What's all the Hype Around Colloidal Silver?
Almost every day I hear about someone using colloidal silver for this or that issue. Many times, it is not needed, nor is it warranted. As you will see below, like with everything else in life, this product is not benign.
What is Colloidal Silver?
Colloidal silver is a suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in a colloidal base. The same type of precious metal is used in jewelry, dental fillings, silverware and other products. It is considered a biocide. The definition of biocide is as follows:
a poisonous substance, especially a pesticide.
the destruction of life
A biocide is defined in the European legislation as a chemical substance or microorganism intended to destroy, deter, render harmless, or exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism by chemical or biological means. (1)
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a different definition for biocides. It is as follows, "a diverse group of poisonous substances including preservatives, insecticides, disinfectants, and pesticides used for the control of organisms that are harmful to human or animal health or that cause damage to natural or manufactured products."
Knowing this, a biocide can be:
Pesticides: these products include fungicides (fingi), herbicides (plants), bacteriacides (bacteria), algicides (algae), insecticides (insects), rodenticides (rodents) and larvicides (larvae).
Antimicrobial: these products kill or slow the spread of microorganisms. Microorganisms include, but are not limited to bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi such as mold and mildew. (source) This grouping also includes includes antibiotics, antibacterials, antivirals, antifungals, and other "anti" category products.
After seeing that, my whole stance on colloidal silver has changed. How often do we truly need a biocide? I mean TRULY need it.
It, like an antibiotic has no idea what the good or bad bacteria in the body are. Its mission is to kill everything. If you have a major infection going on, killing everything may be a good thing, especially if you don't want to take an antibiotic. Is it even beneficial since colds are viral? Antibiotics don't treat virus', neither does colloidal silver. However, if you just have a cold, do you really need something of that caliber?
Probably not. Even the gentlest form of colloidal silver, which is a hydrosol called Sovereign Silver is strong at 10 parts per million. My family has used it. In fact, when my husband had a very bad case of poison ivy, he sprayed it on his eruptions. It helped to stop the spread, however it also dried the skin out which caused burning, flaking and healing issues. It did however help to get rid of the poison ivy, which is what we wanted. But.... at what cost? And did it? He was also using homeopathy at the time too. So, which got rid of the issue, the sovereign silver or the homeopathy?
Antibiotics, prescription medications and things like colloidal silver remove the symptoms. They don't always remove the issue from the body for good. Things of this nature can easily be driven further into the body to come out in a different and sometimes more serious way.
What is Colloidal Silver Used For?
I have seen Colloidal Silver being touted as the "cure all", with claims that it can used for anything from the common cold to boosting the immune system, to fighting bacteria and viruses, and to treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, shingles, herpes, eye ailments and prostatitis. Typically, most people use it when they have a cold or want immune support.
Essential oils and Colloidal silver are two of the most used natural antimicrobials on the market today. I know many swear by them. We need to remember that biocides generally kill everything. Which is a good and bad thing. We want the product to kill the "issue" but keep our health and life intact. Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), oregano (Origanum vulgare) and oil of oregano as all considered biocides.
The law of nature, or survival of the fittest is, that which doesn’t get killed comes back stronger, over and over. Could this product be causing super bugs like antibiotics are? Could any form biocide be doing that?
What about the accumulated toxicity from repeated use of the colloidal silver? It isn't clear how much colloidal silver may be harmful, but we do know it can build up in your body's tissues over months or years. According to Oxford Academic in an article dated, June 2005, titled Exposure-Related Health Effects of Silver and Silver Compounds: A Review, "The adverse effects of chronic exposure to silver are a permanent bluish-gray discoloration of the skin (argyria) or eyes (argyrosis). Most studies discuss cases of argyria and argyrosis that have resulted primarily from exposure to the soluble forms of silver. Besides argyria and argyrosis, exposure to soluble silver compounds may produce other toxic effects, including liver and kidney damage, irritation of the eyes, skin, respiratory, and intestinal tract, and changes in blood cells." Mind you, this comes after extended heavy use.
Many of you may have seen the story about Paul Karason, a man who actually turned blue from too much colloidal silver. His story is not typical, but it isn't totally without merit either.
Mr. Karasan is one of several cases of argyria related to silver products. Found in an article titled Colloidal Silver: Risk Without Benefit the following have had issues with argyria.
