When it comes to your diet and health, if you want to “save money, live better” you have plenty of options at this store.

One way to do so is with a new 100% hypoallergenic pillow…bacon scented pillow

It’s said to be infused with a “fun, subtle scent” of bacon.

Or maybe you prefer the real thing. Well almost, anyways…

Baconnaise

Bacon flavored mayonnaise! With no artificial flavors, it must be healthy for you, right?

Now given your bacon addition, it might not be a bad idea to start thinking about how you can “save money, die better” with this…

bizarre casket for sale at Walmart

These are just a few of the most ridiculous items for sale at Walmart.

Now just because you can find something for sale here, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to use, or that it’s 100% safe in every situation. Their job is to sell what customers want, not review or endorse their practicality.

The same holds true for dietary supplements. Just because they sell them, that doesn’t mean indiscriminate uses of them are safe.

Can you buy colloidal silver at Walmart?

Yes, their website sells dozens of products containing it, ranging from Sovereign Silver drops (10 ppm concentration) to Futurebiotics Advanced colloidal silver, which is a supplement you drink by the teaspoon. It appears these are not products you can buy in stores locally, but you can on Walmart.com.

CVS and Walgreens sell it, but only through their websites. Rite Aid and Target don’t carry it online or off. Kroger and most grocery stores shun it.

safety warning about colloidal silverThe most common places where to buy colloidal silver in the US and Canada in-store are at Whole Foods, GNC, Sprouts, Vitamin Shoppe, and Vitamin World. Out of those, the biggest retailer has a warning placard about it slapped on the shelf which reads:

“According to the FDA, there is insufficient data to confirm the effectiveness of colloidal silver to treat or prevent any disease. In addition, the FDA has found that indiscriminate use of colloidal silver products can cause severe adverse consequences, including argyria (blue gray discoloration of the skin caused by ingestion of silver).”

It goes on to say that Whole Foods Market disclaims responsibility for misuse but will continue to carry it “due to customer demand.”

Any warning that uses the word “severe” to describe side effects deserves your attention. So what are the dangers of this controversial mineral and how do they stack up against the purported health benefits?

It’s time to know the facts about colloidal silver rather than the hype. Some say it’s good for you, while others say that it’s downright dangerous. So who’s right?

What is colloidal silver?

A colloid solution consists of finely ground particles which are suspended in a liquid. Usually that’s water, but it can also be an ointment, gel, or other base. When silver is ground to a microscopic size and mixed with the base, it is considered to be colloidal. The exact definition is subjective as it can vary based on particle size (from below 1 to above 1,000 nanometers) and the concentration of the metal (typically 10 to 500 parts per million). Outside of topical uses and alternative medicine, it has almost no commercial or industrial use.

Until the discovery of antibiotics, this metal was widely used for the treatment infections. It was not always micronized nor in the form of a liquid, but the use of gels, creams, and primitive poultices date back at least 2,400 years.

tomb of Cyrus The Great

Tomb of Cyrus The Great, located in Iran. Photo by Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji [CC BY-SA 4.0].

The earliest record history of colloidal silver in medical use is by Hippocrates, but a century beforehand, King Cyrus (Cyrus the Great) was using the solid form for sanitary purposes.

Cyrus reigned Persia from 539 to 530 BC and his name is mentioned in the Bible around a couple dozen times.

According to the early Greek historian, Herodotus, it was Cyrus who carried boiled water in pure silver containers to keep the water clean, as documented in Chemistry of Water Treatment.

Perhaps that was a foreshadowing of the future, as today some hospitals use copper and silver filters as part of their water purification systems, in the hopes it reduces Legionnaires’ disease (Legionella sp. bacteria). Using this element in nurses’ clothing has also been floated as an idea, for the “beneficial means of controlling life-threatening nosocomial infections including MRSA” (1).

Of course, Cyrus the Great couldn’t have possibly known what MRSA or any other microorganism was, nor as to why the metal seemed to have an inhibitory effect on them.

Who is “the father of medicine” – Hippocrates – couldn’t have known either as to why colloidal silver works, but he recommended a primitive dry form of it to his patients for skin ulcers. In addition to cleansing the wound with vinegar, his instructions included (2):

“And the flowers of silver alone, in the finest powder; and birthwort, when scraped and finely pounded, may be sprinkled on the part.”

