History of Medicinal Silver Use
The Ancient Greeks and Egyptians used silver to prevent food spoilage and to prevent infections in skin wounds.
Medicinal silver was commonly used as an antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal treatment up until 1938 with the introduction of pharmaceutical antibiotics.
Most antibiotics do not also act as antivirals and antifungus.
But what is colloidal silver, and is it safe to be used medicinally today?
What is colloidal silver?
Colloidal silver is made using electrolysis by suspending pure and metallic silver in distilled water.
The FDA does not allow any products to claim antibiotic properties, and in 1999 it issued a statement saying that colloidal silver has no proven benefits and that its use should be avoided.
Pharmaceutical companies can not make money from a silver product by regulating its use or inflating its cost price.
For these reasons, it is only able to be marketed and sold, post-1999, as a “dietary supplement.”
What are the different forms of colloidal silver?
It is available in health food stores in liquid form, as a nasal spray and as an ointment.
The colloidal silver itself comes in three differing forms: silver protein, which is unsafe to use, and should not be purchased. It produces foam when poured. Iconic silver is clear like water or with a slight yellow tint.
It is safe to use, but not as potent as true colloidal silver, which is slightly more expensive to buy but as it is a purer solution it is the safest and most beneficial silver product to use for health purposes.
If you decide to use colloidal silver, you should check with your doctor first, be certain to purchase a pure form of true colloidal silver from a reputable brand, and never use it in excess amounts or for long periods of time (like months or years), if you wish to avoid any risks associated with the product. Also, it should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
What risks are associated with the use of colloidal silver?
The only risks associated with prolonged or excessive use of colloidal silver, or use of an impure form, are argyria and possible interference with some medications, including; penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen), quinolone antibiotics, tetracycline and thyroxine (Unithroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid) medications.
Argyria is a rare cosmetic (not medically dangerous) skin condition that can happen if silver builds up in your body over a long time.
It can turn your skin, eyes, internal organs, nails, and gums a blue-gray color, especially in areas of your body exposed to sunlight. That change in your skin color is permanent, though can be treated with laser surgery and ceases to happen further if the use of colloidal silver is discontinued.
What is the Recommended Daily Dose?
The EPA recommends that daily exposure to silver (which they state comes to us anyway in the form of air, food, and water) not exceed 5 micrograms per every kilogram you weigh.
Note: Rarely, excessive doses of colloidal silver can cause possibly irreversible serious health problems
What are the benefits of taking Colloidal Silver?
As claimed by the Manufacturers of colloidal silver products. The stated benefits of taking colloidal silver are as follows:
- Improves skin infections and eye infections:
- Combats viruses, Anti-inflammatory, Eliminates sinus infections
- Treats a sore throat when gargled, ear infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Fights Candida overgrowth
- Helps recover from food poisoning
- Interferes with the enzymes that allow viruses to enter the body
- Kills ringworm, mold (including black mold)
- Pets, it even benefits cats and dogs when they’re sick
- Prevents infections on wounds, plaque buildup
- Promotes optimal digestion
- Relieves insect bites
- Removes athletes foot, nail fungus
- Skin healing (burns, rashes, scrapes, etc.)
- Spares good bacteria
- Stops the common cold and flu
- Supports the immune system
It is an ingredient in some acne treatments and cosmetics. It’s also sometimes used in an eye drop formula to prevent conjunctivitis in newborns.
It is often touted as an antibacterial agent and a topical wound dressing. Some people claim it can treat a cold faster, heal the body better, and even treat cancer or HIV.
Anecdotal evidence suggests it may reverse symptoms of MS and HIV. However, no sound scientific studies to evaluate these health claims have been published in reputable medical journals. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has taken action against some manufacturers of colloidal silver products for making unproven health claims.
Scientifically-proven benefits, backed by medical research, include:
- Excellent antibiotic, because of its antimicrobial strength:
- Heals wounds:
- Treats cold and flu, pink eye
- Eliminates pet odors
- Great antiviral, fights sinus infection
- Prevents pneumonia and bronchitis
- Eases skin conditions, keeps flowers fresh
Topical colloidal silver products claim to be antimicrobial, germ-fighting agents. Silver is antimicrobial, meaning that it can kill harmful microbes. One clinical study indicates that this claim may be questionable.
It shows some promise when silver nanoparticles are incorporated into bandages and dressings for wounds. It is also claimed to promote the healing of skin wounds. According to a 2007 study, silver-containing wound dressings are a more effective barrier against infection than other products that make similar claims.
Proven Anti-Tumor Effects of Colloidal Silver
A 2010 study available online in PubMed states that it killed tumor cells in cases of breast cancer. (Reference: Franco-Molina MA, Mendoza-Gamboa E, Sierra-Rivera CA, et al. Antitumor activity of colloidal silver on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Nov 16;29:148.).
Evaluate the risks and related precautions mentioned above against the proposed benefits of colloidal silver use, and make up your own mind, after consulting your doctor, as an informed health consumer.
Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
Q: 1. Is it safe to take colloidal silver?
A: As long as you take no more than the daily amount recommended by the EPA (5 micrograms per kilogram your body weighs) and take it for a period of days only, not months or years, then it is safe to take colloidal silver orally. Topically (on your skin) it is safe to use, for a period of days or hours, as needed. Mayo Clinic Brent A. Bauer, M.D. said it 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.
Q: 2. Does taking colloidal silver really treat or prevent cancer?
A: Every case of cancer is different, so results will vary. However, it has been proven to kill tumor cells in breast cancer patients. No promises can be made as to its effects on other forms of cancer.
Q: 3. How do I take colloidal silver orally?
A: It can be taken directly into the mouth or diluted in water. It is most often taken as ¼ or ½ teaspoon diluted in 8oz glass of water. For directions for taking oral colloidal silver for various treatments, please see: https://www.marsillochiropractic.com/colloidal-silver/ . You should be sure to always drink 8-10 8oz glasses of water per day while taking colloidal silver orally.
NOTE: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Despite some claims, there is no good evidence to support using colloidal silver for COVID-19. In fact, it can be unsafe. Follow healthy lifestyle choices and proven prevention methods instead.
Health Insiders relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
 Colloidal silver as an antimicrobial agent: fact or fiction? Castellano JJ, Shafii SM, Ko F, Donate G, Wright TE, Mannari RJ, Payne WG, Smith DJ, Robson MC. Comparative evaluation of silver-containing antimicrobial dressings and drugs. Int Wound J. 2007 Jun;4(2):114-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-481X.2007.00316.x. PMID: 17651227; PMCID: PMC7951235.