Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Colloidal silver Print

Colloidal silver

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Also listed as: Ionic silver, Nanosilver, Silver nanoparticles
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Acticoat®, ActisorbT, Ag, Ag+, Aquacel® Ag, argyria, Argyrol®, Askina® Calgitrol® Ag, Atrauman® Ag, collargol, Comfeel® Ag hydrocolloid/Biatain® Ag polyurethane foam, Contreet® foam, electro-colloidal silver, Hydrofiber®, Hydrofiber® Ag, ionic silver, Mepilex® Ag, nanosilver, Physiotulle®-Ag, ProAg catheter, protargol, silver, silver nanoparticles, silver protein, Silvercel®, UrgoCell® Silver.
  • Selected combination products: MesoSilverT, Silverzone, Utopia Silver.
  • Note: Silver sulfadiazine and silver nitrate are not included in this monograph.

Background
  • Before the invention of antibiotics, silver was used widely in hospitals in the form of metallic silver, silver nitrate, and silver sulfadiazine. It was used for the treatment of burns, wounds, and bacterial and viral infections. Antibiotics replaced silver treatment in medical practice. With recent concerns over antibiotic resistance, there is renewed interest in medical use of silver.
  • Colloidal silver is a mixture of silver particles in a base of dispersed particles. Colloidal silver is marketed as a health supplement to treat diabetes, AIDS, cancer, sinus infection, acne, wounds, food poisoning, tooth decay, urinary tract infections, and other conditions.
  • Silver nanoparticles have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects. Silver nanoparticles are generally smaller than 100 nanometers and contain 20-15,000 silver atoms. Silver nanoparticles are used in electronics, biosensing, clothing, the food industry, paints, sunscreens, cosmetics, pesticides, water purification systems, cleaning products, bone replacements, heart devices, catheters, and other medical devices.
  • Silver may be toxic when taken at high doses or for long periods, additional research is needed before conclusions may be drawn for any disease.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Limited research suggests that silver nanoparticle gel was more effective than alcohol gel for reducing bacteria. Additionally a wound dressing with silver nanoparticles showed effects against bacteria. Additional research is needed in this area.

B


Early research suggests that a silver protein coating on the flexible tube used for removing fluid from the bladder has reduced infections. Flexible tubes used in surgery to drain infected fluids from the brain have been made with silver nanoparticles. This reduced the risk of infections related to the flexible tubes. Additional research is needed in this area.

B


Dressings and agents with silver are often used to treat skin ulcers. Although this has not been well studied in humans, evidence suggests that dressings with silver help wounds heal. These dressings may also prevent redness, swelling, and infection. Additional research is needed in this area.

B


Limited research suggests that wound dressings with silver help wounds heal. These dressings may also prevent redness, swelling, and bacterial infection. Additional research is needed in this area.

B


Dressings with silver such as Aquacel® Ag or Acticoat® have been used on burn wounds. These dressings have decreased bacteria growth, pain symptoms, and time to healing compared to other therapies. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


A Gelatamp colloidal silver gelatin sponge prevented negative consequences that happen while having a tooth removed. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Early research suggests that wound dressings containing silver may help wounds heal. These dressings may also prevent redness, swelling, and infection. There are mixed results for the use of dressings with silver on skin graft donor wounds. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Using a drop of 10% silver vitellinate soon after childbirth, did not prevent chlamydia infection in newborns. Povidone-iodine was better than a silver protein solution for redness and swelling of the eye.