The flowers are shavings or pieces. That was around the 4th century BC.

While not specific to this treatment, a quick chronological order of how Hippocrates laid out the foundation of modern medicine and how that brought us to the present day is easy to understand with Medical Firsts.

A few hundred years later when Jesus walked the earth, silver nitrate was part of Roman pharmacopeia (3). From that first entry, which was in 69 BC, until just a few decades ago, it was considered a bona fide treatment by governments for combating certain forms of infections.

Between 1900 and 1940, there is extensive documentation in the NIH’s PubMed database about the colloidal form being used for:

  • Staphylococcal sepsis (Staph infection)
  • Tonsillitis (tonsil inflammation)
  • Corneal ulcers, which is inflammation of cornea typically caused by an eye infection.
  • Interstitial keratitis, a chronic inflammation of the corneal stroma.
  • Blepharitis, the inflammation of eyelids.
  • Dacrocystitis, an infection of the lacrimal sac.
  • Acute epididymitis, which is pain, swelling, and inflammation of the epididymis, a tube connecting the testicles to the vas deferens duct.

It has been reported that during those four decades, colloidal silver was used for “tens of thousands of patients” and intravenously “several million doses” were given in a non-colloidal form (4).

These treatments were not risk-free and could be quite dangerous. IV side effects included convulsions and death. An oral dosage taken for an infection could cause GI problems. Both forms of treatment could cause argyria (skin turning blue).

Colloidal silver vs. ionic silver

Contrary to marketing verbiage you may see, technically there is no such thing as ionic silver particles.

With an atom, the number of electrons and protons is the same.

ionic vs. colloidal difference

When a silver atom loses (or gains) more electrons than its number of protons, it is a silver ion.

The ion can be negatively or positively charged. Both are different from metallic silver particles (nanoparticles) which are the stable, neutral-charged atoms.

While the terms ion and particle/nanoparticle are often used interchangeably, there is a big difference between them.

With most products, the vast majority of what they contain is ionic silver, which is missing an electron. Also referred to as covalent silver, this is easy and inexpensive to make, as even a grade-schooler can do so with a battery and some wire. That’s why so many products contain the ionic form. It’s also what at-home generators typically make.

Because the ionic silver is missing an electron, it is highly reactive and form bonds immediately in the body, typically with chloride. This creates silver chloride, which is believed to have little to no antibacterial activity. It is the non-ionic silver which is believed to be better for that characteristic. This why most research uses true colloids (nanoparticles) rather than ions.

There are few real and true colloidal silver brands, as many contain 80% or more of the ionic form, with 20% or less being colloids.

Marketing lingo can make it confusing to understand exactly what you are buying. While all will inevitably have at least some percentage in the ionic form, the more pure colloidal silver is hard to come by and few products actually contain a high percentage of it.

Colloidal silver uses

Silvadene jar containerOnly one product uses FDA approved silver nanoparticles. Silvadene is a prescription cream which uses a 1% concentration of the antimicrobial agent silver sulfadiazine, in a micronized form.

Sulfadiazine is a common antibiotic used on a stand-alone basis (without silver) for urinary tract infections, ear infections, malaria, and toxoplasmosis (gondii parasite).

The combined form, Silvadene, has an indication and use as an adjunct (secondary) for the prevention and treatment of wound sepsis in patients who have 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

In vitro (laboratory) testing has shown it has broad spectrum activity, including against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria resistant to other antimicrobial treatments, as well as some yeast. In the lab, effective uses included the following infections (5):

  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection)
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis (Staph infection)
  • Candida albicans (Candida yeast infection)
  • Streptococcus (Strep)
  • ß-Hemolytic Streptococcus (Strep)
  • Enterobacter species
  • Enterobacter cloacae
  • Proteus mirabilis
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Xanthomonas (Pseudomonas) maltophilia

  • Morganella morganii
  • Providencia rettgeri
  • Providencia species
  • Citrobacter species
  • Acinetobacter calcoaceticus
  • Proteus vulgaris
  • Enterococcus species
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Corynebacterium diphtheria
  • Klebsiella species
  • Serratia species

To reiterate, the above were only uses measured in the lab (think petri dish experiments) and human clinical trials for this silver cream have not been done for any of those specific listed infections. Rather, the trials were for overall rates of infections in burn injuries (6).

