Silver health supplements may be dangerous to your health. Numerous studies by reputable scientific bodies warn of potential, irreversible and dangerous side effects. While proponents claim that silver health products boost immune system responses and cure a variety of ailments, little or no scientific data supports this claim.
Silver Health Supplements
What are silver health supplements? Also called colloidal silver products, silver health supplements suspend tiny silver particles in a liquid base that is taken orally. Tablets, capsules and pills are also used with a mixture of silver and other ingredients. Laboratory tests indicate that the amount of silver varies widely among brands and even batches of pills, making it difficult for consumers to know how much they are taking with each dose.
Silver is a natural element, and nearly everyone is exposed to some microscopic level of silver through air, water, or foods. These miniscule traces of silver do no harm. When large amounts of silver are ingested, such as through the use of silver health products, some troubling side effects can occur. The body has no known use for silver, and it is not necessary for human health.
Uses of Colloidal Silver
Proponents of colloidal silver products credit this supplement with treating immune-related diseases. Many distributors claim that silver health products cure everything from the common cold to HIV/AIDS. Frequently, companies tout silver products as a cure for cancer. Others believe that silver provides antibacterial, antifungal, and antivirus support in the body.
Silver does, in fact, have a long history of use as a therapeutic agent. For many centuries, silver was used to treat infections. While silver appears in some prescription medications for external use, notably treatments for eye ailments in babies and external burn treatments, it is no longer used in medications that are taken internally. According to Quackwatch, silver was officially dropped from the United States Pharmacopeia and National Formulary in 1975. However, in the 1990's silver suddenly experienced a resurgence as a cure-all. Many multi-level marketing (MLM) companies sell silver-based health products and use aggressive, misleading and often untrue statements in their ads, claiming cures nothing short of miraculous from using the products. Facing pressure from doctors and the public, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took steps to ban sales of silver health products. Silver products continue to be sold legally as supplements, although great pressure remains to make them illegal.
The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) states unequivocally on its fact sheet about silver supplements that none of these claims are supported by any scientific research. According to NCCAM, silver has no known or proven health benefits and may be dangerous to your health. They recommend avoiding silver health products.
Dangers of Silver
While you are exposed to some tiny amounts of silver throughout your lifetime, large doses of silver, such as those taken as a supplement, can seriously harm your health.
If you want to look like a Smurf, take silver. Silver creates a condition called argyria. Patients taking silver often turn a distinctive blue color or an ashy gray-blue color. Argyria impacts the skin, eyes, and internal organs. Just as early photographic processing used silver with sunlight to develop pictures, it appears to build up in the skin's proteins and react with sunlight, turning the skin blue or gray. Argyria cannot be cured. Once the skin turns blue, it remains blue for the rest of the patient's life.
The body views silver as a toxin, and like any toxin, it tries to rid itself of the substance. If it cannot, and the toxin builds up, it can cause seizures. Silver has been linked with seizures and other neurological disorders. It may also cause headaches.
Kidney and Liver Problems
The kidneys filter impurities from the blood in preparation for excretion as urine. The liver processes toxins, also in an attempt to rid the body of anything harmful. NCCAM reports that kidney and liver problems have also occurred in people using silver products.
Silver health products react negatively with certain medications. These include antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline and thyroid medicines like thyroxine. If taking these medications, do not take silver products, and always tell your doctor all the supplements, vitamins, and other alternative remedies you are using so he or she can assess potential drug interactions.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line on silver health supplements appears to be that the risks far outweigh the benefits. While you may believe the silver health supplements can cure serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, most research indicates more danger than good can come from taking silver health supplements.
If you're looking for supplements to boost the immune system, try an overall good multivitamin, Vitamin C, or herbs such as echinacea. Changing or adjusting the diet may also be helpful to improve health. Try a raw foods detox diet, or other diets for health conditions.