Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Argyria Looks Like

It has always been very difficult to capture argyria, the skin discoloration caused by silver, on film. I have had the condition for over 50 years developing it when I was a teenager.

When I was young, human beings developed photographs, and I suspect that when they saw an argyric person in one they thought, “No. This can’t be right. She can’t be this color,” and they adjusted the color mix to make us look the way they thought we should. If the photo showed us with other people, the adjustments made everyone look a little “off”, but viewers weren’t surprised because they were accustomed to photographs that often produced colors that were "a little off".

Like most argyric people, I’ve always hated to have my picture taken, but unlike most of the others, I did let some people take a few over the years, mostly my dad who was an amateur photographer, and they were mostly slides. I posted some on my webpage to show you what I looked like before I turned gray and before and after I was dermabraded.

At the bottom, you will see a lady who had her entire body discolored by silver.

In this digital age it is easier to show our discoloration, but often even digital photos make us look “just like you” and color appears different on different computer screens and mobile devices. It isn’t just us amateurs who have this problem. I’ve worked with lots of professionals who did too. That includes AP photographers and network TV video cameramen.

To compound matters, our discoloration changes in different light and probably when surrounded by different colors. I had been told that for years but never comprehended it till I met Arline, a lady who got argyria recently from a silver “dietary supplement” labeled “colloidal silver” or “CS”.

Arline and I met when Good Morning America flew me out to Las Vegas to meet her in person and be interviewed for one of their TV programs although we had spoken often on the phone before then. We met originally when a person who saw me on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not told Arline that she thought she had the same condition that I have and, with her permission, contacted me by email to ask that I phone Arline who doesn’t have a computer.

When I walked into the hotel room for the interview, Arline and her sister were seated with the TV producer and crew, but they looked fine to me. Neither looked discolored, until that is, we walked out into the sunlight. There Arline's discoloration was startling. It was also startling under the fluorescent light in her dermatologist's office. Yet in spite of this, the cameraman was never able to show the startling effect on video, but the following photos do. They show exactly how Arline looks at her worst, how I think I looked before I was dermabraded and how most people with generalized argyria look.

Here are photos which I think show what I look like now, post-dermabrasion, at the age of 69. As a result of the experimental procedure my face has gone from a solid gray to a splotchy gray, pink and white.

You will find more photos of argyric people if you google “argyria” or “Paul Karason”. Paul is the only person besides Arline and me that I know of with argyria who has spoken out publicly and the only one I know of who appears to be thrilled with the attention looking weird gets him. Oh how I’d love to meet him in person!

You will find case reports about argyric people on PubMed, some of which include photos, if you search using the term “argyria” or “colloidal silver”.

If you live in the US and find articles indexed on PubMed that you'd like to read, go to the library at your local hospital. The librarian may have them or be able to get you copies at little or no cost.

Catherine Stack, The Niagara Gazette, Colloidal Silver

Is nurse Catherine Stack or perhaps the Niagara Gazette moving in the right direction regarding colloidal silver? I’m not sure.

An article appeared in the paper today, September 13, 2011, called Natural Health: Bacteria That Causes Belly Woes which stated that, “Colloidal silver” and other specific ‘natural’ products “are unproven remedies that have helped many individuals.” Well that certainly is an improvement over Stack’s previous article in which she stated, “Many studies seem to reflect that colloidal silver use has been proven to be useful against many different infections and is toxic against all species of fungi, bacteria, protozoa, parasites and certain viruses.”

But, of course, silver isn’t an “unproven remedy”. It is a disproven one. It is snake oil. Ingesting it in any form or amount offers no benefits whatsoever and can harm you. It can cause argyria making your skin gray like mine or blue like Paul Karason’s.

And yes, there are many people who think that CS has helped them, but there are many people who think that mislabeled water which they were lead to believe offered health benefits has helped them too. Surely, that is something I’d expect a nurse to know. Wouldn’t you?

However, looking at the article published online today by the Niagara Gazette, I’m not certain that Nurse Stack is the author. Just like her other articles a large photo of her appears next to the column and there is a caption below it telling readers about her and giving her contact numbers, but the byline, unlike the previous ones that say “by Catherine Stack”, now reads “by Janet Penn”.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

British Columbia, Naturopaths And The Local Media

On August 23, 2011 I read this letter by Warren Bailey, MD which apparently had appeared originally in The Parksville Qualicum News, a Canadian newspaper published in the Province of British Columbia commenting on an article by Tara McCart, ND.

I left the following comment which as of today, September 3, 2011, has not been posted.

Unlike those who practice scientific or evidence-based medicine, naturopaths practice a belief-based system of medicine. I personally would have no problem with that if they admitted it to themselves and everyone else, but they don't.

In support of my claim about their use of drugs and therapies unsupported by objective evidence, and even in the face of a large body of evidence which shows that the substance is at best useless and at worst harmful, look at their use of silver

and tin (Scroll down to #12.)

Rosemary Jacobs

Looking at it now, I realize that my last paragraph wasn’t very clear. I should have said, …in the face of a large body of evidence showing that substances that they use are at best useless and at worst harmful….But I don’t think that was a legitimate reason for not posting my comment, and unfortunately, this is the second time that bclocal has refused to publish a comment of mine about NDs.

After reading this article about naturopaths on their site on February 23, 2011, I submitted the following comment:

Naturopaths do not learn science-based or evidence-based medicine at Bastyr University or at any of their 4-year graduate schools. They know absolutely nothing about pharmacology or toxicology. I know this because naturopaths who have graduated from such schools and are licensed as physicians in the US State of Vermont have a state sanctioned formulary that includes silver, even permitting them to use it IV, this in spite of the consumer warnings from the FDA and National Center for Complementary and Alternative medicine. Ingesting silver is all risk and no benefit. It can discolor your skin. The condition is called argyria. Even worse when I alerted them and presented them with the evidence they ignored me.

After living in Canada for 10 years, I know that like their American cousins Canadian journalists pride themselves on accurately reporting all the news that is relevant to their readers, so I was surprised at their failure to include my comments, especially since the site itself states, “ was created in 2007 to provide a single, comprehensive source of provincial news.” If someone like myself is saying that professionals licensed to practice medicine are using useless and dangerous products and giving solid references to substantiate my claim, I would think that a lot of readers would think that was news that was very relevant to them.

What’s is BClocal’s problem? I know that my comments are accurate and believe that they state facts important for the public to hear. If they were published than anyone who cared about the topic could investigate it for himself, draw his own conclusions and, if he chose, add his own comments.

What makes the publication’s failure to post my comments even stranger is that other publications are reporting that the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons are saying the same thing that I am saying.

I am sending the link to this blog to BClocal and hope that they leave a comment here explaining why they have not posted my remarks. Do they find them inaccurate or rude? I can’t imagine that they do. Neither can I imagine that they don’t believe my claims are substantiated. Do they find my comments controversial? If so, I would think that would be a very good reason to publish them. Or is it that they think of NDs as advertising customers and don’t want to lose their business? I’d love to know.