Does it kill good bacteria too? That’s unknown, as it’s not addressed in the drug filing.

This medication is only available by prescription for topical use. Prescription silver sulfadiazine is not the same as colloidal silver supplements. Those do not contain the antibiotic sulfadiazine, nor any other antibiotic.

Furthermore, the amount of the metal in Silvadene cream is 1% which is exponentially higher than liquids or drops, which tend to be 5 to 500 ppm. You can’t compare the two!

For more information about proven uses, see Silver in Healthcare.

Health benefits researched

Silver is not healthy for you like iron, magnesium, calcium, and other essential minerals. It is not essential for human health and the FDA has concluded there are “no known functions or benefits in the body when taken by mouth” (7). The following uses for colloidal silver have not been proven.

What follows is only preliminary research which suggests there might be possible medical advantages, but further studies are needed to know.

Despite all the hype about this supplement, to date only 3 clinical trials have taken place which involve its use as an ingredient…

clinical trials for colloidal

Those 3 clinical trials are…

  • Assessing orally bioavailable commercial silver nanoparticle product on human cytochrome P450 enzyme activity (8).
  • Assessment of orally dosed commercial silver nanoparticles on human ex vivo platelet aggregation (9).
  • Efficacy of a new medical device based on colloidal silver and carbossimetyl beta glucan in treatment of upper airways disease in children (10).

That last one is the only trial that’s directly relevant to treating a disease. At a hospital in Rome, researchers tested colloidal silver nasal spray which contained carbossimetyl beta glucan.

Beta glucans are naturally occurring sugars produced by many different types of organisms (bacteria, yeasts, oats, and others). They have been researched for allergy symptom relief (11).

  • The researchers tested this combo treatment on children and babies (0 to 12 years old) with the average age being between 4 and 5.
  • A total of 100 kids were part of this study.
  • 50 received the combo spray, while the other 50 received a spray of saline (plain salt water).

Based on the Canadian Acute Respiratory Illness and Flu Scale (CARIFS), their conclusion stated:

“…colloidal silver and carbossimetyl beta glucan showed a better performance with a significant difference in mean post-treatment CARIFS global score and CARIFS VAS [Visual Analogic Scale] compared to treatment with saline solution.”

chart of before and after with colloidal silver nasal spray

They say it beat the saline with a statistically significant difference, but really as you see above, both showed good before and after results!

Keep in mind this was only one trial and with two active ingredients used, it’s impossible to know what benefit – if any – is coming from each. That means there is no clinical evidence that the silver nasal sprays, throat sprays, neti pots, nebulizers, or vaping products on the market work for sinus infections or cold symptoms, regardless of their dosage or brand.

Non-clinical research

When you remove the clinical trial filter on PubMed, you get over 400 pieces of medical literature which contain the name of this material.

Many are unrelated, such as one from 2017 about vitamin C and colloidal silver. It’s not about using them together, but rather using the powder in scientific instruments as a way to detect ascorbic acid (12).

Here’s a look at what’s listed for some of the most popular purported benefits you hear about online.

Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis)

pink eyeThe only entry on PubMed is a historical overview of 2% silver nitrate being used from 1872 through 1985 for the prevention of neonatal blindness (13). Some types of colloidal silver eye drops were used in the past, but with the invention of topical antibiotics, it’s no longer used for pink eye or any other ocular treatment today.

There are good reasons why drops of silver nitrate for babies have been abandoned as a treatment option (14):

  • It was not effective against chlamydia, an STD which is the primary cause of neonatal conjunctivitis.
  • It was not safe and could actually cause chemical-induced conjunctivitis.

When a baby has pink eye, the use of homeopathic remedies is downright dangerous and wrong. They need proper medical treatment. Over 10,000 babies become permanently blind from this disease every year (15).

Acne

Zero results in PubMed for this.

While the exact cause of pimples is poorly understood, the presence of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes is often associated with worsening of the disease (e.g. increase redness and inflammation of the nodules).

