Silver has a long history of use in jewelry, electronics, and art…but can it fight disease, infection and bacteria? Manufacturers of colloidal silver tout it as being a cure for everything from psoriasis to cancer, while others claim it’s a dangerous compound. The ancient Romans and Greeks noticed that a few silver coins in their water reserves would keep the water potable for long voyages, but that doesn’t mean you can keep the H1N1 virus at bay, or can you?
Science has proven that silver compounds do have antiseptic abilities; the silver ion damages the enzyme shells in pathogen cell membranes, causing them to rupture and die. This is not unusual; most heavy metals (like lead and mercury) have this ability, but silver is unique because this toxicity only applies to bacteria and one-celled organisms and not humans.
The medical world has been aware of this fact for quite some time. Prior to the development of antibiotics in the 1940s, colloidal silver was used extensively as a germicide and disinfectant. Even today, air and water purifiers, hospital bandages, and burn creams use silver to prevent infection and bacterial activity. Research into using silver to fight staph infections and other multiple drug resistant pathogens like MRSA show promise, and support the anecdotal evidence that fans of colloidal silver have talked about for years.
Ingestion or exposure to extreme amounts of colloidal silver does have drawbacks, however. Silver taken orally can reduce the effectiveness of drugs such as tetracycline, quinolone, and penicillamine. When large amounts of silver compounds are deposited in the tissues and exposed to UV light, they create a condition call argyria, which turns the skin turns a bluish-gray color. Argyria is most often the result of ingesting silver chloride (silver chloride compounds can occur when making colloidal silver using tap water containing salt, instead of distilled water). The condition is rare, cosmetic and not life-threatening, but it is not reversible.
Because of these risks, excessive (more than 4oz) daily drinking of colloidal silver is not recommended, but short-term internal use for treating food-borne illness is one exception; the antimicrobial properties of colloidal silver make it an ideal weapon in wiping out e coli in the gastrointestinal tract (probiotics should be used afterwards to repopulate intestinal flora). Oral and tooth infections also respond well if colloidal silver is used as a mouth rinse, and adding it to the saline in your neti pot can help alleviate sinus infections.
You can find colloidal silver in most health food stores, but tends to be pricey - a small dropper bottle can easily run $15 or more. It’s sold in concentrations of parts per million (ppm), normally 10-50ppm, but a higher ppm is not necessarily better and is more expensive. In the end, you may find the most cost effective option to be buying a ionic/colloidal silver generator, and make your own colloidal silver for pennies a gallon. Before you buy one, however, do your research – science really matters when it comes to colloidal silver.
One thing is undeniably true about colloidal silver: it is not a cure-all for everything. However, the empirical evidence of the ancient Romans and Greeks was not wrong either. The truth about colloidal silver lies someplace in between. Given the effectiveness of silver against pathogens and disease, it probably isn’t a health option you’ll want to ignore – especially during flu season.
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