Ancient Uses of Copper
An ancient Egyptian medical text, known as the Smith Papyrus (circa 2400 B.C.), mentions using copper as a sterilization agent for drinking water and wounds. Another ancient text, known as the Ebers papyrus (circa 1500 B.C.) mentions the use of copper for headaches, “trembling of the limbs,” burns, and itching. The island of Cyprus provided a readily available supply of copper to Greece and is known to have provided much of the copper needed for the empires of ancient Phoenicia and Rome as well. It has also been documented that Israel’s Timna Valley provided copper for the Pharaohs.
Hippocrates (circa 400 B.C.), known as the father of modern medicine (and for whom the doctor’s Hippocratic oath was named) mentions copper as a treatment for leg ulcers associated from varicose veins. The Greeks also sprinkled a powder of copper oxide and copper sulfate on open wounds and treated wounds with a mixture of honey and red copper oxide.
In the first century A.D., the book De Materia Medica by Dioscorides, describes using verdigris (which they made by exposing metallic copper to vinegar steam to form copper acetate) in combination with copper sulfate as a remedy for bloodshot eyes, inflamed eyes, “fat in the eyes”, and cataracts.
Evidence from the time of Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus (14 to 37 A.D.), tells us that copper and its derivatives were firmly established as important drugs. In his book, De Medicina, Celsus details numerous uses for copper, along with specific instructions for the preparation of the particular form of copper recommended for each disease or condition. Among his specific directions are a copper oxide mixture made with raisin wine, saffron and myrrh for the treatment of venereal disease and a copper mixture made with rose oil for chronic ulcers.
Pliny (23 to 79 A.D.) described a number of remedies involving copper. Black copper oxide with honey was used to kill intestinal worms and purge the stomach. In diluted form, nose drops were used to “clear the head”; eardrops relieved ear discomfort and infection, and taken by mouth it relieved mouth sores and ulcers.
Diluted copper mixtures were also used for “eye roughness,” “eye pain and mistiness.”
The ancient Aztec civilization also used copper for medical purposes, including gargling with a copper mixture for sore throats. In ancient India and Persia, copper was used to treat lung diseases. Copper compounds such as malachite and copper oxide were used on boils and other skin conditions. Copper acetate and copper oxide were used for eye infections. Evidence also shows us that nomadic Mongolian tribes used copper sulfate, taken by mouth, to treat venereal ulcers.
19th Century Copper
The first recorded observation of copper’s role in the immune system in modern times was published in 1867 when it was reported that, during the cholera epidemics in Paris of 1832, 1849 and 1852, copper workers were immune to cholera.
In 1885, the French physician, Luton, reported using copper acetate in his practice to treat arthritic patients. For external application he made a salve of hog’s lard and 30% neutral copper acetate. For internal treatment, he used pills containing 10 mg. of copper acetate.
In 1895, in a published review of the pharmacological actions of copper compounds, copper arsenate was reported to treat acute and chronic diarrhea as well as dysentery and cholera. An organic complex of copper developed by Bayer was shown to have curative powers in the treatment of tuberculosis. Copper treatment for tuberculosis continued until the 1940s.
20th Century Copper
As early as 1912, patients in Germany were treated for facial epithelioma with a mixture of copper chloride and lecithin, suggesting that copper compounds might assist anti-cancer activity. Recent work with mice in the U.S. has shown that treatment of solid tumors with non-toxic doses of various organic complexes of copper markedly decreased tumor growth and metastasis and thus increased survival rate. These copper complexes did not kill cancer cells but caused them to revert to normal cells. Based on work in the treatment of cancers using copper complexes, researchers have
found that these same complexes may prevent or retard the development of cancers in mice under conditions where cancers are expected to be induced.
First observed in rats in 1936, numerous studies have drawn attention to the relationship between copper deficiency and heart disease, which effect has now been traced to both a deficiency in copper and an imbalance in the copper-to-zinc ratio in the body.
In 1939, the German physician, Werner Hangarter, noticed that Finnish copper miners were unaffected by arthritis as long as they worked in the mining industry. This observation led Finnish medical researchers plus the Germans, Hangarter and Lübke, to successfully use a mixture of copper chloride and sodium salicylate to treat patients suffering from rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis, neck and back problems, and sciatica.
A Manual of Pharmacology and its Applications to Therapeutics and Toxicology, published by W. B. Saunders Company in 1957 recommends the use of 0.5 gram of copper sulfate, dissolved in a glass of water, in a single dose, or three doses of 0.25 gram fifteen minutes apart, to induce vomiting. Interestingly, Pliny (23 – 79 A.D.) also mentions using copper for just this purpose.
