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Q
Colloidal Silver: Looking for a Silver Lining?

What is colloidal silver? Is this something you recommend?

A
Answer (Published 2/28/2006)

Colloidal silver is a solution of silver particles suspended in liquid. It has been widely promoted as a cure-all. I've heard claims that it is an alternative to antibiotics, a cancer preventive, and a treatment for everything from ear infections to tuberculosis, shingles and AIDS. Promoters claim that colloidal silver can extend life and remedy mineral deficiencies that lead to a weakened immune system.

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Nonsense. These claims are unproven. The human body has absolutely no need for silver. Contrary to claims made for it, colloidal silver is not a substitute for antibiotics, or any other medications. It is true that silver is an effective germicide, with limited usefulness in medicine. A problem with it is that it is not harmless. Silver can accumulate in the body and lead to a disfiguring skin condition called argyria, which causes bluish-gray skin pigmentation, especially around the nose and mouth, a color change that cannot be reversed. The appearance of people with this condition has been likened to that of corpses come suddenly to life. Long-term use of oral silver products has also led to neurological problems including seizures, as well as kidney damage, stomach distress, headaches, fatigue and skin irritation. It can also interfere with the absorption of some drugs including tetracycline antibiotics and thyroid hormone supplements.

In 1999 the FDA banned the sale of all over-the-counter drugs containing colloidal silver and silver salts on the grounds that these compounds haven't been recognized as safe. The ban doesn't apply to dietary supplements containing colloidal silver because the FDA has no jurisdiction over such products, unless there are safety issues. However, in some cases the FDA and FTC have taken action against marketers who claim that their colloidal silver products can treat, cure or prevent disease.

My advice? Beware and don't waste your money.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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