Colloidal Silver and the Law. A summary and update.

As I first explained here, I have been trying to find out what the laws are regarding the sale and manufacture of colloidal silver products in the UK and how they may be implemented.

As I said in my last post, colloidal silver has never been licensed as a medicine, nor is it permitted in food supplements. I have since had further correspondence with the MHRA, the Advertising Standards Authority and my local Trading Standards office which I feel is worthy of note. I also feel I need to answer critics by explaining the reasons for my concern about colloidal silver and my recent actions.

My response to critics

I have been accused of being a government parasite in the pay of mainstream medical companies. I have been asked why I am so concerned about the safety of colloidal silver (and to provide linked details of side effects of antibiotics recorded in clinical trials). I have also been informed that ‘properly manufactured Colloidal Silver cannot cause any harm to anyone when taking the suggested amounts’ and been accused of swallowing whatever lies the goverment spits out.

I wish to respond to criticism of this nature by pointing out that I am not receiving money from pharmaceutical companies or the government, nor do I ‘worship regulation’. The reason for my action is that I am concerned that vulnerable members of the public are being misled, with potentially harmful consequences. My concern is the unregulated sale of colloidal silver products which are promoted as being of medical benefit. It is possible to walk into a health food shop and buy a bottle of colloidal silver with the understanding that it can prevent or treat disease. Although this is illegal, people are not generally aware of this.

I do not believe there is sufficient robust scientific evidence that colloidal silver products are effective for what they are advertised to treat. I personally have little idea how safe they are (or what a safe dose would be).  As well as argyria, according to NCCAM, side effects may include neurological problems (such as seizures), kidney damage, stomach distress, headaches, fatigue, and skin irritation. Colloidal silver may also interfere with the body’s absorption of some drugs.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Thankfully it isn’t up to members of the public (such as me, my critics or indeed the people who make colloidal silver at home) to weigh up potential risks and benefits of a medicine and decide whether it should be allowed to go on sale. For good reason, we have regulatory bodies such as the MHRA to make such decisions.

I wrote back to the MHRA, pointing out that the Department of Health had informed me that colloidal silver is not permitted in food supplements, that colloidal silver products are marketed with the understanding that they are to be used to treat or prevent disease and that the MHRA and the Advertising Standards Authority have previously described colloidal silver products as unlicensed medicines.

Their reply indicates that colloidal silver products would have to be assessed on an individual basis:

The medicines legislation with which the Medicines Borderline Section is concerned, relates to the classification of individual products as medicinal products (or not) rather than to substances in general (thus certain substances may be sold as both food and medicine). It is not therefore accurate to say that the Agency has previously classified “colloidal silver” as a medicine; the determination you have cited related to that one specific product. It is not possible for me to comment on the particular case

The Medicines Borderline Section does not have the authority to say that any specific product “is a food” but where a product is determined not to be a medicinal product and when that product is for oral consumption, it generally falls to be regulated as food by default. Food supplements are only one type of food and are subject to specific regulations as I understand it.

The prohibition against the use of medicinal claims which exists in Food Safety legislation (specifically the Food Labelling & Advertising Regulations) is there to cover products which might legally be sold as foods, having no pharmacological, metabolic or immunological effect. It cannot be the case that simply making a medicinal claim makes everything a medicinal product otherwise there would have been no need to have this prohibition on medicinal claims in food law.

All cases referred to the Classifiers in the Medicines Borderline Section are subject to a risk assessment which takes into account factors such as public health risk, previous compliance history and parliamentary and press interest, and may not necessarily be investigated. The Trading Standards Service operates locally on the “home authority” principle and no doubt cases are also subject to a risk assessment.

Trading Standards

My local Trading Standards office have been in touch recently to say that they are looking into this from a ‘food standards perspective’ and planning the best way to deal with it, suggesting they may trawl the internet and contact other local authorities with a view to them checking the selling and advertising of these products in their area. They may alternatively use their professional forum to flag the issue up, perhaps providing some background information so that others are aware of all the problems. I was warned that it may take some considerable time before the situation is regularised.

