Many people think of silver as something they find in jewelry or coins, but when manufacturers take tiny silver particles and suspend them in a liquid, it becomes a popular homeopathic remedy. It can be consumed orally, sprayed or applied to the skin, or even injected.
What are the benefits of using colloidal silver? How is it used, and are there any risks to using this suspension? What else is silver used for in the human body? Should patients be considering over-the-counter colloidal silver to treat their ailments?
What is Colloidal Silver?
Colloidal silver is a water solution containing nanometer-sized particles of suspended silver. The silver particles are so small that normal filtering processes cannot remove them.
People have been using colloidal silver for thousands of years to help fight against pathogens. The main benefit of silver is that unlike antibiotics, colloidal silver doesn’t create resistance or immunity to organisms. Before the advent of antibiotics, colloidal silver was the go-to treatment for everything from the common cold to consumption, the archaic name for tuberculosis.
Colloidal silver benefits have been proven effective against almost all organisms tested. According to research out of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, colloidal silver has played an important role in speeding up wound healing, and has been implemented in the development of radiology.
Richard Davies and Samuel Etris of The Silver Institute wrote a report in 1996, where they outlined three primary ways that colloidal silver assists healing in the body:
- Catalytic Oxidation: Silver naturally holds onto oxygen molecules, which react with the sulfhydryl (H) groups that surround the surface of bacteria or viruses to remove the hydrgen atoms. This blocks cellular respiration, and the bacteria/viruses expire.
- Reaction with Bacterial Cell Membranes: Silver ions can attach to surface radicals of bacteria, which impairs cell respiration by blocking its energy transfer system.
- Binding with DNA: Silver ions have been shown to enter bacterial DNA, preventing the DNA from unwinding, which is an essential step for cellular respiration to occur (1).
Before 1999, consumers could purchase FDA approved colloidal silver products. Before the beginning of the new millennium, the FDA ruled that over-the-counter colloidal silver products had no health benefits (2). Many patients who swear by the use of colloidal silver disagree. So nowadays, products containing colloidal silver are still available for purchase, but they are classified as homeopathic remedies, which aren’t subject to FDA scrutiny.
Colloidal silver comes in a variety of strengths and application types. It can be used topically on the skin, taken internally, or even injected to allegedly treat a variety of different conditions.
10 Colloidal Silver Benefits
Science is now confirming the benefits of colloidal silver that have been tried and true for centuries. Here are 10 ways colloidal silver can benefit your health:
Back in the 1980s, Doctor Larry C. Ford discovered how just a small amount of silver could completely eradicate over 650 different disease-causing pathogens in just a few minutes.
More recent studies have found its effectiveness as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent against both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria (3). There is also evidence that colloidal silver can act as a viable alternative to traditional anti-fungal treatments for various Candida-related conditions (4).
Colloidal silver is also different from antibiotics in that it doesn’t destroy our gut during treatment. A 2016 study conducted at the University of Michigan found that when silver nanoparticles were taken orally for 28 days, it did not alter the unique structure and diversity of the animal gut microbiome. This is essential, because our bodies depend on a healthy gut to support a healthy immune system. If our immune system is compromised, our ability to heal from certain ailments will take much longer.
2. Heals Wounds
Candida has the ability to stimulate healing in your skin and soft tissues. According to one study, silver-containing wound dressings are more effective against infection than other products that make similar claims (5). Not only that, but the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH) supports the use of colloidal silver for use in wound dressings (6).
3. Treats Pink Eye
Using silver solutions for eye infections is nothing new. Until the production of antibiotic ointments, silver nitrate drops were routinely used in newborn’s eyes to prevent certain types of bacterial infection. Safer options like silver hydrosol for kids now exist, which are a great alternative to the more irritating properties of silver nitrate.
The antiviral and antibacterial properties of colloidal silver make it a great natural option for treating pink eye, which is primarily caused by a bacterial or viral infection. When applied to the infected eye, microscopic silver colloids pick up the infected cells by attracting them electromagnetically and sending them into the bloodstream to be eliminated (7).
4. Fights Inflammation
Colloidal silver is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. Research based out of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigated the effects of colloidal silver on skin inflammation in pigs. When treated with colloidal silver, the inflamed skin returned back to normal after only 72 hours. Other treatment groups not treated with silver remained inflamed (8).
Another study investigating the anti-inflammatory properties of silver found it beneficial in reducing inflammation in the brain associated with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease (PD). Researchers from the study quote: “this study demonstrates for the first time a correlation between AgNP (silver nanoparticles)-detoxifying mechanisms and a reduction in microglial inflammation which serves a neuroprotective role” (9).
