Risks of Colloidal Silver

Risks of Colloidal Silver

There are only two known side effects of colloidal silver. The best-known one is Agryria, and the other is the Herxheimer’s Effect.

We’ll start with the simplest one first: the Herxheimer’s Effect.

Herxheimer’s Effect

The Herxheimer’s Effect is not exclusive to colloidal silver. You can potentially feel the Herxheimer’s Effect when you start any antibiotic treatment. What essentially happens is that too many good bacteria are dying off too quickly in addition to the bad bacteria that you’re targeting. Steve Barwick explains, “The resulting pathogen die-off is too much for the body process at one time, and painful and sometimes serious symptoms can result. “[1]

It usually only occurs when people start using colloidal silver for the first time. Common symptoms of Herxheimer’s include flu like symptoms or diarrhea.

The Herxheimer’s Effect is easy to remedy. Simply back off your colloidal silver use until your body gets used to it. Consume less and you will shortly start to feel better.  Mark Metcalf recommends, “Should this happen, stop administering colloidal silver and drink a lot of water to help clear out the dead pathogens and thereby cause the symptoms to cease.”[2]

Once you have built up a tolerance, you can increase your dose if you feel its necessary.

You can also counter the Herxheimer’s Effect by doing something as simple as eating probiotic yogurt or taking a probiotic pill to restore the good bacteria in your system.

The Herxheimer’s Effect is a temporary side effect that is easily and quickly remedied.  It can be brought on by many different drugs or antibiotics.

Easing into colloidal silver use gradually will ensure that you do not suffer from the Herxheimer’s Effect.


Argyria is the only known negative side effect of colloidal silver, and it is often what gives colloidal silver a bad reputation. People will start doing research into colloidal silver and some of the first search results bring up photos of people who have turned blue from drinking colloidal silver.

So, what is Argyria? It is the permanent discolouration of skin (usually to a bluish grey tinge) caused by silver build up underneath the skin. It is a purely cosmetic side effect, although certainly not a pleasant one.

Douglas Brandt says, “Medicinal use of silver first occurred in the 8th century. Bluish discoloration of the eyes caused by silver ingestion was also described near the same time.”[3] Steve Barwick actually describes Argyria as “archaic.”  Regardless, the condition has been around as long as silver has been used medicinally.

Alan Lansdown offers a definition for Argyria as “a permanent or long-lasting grey or blue-grey discolouration of the skin attributable to prolonged exposure to metallic silver or ionisable silver salts. …  At most, Argyria should be considered as a cosmetically undesirable occupational risk or complication associated with consumption of unregulated colloidal silver products….”[4]

Lansdown does not define what he means by “unregulated colloidal silver products,” but any book or article promoting colloidal silver is quick to point out that there have been no incidences of Argyria resulting from properly prepared colloidal silver.

Is the Risk of Argyria Higher for Some than Others

Many people, including Lansdown, Barwick, Metcalf and Hill have all reported a potential link between those with liver and/or kidney conditions and the incidence of Argyria. Lansdown states, “The liver and kidney are major organs in the metabolism and elimination of silver from the body, but neither is a target organ for silver toxicity.” [5]

The United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water Health Advisories cite a number of tests that indicate silver is primarily excreted through faeces.[6] Barwick explains that those with poor kidney or liver function are thus at increased risk for Argryia because excessive daily intake of silver results in a residual build-up, which the body then tries to push away “from the tissues out toward the skin, at which point the skin turns grey upon exposure to sunlight.”[7]

Speaking of sunlight, several people have noticed that Argyria occurs primarily in areas that are exposed to sunlight – such as your face and hands. Bu Kwon Hyok says, “Argyria pigmentation is usually only recognized in sun-exposed areas. Even though the silver is deposited in both exposed and unexposed areas of skin, the discoloration is more pronounced in areas that have been exposed to sunlight, such as the face and hands.”[8]

How Can You Treat Argyria

There are no known sure-fire cures for Argyria, just as there are no known ways to chelate potential silver build-up in your body.

Mark Metcalf, author of Colloidal Silver: Making the Safest and Most Powerful Medicine on Earth for the Price of Water suggests that supplementing your colloidal silver use with vitamin E and selenium can help chelate any silver that might remain in your body, which will reduce the risk of silver build-up.

Metcalf, in addition to Steve Barwick and John Hill, offer recipes that they claim will help counter the effects of Argyria.[9] They are all very similar to each other and include ingredients such as Vitamin C and Kelp in addition to Vitamin B and Selenium.