A 56-year-old man who had sold and used colloidal silver for three years, developed blue/gray discoloration of his fingernails accompanied by a very high blood level of silver .
A married couple who had three years of daily consumption of a drink prepared by administering an electrolytic charge to a bowl of water that contained a silver bar .
Another couple had been taking a silver-containing "dietary supplement" prescribed by a naturopath.
A mentally ill man who had been drinking silver-containing herbal tea for about 10 months.
Stan Jones, Montana's Libertarian Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, who reportedly started taking colloidal silver in 1999 for fear that Y2K disruptions might lead to a shortage of antibiotics. He made his own concoction by electrically two silver wires in a glass of water.
Two men, ages 63 and 76, developed argyria after a year of product use inspired by Internet claims.
A 16-year-old boy developed blue-gray pigmentation of his entire body after ingesting a silver-containing dietary supplement for a year. The product packaged so that it was identical to bottled water. was touted as a preventive for everyday infections.
A 58-year-old man who treated a presumed kidney infection with a home-brewed colloidal solution 12 times a day for 4 days developed argyria about 4 weeks later.
A 38-year-old man developed argyria after ingesting approximately 16 ounces of 450 ppm colloidal silver three times a day for 10 months to treat his arthritis and other conditions. He made the solution with a simple battery-operated chamber that leached silver from pure silver wire. He had obtained the plans from information on the Internet.
I am NOT saying colloidal silver has no benefit. I am merely sharing information I found to make a well-rounded article. After learning what I have, we have decided to curb our use for the time being.
Drug Interactions and Contraindications
Something that so many forget, or disregard is contraindications or interactions with medications. According to the Mayo Clinic's website, "Colloidal silver products may also interact with medications, including penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen), quinolone antibiotics, tetracycline and thyroxine (Unithroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid) medications." If you are taking or using any drug, supplement, herb, essential oil or anything that could interfere with colloidal silver, please do your research. It also should be avoided if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. "Increased silver levels in pregnant women have been linked to abnormal development of the ear, face, and neck in their babies." (source)
The following are drug interactions you need to be aware of from Rxlist.com.
Quinolone antibiotics - Colloidal silver might decrease how much antibiotic the body absorbs. Taking colloidal silver along with antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics.
These drugs include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), trovafloxacin (Trovan), and grepafloxacin (Raxar)
Tetracycline antibiotics - Colloidal silver might decrease how much tetracycline antibiotics the body can absorb. Taking colloidal silver with tetracycline antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of tetracycline antibiotics. To avoid this interaction, take colloidal silver two hours before or four hours after taking tetracyclines.
These drugs include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).
Levothyroxine - Colloidal silver might decrease how much levothyroxine the body absorbs. Taking levothyroxine along with colloidal silver might decrease the effectiveness of levothyroxine.
Hepatotoxic drugs - Colloidal silver might harm the liver. Taking colloidal silver along with medications that might also harm the liver can increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take colloidal silver if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver.
Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa(Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.
Penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen) - Penicillamine is used for Wilson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Colloidal silver might decrease how much penicillamine your body absorbs. This might decrease the effects of penicillamine.
Everything has a time and a place in our strive to regain health. Just like antibiotics, many alternatives have their place in medicine. They are tools in our toolbox to be used at certain times and in certain situations. I don't see them being used for the average sniffle, cold or more simple issue of that nature. I see them for more serious concerns and issues. Why set off a nuclear bomb when a grenade will do just fine?
In homeopathy we believe in dealing with symptoms. We want to uproot the issue based on the symptoms, not suppress it. Know that biocides and heavy hitters like this may do just that. Suppress the issue, driving it further into the body.
The choice is yours. We have free will and the ability to choose what we do for and to ourselves. Like most things, there are generally risks involved. Know those risks or dangers before using any product, whether that be over the counter or a prescription. Choose wisely. I am not throwing my sovereign silver away. However, I will be very conservative in my use going forward.
Should you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a wonderful day!
Love and light,
This information is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. Since the actual use of this product by others is beyond our control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken. Use at your own discretion. Any application of the recommendations is at the user’s risk. Sweet Willow Spirit, LLC disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this information and assumes no responsibility for any actions taken. This should not be used in place of traditional therapies but solely as a complementary means for bringing well-being. The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of any oil or healing modality.