Colloidal silver was used widely as an antibiotic before the discovery of penicillin when it was largely replaced by what are now considered 'conventional' antibiotics. Silver has long been known to have antibiotic and antibacterial properties, and is still used today in many hospitals: wards that have had all their metal fittings replaced with silver have noted dramatically reduced levels of bacteria. Many hospital instruments are still made of silver and a chief feature of many plasters and water filters is silver.

By and large however, the practice of ingesting silver has been abandoned. However, as distrust of Big Pharma grows and fears concerning the effectiveness of so-called traditional antibiotics escalate with recent discoveries of antibiotic resistant bacteria; interest in colloidal silver has been on the rise.

The 'colloidal' in 'colloidal silver' denotes an even distribution of particles in a liquid solution. Milk is similarly colloidal as an even distribution of butterfat. Colloidal silver tends to have a very low concentration of actual silver in a solution of purified water, but maintains its effectiveness because of the colloidal nature: it means there is a much greater surface area for the silver to make contact with the bacteria due to being evenly spread. The same principle is being used in the development of nano-foods: making salt saltier by changing its molecular structure so that more of the salt makes contact with our tongue.

Colloidal silver spray is at present, particularly popular with singers who sometimes use it to ensure the health of their throat (and thus their voice) with a couple of quick sprays. However, it can be used externally on wounds to disinfect them just as much as it can be used internally.

Some people claim that bacteria cannot mutate into silver resistant strains as they can with pharmaceutical antibiotics, and as such, interest in colloidal silver may extend beyond singers and natural health enthusiasts who are the most likely candidates at present to buy colloidal silver. There is a side effect to ingesting too much silver: your skin may turn blue. However, the concentration of silver in colloidal silver spray is so low that it is unlikely to cause this to happen.

Of course, before embarking on any treatment one should consult a doctor. However, as scientists predict at least a ten year window where we are defenceless against certain strains of bacteria, perhaps it might be time to resurrect the alternative antibiotic: colloidal silver.