Colloidal Silver

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Argent Colloïdal, Argent Ionique, Argent Natif, Argentum Metallicum, Colloidal Silver Protein, Ionic Silver, Native Silver, Plata Coloidal, Protéine d'Argent, Silver, Silver Alginate, Silver in Suspending Agent, Silver Protein, Tetrasilver Tetroxide, Tétroxyde de Tétra-Argent.


Colloidal silver is a mineral. Despite promoters' claims, silver has no known function in the body and is not an essential mineral supplement. Colloidal silver products were once available as over-the-counter drug products. In 1999 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that these colloidal silver products were not considered safe or effective. Colloidal silver products marketed for medical purposes or promoted for unproven uses are now considered "misbranded" under the law without appropriate FDA approval as a new drug. There are currently no FDA-approved over-the-counter or prescription drugs containing silver that are taken by mouth. However, there are still colloidal silver products being sold as homeopathic remedies and dietary supplements.

There are many Internet ads for the parts of a generator that produces colloidal silver at home. People who produce colloidal silver at home will likely not be able to evaluate their product for purity or strength. There are many products that are far safer and more effective than colloidal silver.

Despite these concerns about safety and effectiveness, people still buy colloidal silver as a dietary supplement and use it for a wide range of ailments.

People are using colloidal silver for conditions such as infections, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and many others, but there is no scientific evidence to support these uses. Using colloidal silver can also be unsafe.

How does it work?

Colloidal silver can kill certain germs by binding to and destroying proteins.


Next to red peppers, you can get the most vitamin C from ________________. See Answer

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Eye infections. Some research shows that using colloidal silver eye drops in both eyes shortly after birth does not help prevent certain eye infections in newborns. Other research shows that applying a colloidal silver solution to the eye surface of people undergoing eye surgery does not prevent infections as well as applying povidone-iodine solution.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Ear infections.
  • Emphysema.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Fungal infections.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Rosacea.
  • Sinus infections.
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Yeast infections.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Food poisoning.
  • Gum disease.
  • Digestion.
  • Preventing flu and colds.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of colloidal silver for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Colloidal silver is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth, applied to the skin, or injected intravenously (by IV). The silver in colloidal silver products gets deposited in vital organs such as the skin, liver, spleen, kidney, muscle, and brain. This can lead to an irreversible bluish skin discoloration that first appears in the gums. It can also stimulate melanin production in skin, and areas exposed to the sun will become increasingly discolored.


Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough? See Slideshow

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Colloidal silver is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth, applied to the skin or injected intravenously (by IV). Increased silver levels in pregnant women have been linked to abnormal development of the ear, face, and neck in their babies. Colloidal silver supplements can also lead to silver accumulation in the body, which can lead to an irreversible bluish skin discoloration known as argyria. Silver can also be deposited in vital organs, where it does serious damage.


Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Colloidal silver might decrease how much antibiotic the body absorbs. Taking colloidal silver along with antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics.

Some antibiotics that might interact with colloidal silver include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), trovafloxacin (Trovan), and grepafloxacin (Raxar).

Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Colloidal silver might decrease how much tetracycline antibiotics the body can absorb. Taking colloidal silver with tetracycline antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of tetracycline antibiotics. To avoid this interaction take colloidal silver two hours before or four hours after taking tetracyclines.

Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).

LevothyroxineInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Colloidal silver might decrease how much levothyroxine the body absorbs. Taking levothyroxine along with colloidal silver might decrease the effectiveness of levothyroxine.

Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Colloidal silver might harm the liver. Taking colloidal silver along with medications that might also harm the liver can increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take colloidal silver if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver. Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa (Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.

Penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Penicillamine is used for Wilson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Colloidal silver might decrease how much penicillamine your body absorbs. This might decrease the effects of penicillamine.


The appropriate dose of colloidal silver depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for colloidal silver. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Hyun, J. S., Lee, B. S., Ryu, H. Y., Sung, J. H., Chung, K. H., and Yu, I. J. Effects of repeated silver nanoparticles exposure on the histological structure and mucins of nasal respiratory mucosa in rats. Toxicol.Lett 11-10-2008;182(1-3):24-28. View abstract.

