Prior to the invention of penicillin in the 1940s, colloidal silver was often prescribed to treat various bacterial infections and was taken as an internal antidote. This was a prescription largely up to the doctor’s discretion, but without the potent antibiotics that emerged from penicillin it was a tough fight for anyone with an infection.
There have been hundreds of clinical studies that can be found on Pubmed.com that support the idea of silver plating on surgical instruments, catheters and joint implants to inhibit and prevent the growth of bacteria. Unfortunately, you’ll find little in the clinical archives on the health benefits of colloidal silver. There could be a few reasons for this, but the primary reason is probably that there’s no motivation for anyone to study an outdated treatment dating back to the 1940s.
There is evidence in some clinical studies that the external use of colloidal silver will inhibit or prevent the growth of bacteria. This was actually the most common use in the pre-penicillin days, and the eventual development of the “tricins” such as bacitracin, mycitracin and other topical treatments found in triple antibiotic ointments like Neosporin.
This external colloidal silver treatment often involved permeating a bandage with the colloidal silver liquid and applying it to the wound, burn and in some cases in the eyes of infants to prevent eye infections. If I have a bad cut or wound and no topical antibiotics, I would use colloidal silver without hesitation given its history assuming it was pure. And that’s the catch.
What is Pure Colloidal Silver?
There are currently three types of silver in a water suspension sold as colloidal silver, but only one is pure colloidal silver (and is also the safest). It’s very expensive and hard to find in the swamp of claims and competing products on the Internet, but if you find the real deal, it could offer you some degree of true health benefits.
Unfortunately, many companies producing a silver suspension variation are calling their product “colloidal silver” when it is not. Here are the facts and the science:
1. True colloidal silver. True colloidal silver is the least prevalent type of colloidal silver and is often hard to find. This is due to the complexity of its manufacturing and the high cost associated. The majority of the silver content is in the form of true silver particles. One of the ways to determine if you have a pure colloidal silver product is to hold the bottle up to the light. It should not be clear. It should be cloudy or dark due to the silver particles in suspension. These particles in suspension are the colloids — and thus the name.
This is the type of colloidal silver that was used pre-penicillin and still used today in certain topical applications.
Significantly, true colloidal silver does not cause argyria. This is a condition that results from the over-consumption of some forms of silver particles that turns the skin blue.
2. Ionic silver solutions. This is where the fiction begins. Ionic silver solutions are not true colloidal silver but are often labeled that way. This type of silver suspension represents the vast majority of products called colloidal silver on the market. It is easy and cheap to manufacture, and you can even make it at home. Unfortunately, it has the least benefits for any condition and was never used in the past nor supported by any clinical studies to date as a viable topical treatment.
It is, in fact, a silver solution of dissolved silver particles or silver ions infused into the water through an electrolysis process. This product is often clear and not a true silver colloid. It is also the type of silver that has been associated with argyria, but you would have to consume gallons of the stuff on a daily basis, unless the concentration was extreme.
3. Silver protein. This form of silver in suspension combines silver particles with a gelatin, protein binder. It’s the easiest to make because it only involves the addition of silver protein powder sold by various chemical companies to water. It is also labeled in many instances as colloidal silver, but it’s not.
The best indicator of a silver protein product is to shake the bottle. If it foams, it’s a silver protein. This product was also never used by practicing physicians, and the product can actually deteriorate due to the gelatins in suspension.
If you want to consider colloidal silver as a medical solution, you should find the true colloidal silver. It has an established history, is still used in some instances as a topical treatment, is benign in the sense that it does not cause conditions like argyria, but it’s expensive and it leaves one big question: What are the health benefits?
The Health Benefits of Colloidal Silver
The greatest debate about colloidal silver is its efficacy as an internally ingested medicine. Critics argue that there is no scientific evidence that silver in the bloodstream has any place or benefit and that there is no clinical evidence that colloidal silver cures any internal condition. But that begs some questions based on some of the convincing clinical evidence.
The Problem May Be the Hype
It’s unfortunate, but the colloidal silver debate has been clouded with products that are not true colloidal silver and compromised by health benefits that are both over-promised and at some times, simply false.
There is no form of colloidal silver, including true colloidal silver, that can cure cancer or AIDS/HIV. Even the most powerful mainstream medicines and antibiotics fail on those fronts.
The fact that many silver products in suspension call themselves “colloidal silver” when they are, in fact, ionic silver or protein silver also clouds the category and the credibility of the product. This has not only drawn the attention of governing bodies from the FDA to state attorneys general, but has diminished credibility of the category as a brand in the mind of many people who might consider this as a serious, medical solution.
True colloidal silver was and still is a viable and proven treatment for various bacterial infections, particularly external wounds, burns and abrasions. It may also inhibit the growth of bacteria inside the body, particularly in the stomach, intestinal tract and the urinary system. As always, consult with your physician before taking it or treating any condition.
These are the facts. Beware of the fiction.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional first.
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