Colloidal silver is one of those unusual alternative remedies that many of us have never heard of and that firmly divides opinion among those who have. Some swear by its “cure-all” powers, while others wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. In fact, a brief online search brings up pages describing it as everything from a “miracle” cure to downright dangerous.
We’ve looked at the research on colloidal silver and provided a brief overview for those who know nothing about it, including some information that could change the minds of its supporters.
So What Exactly Is Colloidal Silver?
Essentially, this hugely controversial alternative medicine consists of silver particles suspended in liquid.
It was popular in the early 20th century, fell out of favor in the 1940s and has since made something of a comeback in the form of dietary supplements and homeopathic remedies.
What Is It Supposed To Do?
There are a wide range of claims about colloidal silver, with marketers suggesting it can prevent or treat anything from diabetes and tuberculosis to HIV and cancer. Some companies also promote it as a general antiseptic or describe it as an essential mineral supplement.
What You Need To Know
The truth of the matter is that there is no reliable clinical or scientific evidence that colloidal silver can help to treat or prevent any medical condition. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned those selling colloidal silver products from making any claims about therapeutic or preventive properties. A number of websites have also been told off by the regulator for promoting colloidal silver as an effective antibiotic.
In a recent response to a patient’s query about colloidal silver on the Mayo Clinic’s website, internist Dr Brent Bauer remarked: “Colloidal silver isn’t considered safe or effective for any of the health claims manufacturers make. Silver has no known purpose in the body. Nor is it an essential mineral, as some sellers of silver products claim.”
His words echo those of the FDA, which said in 1999 that despite many colloidal silver products being marketed for serious illnesses, “the FDA is not aware of any substantial scientific evidence that supports the use of OTC colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts for these disease conditions”.
But What’s the Harm?
Not only is colloidal silver unlikely to benefit you in any way, it may also be dangerous. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine warns that “scientific evidence does not support the use of colloidal silver to treat any disease and serious, irreversible side-effects can result from its use”.
The main side-effect caused by the build-up of silver in the body is called argyria. This unpleasant condition is caused by ingesting silver and leads the skin to turn a blue or bluish-gray color, with the metal also collecting in the eyes and other organs. Other possible side-effects caused by colloidal silver use include damage to the kidneys, liver and nervous system, while it may also interfere with antibiotics and other medications.
In short, there’s no evidence that colloidal silver will do you any good, it’s not recommended by the FDA and it might even cause your skin to turn blue. All things considered, you might be better off spending your pennies on something with a little more research in its favor – and fewer warning alerts.