The Case for Colloidal Silver

Perhaps the most important aspect of evaluating colloidal silver is to separate fact from fiction. This book strives to include only credible, reliable information, but after reviewing this data, the case for colloidal silver will be highly compelling.

Before delving into the research, it is wise to say a word or two about what colloidal silver actually is. There are a number of definitions of colloid, but for the purposes of this book, we shall view it as: “a substance consisting of particles that are dispersed throughout another substance and are too small for resolution with an ordinary light microscope but are incapable of passing through a semi-permeable membrane”.[1] The particles that are too small to be seen with a regular microscope are silver nanoparticles. A nanoparticle is one whose measurements are in nanometers. In general, we can view it as something very, very, very small! Nanosize is understood to be somewhere between 1 and 100nm; however, this meaning can be extended to 200nm.

Colloidal refers to particles floating in a liquid, meaning they are not dissolved and simply hang in suspension, like dust in the air. Therefore, colloidal silver is a liquid solution in which nanoparticles of silver are floating around.

There are several meaningful considerations that should be taken to mind regarding items and events at nanoscale:

  • Particles at the nanoscale do not have the same properties or behavior as larger-sized particles of the same material.
  • Interactions are governed by the laws of quantum physics, which are often not the same as the big-scale laws of physics.
  • Quite a number of cell functions occur on the nanoscale level.

Nanotechnology itself has a lengthy history. While they wouldn’t have described it as such, ancient artisans created nanostructured items as a result of empirical evidence and their expert knowledge of the materials with which they worked. The fourth-century Roman Lycurgus cup housed at the British Museum is one famous example. Under normal viewing conditions, when lit from the outside, the cup appears to be opaque green; however, when illuminated from the inside, the colloidal gold and silver in the glass create a translucent red effect. There are many milestones on the nanotechnology timeline: ceramic glazes made items shine as a result of metallic nanoparticles in the ninth to seventeenth centuries); European stained-glass windows not only glowed with rich colors but were also thought to purify the air due to the inclusion of gold nanoparticles in the sixth to fifteenth centuries); and Damascus saber blades were made stronger by nanocarbon in the thirteenth to eighteenth centuries.[2]

Modern advances in microscopy, as well as new methodologies, have allowed scientists to toy around a bit with nanotechnology and, thus, colloidal silver, even though colloidal silver is essentially nothing new. In the joint American-Swiss paper, “120 Years of Nanosilver History: Implications for Policy Makers,” Bernd Nowack et al. state, “Colloidal nanosilver has been administered as a medicine for almost 100 years.”[3] In 2011, the American Chemical society published the authors’ conclusion: “nanosilver materials have a deep historical record of demonstrated safe use.”[4]

Colloidal Silver Conclusion 1:Colloidal silver is not just something someone dreamt up recently to make money. Current knowledge of colloidal silver is the result of thousands of years of direct and indirect experimentation and practice.

What is new is knowledge of the mechanism(s) by which colloidal silver accomplishes its work. An article by Imperial College London (England) discusses how silver executes a binding or sticking action: It sticks to the cell walls of bacteria, causing them to malfunction. It also adheres to bacteria DNA and RNA, preventing the bacteria from replicating or reproducing. The article also says silver may act by inhibiting the cell from breathing.

Further evidence of this alleged attachment is found in a study published in The Journal of Nanotechnology and reported by Syeda Z. Hamdani in “Study Shows Silver Nanoparticles Attach to HIV-1 Virus.” This 2005 article reports on research into how silver nanoparticles react with HIV-1. This study, the first of its kind, used silver nanoparticles in a variety of sizes, shapes, and mediums. The results showed that the silver did not allow the virus to bond with host cells. The researchers believe the silver nanoparticles accomplished this by somehow attaching themselves to protein knobs on the HIV-1.

This stickability of silver is further confirmed in an article on the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website which reports, “The survival rate of bacterial species decreased with increase in adsorption (sticking) of SNPs (silver nanoparticles).”[5]

Another way in which colloidal silver can positively influence health is through stimulation of our immune systems. Very simply, our immune systems work by recognizing foreign bodies or substances and taking specific actions against them. Silver nanoparticles appear to boost the recognition ability of our immune scouts (officially known as “toll-like receptors,” or TLRs). The way in which colloidal silver does this may be by effecting cytokine expression. Cytokines are proteins that affect individual cell behavior or the interactions or communications between cells.[6]

It is not merely a solo act, for silver nanoparticles can also enhance the effects of antibiotics. The ever-increasing number of strains of harmful, antibiotic-resistant organisms is a continuing worry for the public and the medical community. Colloidal silver has been shown to rev up the power of antibiotics, boosting them with a more significant and widespread effect.

