It started out as a simple enough column — but then don't they all.

I wrote last Wednesday about a 10-year-old company in Alpine, American Biotech Labs, that makes a colloidal silver compound called SilverBiotics it claims is capable of destroying microbes that cause a variety of infectious diseases, including malaria, AIDS, hepatitis and bird flu.

The story about a little Utah company that thinks it has the cure to malaria intrigued me.

In journalism school, they always told us to look for the out-of-the-ordinary "Man Bites Dog" angles.

So I wrote the column and almost immediately received my first e-mail, which said, "You ought to do your readers a favor and do another column featuring all of the data and reports that cast a negative light on colloidal silver as a cure-all."

That was followed by a phone conversation with a doctor friend who warned that prolonged contact with silver can cause a condition called argyria that can turn the skin blue and potentially cause death. And furthermore, I was apprised, colloidal silver is a supplement, not a drug, and shouldn't be making medical claims.

And that was followed by more e-mails that alternated between praising and condemning the benefits of colloidal silver.

The final e-mail said this: "Sales of colloidal silver will probably go up in this alternative friendly state. I've read your column to know that you probably do not have a share in this business but other people, do they know that about you?"

So first off, to that last e-mailer let me say: Thank you for your trust.

And second of all, let me make it clear that I do not own stock in, owe money to, or in any other way have allegiance or commitment to American Biotech Labs.

I didn't meet their founder, Bill Moeller, or his son, Scott, until our interview in Alpine last Tuesday, the day before the column ran.

I have never used silver to try to cure any problem that isn't financial.

For what it's worth, I found Bill and Scott to be nice guys, but I meet a lot of nice guys when I'm writing a story about them.

And they did offer me a bottle of Propel sports drink during our interview, which I accepted.

Other than that, the long and the short of it is I found their story intriguing. It didn't appear to me that they are in it strictly for the money. Their "world headquarters" sits between a carwash, a hair salon and a dentist's office. They have 19 employees. This is obviously no multilevel marketing company selling health cures via downlines.

Most importantly, they claim that their patented colloidal silver compound is incapable of producing argyria, that they have FDA over-the-counter approval pending, and that they have never been sued for harming anyone. (For details, see their Web site at www.americanbiotechlabs.com)

Beyond that, I know nothing and neither discourage nor encourage anyone from taking SilverBiotics or any silver product.

And while this should go without saying, let me add that letting a newspaper columnist ever take charge of your health care is definitely not a great idea.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.