News About Colloidal Silver
Howey Pushes Silver as Anthrax 'Remedy'
By Stephanie Erickson
Sentinel Staff Writer
October 19, 2001
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS -- The magical elixir is supposed to cure all sorts of ailments: gonorrhea, leukemia, sleepwalking, AIDS, arthritis, athlete's foot -- even anthrax.
And now, thanks to Howey-in-the-Hills Mayor Greg Bittner and the Town Council, colloidal silver is the officially endorsed "simple solution" for anthrax or any other malady that might strike the 950 residents of the quiet Lake County village.
Bittner, definitely not taking his cue from medical science, told a council meeting last week: "This is the greatest medicinal item that has ever come along. It wipes out virtually every virus."
Federal health officials in 1999 prohibited the marketing of colloidal silver as a remedy for any disease because it turns human skin blue and gray -- permanently. And they say the fluid -- actually, tiny particles of silver suspended in distilled water -- doesn't cure a thing.
Officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission were horrified to learn that any government would promote what they consider a scam.
Said FDA spokeswoman Laura Bradbard, "That's absolutely amazing." Added senior attorney Rich Cleland of the FTC: "There is no scientific evidence that suggests it will be effective against any bacteria."
And Dr. Stephen Barrett, vice president of the National Council Against Health Fraud and head of a Web site called Quackwatch.com, all but laughed out loud when told of Bittner's endorsement.
"Is he going to be re-elected as buffoon of the year?" Barrett said.
But the 67-year-old mayor, who researched colloidal silver on the Internet, where it's described as "nature's most powerful antibiotic," predicted it could "sweep the country."
Bittner brought colloidal silver to the attention of the Town Council on Oct. 8, just as an anthrax case in South Florida was beginning to generate talk of bioterrorism. Just in case, Bittner said, the town should spend $100 to buy a colloidal-silver "generator" that produces a gallon of the stuff for about a nickel. That way, he said, residents will have enough for their families, and "you can take care of your neighbors, too."
Council member Joanna Gaskill was the only one to question whether there is any medical proof that the silver solution works.
"I just don't want a Howey medicine show," she said.
Regardless, the latest edition of Council Talk, the town newsletter that arrived in mailboxes this week, told residents of the "simple solution" to fight anthrax and provided police Chief Curtis Robbins' number as a contact for more information. The chief has said a friend of his with cancer was helped by the stuff.
Colloidal silver actually is nothing new.
Silver was, indeed, used through the 1930s as a preservative, especially in milk, and it was routinely added to nose drops for allergies through the 1950s.
That's when doctors began to notice that people using silver for a long period were turning ashen-gray or blue, a condition called argyria. So manufacturers stopped using silver in the mixtures.
As diseases became more resistant to antibiotics, however, some alternative-medicine advocates began encouraging use of colloidal silver and selling generators to make it. The devices use silver rods as electrodes, which are inserted into a container of water. When the electrodes are hooked to batteries or an electrical transformer, electrolysis causes tiny particles of silver to become suspended in the fluid. The amount of time the generator runs determines the strength of the silver in the mixture.
By the mid-1990s, the FDA had begun warning colloidal-silver marketers to stop selling it as a medicine; last year, at least 18 Web-based marketers got such warnings.
Also last year, as part of "Operation Cure.All," the FTC charged a Central Florida company, Palm Bay-based Aaron Co., with fraudulent marketing of the stuff on the Internet. Without admitting it violated any law, the company paid fines and refunded money to customers.
Still, sales of colloidal silver are rising.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, business is up 10 percent, said Yvonne Hengst, who sells it from Delaware via her Web site. Indeed, since the terrorist acts, she herself has been drinking a half-ounce a day of the elixir.
"This is something that people really need and use, especially now with the anthrax scare," Hengst said. "You're crazy not to."
What does the FDA say?
Colloidal silver can't be considered safe.
Stephanie Erickson can be reached at email@example.com or 352-742-5921.
Copyright (c) 2001, Orlando Sentinel