There are also clinics in Asia that have tried laser treatment to cure Argyria with varying degrees of success.[10]

Luckily, the risks of getting Argyria are slim to none if you use safe colloidal silver in moderation.

How to Reduce the Risk of Argyria

The best way to reduce the risk of Argyria is to make sure that what you’re drinking is safe colloidal silver. You now know how to determine if your colloidal silver is safe, and that information is essential in preventing any side effects. If you can’t be sure that what you’re drinking is the best quality colloidal silver, then simply use it in moderation.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water Health Advisories has stated that,  “a concentration of silver in water of 100 ug/L or 0.1 mg/L is considered protective of the cosmetic effect of silver (Argyria) for the general population.”[11] That is actually quite a generous daily serving of silver to ingest, so as long as you stay belong that figure, you shouldn’t even have to worry about Argyria.

Where to go for More Information

If you wish to learn more about Argyria, there is a plethora of information out there. We refrain from listing specific websites as web addresses can (and often do) change. Virtually every book that has been published on colloidal silver has a chapter on Argyria and how to minimize its risk. Particularly informative books are:

The Ultimate Colloidal Silver Manual by Steve Barwick

Colloidal Silver: Making the Safest and Most Powerful Medicine on Earth for the Price of Water by Mark Metcalf

Colloidal Silver: Medical Uses, Toxicology & Manufacture by John Hill

Silver in Healthcare: Its Antimicrobial Efficacy and Safety in Use by Alan Lansdown

The best book on silver toxicity by far is Silver in Healthcare by Alan Lansdown. He has the results from many lab tests that show silver build up in the body as a result of using various medical silver products. He also has a very informative chapter on Argyria, its causes and effects. If you are concerned about silver in your body from any source, this is definitely a book you should read.

You can also easily fine online a study performed by the Australian government on drinking water contaminants that has values for how much silver occurs naturally in tap water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water Health Advisories has also published a similar document.


Colloidal silver is one of the safest supplements available. If it is used moderately and properly, the risk of suffering any side effects of colloidal silver is very small.

The 2 common side effects are the Herxheimer’s Effect and Argryia. You can cure the Herxheimer’s Effect by cutting back on your colloidal silver intake. While you cannot cure Argyria, you can nearly eliminate the risk of it by consuming safe colloidal silver in moderation.


This information has not been evaluated by any official agency. The content of this website is intended for information only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. For medical advice, please consult a medical professional.

We are not doctors and are not prescribing colloidal silver to you for any use. Please consult a medical professional before consuming colloidal silver, or to find out what dose or ppm solution is right for you.

The author and publisher of this information disclaims responsibility or liability for any hardship or loss that may be incurred as a result of the use or application of this information.

Information that is referenced is believed to be from reliable sources, but no guarantee can be made regarding the accuracy of sources.


Barwick, Steve. The Ultimate Colloidal Silver Manual: Introducing the Powerful Natural Antibiotic They Want to Take Away from You. Life and Health Research Group, 2009.

Brandt, Douglas, Betty Park, et al. “Argyria secondary to ingestion of homemade silver solution.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatoloy, August 2005.

Bu Kwon Hyok, Joon Ho Lee, et al. “A Case of Argyria Following Colloidal Silver Ingestion.” Ann Dermatol, February 2009.

Hill, John. Colloidal Silver: Medical Uses, Toxicology & Manufacture. 3rd ed. Clear Springs Press, 2009.

Lansdown, Alan B. Silver in Healthcare: Its Antimicrobial Efficacy and Safety in Use. RCS Publishing, 2010.

Metcalf, Mark. Colloidal Silver: Making the Safest and Most Powerful Medicine on Earth for the Price of Water.

Rhee, Do-Young, Sung-Eun Chang, et al. “Treatment of Argyria after Colloidal Silver Ingestion Using Q-Switched 1,064-nm Nd:YAG Laser.” American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Inc, 2008.

United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water Health Advisories. Health Advisories for Drinking Water Contaminants. Lewis, 1993.

[1] Barwick 395

[2] Metcalf 34

[3] Brandt s105

[4] Lansdown 165

[5] Lansdown 174

[6] United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water Health Advisories, 118-120.

[7] Barwick 400

[8] Hyok 309

[9] Metcalf 31, Barwick 425, Hill 30

[10] Do-Young Rhee, Sung-Eun Chang et al document a case of a woman who was treated with a YAG laser for Argyria with favourable results in their article “Treatment of Argyria after Colloidal Silver Ingestion Using Q-Switched 1,064-nm Nd:YAG Laser” published by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Inc in 2008.

[11] United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water Health Advisories, 230.


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