In theory, silver’s antimicrobial mechanism may help that, but there’s no research – not even in the lab – of testing if it works for P. acnes bacteria.

Skin care

While homemade sprays and gels for acne may be the most discussed, you will also see home remedy websites peddling it as a treatment or cure for skin tags, jock itch, ring worm, itchy scalp, and even putting colloidal silver on a tampon for relieving itch and vaginal yeast infections. Do any of those things show up in research?

Nope.

Using just the word “skin” there are 36 results. None are about any of the aforementioned topics. Nearly one-third are about argyria, which is colloidal causing blue skin!

Only one was for skin infections – carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (16). Another was about combining it with hyaluronic acid to make a spray for chronic wounds and superficial trauma (17). The remainder were largely unrelated to health benefits.

Ear infections

girl's earOne hit for the word ear.

A Botswana-based ear clinic bought a supplement online (with a 22 ppm dosage) and used a colloidal silver generator to make two other versions with higher concentrations (403 and 413 ppm) (18).

Using well plates, they cultivated several bacterial diseases. They were species known to cause ear aches and infections, though they also wreck havoc elsewhere in the human body.

The results? The antibiotic ciprofloxacin worked, but silver didn’t.

“…did not show any antimicrobial effect in vitro on the microorganisms, claims of colloidal silver’s antimicrobial potency are misleading and there is no place for it as an antiseptic.”

Cold and flu

On message boards people talk about vaping with it for bronchitis and respiratory tract infections, but is there evidence to support that? Does colloidal silver work for colds?

There’s only one match for the word “cold” and that is the clinical trial we already discussed, about babies and young children who were given nasal sprays.

And here’s where the game of telephone begins.

Based on that one study, you have websites claiming or inferring that it benefits colds and the flu. Worse yet, they’re not even interpreting that study correctly.

One wildly popular health website with “dr” in the URL and a last name that might be a synonym for “hatchet” reports this:

uses of silver for cold and flu

What you see highlighted is totally wrong. The study was on the NIH’s PubMed website, but it was done by a hospital in Italy, not the United States NIH!

As far as “recovered” that wasn’t even a metric used. The researchers were looking at severity of symptoms and as seen in the earlier chart, plain ol’ saline water did pretty good too!

Bad research like that is how hoaxes and scams often get started. Something gets reported wrong and then others start citing it. The bottom line is that there is no proof it works for colds. That means how much colloidal silver to take when sick should be zero.

Now there is lab research that showed when it was combined with oseltamivir (Tamiflu), H1N1 influenza A virus replication did seem to be inhibited, through the ROS-mediated signaling pathways (19). A similar experiment also observed it separately from Tamiflu (20). Though neither scenario has been studied in humans, so any claims about it working for the flu remain totally unproven.

Ebola

what ebola virus looks like under microscope

Electron micrograph of an ebola virus virion.

This may be one of the most cruel hoaxes of them all, because it’s such a deadly disease and without good treatment options available, fraudsters are trying to make a buck by claiming colloidal silver can cure ebola. Not only is there nothing on PubMed about that, but there is literally nothing in science elsewhere which even suggests that possibility (21).

It’s also worth pointing out that ebola is a virus, not a bacteria.

How silver works on the body for infections (such as with the prescription Silvadene cream) is theorized to be due to the following (22):

  • Making the bacteria’s cell membranes more permeable.
  • Interfering with the bacteria’s cell metabolism, which causes an overproduction of toxic oxygen compounds in them.

Viruses don’t even have a cell wall, because they’re not cells. Nor do they have metabolism. Therefore those mechanisms would not work against ebola, or any other virus for that matter.

Cancer

two patients in chair getting chemotherapyThere are blogs peddling it for prostate, liver, melanoma, and other types. Some list a protocol of combining colloidal silver and DMSO (dimethyl dulfoxide) solution. They offer dangerous instructions of mixing in that wood industry by-product and justify it using total quackary, as their “scientific” explanations would not even pass the scrutiny of a high school biology class.

For example, the biggest promoter of this is a website run by a very controversial figure who claims that a “special type” of microbe gets inside of normal cells and that is what causes cancer (even using the word “fact” to describe it). He alleges how DMSO and silver “quickly revert cancer cells into normal cells” by killing those microbes. All of those things are untrue.

