Using colloidal silver or silver nanoparticles to treat vaginal infections

Silver is known to have antimicrobial properties, but just how far this goes when treating vaginal infections – or any infections – has yet to be scientifically evaluated. Instead of direct vulvovaginal studies, we’ve looked at the other studies into silver nanoparticles and microbes to see what we could figure out.

Colloidal silver has had its reputation tarnished (ehem) by unscrupulous operators, a lack of quality control across products (what are you even buying?), and deliberate misinformation. Now, it’s regarded as both useful and unregulated ‘complementary medicine’, which diminishes its power immensely through lack of research into possible effective applications, including vulvovaginal infections. This might include yeast, bacteria, or viruses. In a world growing resistant to antibiotics, alternatives are in desperate need.

The use of colloidal silver as an antiseptic agent is not in doubt, but how to use it effectively in clinical situations has not really been evaluated properly, which is especially true with vaginas. Commercial colloidal silver preparations widely vary in their potential as use as a medicine, but these preparations should be seriously considered for topical use in burns, yeast infections, and dental infections. How far does this go? We’re not sure. Silver (Ag) ion or salt antimicrobial properties are well-known, however silver nanoparticles have not been fully investigated.

     What is colloidal silver or silver nanoparticles and how do they work on microbes?

Colloidal silver is a solution of water and tiny silver particles. In chemistry terms, a colloid is a mixture whereby one substance is dispersed – without dissolving – suspended in another substance. Sort of like the stars in the sky, but with silver in water.

Silver interferes with a few different areas of bacterial cell structure and function, including cell membrane integrity, respiratory chains, trans membranous energy and electrolyte transport, enzyme activities, and cell proliferation. Antibiotics cannot do all these activities. Silver is far less affected by biofilm variations and is known to decrease bacterial adhesion and destabilise the biofilm matrix by challenging intermolecular forces. Silver has broad-spectrum, high-level antimicrobial activity.

     Using colloidal silver vaginally

If you were going to use colloidal silver vaginally to treat a vulvovaginal infection, it would be best to get advice regarding the best brands of colloidal silver to use. There are a lot of people online selling colloidal silver preparations with very little to zero scientific relevance, which is a real issue when treating your vagina for an infection. What is clear is that while some preparations may not work, that colloidal silver prepared incorrectly is very unlikely to cause you any harm. This means, it’s worth a try, but we recommend finding a brand that prioritises scientific testing and consistency in their product, and trying a few brands.

Don’t dilute the mixture, and preferably keep the solution in your vagina for as long as possible by soaking a tampon in the colloidal silver solution, and leaving in overnight. You can do that as many times as you need to effect a change in your symptoms.

To make a douche, use the mixture straight or dilute a with one teaspoon of colloidal silver with a cup of warm water. Apply deeply with a douche or syringe canister. You can mix colloidal silver to other liquid ingredients if you are prescribed a douche.

     Will colloidal silver work on recurrent bacterial vaginosis and recurrent yeast infections?

We’re not sure just yet, but we’re working on it. It’s definitely worth try, but remember, consistency and persistence are key with BV and yeast.

Send us your experiences! We’d love to know how you go.

     Research into colloidal silver and microbes

     Study #1 – Bactericidal activity of colloidal silver

A Russian study looked into the bactericidal activity of colloidal silver against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in vitro. A colloidal silver solution was found to have significant bactericidal activity. Gram-negative bacteria were tested, with colloidal silver found to be quite susceptible after two hours, however gram-positive bacteria were less so, taking four hours to die.

     Study #2 – Antifungal activity (Candida albicans, Candida glabrata) of silver nanoparticles

Silver nanoparticles were tested against C. albicans and C. glabrata adhesive cells and biofilms in vitro. Silver nanoparticles were found to be fungicidal against all strains tested at very low concentrations (0.4-3.3 μg ml), and effective at reducing biofilm biomass. The biofilm effect was more effective on adhered cells rather than pre-formed biofilms in C. albicans, but not C. glabrata, which saw a reduction of 90 per cent. Silver nanoparticles were highly effective on adhered C. glabrata and its biofilms, but the effect on C. albicans was not quite as pronounced.

     Study #3 – Staphylococcus aureus biofilm activity of colloidal silver

A study looked at whether colloidal silver could break down S. aureus biofilms, finding that all concentrations (except 10 μL) of colloidal silver had a reduction in biomass of 98.9 per cent, with a maximum biomass reduction being 99.8 per cent at 100 μL and 150 μL colloidal silver solutions. The researchers concluded that colloidal silver directly reduces the biomass of S. aureus biofilms in vitro.

     Study #4 – Bacterial biofilm viability and susceptibility to antibiotics in wound dressings

A seven-day treatment model was tested in vitro in a model that mimicked a fresh wound. On the first day, all dressings used saw a significant reduction in the number of viable cells in the biofilms, and disrupted biofilm colonies. During prolonged treatment, dressings with hydrophilic base materials diminished daily and bacterial populations recovered.

Dressings with hydrophobic base materials had the efficacy that correlated with how much silver was in it. The bacteria that survived the first silver treatment were more susceptible to antibiotics, which differed to untreated biofilms, which were very tolerant of the same antibiotics. The acquired susceptibility wasn’t diminished by pretreatment with the silver dressings, but it did depend on the dressing used.

     Study #5 – Efficacy of silver particles against Proteus species

Potent silver nanoparticle suspensions were effective against Proteus over a long treatment period in a normal human volunteer in a pilot study.

     Study #6 – Silver nanoparticles synthesised from Streptomyces sp

A paper looked into the antibacterial activity of silver nanoparticles synthesised from a novel strain of Streptomyces sp. The researchers reported that the silver nanoparticles exhibited a ‘tremendous’ potential antibacterial activity against multi-drug-resistant gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.

     Study #7 – Escherichia coli and S. aureus inhibition by silver nanoparticles

Stable silver nanoparticles were investigated against yeast, E. coli and S. aureus, with yeast and E. coli inhibited at low concentrations, while the effects on S. aureus were mild.

     References