Much confusion exists around the applications of therapeutic silver. Widespread criticism regarding colloidal silver is rampant on the internet. Google searches are packed with claims about its ineffective and even toxic uses. While these claims are debated, a lot of basic science is omitted from the conclusions, leaving readers vulnerable to misinformation. As is often the case on the internet, information can be convincingly misleading. Our goal is to make sure industry and ego bias are not the basis for this misinformation.
What is colloidal silver?
Colloidal silver is a liquid of very small silver particles suspended in “colloid” for even distribution. Elemental silver has a +1 charge. Many times when placed in the colloid solutions, the charge on the silver becomes neutral. This is an important distinction when assessing therapeutic value. Some colloidal silver forms are in solutions that have been able to stabilize and maintain that positive charge. This charge, solution, and absorbability of the silver is where the microbial-balancing and immune-supportive quality exists. The absorbable silver creates action to limit microbial overgrowths, which supports overall immune health.
When reading reports about ineffective results, there are two main questions: 1) What is the charge of the solution studied, and 2) What type of solution is it? A pure water solution containing the positively charged silver will have a different therapeutic value than a neutral, non-aqueous solution. Without these answers, the claim that all colloidal silvers are ineffective is misguided.
What is nanoparticle silver?
Colloidal silver is actually not the most widely-used silver therapy. Nanoparticle silver is a popular, proven treatment whereby the value is not in the charge of the silver but rather the small particle size. How big is a nanoparticle, you say? It would take 6,000-8,000 nanoparticles to make up the diameter of just one mature human red blood cell, which is 6-8 micrometers!
The silver nanoparticles’ ability to create a coating is what can disrupt and kill microbes, almost a literal and figurative “silver lining.” The Journal of Nanobiotechnology* reports nanoparticle silver arrests the growth and multiplication of bacteria and fungi by binding to the actual cells. Because the nanoparticles are smaller than microorganisms, they inhibit cell growth and replication and rupture the bacterial and fungal cells, killing pathogens and reducing infection.
Silver nanoparticles are very effective at killing microbes and have a low-toxicity to human tissue. Also, because nanoparticles have a high surface area, the actual concentration used in the dosing is low, requiring only a minimal, nontoxic amount of silver for therapies.
With so many negative colloidal silver claims on the web, understanding and trusting any silver protocol is difficult. The forms, types, and chemistry of the silver therapy matters. We urge you to use critical thinking when evaluating articles on the web and work with an informed practitioner to determine the right therapy for you. Use silver therapies under careful provider guidance.
Importantly, Peoples Rx researches the validity and quality of every product in the store and has trained staff who are knowledgeable about the latest research and safe therapeutic applications. We want you to know that when you shop at Peoples, you’re in good hands!
Amy Nelson, ND* received her Naturopathic Doctorate from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR where she studied nutrition, homeopathy, herbal and functional medicine. In addition, Dr. Nelson was the Associate at The IBS Treatment Center in Santa Monica where she treated irritable bowel syndrome and complex food allergies. Dr. Nelson utilizes her experience in natural medicine to address female and male hormonal imbalances, mental health, and digestive disorders.
*Naturopathic Doctors are not currently licensed in the state of Texas.
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*Siddiqi, K.S., Husen, A. & Rao, R.A.K. A review on biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles and their biocidal properties. J Nanobiotechnol 16, 14 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12951-018-0334-5.