Drinking Silver Can Turn People Blue

Shiny snake oil can make imbibers permanently blue

People will ingest a lot of weird things to stay healthy. Sometimes, like with broccoli, a food can actually offer real health benefits. Other times the supposed cures are placebos at best. But one of the strangest health remedies going on at the moment is the consumption of colloidal silver — tiny silver particles floating in liquid. Somehow people got the idea that silver has antibacterial properties that can keep them from getting sick if they drink enough of it, but recent research shows that all silver can actually do is make a person blue, literally.

“Colloidal silver isn't considered safe or effective for any of the health claims manufacturers make,” said Mayo Clinic internist Brent A. Bauer, M.D. “Silver has no known purpose in the body. Nor is it an essential mineral, as some sellers of silver products claim.”

According to Bauer, manufacturers of the shiny snake oil often claim that it can treat everything from colds to cancer, AIDS, and herpes. He maintains that drinking silver can’t actually do any of those things, but drinking enough of it can turn a person a disturbing shade of bluish gray.

According to NBC, the condition, known as argyria, is brought about by the same process that develops black and white photography.

To figure out why drinking silver turns people blue, researchers at Brown University added silver to chemical mixtures meant to simulate a human digestive system. The stomach acid turned the silver into salts, which were carried to the skin by the bloodstream. But once light hits the skin, the salts turn back into silver atoms, which make the skin look blue.

And it turns out the change is permanent. So far there’s no known way to reverse the blueifying effects of consuming too much silver, even if a person stops taking it.

Seriously, it’s probably best to just have another serving of broccoli.
 

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