5. Remedy for Sinus Infections
Colloidal silver nasal sprays are marketed for good reason – they work! Several studies have confirmed the benefit of utilizing colloidal silver to treat sinus infections. One such study published in the International Forum for Allergy and Rhinology in 2015 said that silver can be used to control sinus infections, particularly when used as a nasal spray (10).
Another, more recent study, found that colloidal silver nasal rinses, when used twice daily for 10 days, is a safe and effective means of treating patients with chronic sinusitis (11). In the study, patients were given either oral antibiotics with saline rinses twice a day or colloidal silver nasal rinses twice daily. Both forms of treatment showed similar improvements in sinusitis symptoms, but the colloidal silver rinses mitigated the use of antibiotics (which is beneficial in reducing antibiotic resistance).
6. Beats the Flu and Cold
Colloidal silver has been well studied for its beneficial effects against cold and flu viruses. In 2011, the NIH took 100 children under the age of 12 suffering from the common cold and nasal congestion and placed them in two groups – the first group was treated with a solution of silver and beta-glucan, and the second group with saline solution. While both groups benefited from the treatment, 90% of the people in the silver group completely recovered (12).
Another study published in 2011 investigated the interaction of silver nanoparticles with H1N1 influenza A virus. They found that silver nanoparticles have anti-H1N1 influenza A virus activities. The researchers stated that the “inhibitory effects of silver nanoparticles on influenza A virus may be a novel clinical strategy for the prevention of influenza virus infection during the early dissemination stage of the virus” (13).
7. Great Antiviral
Silver nanoparticles have also demonstrated efficient inhibitory activities against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV).
Researchers have demonstrated the ways in which silver nanoparticles disturb the replication of HIV viruses in vitro. The outside of the HIV virus is thought to be composed of a membrane interspersed with glycoprotein knobs. These knobs bind to CD4 receptor sites on host cells, and through a series of different processes, the virus infects the host cell. Silver particles have been found to bind to these glycoprotein knobs, effectively blocking the binding with host cells. One study concluded that silver nanoparticles in the range of 1-10 nanometers attached to the HIV virus effectively inhibiting the virus from binding to host cells (14).
Clinical investigations of silver preparations in HIV treatment protocols have also been promising. In one study, three patients with AIDS were treated with oral and intravenous administration of colloidal silver. Oral administration started one month prior to intravenous administrations. The patients received progressively increasing concentrations of orally administered silver for 30-60 days. They were started on concentrations as low as 40 parts per million (ppm), and eventually advanced to 400 ppm. Intravenous infusions of silver protein also started at 40, ending at 1500 ppm. All subjects experienced a significant drop in HIV viral loads and substantial improvement in their clinical condition. One patient’s viral load dropped from 750,000 copies/mL to 39,000 copies/mL; another patients viral load dropped from 13,752 copies/mL to 2215 copies/mL (15).
8. Prevents Pneumonia
Silver is great at fighting pneumonia and bronchitis, especially if it is ingested or nebulized and inhaled into the lungs. Dr. Victor A. Marcia-Vega, M.D., found that while dealing with pneumonia patients, nebulizing colloidal silver resulted in effective remission of pneumonia symptoms. This way, the silver directly contacts the pathogens residing in the lungs.
Check out the article on how to nebulize colloidal silver to help remedy chronic conditions of the lungs like bronchitis, sinusitis, and pneumonia.
9. Eases Skin Conditions
As we’ve seen throughout this article, colloidal silver is highly beneficial to the skin, especially when it comes to healing different ailments of the skin. Colloidal silver is a potent anti-fungal (18), so it is particularly good at treating ringworm, athlete’s foot, and rashes that occur as a result of candida overgrowth.
Whether caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi, colloidal silver treatment can be beneficial as it speed up the recovery of damaged tissues.
10. Treats Ear Infections
Ear infections are tricky, because they can be caused by multiple classes of bacteria or can even be fungal. For these reasons, antibiotics won’t always work, since they are specific to the type of bacteria they’re prescribed for. Colloidal silver, on the other hand, is effective no matter what may be causing your ear infection.
Colloidal Silver Risks
There is lots of debate surrounding the potential health risks of colloidal silver. Contrary to popular belief, silver is not a necessary metal in the body, and there can be risks that accompany the use of silver protein or ionic silver.
Research shows that the misuse of colloidal silver, or choosing inexpensive, low-quality products can cause adverse side effects.