For starters, cancer is caused by DNA mutations within cells. When a tumor suppressor gene mutates, it can grow uncontrolled – reproducing itself enough times until a mass forms, which we call a tumor (23). Even if there were microbes present, killing them would have no impact on the DNA mutations which had already occurred. You can’t revert a DNA mutation, period.

Quakery aside, does colloidal silver kill cancer cells in any scientific research?

Very few studies suggest that possibility and none involved living humans, only cultured cells in a lab.

In 2010, a study out of a university in Mexico tested it against cultured breast cancer cells (the MCF-7 line). Their results claimed (24):

“Colloidal silver had dose-dependent cytotoxic effect in MCF-7 breast cancer cells through induction of apoptosis…”

But how does that cytotoxic effect compare to what it might be doing to healthy cells, too?

In 2015, as published in the journal Nanotechnology, research tested cultured lung cells (A549 line) and skin fibroblast cells (as a control) to see what effect silver nanoparticles had when it came to cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and ROS production (a cause of oxidative stress). Their findings were (25):silver nanoparticles under microscope

“The AgNPs [silver nanoparticles] synthesized with shorter reaction times were more cytotoxic and genotoxic due to the presence of a few nanometer-sized AgNP [silver nanoparticle] seeds. The suspensions prepared with an increased citrate concentration were not cytotoxic, but they induced more ROS generation on A549 cells due to the high citrate concentration.”

In plain English, the conclusion was that (1) shorter reaction times, (2) too small of particles, and (3) the presence of ionic silver are all factors which can increase toxicity, both for healthy and cancerous cells. There was greater oxidative stress on the lung cancer cells, but that was in conjunction with a higher concentration of citrate (a derivative of citric acid).

One study out of India suggests the idea that micro and nano colloidal silver might be beneficial for use someday as a drug delivery system, but not as a stand-alone (26).

There is no legitimate scientific proof that silver offers anti-cancer benefits. It’s cruel and misleading for people to promote that idea. It’s not fair to the people with cancer, as they don’t have the time or energy to be misled with false hopes.

Herpes, HPV, and other STDs

What does colloidal silver do?

Viruses do not have cell walls or a nucleus. As mentioned, research points to the antibacterial mechanism of silver as needing those parts to work. Since viruses are not cells, it would be impossible for those same mechanisms to work for HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus) and HPV (human papillomavirus infection).

By ways of different mechanisms, nanoparticles of this metal might have some antiviral activity against certain types of enveloped viruses, but this has only been observed in lab experiments under specific conditions (27).

Using nanoparticle sizes ranging from 1 to 10 nm, some research has claimed they (28):

“…attached to HIV-1 and prevented the virus from bonding to host cells.”

However even if that mechanism is for real, a high dosage colloidal silver cream for use during sex was the theorized way it might help. Others proposed the idea of coated condoms (29). No one was suggesting that it might work as an oral treatment for those already infected with HIV. Keep in mind that even a low 1% topical concentration is equal to 1,000x more than a 10 ppm colloidal liquid concentration.

With hepatitis B virus replication, it appeared to inhibit formation of the virus RNA but “had little effect on the amount of HBV [hepatitis B virus] covalently closed circular DNA” (30).

When it comes to the herpes simplex virus (HSV), there are a few studies suggesting nano silver might have an inhibitory effect (31) (32). But like the HIV research, these were only lab experiments and the concentrations were applied topically to the herpes virus in relatively high concentrations.

colloidal silver effect on herpes in experiment

Different species of fungi infected with the HSV-1 virus, treated with different combinations of silver nanoparticles, and then incubated for 48 hours. How much the virus was inhibited went up with higher silver concentrations (33).

There are websites peddling colloidal silver gel for cold sores caused by herpes, but there is no human data to support those claims. The above chart involved infected fungi, not even animals have been tested!

Human papilloma virus (HPV) causes genital warts and some forms of cervical cancer, but there are no experiments for it.

Conclusion?

While there are experiments to suggest it might have an inhibitory effect against some STD viruses, the research is preliminary and the studies involved high concentrations applied directly to the virus in Petri dishes or similar. That is quite different than topical or oral colloidal usage in a human. For now, there is no scientific proof that silver works for HIV or other STDs in humans.