D
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Acne, allergies, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, antiviral, arthritis, asthma, athlete's foot, atopic dermatitis, biofilm, bladder inflammation, blood purification, boils, cholera, colds, colitis, contraceptive, cystic fibrosis, dental caries, diabetes, diarrhea, diphtheria, flu, food poisoning, gastrointestinal inflammation, gonorrhea, hair growth, halitosis, hepatitis, herpes, HIV/AIDS, impetigo, insecticide, keratitis, leprosy, leukemia, lupus, Lyme disease, malaria, meningitis, nephrotic syndrome, oral candidiasis, otitis media, pneumonia, preservative, prostatitis, psoriasis, rheumatism, rhinitis, ringworm, scarlet fever, shingles, sinus infection, skin cancer, sore throat, syphilis, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, typhoid, urethritis, urinary tract infection, warts, whooping cough, yeast infections.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For skin graft donor wounds, Acticoat® (with 50-100 milligrams per liter of silver ions) has been used for up to 48 hours. Aquacel® Hydrofiber®, containing silver, has been used (over varied durations) until the wound has healed.
  • For ulcers, Aquacel® Hydrofiber® dressings, left in place for up to seven days or changed earlier as clinically indicated, has been used for eight weeks or until healing. A hydroalginate dressing (Silvercel®) that releases silver has been used for 28 days. A silver alginate/carboxymethylcellulose dressing has been used for four weeks.
  • For wound healing, an ionic silver alginate matrix (Askina® Calgitrol® Ag) has been used for 15 days. Anionic silver dressing (Aquacel® Ag) has been used on the skin. The duration has been more than 10 days but varied by person.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for colloidal silver in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to colloidal silver or silver compounds. Allergy to silver is rare, but it has been reported.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Colloidal silver may increase the risk of bleeding or blood clotting. Caution is advised in people with bleeding problems or those taking agents that may affect bleeding. Dosing changes may be needed.
  • Colloidal silver may alter blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure, including vasodilators.
  • Use cautiously in people with stomach or intestine problems, as silver nanoparticles caused release of mucus granules and abnormal mucus in early research.
  • Use cautiously in people with liver failure or those using agents that are toxic to the liver, as silver nanoparticles showed toxic effects on the liver in early research.
  • Use cautiously in people with breathing problems, as silver nanoparticles altered lung tissue and mucin levels in early research.
  • Use cautiously when added to agents that suppress the immune system, due to the risk of inhibitory effects.
  • Use cautiously when taken with antacids, as silver nanoparticles showed a high reactivity toward hydrochloric acid in early research.
  • Avoid use of products with silver over a long period of time. This is due to the risk of untreatable conditions in which the skin or eyes can appear ashen-gray due to the silver salt deposits. Ingestion of colloidal silver for a long duration has been related with seizures and coma in humans.
  • Avoid in people with sensitive skin, due to the risk of herpetic keratitis (redness and swelling of the cornea of the eye due to herpes virus infection), contact dermatitis (skin irritation), a burning sensation, and redness.
  • Avoid in children, due to the risk of toxicity to the nerves and impaired development of the nerves.
  • Avoid use in the eye, as there is evidence that silver nitrate causes sterile neonatal conjunctivitis (redness and swelling of the eye in newborns).
  • Colloidal silver may also cause headaches and kidney damage.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid when pregnant or breastfeeding, due to a lack of safety evidence and due to preliminary evidence suggesting that silver nanoparticles induced larval, embryo, and reproductive abnormalities.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Colloidal silver may increase the risk of bleeding or blood clotting when taken with agents that increase such risks. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Colloidal silver may alter blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure, including vasodilators.
