Colloidal Silver and the Cryptosporidium Threat


Hi, Steve Barwick here, for The Silver Edge

While many websites claim colloidal silver is effective against infections by the Cryptosporidium parasite, none of them provide clinical documentation to back up this contention.  That’s because extremely little clinical research has been done to determine if silver is an effective remedy in humans or animals.

However, according to the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance (PITA), which is a university-industry partnership working in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, there’s a possibility that silver might be effective against Cryptosporidium.

Indeed, a 2008 project coordinated by the organization found that while the effects of silver on Cryptosporidium have not previously been studied, preliminary research conducted by PITA “has shown that silver holds promise as a disinfectant against Cryptosporidium.”  

PITA goes on to state:

“If silver proves successful for disinfecting bacteria and chlorine-resistant microorganisms [i.e., cryptosporidium – ED] from drinking water supplies, the technology could prove useful for drinking water disinfection at the personal, household, and municipal levels.

This technology would be attractive to many different kinds of users as well, including outdoor enthusiasts, military personnel, water utilities, and rural citizens in developing countries.”

Unfortunately, there’s no further information on the PITA website discussing whether or not the aforementioned research proved fruitful.  But the indication was that colloidal silver could be used to disinfect water supplies that had been contaminated with Cryptosporidium, which would further indicate that silver could be effective against Cryptosporidium in humans, as well.  

Anecdotal Information

Indeed, there’s anecdotal evidence that this is true.  In his book , “ Death on a Fork and How to Avoid It ,” author Gwynne Davies, a Clinical Ecologist with over 30 years in practice, writes that colloidal silver is one of the few natural treatments he’s  found that works against Cryptosporidium infections in his patients.  He states:

“One of the most serious gut problems is Cryptosporidium and in a lot of medical literature is referred to as ‘extremely difficult to cure’.  

During my practice life I had several patients with this condition and they had been told to ‘live with it.’ It is recognized as an important cause of infection in both immune-compromised and otherwise healthy subjects.  It can be a pathogen of life-threatening potential for AIDS patients…

…I came across an article on the revival of a centuries old remedy called colloidal silver.  Soon afterwards an article by Simon Cave appeared in a national newspaper, “Could a silver drink beat all antibiotics?”…

…a solution containing one of our most highly prized metals, silver, is being heralded as the latest alternative to antibiotics.  Research has shown that silver suspended in water kills virtually all bacteria, viruses or fungi – even if they are exposed to only minute traces of it…

…I first used colloidal silver, along with the elimination diet, and Lactobacillus acidophilus, on the aforementioned patients with cryptosporidium.  

They began to feel better within days and subsequent visits to the hospital for fecal testing showed no sign of the disease…

…I can honestly say that with the many patients I have prescribed this colloidal silver, not one adverse comment has been made – only wonderment at how effective it is – and, what is more, it’s not expensive.  I would recommend everyone keep a bottle of it in the medicine cupboard.”

So this clinical professional used diet (i.e., eliminating foods that can cause digestive reactions), plus treatment with probiotic supplements (i.e., Lactobacillus acidophilus) and daily doses of colloidal silver to treat Cryptosporidium infections in his immune-compromised patients, and apparently with great success!

According to an online article often attributed to cancer research Dr. Gary Smith, “Naturopaths and chiropractors use colloidal silver to treat the effects of Cryptosporidium.”

More evidence:  A company called Bio Penta Labs, which distributes a product for swimming pools called My Natural Pool which contains colloidal silver and colloidal copper, claims on its website:

Cryptosporidium is a nasty and dangerous bacteria that has six life cycles or stages. In stages 2 and 5 Crypto has a hard shell that even pure chlorine will not kill.

For this reason it is a major threat to drinking water and people in swimming pools and water parks…It may be circumstantial, but Cryptosporidium has never been reported in swimming pools treated with My Natural Pool™.”

In other words, swimming pools that are disinfected with colloidal silver and colloidal copper don’t appear to end up with Cryptosporidium outbreaks!  Of course, colloidal copper is mostly used to stop algae growth.  So the silver appears to be the disinfectant factor stopping the Cryptosporidium.

In a book from an Australian author titled Macropod Husbandry, Healthcare and Medicinals , written for people who raise Kangaroos and other marsupials, under the subject of treating such animals for Cryptosporidium infections, the author wrote, “ Colloidal silver is the best ‘harmless’ anti-bacterial to use, as it may also kill protozoa and parasites .”  

So people who raise animals apparently use colloidal silver as a treatment for Cryptosporidium infections in their animals.  

Laboratory Studies

While the anecdotal information for silver’s effectiveness against Cryptosporidium might seem to be a little bit sketchy, at best, things get more interesting when you examine the clinical lab studies in regards to silver’s ability to disinfect water of Cryptosporidium.

For example, according to an abstract from a clinical study titled Water Disinfection Using Silver and Copper Ions and Colloidal Gold by the Institute of Nuclear Physics, in Ulugbek, Tashkent, Usbekistan, and published in Modern Tools and Methods of Water Treatment for Improving Living Standards NATO Science Series, Volume 48, 2005, pp 159-166:

“The efficacy of using Ag+ and Cu 2 metal ions and colloidal Au combinations  (within limits of current drinking water regulations) for killing Tyhphoid-Paratyphoid, Legionella pneumophila, Salmonella, Vibrio cholera asiaticea, Lamblia intestinalis, Cryptosporidium parvum , etc. has been examined.  

Tests carried out in various laboratories during 1998-2003 have shown the dependence of bacteria killing time on metal ion concentration, initial bacteria concentration, and the influence of concentration of various ions on the disinfection process.”

