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Colloidal silver, also known as collargol, is a pharmaceutical raw material for the production of prescription drugs, which is a combination of silver with protein or gelatin. (1)
Colloidal silver is a mixture of silver and protein or gelatin (1) that may have some pharmacological applications because it is said to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties that can be utilized for addressing some common ailments. (2)
While oral intake of colloidal silver is not recommended, you can use it topically in small amounts to promote wound healing and fight skin infections.
Uses of Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver can be used topically to address the following ailments.
1. For relieving sinusitis
Sinusitis is characterized by inflammation in the tissue lining the sinus cavity and can be triggered by a viral infection (common cold), allergy, or other irritants. This causes swelling and mucus buildup inside the nasal passages, which makes breathing difficult.
Colloidal silver, being credited with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, (2)(3) can help relieve nasal discharge and nasal congestion, as well as the pain, pressure, and swelling around the sinuses.
According to a recent study in 2017, colloidal silver has shown antibiofilm properties (against certain pathogenic bacteria) both in the lab and within a rhinosinusitis animal model.
Although no trials involving humans have been published in world literature till now, in the research, colloidal silver nasal spray was tested on 20 patients suffering from rhinosinusitis; however, no meaningful improvements were observed in the patients. (4)
Another study in 2018 showed that rinsing the sinonasal cavity with 0.015 mg/mL colloidal silver twice daily for 10 days is a safe way to ease sinusitis, but it may not yield better results than oral antibiotics. (5)
How to use:
- Fill a neti pot with lukewarm water.
- Mix 4–5 drops of colloidal silver in it.
- Tilt your head back.
- Put a few drops of this solution into your nasal cavity and then drain it back out to rinse the sinuses.
- Do this twice daily until the symptoms clear.
2. Helps remove oral plaque
Colloidal silver helps inhibit bacterial growth inside the mouth, thus controlling plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gum infections. (6)
A 2019 study found colloidal silver gel to be quite effective in killing bacterial strains that are commonly responsible for oral plaque formation and thereby highlighted its potential as an upcoming commercial dentifrice product. (6)
How to use:
- Mix equal amounts of colloidal silver and water.
- Swish this solution in your mouth for 5–7 minutes and then spit it out. Make sure not to swallow colloidal silver as it can be highly toxic when ingested.
- Use warm water to thoroughly rinse your mouth thereafter.
- Use this mouthwash once every day.
3. Effective against mold allergies
The antifungal effects of colloidal silver make it a good candidate for fighting mold allergies. You can use it as a disinfectant to curb mold growth in your environment, which will inadvertently help curb allergic reactions. (7)
However, a research study conducted in 2015 indicated that the silver nanoparticles were less active than griseofulvin (which is used as a medication for skin infections), but they had an antidermatophytic effect. (7)
How to use:
- Lightly spray some pure colloidal silver in all the mold-ridden areas of your house and open the windows for ventilation. This will help slow down the growth of mold.
- Put ½ cup of colloidal silver in the washing machine during the rinse cycle to rid your clothes of mold.
4. Helps deal with fungal skin infections
Colloidal silver can be used as a topical fungicide to relieve fungal skin infections such as ringworm and candidiasis. You need to dilute it in water first and then apply it to disinfect the skin.
Not only does it help kill the fungus responsible for the infection, but it also soothes the skin inflammation caused by it. (7)
How to use:
- Mix ½–1 teaspoon of colloidal silver in 250 ml of tepid pure water.
- Use this mixture to wash the infected skin. (8)
Most-Asked Questions About Colloidal Silver
Is it safe to take colloidal silver by mouth?
laveColloidal silver has some medical uses as a topical agent, but it is not recommended for oral consumption. It will serve no purpose or deliver any benefit inside the body. On the contrary, it will most likely prove toxic and cause deleterious side effects. (9)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared any drug containing colloidal silver or silver salts to be unsafe and ineffective in 1999. Since then, you won’t find any legally marketed oral medication in the market that contains these ingredients.
The most common effect of oral intake of colloidal silver is argyria, a bluish-gray discoloration of the skin, which is usually permanent. (10) You can still find colloidal silver dietary supplements in the market but they are not FDA-approved.
Can colloidal silver cause side effects?
Colloidal silver can prove harmful, especially when used too much or for prolonged periods. (9) It is commonly associated with the following side effects:
- Argyria, an irreversible bluish-gray discoloration of the skin (10)(3)
- Neurologic problems such as seizures
- Kidney damage
- Stomach issues
- Skin irritation
- Reduced absorption of medication in the body (11)
- Disrupted absorption of some medications (e.g., some antibiotics, thyroxine). Always consult your doctor before using colloidal silver while using medications.
- Bacterial resistance and an imbalance of body elements when overused (12)
Is colloidal silver the same thing as the Rajat Bhasma in Ayurveda?
Yes. Colloidal silver has been frequently used in Ayurveda since ancient times and is known as Rajat Bhasma. (13)
Is colloidal silver beneficial as a wound dressing?
Yes. Colloidal silver is a very effective wound dressing; it helps decrease healing time and prevents infections. Wound dressings containing silver are sold all over the world under different brand names. (12)
Is colloidal silver used in dental filling?
Yes. Silver is used in dental amalgam fillings. (12)
Is colloidal silver used in water purification and sanitizing bathtubs?
Yes. Colloidal silver can help purify large bodies of water, but it raises certain environmental concerns. (12)
Colloidal silver exhibits therapeutic properties. In fact, it is routinely used in dressings or bandages as an antiseptic to treat burns and chronic wounds. However, there aren’t enough studies to conclusively establish its efficacy and safety. This is why its use is largely limited to alternative medicine such as naturopathy. (4)
Although you cannot dismiss the side effects associated with topical colloidal silver, its benefits will outweigh the risks when used properly and carefully. (14)