Will Colloidal Silver Kill Viruses, Bacteria And Coronavirus?
Extremely questionable: Websites advertise colloidal silver as a “natural” remedy for the coronavirus and other pathogens. These claims are – because not proven – unreliable.
Question: Does colloidal silver (“silver water”) work against infection with the coronavirus or other pathogens? Does it have any other health benefits?
Answer: Scientific evidence is missing.
Explanation: Significant studies have never examined whether colloidal silver can cure coronavirus infections and other diseases or have a preventive effect. Claims about the effectiveness of silver water are therefore out of thin air.
What is certain, on the other hand, is that colloidal silver can turn the skin blue-grey when the metal particle solution is drunk.
What are we going to do?
This entry is part of our collection of factual checks on the coronavirus.
A “natural” oral medication that kills bacteria and viruses and strengthens the immune system in a variety of ways: This is exactly what colloidal silver is supposed to be. At least if you believe the numerous websites on which the product is advertised or offered for sale. It is also known as “silver water”.
To be too good to be true
The many claims about the alleged healing power indicate true miracle effects: Those who take colloidal silver can use it to fight the coronavirus. The tiny silver particles, dissolved in water, are also said to help against flu, earache or stomachache. And against Lyme disease or HIV infection.
Several websites offer ready-made solutions with colloidal silver for sale. Some online shops sell devices for manufacturing at home.
If you want to know in which dosage you should swallow the silver water for the best effectiveness, you will find no or contradictory information on the website.
Colloidal silver not researched
We looked for evidence of the supposed effects against coronavirus infections and other diseases. To do this, we searched several study databases for research results. But we couldn’t find any meaningful studies.
Serious research has never been carried out to determine whether drinking colloidal silver can do anything against pathogens such as the coronavirus. There is no scientific evidence for other health promises either.
The numerous claims about healing, relief or prevention through colloidal silver are therefore out of thin air.One is not a test tube.
Laboratory experiments show that silver solutions in a test tube can fight pathogenic microorganisms . However, it cannot be concluded from this that colloidal silver also acts against pathogens in the human body.
For example, it is completely unclear whether the colloidal silver ingested is even transported into the tissue infected by pathogens. And even if: whether the silver concentration there would be sufficiently high to kill pathogens on the one hand and not trigger any serious side effects at the same time, it is also questionable.
Silver nose drops with no proven effect
Colloidal silver is not only advertised for drinking. There are also nasal drops that are said to work against cold viruses and bacteria.
There is also no evidence of this. In our research, we came across two studies with children and adults [1,2], in which nasal sprays with colloidal silver were examined.
However, the two studies are extremely poor, and their results on efficacy against colds and inflammation in the nose are not meaningful.
Side effect: Blue skin
However, it is well documented that the long-term intake of colloidal silver and other silver compounds can cause a long-term blue-grey discolouration of the skin. This is then visible on the face, arms and hands.
In technical jargon this discolouration is called argyria. It is caused by silver deposits in the skin. Case reports suggest that such discolouration is permanent [6-8].
Affected are the American local politician Stan Jones  or the American Paul Karason , who died in 2013, as the media reported.
Rosemary Jacobs, an American who was born in 1942, also got argyria at the age of 14 because she regularly used silver-containing nose drops for colds. To date, her skin is greyish-coloured .
It is not excluded that colloidal silver or other silver compounds can have other undesirable effects in addition to argyria. However, this has been so far been insufficiently researched .
Silver for wounds and teeth
Colloidal silver, i.e. tiny silver particles dissolved in water, are not used in scientifically based medicine. Other forms of silver are very well used.
Doctors use the germ-inhibiting effect of silver particles, for example by covering burns with silver-coated wound dressings.
Studies published to date show that burns with silver bandages could heal faster than conventional bandages [3,11].
Some dentists use silver compounds to treat milk tooth caries. However, this treatment can darken the affected area on the tooth. Temporary discolouration of the gums and oral mucosa is also possible .
Around 1900, colloidal silver or dissolved silver salts were popular disinfectants. Despite the lack of proof of effectiveness, it was also widely used as an oral medication – for example for colds or other diseases.
At the end of the 1930s, some doctors warned of the skin discolouration sometimes associated with it . With the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics from the 1940s, the use of silver-containing drugs declined.
The studies in detail
Only randomized-controlled studies can answer whether colloidal silver helps against infections with the coronavirus, against other viruses, bacteria or other health problems. The participants are randomly assigned to one of two groups.
The first group receives a colloidal silver solution, while the second group receives a silver-free solution for comparison.
Ideally, neither the participants nor the study staff knows who is being treated with which means. This “blinding” is intended to ensure that the result is not distorted by the expectations of the study participants.
When we searched two research databases, we found two randomized controlled trials [1,2]. Both were deficient and therefore not meaningful.
Patchy data collection
100 Italian children between the ages of 0 and 12 participated in the larger study. Everyone had a cold. They were randomly divided into two groups.
One group was expected to take nasal drops containing colloidal silver and carboxymethyl-beta-glucan (a starch-like substance) for seven days. The nose drop preparation is available without a prescription in Italy.
The other group should do nasal irrigation with salt water for seven days. At the beginning and at the end of the study, parents were asked to use a questionnaire to indicate how sick their children felt. They should also rate their child’s health on a scale from 0 to 10.
According to the research team, nose drops are said to be better at relieving colds than rinsing with salt water. The questionnaire evaluation gave an advantage of around 3 points for the silver nasal drops, with a maximum of 54 points being “attainable” (in the case of maximum illness, eg due to headache, malaise, fever, loss of appetite).
However, the values of the silver group were already 2 points better than those of the salt water group before the start of the study. A difference of 3 points would be far too small to be felt as an improvement for those affected.
According to the research team, there was a difference of around 1.5 points for 44 children on the 10-point scale additionally filled out by the parents.
However, information is missing on the remaining 56 children.
It’s not just the data gaps that make us question the significance of the study.
The lack of blinding could have additionally distorted the results. The participating children, parents and members of the research team knew who received the nose drops and who received the saltwater rinses for treatment.
Small and incomplete
The second study  examined 22 adults with chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa and sinuses. The number of participants is too small for meaningful results.
The participants were randomly divided into two groups: 12 received a nasal spray with salt water, 10 a nasal spray with a colloidal silver solution.
Two participants from the silver group stopped the study. This left only 8 people in this group for the final evaluation, and important data are missing.
After 6 weeks of treatment, the two groups did not differ significantly in their symptoms. When the two groups swapped therapy for another 6 weeks, there was no effect.
However, the number of participants is far too small for meaningful results.