One of my patients drinks homemade colloidal silver solution every day. He is convinced it has a potent antibiotic effect as well as other health benefits. His wife reports that she has been cured of sinusitis when traditional therapy has failed; she also takes it to prevent recurrent sinusitis. What risks, if any, are there to drinking colloidal silver? Are there any real benefits?
—Christopher Cave, MD, Navarre Beach, Fla.
Colloidal silver is dangerous. It offers no benefits and is, in fact, the snake oil of the 21st century now being heralded as the newest cure- all. Unfortunately, elemental silver binds irreversibly to melanocytes and to neurons, resulting in permanent, irreversible silver toxicity referred to as “argyria.” Silver skin develops over time in sun-exposed areas. Neurologic toxicity leads to cognitive dysfunction with paranoid ideations as well as to peripheral neuropathy. Similar biochemical effects render silver toxic to bacteria as well, but in this circumstance, it is clear that the “cure” is much more dangerous than any disease.
—Cedric W. Spak, MD (99-7)