Pandemics, Sourdough and Nanosilver

Pandemics, Sourdough and Nanosilver

Each week during February this year, we have reported how consuming sourdough may help to bolster your immune system. And though there is not much science on the subject of sourdough and human immunity,  having a healthy gut makes good sense for anyone trying to stay well.

In  Dr. Mark Hyman, noted nutritionist and author explains:

“Your gut wall houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system.”

Then he listed a number of illness that can be attributed to digestive problems. Things like  “allergies, arthritis, autoimmune diseases (irritable bowel syndromeacnechronic fatigue), mood disorders, autismdementia and cancer. Many diseases seemingly unrelated are actually caused by gut problems.” He concludes, “If you want to fix your health, start with your gut.”1

Gut health affects our body’s immune system in many ways by breaking down foods we eat and then absorbing nutrients from that food, all while removing toxins from our system. “For optimal immunity,” writes Hyman, detoxification and nourishment, your gut must function seamlessly.”

That means that the three pounds of gut bacteria (500 species) combine to keep you well. It also contributes to weight and disease control. In a recent post, we explored ways that eating whole grain sourdough bread might help to fortify your body against disease. 

That said, let’s face the growing concern about the possible global pandemic COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) presents: 

Potential COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic

Last week, the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC warned: 

We are taking and will continue to take aggressive action to reduce the impact of this virus [COVID-19] that it will have on the communities in the US We are working with state, local, and territorial health departments to ready our public health workforce to respond to local cases and the possibility this outbreak could become a pandemic.”2

Since that statement, outbreaks have suddenly cropped up in countries like Italy, Iran, and South Korea, prompting Messonnier says the Coronavirus is a threat to the USA which would present “significant disruptions to our lives.”3 Her new notice came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at a second briefing Tuesday. 

That same day the CDC reported that “there have been 53 cases within the United States.” Still, there have been “no deaths …reported in the United States,” due to quarantine efforts here.4   

Nonetheless, we must put this media panic into perspective with this report from John Hopkins Medical on deaths from the flu this year compared to the Coronavirus:

“COVID-19: Approximately 2,770 deaths reported worldwide; 0 deaths in the US, as of Feb. 26, 2020.

Flu: 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide; 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the US per year.”5

I never report these kinds of things to minimize them, but to put them in perspective so that we can “be prepared, not scared.”

So is there any good news from this growing concern?

This morning, the BBC reported that eighty percent of those infected with COVID-19 have minor symptoms much like a cold. However, the other twenty percent may develop more severe symptoms, and in two percent of those cases, the disease is terminal. Flu, on the other hand, which is much more widespread this year says the CDC, only causes death in .1% from complications like pneumonia. 

While flu is our biggest problem right now, the fear of COVID-19 has captured worldwide attention. Both diseases are transmitted to people from others coughing or sneezing within six feet of each other. Less often, a virus might be left on a surface or object by someone infected with the flu. The virus is then transferred to a new person who touches that surface and then touches their mouth, nose, or even their eyes.

So What To Do?

Daniel B. Jernigan, MD from CDC COVID-19 Response Team, suggests something simple: stay home of you are ill and wear a mask if you are ill and must go out. Cover any cough you may have.

However, if you are well, wearing will not be effective. Instead, start a new habit of never entering your home without first washing your hands for 20 seconds.  When you are out, skip the business handshake and never touch your hand to your eyes or mouth. Away from a place to wash, you might also use a hand sanitizer that is 60% alcohol, but it is not as effective as a simple but thorough hand wash. He wrote:

“Implementation of basic precautions of infection control and prevention… will become increasingly important.
“…intervention might include school dismissals and social distancing in other settings (e.g., postponement or cancellation of mass gatherings and telework and remote-meeting options in workplaces). These measures can be disruptive… However, studies have shown that early layered implementation of these interventions can reduce the community spread and impact of infectious pathogens such as pandemic influenza, even when specific pharmaceutical treatments and vaccines are not available.”6

Not to be flippant, but if you can’t leave home to buy food, you better know how to make bread and use other things you might have in storage. My storage area is pretty small, so there is a variety there for a few weeks, but our staple is our wheat.  Also, I keep a couple of gallons of nanosilver on hand. 

