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Colloidal Silver: Benefits and Side Effects?

Question:
Is colloidal silver helpful for any condition and is it safe to use? I'm seeing it promoted for many applications.

Answer:
Colloidal silver (a solution with silver particles) has antiseptic activity, and for this reason, has been promoted for a wide number of uses, from treating sinus infections and ear infections to boosting the immune system. It has also been promoted to help treat diabetes, arthritis, thyroid conditions, and even cancer.

However, there is no clinically-proven benefit for taking colloidal silver, and there are potential risks. The FDA banned the use of colloidal silver in over-the-counter products in 1999, although it is still legally sold as a dietary supplement. An analysis of colloidal silver products sold online found that few contained the concentration of silver claimed on the label. 

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Jane16956   July 15, 2018
I have no interest in taking colloidal silver internally. However, silver is an admirable mold & germ killer. I put silver items in a water jug and it can be left unrefrigerated without going green or black. (in ancient times they threw a silver coin into the water barrel.) One of my contact lens cases has silver in it. I also add a drop to my solution. I believe that it has been added to paints and coatings to retard bacteria growth, especially in Japan..
Therefore, even though I don't recommend internal use, I am glad to have access to it for other purposes.

Angela16806   May 9, 2018
Which brand Colloidal Silver do you recommend? Which one pass the test you did?

ConsumerLab.com   May 10, 2018
Hi Angela - We have not tested colloidal silver products, and the study referred to in the answer above did not give the names of the products tested. As noted in the answer above, there is no clinically-proven benefit for taking colloidal silver, and there are potential risks.

Larry16798   May 9, 2018
I have researched the benefits of colloidal silver and have used the product for a long time. Here are some observations and comments:

1. I did a controlled experiment in which I took three petri dishes with growth medium. Two of which were infused with swabs from the same areas of my kitchen. One was the control. Tw had the infusion of bacteria. One one of the infused dishes was sprayed with colloidal silver before it was sealed. As expected, the control remained free of growth. The infused dish was filled with growth. The one sprayed with CS remained free of growth.

2. It has little to no effect when taken internally with one exception. If infected with a "stomach flu" (virus or food poisoning) and about 1/4 cup of the product is taken as soon as possible and every hour thereafter for a total of 6 doses, the symptoms disappear. within about 6 to 12 hours. If one waits until after the disease has progressed too far, it seems to be ineffective.

3. CS is most effective when used topically. Wounds heal quickly and without infection.

4. It is an excellent remedy for pink eye. A drop or two directly into the eyes used every few hours usually takes care of the problem within 24 hours.

5. It is also an excellent remedy for a sore throat. Place CS into a sprayer and spray directly into the back of the throat and into the nasal passages allowing it to flow down the back of the throat. Symptoms usually disappear within 12 hours or so.

6. I have also tested the product on animals and it is effective topically. Further, I have tried the experiment in which two dishes of water were set out for several cats in one case and several dogs in another. After both dishes were used for a period of time so that the animals became accustomed to using both, one was infused with a small amount of CS. Within several hours, all animals preferred the dish with CS.

The bottom line: CS is nothing to be afraid of and it is helpful for certain conditions and under certain circumstances. Like with any other medicine, it is subject to abuse and overdose.

ConsumerLab.com   May 9, 2018
Hi Larry - Thanks for sharing your experiences. Please note, however, that the uses you list are not supported by clinical evidence.

JAMES16822   May 10, 2018
Excellent post. I concur with your findings. I have personally been using CS for 30+ years. I ingest it, I use it topically on myself and my animals with amazing success. I use it with a nasal spray and diluted in my Neti Pot. I have never had an adverse effect and I am not turning 'blue'or gray. I make my own with a CS generator that I designed and built myself for less than $30. I measure the ppm with a TDS digital testing device at about 18-22 ppm. I have been using the same two 1oz silver ingots that I purchased for under $5 ea over 30 years ago along with the same generator.

George16869   May 29, 2018
I, too, have made colloidal silver (CS) using two "Three 9s" silver rounds, three 9-volt batteries, some wire, alligator clips, and distilled water. I have performed my own tests and found that my CS prevents the occurrence of mold in a test similar to that already mentioned by Larry16798. Further, drinking my CS relieves the heartburn / upset stomach that I occasionally get. I have also purchased CS sold by Costco.

As mentioned in the article, the problem with orally-taken CS is that it is an indiscriminate killer: both good and bad bugs are targeted. It is for this reason that I no longer rely on CS to fight stomach / gut issues. However, if you search for intravenous CS and "MS" or "Lyme," you will find numerous success stories. And CS can be extremely effective topically.

I believe that the "blue skin" stories are 1) real; 2) a result of using finely ground silver rather than colloidal silver; and 3) promoted to scare people away from trying colloidal silver. It's not a conspiracy if a cheap product (like CS or Stevia, for that matter) competes favorably against a company's more expensive / less healthy product upon which that company's profits are dependent -- it's just business as usual to try to smear the competition.

