Naturally minded parents are foregoing pharmaceuticals and using an unregulated supplement to treat their children’s multitude of diseases. Colloidal Silver is a supplement marketed to treat and cure various ailments. The product contains tiny particles of silver suspended in liquid. Some of the most brazen claims made by the companies are that the products can cure cancer, HIV, and herpes.
Despite the claims of curing illness, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists colloidal silver as not safe for consumption. Additionally, silver has no known purpose in the body. There are no studies published that prove the claims made by sellers.
Even though there are no known health benefits, sellers and users promote the effectiveness of the supplement. A Facebook group dedicated to the healing benefits of colloidal silver provides a forum for individuals to share best practices, offer medical advice, and ask questions.
In the group, parents consistently inquire about uses of silver to treat children’s illnesses. While some of the ailments are minor such as a scrape or cold, others are more serious like asthma, strep throat, hypothyroidism, staph infections, and influenza.
Desperate parents seek relief for their ill and uncomfortable children, and the group members reassure them that the silver will help their child. Perhaps most distressing are parents willing to abandon needed pharmaceuticals for their children in lieu of the silver.
One grandparent of a child with persistent infections and hypothyroidism questioned the group about the possibility of using silver instead of medications. Her grandson had chronic bacterial infections which required antibiotics to treat. Tired of using the medicines, she sought a natural alternative.
Group members insisted that oral use of colloidal silver could treat the ear infections. The group assured her treatment of bacterial infections was possible with colloidal silver. Also, several urged her to consider taking her grandson off the thyroid medications.
After numerous people suggested stopping levothyroxine, she admitted that she consulted a naturopath that will work to take him off the medication. According to the “doctor,” diet and supplements can treat hypothyroidism.
Unfortunately for the grandmother, the advice by the naturopath and the group is inaccurate and potentially life-altering for her grandson. Hypothyroidism is a disease of the thyroid or pituitary gland where the thyroid does not release enough hormones to the body.
The thyroid is tasked with providing energy and affects all organs in the body. Dysfunction of the thyroid is not related to diet. Causes of hypothyroidism include autoimmune disorders, thyroid cancer, nodules, and diseases of the pituitary gland.
Levothyroxine is a drug used to treat hypothyroidism and is useful in the management of the disease. Without medication, individuals are at risk for heart disease, memory loss, brain damage, depression, goiters, liver disease, and neuropathy.
By suggesting the grandmother stop levothyroxine, the group is putting the five-year-old at risk of developing serious health issues.
Another ailment parents seek help within the group is asthma. Many parents feel frustrated about having their child use steroids to treat their lung disease. Instead of using drugs, they seek to replace the drugs with colloidal silver.
The group consistently suggests using colloidal silver in a nebulizer as a breathing treatment. When one parent asked about a child, members suggested using a teaspoon of colloidal silver in a nebulizer multiple times per day.
Asthma is a life-threatening disease that causes narrowing of the airway. When asthma is not controlled, the airway can become so inflamed and narrowed that breathing becomes nearly impossible.
In 2015, the CDC reported that 3,518 people died from asthma. Most of the deaths resulted in individuals that failed to treat their disease correctly.
By parents withdrawing pharmaceuticals, they are putting the child’s life at risk. Additionally, there is evidence that inhaling silver particles into the lungs may cause inflammation and long-term damage.
A study published in The International Journal of Molecular Science concluded that inhaling silver is a health hazard. Testing performed showed the particles inflame the lungs, impact other organs of the body, and can produce long-term abnormal lung function.
By placing the colloidal silver in a nebulizer, parents are introducing metal into their child’s lungs. These metals could permanently damage their child’s lungs.
The FDA has issued multiple warning letters to vendors regarding their marketing of the product. In the letters, the FDA says that colloidal silver is not safe and effective. There is no proof the product cures or treats the diseases listed on the packaging.
Despite the risks, parents continue to use the untested product on their children. Marketed as a supplement the products do not undergo any testing for safety and may contain harmful additives. By purchasing these products, parents risk harming and potentially poisoning their children.
Facebook plays a role in the dissemination of misleading information about silver. The Facebook group “Colloidal Silver Healing” has over 14,000 members. Additionally, the group is full of naturopaths and quack providers that prey on people desperate to relieve their pain and illnesses.
When parents withhold medication from ill children, they are irresponsible, neglectful, and abusive. By refusing necessary drugs, they risk permanent health issues and in some cases death. Colloidal silver should never be used to treat any illnesses.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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