Pseudoscience & Dangerous Effects of Colloidal Silver Oral Usage

Lawrence Robinson
3 min readOct 11, 2022

In today’s Medium article I’ll address the false claim about the usage of colloidal silver for diet supplements to viral infections. The usage is normally tipped by quacks, dubious chiropractors and pseudoscientific practitioners of “natural medicine” & “homoeopathy”. So without further a do let’s get into the article.

Quack medicine

➡️ What is Colloidal silver?

According to a very good science article from NCCIH, colloidal silver is: “Colloidal silver consists of tiny silver particles in a liquid that is sometimes promoted on the Internet as a dietary supplement. However, evidence supporting health-related claims is lacking. In fact, colloidal silver can be dangerous to your health.” [1]

References: [1] https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/colloidal-silver

➡️ The claims

There have been various claims that this product can boost your immune system, helps with diet, and tackles viral infections and other conditions/ailments [1].

In 1999 the FDA banned over-the-top counter sales of colloidal silver [2] and sales in general, as these products were declared unsafe for consumer use. They do not provide any benefits and they shouldn’t be pushed to consumers by those who peddle fake medicine, as it’s also highly illegal [3].

However, the only legal use of colloidal silver is ONLY for wound dressings, plasters or other assorted items such as these [4] (i.e. topical use [5]). Even then it’s use is widely debated.

Other claims include preventing medical conditions like diabetes, helping against cancer and more, but there is no evidence that supports this thesis [6].

References: [1] https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/colloidal-silver-safe
[2] https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-1999-08-17/html/99-21253.htm — Federal Register 64:44653–44658, 1999.
[3] https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/colloidal-silver
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6756674/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361003/
[6] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b01439

➡️ Side effects and toxicity

Side effects of orally taking colloidal silver include the following:

  • Argyria [1] — causing a bluish-grey discolouration of large areas of skin, especially those exposed to the sun (skin discolouration)
  • Failure to properly absorb drugs, such as antibiotics and won’t work properly
  • Neurological damage, and liver and kidney harm

Toxicity and other dangers:

  • A study from Finland in 2020 [3] concluded this: “ The use of quackery products such as colloidal silver can be dangerous, and their use and marketing should be controlled and restricted.”
  • A 2005 study looked into grey discolouration of the skin of a caucasian male. [4]
  • A risk-benefit study [5] looked at silver products for medical indications, the conclusion stated: “We emphasize the lack of established effectiveness and potential toxicity of these products.”
  • Argyria is the most common danger when using colloidal silver as this one study shows how bad it can be when digesting it for an illegal diet or being pushed onto you by snake-oil salesmen [6].
  • Further use can prevent the worsening of skin discolouration and the development of renal, hepatic, and neurologic problems that have been reported after long-term ingestion of colloidal silver. [7]
  • A research study [8] highlights how easily obtainable this product can be and the relevant cautions that need to be applied. The study states it’s concerning how available it is, even with the FDA's final judgment [9]. This data comes from 24 products merely listed on one page from Amazon, from 2286 listed products.
  • Colloidal silver intake can damage cells and to incite oxidation, as shown by this study in MDPI [10], which it states we need more studies to get a better understanding of how this happens.

References: [1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11107524/
[2] https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/colloidal-silver
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33437653/
[4] https://escholarship.org/uc/item/0832g6d3
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8632503/
[6] https://cdn.mdedge.com/files/s3fs-public/Document/September-2017/021040009.pdf
[7] https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-1999-08-17/pdf/99-21253.pdf
[8] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/2214158
[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10558603/
[10] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01831/full

➡️ Conclusion
Quite a simple and short conclusion. Don’t take colloidal silver orally, it’s banned for oral use by the FDA for a reason.

💥 Thanks for reading, Lawrence. Please consider a small contribution, in the form of a beer as all articles are created in my small amount of spare time: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/LawrenceRob

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Lawrence Robinson

Passionate about evidence-based scientific information and tackling falsehoods that thrive on social media.