Dorothy16797   May 9, 2018
My mother took large amounts of colloidal silver over several years (at least 10 years that I know of). She is now 91 years old and never has viral or bacterial infections. However, her complexion does has a permanent blue/purple cast that didn't appear until long after she stopped taking CS. The family will be glad to know the reason for her coloration is not harmful and is called argyria.

Elizabeth9788   June 14, 2016
I'm interested in colloidal silver because I'm resistant to antibiotics. I'm also wary of this product because of negative reviews. Seems I'm between a rock and a hard place.

JAMES16823   May 10, 2018
I have personally been using CS for 30+ years. I ingest it, I use it topically on myself and my animals with amazing success. I use it with a nasal spray and diluted in my Neti Pot. I have never had an adverse effect and I am not turning 'blue'or gray. I make my own with a CS generator that I designed myself. I measure the ppm with a TDS digital testing device at about 18-22 ppm. I have been using the same two 1oz silver ingots that I purchased for under $5 ea over 30 years ago along with the same generator.

jess246   October 23, 2014
I have been taking and topically using colloidal silver for going on 20 years now and have found numerous benefits. For instance, I can stop a toothache indefinitely until I can get in to see a dentist. Gargling it stops a sore throat and/or keeps it from getting worse. I have had two diabetic friends with open sores on their legs that had existed for over 3 years who used it both orally and topically and both sores healed within 3 weeks after over 3 years of suffering. I have my own colloidal silver generator in order to get a consistent product. I have a friend who is a microbiologist and he verifies that he saw the stuff work in the lab when he was in medical school. I believe argyria is mostly myth and has only been experienced by one person who took and still takes excessive amounts of CS. After surgery I never take the antibiotics because of apparent allergies but take CS instead.

Lanada250   October 25, 2014
I have been taking CS internally for 7 years and it has not given me argyria. It's the only antibiotic I take and always gets me well. You have to take it like it says, not overuse.

Dennis242   October 22, 2014
I've used and researched c-silver for over a decade now. True, direct ingestion-- at least at the minuscule quantities I've tried-- does little good for internal fungus, virus or bacteria problems. However, for EXTERNAL, topical applications, its effectiveness is unquestioned! For example, tooth/gum inflammation is cleared up in a matter of hours by a good oral soaking-swishing a la Listerine. I've cut a nasty abscess down to less than half its size within a half-hour with just one dose of col-silver concentrated at to at least 4ppm! They've used silver thread in appropriate garments to eliminate jock itch and stinky feet since World War I. But, one of the surest results of this stuff is in HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS! A couple of teaspoons of this mystical juice in a half-quart feeder will cause that sugar solution to remain bacteria-free and tasty/healthy for the birds for over 2 months (or as long as they take to drain the bottle)!! Otherwise, one has to dump the fluid and waste most of it--along with time and bleach-- about once a week, as recommended by those who $ELL the red-mix. I'll bet not one of MY birds ever gets Ebola!!

ConsumerLab.com   October 21, 2014
Hi Maxine and Jasmin - It is true that "nano silver" is being used in a very small study as an experimental treatment for Ebola, but this is just an experiment and there is no clinical research suggesting it is safe or effective for this use (see article on LiveScience at http://www.livescience.com/47389-nigerian-experimental-ebola-drug.html).

In fact, the FDA recently issued a warning letter to a company who promoted a silver supplement for this use (see https://www.consumerlab.com/recall_detail.asp?recallid=10695).

joyce252   October 26, 2014
Does the FDA letter mean anything other than that the treatment has not been FDA approved for the condition?

Jasmin237   October 20, 2014
I read an article that the have proven that nano silver (colloidal) can cure Ebola. Apparently there is medical research that Medical Doctors have written.
I use it for the common cold and flu and it works for that. So who knows

Larry234   October 20, 2014
This is not totally factual. Yes, silver has been used for centuries for various "health" areas, but there have been break throughs in recent years that have/are being suppressed by special interest organizations. And yes, there is much "hype" that is NOT true. Hence significant due dilligence is required, but benefits have a potential of being very significant

ConsumerLab.com   October 21, 2014
Hi Larry – We have looked into this carefully and do not believe that our answer is factually incorrect. We also do not believe that there is a conspiracy to suppress positive information about silver.

We are aware of a study in mice (Morones-Ramirez, Science - Translational Medicine 2013 http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/5/190/190ra81.full.pdf?sid=7b136006-120d-4e3e-8b41-e39a81b04702) which suggests that silver may help improve antibiotic activity, but these are very preliminary findings and should not be the basis for recommending that people ingest silver.

Anthony14073   June 2, 2017
Whenever I see "may help" I add brackets stating ["and may not help"]...

Maxine227   October 19, 2014
Could colloidal silver be help for Ebola

This CL Answer initially posted on 10/16/2014. Last updated 5/8/2018.

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