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Using too much colloidal silver actually did turn the unfortunate Paul Karason of Washington state in the USA blue. However, the problem is even a little worse than that.

A true believer in the value of silver as a medical treatment, Karason at first used a silver salve to treat a skin ailment on his face. His face turned blue. Still convinced that silver was the solution, not the problem, he then started taking colloidal silver drops. When he did that, his whole body turned blue.

Karason believed in colloidal silver, but he rejected the idea that chain smoking was bad for you. He had a long history of heart disease. The famous blue man died in 2013 at the age of 62.

What's the truth about silver?

Silver has definite antibacterial properties. It's still used in skin care products. (I've used silver cream on a foot wound myself in the last month, and it worked like a charm.) Before the discovery of antibiotics, it was a favorite of doctors for fighting infection. However, there has always been a risk of argyria, a blue, gray, or black staining of the skin and mucous membranes caused by deposits of silver.

It isn't just colloidal silver fanatics who come down with this condition. It also occurs in silver miners, silversmiths, and in people who used to develop film. It's happened to people who used colloidal silver as an AIDS or cancer treatment, people who used silver in wound dressings (I only used silver on my foot for two weeks), people who got irrigations of colloidal silver for sinuitis or bladder infections, and in people who wear silver jewelry or who have had semi-permanent placement of silver acupuncture needles.

Silver naturally occurs in very small amounts in the human body. In your entire body, there may be about 1 mg of silver. It takes 4 to 5 grams (less than 1/5 of an ounce) of silver to cause "blue man" disease, and it takes 40 to 50 grams of silver to kill you.

Once you have argyria, there's not a lot your doctor can do to help. Chelation therapy doesn't work. A skin lightening agent called hydroquinone, which is sold as Eldopaque-Forte, Solaquin Forte, or Lustra, can lighten the darkest spots of silver in the skin, but it won't completely remove the silver. However, some people have a gene that causes hydroquinone itself to turn purplish-black. (This gene is most common in people of Japanese or Korean descent.)

It helps to use sunscreen, to cover up, and to stay indoors whenever possible, since it is exposure to light that darkens the silver, just like exposure to light used to darken silver compounds on a roll of film.

Not everyone who uses colloidal silver is going to develop argyria. If you use colloidal silver to treat pinkeye, or a sinus infection, or even a bladder infection, and you stop when the infection is cured, chances are that your body will eliminate the silver and return you to normal. As a general rule of thumb, it is OK to use topically applied silver products about two weeks out of every year. Don't take silver products by mouth or use them to irrigate your sinuses or intimate areas without a doctor's advice.

Colloidal silver, silver proteins, and silver water don't stimulate the immune system. 

They kill bacteria, and they also kill a small number of human cells. They work by deactivating enzymes. For this reason, silver is anything but a health food. Taking silver in any form with a meal deactivates any useful enzymes with your food, and also interferes with the activity of the digestive enzymes released by your pancreas.

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