Copper aspirinate has been shown not only to be more effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis than aspirin alone, but it has been shown to prevent or even cure the ulceration of the stomach often associated with aspirin therapy. More than 140 copper complexes of non-steroidal anti-anflammatory agents (aspirin and ibuprofen, for example) have been shown to be more active than their parent compounds.
It has been demonstrated that copper complexes such as copper aspirinate and copper tryptophanate, markedly increase healing rate of ulcers and wounds. For example, copper complexes heal gastric ulcers five days sooner than other reagents. Further, it has been shown that, whereas non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and enefenamic acid suppress wound healing, copper complexes of these drugs promote normal wound healing while at the same time retaining anti-inflammatory activity.
With reports of seizures in animals and humans who had significant and prolonged copper deficiencies in their diets, researches postulated that copper plays a role in the prevention of seizures. Research uncovered that organic compounds which are not themselves anti-convulsants, exhibit anticonvulsant activity when combined with copper. Further, it was found that copper complexes of all anti-epileptic drugs are more effective and less toxic than their parent drugs.
The 1973 work by Dr. L.M. Klevay at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Research Center pointed to a relationship between copper and cholesterol. In subsequent work, published in 1975, Dr. Klevay theorized that a metabolic imbalance between zinc and copper — with more emphasis on copper deficiency than zinc excess – is a major contributing factor in coronary heart disease.
Subsequent work by other investigators has shown that copper complexes also can have a valuable role in the minimization of damage to the aorta and heart muscle as oxygenated blood reperfuses into tissues following myocardial infarction. This action is based on the anti-inflammatory action of copper complexes.
It has been speculated that the reason that the heart attack rate in France is lower than in the rest of Europe is because of the significant consumption by the French of red wine, which has a higher copper content than white wine because it is prepared with the skin of the grape intact.
Copper’s role in the immune system has recently been supported by observations that individuals suffering from Menke’s disease (an inherited disease in which there is defective copper absorption and metabolism) generally die of immune system-related phenomena and other infections. Further, animals deficient in copper have been shown to have increased susceptibility to bacterial pathogens such as salmonella and listeria. This kind of evidence has led researchers to suggest that copper compounds not only can cure various conditions, but can aid in the prevention of disease.
Copper in the 21st Century Copper jewelry worn directly on skin has been used for a hundred years or more as a remedy for many ailments, including arthritis.
Now, copper bracelets to ease joint and arthritis pain are ubiquitous in health food stores, and health magazines and catalogues. With the understanding that copper deficiency can result in gray hair, skin wrinkles, crow’s feet, varicose veins and saggy skin, copper has recently been touted as a “Fountain of Youth” for its ability to improve the elastic fiber in skin, increase skin flexibility, and act as an anti-wrinkle treatment. It has even been said to be able to return gray hair back to its natural color.
As modern researches continue to investigate the role of copper in the functioning of the human body, the efficacy of copper as a trace element critical to human health and wellness is slowly but surely being discovered . . . or, shall we say, rediscovered, since the incredible healing properties of copper have been understood and used throughout human history.
Colloidal Silver Bacteriology Study Results
Challenge tests were performed on ten pathogens listed below. The testing was performed by EMSL Analytical, Inc. Microbiology Division.
The tests were designed and conducted by Lori L. Daane, Ph.D., Director of Microbiology and Elizabeth Lewis Roberts, Ph.D., Microbiologist-Special Projects.
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- Aspergillus niger
- Candida Albicans
- Escherichia coli
- Escherichia coli 0157H7 (hemorrhagic e.coli)
- Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Trichophyton rubrum
- Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE)
- Vancomycin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA)
For thousands of years silver has been used as a healing and antibacterial agent by civilizations throughout the world. Its medical, preservative and restorative powers can be traced as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman Empires. Long before the development of modern pharmaceuticals, silver was employed as a germicide and antibiotic.
Consider these interesting facts:
- The Greeks used silver vessels to keep water and other liquids fresh. The writings of Herodotus, the Greek philosopher and
historian, date the use of silver to before the birth of Christ.
- The Roman Empire stored wine in silver urns to prevent spoilage.
- The use of silver is mentioned in ancient Egyptian writings.
- In the Middle Ages, silverware protected the wealthy from the full brunt of the plague.
- Before the advent of modern germicides and antibiotics, it was known that disease-causing pathogens could not survive in the presence of silver.
- Consequently, silver was used in dishware, drinking vessels and eating utensils.
- In particular, the wealthy stored and ate their food from silver vessels to keep bacteria from growing.
- The Chinese emperors and their courts ate with silver chopsticks.
- The Druids have left evidence of their use of silver.
- Settlers in the Australian outback suspend silverware in their water tanks to retard spoilage.
