What is Colloidal Silver?
Colloidal silver is an alternative medicine that is claimed to be effective in treating all sorts of infections and diseases. A few researchers show its ineffectiveness and believe it may lead to serious side effects.
Colloidal silver is tiny silver particles that are suspended in liquid.(1) The size of silver is really very less and is invisible to naked eyes.(2) Historically silver was used to treat various ailments due to its antimicrobial properties.(3) It was abandoned as the antibiotics were discovered and were found to be more effective than silver. Colloidal silver is gaining back its popularity due to an increase in the popularity of alternative medicine in curing diseases.
Is Colloidal Silver Safe To Be Used?
Colloidal silver is gaining popularity as an alternative remedy but is not approved by the food and drug administration. In fact, all the products containing colloidal silver have been deemed unsafe to be used.(1, 2)
It is approved for topical application on skin infections, wounds, and burns dressing. It is marketed not safe to be consumed orally. Its consumption is associated with many serious health risks such as argyria, neurological damage, and liver and kidney harm. It also reduces the absorption of certain drugs such as antibiotics and thyroid medications.(4, 5)
How is Colloidal Silver Used?
Although discouraged, colloidal silver is used in liquid or spray form in the products and is present usually in 10-30 parts per million.(6) It is usually found to be labeled as a colloidal silver spray, silver hydrosol, colloidal silver nebulizer, silver water, and silver sol.
It is also sold as homeopathic medication, which is based on the theory that very low doses of a substance can benefit health. Silver is commonly added to bandages and dressings to help with healing. It may also be present in commercial products such as cleansing agents, agricultural treatments, and personal hygiene products such as shower gels and deodorants.
How Does Colloidal Silver Work?
Colloidal silver is known to have antibacterial and antiseptic effects when taken orally or when placed on wounds. How it works is not properly known, but researchers suggest that the silver attaches to the protein in the cell wall of bacteria and damages their cell membrane. The silver then passes into the bacterial cell and interfere with the metabolic process and damage DNA leading to cell death.(7, 8, 9)
Silver is also thought to interfere with proteins found within the virus and interfere with its replication. Its effects may vary depending on the particles of silver and their concentration.(7, 8, 9, 10) Silver particles release silver ions when exposed to moisture such as body fluids. These are the biologically active part of colloidal silver that has antimicrobial properties.
However, silver ions aren’t standardized and may have some serious side effects. Their ability to incite oxidation and cell damage that may be capable of damaging healthy human cells as well.(11) The silver nanoparticles and silver ions that are ingested might accumulate in the organs and their prolonged usage and exposure may lead to agyria, a condition that results in the skin turning blue-gray due to silver build-up.
Health Claims Linked with Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is claimed to be effective in curing and treating many disease ailments.
It is known to kill a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The human studies are yet to be proven due to the risk associated with the usage of colloidal silver.(7) It has proved to be effective in killing certain strains of bacteria in a lab setting but the finding has not been applied to humans yet.
Its use on wounds and burns is the only effective use to date.(12)
Considering the risks and lack of research on the benefits, it is best to avoid the consumption of silver with the only exception of its use as a topical treatment for wounds.