Have you ever met someone so brainwashed by the anecdotal power of homeopathic medicine that any evidence or advice contrary to the touted claims was ignored just as quickly as it was stated? Well, keep blowing that hard-earned money on wheatgrass juice and magnets, people, because at least they won’t turn you blue like colloidal silver will, through a condition called argyria. Lest one thinks “Big Science” is using this claim as a deterrent against silver’s health benefits, Robert Hurt and his team figured how it happens.
As a short background: the medical uses of silver have been touted on and off throughout the last century, though its use was mostly halted in the 1940s, as more dependable medical techniques were discovered. It made a strong resurgence in the 1990s, after its antibacterial aspects were attached to false claims stating it could cure AIDS, cancer, and tuberculosis, among other killer illnesses. Since silver isn’t a dietary requirement for humans, there’s no reason to expect any positive effects from it. Though I guess turning bluish-grey is a positive thing if you wanted to make cool Instagram photos without using any filters.
Hurt, a Brown University researcher, co-authored the study, published for the ACS (American Chemical Society) Nano. In the study, his team added silver to chemical mixtures that mimicked those within the human stomach and intestines, and also created testable version of skin tissue. It was found that stomach acid, nature’s Drano, stripped an electron from the silver atoms, leaving positively charged silver ions, or salts, that infiltrated natural salt channels in the bloodstream and made their way to the skin. As light hits the skin, electrons bond themselves to the ions, recreating the silver atoms, which appear darker when set against normal skin pigments. And then you smurfing turn smurfing blue.
In case this technique sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the exact chemical reaction used when developing black-and-white photographs. And even people who spend their whole lives in a dark room aren’t weird enough to think that liquid silver will cure AIDS.