What are colloidal silver products?
Silver has had some medicinal uses going back for centuries. However, more modern and less toxic drugs have eliminated most of those uses. A few prescription drugs containing silver are still available. For example, silver nitrate can be used to prevent an eye condition called conjunctivitis in newborn babies and to treat certain skin conditions, such as corns and warts. Another drug, silver sulfadizine, can be used to treat burns. These drugs are applied to the body (i.e., they are not taken internally), and they can have negative side effects.
Colloidal silver products consist of tiny silver particles suspended in a liquid base. Sometimes other ingredients are added, such as proteins, coloring, etc. The products are usually taken by mouth (in which case the products are considered dietary supplements; see the text box below). Some other types are sprayed, applied to the skin, or injected into a vein.
About Dietary Supplements
Dietary supplements were defined in a law passed by Congress in 1994. A dietary supplement must meet all of the following conditions:
It is a product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet, which contains one or more of the following: vitamins; minerals; herbs or other botanicals; amino acids; or any combination of the above ingredients.
2. For what health purposes are colloidal silver products marketed?
3. Do colloidal silver products work?
Silver has no known function in the body.
Silver is not an essential mineral supplement or a cure-all and should not be promoted as such.
Claims that there can be a "deficiency" of silver in the body and that such a deficiency can lead to disease are unfounded.
Claims made about the effectiveness of colloidal silver products for numerous diseases are unsupported scientifically.
Colloidal silver products can have serious side effects (discussed further below).
Laboratory analysis has shown that the amounts of silver in supplements vary greatly, which can pose risks to the consumer.
4. What are the risks of using these products?
5. Does the Government regulate dietary supplements containing colloidal silver?
6. What should people do who are considering or using colloidal silver?
Conventional medicine is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as nurses, physical therapists, and dietitians. Other terms for conventional medicine include allopathy; Western, mainstream, orthodox, and regular medicine; and biomedicine.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Health care practices and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine are called CAM. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine. Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. There is scientific evidence for the effectiveness of some CAM treatments. But for most, there are key questions yet to be answered through well-designed scientific studies, such as whether they are safe and work for the diseases or conditions for which they are used. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the Federal Government's lead agency for scientific research on CAM.
For More Information
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U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA monitors--and regulates for safety--foods, medicines, medical devices, cosmetics, and radiation-emitting consumer products.
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) CFSAN's Web site on dietary supplements is at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/supplmnt.html
CFSAN oversees the safety and labeling of supplements, foods, and cosmetics. It has information on dietary supplements.
MedWatch is the FDA's safety information and adverse event reporting program. Consumers or providers may file a report if they have a serious problem that they suspect is associated with a dietary supplement.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to inform consumers so that they can spot, stop, and avoid these practices.
CAM on PubMed