Colloidal silver, or the liquid suspension of silver particles, was until recently a somewhat obscure homeopathic treatment for various ailments (including joint pain and arthritis). It has recently seen a surge in popularity thanks to the opening of a new customer base through the internet. Colloidal silver benefits have been reported, and it definitely has a strong antibiotic effect. It is one of the most effective pathogen-killing products available on the market, but it is also somewhat controversial. Read below about why.
Colloidal Silver side effects
The most common cause for concern regarding colloidal silver is its cosmetic effect. Regular ingestion of colloidal silver can lead to one noticeable result: it can turn the skin a grayish-blue in large doses. This discoloration, called argyria, is a fairly disconcerting and permanent condition associated with regular colloidal silver use, even though the length of exposure that causes argyria varies greatly with each user (some might never be affected at all; it might take others years to notice any discoloration).
The websites marketing colloidal silver often fail to mention this effect, choosing instead to say that silver has “no known” harmful effects. Indeed, argyria is arguably non-harmful, as it is only a cosmetic effect – however, most people would consider it important enough to effect their decision about colloidal silver use.
Benefits of Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver’s recorded history goes back to the ninth century. It was used as a preservative and as an antibiotic treatment against various pathogen-involving diseases. More recently, many also placed silver dollars in milk to prolong its life and keep it from spoiling. The silver acted as a germ-killer prior to widely used milk pasteurization techniques. In addition, it has been widely used by everyone from the ancient Greeks to contemporary scientists to treat a variety of infections.
Indeed, many argue that since silver has been used medically for thousands of years, most likely it has more benefits than adverse effects. This is probably true; however, due to its status as a supplement, colloidal silver has no regulated dosage. The “blue men” throughout history may have used too much colloidal silver, which led to their unusual appearance. In small doses, colloidal silver seems to be fine, and indeed many people use it regularly.
Colloidal silver seems to have undeniable effects; when placed near a virus in laboratory conditions, for instance, the results are desirable in that the silver theoretically disables the pathogen’s “oxygen metabolism enzyme”, or its “chemical lung”. Colloidal silver also purifies water and can be used topically to treat fungus or as a remedy against infection on cuts and burns.
It is also effective in the garden; administered via spray bottle, colloidal silver is useful against garden parasites, fungi, and pests. In small doses, silver is most likely safe and effective. Until about 1982, it was even used (in silver nitrate form) as eye drops for newborns to prevent eye infection – although it is now largely replaced with the antibiotic erythromycin.
Use Colloidal Silver Properly
Colloidal silver might effectively treat infection and lessen the pain and symptoms that are commonly associated with degenerative conditions like arthritis, but it should always be used properly because it could also make the user a formidable candidate at auditions to the Blue Man Group. For a small percentage of the population, this striking visual element might be a good thing; most, however, should strongly consider this permanent cosmetic effect before introducing colloidal silver into their regimens.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.