Log Cabin Chronicles

Why Rosemary turned blue

By John Mahoney
Stanstead, Quebec

Posted June 1996

osemary Jacobs is angry. And blue. To be more precise, Rosemary's skin is blue-grey -- it has been for 40 years -- and for the past six months she has been mad as hell.

You sense she has been angry for a long time. Her skin turned color when she was a teenager -- after several years of squirting nose drops containing silver that were prescribed by her licensed medical physician.

Within a couple of years Rosemary's skin turned blue-grey. The silver in the nose drops had dispersed throughout her body and collected deep within her skin, at the level of the sweat glands. And it didn't go away.

It happened gradually. Her friends weren't aware. Not even her mother noticed. It wasn't until she applied for a job as a young volunteer "candystriper" in a hospital that a nursing sister asked, "Why are you that color?" that she learned she had argyria, a permanent, irreversible condition that everyone can see.

It's not easy to be different when you're a teenager. When your face is blue-grey it can make it difficult to land a good job or rent an apartment. Once, in Italy, she was kicked out of a pensione -- the proprietor didn't want any blue people on the premises.

Rosemary is 53 now, a soft-spoken, multi-lingual, retired teacher who worked for years with children in the Montessori system, and she can tell you about cruel treatment and taunts and being stared at like she was a freak in a carnival sideshow.

"In Spain, people on the street would yell at me that I was a terrible color," she says in her soft voice. " I speak Spanish and I learned to yell back. In Germany, people would bluntly ask what was wrong with my face."

Quick peeks, sideways
Around the border area people are more circumspect -- they sneak glances.

Her face isn't a uniform color, it's blotchy. That's what makes you first notice that Rosemary's skin isn't like yours or mine.

The lighter colored blotches are the result of a failed medical procedure -- dermabrasion -- during which a physician attempted to sand away the silver deposits. Alas, the metal was buried too deeply in her skin.

Months later, after the swelling subsided and her sanded face healed, Rosemary still looked blue but now she was covered with lighter-pigmented blotches.

She seems philosophical about it all now, but then she has had a lifetime to learn to deal with it.

Now her anger is focused. She has a target. She doesn't want to see anyone else have to go through what she has been going through for most of her life.

Rosemary is waging war on the over-the-counter and on-line peddlers of what she believes may be a quack nostrum: colloidal silver diet supplements.

She doesn't want them banned. No, she wants a prominent warning in their advertisements and labeling to make it clear that this stuff may turn your skin blue.

Steve Crevoshay, owner of Newport Natural Foods in Newport, Vermont, doesn't agree with the counter-claims about colloidal silver and says he trusts the reputable manufacturers whose products he sells.

To support his position, he offers an article in Health Supplement Retailer written by Garry Smith, ND, HMD, who " has been in the health field for more than 20 years and has done extensive research on colloidal silver..."

Misleadingly, Garry Smith's article doesn't report that he also manufactures and sells colloidal silver.

New Age silver bullet
In the past five years, non-medical establishment health-care advocates have been ballyhooing colloidal silver supplements as today's natural miracle: the "silver bullet" of the New Age. Here's a quote from one of the Internet advertising pages of the corporation Life Plus of Batesville, Arkansas, a major manufacturer of colloidal silver supplements:

"There is no known disease organism that can live in the presence of even minute traces of metallic silver. Colloidal silver is highly germicidal, harmless to humans, and absolutely non-toxic."

But, wait! Further down the page, there's more:

"It has been proven that any amount in excess of [five parts per million] can actually given your skin a 'permanent' blue tinge that is with you for life.

"If you want to look like a smurf, go for it, but if you want the best get the Life Plus 'true' colloidal silver in a blue glass bottle and it even comes with a spray pump..."

Basically, what you get is a small bottle of distilled water in which they claim teeny-tiny pieces of silver remain in permanent suspension -- a colloid -- through electrolysis.

Several teaspoons a day sprayed on, or into, your body is the newly rediscovered "silver bullet" that no known ailment can stand against.

"It is tasteless, odorless, and non-irritating to sensitive tissues such as the eyes, so it can also be used like a first aid spray on cuts, sores, burns, insect bites, etc."

The profit margin contained in a tiny $26 bottle of colloidal silver manufactured by a U.S. corporation like Life Plus is very attractive. They claim to roll 56 percent back into commissions and royalties for their "downline" marketing-scheme dealers.

Good deal for dealers
The deal for their dealers is this: You have to buy $40 of their products each month. For every person that you convince to sign on as a dealer and who buys their monthly $40 quota of colloidal silver or other diet supplements, you get a commission off their purchases.

The more people you get to sign up and buy stuff, the more you make. The same goes for your downline buyers.

Neat, eh?

Life Plus manufactures and sells Support Tabs and other natural supplements for every ailment from Aids and Alertness through Bed Wetting and Female Problems to Restlessness and Ringing in the Ears.

According to an official Public Health Statement released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, argyria is believed to be the "most serious health effect of silver." Most ingested silver is eliminated in the feces within a week.

And, the agency reports, "silver does have helpful uses." Silver nitrate has been used to combat gonorrhea-caused blindness in newborn babies, and salve for burn victims.

Rosemary doesn't dispute the claims of the proprietary colloidal silver boosters, but she says that all the silver she ingested through the nose drops obviously didn't prevent her breast cancer a decade ago.

Demands warnings
What she wants is that anyone who advocates using these products -- whether manufacturer, distributor, or book publisher -- must warn potential consumers that they may put themselves at risk be ingesting the nostrum.

She recently picketed Charles Tuttle Publishers in Boston because it has refused to add a warning in a book it has printed that contains a glowing report of using colloidal silver for cats.

And she continues to write to government agencies, demanding action.

"Buyer, beware," she says. "Unless you are able to test every unregulated product that you ingest, you are at risk."

Rosemary Jacobs wants hers to be the last blue face you ever see.

[ end ]

IN HER OWN WORDS: ROSEMARY'S STORY

HOME   COLUMNS   FEATURES   FICTION   OPINION   POETRY   PHOTOGRAPHY

Copyright © John Mahoney 1996 /Log Cabin Chronicles/06.96