Colloidal Silver: A “Metal” That’s Actually Healthy for You?
Could the cure for many major diseases be found in a tiny bottle of liquid?
That’s the bold claim of proponents who believe that ingesting this precious metal or applying it to your skin can eradicate a laundry list of health problems, from allergies to chronic fatigue syndrome to cancer.
In fact, they say that this purportedly potent elixir is more powerful than prescription antibiotics at killing bacteria and treating infections.
Is there anything this magical metal can’t do?
Well, here’s the unfortunate truth: Not only is this product ineffective, but it also has some potentially horrifying side effects.
In fact, use it too often, and you could literally end up looking like a cartoon character.
A Silver Lining?
Silver isn’t just a material for flatware and cutlery. This metal has been valued for millennia for its supposed healing properties.
For instance, people in Ancient Greece, Rome, Phoenicia, and Macedonia believed that silver could prevent food spoilage, prevent infections, and promote healing. The metal’s medicinal use was particularly popular in the Middle East, where doctors relied on it to “purify” the blood, improve cardiovascular conditions, and even combat bad breath.
Plus, legend has it that royal families who consumed all their meals using silver utensils rarely got sick – a rumor that earned them the nickname “Blue Bloods” because their blood allegedly contained high amounts of silver.
By the 1800s, physicians had begun investigating silver for its potential in treating infection. One French surgeon started using silver nitrate as a way to reduce eye infections in infants. Another doctor pioneered the use of silver wire in hernia operations and silver foil to help prevent wound-related infections.1,4
Such experiments continued into the early 20th century, when scientists found that suspensions of silver and mercury appeared to quickly destroy certain types of bacteria. However, the amount of silver used in those experiments was much higher than what we currently recognize as safe. (Subsequent studies used lower doses of silver with some success.)1
Other small experiments demonstrated that silver might help prevent deadly infections in burn patients. Yet by the 1940s, powerful prescription antibiotics had become the first-line treatment for many diseases. Silver products lost their shine and were put on the back burner.
Yet some preparations of medicinal silver have survived. A dilute solution of silver nitrate is still used to help prevent neonatal eye infections. And many burn units have on hand a silver-based salve called Silvadine to help protect against burn-related infections.1,2,3,4 Some silver products also have a place in surgical dressings and water purifiers.
These particular silver products are used by medical professions for very specific uses. But supplement manufacturers want you to pin your health hopes on another, very different silver product.
It’s called colloidal silver. And its proponents will tell you that it can cure whatever ails you.
Today, colloidal silver is sold as a home remedy for minor scrapes, burns, and other wounds. But the claims for this product go way beyond simple first aid.
Some manufacturers say that colloidal silver is a proven and effective treatment for a slew of health concerns including cancer, emphysema, HIV/AIDS, rosacea, hay fever, yeast infections, and gum disease.
Other fans of colloidal silver claim that it’s a necessary addition to everyone’s regimen because Americans suffer from a “silver deficiency.”
At first glance, some of these claims make sense. Colloidal silver is a solution of tiny silver particles suspended in liquid. Why wouldn’t it have the same benefits as medical silver products?
Let’s take a look at the research.
A Tarnished Reputation…
Well, herein lies the problem. There isn’t any good, gold-standard research on colloidal silver’s supposed health benefits.
The studies that suggest medicinal silver may help kill germs can’t be extrapolated to over-the-counter colloidal silver products. Just because silver nitrate fights eye infections and silver-based ointment wards off complications in burn victims doesn’t mean that colloidal silver preparations will have the same effects.
And there’s absolutely no evidence to support the claims that colloidal silver can clear up the bevy of chronic and serious diseases for which it’s recommended.1,2,3,4
This lack of scientific studies would suggest that colloidal silver is, at worst, a waste of money. But there’s a much bigger problem associated with the use of colloidal silver – and it’s potentially permanent.
You see, long-term use of silver products can cause argyria, a condition in which silver salts are deposited in the skin, eyes, and internal organs.1,2,3,4
The result? Your skin can turn an ashen bluish-gray. In other words, you could end up looking like an unhealthy Smurf.
That’s one reason why silver products fell out of favor in the last century. But now argyria seems to be making a comeback, apparently due to increased use of colloidal silver.
It’s still unclear how much silver is required to produce argyria, but some tests by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have identified a wide range of the metal in colloidal silver products – in some cases, up to 124 percent more than what is stated on the label.
Worse, argyria can last forever, even if you stop using colloidal silver.
Colloidal silver may also cause problems with the kidneys, liver, and nervous system, and appears to interact with some medications including certain antibiotics and thyroid drugs.1,2,3
Just Say No…
In case it wasn’t clear: You should not use colloidal silver, either orally or topically. There is no such thing as a “silver deficiency”. This is one supplement you definitely don’t need to waste your money on.
In fact, the FDA is so concerned with colloidal silver’s effectiveness and safety that it has cracked down on these products and issued warnings about their use. While I’m not always 100 percent in agreement with the FDA’s policies, this is one area where I think they are absolutely right.
Take a pass on colloidal silver. Its reputation is tarnished.
And remember, keep an open mind to new ideas, but ALWAYS do your own homework…and combine that with common sense to figure out what’s best for YOU.
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