Richard Davies and Samuel Etris of The Silver Institute, in a 1996 monograph entitled The Development and Functions of Silver in Water Purification and Disease Control, discuss three mechanisms of deactivation that silver utilizes to incapacitate disease causing organisms.
They are:1.) Catalytic Oxidation
2.) Reaction with Cell Membranes
3.) Binding with the DNA of disease organisms to prevent unwinding (i.e., replication)
Silver, in its atomic state, has the capacity to absorb oxygen and act as a catalyst to bring about oxidation.
Atomic (nascent) oxygen absorbed onto the surface of silver ions in solution will readily react with the sulfhydryl (-S-H) groups surrounding the surface of bacteria or viruses to remove the hydrogen atoms (as water), causing the sulfur atoms to form an R-S-S-R bond; blocking respiration and causing the bacteria to expire.
Employing a simple catalytic reduction/oxidation reaction, colloidal silver will react with any negative charge presented by the organism's transport or membrane proteins and deactivate them.
Reaction with Bacterial Cell Membranes:
There is evidence that silver ions attach to membrane surface radicals of bacteria, impairing cell respiration and blocking its energy transfer system.
One explanation is based on the nature of enzyme construction: Specific enzymes are required for a given biochemical activity to take place. Enzyme molecules usually require a specific metallic atom as part of the molecular matrix in order to function. A metal of higher valance can replace a metal of lower valance in the enzyme complex, preventing the enzyme from functioning normally.
Silver, with a valance of plus 2, can replace many metals with a lower, or equal valance that exhibit weaker atomic bonding properties.
Binding with DNA:
Studies by C.L. Fox and S.M. Modak with the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a tenacious bacteria that is difficult to treat, demonstrated that as much as 12% of silver is taken up by the organism's DNA.
While it remains unclear exactly how the silver binds to the DNA without destroying the hydrogen bonds holding the lattice together, it nevertheless prevents the DNA from unwinding, an essential step for cellular replication to occur.
In Simpler Terms…
So there you have it. Basically stated…
…Colloidal silver works against pathogens by oxidizing them, much as hydrogen peroxide does. Some researchers have referred to this as the creation of an “oxygen burst” when the silver particle comes into contact with the pathogen.
…Colloidal silver works against pathogens by attaching to the surface membrane, and disrupting the function of its energy transfer system while impairing respiration. Disrupted energy transfer and respiration means the pathogen simply cannot function. For all practical purposes it is “deactivated.”
…Finally, colloidal silver works against pathogens by binding with their DNA, preventing them from replicating – if they can’t replicate, they can’t infect.