A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
Colloidal silver: Is it safe or effective?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/colloidal-silver/AN01682
- With Mayo Clinic internist
Brent A. Bauer, M.D.read biographyclose window
Brent A. Bauer, M.D.Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Brent Bauer, M.D., is board certified in internal medicine. He is a consultant in the Department of Internal Medicine and director of the Department of Internal Medicine's Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Bauer, a native of Madison, Wis., is also a professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School and a graduate of Mayo Medical School.
He serves on the editorial board of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter and is medical editor for EmbodyHealth Newsletter. He has been on staff at Mayo Clinic since 1992, first practicing at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., before joining Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., in 1996.
Dr. Bauer's principal research focus is the scientific evaluation of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies that patients and consumers are using with increasing frequency. He has authored several book chapters and papers on this topic, and is the medical editor of the "Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine." Dr. Bauer also spearheaded collaboration between Mayo Clinic and Gaiam in the creation of a series of 10 DVDs (Mayo Clinic Wellness Solutions). These DVDs address common health problems (for example, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure) with integrative medicine approaches that empower people to take charge of their health. His work is at the forefront of the emerging field of integrative medicine which combines the best of conventional medicine with the best of evidence-based complementary therapies.
Dr. Bauer has served on the NIH-NCCAM study section and is currently collaborating on over 20 studies being conducted at Mayo Clinic evaluating CAM therapies ranging from acupuncture to valerian. He is also a member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society; the American Federation for Medical Research; the North Central Cancer Treatment Group and other professional organizations.
Consumer health basics (5)
- Osteopathic medicine: What kind of doctor is a D.O.?
- What is compassionate use of experimental drugs?
- After a flood, are food and medicine safe to use?
- see all in Consumer health basics
Alternative medicine (28)
- Kombucha tea: Does it have health benefits?
- Do infrared saunas have any health benefits?
- Aromatherapy: Is it worthwhile?
- see all in Alternative medicine
- Antibiotics and alcohol: Should I avoid mixing them?
- Grapefruit juice: Beware of dangerous medication interactions
- Bioidentical hormones: Are they safer?
- see all in Medications
Colloidal silver: Is it safe or effective?
My dad takes colloidal silver for his health, but is it safe?
from Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Colloidal silver isn't considered safe or effective for any of the health claims manufacturers make. Silver has no known purpose in the body. Nor is it an essential mineral, as some sellers of silver products claim.
Colloidal silver products are made of tiny silver particles suspended in a liquid — the same type of precious metal used in jewelry, dental fillings, silverware and other consumer goods. Colloidal silver products are usually marketed as dietary supplements that are taken by mouth. Colloidal silver products also come in forms to be injected or applied to the skin.
Manufacturers of colloidal silver products often claim that they are cure-alls, boosting your immune system, fighting bacteria and viruses, and treating cancer, HIV/AIDS, shingles, herpes, eye ailments and prostatitis. However, no sound scientific studies to evaluate these health claims have been published in reputable medical journals. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has taken action against some manufacturers of colloidal silver products for making unproven health claims.
It's not clear how much colloidal silver may be harmful, but it can build up in your body's tissues over months or years. Most commonly, this results in argyria (ahr-JIR-e-uh), a blue-gray discoloration of your skin, eyes, internal organs, nails and gums. While argyria doesn't pose a serious health problem, it can be a cosmetic concern because it doesn't go away when you stop taking silver products.
Rarely, excessive doses of colloidal silver can cause possibly irreversible serious health problems, including kidney damage and neurological problems such as seizures. Colloidal silver products may also interact with medications, including penicillamine, quinolone, tetracycline and thyroxine medications.Next question
Does prickly pear cactus have health benefits?
- Colloidal silver products. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/silver/. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Mayr M, et al. Argyria and decreased kidney function: Are silver compounds toxic to
- the kidney? American Journal of Kidney Diseases. 2009;5:890.
- Kim Y, et al. A case of generalized argyria after ingestion of colloidal silver solution. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2009;52:246.
- Fung M., et al. Colloidal silver proteins marketed as health supplements. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1995;15:1196.
- Mirsattari SM, et al. Myoclonic status epilepticus following repeated oral ingestion of colloidal silver. Neurology. 2004;62:1408.
- Over-the-counter drug products containing colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/081799a.txt. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Colloidal silver. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 10, 2011.