Nano Silver and Your Immune System

People have known for a long time that silver is a natural antibiotic—it kills bacteria. In ancient Rome, the wealthy ate with silver cutlery because they knew it kept them from getting ill if their food had spoiled. 

 “In fact,” writes Sharon Oosthoek, “historians think that is how we came to call eating utensils’ silverware.’ She went on to explain silver’s role in medicine, “Doctors use silver-coated bandages to kill germs that might infect burns and other wounds. Silver also is sometimes used to coat medical devices, such as breathing tubes. This can reduce the likelihood that patients on ventilators …will develop pneumonia from exposure to germs.”7

Years ago, our brother-in-law introduced us to colloidal silver for treating infection. However, this type of silver can be toxic if taken orally and may lead to argyria, a permanent blue skin discoloring due to excessive silver exposure. 

In recent decades silver has been fashioned in very tiny particles called nanosilver. “Companies put it into socks, toothbrushes, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and other items.… promoted as a defense against bacteria that might make people sick. Other times, it’s more about neutralizing bacteria that cause stinky feet or smelly breath. At last count, more than 400 consumer products contained this form of silver.”8 Happily nanosilver does not lead to argyria, so you won’t turn blue if you get too much. After a day or two is passes out of your system

Fibers with silver nanoparticles, used in antimicrobial dressings in wound care, imaged with Inlens Duo at 1 kV at high vacuum with ZEISS Sigma 500.

Just two years ago, I found Silver Support and got two gallons for storage and future emergencies, such as a pandemic. Because I am part of my community’s Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) and a former Army Reserve Medic, it seemed like a good thing to have on hand.

I would need it whenever I cannot access antibiotics, so tucked with my supply of bandages and other medical stuff, I keep a small supply on hand. Why? For the reason that Georgios Sotiriou and Sotiris E Pratsinis.

“The ability for nanosilver to prevent the spread of infection is due to release of silver (Ag+) ions from the surface of this material that is capable of destroying compounds that contain sulfur and phosphorus, such as the DNA and proteins present within bacteria, fungi or viruses.9

But I am wondering if I might need it to bolster my family’s immune systems. This seems especially important since my wife has several autoimmune disorders—I must stay well.

Silver Support lists their nanosilver as a way to support your immune system:

  • “Silver is an all-natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal substance
  • “Silver Support can be a natural part of an overall healthy lifestyle
  • ​”Use topically or take internally; our solution is beneficial for both!”10

Their site’s FAQ also lists this:

  • Some take 1–3 teaspoons a day as immune support. (A child would take one teaspoon a day.)
  • The typical applications include taking orally for overall well-being. Swish in the mouth for 30 seconds, then swallow. 

What Does Silver Have To Do With Bread?

At this point in this post, this is a question you may be asking. Honestly, I am not sure yet, but in previous posts, as I wrote earlier, we explored the implications for gut health using sourdough, now we want to explore their use in tandem.

The questions then, we are asking at Abigail’s oven is this: “What effect would nanosilver have on a sourdough start? How would it compliment or affect a long ferment? Can sourdough and nanosilver be used in some complementary way? Can the nanoparticles survive a hot bake?” 

I am testing these questions over the next few days and will list the results on my Sourdough Saturday post this weekend

My conclusion, however, is to swish with the nanosilver after eating a traditional slice of sourdough—this is the single most expensive loaf I have ever made.

What do you think about this subject? Tell us in the comment section below.


 How Good Gut Health Can Boost Your Immune System, EcoWatch,  2  Nancy Messonnier, Transcript for CDC Telebriefing: Update on COVID-19, February 21, 2020,
Betsy McCaugheyPandemic prep: What you should know to protect against coronavirus, February 25, 2020

4 Daniel B. Jernigan, Update: Public Health Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak — United States, February 25, 2020
Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu, John Hopkins Health
6Jernigan, ibid.
Nanosilver: Naughty or nice?
Georgios Sotiriou and Sotiris Pratsinis, “Engineering Nanosilver as an Antibacterial, Biosensor and Bioimaging Material,” Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2011, pp. 3–10.
Silver Support home page

Author: Darryl Alder, retired Scouter and outdoorsman, who spent too many hours over a campfire using a dutch oven, and loves sharing recipes for the kitchen and the campfire. You can read many of his outdoor recipes here.



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