- Pioneers trekking across the American West found that if they placed silver or copper coins in their casks of drinking water, it kept the water safe from bacteria, algae, etc.
- All along the frontier, silver dollars were put in milk to keep it fresh. Some of us remember our grandparents doing the same.
- Silver leaf was used to combat infection in wounds sustained by troops during World War I.
- Prior to the introduction of antibiotics, Colloidal Silver was used widely in hospitals and has been known as a bactericide for at least 1200 years.
- In the early 1800s, doctors used silver sutures in surgical wounds with very successful results.
- In Ayurvedic medicine, silver is used in small amounts as a tonic, elixir or rejuvenative agent for patients debilitated by age or disease.
Not until the late 1800’s did western scientists re-discover what had been known for thousands of years – that silver is a powerful germ fighter. Medicinal silver compounds were then developed and silver became commonly used as a medicine. By the early part of the 1900s, the use of silver as an antibacterial substance was becoming widespread. By 1940 there were approximately four dozen different silver compounds on the market being used to treat every known infectious disease. These were available in oral, injectable, and topical forms.
Although there were a few flare-ups of negative publicity regarding medicinal silver in the early 1900s, (due to the overuse of certain types of protein-bound silver compounds causing a discoloration of the skin called argyria and due to a supply of improperly prepared and unstable silver) reputable medical journal reports demonstrated that a properly prepared colloidal dispersion of silver was completely suitable with no adverse side effects. T. H. Anderson Wells reported in the Lancet (February 16th, 1918) that a preparation of colloidal silver was “used intravenously. . . without any irritation of the kidneys and with no pigmentation of the skin.”
New knowledge of body chemistry gave rise to the enormous array of applications for colloidal disinfectants and medicines and for ongoing research into the capabilities and possibilities for silver colloids. However, Silver’s “new-found” fame as a superior infection fighting agent was short lived.
How Silver Lost Favor During the 1930s, synthetically manufactured drugs began to make their appearance and the profits, together with the simplicity of manufacturing this new source of treatment, became a powerful force in the marketplace. There was much excitement over the new ‘wonder drugs’ and at that time, no antibiotic-resistant strains of disease organisms had surfaced. Silver quickly lost its status to modern antibiotics.
On-going Uses of Colloidal Silver The use of some silver preparations in mainstream medicine survived. Among them are the use of dilute silver nitrate in newborn babies’ eyes to protect from infection and the use of “Silvadine,” a silver based salve, in virtually every burn ward in America to kill
infection. A new silver based bandage has recently been approved by the FDA and licensed for sale. Other uses that did not lose favor include:
- Silver water purification filters and tablets are manufactured in Switzerland and used by many national and international airlines to prevent growth of algae and bacteria.
- Electrical ionization units that impregnate the water with silver and copper ions are used to sanitize pool water without the harsh effects of chlorine.
- The former Soviet Union used silver to sterilize recycled water on their space vehicles.
- The Swiss use silver filters in homes and offices.
- Some U.S. municipalities use silver in treatment of sewage.
- In the Japanese work place, silver is a popular agent in the fight against airborne toxins as well other industrial poisons.
- Silver-infused bandages and wound dressings are now commercially available.
- Silver has been found to prevent the infection resulting from burns.
But for the most part, with the discovery of pharmaceutical antibiotics, interest in silver as an anti-microbial agent declined almost to the point of extinction.
The Resurgence of Silver in Medicine
The return of silver to conventional medicine began in the 1970s. The late Dr. Carl Moyer, chairman of Washington University’s Department of Surgery, received a grant to develop better methods of treatment for burn victims. Dr. Margraf, as the chief biochemist, worked with Dr. Moyer and other surgeons to find an antiseptic strong enough, yet safe to use over large areas of the body. Dr. Margraf investigated 22 antiseptic compounds and found drawbacks in all of them.
Reviewing earlier medical literature, Dr. Margraf found continual references to the use of silver. However, since concentrated silver nitrate is both corrosive and painful, he diluted the silver to a .5 percent solution and found that it killed invasive burn bacteria and permitted wounds to heal. Importantly, resistant strains did not appear. But, silver nitrate was far from ideal. So research continued for more suitable silver preparations.
Silver sulphadiazine (Silvadene, Marion Laboratories) is now used in 70 percent of burn centers in America. Discovered by Dr. Charles Fox of Columbia University, sulphadiazine has also been successful in treating cholera, malaria and syphilis. It also stops the herpes virus, which is responsible for cold sores, shingles and worse.
Results show Colloidal Silver to be highly germicidal, yet harmless and non-toxic to humans. More importantly, research shows excellent results with an astonishing array of bacterial, viral and fungal conditions.
