Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Colloidal silver Print

Colloidal silver


Also listed as: Ionic silver
Related terms

Related Terms
  • Argyrol®, electro colloidal silver, electro-colloidal silver, ionic silver, ProAg catheter, silver protein, silver protein solution.

  • Colloidal silver is a suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in a colloidal base. Long-term use of silver preparations can lead to argyria, a permanent condition in which silver salts deposit in the skin, eyes, and internal organs. The skin can often appear ashen-gray due to the deposition of the silver salts. Argyria has been mistaken for cyanotic heart disease.
  • Today, colloidal silver is not generally recognized as safe or effective. However, some researchers believe that it has antibacterial properties, which may warrant further studies. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, colloidal silver is most commonly used as a natural antibiotic or healing agent. It is either applied to the skin or ingested as a drink to promote healing or to combat disease.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action against several colloidal drug companies, including Web site advertisers, for making unsubstantiated claims for their product. Colloidal silver products are usually marketed as dietary supplements. Therefore, the manufacturers do not need to go through the same rigorous approval processes as drug companies.

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 *
* 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, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, arthritis, athlete's foot, biofilm, bladder inflammation, blood purification, boils, burns, cancer, cholera, colds, colitis, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), dermatitis, diabetes, diarrhea, diphtheria, ear infections, eczema, flu, food poisoning, gastritis, genital herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis, herpes, HIV/AIDS, impetigo (bacterial skin infection), leprosy, leukemia, lupus, Lyme disease, malaria, meningitis, pneumonia, prostatitis (enlarged prostate), psoriasis (chronic skin disease), rheumatism, ringworm, scarlet fever, shingles, skin cancer, sore throat, stomach ulcers, syphilis, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, typhoid, ulcers, warts, whooping cough, yeast infections.


Adults (18 years and older)

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

Children (younger than 18 years)

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


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.


  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to silver. Allergy to silver protein has been reported.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Colloidal silver is likely unsafe when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule in August 1999 establishing that all over-the-counter (OTC) drug products containing colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts for internal or external use are not Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and effective and are misbranded. This rule was issued because colloidal silver has been marketed for many serious disease conditions. Colloidal silver may also cause kidney damage, stomach distress, headaches, fatigue, and skin irritation.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Colloidal silver is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Insufficient available evidence.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Insufficient available evidence.

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

  1. Brentano L, Margraf H, Monafo WW, et al. Antibacterial efficacy of a colloidal silver complex. Surg Forum 1966;17:76-78.
  2. Chang AL, Khosravi V, Egbert B. A case of argyria after colloidal silver ingestion. J Cutan Pathol 2006 Dec;33(12):809-11.
  3. Fujimoto T, Sainoo T, Kamisaka M. [Silver-protein allergy]. Jibiinkoka 1970;42(1):33-36.
  4. Gulbranson SH, Hud JA, Hansen RC. Argyria following the use of dietary supplements containing colloidal silver protein. Cutis 2000;66(5):373-374.
  5. Isenberg S, Apt L, Yoshimuri R. Chemical preparation of the eye in ophthalmic surgery. II. Effectiveness of mild silver protein solution. Arch Ophthalmol 1983;101(5):764-765.
  6. McKenna JK, Hull CM, Zone JJ. Argyria associated with colloidal silver supplementation. Int J Dermatol 2003;42(7):549.
  7. Mirsattari SM, Hammond RR, Sharpe MD, et al. Myoclonic status epilepticus following repeated oral ingestion of colloidal silver. Neurology 2004;62(8):1408-1410.
  8. Okan D, Woo K, Sibbald RG. So what if you are blue? Oral colloidal silver and argyria are out: safe dressings are in. Adv Skin Wound Care 2007;20(6):326-330.
  9. Parker WA. Argyria and cyanotic heart disease. Am J Hosp Pharm 1977;34(3):287-289.
  10. Spratt DA, Pratten J, Wilson M, et al. An in vitro evaluation of the antimicrobial efficacy of irrigants on biofilms of root canal isolates. Int Endod J 2001;34(4):300-307.
  11. White JM, Powell AM, Brady K, et al. Severe generalized argyria secondary to ingestion of colloidal silver protein. Clin Exp Dermatol 2003;28(3):254-256.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

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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