Colloidal silver is a controversial complementary medicine that has divided opinions. They claim that it is a safe and effective treatment for many infections and diseases, ranging from the common cold to cancer.

However, most medical professionals and researchers believe that it is ineffective and may cause serious side effects in some cases, particularly in children.

After defining colloidal silver, this article discusses its applications, health benefits, and potential risks.

Colloidal Silver: Usage

colloidal silver

In medicine, “colloidal silver” is a term that refers to microscopic silver particles suspended in a liquid solution [1].

Colloidal silver contains silver particles of varying sizes. But some of the particles are so small that they look like nanoparticles. Colloidal silver is good for a variety of ailments. Essentially, this means that they have a diameter smaller than 100 nanometers and are invisible to the naked eye [2].

The antimicrobial properties have traditionally been used as a general remedy for a wide range of infections and illnesses, including malaria. The earliest documented use of silver as a medical treatment dates back to China’s Han Dynasty, more than 2,000 years ago (1500 B.C.) [3].

In recent years, it’s a popular alternative medicine, proponents claim that colloidal silver can be useful to treat bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in place of antibiotics and other conventional medical treatments [3].

According to some sources, a small number of people believe that it aids in treating Lyme disease, tuberculosis, HIV, and cancer. However, no research is done to back up these assertions [3].

Individuals who use colloidal silver today can take it orally or apply it directly to their skin, depending on their preference.

How is Colloidal Silver Taken?

Even though colloidal silver is not recommended for oral consumption, it is still available in liquid and spray form. There are extremely low levels of colloidal silver present in the vast majority of products, with concentrations ranging between 10 and 30 parts per million (ppm) [3].

Typically, it is labeled as:

  • Silver sol
  • Colloidal silver spray
  • Silver hydrosol
  • Colloidal silver nebulizer
  • Silver water

Colloidal silver products are frequently marketed and sold as homeopathic remedies in the United States. 

Homeopathy is predicated on the premise that extremely low doses of a substance can have beneficial effects on the body. However, there is little evidence to support this claim in the scientific literature [3].

Additionally, you can find silver in bandages and dressings to aid in healing wounds and burns and for cosmetic purposes. Acticoat, Allevyn Ag, Aquacel Ag, Biatain Ag, Mepilex Ag, Silvercel Ag, and Silvercel Ag are all brand names that you can commonly find [3].

You can also find silver in various commercial products, including cleaners, agricultural treatments, and personal hygiene products, such as shower gels and deodorants, among other things [3].

How Does it Work?

colloidal silver

Based on other claims, colloidal silver, taken orally or applied topically to a wound, has broad antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

The exact mechanism by which colloidal silver functions is still a mystery. Recent research appears to interact with proteins on bacteria’s cell walls, causing damage to their cell membranes [4,5,6].

According to research, the effects of colloidal silver vary depending on the size and shape of the particles. And their concentration in a solution [4,5,6,7].

It is theoretically possible for a large number of small particles to cover more surface area than a small number of large particles. Because of this, a solution containing a higher concentration of silver nanoparticles may also contain a higher concentration of silver ions [4,5,6].

When silver particles contact moisture, such as bodily fluids, silver ions are set free into the environment. There is a biologically active component of colloidal silver, which is responsible for the antimicrobial properties of the solution [4,5,6].

The fact that colloidal silver products are not standardized and may result in serious side effects should be kept in mind when using this supplement. Because of their ability to cause oxidation and cell damage in healthy human cells, they may also cause harm to healthy human cells [4,5,6,7,8].

Colloidal Silver Related Health Claims

Colloidal silver proponents claim that the substance can be useful to prevent, cure, and treat a wide range of diseases and ailments, including cancer.

Aside from that, there is no human evidence to support the use of it to treat or prevent medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, HIV infection, digestive issues, or other illnesses [9].

Test-tube and rodent study results are frequently misinterpreted, which creates a significant problem. A laboratory study may show that it kills certain strains of bacteria in a controlled environment; however, this conclusion is not applicable to humans [9].

The application of colloidal silver to wounds and burns in humans is currently the only way in which it is effective. Despite this, its advantages are hotly famous in the media [10,11].

Is Colloidal Silver Safe?

Known as colloidal silver, it is a popular alternative medicine treatment.

Since 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared it unsafe, citing a lack of scientific evidence. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration determined that all over-the-counter products containing colloidal silver or silver salts are neither safe nor effective [1,12].

Since then, no new colloidal silver medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Despite this, this product is frequently sold as a dietary supplement in the United States [1,12].

