Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Your Friday Dose of Woo: It’s not just silver, it’s super-duper holy silver!


The woo is good again.

Regular readers may have caught an undercurrent of whining in the last few installments of my little Friday feature? Whining about what? A bit of burnout. In fact, looking back at my last few installments, I now wonder whether I was starting to show signs of burnout. There I was, complaining about having trouble coming up with new bits woo that really floated my boat enough to inspire me to ever more fevered bits of Respectful Insolence™. What a downer, man! Fortunately, this week was different. This week, there was an abundance of riches. This week, there were at least three bits of woo so wild, so amazingly out there, so inspiring that I had a hell of a time deciding which one to give my characteristic loving treatment that my readers know and now expect. My only concern is whether I have chosen correctly. Of course, even if I haven’t, there’s always next week.

So what won this competition of woo, this tag-team slapdown between titans of energetic healing? Will your chakra ever be the same? Will your flow of qi be unblocked? Will your vibrational essence be aligned with that of the universe?

Not quite. But, if you believe these woo-meisters, you can cure all infections and cancer too! Are you ready for some Colloidal Silver Plus Solution Holy Anointed Water? Come on, not only is it colloidal silver but it’s been annointed, too? How can you refuse?

You can’t. God doesn’t want you to. He wants you to be healed; that is, after He afflicted you with whatever disease it is that you need to have treated.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking: Colloidal silver? Isn’t that the stuff that turned that old dude into Papa Smurf a few months back? Why, yes. Yes it is! So, you’re probably thinking: Why on earth would I want to use this stuff and risk being eligible to join the Blue Man Group without needing any makeup? Good question. The reason, of course, is that this isn’t just any colloidal silver. That would be far too secular. Oh, no, this is special colloidal silver. If you look at the claims for most colloidal silver, what you’ll hear is that it can treat and prevent infection. True, the claim will be that it can treat or prevent virtually any infection, a totally implausible bit of woo, but it doesn’t go much beyond that in most cases. Not so for Colloidal Silver Plus Solution Anointed Holy Water (CSPSAH)! It can cure cancer, too! Just look:

Colloidal Silver (often misspelled Collodial Silver) and better described as Electrically isolated Silver, has been used for many centuries for many minor and serious ailments. It was shown in one professional medical study (The British Encyclopaedia of Medical Practice circa 1938 Sir Humphrey Rolleston, BT, G.C.V.O., K.C.B., M.D., D.Sc., D.C.L., LL.D., Emeritus Regius Professor, Cambridge, sometimes PRESIDENT of the Royal College of Physicians of London, England.) that it is effective in helping 650 illnesses. There are some more studies (see a few below) that show it is effective against HIV, Cancer, Herpes, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C! It is safe to take with any medicine (Separate CS and EDTA Cancer treatments by 12 hours apart just so they don’t cancel each other out). Many people use it to treat the common cold, the flu, sinus infection and yeast infections. It was widely used by professionals before many of the modern day antibiotics and treatments were patented.

I love the bit about the common misspelling. Indeed, I tip my hat. It’s just the right touch to imply an expertise that doesn’t exist, as though these guys selling this crap know what they are talking about. But that’s not enough. (Is it ever?) If there’s one thing that virtually all good woo must–I repeat, must–have to be credible to alties, it’s an appeal to ancient wisdom, and CSPSAH doesn’t disappoint:

Silver is a powerful, natural antibiotic/anti-viral/anti-fungi/anti-germinal that has been used for thousands of years. Great Grandma used to put a silver dollar in the milk to keep if from spoiling as it sat on the back porch in summertime. This was very common practice. Also it was well known that the ancient Greeks knew the medical value of silver. It was observed that those ancient families who ate from silver utensils rarely were sick and had few infections. This knowledge passed on to kings, emperors, sultans and their families and members of their royal courts. They ate from silver plates, drank from silver cups, used silver utensils and stored their food in silver containers. As a result of this use, silver was ever so slightly rubbed off and mixed in their foods. And after a generation or two, they received the full benefit from the silver particles which found their way into the body of these people, hence had little chance of getting any infectious illness.