Inman, R. J., Snelling, C. F., Roberts, F. J., Shaw, K., and Boyle, J. C. Prospective comparison of silver sulfadiazine 1 per cent plus chlorhexidine digluconate 0.2 per cent (Silvazine) and silver sulfadiazine 1 per cent (Flamazine) as prophylaxis against burn wound infection. Burns Incl.Therm.Inj. 1984;11(1):35-40. View abstract.

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Ivins, N., Jorgensen, B., Lohmann, M., Harding, K. G., Price, P., Gottrup, F., Andersen, K. E., Bech-Thomsen, N., Scanlon, E., Roed-Petersen, J., Kirsner, R., Charles, C., Romanelli, M., Mastronicola, D., Rheinen, H., Leaper, D., Neumann, H. A. M., Munte, K., Veraart, J., Ceulen, R., Coerper, S., and Sibbald, G. Safety and efficacy in long term use of a sustained silver-releasing foam dressing: a randomised, controlled trial on venous leg ulcers. Poster presented at Stuttgart, the Joint Scientific Meeting of ETRS, EWMA and DGfW. 2005;

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Jeong, G. N., Jo, U. B., Ryu, H. Y., Kim, Y. S., Song, K. S., and Yu, I. J. Histochemical study of intestinal mucins after administration of silver nanoparticles in Sprague-Dawley rats. Arch Toxicol. 2010;84(1):63-69. View abstract.

Ji, J. H., Jung, J. H., Kim, S. S., Yoon, J. U., Park, J. D., Choi, B. S., Chung, Y. H., Kwon, I. H., Jeong, J., Han, B. S., Shin, J. H., Sung, J. H., Song, K. S., and Yu, I. J. Twenty-eight-day inhalation toxicity study of silver nanoparticles in Sprague-Dawley rats. Inhal.Toxicol. 2007;19(10):857-871. View abstract.

Jin, X., Li, M., Wang, J., Marambio-Jones, C., Peng, F., Huang, X., Damoiseaux, R., and Hoek, E. M. High-throughput screening of silver nanoparticle stability and bacterial inactivation in aquatic media: influence of specific ions. Environ Sci Technol. 10-1-2010;44(19):7321-7328. View abstract.

Jones, S. A., Bowler, P. G., Walker, M., and Parsons, D. Controlling wound bioburden with a novel silver-containing Hydrofiber dressing. Wound Repair Regen. 2004;12(3):288-294. View abstract.

Jorgensen, B., Bech-Thomsen, N., Grenov, B., and Gottrup, F. Effect of a new silver dressing on chronic venous leg ulcers with signs of critical colonisation. J Wound Care 2006;15(3):97-100. View abstract.

Jorgensen, B., Price, P., Andersen, K. E., Gottrup, F., Bech-Thomsen, N., Scanlon, E., Kirsner, R., Rheinen, H., Roed-Petersen, J., Romanelli, M., Jemec, G., Leaper, D. J., Neumann, M. H., Veraart, J., Coerper, S., Agerslev, R. H., Bendz, S. H., Larsen, J. R., and Sibbald, R. G. The silver-releasing foam dressing, Contreet Foam, promotes faster healing of critically colonised venous leg ulcers: a randomised, controlled trial. Int Wound J 2005;2(1):64-73. View abstract.

Juan, L., Zhimin, Z., Anchun, M., Lei, L., and Jingchao, Z. Deposition of silver nanoparticles on titanium surface for antibacterial effect. Int J Nanomedicine. 2010;5:261-267. View abstract.

Jude, E. B., Apelqvist, J., Spraul, M., and Martini, J. Prospective randomized controlled study of Hydrofiber dressing containing ionic silver or calcium alginate dressings in non-ischaemic diabetic foot ulcers. Diabet.Med 2007;24(3):280-288. View abstract.

Jun, E. A., Lim, K. M., Kim, K., Bae, O. N., Noh, J. Y., Chung, K. H., and Chung, J. H. Silver nanoparticles enhance thrombus formation through increased platelet aggregation and procoagulant activity. Nanotoxicology. 9-7-2010; View abstract.

