Silver has been used as an antimicrobial agent for thousands of years.
Across many different civilizations, the rich preferred to drink out of silver cups because it “purified” their water, and even as recently as one hundred years ago it was commonplace to drop a silver coin in a container of milk to keep it fresh longer. Colloidal silver was commonly used as an antibiotic before the invention of penicillin, and modern research has shown that colloidal silver is an effective antibiotic and antiviral. There is some controversy over the safety of consuming colloidal silver, particularly the risk of a condition called argyria, which is a permanent blue/gray discoloration of the skin caused by toxic build-up of silver in the body. The risk of acquiring argyria is completely overstated and is used as a scare tactic by competition. While it is possible to get argyria from ionic silver, it is next to impossible to acquire argyria from true colloidal silver.
To understand the safety of silver, you need to understand the difference between colloidal silver and ionic silver.
A colloid is a small particle suspended in a solution, in this case, silver particles suspended in water. The key word here is “suspended:” it is not actually dissolved in water. Colloidal silver gets absorbed easily into the body, and is readily excreted through the urine, meaning only a miniscule amount, if any, gets stored in the body. Colloidal silver can be safely administered intravenously, and there are no reported cases of argyria from consuming true colloidal silver.
Ionic silver, however, is very different. It is created by dissolving silver in water through electrolysis, which creates monoatomic silver ions. Because silver ions give up one electron to achieve stability, ionic silver is highly reactive and can build up in the body, causing argyria when taken in very high amounts. All of the recorded cases of argyria have either happened in an industrial setting, or from someone who attempted to make colloidal silver at home, but accidentally made ionic silver. Unless you are a highly trained professional chemist, DO NOT attempt to make colloidal silver.
Pictured above: Paul Karason, the famous “Blue Man”. The media has falsely reported that he acquired Argyria from colloidal silver, when in fact he actually consumed approximately 750 mL of homemade ionic silver every day for 13 years.
Another important factor to consider about colloidal silver is particle size. The smaller the particle size, the more surface area, and thus the lower concentration needed to be an effective dose. With smaller particle sizes, doses closer to homeopathic concentrations can be used. This reduces even further what little risk there is from true colloidal silver. BioPure Microsilver and Argentyn 23 are two top quality brands that meet these specifications. The EPA safety limit for Argentyn 23 (a 23 ppm concentration) is 100 gallons over 70 years, which is a massive amount, and even this is extremely conservative.
Colloidal silver has been shown to be an effective antimicrobial for hundreds of different kinds of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and biofilm.
It has mechanisms of action that work on different levels. While silver is directly bactericidal, and inhibits cell division and DNA replication, it also destroys biofilm that bacteria produce as protection. True colloidal silver gets absorbed rapidly in the upper digestive tract—it does not pass all the way through the intestines, so there is less harm on the microbiome. The effect of silver on the gut microbiome is dose-dependent, and doses that are enough to kill pathogens, but not enough to kill healthy microbes can be used.
Colloidal silver is most commonly consumed orally, but is also popular as a nasal spray for sinus conditions, and can also be used intravenously and topically. Typically, colloidal silver is used for months at a time with long breaks in between. It is generally not recommended to be used continuously for a year or longer, but again, colloidal silver does not build up in the body, so even long periods of time can be safe.
By Bryant Rubright