Advertising Standards Authority

As I have already pointed out, there is already one ASA adjudication regarding colloidal silver. I personally made two complaints in May about the advertising of colloidal silver products, both of which were ‘informally resolved’ (here and here) when the companies agreed to amend their advertising.

Since then, I made a further twelve complaints about websites advertising colloidal silver, all of which I believed were making unsubstantiated claims of medical efficacy about an unlicensed product and some of which were, in my opinion, in breach of Medicines (Advertising) Regulations 1994. My local Trading Standards office were also informed of this.

I received a letter this week stating that the ASA ‘cannot justify allocating resources to this therapy at this time’ since they are currently dealing with a disproportionately high number of ongoing alternative therapy cases. They do not feel that this warrants the same priority as some of the more mainstream therapies and believe that the potential for consumer detriment is much lower for this therapy in comparison with others.


I understand that the ASA are very busy at the moment and do not intend to challenge this decision at the moment. I also intend to give Trading Standards more time to deal with this and will report back if there are any further developments.

13 responses to “Colloidal Silver and the Law. A summary and update.

  1. Pingback: Sense About Science launch Ask for Evidence campaign | Josephine Jones

  2. Pingback: The Advertsing Standards Authority and me | Josephine Jones

  3. The NCCAM is part of the U.S Department of Health and Human Sciences so its not surprising it will discredit colloidal silvers uses as it doesnt recognise it as a valid substance to promote health,and it can not be patented to make huge profits from mass production by the Pharmaceutical industry!There is vast documentation and information about the efficacy and validity of silver and colloidal silver to help fight against all forms of bacteria,viruses fungals and parasites!Also the examples of Argyria in humans have come about by ingesting Extremely High ppm concentrations of colloidal silver often home-made and of inferior quality.How much damage is done to the human body by modern drugs as side-effects?Many more and more serious than turning a greyish-blue!
    Of course many sellers of this substance are fraudulent and dangerous,but go after them not the substance,they are the ones selling a version of colloidal silver that is inferior and possibly toxic and all for the sake of profit.

  4. Hello Josephine

    I’ve read your articles with interest, especially your points about Colloidal Silver, and I haveto say I find your angle of attack slightly disturbing. I’ve used Colloidal Silver for a couple of years now, and it’s the only ‘treatment’ that has successfully treated my chronic sinus infections.

    I’ve gone through at least seven different prescribed treatments, mainly antibiotics – none of which have had any beneficial effect. I was told about CS by a friend who had used it to treat a problematic recurring skin condition (the name of which eludes me right now). CS cleared her condition up completely. On the strength of that I bought some CS and used it with care in my sinus rinse kit. To cut a rather long story short, my chronic sinus infection cleared up within five days, and I’ve been without infections ever since. Due to the unusual structure of my sinus passages, I will always be prone to infections unless I have very
    invasive surgery, but luckily for me, CS prevents any further infections from taking hold. I’ve not once had any kind of negative reaction to using CS, in fact the exact opposite. I’ve not felt so well since I can remember.

    I’ve been following the battle for and against CS for about a year now, and it seems to me there are some very dubious characters on either side of the Silver fence. The most sinister seem to be those who try and taint CS as some kind of quackery and something potentially dangerous – obviously in an attempt to put fear into those who may be thinking of trying CS. I’ve also noticed that those who are full against CS tend to be those who’ve never even tried it for themselves. I can fully understand having an issue with unscrupulous makers of CS, but for the majority who produce a quality product, they could simply do without all the negative attacks aimed at them. They produce something I cannot live without, and to smash them into the ground would be affecting me personally as a user.

    You mention that the sale of CS is now illegal in the EU. Could you provide me and others who read your blog with a link to this ruling? Not another hit-piece on CS, I mean a link to actual official documentation outlining that law in the EU? CS is still for sale on sites such as mazon.co.uk , and I’m sure they wouldn’t be able to sell on such a site for long if it’s sale was illegal.

