didn't cure my grandfather's disease. Nothing did back then. There was no effective treatment. My mother who smoked heavily for sixty-five years had pneumonia twice when she was in her 80s back in the 1990s. She was hospitalized and cured each time by antibiotics. She died of heart failure at the age of 88.

Since posting the above response, several scientists have told me that they have tested different commercially available silver supplements including some they made themselves following the recipes that come with the "home generators". They found that none of them even killed common bacteria in test tubes. In other words, none of the many silver supplements tested even worked as a disinfectant.

British Airways uses silver filtration technology, as well as NASA. If I were to use a silver water filter like those would that endanger my skin color?

To accurately answer your question, you will have to conduct experiments on humans since scientists have never been able to produce argyria in animals. (27) You can probably come up with a fairly accurate answer if you read the scientific literature that I keep referring you to.

Of course, you are going to first have to determine how much silver is ingested into the body of the people exposed in such a way, how much silver the exposed people take in from all other sources and how much they have already accumulated during a lifetime of exposure. Then you will have to estimate the amount of silver that causes argyria which, based on reported cases, seems to vary widely.

I suspect that you can make a fairly good guess as to what would be safe for most people. Speak to a scientist. I think they do these calculations all the time. They evaluate the benefits and risks of individual technologies and then compare the pros and cons of one system to another.

NOTE: I do not know if BA and NASA use silver filtration technology. The question came from a person very knowledgeable about such things. I assume his information is correct, but I have not checked it myself.

I wrote that in 1999. Since then, I've been given a URL to the NASA site,
If you check it, you will see that the drinking water was chlorinated.

Have you read the Brigham Young University studies reported on the Web showing what a very effective germ killer CS is?

Yes, I have and I wrote to the head of the microbiology department there to ask about those studies. His reply confirmed my belief that the studies were in vitro, in glass, in a test tube, not in vivo, in people. The results confirm that the product tested is a disinfectant like clorox and peroxide. They don't indicate that it works as an antibiotic inside people who ingest it. No one familiar with the medical science of pharmacology would ever make the assumption that what works in vitro also works in vivo or that something that kills germs in a test tube is safe for people to ingest. They understand the difference between disinfectants and antibiotics. Here is the reply from Dr. Harker, head of the microbiology department at BYU:

This is written in response to your inquiry relative to research on colloidal silver accomplished in the Department of Microbiology at Brigham Young University. At the request of American Silver one of our senior faculty tested the silver solution (ASAP) for its effectiveness in killing bacterial cultures grown in test tubes. The researchers found repeatedly that there were significant antimicrobial effects and this was reported to American Silver. These are not unique findings. Similar studies can be found in the published scientific literature. All of these, however, are laboratory test tube studies, which make no claims relative to the use of colloidal silver as a pharmaceutical agent. This study cannot be extrapolated to indicate effectiveness in human systems, nor to indicate antimicrobial properties against agents that were not tested (anthrax, HIV). There is no explicit or implied endorsement of the product by either the researchers or Brigham Young University.
Alan R. Harker, Professor and Chair

Since I posted the response above, an article has been published in the Journal of Wound Care Vol. 13 # 4, April 2004, Van Hasselt, P, et. al. p.154-5 reporting on an in vitro study that the authors did with the ASAP brand of silver supplement and two others that they made themselves using silver nitrate. None of the three showed any antibacterial potency.

What do you say to silver promoters who say that Stan Jones's photos were doctored by the media?

The same thing I've been telling them for years. Look at the evidence. Investigate. Come visit me or Stan Jones. If you can't do that, do the next best thing. Read the medical literature. Speak with doctors who have seen cases of argyria. Speak with the reporters who have seen me and Jones. Move out of your fantasy worlds and into the real world where I and other argyric people live.

Promoters have been accusing John Mahoney, the journalist, web designer who posted my pictures, of "doctoring" my photos for years.

For anyone who knows the facts about argyria, saying that our photos are "doctored" is really funny. In reality it is actually very difficult to capture the discoloration of argyric people on film. I had to work hard and get help from many professionals before I could do it. What do I look like? Do my photos look like me? I don't know. I do know that my face has frightened people. I know that many people who see me for the first time are startled while many of those who see me all the time insist that the discoloration has disappeared and that I "look like them".

I was thrown out of a pension in Spain because they thought I had a contagious disease. I've been called names by strangers in the street and denied jobs and apartments because people do not like the way that I look and I know from talking to doctors and relatives of other argyric people and from reading the medical literature that my experiences are typical and not unique.

