Use of Colloidal Silver in Lyme Disease
Note: this page is geared towards the general reader. It is a chapter from my e-book on second line treatments for Lyme disease. It is not medical advice. If patients are interested in this therapy, they should discuss it with their lyme disease doctor. See my page on Lyme disease
Silver is a natural remedy that was used for infection as far back as 1000 BC where the Persian king Cyrus used silver vessels to treat water for drinking. Topical use has a long history in modern medicine, with it being used to treat wounds in WWI, up to its use to prevent eye infections in newborns and its current wide use in preventing infection in burns. Silver solutions have been approved by the FDA since the 1920's for the treatment of a variety of infections.
Lyme and silver are often terms that come up together. Many of my patients have asked about the use of colloidal silver in lyme disease, as they often already have experience with very rapid healing of the usual colds and flu's when they use silver. Now as overdosing on silver, whether we are treating lyme with silver, or a run-of-the-mill infection with silver, can cause serious side effects, I typically don't suggest that silver be used without supervision, and it probably should be reserved for more serious infections. Silver can cause a permanent discoloration of the skin, making it turn a dusky blue color. Just like a smurf.
The best silver for use in lyme disease is Argentyn 23, which is distributed by Allergy Research Group. Usually this is only available through doctor's offices or pharmacies, but you can sometimes find this online if your doctor does not carry it.
Silver kills lyme (and other infections) through oxidation first, then alkylation. You may have read about oxidation on my website at http://pannaturopathic.com/oxidative.html, or its specific use in infections (http://pannaturopathic.com/cfs.html) and cardiovascular disease (http://pannaturopathic.com/ozone.html) - oxidative therapy has broad utility because oxidation is a fundamental process happening in each of our cells. We often read about antioxidants - and sure, they may be helpful, but oxidation is how we generate energy, and how we kill germs. Because of this fundamental importance of oxidation, our own cells have well-developed antioxidant systems that protect themselves from oxidation, whereas germs that cause illnesses like Lyme disease have no such protective systems. Thus, oxidative treatments like IV vitamin C, intravenous hydrogen peroxide, UV blood irradiation, and yes, silver, are great in lyme disease.
White blood cells of your immune system use hydrogen peroxide and bleach to mount an "oxidative" attack on germs that cause infection. Unlike antibiotic drugs, it is exceedingly rare for a germ to be resistant to this type of attack. Resistance comes from germs developing mechanisms for preventing drug from binding to receptors or on their cell wall: this doesn't apply to something like bleach or other types of "oxidative" attacks.
When using colloidal silver for lyme disease, we should keep in mind that smaller particle sizes are typically better. This allows for more free silver ions to be available, and more surface area for the silver to generate its "oxidative" actions for killing lyme. Silver hydrosol, the type in Argentyn 23, is probably one of the best. It has no silver protein in it, no stabilizers. Hydrosol just means the silver is suspended in pure water, whereas other colloids might use solvents (important to avoid, as many lyme patients have multiple chemical sensitivity - http://www.pannaturopathic.com/mcs.html).
To many patients, but particularly those with lyme, silver can also bring warning bells as it is in fact a heavy metal. All lyme patients should have had a heavy metal workup with conventional blood tests and with provoked tissue challenges as certain heavy metals can be profoundly immunosuppressive. Silver is a heavy metal, but its clinical effects are opposite to the poisonous metals (lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury). It seems that the margin of safety is far far greater for silver than for other heavy metals. All heavy metals will kill by oxidation (remember mercury has been used as a preservative in vaccines!), but the dose that is toxic to humans becomes paramount.
You need way, way more silver to be toxic, compared to lead or mercury. Animal toxicity studies show us this large margin of safety. However, side-effects are common with silver in lyme disease. Lyme patients typically understand well the "Herxheimer" reaction, which is a response to the lyme bacteria dying, and stimulating an uncomfortable immune response from the toxins that are released. Lyme treatment with silver can cause: headaches, joint pain, sweating, nausea, flu-like reactions, fatigue, skeletal pain, itching, diarrhea, and fever. Not too unusual for a herxheimer reaction, and when the silver is used for lyme disease, this is usually a good thing, as it is subjective evidence that the treatment is effective against the germ.
A herxheimer reaction is typically good. Silver can have true toxicity though. One is the skin discoloration. It can also accumulate in the liver, and in some rat studies, it caused swelling of the brain. Note that massive doses were used to cause the brain swelling, and such doses on a weight equivalent basis would never be used clinically. I should note that in lyme, silver has been tremendously useful in the cognitive brain fog, most likely because it can cross into the brain. Silver is not classified as carcinogenic by the EPA, and Argentyn 23 itself was not able to cause mutations in DNA with the AMES test.
Silver is most widely used in its colloidal silver form to be taken orally. In conventional medicine, it is used in dressings to prevent infection in burn wounds. MSP 1200 silver has been used intravenously for infection. I should note that dosing of silver is both product and patient specific. For example, the mcg dosage of argentyn 23 needed for a good clinical effect is much less than a larger particle based colloidal silver. Intravenous doses of silver in lyme disease can be extremely effective, and dose is much lower than oral dosing.
Clinically, a baseline battery of tests typically need to be run, particularly if intravenous dosing is used:
Liver, kidney, electrolyte tests
G6PD level (possible)
CD57 assay (to monitor progress of treatment of lyme with silver)
Once these are clear, then depending if the patient has already had other oxidative therapy already, and if they are on antibiotic therapy, and if any co-infections are present, a short course of silver therapy for lyme disease is prescribed.
Herxheimer reactions and treated accordingly, and once symptoms start to improve, we find an optimal treatment schedule, and usually retest.