Hi everyone! I’m back with yet another post about dietary supplements. I enjoy writing about dietary supplements because there is a lot of misinformation out there, and I enjoy researching these products and sharing what I’ve found with my audience. Today, I specifically want to talk about colloidal silver. Is colloidal silver safe? Do you need silver in your diet? These are some of the questions I hope to shed light on in today’s post.
In case you missed it, I wrote a whole blog post about dietary supplements for immunity here, and a whole post about supplements in general here. For the record, I’m not anti-supplement. In fact, although I maintain my position that it’s preferable to get nutrients from food, certain populations can really benefit from supplementation, or straight up need it to maintain health.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the supplement post, supplements are not regulated, and a lot of companies put out lots of expensive products with grandiose health claims, which could be sugar, or could be dangerous.
During the COVID crisis, some companies have taken an opportunist route for selling supplements in a crisis, making claims that their products may boost immune system function (read more about that here), prevent COVID-19, or help you recover.
The FDA and FTC have sent letters to MLMs including doTerra, Pruvit, Arbonne, among others, regarding health and earnings claims related to coronavirus. There are lots of companies with lots of products and lots of health claims.
But today, we’ll focus on silver. I plan to also cover charcoal (which is a big thing even in non-pandemic times), and elderberry in more detail in future upcoming posts. I have whole posts devoted to vitamin C and vitamin D if you’d like to read more on those.
*Disclaimer: As always, this is general information intended for healthy adults. Your needs may vary based on medical status, lifestyle, or life-stage. Please never replace generalized health information you’ve read online with individualized clinical care.
What is colloidal silver?
Colloidal silver consists of tiny silver flakes or particles dispersed in liquid (typically water). It is often marketed as a dietary supplement, with some marketers claiming it will increase your oxygen intake, eliminate toxins, poisons, and fungi from the body, increase energy, and will ‘keep your system’s defenses against toxins and viruses high.’ Silver salts are another frequently marketed form of the supplement.
Colloidal silver and silver flakes have long been marketed as a dietary supplement or alternative medicine, but these metallic products have recently resurged in popularity as a supplement to defend against the novel coronavirus.
They’re also added to many ‘immune boosting’ multi-vitamin supplements and potions. It’s fairly easy to get your hands on a silver dietary supplement product, even if they are not marketed as such.
Do you need silver in your diet? If so, how much do you need?
No. There is no biological need to consume any silver. Unlike things like copper and iron, it is not a nutritionally essential mineral. There is known function or benefit to consuming colloidal silver, and there is no established RDA.
There are some uses for topical silver, such as to treat skin wounds and burns, but there are no legally marketed prescription or over-the-counter medicines containing colloidal silver to be taken by mouth.
Is colloidal silver safe?
No. Colloidal silver is benign at best and dangerous at worst. The FDA put out a statement about colloidal silver and silver salts in 1999, warning consumers that colloidal silver was not safe nor effective for preventing or treating any illness.
Scientific literature has shown that colloidal silver has no antimicrobial effect in vitro on microorganisms, and it is ineffective as an antiseptic, meaning, basically, it will not destroy any pathogens or bacteria you may be concerned will make you ill.
But taking colloidal silver is not benign. In fact, it might be harmful.
The most common adverse reaction of consuming long-term colloidal silver is a condition known as argyria. Argyria is a condition that causes the skin to turn slate-gray to blue, and can occur after long-term ingestion of colloidal silver.
The discoloration is most common in areas of the skin exposed to sunlight (including the face, hands, etc) and is usually permanent.
There is no effective widely accepted treatment for the condition, meaning most people who develop the condition are stuck with it. If you want a visual, I suggest googling argyria.
Toxicity studies done in animals have found a breadth of adverse effects from consuming silver orally, including weight loss, hypoactivity, altered liver enzymes and blood valves, immunological effects, altered neurotransmitter levers, and even death.
Furthermore, colloidal silver can interact with certain medications, including thyoxine (used to treat thyroid deficiency), and can decrease the efficacy of antibiotics.
Take home: Should I take colloidal silver?
No. There is no need to consume silver orally via diet or supplement. There is no biological need to do so.
Consuming colloidal silver or silver flakes will at best be benign, but can be very dangerous. It can not only interact with certain medications and decrease the efficacy of some antibiotics, but it can also cause permanent skin discoloration, impact multiple organ systems, and can in some cases lead to death.
Always check with your healthcare provider before trying a new homeopathic supplement or remedy (or any medication for that matter).
That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed this shorter blog post. I usually dive deeper into things, but in this case, the science is pretty clear: colloidal silver is potentially dangerous and should be avoided. I really hope that companies refrain from using the pandemic to pray upon people’s vulnerabilities to make sales.
Until then, I will continue to put out science-based information on popular dietary supplements. Feel free to drop suggestions in the comments below, and/or reach out to me on Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube.
If you liked ‘Is colloidal silver safe? Do you need silver in your diet?’ you may also like:
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- Some basic public health terms to help you understand the COVID-19 news