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering is located at Harvard University. In June of 2013, they published a journal article in Science Translational Medicine. The Harvard researchers found that by treating bacteria with a compound containing silver, the previously antibiotic-resistant bacteria became antibiotic-sensitive again. In addition, this same silver-containing compound widened the scope of effectiveness of the antibiotic vancomycin, which is known to kill Gram-positive bacteria but is ineffective against Gram-negative bacteria, meaning it kills in a very selective way. The presence of silver changed the playing field, in that the vancomycin became effective against Gram-negative bacteria too. Lastly, treatments for infections caused by dormant bacteria and microbial slime layers (biofilms) were speeded up. In other words. fewer rounds of treatment were needed for a complete cure.

With each passing day, the volume of the evidence for colloidal silver increases. Here are some further references:

A comment on ResearchGate, a professional scientific and research network, cited four studies:

  • Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Medical Nanotechnology Research Center: Faculty of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences at the University of Tehran, Iran, support that in the presence of colloidal silver, drug-resistant pathogens could once again be killed by the antibiotics that used to be effective.
  • The Department of Microbiology/Molecular Biology of Brigham-Young University, U.S.A.: A study took place two months after the previous study in Iran and supports its results.
  • Department of Physical Chemistry at Palacky University in the Czech Republic: Small-size silver nanoparticles effectively destroyed both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
  • Department of Textile Science, Nanya Institute of Technology, Chung-Li, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan: Research a year later showed that colloidal silver can prevent deadly pathogens from colonizing.

A Korean study which took place at the Department of Microbiology at Kyungpook National University in Daegu found that nanosilver was equal to or outperformed two current treatments. A common cure for systemic fungal infections is the intravenous application of Amphotericin B. This study found that nanosilver was equally effective. In regard to another anti-fungal drug, fluconazole (more familiarly called Diflucan), nanosilver performed better. Both of these results were so significant that the article was accepted for publication by the prestigious Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology.

Scientists from The Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Akron, Ohio, conducted a study about the effects of aerosolized nanoparticles on mice infected with the bacteria pseudomona aeroginosa, which often causes bacterial pneumonia in humans who have weakened immune systems, need machine-assisted breathing such as ventilators, or suffer from cystic fibrosis. Two types of once-daily inhalation treatments were prepared: One contained aerosolized nanoparticles of silver carbene complexes (SCCs), known for their antimicrobial properties, while the other was a placebo. Inhaling the SCC mixture resulted in statistically lower concentrations of bacteria in the lungs of mice as compared to inhaling the placebo mixture. In addition, all the mice in the SCC group survived. This was not the case in the control group.

The final study cited here is the “Summary Report of the First African Human Trials.”[7] Although a number of years old, this research is still highly relevant due to its comprehensive nature. The summary report discusses the first series of 58 trials and the results of 60 of the 120 participants. Three hospitals in Ghana, West Africa took part. The patients, who had a variety of ailments, were not treated with the usual course of antibiotics. Instead, they were given varying quantities of colloidal silver as non-ionic 50nm silver particles suspended in distilled water. It is important to add that, in light of recent scientific knowledge, those particles always release silver ions. The concentration was ten parts per million, which is relatively small. The summary report states that in almost every instance, patients treated with drinkable colloidal silver fully recovered in no more than eight days. The ailments presented by the patients were bronchitis, vaginal yeast infection (Candida), conjunctivitis (eye infection), external cuts and infection, external otitis (ear infection), otitis media (middle ear infection), gonorrhea, malaria, mouth problems, pelvic inflammatory disease, pharyngitis (sore throat), retro-viral infection, HIV, sinusitis or rhinitis (nasal infections), tonsillitis, and upper respiratory or urinary tract infections.  

Colloidal Silver Conclusion 2:The abundant, reliable, statistically significant, scientific data supports the reality of colloidal silver as a highly effective antimicrobial agent.

“This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”


[1] “Colloid.” Merriam-Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/colloid

[2] National Nanotechnology Initiative. “Nanotechnology Timeline.” http://www.nano.gov/timeline

[3] Percival, Stephen, et al. “The Antimicrobial Efficacy of Silver on Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Isolated from Burn Wounds.” http://www.academia.edu/2455924/Therapeutic_Properties_of_Silver#3

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Studies on Interaction of Colloidal Silver Nanoparticles (SNPs) with Five Different Bacterial Species.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21640562   

[6] “Cytokines.” http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11937

[7] Cambridge University. “Colloidal Silver Research Trials.” http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=2394.0