    I’m not naive; those who sell and supply raw Silver want makers and users of CS to buy their Silver, and those who are involved with big pharma want to crush any evidence that CS is very beneficial, especially where conventional antibiotics have failed.

    I’ve searched your blog, but I can see no mention anywhere about the real and documented dangers associated with vaccinations, particularly Flu Shots. I find it rather odd that you dedicate so much time and effort in ‘fighting’ the Colloidal Silver advocates, while worldwide thousands of people have been left brain damaged or wheelchair bound due to an adverse reaction to something so trusted and promoted as the Flu Shot.

    I would like to conclude by adding that I find your decision to withhold your real name associated with your blog somewhat suspicious. I know you would/will reply that it’s your choice or right to remain anonymous, and that may be the case, but to myself and possibly others who’ve read your blog, it raises more than a hint of suspicion as to your purpose, and possibly an agenda, that may be the driving force behind your information and ‘concern’ over the issues you cover.

    Regards,
    Brenda Coulp (Real Name – Real Person)
    .

    • Thanks for your comment. The above post summarises what I know about the legal side of things. I don’t recall mentioning anything about EU law. Far from dedicating all my time to fighting colloidal silver advocates, I haven’t looked into it for well over a year so this post could be far from up to date.

      As far as safety and efficacy are concerned, the best and most detailed information I found was here:

      http://nccam.nih.gov/health/silver

      NCCAM’s advice to those considering using colloidal silver is as follows:

      -There is no scientific evidence for effectiveness and a severe risk for serious side effects from colloidal silver.
      -The FDA does not consider colloidal silver to be safe or effective for treating any disease or condition and has issued an advisory regarding its safety.
      -Complementary products or practices that have not been proven safe and effective, such as colloidal silver, should never be used as a replacement for conventional medical care or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.
      -Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary and alternative medicine, see NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign.

      I withhold my name because I don’t wish to be harrassed and tormented by cranks and quacks. That is a very real concern and to a certain extent, happens already.

  5. Josephine – thank you for the link you provided. Unfortunately it only covers the US, and contains the usual scare mongering designed to scare people into believing silver is a highly toxic metal. They state that ‘. . . severe risk for serious side effects from colloidal silver’ , but have there been any serious studies of CS to conclusively prove this? And if so, in what quantities consumed by humans are they talking about here? A few ounces of CS per day? A gallon of CS per day? Too much table salt will kill me, but I still have it on my chips. Very nice too!

    As for Argyria (the main scare tactic used by those trying to cover up the benefits of silver) only a handful of genuine cases have been identified, and those with the condition have consumed vast amounts of silver (usually crudely home made) over a period of years. One case I recall involved a man who made his own Colloidal Silver and consumed nearly a gallon of it each day for several years. That kind of obsession and abuse of any substance is going to be harmful. I’m amazed he didn’t suffer from drinking that much water a day, let alone any silver that it contained.

    I see your point about makers of CS claiming health benefits and cures, when there has been no proper study of it’s effectiveness. The real and true reason for it not being studied and tested for being a viable medicine, is the simple fact that giant drug companies cannot patent silver as a drug. It would be nice to believe that mega drug companies have our health and safety at the core of their ethos, but the plain and simple truth is they are all about profit. Pure and simple. Does anyone seriously think that such hugely powerful companies are going to tell us that silver has the ability to treat people of their ailments, where antibiotics and other highly profitable drugs have failed them? No – they certainly 100% would not.

    Do you agree, Josephine, that the manufacture and selling of CS is perfectly legal in the UK, as long as it’s advertised as an antimicrobial solution? Is that correct?

