Pros & Cons Of Using Silver

May 30, 2012

Whether you’re a fan of the supplement colloidal silver or enjoy nano silver products which promise reduced food spoilage and better smelling socks, you’re probably aware that as silver becomes more popular, its opponents become equally vocal.

So, what are the pros and cons of the growing ubiquity of silver products? Here’s a quick list of what studies have, and haven’t concluded.

It’s Anti-microbial. Colloidal silver has been tested against hundreds of different bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and kills them all in short order (all lab/petri dish tests). Hospitals are increasingly using nano silver to reduce hospital acquired infections (HAIs), especially the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In third world countries where diseases like rabies, tuberculosis, and pertussis are still very common, silver is being used to develop improved treatments and improve the efficacy of antibiotics.

Criticism: If you drink a drop of colloidal silver it will turn you blue!
Evidence: There are two prominent “colloidal” silver users who’ve developed argyria, the cosmetic effect of having blue skin. True colloidal silver/nano silver won’t accumulate in cells according to what few studies have been done—it passes out through urine, sweat, and hair follicles. No study has been done documenting what home brew silver (which is subject to contamination) or other factors were present. And, most importantly, thousands of people use colloidal silver regularly, and haven’t turned blue yet.

Criticism: It’s Bad for you!
Studies: Even with some studies specifically looking at nano silver’s effects on human organs and expecting bad results, there hasn’t been one yet that’s shown any negative effect on human health.

Criticism: If we use silver in everything, bacteria will just develop resistance, just like they did with antibiotics!
Studies: It’s a legitimate concern, especially when silver isn’t just used to fight deadly bacteria in hospitals, but more trivial things like foot odor. Fortunately, doctors in India who are working to use silver to develop more effective treatments for things like rabies and foot and mouth disease have been watching for silver resistance. So far, it doesn’t seem likely—silver is retaining it’s potent antimicrobial properties even against tough to be strains like MRSA.

Non-Ionic Colloidal Silver Is Better Than Ionic. Ionic silver is more likely to cluster outside of cells, according to one study. This makes it less effective at moving through the body, and more likely to accumulate in tissue and cause argyria.

Criticism: Nano silver will kill the smallest creatures on the food chain, and is thus bad for the environment!
Science: It’s actually not only easy to remove nano silver from waste water (reducing how much gets into the environment) but profitable. Compared to how many prescription drugs not only make it into the environment, but back into drinking water, there are more important environmental issues to consider.

What pros & cons would you add to this list?

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