UTI and kidney stones

There are countless bloggers offering instructions on how to take colloidal silver orally for bladder infections/cystitis.

They say it’s backed by science, but it appears they are mixing it up with legitimate uses related to urinary tract infections.

Candida albicans under microscope

Candida albicans under microscope.

Silver-coated catheters have been studied for reducing rates of bacterial infections, such as from E. coli, as well as fungal yeast infections, such as from Candida albicans (34) (35). Those are preventive topical applications used on medical instruments. No human studies have looked at as a treatment for active infections.

Claims that colloidal silver can cure or destroy kidney stones are rampant. These stones are caused by concentrations of minerals and acids – usually calcium and uric acid – that form masses in the kidney. There is zero research to even suggest the possibility that this metal can help dissolve or prevent those stones.

Periodontal disease and jaw infections

mouth wash bottleUsing it for remineralizing teeth, receding gums, tooth pulp infections, and even teeth whitening are just a few of the topics you will see discussed on message boards.

For tooth abscesses, one website claims you should use a 10-30 ppm dosage of colloidal silver mouthwash and swish it around for 5 minutes, every 3 to 6 hours. While a few reviews posted by purported users of the remedy give it 5 stars, there are literally zero studies – not human or lab based – to back up such a claim.

It is true that in dental practices, silver has been used for (36):

  • endodontic retrofill cements (fillings)
  • restorative material
  • dental implants

Silver was chosen as a dental filling agent because it was thought to be safe for humans without side effects and offer some inhibitory effects against bacteria growing on it. The purpose was never as an antibacterial agent, to treat infections of the teeth, jaw bone (mandible), oral thrush, or gums.

It’s worth mentioning that receding gums have many causes and often it’s a problem that’s not even related to plaque or bacteria.

Hair loss

The effect of colloidal silver in hair follicle growth is unknown. Some blogs talk about using it as a conditioner or shampoo for hair loss, but there are no studies of any kind on that topic.

If hair loss is caused by scalp folliculitis, which is inflammation of follicles caused by an infection, there is only loosely related research to suggest it may help.chart showing silver's antifungal benefit on M. furfur

Silver nanoparticles were found to “exhibit excellent antifungal activity” against the scalp fungus M. furfur in a rat study (37). Even if it were to work the same way in humans, that is not a cause of male pattern baldness or alopecia.

Side effects

Whether the colloidal or another form, excess exposure to silver can cause the following adverse reactions:

  • Argyria, which is blue discoloration of the skin that is often permanent.
  • Decreased absorption of some drugs, including antibiotics and the thyroid medication thyroxine.
  • Unknown risks for pregnant women, babies, and developing children.
  • It it possible to be allergic to colloidal silver, given that some people have a skin allergy reaction to sterling silver jewelry.

Paul Karason on the Today showDubbed the blue man, Paul Karason is the best known case of argyria in modern history. Having been interviewed by Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today show, his skin literally turned blue from topically applying and drinking the metal for some 14 years, alleging it helped his acid reflux and arthritis (38).

Is looking like that really better than joint pain?

He died in 2013 from a heart attack. It was was not believed to be related, as he was said to have heart problems for years (39).

Karason was using a homemade concoction (made using a colloidal silver generator) and it’s unknown what percentage was ionic vs. colloidal. Whatever the case, how much of either form it takes to overdose on and cause the argyria side effect is unknown and it likely varies by person.

Quackwatch reports cases of argyria occurring in as little as one year of using a silver supplement (40).

Is it safe to use during pregnancy?

Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should avoid using silver-containing products. Although research on humans is limited, there is data to suggest it might not be safe for babies, both inside the womb and after birth:

  • In mice, neonatal testis development appeared to be adversely affected (41).
  • In mice and zebra fish, maternal exposure to the nanoparticles has been found to cause “detrimental effects” which include physical defects, delayed birth, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity (42) (43).
  • Amalgam fillings of the teeth have been linked to birth defects. Those are a combination of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Around 50% of the mixture is mercury and that is the part believed to the be linked to birth defects and pregnancy complications, but that doesn’t necessary mean the other three metals are automatically safe (44).