For example, you probably know about argyria, a condition in which too much silver is present in the body, causing the eyes or skin to turn silver-blue. This is a type of silver poisoning and can be caused by using low-grade colloidal silver products (like silver protein or poorly manufactured ionic silver products) (21).
Silver in huge excess beyond 10,000,000 micrograms over 70 years per EPA can, in some cases, lead to argyria. Impurities in other colloidal silvers may also increase the risk.
However, pure silver hydrosol – which is free of proteins, salts, and other compounds – poses no health hazard when used as directed, and can in fact be used as a very effective antimicrobial agent. Individuals simply need to follow the directions of high-quality silver products (like Sovereign Silver – a product Carly Fraser of Live Love Fruit has been using for over 10 years), and consume the proper dose as to not go against what the product advises.
High parts per million (PPM) concentrations, particularly those that exceed the EPA oral Daily Reference Dose (RfD) for silver are not necessary and should be avoided.
Colloidal silver should not be taken for more than 14 days in a row.
Colloidal Silver Uses
Colloidal silver is a liquid that can be purchased in tincture or spray form. Most colloidal silver products will have directions on how to use it for a variety of different health conditions, so I highly suggest you seek out the information from the manufacturer you choose to purchase from.
Colloidal silver should only be taken short-term and never long-term. If you’re starting to feel sick, taking a regular dose of colloidal silver for a period of 5-6 days will suffice (you don’t need to take it longer than the period that you are sick). Do not take colloidal silver for longer than 14 days in a row.
For the purposes of the product I am speaking about, here are a variety of ways you can use Sovereign Silver for different health conditions (dosing for adults, not children):
- 1 teaspoon held under the tongue for 30 seconds for maintenance
- 1 teaspoon held under the tongue for 30 seconds, 3x a day to build the immune system
- 1 teaspoon held under the tongue for 30 seconds, 5x a day for long-term immune support (such as those with cancer, or other immune-suppressing diseases)
- 1 teaspoon held under the tongue for 30 seconds, 7x a day for short-term immune support (such as those dealing with the common cold or flu)
- 1-2 drops into the eyes for pink eye
- 1-2 drops applied to any wound or sore (followed by a Band-Aid)
- 5-10 drops applied vaginally or anally (eases genital herpes, and fights off candida blooms)
- 5 drops added to a cup of water that can be used to flush the sinuses in a neti pot
- 5 drops into the ear to aid ear infections (let sit 10-15 minutes, and then drain)
- 1 tablespoon swished in the mouth for 30 seconds and then spit out (to remedy infections of the gums or other tissue)
- 1-2 droppersful applied to the skin to remedy rashes or other skin/scalp conditions
Other Uses of Silver in Medicine
There are a number of applications for silver in medicine. Every time someone gets a traditional x-ray, they’re relying on silver-halide imaging plates to render the image. These aren’t used as often in countries where digital x-rays are becoming more prevalent but they were the primary form of imaging film for decades.
Silver sulfadiazine is used topically to prevent infections in patients with second and third-degree burn because of the metal’s natural antibacterial properties (22). Dressing infused with silver also help conditions like venous leg ulcers heal faster and more effectively, according to a 2018 study (23).
Silver also reduces the risk of infections in internal applications. A 2015 study found that covering endotracheal tubes in a fine coat of silver reduced the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia (24).
A recent study in 2018 found that pairing silver nanoparticles with amoebicide drugs for the treatment of things like Naegleria fowleri and Acanthamoeba castellani made the treatment more effective. These brain-eating amoeba infections are rare but almost always fatal. Adding silver nanoparticles to the mix could potentially mean the difference between life and death for those infected (25)
Both MIR and the International Space Station use electrolytically-dissolved silver to disinfect their water supply (26), and many hospitals use copper-silver filters in their hot water systems to prevent MRSA and Legionarrire’s infections from spreading.
In spite of moving away from applications as a treatment for everything from AIDS to the common cold, silver still has many potential applications in medicine. Colloidal silver, especially the kind sold over the counter as a homeopathic remedy or dietary supplement, is not always considered an effective treatment option, but may be helpful to some!
In the worst-case scenario, though, it could cause argyria, which turns skin permanently blue. So, this is an important consideration to keep in mind if you’re purchasing a low-quality silver product. True colloidal silver products will not cause this condition.
Evidence shows that silver’s antimicrobial properties can continue to support health and wellness for years to come. It can be effective for a variety of infections and even treating neurological microbe infections, but is always best used when discussed with a natural health practitioner (such as a naturopath) first.