In ancient times, silver was used as a natural antibiotic and preservative. Dropping a silver coin into a container of milk, for instance, would prevent the growth of bacteria, algae and other organisms. This was helpful before the invention of refrigerators that ensure the longevity of our foods and beverages.
Today, colloidal silver is gaining popularity again. It’s believed to have powerful antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. But there’s a lot of confusion about the proper use and safety of colloidal silver products, and we are waiting for more human studies to prove that it’s truly effective for a range of health conditions.
So far, there’s evidence showing that colloidal silver may be helpful for a variety of issues, including sore throats, inflamed sinuses, minor burns and irritations.
What is colloidal silver?
Colloidal silver is a water solution containing nanometer sized particles of suspended silver. The silver particles are so small that normal filtering processes cannot remove them.
Why do people choose to use colloidal silver? It’s believed to have the power to fight against pathogens, but it doesn’t create resistance or immunity to organisms. Research suggests that colloidal silver may work to stave off illness by binding to and destroying proteins that make us sick.
Benefits of colloidal silver
Antibacterial and antimicrobial effects
Studies show that colloidal silver is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent that may be able to fight and kill pathogens that make us sick. It can inhibit the growth of both aerobic (requiring oxygen) and anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) bacteria, according to research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. (1)
This colloidal silver benefit is exactly why it’s often used to relieve symptoms of minor pink eye and ear infections, which are conditions that are commonly caused by infectious bacteria.
Colloidal silver is sometimes used on the skin to promote healing. Studies show that it can be used to soothe minor burns, thrush, periodontitis, ringworm, psoriasis, eczema and other irritations affecting the skin.
Colloidal silver works to soothe minor skin conditions because of its potent anti-fungal properties and its ability to soothe the skin, while repairing tissue damage. (3) Silver-based gel products are available and help to provide antimicrobial coverage to minor wounds and skin irritations.
A recent study published in Frontiers in Microbiology shows that colloidal silver may be used as a nasal rinse to improve symptoms of occasional sinusitis. When patients with sinus infections used colloidal silver for its antibacterial effects, they experienced improvements in symptoms and no major adverse effects. (4)
Colloidal silver is also used as a nasal spray to soothe symptoms of minor and occasional respiratory woes, including the common cold.
How to use colloidal silver
Colloidal silver is often used for its antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral activity. It comes in many forms, including topical solutions, nasal sprays, liquid solutions to be taken by mouth or used in the eyes, and intravenous formulations.
There are a range of products made using nanoparticles of silver. The strength of a colloidal silver solution is said to depend on how much silver the product contains, and the size and shape of the silver particles. When a product contains a greater amount of silver nanoparticles, it’s thought to release more silver ions that work to fight bacteria and other harmful organisms in the body.
When you are shopping for colloidal silver, make sure that it’s made with true silver colloids and that it doesn’t contain any protein or other additives. Some products on the market today are actually ionic silver, which is less expensive, but won’t produce the same benefits as true colloidal silver. Once you find a good quality product, make sure to read the label very carefully to determine the proper dosage. Do not take an excessive amount of colloidal silver.
Precautions and side effects of colloidal silver
Colloidal silver products come in a range of strengths and formulations. For that reason, you need to be very careful about choosing true colloidal silver from a reputable company.
When too much colloidal silver is used or products that aren’t true colloidal silver are taken in excess, it’s believed to buildup in the body’s tissues, causing a condition called argyria, which is characterized by a blue-fray discoloration of the skin, nails, gums, eyes and internal organs.
Taking excessive doses of colloidal silver may also cause serious conditions like kidney damage and neurological damage, although this is rare.
And colloidal silver may interact with certain medications, including some antibiotics and medications used for thyroid conditions.
Although silver has been used since ancient times for its antimicrobial effects, there’s still a lot of research to be done on its potential health benefits and safety. When true colloidal silver is used appropriately, studies suggest that it may be helpful in fighting infections and promoting wound healing. However, some products on that market that are labeled as colloidal silver contain proteins and other additives and may not be effective.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.