Despite that some bloggers claim it’s safe for children and pregnant women, the side effects from colloidal silver on developing babies and infants is a very real possibility. All uses should be avoided during pregnancy and by nursing mothers, given the chance that it might be bad for you. That holds true whether it’s creams, gels, ointments, drops, or oral liquid supplements.

Safety of colloidal silver brands?

The vast majority of the products for sale consist of only two ingredients; the metal and water. A few do combine it with other ingredients, such as xylitol and colloidal silver, but those are in the minority.

Some ask which brands offer USDA certified organic colloidal silver. This is a mineral, not a food. Therefore it can’t be organic.

We looked up the dosage instructions for how to use the various products from each of the following manufacturer’s respected websites. Among them are those which are considered to be the best or top selling brands, but most listed below are totally obscure and only sold online.

  • Advanced
  • American Biotech Labs
  • Angstrom
  • Argentyn 23
  • ASAP
  • Buried Treasure Quantum
  • Earth’s Bounty
  • Futurebiotics
  • Gen Java
  • Good Vitality
  • Invision International

  • Joseph Mercola
  • Kelly
  • Lifeforce
  • MesoSilver
  • Natural Immunogenics
  • Natural Path Silver Wings
  • Nature’s Cure Kosher
  • NOW Foods
  • Silver Bullet
  • Silver Shield
  • Source Naturals

  • Sovereign Silver spray
  • Sovereign Silver drops
  • Sunfood Superfoods
  • Sutton’s
  • The Silver Solution
  • Trace Minerals Research
  • Ultra
  • Ultra Plan
  • Vitacost
  • Young Living
  • Zoetic

The instructions for most products list external use only, however there are a few exceptions:

Some sprays, drops, and rinses. One teaspoon, held under the tongue and then swallowed, is listed on the packaging of a bestselling product; Sovereign Silver Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol.

Colloidal silver generator kits. For how to make your own using the LifeForce machine, their website states: “Making 5-15ppm for consumption or 20-40ppm for external use is just a matter of adjusting the processing time.” However that brand appears to be a mom ‘n pop sized direct seller of a kit. You can find it on Ebay, not at Walmart or Whole Foods.

Silver Wings nutrition facts and dosage instructions

In short, products on the market are only claimed to be safe by the manufacturers when used for external use only and in low oral dosages, since the concentrations are as little as 5 parts per million. Many specify they are not intended for continuous/long term use.

Does colloidal silver expire? Yes, all dietary supplements have to list an expiration date and with this product, you may see one that’s 2 to 4 years from the date of manufacturing.

Given that the ingredient is a metal suspended in water, the dangers of expiration may be different than that of a vitamin, food, or other organic matter. Over time, the plastic or glass container can interact with the ions and particle, which may change their concentration and how they are dispersed.

Verdict?

If there is one, perhaps someday the best medicinal use for this metal will be found to be as a combination, for use with other treatments. Not too long ago, a Scientific American headline read “Silver Makes Antibiotics Thousands of Times More Effective” and it was a reproduction of a piece published in Nature, which is a prestigious journal of science (22).

The gist of it was that it makes bacterial cell membranes more permeable and disrupts their biology, which “could potentially be harnessed to make today’s antibiotics more effective against resistant bacteria.” Though further research is need on that front, obviously.

There is not sufficient evidence that the concentrations seen with colloidal dietary supplements offer any health benefits when taken orally or when used topically. There is research to suggest the nanoparticles might have antibacterial and antiviral properties, but those studies involve high concentrations applied directly (e.g. topically) to infections.

As the NIH says, the bottom line is this (45):

“There are no high quality studies on the health effects of taking colloidal silver, but we do have good evidence of its dangers.”

Those using the supplements should do so carefully and only use them according to the manufacturer instructions. Users should probably stick with the larger brands. A couple examples include:

MesoSilver (20 ppm) – This is a major brand. The manufacturer claims “it has the highest nanoparticle concentration: 80% particles.”

Argentyn 23 (23 ppm) –  From the same manufacturer as Sovereign Silver, this is their highest-end product.

If you’re going to use it, we at least feel obligated to recommend the best colloidal silver brands which have been around the longest. Though to be clear, we are not endorsing usage.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.