Is Colloidal Silver Toxic to Human Sperm or Eggs, or Harmful to Human Reproduction?
A reader recently asked, “Since colloidal silver is said to kill the eggs of parasites such as pinworms, will colloidal silver usage also harm human sperm and/or eggs?”
Answer: The evidence I've seen so far suggests silver does not harm animal reproduction -- including human reproduction – unless the silver levels are purposely raised to artificially high levels.
As you may know, one of the many charges being laid against silver by certain radical environmental groups is that silver released into the environment from commercial products is so toxic that it will ultimately harm environmental wildlife (and by extension, human life) by preventing reproduction at the embryonic stage.
But to my knowledge, there have been no real-life studies whatsoever demonstrating a tie-in between silver ingestion and interference with animal or human reproduction. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Quite the Contrary…
In fact, quite to the contrary, some people have even testified that taking colloidal silver has helped them overcome infertility…
Plus, colloidal silver nanoparticles are now being used by researchers to stain developing animal embryos so they can be tracked in real-time by photonic optical imaging from the egg sac to birth!
What’s more, silver is also used to preserve reproductive samples of animal semen!
The Zebra Fish Study
In December 2009 researchers conducted a novel study on living zebra fish embryos, with the idea of following the development of the embryos from the time the eggs were laid to birth.
They used silver nanoparticles as the medium with which to “stain” the tiny embryos, making it easier to view the development of the zebra fish in their egg sacs, in real time, under photonic examination.
Here’s an excerpt from the study overview:
“This approach allows us to prepare optically uniform and purified Ag NPs that are stable (non aggregating) in solution for months…
… permitting them to become robust and widely-used single nanoprobes for in vivo optical imaging [i.e., for viewing the developing zebra fish in the egg]
These Ag nanoparticles show remarkable photostability and serve as single nanoparticle photonic probes for continuous imaging nanoenvironments of segmentation-stage zebrafish embryos for hours...
…This study demonstrates the possibility of using individual monodisperse nanophotonics to probe the roles of embryonic fluid dynamics in embryonic development."
[Source: ACS Nano. 2008 Jul;2(7):1371-80. -- Design of stable and uniform single nanoparticle photonics for in vivo dynamics imaging of nanoenvironments of zebrafish embryonic fluids.]
Let me interpret this for you:
The researchers used “Ag NPs” (i.e., colloidal silver nanoparticles) as imaging contrast media (i.e., to stain zebra fish eggs) so they would be easier to view through an optical microscope.
This allowed the scientists to see what was going on inside the tiny environment of the zebra fish egg sac for hours at a time (i.e., “in vivo optical imaging” using “individual monodisperse nanophotonics” which allowed “continuous imaging nanoenvironments of segmentation-stage zebrafish embryos for hours”)…
The goal of course was to determine what happens in the embryonic sac as the eggs develop into baby zebra fish (i.e., “probe the roles of embryonic fluid dynamics in embryonic development”).
The bottom line is that the researchers chose nanosilver to stain the developing zebra fish embryos so they could easily track changes in the “embryonic fluid dynamics.” Thanks to the nanosilver they could easily view the developing embryos through photonic optical imaging and successfully chart their development.
If silver is so toxic to animal reproductive systems, why would these researchers choose to use it to study the development of zebra fish embryos? The question answers itself.
Using Colloidal Silver to Preserve
Swine Sperm for Artificial Insemination
What’s more, colloidal silver nanoparticles are now also being used to preserve animal sperm samples so the sperm can later be used for artificial insemination. You can read about a patent for the procedure at this link: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6596472.html
Here are some brief quotes from the patent (pardon the dry reading, but it is important to see this is real, as it puts the lie to many of the charges against silver so incessantly trumpeted by the radical environmentalists who have been attempting to have silver regulated as a harmful “pesticide” by the EPA):
“A colloidal dispersion of nanoparticles of silver may be used to preserve reproductive samples such as boar semen, producing a medium which is antibacterial and antiviral.
The colloidal dispersion of silver may be produced through the methods detailed below, or any other suitable method. In particular, a colloidal silver solution is mixed with an extender concentrate to form an extender composition.
The colloidal silver solution has a silver concentration of at least about 1×10 −9 moles/liter.
The silver may be present in one or more forms, including ionic, elemental, or a mixture thereof. Further, the ions may be present in one or more oxidation states.
The silver ions have an affinity to sulfhydryl groups in enzyme systems, and through which they interfere with the transmembraneous energy transfer in bacterial microorganisms.
…The extender composition is formed by mixing the extender concentrate as directed by the manufacturer of the concentrate, substituting the colloidal silver suspension for the water.
The extender composition is then mixed with an animal reproductive sample to form a biological culture medium useful for animal reproduction. The animal reproductive sample is typically semen, oocytes, embryos or other solutions usable for reproductive purposes.
Preferably, the animal reproductive sample is boar semen. The concentration and viability of the animal reproductive sample is determined by known methods in the art.
Based on the concentration and viability of the animal reproductive sample, an amount of the extender composition is added to maximize the number of doses of the biological culture medium useful for animal reproduction. The amount of extender composition to be added to the animal reproductive sample is determined based on traditional methods in the art.”
Verdict: Non Toxic!
