Colloidal Silver, Why I Don't Use It

Our society demands, and loves, panaceas.

For those who aren't familiar with that term, it means "cure all" 

Fun story for you - snake oil (one of the early panaceas) was actually something that Chinese workers on the railroads used. It was actually created from the fat of water snakes and was used for a lot of different things. Others, seeing the magic in it, bottled it for sale BUT unfamiliar with the methods and not having consistent access to water snakes, starting adulterating them - which gives us the derogatory term "snake oil". This story could be told over and over again for many natural remedies we have.

Colloidal silver is not necessarily an adulterated bottle of snake oil, but its definitely reached panacea level without having the traditional use or the evidence to back up the many claims of today.

Another fun story to start our conversation about silver- travelers in caravans would store a silver ladle in their store water supply to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Which we actually see today (1)

But lets get down to business.

Does colloidal silver work?

Technically yes. It has shown to be beneficial about bacteria topically (2,3) and some fungi (4). It is important to remember that Candida is naturally in the body and is part of a healthy biome. Too much can cause problems, so its needs to be in balance (it helps us to absorb nutrients and helps our immune system).

However it is important to note that the studies focus on the antimicrobial effect of colloidal silver, not the purported systemic antibiotic abilities. In Prescription for Natural Cures by James Balch, MD, he mentions using colloidal silver for things like - bacterial infections, burns, sinusitis, and conjunctivitis. Note that these are usually topically treated (sinusitis, which internal, is treated with colloidal silver to the sinus cavity, not taken internally like pharmaceutical antibiotics).

Additionally the claim of antiviral use is not really studied and while science isn't the only place we should turn to (after all many herbs aren't studied as well), when it comes to something that CAN and DOES build up in the body, most notably the liver and kidneys...but also the lungs (see source #1)...it is important to have the safety and efficacy information available. This is especially important because current popular use of colloidal silver is being shared for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children. People in this category have special considerations. Colloidal silver can cross the placental barrier (see source #1) and build up in the fetus.

Colloidal silver is also one that is a very short term use. No more than 2 weeks and you want to find the lowest dose that is still efficient to prevent argyria - which is a change in the color of the skin (blue or blue/purple) due to a build up of silver in the body. As seen in WHO article (source #1) build up can occur from inhalation, ingestion, injection, and topical.

Lastly, silver is not needed in our body. Yes, its not a heavy metal like mercury or lead - both of which have links to neurological issues in the human body - however, I do not believe we should be putting metals into our body when we have a multitude of other proven remedies with the safety profile we can feel good about. 

Personally, I find that colloidal silver takes away from the intentional part of healthcare. Why learn about plant medicine and the human body when we can just squirt some colloidal silver on it? Why tend to our environment so that the future generations have medicine (and food) when we can just use this silver, which requires mining to remove from the earth? It also keeps up the traditions of heroic medicine - where most panaceas tend to fall into... AKA "the silver saved us". That may sound like a bit extreme what if everyone switched to colloidal silver?

The reason colloidal silver seems like its so great right now is because its still "new" on the radar. It makes it so that people can still be in charge of their health without having to do the work. It makes it so that a person in the desert can treat pink eye the same way a person in the Yukon can. Problem is, that just isn't sustainable. And yes, I understand that it is possible for you to make at home - if all of these people are making it at home and are sure of the PPM in the silver, then more power to them - I will stick to my plant medicine.

Sources:

  1. WHO Centre for Research into Environment and Health "Silver: water disinfection and toxicity"
  2. PubMed - Synergistic combination of chitosan acetate with nanoparticle silver as a topical antimicrobial: efficacy against bacterial burn infections.
  3. PubMed - Efficacy of a novel skin antiseptic against carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.
  4. PubMed - Spectrum of antimicrobial activity associated with ionic colloidal silver.
  5. Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies including Diet and Nutrition, Nutritional Supplments, Bodywork, and More by James F. Balch M.D., 2004