  • Colloidal silver may interact with antacids, antibiotics, anticancer drugs, antifungals, anti-inflammatories, antivirals, bronchodilators, copper oxide, cytotoxins, drugs that affect bleeding, drugs that are harmful to the liver, gastrointestinal agents, immunosuppressants, iodine, larvicidals, neurologic agents, ophthalmic agents, quinolones, radiation, thyroid hormones, vasodilators, and wound-healing agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Colloidal silver may increase the risk of bleeding or blood clotting when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase such risks. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding or blood clotting, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Colloidal silver may alter blood pressure. Caution is advised in persons taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure, including vasodilators.
  • Colloidal silver may interact with antacids, antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, anti-inflammatories, antivirals, bronchodilators, copper oxide, cytotoxins, gastrointestinal agents, herbs and supplements that affect bleeding, herbs and supplements that are harmful to the liver, immunosuppressants, iodine, larvicidals, neurologic agents, ophthalmic agents, thyroid hormones, vasodilators, and wound-healing agents.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Cai YH and Lu CS. [A clinical study of gelatamp colloidal silver gelatin sponge on preventing the complication of teeth extraction]. Hua XiKou QiangYiXueZa Zhi 2008;26(5):519-521.
  2. Caruso DM, Foster KN, Blome-Eberwein SA, et al. Randomized clinical study of Hydrofiber dressing with silver or silver sulfadiazine in the management of partial-thickness burns. J Burn Care Res 2006;27(3):298-309.
  3. Gong ZH, Yao J, Ji JF, et al. Effect of ionic silver dressing combined with hydrogel on degree II burn wound healing. Journal of Clinical Rehabilitative tissue Engineering Research 2009;13(42):8373-8376.
  4. Jorgensen B, Price P, Andersen KE, et al. The silver-releasing foam dressing, Contreet Foam, promotes faster healing of critically colonised venous leg ulcers: a randomised, controlled trial. Int Wound J 2005;2(1):64-73.
  5. Jude EB, Apelqvist J, Spraul M, et al. Prospective randomized controlled study of Hydrofiber dressing containing ionic silver or calcium alginate dressings in non-ischaemic diabetic foot ulcers. Diabet.Med 2007;24(3):280-288.
  6. Jurczak F, Dugre T, Johnstone A, et al. Randomised clinical trial of Hydrofiber dressing with silver versus povidone-iodine gauze in the management of open surgical and traumatic wounds. Int Wound J 2007;4(1):66-76.
  7. Karlsmark T, Agerslev RH, Bendz SH, et al. Clinical performance of a new silver dressing, Contreet Foam, for chronic exuding venous leg ulcers. J Wound Care 2003;12(9):351-354.
  8. Kheng D. Evaluation of Mepilex Ag, a silver impregnated soft silicone absorbent dressing in patients with critically colonized venous leg ulcers - 5 case reviews. Poster presentation: Third Congress of the World Union of Wound Healing Societies, Toronto, Canada. 2008.
  9. Lackner P, Beer R, Broessner G, et al. Efficacy of silver nanoparticles-impregnated external ventricular drain catheters in patients with acute occlusive hydrocephalus. Neurocrit Care 2008;8(3):360-365.
  10. Lazareth, I., Ourabah, Z., Senet, P., Cartier, H., Sauvadet, A., and Bohbot, S. Evaluation of a new silver foam dressing in patients with critically colonised venous leg ulcers. J Wound Care 2007;16(3):129-132.
  11. Li WR, Xie XB, Shi QS, et al. Antibacterial effect of silver nanoparticles on Staphylococcus aureus. Biometals 2011;24(1):135-141.
  12. Muangman P, Pundee C, Opasanon S, et al. A prospective, randomized trial of silver containing hydrofiber dressing versus 1% silver sulfadiazine for the treatment of partial thickness burns. Int Wound J 2010;7(4):271-276.
  13. Sigal-Grinberg M, Senet P, Lazareth I, et al. Evaluation of a New Contact Layer Impregnated with Silver Salts in the Management of Critically Colonized Venous Leg Ulcers. Result of a Randomized Clinical Trial. Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Wound Management Association. 2007.
  14. Tong JW. Case reports on the use of antimicrobial (silver impregnated) soft silicone foam dressing on infected diabetic foot ulcers. Int Wound J 2009;6(4):275-284.
  15. Wang JW and Teng YJ. Efficacy of ionic silver dressing and gel in local treatment of dog bite III wounds: a randomized control study. Journal of Clinical Rehabilitative tissue Engineering Research 2008;12(14):2659-2662.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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