    There seems to be very fuzzy opinion on the legal side of making and selling CS in the UK, but from what I can gather from other credible sources, is that it’s not illegal to make and sell CS as an antimicrobial liquid, and certainly not illegal to buy it in the UK. Can you add anything to the legal issues I’ve just raised? It would be very interesting to have your opinion on the legal side of CS, and whether it’s an illegal and banned substance. Is it completely legal to sell CS in the UK as an antimicrobial substance?

    If CS was ever truly banned (which I cannot see coming about), then I would be forced to try and make my own. Surely forcing people to make their own CS puts them at even greater risk than if they were to buy it?

    • If you were selling or advertising a medicine of any kind that does not have MHRA authorisation then that would be illegal. Although I haven’t contacted them recently, the last correspondence I had with the MHRA indicated that CS might not always be considered a medicine and they would need to consider each case individually. For example, some vendors might not be advertising medicinal properties. However, if it was sold as an alternative to antibiotics, as you suggest, then it would be an unauthorised and therefore illegal medicine. That is my understanding anyway, but if you need further clarification I suggest you contact the MHRA.

      If CS is safe and effective for any condition, I see no reason why it could not be authorised by the MHRA, mass produced and be made available legally. I don’t know of any clinical trials showing its safety and efficacy but I can see no reason why they couldn’t be conducted, if there was a good reason to do so. And if it is the sort of miracle product you believe it to be, that would certainly be a good reason.

  6. Sorry Brenda, but i=there is no evidecne that it works beyonf=d anecdote of self reported conditions. AS such those who are selling it are selling modern day snake oil, without it being tested not only for effectiveness, but also for safety. I find it pathetic that you ague that it is only the US, becuase actually what is at issue is that those selling it have no evidence that it works or that it is safe. That’s not the fault of pharma compaies, that is down to those sellign it. No matter how you tist it they should not do so until it has been properly tested, and if a pharma company was to do the same you woudl be up in arms.

    My position, evidence before sales, not evidence using anecdote after sales, is the way to go. Anyone not prepared to test their product and publish the findings for safety and efficacy prior to selling it is a charlatan in my opinion. You can beleive that the product is more than a pacebo, you can believe it is not unsafe, but only testing will show if that is actually true or whther you are being conned, and the only reasons to avoid testing is if you know you won’t pass, or if you would rather make money out of people and you don’t care if what you are selling is actually harmful. Either way CS should nto be sold for any health complaint until it has been tested for that complaint, including the safety of the dosage and the method of taking it.

  7. Fangio – no need to apologize.

    You’ve obviously never tried CS yourself. Correct? If not, then how can you confidently doubt it’s effect on infections and other conditions? I suffered the misery of sinus infections since I was a child (I’m now 42), and the only ‘treatment’ that has helped – I’ll repeat that – the ONLY thing that has helped with my sinus infections is Colloidal Silver. I suppose you’ll explain that away with a bunch of ‘placebo’ nonsense, but I’ve never heard of the will of mind being able to kill bacteria and fungus.

    You stated ‘Either way CS should nto be sold for any health complaint . . .’ , so what you’re telling me is that I should go back to suffering painful and distressing sinus infections because your wisdom is that I should not use CS? No thanks. I’ve read your ‘advice’, but I’ll choose to ignore it. I’ve used CS for a couple of years, and I’ve never had any negative effects from it. Not so the case with the super strength antibiotics that were thrown at my condition. Not only did the antibiotics not work for me, they made me feel quite ill. CS cured my infection within five days of using it, and it continues to keep infections away completely. I’m not drinking CS – I’m rinsing my sinuses with a very dilute solution of CS.

    I’ve also had friends and family try CS with amazing results. If you read my first message at the top of the page, you’ll know what I mean. I suppose those are all in the mind too? No – I’d politely advise you stop forcing your opinions on those who might try CS, as it certainly does help most people who’ve reached a dead-end with prescription drugs, and all you’re doing is scaring people from trying it for themselves. If I’d have taken your advice some time back, I’d still be stuck with the misery of chronic sinus infections – all on your say so. Well, luckily for me, I never read any of your ‘advice’, and I’m so glad of that.

