What Are the Dangers of Silver as an Antibiotic?

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  • Written By: Maggie J. Hall
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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The dangers of using silver as an antibiotic orally or topically include particle accumulation, which may cause irreversible skin discoloration, organ damage, and nerve tissue malfunction. Studies indicate that even with topical colloidal silver preparations, microscopic particles travel throughout the body and can be found in tissues and body fluids. Silver poisoning occurs when the heavy metal particles invade cells and disrupt normal function. In rare instances, patients suffer permanent organ damage and possibly organ failure.

It is possible to acquire silver as an antibiotic in unregulated liquid supplements, topical ointments, and within medically prescribed ointments and wound dressings. These preparations usually contain colloidal silver or silver sulfadiazine. Development of a condition known as argyria is one of the most common dangers of using silver in this way. As silver particles accumulate in visible tissue, the skin develops a brownish hue, eventually turning a gray slate blue in color. Discoloration may occur locally or systemically and is irreversible.

Research indicates that silver inhibits the life and reproductive ability of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Silver initially interferes with cellular respiration. The particles penetrate cell membranes and convert oxygen into water, then into hydrogen peroxide, and finally, into hydroxide ions. The heavy metal particles also enter the mitochondria.


In the mitochondria, silver particles disrupt the organelle's ability to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy required for cell function. Studies also suggest that using silver as an antibiotic causes damage to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), inhibiting cellular reproduction. The affected cells eventually die. This activity is desirable against pathogenic organisms, but silver exhibits the same activity toward healthy cells.

Some patients experience silver poisoning when the metal particles accumulate in the kidneys or liver. Depending on the amount of cellular activity disruption, tissue damage and malfunction occur. Individuals who use silver sulfadiazine can also develop urinary crystals or kidney stones. Extensive damage may evolve into organ failure.

Using silver over a prolonged period of time might also produce seizure activity. The metal particles interfere with normal nerve cell communication through chemical or electrical interference. Upon entering the bloodstream, studies suggest silver sulfadiazine might cause bone marrow depression, decreasing white blood cell and platelet levels. Patients become more prone to infection or experience prolonged bleeding times.

Silver also interferes with the absorption of prescription medications, rendering these formulations ineffective. Colloidal silver generally interacts with penicillin based, tetracycline and quinolone antibiotics. Using silver as an antibiotic also reduced the efficiency of thyroid replacement medications.


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Post 1

This post was helpful and interesting. I never knew what happened if someone took too much silver.

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