Any company that manufactures silver products labeled or promoted to prevent or cure disease must first obtain FDA approval before putting them on the market. If this is not the case, the product is deemed misbranded and may be subject to regulatory action [13].

The Food and Drug Administration has approved it for skin infections and wounds and in bandages and dressings for burn treatment. On the other hand, colloidal silver drugs intended for oral consumption are unavailable for purchase [1].

Consumption of this product is can accompany several serious health risks, including argyria, neurological damage, and liver and kidney damage, among other things. Additionally, it interferes with the absorption and effectiveness of certain medications, such as antibiotics and the thyroid medication thyroxine, among others [1,14,15].

To summarize, any colloidal silver product marketed for oral consumption is safe.

Is There a Risk of Developing Argyria?

colloidal silver

Every day, you are at risk of extremely minute amounts of silver in the environment, which can harm your health. You can find it in trace amounts in drinking water, food, and even the air we breathe, so it’s important to be cautious when drinking [16].

Silver found in the environment is also a relatively safe compound to be in contact with.

The environmental and health risks with silver nanoparticles, on the other hand, are unknown, and it is unsafe for human consumption.

As a result of chronic colloidal silver exposure, a condition known as argyria can develop. The term “argyria” comes from the Greek word “Argyros,” which means “silver.”

Argyria is a condition that causes your skin to appear blue-gray due to an accumulation of silver metal particles in your body and skin. It is brought about by an accumulation of silver metal particles in your body and skin. Silver deposits can also form in the intestines, liver, kidneys, other organs, and the blood [17].

Aside from that, the risks associated with ingesting the silver nanoparticles found in colloidal silver products are unknown. This is because of the ease with which these particles can enter various organs such as the intestines, skin, or lungs, and the potential health risks that these particles pose [18].

Many case studies have discovered that excessive silver consumption, as a result of taking colloidal silver dietary supplements, can result in the development of argyria [19,20,21].

While not harmful in and of itself, the condition is irreversible and will most likely be permanent if left untreated. Nonetheless, given the lack of research into its side effects of it, there may be additional unknown side effects.

Could Colloidal Silver Help You?

A wide variety of ingredients are useful to produce colloidal silver products, some have false health claims.

At this time, there is no evidence that oral it is effective in the prevention, treatment, or cure of any health condition or disease, including cancer. Indeed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it unsafe and ineffective.

Additional adverse reactions to colloidal silver include argyria, neurologic impairment, and organ dysfunction [1,14,15].

The only exception is topical wound and burns treatment, which a medical professional should closely monitor at all times.

Given the risks and lack of research benefits, some do not recommend this.

Bottomline: Colloidal Silver Benefits and Side Effects

Colloidal silver is a solution that contains tiny silver particles suspended in a solution. They used silver in traditional medicine for thousands of years and continue to do so today.

It is now useful as an alternative medicine to treat infections caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Many diseases, including cancer, HIV, Lyme disease, and diabetes, are effective when used in conjunction with this therapy by its proponents.

The scientific evidence to support this, on the other hand, is lacking. Indeed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that it is unfit for human consumption due to its harmful effects and organ buildup.

It should be avoided at all costs due to its lack of effectiveness and the possibility of side effects.

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

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Dr Faisal Rasheed, M.D.

Dr Faisal is a certified Medical Doctor currently carrying the role of a Senior Medical Officer in the Orthopaedic Surgery Department of his local hospital. With his vast experience and knowledge in the medical field, Dr Faisal is well-equipped to share educational content that helps readers improve their health and wellness. During his hospital shifts, he diligently cares for and treats patients under him. And during his spare time, he enjoys crafting health and wellness content that inspires readers to make positive changes. LinkedIn

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  • Dr Faisal is a certified Medical Doctor currently carrying the role of a Senior Medical Officer in the Orthopaedic Surgery Department of his local hospital. With his vast experience and knowledge in the medical field, Dr Faisal is well-equipped to share educational content that helps readers improve their health and wellness. During his hospital shifts, he diligently cares for and treats patients under him. And during his spare time, he enjoys crafting health and wellness content that inspires readers to make positive changes. LinkedIn

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Dr Faisal is a certified Medical Doctor currently carrying the role of a Senior Medical Officer in the Orthopaedic Surgery Department of his local hospital. With his vast experience and knowledge in the medical field, Dr Faisal is well-equipped to share educational content that helps readers improve their health and wellness. During his hospital shifts, he diligently cares for and treats patients under him. And during his spare time, he enjoys crafting health and wellness content that inspires readers to make positive changes. LinkedIn