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Jurczak, F., Dugre, T., Johnstone, A., Offori, T., Vujovic, Z., and Hollander, D. Randomised clinical trial of Hydrofiber dressing with silver versus povidone-iodine gauze in the management of open surgical and traumatic wounds. Int Wound J 2007;4(1):66-76. View abstract.

Kalishwaralal, K., Banumathi, E., Ram Kumar, Pandian S., Deepak, V., Muniyandi, J., Eom, S. H., and Gurunathan, S. Silver nanoparticles inhibit VEGF induced cell proliferation and migration in bovine retinal endothelial cells. Colloids Surf.B Biointerfaces. 10-1-2009;73(1):51-57. View abstract.

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Kalishwaralal, K., BarathManiKanth, S., Pandian, S. R., Deepak, V., and Gurunathan, S. Silver nanoparticles impede the biofilm formation by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Colloids Surf.B Biointerfaces. 9-1-2010;79(2):340-344. View abstract.

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Karlsmark, T., Agerslev, R. H., Bendz, S. H., Larsen, J. R., Roed-Petersen, J., and Andersen, K. E. Clinical performance of a new silver dressing, Contreet Foam, for chronic exuding venous leg ulcers. J Wound Care 2003;12(9):351-354. View abstract.

Kasprowicz, M. J., Koziol, M., and Gorczyca, A. The effect of silver nanoparticles on phytopathogenic spores of Fusarium culmorum. Can J Microbiol. 2010;56(3):247-253. View abstract.

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Kemp, M. M., Kumar, A., Mousa, S., Dyskin, E., Yalcin, M., Ajayan, P., Linhardt, R. J., and Mousa, S. A. Gold and silver nanoparticles conjugated with heparin derivative possess anti-angiogenesis properties. Nanotechnology. 11-11-2009;20(45):455104. View abstract.

Kennedy, A. J., Hull, M. S., Bednar, A. J., Goss, J. D., Gunter, J. C., Bouldin, J. L., Vikesland, P. J., and Steevens, J. A. Fractionating nanosilver: importance for determining toxicity to aquatic test organisms. Environ Sci Technol. 12-15-2010;44(24):9571-9577. View abstract.

Kerihuel, J. C. Effect of activated charcoal dressings on healing outcomes of chronic wounds. J Wound Care 2010;19(5):208, 210-208, 215. View abstract.

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Kim, D. W., Hong, G. H., Lee, H. H., Choi, S. H., Chun, B. G., Won, C. K., Hwang, I. K., and Won, M. H. Effect of colloidal silver against the cytotoxicity of hydrogen peroxide and naphthazarin on primary cultured cortical astrocytes. Int J Neurosci. 2007;117(3):387-400. View abstract.

Kim, J. S., Kuk, E., Yu, K. N., Kim, J. H., Park, S. J., Lee, H. J., Kim, S. H., Park, Y. K., Park, Y. H., Hwang, C. Y., Kim, Y. K., Lee, Y. S., Jeong, D. H., and Cho, M. H. Antimicrobial effects of silver nanoparticles. Nanomedicine. 2007;3(1):95-101. View abstract.

Kim, J., Kim, S., and Lee, S. Differentiation of the toxicities of silver nanoparticles and silver ions to the Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) and the cladoceran Daphnia magna. Nanotoxicology. 8-31-2010; View abstract.

Kim, J., Kwon, S., and Ostler, E. Antimicrobial effect of silver-impregnated cellulose: potential for antimicrobial therapy. J Biol Eng 2009;3:20. View abstract.

Kim, J., Lee, J., Kwon, S., and Jeong, S. Preparation of biodegradable polymer/silver nanoparticles composite and its antibacterial efficacy. J Nanosci.Nanotechnol. 2009;9(2):1098-1102. View abstract.

Kim, K. J., Sung, W. S., Moon, S. K., Choi, J. S., Kim, J. G., and Lee, D. G. Antifungal effect of silver nanoparticles on dermatophytes. J Microbiol.Biotechnol. 2008;18(8):1482-1484. View abstract.

Kim, S. W., Kim, K. S., Lamsal, K., Kim, Y. J., Kim, S. B., Jung, M., Sim, S. J., Kim, H. S., Chang, S. J., Kim, J. K., and Lee, Y. S. An in vitro study of the antifungal effect of silver nanoparticles on oak wilt pathogen Raffaelea sp. J Microbiol.Biotechnol. 2009;19(8):760-764. View abstract.

