Sweigart Report: Colloidal Silver | Vol. 4 / No. 11.1

Like this, but, you know, drinkable | Photo: Lwp Kommunikáció, CC BY 2.0 

Well, Richard and Elle finally did it. If you haven’t noticed, a large chunk of Monday posts for the past year were called The Sweigart Report, named after Richard’s friend who “has seen some sh*t.”

That’s me. I’m Katelyn Sweigart, and I am a recovering woonatic.

I still have my essential oils (they smell good, okay?). I was never into crystals, but I stick a piece of aventurine in my D&D dice bag for good luck. I need to chant “anecdotes aren’t evidence” under my breath sometimes. I’m open-minded to things that don’t harm anyone, don’t cost much, and can produce potential placebo effects.

It’s also hard to stay science-faithful when your best friend went from being the most smart, athletic, successful and outgoing person you know to being barely able to function on the day to day basis because of chronic Lyme disease1 … and told that her disease doesn’t exist.

When the science isn’t there, things get bleak.

So let’s talk about something where the science IS there and you have absolutely no reason whatsoever to use this woo alternative because oh my fucking god it will turn you blue.

Colloidal silver.

It’s silver particles suspended in a liquid. Usually sprayed on topically or taken under the tongue. You could buy it at Whole Foods, but it looks like they put it on their banned ingredient list.

Proponents say that it is anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral. It’s marketed by some manufacturers as a cure-all. Big Pharma banned it for the same reason it bans everything: easily made by the commonfolk (as in you can buy a machine and make it at home) and cannot be patented.

Not because it has documented, scientifically-proven negative side effects that outweigh the little evidence of benefits. Never that.

One such side effect: argyria. Silver poisoning. For some reason, it turns you blue.

Paul “Papa Smurf” Karason was a widely publicized proponent of the miracle cure, and example of the negative side effects. Alt-medicine only recommends a few teaspoons a day, and this guy chugged about 10 fluid ounces. Libertarian politician Stan Jones is another example of exceeding the recommended dose and going full smurf. He thought the Y2K bug would cause an antibiotic shortage, so he started taking it regularly in 1999.

The National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health (a division of the National Institutes of Health) says all claims of health benefits are scientifically unsupported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared that while silver has some topical medical uses, “there are no legally marketed prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs containing silver that are taken by mouth.”

Anyway, here: Quackwatch does a brilliant analysis and does a way better job than I can.

Happy Monday y’all.


1. Editor’s note: Chronic Lyme Disease is more correctly referred to as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Disorder, as the Lyme spirochetes are no longer present, but nevertheless the symptoms are very real.


Katelyn Sweigart is a recovering woonatic and This Week In Tomorrow’s new regular correspondent for your weekly dose of Monday woo.


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One thought on “Sweigart Report: Colloidal Silver | Vol. 4 / No. 11.1

  1. I love me some essential oils: they make nice lotions. Also, they make nice diffuser smells for covering up sweaty boy-dog and sweaty man-creature smells. And some really do offer (limited) (topical) (symptom relief only) benefits. Like Black Pepper’s effect on capillary dilation. Us cold-handed (ok, ok, Hands of Death) people appreciate those.
    But nothing beats good old fashioned antibiotics. Except MRSA. Dude is on ‘roids.

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