Colloidal silver is a suspension of tiny silver particles in water; a solid dispersed throughout a liquid base in this manner is known in chemistry as a colloid. It has a long history of use in the medical world, where it has been used as a topical antiseptic and internally as an antibiotic to treat many complaints and to boost immune health. This substance is currently designated as a supplement rather than a medication by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and it has been known to cause a rare but irreversible condition known as argyria.
Colloidal silver was frequently prescribed in past decades, both internally and externally, but it waned in popularity as a result of the introduction of more effective antibiotics. It is also used to keep water potable, or drinkable by humans, for extended periods of time, as well as to treat burns. Silver nitrate is administered to the eyes of newborns to prevent gonorrhea or chlamydia from being transmitted via the mother.
In addition to the appearance of more effective medications on the market, argyria cases were partially responsible for the decline in use of colloidal silver. People with argyria develop blue-grey skin, usually through ingesting significant amounts of colloidal silver, but sometimes on areas that have been treated topically. Though the condition is rare and not associated with any other complications or increased mortality, it can be devastating. People with argyria are often heavily discriminated against and can have difficulty finding and keeping jobs or being accepted in society.
Despite the health risks associated with colloidal silver, the product has once again become popular as an alternative remedy and immune booster. Since it is designated as a supplement, however, it is not heavily regulated by the FDA, and some products may be little more than purified water. There is no strong evidence to support the benefits claimed for colloidal silver supplements, but the risks are undoubtedly real. Make sure to research thoroughly the pros and cons of any dietary supplement you are considering and to discuss any regimen changes with your doctor beforehand.