These royals were called Blue Bloods because their skin had a blue tint, due to the accumulation of minute traces of pure metallic silver. (You don’t have to worry about this if you take the recommended dose of modern properly prepared CS). The common red blooded folk, however, ate from earthenware dishes with iron utensils and frequently were sick, while the royals enjoyed the freedom from infectious disease as early as from birth. There are many historical references on Colloidal Silver. One of the most complete is published in The Lancet dated Dec. 12, 1914.

This story, like many stories postulated to explain the ancient origins of woo, sounds somewhat plausible on the surface. However, like many such stories, it’s wrong, particularly the part about the “blue bloods.” In fact, the real reason nobility in Spain was called “blue blood” (the translation of sangre azul) is thought to be due to their pale complexion and easily visible blue veins. But also notice the subtle implication in this story, namely that nobility used silver and it was the reason that they were supposedly so healthy compared to the poor that they ruled. That implication, of course, is that if you start using their CSPSAH, you’ll be like nobility too. Indeed, one of the most common themes through altie literature is about being “special” and not like the rest of the “sheeple” who simply do what their doctor tells them to do and never dig deeper to “go beyond” conventional medicine and open their minds to “alternatives.” Indeed, a smug sense of “specialness” is one common characteristic of alties. Just imagine combining that smug sense of “specialness” with the smug sense of specialness that fundamentalist Christians of the type who would came up with CSPSAH often exhibit. (Just look at the rest of their website, if you don’t believe me.)

On second thought, don’t.

What then follows is a list of quotes about the supposed efficacy of this particular form of colloidal silver. Once again, poor Otto Warburg, who, although a great scientist, became a bit of a crank in his old age, is trotted out to justify this, although the quote chosen doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this woo:

Dr. Otto Warberg (Nobel Prize Winner, 1932) stated that “Cancer is caused by the lack of oxygen and the fermentation of sugars.”

They also forget to mention that Otto Warburg was wrong. Aerobic glycolysis and the attendant requirement for large amounts of glucose as fuel are indeed a feature of many cancer cells, but it’s not at all clear whether that is a cause or consequence of malignancy. It might even be both, depending on the specific cancer being one or the other. Of course, the rest of the quotes tend to be from either scientists before 1930, which was before penicillin and there wasn’t much in the way of effective chemotherapy against infections, making colloidal silver seem worth a try. It was also before science demonstrated pretty conclusively that colloidal silver is worthless as an antibiotic when injected. The concentration achievable in the blood just isn’t high enough to be effective. (Silver salts are still in use today as topical antibiotics, where they are effective. The difference, of course, is that the concentration of silver salts achievable is much higher in a topical paste.) In any case, this is the sort of stuff we’re treated to:

In the United States and Canada, more than 100 hospitals have installed silver-based water purifying systems to eradicate Legionnaire’s disease, a deadly bacteria that infects hot water pipes and storage tanks in large buildings.

I love altie logic. Let’s put it this way: I use bleach to kill bacteria on my lab benches and in my tissue culture hood. By the above “logic” that means bleach is a great thing to drink to kill bacteria and parasites.

There are lots of colloidal silver products out there, though. What makes this one better than the rest? Good question. Glad you asked! “I Saw the Light” Ministries is more than happy to tell you. But first, you need a testimonial (can I get a testimonial here?):

I know of one person that took CS for the STD Gonorrhea and recovered in one day without going to the doctors. I know of a little girl that had an E-Coli infection and her kidneys shut down from the E-Coli infection. She took CS (as well as being in the hospital with antibiotics) and the nurses said it was a miracle how quickly she recovered! I have heard MANY great testimonies but the FDA does not allow anyone who sells CS to make any claims because they want to keep a lid on natural health supplements. So I am not making any claims plus I am NOT selling it, I’m offering it to you free as a Ministry in return for ministry donation without any medical guarantee at your own risk (of being helped).