Kim, S., Choi, J. E., Choi, J., Chung, K. H., Park, K., Yi, J., and Ryu, D. Y. Oxidative stress-dependent toxicity of silver nanoparticles in human hepatoma cells. Toxicol.In Vitro 2009;23(6):1076-1084. View abstract.

Kim, W. Y., Kim, J., Park, J. D., Ryu, H. Y., and Yu, I. J. Histological study of gender differences in accumulation of silver nanoparticles in kidneys of Fischer 344 rats. J Toxicol.Environ Health A 2009;72(21-22):1279-1284. View abstract.

Kim, Y. S., Kim, J. S., Cho, H. S., Rha, D. S., Kim, J. M., Park, J. D., Choi, B. S., Lim, R., Chang, H. K., Chung, Y. H., Kwon, I. H., Jeong, J., Han, B. S., and Yu, I. J. Twenty-eight-day oral toxicity, genotoxicity, and gender-related tissue distribution of silver nanoparticles in Sprague-Dawley rats. Inhal.Toxicol. 2008;20(6):575-583. View abstract.

Kim, Y. S., Song, M. Y., Park, J. D., Song, K. S., Ryu, H. R., Chung, Y. H., Chang, H. K., Lee, J. H., Oh, K. H., Kelman, B. J., Hwang, I. K., and Yu, I. J. Subchronic oral toxicity of silver nanoparticles. Part Fibre.Toxicol. 2010;7:20. View abstract.

Kim, Y., Suh, H. S., Cha, H. J., Kim, S. H., Jeong, K. S., and Kim, D. H. A case of generalized argyria after ingestion of colloidal silver solution. Am J Ind.Med 2009;52(3):246-250. View abstract.

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Kong, H. and Jang, J. Antibacterial properties of novel poly(methyl methacrylate) nanofiber containing silver nanoparticles. Langmuir 3-4-2008;24(5):2051-2056. View abstract.

Kong, H. and Jang, J. Synthesis and antimicrobial properties of novel silver/polyrhodanine nanofibers. Biomacromolecules. 2008;9(10):2677-2681. View abstract.

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Krishnaraj, C., Jagan, E. G., Rajasekar, S., Selvakumar, P., Kalaichelvan, P. T., and Mohan, N. Synthesis of silver nanoparticles using Acalypha indica leaf extracts and its antibacterial activity against water borne pathogens. Colloids Surf.B Biointerfaces. 3-1-2010;76(1):50-56. View abstract.

Kumari, M., Mukherjee, A., and Chandrasekaran, N. Genotoxicity of silver nanoparticles in Allium cepa. Sci Total Environ 9-15-2009;407(19):5243-5246. View abstract.

Kwon, H. B., Lee, J. H., Lee, S. H., Lee, A. Y., Choi, J. S., and Ahn, Y. S. A case of argyria following colloidal silver ingestion. Ann Dermatol 2009;21(3):308-310. View abstract.

Laban, G., Nies, L. F., Turco, R. F., Bickham, J. W., and Sepulveda, M. S. The effects of silver nanoparticles on fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) embryos. Ecotoxicology. 2010;19(1):185-195. View abstract.

Lackner, P., Beer, R., Broessner, G., Helbok, R., Galiano, K., Pleifer, C., Pfausler, B., Brenneis, C., Huck, C., Engelhardt, K., Obwegeser, A. A., and Schmutzhard, E. Efficacy of silver nanoparticles-impregnated external ventricular drain catheters in patients with acute occlusive hydrocephalus. Neurocrit.Care 2008;8(3):360-365. View abstract.

Lamb, J. G., Hathaway, L. B., Munger, M. A., Raucy, J. L., and Franklin, M. R. Nanosilver particle effects on drug metabolism in vitro. Drug Metab Dispos. 2010;38(12):2246-2251. View abstract.

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Madhumathi, K., Sudheesh Kumar, P. T., Abhilash, S., Sreeja, V., Tamura, H., Manzoor, K., Nair, S. V., and Jayakumar, R. Development of novel chitin/nanosilver composite scaffolds for wound dressing applications. J Mater.Sci Mater.Med 2010;21(2):807-813. View abstract.

