Although it is unclear what toxicity silver poses to internal organs, animal studies have shown that inordinately high levels can interfere with kidney and liver function, damage the central nervous system, and instigate the release of calcium from bones. It is not known how silver affects reproduction or pregnancy, but research issued by the National Toxicology Program suggests that silver does not cause cancer.
There is no cure for argyria, but there are things you can do to prevent it from occurring or keep it from getting worse.
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In addition to potential health hazards, colloidal silver is known to interact with a number of medications, either by reducing their effectiveness, increasing side effects, or impairing liver function as the drug is metabolized. Possible interactions include:
over-the-counter drug products containing colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts for internal or external use are not generally recognized as safe and effective and are misbranded…products containing colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts are being marketed for numerous serious disease conditions and FDA is not aware of any substantial scientific evidence that supports the use of over-the-counter colloidal silver or ingredients or silver salts for these disease conditions.4(p44653)
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Despite the FDA ruling, colloidal silver products are still available as dietary supplements. Most are sold in liquid form. There are even colloidal silver generators you can buy that diffuse silver particles into water. Colloidal silver soaps, mouthwash, eye drops, body lotions, lozenges, and nasal sprays are also available.
If you experience side effects at any point, such as nausea or skin discoloration, stop using colloidal silver immediately.
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Over time, this can lead to a permanent, disfiguring condition called argyria in which tissues take on a bluish-gray discoloration. The gums are usually first affected, followed the skin, eyes, nails, and deeper tissue layers. Headache, fatigue, and myoclonic seizures may also occur.
In 1999, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responded to the widespread use of colloidal silver as a remedy for many ailments.4 The FDA stated:
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There is no safe dose of colloidal silver. Moreover, it is not known at what point silver toxicity may occur. Part of the problem is that the concentration of silver particles can vary from one brand to the next. Some contain a few as 15 parts per million (ppm) while others are in excess of 500 ppm. Age, weight, and health status can also play a part.
The use of silver for medicinal purposes dates back to the eighth century ce and is still in use today.1-3 Generalized argyria is characterized by slate-gray to blue discoloration of the skin caused by cutaneous deposits of silver particles after long-term ingestion of solutions containing colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts.1-3 The skin discoloration is more prominent in sun-exposed areas and is usually permanent. There is no widely accepted effective treatment for the skin discoloration of argyria.1
Colloidal silver products can vary widely in their composition, so their effects may also vary widely.
If you decide to buy a colloidal silver product, even for short-term use, choose those that clearly indicate the concentration in parts per million (ppm) on the product label (remembering that less is more).
If you decide you’d like to try colloidal silver, check to make sure that it won’t interact with any prescriptions you’re taking. Consider topical use with guidance from a healthcare professional. Never exceed the dosing recommendations put forward by the EPA.
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Unlike vitamin supplements, few colloidal silver products are voluntarily submitted for evaluation by an independent certifying authority like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International. As such, the consumer can be left blind as to what the product contains or how safe it is.
Colloidal silver is a popular but controversial alternative therapy. This article details its potential benefits and side effects.
Considering the risks and lack of proven benefits, using colloidal silver products is probably not a good idea.