Wow! What was a righteous Christian doing with gonorrhea in the first place? (Am I the only one who wondered about this?) The rest of it is beautiful–and so predictable! The little girl took the CS and was treated with antibiotics, and when she recovered it just had to be the CS. Had to be! There’s no way it could have been all those nasty, secular antibiotics, could it? But the best part is how he says he’s not “selling” this stuff but that he just wants a “donation”:

We provide our Unique, annointed, prayed over, Colloidal Silver Plus Solution (16 fluid oz) in return for a very reasonable donation of only $25.00 per bottle to our ministry. We do NOT add any additional shipping cost or taxes! This is the most affordable method of attaining good quality effective safe CS/EIS. Our CS is 12 PPM (parts per million) which we believe to be very effective. (We believe that the body cannot effectively absorb and use more than 12 PPM of Colloidal Silver). WE ALSO ADD a small amount of Hydro-peroxide to each batch to Enhance the effectiveness. We only use Ozonated, Mirco-Filtered Spring Water that has been previously bottled. We do NOT add salt. We do NOT use tap water. We believe salt is unnecessary and actually counter productive.

Wow! Not only do they run ozone through the water but they microfilter it and then add silver. Sadly, I don’t remember enough of my inorganic chemistry to recall what the reaction between ozone and colloidal silver might be (probably silver oxides of some sort), but I do know this is primo woo. I also wonder why they feel the need to add peroxide to the mixture after they’ve already run ozone through the water, which would react with the water and form–you guessed it!–hydrogen peroxide. I guess they’re covering all their bases or something.

Still, there is one thing that this woo, blatantly religious though it may be, shares with any other form of woo, and that’s the fact that belief is far more important than any evidence. In a way, it’s refreshing to see the honesty with which they admit this:

We do NOT make any statements of what it will cure or heal or effectively treat. It is a dietary/mineral supplement. We BELIEVE that it helps many people with many illnesses especially those that involve bacteria, fungi and/or virus. I am a firm believer in the God given properties of this natural alternative health product. I use it daily and it HAS helped me, I even give it to my pets. Please consult your licensed professional doctor for any and all medical symptoms and treatments. We do NOT sell the product. We GIVE it to you in return for the donation to our ministry if and only if you use the below donate button on this page.

“Give it to you”? Of course they do. I wonder what would happen if someone requested this CS but didn’t have enough money to provide the requested “donation.” Maybe that person could manage it through the ministry’s referral program–with “required” donations, of course. But be very, very careful. This brand of colloidal silver is so potent that it could cause a “healing crisis”:

This is a condition wherein the colloidal silver is killing the pathogens very quickly. The body’s five eliminatory systems (kidneys, liver, skin, bowel, and lungs) become temporarily overloaded. This is especially true when overcoming HIV with colloidal silver. One may feel lethargic and dozy due to this rapid action. Continue the regimen but lower the dose and drink up to four litres of pure water per day together with up to 6 grams (6000 mg) of Vitamin C.

How convenient. If you happen to get better, the silver must have done it. If you don’t, it was a “healing crisis.” Isn’t “alternative” medicine wonderful?

I would be remiss in my duties as host of this weekly feature if I didn’t mention one more thing that’s bugged me for the nearly two years that I’ve been doing this regular feature. What is it about alties and bad web design? This particular site has an annoyingly scrolling bit of text at the top, a rainbow background, text that alternates between bold and regular and bold again, with blocks of text set off with clashing colors that make the text harder to read. There have been times when I’ve considered giving up my little Friday bit of fluff just to save myself from massive headaches looking at bad web design.

In any case, in retrospect, I’m beginning to wonder if I chose correctly when I chose this woo over the other two or three possibilities. Fortunately, there is always next week.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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