Long before antibiotics came into the picture, silver served as an antimicrobial. Folk medicine claimed that people who ate using silver cutleries and dishes were less susceptible to illnesses.
To this day, many experts in holistic wellness swear by colloidal silver as an extremely effective remedy for numerous health problems. If you’re like most people who have witnessed all the hype around colloidal silver, you must be wondering how effective and safe it is.
The antimicrobial benefits of silver are not disputed in mainstream medicine. For instance, a number of manufacturers of medical devices coat their products with silver as a way of preventing the formation of bacterial microfilms. Newborns used to be given silver nitrate eye drops to protect them against gonorrhea infections to the eye. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of silver gauze, silver solutions, and silver mixed with other antimicrobials to treat burn wounds.
However, like many other folk medicines, the evidence supporting some of these assertions is weak, which is why the use of colloidal silver continues to be mired in controversy.
As antibiotic resistance continues to rise, silver appears to be making a return as a highly potent broad-spectrum antimicrobial. Even though colloidal silver is generally not considered unsafe, it is essential to know what the studies say about its effectiveness and safety, and whether using it in excess can be harmful to humans or the environment.
Colloidal silver: what is it?
In simple terms, it is described as the suspension of sub-microscopic silver nanoparticles in water, ranging from 10nm to 100nm in diameter. There are two ways of making silver nanoparticles:
- Chemically – Using a chemical reducer to reduce silver salt into extremely tiny particles.
- Physically – Grinding silver into extremely tiny particles which are then suspended in water as colloids.
A number of well-documented nanoparticles are made by reducing silver salt into nanoparticles using a biologically-generated substance.
The cost of regularly purchasing and consuming colloidal silver solution can add up and become huge over time. For this reason, many people choose to use affordable equipment, such as those from Silver Lungs, to generate their own silver solutions on site when required in order to save on the cost.
Effectiveness and safety of colloidal silver
Silver is a metal and it is non-essential in our bodies. Compared to other heavy metals such as mercury and lead, it is a lot safer. Therefore, the dose determines whether or not it is harmful. We can accumulate much more of silver than the other metals before it is deemed toxic. Even then, the typical adverse effects are a person irreversibly turning blue.
Most studies regarding the safety of silver have been conducted in vitro, and are therefore not conclusive because the human body is far more complex than a Petri dish or test tube environment. Studies have found it to be effective as an antimicrobial, but not as effective with viruses and yeasts. Nonetheless, its effectiveness can vary depending on the quality of the silver, and the nature of the infection.