As readers of the last Elemental Medicine blog may know, Dr. Devlin and I recently returned from the ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Disease Society) annual convention where we were introduced to the use of silver hydrosol in the treatment of Lyme disease and its co-infections. I’m half-facetiously calling it the royal treatment, as silver has a long association with the aristocracy. There is speculation that elites are called “blue-bloods” due to their prolonged use of primitive silver salts, which can produce a blue skin discoloration known as Argyria. I should immediately add that the modern silver formulation we’re using doesn’t contain the salts that caused this ghastly hue. Since returning, we’ve been excited to put this new treatment method to the test, and are now treating a patient with a long-standing and severe case of Lyme and co-infections that has resisted standard antibiotic treatment for many years. We figure if it works for this case, then it has really passed a stern test.
I’ve been looking into the use of silver, which has a long history in medicine and general use. Silver has been regarded as a preservative from ancient times, even if they didn’t know exactly what they were preserving things from. Silver jugs were used to store water across the ancient world among those able to afford them. Silver coins were added to drinking water and milk on the American frontier. Hippocrates, considered the “Father of Medicine” (even though he practiced much more like a naturopath than a medical doctor) used silver in powder form to help heal non-healing ulcerations.
In Ayurveda, silver also has a long history and is still in use today. The rishis (seers) who founded Ayurveda investigated the potential healing properties of everything they found in their environment. They developed sophisticated ways to treat metals so as to liberate their healing potential without causing harm. The medical doctors of Europe and America, who up until the 20th century poisoned many patients with mercury, would have done well to learn from those they would no doubt have considered as savages. According to my friend and Ayurvedic Doctor Somesh Kaushik, silver is regarded as an immune stimulant that also has a cooling energy to reduce excess pitta (think inflammation here) even in very small quantities. These qualities make it prized for healing and protecting the nervous system, kidneys and heart.
In alchemy, a perceived relationship between the moon and silver reflects the Ayurvedic understanding. The moon was seen as the cooling, pale female counterpart to the golden light and heat of the masculine sun. Translating to the terms of Taoism and Chinese Medicine, the moon would be the yin pairing with the yang of the sun. The moon is also related to water; evident in the way it affects the tides. In the times before the world became so literal and analytical, these indications pointed our ancestors to using silver as a cooling, nurturing anti-inflammatory agent to promote healing.
Anthroposophical medicine, in some ways a modern descendant of alchemical thought, relates silver to reproduction, sexuality, and abundance. It is considered to govern processes that create living substance out of dead matter, as happens when the liver constructs living substances for the body out of the broken-down fragments delivered to it from food digested in the intestines. Silver is said to “take up light and lead it over into life.”
Silver has been in continuous use in mainstream medicine as well. There were many scientific articles written in the early 20th century on its use up until the discovery of the “miracle drug”, penicillin. The subsequent widespread use of relatively inexpensive and (at one time) very effective antibiotics led to the decline of scientific interest. Silver is still used in the form of silver nitrate drops placed in the eyes of newborns to prevent blindness, and silver sulfadiazine dressings applied to burns to prevent infection and speed healing.
I’m sure there are some readers who may be concerned with the safety of bringing a heavy metal such as silver into the body. This concern can be somewhat allayed by the fact that craftsmen who worked with silver and its vapors in the past showed no sign of toxicity in spite of prolonged exposure. Argyria is essentially harmless, even if the person afflicted with it would require little makeup to appear on “The Walking Dead”. Our formulation has been well tested and found to be completely benign for human tissue, even as it is lethal for bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Modern Scientific Studies
Nowadays we no longer consider the influence of heavenly bodies on the properties of medicinal substances. We now look for “underlying mechanisms” on the molecular plane to explain why things work as they do. Interestingly, this type of scientific endeavor has confirmed much of what the ancients thought about silver. It does appear to be anti-microbial, immune stimulating, anti-inflammatory, and it also has the ability to speed up healing of wounds with reduced scarring. Pretty impressive array of attributes for a single substance.
The Difference Between Silver Hydrosol and Colloidal Silver
Scientific studies indicate that the particle size of silver in the colloid is a critical aspect of what makes it effective. The silver hydrosol we use (Argentyn 23) is a suspension of tiny particles of pure positively charged silver ions with an average size of eight Angstroms. Its tiny size both enables it to get into minute spaces unavailable to larger particles and to have a larger active surface area. The colloidal silver available at the health food store, or created by home generators, contain much larger and irregular particles often contaminated with silver salts and silver-protein molecules. The thinking these days is that the positive charge disrupts the proteins that make up the skeleton for the bacterial or viral outer membrane, which leads to their rupture. Interestingly, our cellular membrane proteins differ, and the silver passes over them without harm. Once inside the bacteria or virus, the silver ions disrupt what’s called the “respiratory cycle” of the bacteria, and it also destroys the DNA. All of this together results in the death of the germ without at all disturbing the human body. Pretty cool. Better yet, unlike antibiotics, no germs have been able to develop a resistance to its effects. Even the so-called “super germs”, such as the dreaded MRSA, quickly fall prey once exposed to it in adequate amounts.
Just as interesting, scientific studies indicate that silver hydrosol has more complex effects extending beyond the ability to kill germs directly. It seems to help the immune cells do a better job of killing germs, and it also helps to regulate inflammation to reduce its undesirable effects. What’s more, it speeds up the arrival of cells called fibroblasts that promote wound healing, and it increases their efficiency. Scientists haven’t yet figured out a mechanism to explain these actions. Perhaps they should consult the moon.