A health writer has criticised providers of ionic silver products, saying they’re treading a “very fine line”

Health writer Jane McCredie writes in MJA InSight that an advertisement for the products, which points consumers towards pharmacies among other outlets, recently caught her eye.

“’The truth about colloidal silver and ionic silver,’ read the headline, followed by a great deal of sciencey-sounding stuff about electrical systems and nanoparticles,” she writes.

“The ad included pictures of the ionic silver products on sale – medicine bottles and a spray – which were ‘available at your local health food shops, pharmacies and health professionals’.

“A helpful list of outlets, including a number of pharmacies, occupied the bottom third of the page.”

She highlights that the advertising was “clearly” intended to wrest market share from providers of colloidal silver, but that no description of the products’ use or claimed benefits was apparent.

“There’s a reason for that. The peddlers of these kinds of potions are treading a very fine line,” writes Ms McCredie.

“They use medical-style packaging and terminology, sell through pharmacies, refer vaguely to ‘health professionals’ in their marketing, but all the while avoid making any explicit health claims.”

The manufacturer’s website also lacks specifics and claims that hundreds of testimonials cannot be published due to TGA guidelines, she writes.

“In other words, they can make their products sound as full of health benefits as they like but if they said anything about what the products are actually supposed to do, they would be considered to be making therapeutic claims, which would make them subject to regulation by the TGA.”

Ms McCredie goes on to list her three “newly formulated” Rules for Identifying Quackery:

  1. “The product cures a large number of unrelated conditions;
  2. “It was used by the ancient Egyptians/Greeks/Chinese/Amazonians … whoever; and
  3. “There is a conspiracy by the medical establishment and pharmaceutical industry to keep this miracle-working elixir from a deserving public.”

She highlights that the Mayo Clinic has stated that silver has no known purpose in the body and is not an essential mineral.

It can, however, cause argyria, a condition in which individuals become a shade of grey-blue, she warns.