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Melaiye, A., Sun, Z., Hindi, K., Milsted, A., Ely, D., Reneker, D. H., Tessier, C. A., and Youngs, W. J. Silver(I)-imidazole cyclophane gem-diol complexes encapsulated by electrospun tecophilic nanofibers: formation of nanosilver particles and antimicrobial activity. J Am Chem.Soc 2-23-2005;127(7):2285-2291. View abstract.

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Powers, C. M., Yen, J., Linney, E. A., Seidler, F. J., and Slotkin, T. A. Silver exposure in developing zebrafish (Danio rerio): persistent effects on larval behavior and survival. Neurotoxicol.Teratol. 2010;32(3):391-397. View abstract.

Pozdniak, L. V., Chernov, A. N., Chekan, N. M., Beliauski, N. M., Akulich, V. V., Poljanskaya, G. G., Gordienko, A. I., and Kulchitsky, V. A. Proliferation and survival of rat C6 glioma culture in the presence of implants coated with modified carbon-based films. Bull Exp.Biol Med 2009;148(2):253-256. View abstract.

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Rayman, G., Rayman, A., Baker, N. R., Jurgeviciene, N., Dargis, V., Sulcaite, R., Pantelejeva, O., Harding, K. G., Price, P., Lohmann, M., Thomsen, J. K., Gad, P., and Gottrup, F. Sustained silver-releasing dressing in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. Br J Nurs. 1-27-2005;14(2):109-114. View abstract.

Rhee, D. Y., Chang, S. E., Lee, M. W., Choi, J. H., Moon, K. C., and Koh, J. K. Treatment of argyria after colloidal silver ingestion using Q-switched 1,064-nm Nd:YAG laser. Dermatol Surg 2008;34(10):1427-1430. View abstract.

Ringwood, A. H., McCarthy, M., Bates, T. C., and Carroll, D. L. The effects of silver nanoparticles on oyster embryos. Mar.Environ Res 2010;69 Suppl:S49-S51. View abstract.

Roe, D., Karandikar, B., Bonn-Savage, N., Gibbins, B., and Roullet, J. B. Antimicrobial surface functionalization of plastic catheters by silver nanoparticles. J Antimicrob.Chemother. 2008;61(4):869-876. View abstract.

Roh, J. Y., Sim, S. J., Yi, J., Park, K., Chung, K. H., Ryu, D. Y., and Choi, J. Ecotoxicity of silver nanoparticles on the soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans using functional ecotoxicogenomics. Environ Sci Technol. 5-15-2009;43(10):3933-3940. View abstract.

Romanelli, M. and Price, P. Health-related quality of life aspects after treatment with a foam dressing and a silver-containing foam dressing in chronic leg ulcers. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2005;52:21.

Romanko, M. I., Rieznichenko, L. S., Hruzina, T. H., Dybkova, S. M., Ul'berh, Z. R., Ushkalov, V. O., and Holovko, A. M. [Influence of gold and silver nanoparticles on ATPase activity of native and rehydrated cells of Escherichia coli]. Ukr.Biokhim.Zh. 2009;81(6):70-76. View abstract.

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Rosas-Hernandez, H., Jimenez-Badillo, S., Martinez-Cuevas, P. P., Gracia-Espino, E., Terrones, H., Terrones, M., Hussain, S. M., Ali, S. F., and Gonzalez, C. Effects of 45-nm silver nanoparticles on coronary endothelial cells and isolated rat aortic rings. Toxicol.Lett 12-15-2009;191(2-3):305-313. View abstract.

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Safaepour, M., Shahverdi, A. R., Shahverdi, H. R., Khorramizadeh, M. R., and Gohari, A. R. Green synthesis of small silver nanoparticles using geraniol and its cytotoxicity against Fibrosarcoma-Wehi 164. Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology 2009;1(2):111-115.

Sakai, N., Aoki, M., Miyazawa, S., Akita, M., Takezaki, S., and Kawana, S. A case of generalized argyria caused by the use of silver protein as a disinfection medicine. Acta Derm.Venereol. 2007;87(2):186-187. View abstract.

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