    Millions of people have been using CS over many years, and most have had very beneficial effects from it. I’d say that’s quite a lot of self-testing right there. I’ve yet to read any article from a user that has had any negative reactions or side effects from it. As for long term use, countless thousands of people have used CS for decades, and are completely fit.

    No – let’s be straight here. There are certain people out there trying their best to scare people from trying CS, and the reason for this is rather obvious. Some are paid agents who’s ‘job’ it is to write hit pieces for big pharma to discredit CS, and frighten people into thinking CS is going to poison them and turn them bright blue. Utter rubbish. You’d have to consume huge amounts of silver to turn blue. Way, way beyond what is considered normal usage. Used correctly and in small amounts, no one is going to turn blue. That’s scare tactic No.1 DON’T USE COLLOIDAL SILVER! YOU WILL TURN BLUE! “Yeah, right – and you are?”

    You mentioned me being ‘pathetic’ – well, I very much doubt that, but what IS pathetic, is people being paid to discredit CS. What a lowlife way to bump-up their income. Shameful. Disgraceful. Sly.

    .

  8. It would be somewhat naive of anyone to trust that large drug companies do not pay agents or employees to discredit alternative treatments on the Internet. That’s just how big business works. Dirty tricks is simply part of their strategies. Companies don’t grow large and profitable without some kind of tactic to control potential competition.

    Would you like to comment on some of the legal issues I touched upon in an earlier comment, Josephine? I would appreciate that if you could. Are sellers breaking any EU or UK laws by selling CS as an antimicrobial solution only?

    • I expect the large drug companies are probably more worried about competition from each other rather than from the kind of dubious companies who sell colloidal silver and other unproven alternative medicines and I don’t know of anyone being paid to discredit alternative treatments. If you have any details of this, please do share. And if you are accusing me of being a paid shill why not say so?

      I’m afraid I’m no expert on the legal angle and whether or not if would be legal to sell colloidal silver as an antimicrobial solution. As I said in an earlier comment, I summarised what I know in the actual post and haven’t really looked into it since. I don’t get paid for this, after all. I imagine it would depend on whether you were selling it as a medicine and I suggest you ask the relevant authorities mentioned in the post above.

  9. Well, firstly, I haven’t accused you of being paid by anyone. Is there a reason why I should think that? If I have stated that, please point it out. And secondly, I certainly do not sell CS, as you seem to suggest in your last sentence. A rather interesting reaction to my comments, I thought.

    I think I’ve said all I want to say about Colloidal Silver. I will of course continue to use it, as I simply can’t do without it now that I’ve found out just how effective it can be.

    I will also continue to believe beyond any doubt that drug companies are out to trash CS. Inviting me to share any info (proof) of this is on the trite side. I’m not being rude – really, but it is all the same. I’m confident you’re not stupid or naive, so let’s not play the ‘proof’ game. I could retort by asking you to prove that you’re not being paid to do this, but what’s the point? As I said earlier, I haven’t directly accused you of anything of the kind.

    All big business is bent and corrupt to a degree, and if you genuinely think that’s not true, then that would go some way to explain why you cannot or will not contemplate any kind of dirty tricks being used by the larger drug companies. They are ruthless in the extreme, and generating negative rumors and disinformation about CS is important to them. They must know by now the growing number of people turning to CS as an alternative to antibiotics and antimicrobials, so does anyone genuinely believe they will just sit back and allow that to continue? They can afford to pay-off anyone involved in the media to say whatever they want to discredit CS. Money buys, and nearly everyone has their price. That is the real world we live in.

    The drug companies cannot win on this. The number of people making their own CS is snowballing. I’m tempted to try it myself, but only after reading more about it, and doing more general research on the subject. Word of mouth and the Internet will ensure that the number of users and makers will continue to grow.

    I’m certain you’ll want the last word on this, ‘Josephine’. Please – do so.

    Thank you for at least allowing me to comment here.

    .

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