In other words, Cryptosporidium and other serious water-borne pathogens are indeed killed by silver ions, copper ions and gold ions when they’re leached into the water supply.  But the effectiveness of these metallic ions depends upon the severity of the concentration of the pathogens, as well as the amount of metallic ions leached into the water.  

Of course, that’s true with any antimicrobial substance.  An antibiotic drug, for example, won’t work against your infection if you only take a quarter of the dose necessary to kill pathogens.  You have to take the full dose in order to get the best results.  And you might have to take larger doses if you have a more severe pathogenic infection.  Metallic ions are no different.  

More importantly, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology , and titled “Silver Nanoparticles Decrease the Viability of Cryptosporidium parvum Oocysts,” researchers studied the effects of silver nanoparticles and silver ions against the thick-walled oocysts of Cryptosporidium – the most difficult-to-kill stage in the parasite’s life-cycle.

Their goal was to determine if silver could be used for disinfection of drinking water contaminated with the hard-shelled Cryptosporidium cysts.  They wrote:

“Recently, numerous studies established that silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are highly toxic to bacteria and fungi and that this toxicity is often associated with ion release and induction of oxidative stress...

Since Cryptosporidium parvum has previously shown sensitivity to oxidative stress, we sought to determine the effect of silver nanoparticles on oocyst viability. At the time that we undertook our study, no previous work had investigated the impact of nanoparticles on waterborne protozoan pathogens...

Our work assesses the dose dependence of nanoparticle action on waterborne protozoan pathogens and additionally ascertains whether silver nanoparticles have any effect on the viability of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts and whether this effect is due to the presence of Ag ions, the nanoparticles, or a combination of both. 

“Oocysts of the waterborne protozoan parasite  Cryptosporidium parvum  are highly resistant to chlorine disinfection. We show here that both silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) and silver ions significantly decrease oocyst viability, in a dose-dependent manner, between concentrations of 0.005 and 500 μg/ml ...

The results presented here confirm that silver nanoparticles and silver ions are toxic to the waterborne protozoan pathogen Cryptosporidium, and they quantify the dose dependence of this effect .”

In other words, the researchers wanted to see if silver nanoparticles would disrupt the lifecycle of Cryptosporidium during the oocyst stage – the stage that even chlorine bleach and iodine can’t kill.  And compared to untreated controls, silver nanoparticles in concentrations between 5 ppm and 500 ppm were tested, and were found to destroy the Cryptosporidium cysts in a dose-dependent matter, meaning the stronger the colloidal silver suspension, the better the effect against the cysts in water.  

This is very good news overall because it demonstrates silver to be effective against the most difficult-to-kill stage of the Cryptosporidium parasite – the hard-shelled oocyst stage which, as I mentioned earlier, resists both chlorine bleach and iodine (the two most commonly used water disinfectants), as well as freezing temperatures.

An Animal Study

In a clinical study published in Environmental Science & Technology in 2015, researchers were able to demonstrate that Cryptosporidium oocysts treated with silver nitrate and protein-capped silver nanoparticles (i.e., essentially silver ions and mild silver protein) were less able to infect mice than non-treated Cryptosporidium oocysts. They wrote:

“...treatment of oocysts with silver nitrate and proteinate-capped silver nanoparticles resulted in decreased infection relative to untreated oocysts

...proteinate-capped silver-nanoparticle treatment of oocysts resulted in morphological modifications and decreased excystation rates of sporozoites .”

In other words, when lab mice were fed the silver-treated Cryptosporidium oocysts in their drinking water, fewer of the mice became infected than lab mice given Cryptosporidium oocysts that had not been silver-treated.  

The researchers discovered that the silver treatment damaged the hard outer shell of the Cryptosporidium oocysts to such a degree they were far less able to release spores that would otherwise result in further infection!  

Finally, according to a study published in the journal Water , and titled “Performance and Acceptance of Novel Silver-Impregnated Ceramic Cubes for Drinking Water Treatment,” the study authors wrote:

Silver ions are effective against bacteria and protozoa; furthermore, they are more effective than chlorine against Cryptosporidium .  Viruses and helminthes are also susceptible to silver ions. Silver, at safe yet effective concentrations, imparts no taste or color to the treated water.”

Human Studies?

Although the mouse study mentioned above is clearly promising in regards to the use of silver against the Cryptosporidium parasite, I’ve unfortunately not been able to find any human studies testing silver against Cryptosporidium infection.

Since medical science quite literally has no known effective drug treatment against Cryptosporidium, and since Cryptosporidium infections now represent a clear and ever-present public health threat, it seems obvious that human studies should be the next step in the evolution of vital information on this topic.

Will the medical community ever get around to it?  Probably not.  After all, even when clinical test tube studies demonstrate silver’s effectiveness against some of the most crippling super-pathogens – including MRSA, Pseudomonas, CRE pathogens and others -- the medical community never seems to get around to doing human studies.  

That, unfortunately, leaves it to people like you and me to simply try colloidal silver when we end up with an infection, and see for ourselves if it works.

Thousands of experiential accounts have demonstrated colloidal silver to be highly effective against a wide variety of stomach and intestinal infections – everything ranging from food poisoning to H. pylori infections and ulcers to the so-called “ winter vomiting virus ” (i.e., norovirus) to Crohn’s disease to interstitial cystitis to inflammatory bowel disease to an astonishing array of other stomach and intestinal infections .

It would not surprise me in the least if colloidal silver turns out to be, as clinical ecologist Gwynne Davies found, one of the most effective natural ways to help the human body overcome a Cryptosporidium infection, as well.
Steve Barwick
Steve Barwick


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