Colloidal silver is a liquid suspension, often water-based, of ultra-fine particles of silver. It is most commonly used in alternative medicine as an antibacterial agent. Some scientific studies in vitro (here, Petri dishes) allege its effectiveness in fighting a variety of viruses and bacteria. It is considered to be a cure-all disinfectant.

Colloidal silver uses include the treatment of:

– cuts, scrapes and burns
– acne, warts and other dermatological conditions
– eye and ear infections
– nasal congestion and sinus infection
– internal infections, including common colds, flues and yeast infections
– diabetes, tuberculosis, STDs
– HIV/AIDS and cancer

It can also be taken as a general mineral supplement, as some believe its properties boost the immune system. However, silver is not an essential mineral and its consumption is not necessary to maintain health.

Historically, before the production of antibiotics, colloidal silver was used routinely to treat infection. It has since seen a renewal in use with the recent outbreak of Swine Flu and bacteria that has become antibiotic resistant. Specific information on how to use colloidal silver can be found on manufacturer websites, but it can generally be applied topically (as to cuts or burns), injected (as eye drops or vaginal enemas), or ingested orally. It is available for purchase on the internet or at most natural health food stores.

Colloidal silver’s medicinal powers are widely debated in the medical community and remain officially unproven. Its consumption is not approved by the FDA. In some cases, the FDA has banned manufacturers of colloidal silver products from boasting health benefits without substantial evidence to back their claims.

The only known side effect of the use of colloidal silver is a condition called “argyria,” a blue-gray discoloration of the skin, eyes, and/or organs. This occurs with chronic accumulation of silver in the body. Although this condition is described as mostly a cosmetic problem and is not considered a serious health ailment, it is largely irreversible.

In addition, anyone with allergies or sensitivities to metals should use caution with any silver products. As with any new supplement or medication, it is best to consult your health authority with any questions or concerns before use.