Practice Guideline Briefs



FREE PREVIEW Log in or buy this issue to read the full article. AAFP members and paid subscribers get free access to all articles. Subscribe now.


FREE PREVIEW Subscribe or buy this issue. AAFP members and paid subscribers get free access to all articles.

Am Fam Physician. 2004 Sep 15;70(6):1174.

Consumer Advisory on Colloidal Silver Products

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has issued a consumer advisory of colloidal silver products. The advisory is available online at http://www.nccam.nih.gov/health/alerts/silver/index.htm.

Colloidal silver products contain tiny silver particles suspended in liquid. They are marketed as dietary supplements and claim to benefit the immune system; kill disease-causing agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi; offer an alternative to prescription antibiotics; and treat diseases such as cancer, human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, tuberculosis, syphilis, scarlet fever, shingles, herpes, pneumonia, and prostatitis. These claims have not been proven.

According to the NCCAM, over-the-counter colloidal silver products are not considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be generally recognized as safe and effective for diseases and conditions. The FDA has taken action against a number of companies for making drug-like claims about these products.

Colloidal silver can cause serious side effects. One is argyria, a bluish-gray discoloration of the body. Argyria is not treatable or reversible. Other side effects include neurologic problems (e.g., seizures), kidney damage, stomach distress, headaches, fatigue, and skin irritation. In addition, colloidal silver may interfere with the body’s absorption of prescription medications, including penicillamine, quinolones, tetracyclines, and thyroxine.


Copyright © 2004 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Article Tools

  • Print page
  • Share this page
  • AFP CME Quiz

Information From Industry

Navigate this Article