There are many doctors over the age of sixty in the US who have seen cases of argyria. It has been described many times in the medical literature. In 1988 Ronald Mack, MD, wrote about the cases of argyria he had seen as an intern in Chicago saying that, "The victims of this disorder look as if they have been disinterred and yet they walk around and act otherwise normal. The condition results from the deposition of silver after long periods of exposure to this substance." Actually, the period of exposure doesn't seem to matter. What does matter is the amount of silver ingested from all sources over a lifetime since it accumulates and the amount that will turn the average person gray has never been determined. Mack continues, "In severe cases the skin assumes a metallic black patina. The color can vary from blue to slate gray to a cadaverous black." [Toxic Encounters Return with Us Now to Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear Argyrol and Argyria, Mack RB, NCMJ, Sept. 1988, Vol 49, #9, p. 451-2.]

People often think that I'm terminally ill. The AP article on Jones quotes him as saying that people ask him if he is dead. I've found similar descriptions of argyric people in at least one medical journal article that is older than I am.

In a report on recent victims [Hori K, Martin TG, Rainey P, Robertson WO. Believe it or not--silver still poisons! Vet Hum Toxicol. 2002 Oct;44(5):291-2.] the authors tell of a woman who developed argyria from her homemade electrically produced brew. While waiting near the emergency room, she laid down on a gurney in the hall of the hospital to take a nap. A visitor told a nurse that, "Dead bodies should not be kept uncovered in the hallway!" The speaker was terrorized when the "dead body" sat up and said that she wasn't dead. The gray lady had gone to the ER at the insistence of a friend who was a nurse. The nurse was astounded and disturbed by her appearance. She feared that she was suffering from a serious heart problem which is exactly what the nurses thought when I was waiting in pre-op to have a malignant breast tumor surgically removed. The authors also say that one of them had had a family friend who had developed argyria from Argyrol when she was a teenager. She "was a virtual social outcast because of her cosmetic appearance." They further state that, "our 5 cases of argyria remind us that when one has seen a case, it's not easily forgotten." They think the FDA should be empowered to stop the use of silver supplements noting that their poison center had been in operation for forty years without seeing a single case of argyria and then within a two month period, they had five cases.

You're really happy that Jones turned gray, aren't you?

Are you crazy? I can't believe that even a promoter actually thinks that. What world does he live in? Not the same one I do. I am very happy that Jones has had the courage to admit publicly the reason for his skin discoloration. It appears from the media reports as if he, a 63 year old divorced man, is dealing well with being gray. That's wonderful, but I certainly would not wish argyria on him. I would love to speak with Jones. His snail mail address and phone number are on his web page. When I phoned, I got his answering machine. I did not leave a message because I didn't think he would phone me long distance. Instead I sent him a letter asking him to send me his email address or else write and let me know a time when I could reach him by telephone. He never responded.

The truth is I cannot begin to tell you how terrible I feel because of all the new cases of argyria caused by products presently on the market. It is so utterly tragic and unnecessary. Everyone familiar with silver and argyria has been predicting new cases for years and we expect more. How very, very sad that we were right. Every time I hear of a new case, I take it personally. I feel as if I have failed. My heart aches for all the new victims who are not dealing well with being gray. I pity the child in Australia whose case was reported by the media there and the women in their early thirties, one of whom is afraid that she will loose her job and the other of whom wonders how she will ever find a husband or even a meaningful relationship now that she is gray.

The woman who is afraid of loosing her job told me that she feels very stupid for believing that CS was "non-toxic" when she read it. How I wish she had seen my material before she was harmed! But there is no way that I can reach all the people the promoters reach. I don't have a fraction of their resources and there are so many of them and just one of me.

Just as I knew for years that silver supplements on the market now would cause new cases of argyria, I also knew that one of these days one of the new victims would have the courage to speak publicly. Jones was the first to do that. Hopefully, he will inspire others to do the same.

What is the matter with silver promoters?

I sure wish I knew.

I wish I knew why they won't read and believe the medical literature, speak with and believe doctors and other people who have seen argyric people or come and see me and see what I look like and learn who I really am. I wish I knew why they won't look at or believe the evidence all of which is out there and easy for anyone really interested in the subject to obtain. I wonder how many more of us have to turn gray before they will be able to admit even to themselves that silver, even the electrically produced kind that they use, promote and sell, is not non-toxic. It causes argyria, a seriously disfiguring skin condition.

What is it about? Are they deluded, misinformed, unable to admit they were wrong or are they lying because they know that people won't buy their products unless they can convince them that they are safe and that they will not cause argyria? I wish I knew. I suspect that it is some of all of that.

There are reports of silver promoting salesmen turning gray. One in the medical literature tells of a silver distributor who developed localized argyria. His nail beds turned blue. [Gulbranson SH, Hud JA, Hansen RC, Argyria Following the Use of Dietary Supplements Containing Colloidal Silver Protein, CUTIS, Vol. 66, Nov 2000, p.373-5.] The victim denied that he had been exposed to silver, but his wife admitted to the doctors that not only did he take it, he also sold it. Supposedly after having his nail beds turn color, he stopped ingesting but kept selling.

I have two unsubstantiated report of fellows who sell "home generators" over the Internet who have developed serious cases of generalized argyria, the kind that Jones and I have, from silver they made themselves. Both still promote and sell "generators" which are just like the ones that they made the poison with that disfigured them. I'm told one has stopped using the garbage himself. I don't know about the other.