Based on the Zebra Fish embryo study above in which silver was used to “stain” the embryos in their egg sacs so they could be viewed through photonic imaging from insemination to birth…
…and based on the above-described patent for using silver nanoparticles to preserve reproductive samples of swine (boar) semen…
…I’d have to conclude, generally speaking, that silver is not toxic to the sperm/eggs of animals, or of humans for that matter.
Indeed, I find it quite interesting that the above patent clearly points out the fact that “The silver ions have an affinity to sulfhydryl groups in enzyme systems, and through which they interfere with the transmembraneous energy transfer in bacterial microorganisms.”
In other words, silver interferes with the ability of bacterial microorganisms to produce energy, and thus either deactivates or kills them. This keeps the swine semen from becoming infected with pathogens during storage. But it is apparently harmless to the swine semen itself!
The Scam: Contrived Environment v/s Real Life
The radical environmentalists who keep making the charge that silver is toxic to animal reproduction base their shrill allegations on studies conducted for the express purpose of proving silver toxicity. In other words, the studies were skewed to produce the results the environmentalists wanted.
For examples, the environmentalists continuously cite studies in which researchers simply kept adding silver nanoparticles to an enclosed environment full of zebra fish until there was so much silver being absorbed by the fish that it produced a toxic reaction.
The environmentalists use this kind of contrived study to make their point that silver being released into the environment from commercial sources can be toxic to animals.
But the studies they point to used zebra fish in very small controlled environments (like a small fish aquarium) and then progressively increased the amount of silver in that tiny enclosed environment until they got the toxic reaction they were looking for.
In a real life environment -- which is to say, a river, lake, stream, etc. -- that's not how things work. For example, in lakes and streams near silver mines where silver is naturally at high levels in the environment, the bodies of water are literally teeming with wildlife in spite of their higher than average silver content.
How could this be, if silver is so toxic to the environment and its wildlife?
The fact of the matter is this:
In a real world environment like lakes, streams or rivers the silver content of these water bodies rise and fall over time thanks to a number of factors such as rainfall, seasonal flooding, snow melt, etc.
And a number of natural factors work to constantly protect the wildlife. For example, silver particles tend to rapidly agglomerate with other minerals in the waters and lose their toxic properties, essentially becoming inert.
Silver particles (along with other natural minerals) can also be absorbed by the abundant plant life in natural bodies of water. This changes the structure and function of the silver particles and dramatically reduce their toxicity.
Indeed, in spite of relatively high silver levels in many natural bodies of water, the waters absolutely teem with wildlife ranging from tiny bacteria and protozoa to minnows and larger fish.
The bottom line is that it is only in the very controlled environments of clinical laboratories that silver particles can be manipulated to such excessive levels that they become toxic to wildlife, because there is no natural ebb and flow (i.e., no fresh water coming in from rain storms, snow melt, tributaries, seasonal flooding etc.), and no natural protective processes such as agglomeration with other minerals or absorption by plant life.
In short, if you eliminate nature’s built-in protections, and manipulate silver content to excessive levels in a specially controlled environment, then you can demonstrate toxicity to living animals other than single-celled bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. But you have to create that controlled environment and add unnaturally high levels of silver in order to “prove” toxicity to wildlife other than microbes.
By the way, you could do the same thing with iron, copper, manganese, zinc, or any other mineral. Simply keep adding these minerals to a controlled environment filled with zebra fish until you produce a toxic level, and there you have it – “proof” that these minerals are “toxic” to wildlife. But of course the environmentalists won’t tell you that these same minerals abound in nature and don’t harm wildlife at all, generally speaking. After all, they’re not out to have those minerals regulated on behalf of Big Pharma. They’re only after silver (for now).
“The Dose Is the Poison”
As Paracelsus, a physician living over 400 years ago who is often referred to as the "Grandfather of Pharmacology,” wisely observed, “The dose is the poison.” This means that just about anything can be harmful to you, if you take a high enough dosage for a long enough period of time. Silver is no different.
This is my long-winded way of saying that I suppose there are circumstances in which silver could be harmful to human sperm or eggs (i.e., human reproduction) – if, for example, you took ungodly excessive amounts over long periods of time.
But considering the above zebra fish study in which researchers actually stained living zebra fish embryos using nanosilver as an imaging contrast media in order to study the developing embryos in vivo (i.e., directly inside the living eggs) …
…and considering the above patent demonstrating how effectively colloidal silver nanoparticles can be used to preserve the sperm of boars (swine)…
…and considering the relatively minor levels of silver used by most people in the form of colloidal silver…
…and considering the remarkable ability of the human body to utilize, sequester, and excrete silver…
…and considering the fact that some people have even testified that taking colloidal silver helped them overcome infertility…
…and last but not least, considering the fact that the December 1990 peer-reviewed study titled Toxicological Profile for Silver, conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control) found there were no signs of tetragenic (i.e., birth malformation or other malformation) properties from silver…
…then I’d have to conclude that the likelihood of colloidal silver usage causing reproductive disruption or damage in either animals or humans appears to be very slim if not completely nil.
That is to say, short of irresponsible and excessive usage, silver is apparently quite safe in terms of its effects on human and animal reproduction.
Regards and great health!
Steve Barwick, author of The Ultimate Colloidal Silver Manual
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