Benefits Of Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is peddled as a supplement and even a cure for varied illnesses, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also suggested as an alternative treatment when resistant strains of bacteria do not respond to conventional treatment. Yet, with limited scientific evidence, plus the lack of standardization in products, there are reasons to be cautious.
Made of silver particles suspended in liquid, colloidal silver is not likely the first thing you’d think to reach for when struck down by a stomach infection or skin problem. But it’s become quite the hot product recently – you may have seen it being promoted as a cure for a wide range of ailments. However, the FDA and many health regulators aren’t quite ready to believe all its beneficial claims.
Here’s a closer look at some of those claims, as well as information that can help you decide whether colloidal silver is a product worth adding to your medicine cabinet.
What’s All The Buzz About Colloidal Silver?
Ayurveda and traditional medicine used silver as an antimicrobial agent well before antibiotics were created. Now, with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria evolving, silver is coming back in vogue as practitioners and patients seek out new ways to fight illness.
The Good: Possible Health Benefits Of Colloidal Silver
Some research shows colloidal silver nanoparticles to be effective against ampicillin-resistant E. coli, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), erythromycin-resistant S. pyogenes, vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA), and multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa.1 However, until further research is done and the treatment proven to be effective for humans, this is not an established treatment for some of the life-threatening conditions caused by these bacteria.
Increases Antibiotic Efficacy
Silver may also help make antibiotics more effective. A feature in the Scientific American explains that it does this in two ways: Silver makes the cell membrane of bad bacteria more permeable and also hampers its metabolism. This means antibiotics could kill anywhere from 10 to 1000 times the amount of bacteria it would without silver added.2
Scientists have also researched silver’s potential anti-inflammatory properties. One study found that nanocrystalline silver helped reduce inflammation and increase inflammatory cell death (apoptosis) in test animals infected with contact dermatitis. The skin of the pigs who were administered silver returned almost back to normal in just 72 hours, while other test animals continued to show symptoms of inflammation.3
Helps Treat Wounds
Due to the scourge of antibiotic resistance, there’s been growing interest in silver for treating open wounds. Because of the low clinical incidence of resistance to silver, researchers suggest that silver-based products should be able to release high levels of silver ions and act rapidly against bacteria.4Most commonly, silver is used topically on wounds, burns, and skin infections. It’s also been used to prevent newborns from developing conjunctivitis. 5
Colloidal silver has also been cited as treatment for ailments ranging from sinus and ear infections, bronchitis, stomach ulcers, yeast infections, Lyme disease, rosacea, gum disease, digestive trouble, and even food poisoning. Some say taking it as a dietary supplement may help ward off colds and the flu. But all this remains unsubstantiated. Which is why no mainstream allopathic medicine around it is approved for use.
The Bad: Why You May Want To Avoid Colloidal Silver
You May Not Be Getting What You Think
It’s not just that more research is needed to prove colloidal silver’s effectiveness. As a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report points out, one major problem is that many products advertised as colloidal silver don’t actually contain what it claims. For example, silver particles within the product may be of sizes different than what is written on the box. The efficacy of colloidal silver is hard to determine when its purity, quality, strength, and potency are questionable. These impurities and potential instability can lead to unpredictable results, meaning ingesting such products can be risky.6
Risk Of Argyria
There is also the risk of developing argyria, a condition where your skin becomes discolored and takes on a bluish gray tinge due to the steady intake of silver, which can build up in the body. Sun exposure makes it worse. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the effects are permanent.7
Interaction With Certain Medications
Another potential issue with using colloidal silver is that it could interfere with the absorption of certain medication – like thyroxine, used to treat thyroid deficiency – and even some antibiotics.8
Should You Try It?
The FDA does not back the use of colloidal silver in medication. In fact, one of their official dockets states that over-the-counter (OTC) drugs containing colloidal silver for use both external and internal are “not generally recognized as safe and effective”. They also say this final rule, is in part, due to the misbranding and misleading marketing that suggest it can cure very serious medical conditions. The FDA believes that there is not enough scientific evidence to support its use.9
There is also the issue of whether colloidal silver is truly safe or whether there is still a risk of silver toxicity. In one instance referenced by Scientific American, a heart valve with silver-coated parts became toxic, causing dangerous leakages from the valves.
Until further research and clinical studies can back the various claims around colloidal silver’s potential health benefits, it may be best to stick to proven alternative treatments or approved medication. This is especially important if the health condition you are dealing with can potentially turn dangerous if not managed quickly and with the right medication or therapy. However, if you’d still like to try out colloidal silver for yourself, be sure to inform your doctor first.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Rai, M. K., S. D. Deshmukh, A. P. Ingle, and A. K. Gade. “Silver nanoparticles: the powerful nanoweapon against multidrug‐resistant bacteria.” Journal of applied microbiology 112, no. 5 (2012): 841-852.|
|2.||↑||Silver Makes Antibiotics Thousands of Times More Effective. Scientific American.|
|3.||↑||Nadworny, Patricia L., JianFei Wang, Edward E. Tredget, and Robert E. Burrell. “Anti-inflammatory activity of nanocrystalline silver in a porcine contact dermatitis model.” Nanomedicine: nanotechnology, biology and medicine 4, no. 3 (2008): 241-251.|
|4.||↑||Chopra, Ian. “The increasing use of silver-based products as antimicrobial agents: a useful development or a cause for concern?.” Journal of antimicrobial Chemotherapy 59, no. 4 (2007): 587-590.|
|5, 7, 8.||↑||Colloidal Silver. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.|
|6.||↑||Over-the-Counter Drug Products Containing Colloidal Silver Ingredients or Silver Salts. FDA.|
|9.||↑||Over-the-Counter Drug Products Containing Colloidal Silver Ingredients or Silver SaltsFDA.|