Why hasn't the FDA stopped people from making false claims about the silver supplemennts and the home generators that they sell?

They have tried. So have the governments of Australia and Canada, but who can police the Internet?

A Wall Street Journal article [June 14, 2001, Marketplace Regulators to Enforce Restrictions On Web's New Cure: Colloidal Silver, By JILL CARROLL] said that federal regulators had called colloidal silver "a total scam." However, the article added that despite their vigorous efforts at fighting online quackery the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission were "having a hard time keeping colloidal silver from being sold over the Web."

Personally, I don't think that the government of a free country can police the Web. Neither do I think that they should try. What I do think they should do is conduct a major public educational campaign aimed at teaching the public where and how to find accurate health care information. The USP, United States Pharmacopeia, has a volume containing informtaion on approved drugs that is written specifically for patients. Along with the volumes they publish for pharmacists and medical practitioners (prescribers), you can usually find it in the medical library of your local hospital, but I'd like to see it available online.

Many medical doctors in the US consider the The Medical Letter, a newsletter that reports on the safety and efficacy of specific drugs, the "gold standard". They are now bringing out a sister publication that will have experts in specific diseases explain the treatments that they use for those diseases. I'd love to see The Medical Letter, or a similar reputable group, do similar things for consumers and make them available online.

I would like to see such patient information include lists of things that either lack adequate scientific proof of safety and efficacy as well as those which are known to be snake oil.

I would also like to see a law passed that required supplement makers to place a prominent label on their products clearly stating that no government agency verifies the claims made for safety and efficacy or even verifies that what is on the lable is what is in the bottle. I think that supplements should have to be sold in areas separate from regulated drugs and that the areas where they are sold should also have to prominently display the same information about no government agency verifying claims. That is the only way I know of to ensure that people will be aware of the situation and thereby able to make informed decisions.

What can I as an individual do to protect myself and my loved ones from quacks?

First have realistic expectations. Realize that when you are born you don't recieve a guarantee of 90 plus happy, healthy, wealthy years of life on earth. Realize that life isn't fair. We can never have 100% certainty about anything, nor can we be 100% safe. The best we can do is look at the evidence, the whole body of it, not just a piece or two. See what is known, unknown and suspected. That won't guarantee that you are never injured or that you will get the best possible treatment each and every time, but it will greatly increase the odds in your favor which is all one can hope for in life.

Next realize that alt. medicine is not scientific medicine. It is not evidence-based medicine. The main distinction between the two systems is that the one strives very hard to scientifically evaluate its drugs and therapies. Practitionrs of scientific medicine prescribe drugs that have been subjected to rigorous studies and approved by national regulating agencies such as the FDA in the US. Scientists follow up on drugs and therapies which have been approved and used and discard those which are found lacking. Practitioners of alt medicine prescribe and sell all kinds of herbal drugs and "natural" and homeopathic "remedies" that have never been studied or even standardized for purity and potency. Unlike those who practice scientific medicine, they believe that personal experience alone is the best way to evaluate the safety and efficacy of drugs and therapies. The history of civilization clearly demonstrates that that method doesn't work.

Next do not see a practitioner who sells the drugs that she prescribes, and never, ever believe the claims of salepeople without verifying them independently. Remember that most all of the "information" on supplements on the Web is promotional material posted by people with a financial interest in its sale. You wouldn't believe the claims of the cigarette industry about the safety of their products, why do you swallow the claims of the supplement industry hook, line and sinker? If you want accurate information about drugs and therapies, you have to go to the scientific and medical literature.

Is there a cure for argyria?

I know of two dermatologists experimenting with laser therapy. One is Allison Vidimos, MD. The other is Martin J. Safko, MD. Dr. Vidimos has treated the entire faces of two argyric people. She and the two patients are very pleased with the results. I have spoken with all three. Dr. Safko has done a test patch on one argyric person. I have seen that myself and think that it looks like the patient's normal skin color. The treatment is experimental, painful and expensive. If you would like to know how to contact the doctors directly, please send me an email.

There has been a "cure" touted on the Internet for a long time. It is the selenium - vitamin E "cure". Stan Jones was reportedly trying it. So far I have not heard that it has helped or harmed him. High doses of selenium are known to be toxic and there is preliminary evidence indicating that high amounts of vitamin E may also be bad for your health. There is no scientific reason to believe that this "cure" might work. I've tried unsuccessfully to track it down. I suspect that it may have originated with Mark Metcalf who posted a letter from an anonymous person who claims to have successfully used the "cure". Mark and I have corresponded about the matter. Mark posted our correspondence on his website along with a bunch of nasty, untrue statements about me.

Site Index | Argyria Photos | Silver Fraud | My Story | Naturopaths | FAQs | Links | E-mail

Copyright © 2002 Rosemary Jacobs