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Ask Doctor Donohoe - colloidal silver

Ask Doctor Donohoe

I’ve been in practice now for 15 years. Over all those years I’ve been asked to answer LOTS of questions. Neighbors Newspaper has graciously agreed to open up their publication to me and YOU! We will be accepting questions on all subjects health related. As readers of my column already know, I specialize in pediatric and pre-natal chiropractic care. However, my office is a family practice. I take care of patients young, old and everyone in between. We invite your questions on health and fitness, diet and nutrition, kids care, adult care and any alternative medicine issue. Please email your questions to I will try to answer one or two every month in this column.

Question: Submitted by Elizabeth R.
My girlfriend raves about silver water and how it cures her sinus infections and she uses it for everything from her kids runny noses to making her milk last longer in the fridge. I’d like to know if you have any experience using silver like this and is it really as effective as she says?

Great question Elizabeth, thanks for your inquiry! Yes, I am familiar with silver water and its many uses. In fact I have been using it for more than 15 years in lots of different ways. Allow me to provide you with some important facts about what it is and how it works as well as some of its many uses.

First off, silver water is more properly known as colloidal silver. It is pure, microscopic, elemental silver suspended in pure water. The definition of a colloid is a substance microscopically dispersed evenly throughout another substance. In the case of colloidal silver, microscopic silver particles are distributed evenly throughout purified water. The electro-chemical process of making colloidal sliver, when done properly, assures that the silver particles will never settle to the bottom of the container, but rather stay suspended evenly at all times in the water.

For centuries it has been recognized that silver is a very effective and powerful germicide. Silver is an exceptional metal in that it is non-toxic to the human body, but lethal to over 650 disease causing bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and molds. Conventional pharmaceutical antibiotics are typically effective against only 6 or 7 types of bacteria. Some new strains of bacteria classified as MDR (Multiple Drug Resistant) have proven to be resistant to all pharmaceutical antibiotics, but not to colloidal silver due to different germicidal mechanisms of deactivation.

So how does colloidal silver work? I’ll try not to get too technical here, but there are 3 ways that it is believed the silver is able to defeat so many bad guys.
1) Catalytic oxidation – the silver oxidizes, or steals oxygen, from the cell wall of the microbes. This leads to a series of chemical reactions that cause the microbe to expire due to inability to breathe.
2) Reaction with bacterial cell membranes – silver takes the place of other metals in the cell wall of the bacteria effectively blocking transport of nutrients into and out of the cell leading to its death.
3) Binding with DNA – silver is taken up by the organism’s DNA which prevents it from unwinding, an essential step in its reproduction. Essentially, silver prevents it from reproducing at its natural pace, thereby eliminating the organism.
These three mechanisms work whether the organism is a bacterium, a virus or fungi. That’s why it’s such an effective broad spectrum antimicrobial.

Currently, western medicine uses silver in specific antimicrobial applications that include:
• silver nitrate eye drops given to all newborns born in a hospital setting to prevent venereal disease related eye infections
• silver sulfadiazine impregnated wound dressings used to treat external infections and burns
• urinary catheters and endotrachial breathing tubes are treated with a silver compound to prevent urinary tract infections and ventilator associated pneumonia
• bone prostheses, reconstructive orthopedic and cardiac devices
• on surfaces and fabrics in the hospital setting to prevent the spread of infection
In each of these applications, the silver is combined with other “salts” or chemicals that suit its intended purpose. Although the silver is the key ingredient, it is altered to satisfy the needs of the medicinal use. In my opinion, this renders the silver less effective than it would be in its natural state, but helpful none the less. Although “medical science” does not support the use of colloidal silver as a broad spectrum antimicrobial (because the pharmaceutical industry can’t patent it and make millions on it) let’s discuss some of its many uses and practical applications.

Colloidal silver is used most commonly in an oral manner. It is consumed by mouth in an effort to spread it throughout the body through the blood stream in order to reach pathogenic microbes (the bad guys) that can make us sick. The concentration of silver varies from product to product but the average is 10-20 parts per million (ppm). Although colloidal silver is completely non-toxic and can be taken safely in any quantity, the recommended dosage for daily use is one tsp/day. More can be taken as needs arise during times of illness. Another common use for silver, as your friend mentions, is to treat sinus infections. In this case it is introduced directly into the sinuses by using a misting device or even snorted right off a spoon. I have had many patients knock out even severe sinus infections in a matter of 2-3 days with this method!

Additional uses of colloidal silver include;
• topical use to treat cuts, scrapes or burns to minimize infection (apply directly to bandages and cover wound)
• add to food items to extend shelf life such a milk, salad dressings, jams and jellies and peanut butter
• add when canning, preserving or bottling
• spray in shoes and between toes to treat athletes foot fungus
• soak toes or finger nails to treat fungal infections or use topical cream variety
• use as gargle to treat throat, tooth or other mouth sores
• spray interior of refrigerator, drawers or other food storage bins
The list goes on and on. Essentially, colloidal silver can be used to safely treat or prevent any unwanted microbial growth.

Finally, a word about Argyria. Argyria is the condition in which an over consumption of “silver compounds” can cause silver to accumulate in the body tissues to the point where the skin takes on a bluish appearance. This is the most commonly used scare tactic to keep people from trying colloidal silver. Oprah featured a man on her show a couple years ago who had been consuming more than a quart a day of improperly manufactured, homemade colloidal silver for several years. He was indeed blue! The problem was simply that the silver he had been making at home was not the correct particle size. Commercially manufactured silver products produce colloidal silver with particle sizes which are smaller than the smallest blood vessels in the body which assures that there can be no accumulation in the body tissues to the point which would alter one’s skin color.

So in closing Elizabeth, colloidal silver is an important part of my families approach to maintaining wellness and treating illness when it occurs. Rest assured that you too can use it for your family both effectively and safely!

Thanks again for the question Elizabeth! Please get more questions in to and let’s keep this column active!

Dr. Donohoe is a family practice chiropractor who specializes in the unique needs of pregnant women and children. His office is located at 41880 Kalmia St., Suite 135 in Murrieta. He can be reached at 951-677-6500 or through his website at

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