Colloidal Silver: Expert Opinions
Because of the research showing colloidal silver’s superior performance in fighting microbes, it has attracted the attention of leading scientists and medical researchers throughout the world. Its benefits are now stirring new interest as 50 prominent doctors are currently researching the efficacy and applications of colloidal silver in human health. As a result, many interesting studies have emerged.
According to experts, no microorganism ever tested has been able to stay alive for more than six minutes when exposed directly to colloidal silver.
Science Digest cites colloidal silver as “…a wonder of modern medicine,” and further states “Antibiotics kill perhaps a half dozen different disease organisms, but silver kills hundreds. Resistant strains fail to develop. Moreover, silver is virtually non-toxic.
Colloidal silver, used as an anti-microbial agent, will not create super bugs as antibiotics do.”
Alfred Searle, founder of the giant Searle Pharmaceuticals (now Monsanto) stated, “Applying colloidal silver to human subjects has been done in a large number of cases with astonishingly successful results. For internal administration … it has the advantage being rapidly fatal to pathogens without toxic action on its host. It is quite stable.” Further information indicates that Colloidal Silver does not cause harmful interactions with other medications or topical treatments.
In laboratory tests with colloidal silver, bacteria, viruses, and fungal organisms are killed within minutes of contact. Larry C. Ford, M.D. of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UCLA School of Medicine, Centre For The Health Sciences reported in November 1, 1988, ” I tested them (the silver solutions) using standard anti-microbial tests for disinfectants. The silver solutions were antibacterial for concentrations of 105 organisms per ml of Streptococcus Pyogenes, Staphylococcus Aureus, Neisseria Gonorrhea, Gardnerella Vaginalis, Salmonella Typhi and other enteric pathogens, and fungicidal for Candida Albicans, Candida Globata and M. Furfur.”
Because of the many organisms that have developed strains resistant to modern antibiotics, Dr. Robert Becker’s finding is of particular importance. Becker, of Syracuse University stated, “All of the organisms that we tested were sensitive to the electrically generated silver ions, including some that were resistant to all known antibiotics…In no case were any undesirable side effects of the silver treatment apparent.”
Everything Old Is New Again
Some researchers, such as Dr. Leonard Keene Hirschberg, A.M., M.D. of Johns Hopkins, believe that the potential of colloidal silver is just beginning to be discovered. Unlike antibiotics, which are specific only to bacteria, Colloidal Silver disables certain enzymes needed by anaerobic bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and fungus resulting in the destruction of these enzymes. Further indication is that these bacteria cannot develop a resistance to silver, as they do with antibiotics, because silver attacks their food source, rather than them directly.
In fact, Colloidal Silver is experiencing a well-deserved resurgence in use and research, proving once again the old adage that “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
Of all the common silver compounds explored for antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral efficacy, silver citrate solutions show the most promise, and by a wide margin. Axenohl, by Sistecam SA (marketed by PURE Bioscience), has become the modern benchmark for “silver citrate” quality; Axenohl and similiar products have been proven effective and useful for a wide variety of industrial applications.
In a report published by Sistecam, SA, March 18, 1999, Axenohl was diluted to 10 PPM Silver. Test solutions were modified using sodium hydroxide to yield solutions with a PH of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
Analysis of the Axenohl product was conducted using an ICP (Inductively Coupled Absorption Spectrometer).
Tests performed by Performing Analytical Laboratory were then conducted to determine if Axenohl was effective as a surface disinfectant. The studies were performed according to industry standard methods on the following bacteria: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella cholerasuis, and Staphylococcus aureus. The Axenohl solution (produced via an electrolysis process) and a standard chemical silver citrate both had 99.999 kill rates within one minute, except the PH 5,6,7 solutions on Salmonella cholerasuis. In another study, Labratorio Microtec, located in Costa Rica, determined that Axenohl, at 76 parts per billion, was effective in controlling mesophilic aerobes (bacteria) in the rural drinking water supply in Grecia, Costa Rica. 29 sample plates taken at five different sampling points were collected, and the bacterial counts at each point were compared. A statistically significant drop in bacterial counts was recorded, which coincided with the initial treatment point; the closer the sampling point was to the treatment site, the lower the bacterial count. Pure Bioscience has a patented method to create Silver dihydrogen citrate.
Citrate complexes have an advantage in that pathogenic organisms consider citrates as actual food sources. Many colloidal silver researchers and proponents of isolated silver speculate that silver citrate products may be ideal for emergency situations. It may also have great value for use in areas where delivery of low PPM isolated silver is not feasible and/or acquisition of distilled water makes creating quality colloidal silver nearly impossible, such as in third world countries. By stabilizing a silver solution with citric acid, silver citrate solutions may be created with a very high amount of actual silver content ( even 2000 parts per million ), and diluted in the available water supply.