Man Nicknamed ‘Papa Smurf’ Turned Himself Blue With Supplement He Continued Taking Until His Death

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Even with our medical advancements, some people prefer more ancient methods for dealing with their maladies, even if it has certain side effects that a more modern solution would have avoided.

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Bad For Our Health

We’ve all been caught up in a habit that, even though it displayed some adverse effects, we were convinced was better than it was bad for us. That, or we’d already lost so much time to it, and that sunk cost fallacy got to our heads so we refused to let it go.

A still of Papa Smurf from the 2011 movie The Smurfs.
Sony Pictures via MovieStilllsDB
Sony Pictures via MovieStilllsDB

It’s hard to kick a habit, even a bad one, and no one would know this better than a man named Paul Karason who would come to be called ‘Papa Smurf.’

Immediate Interest

Karason, originally from Washington, was born a fair-skinned, freckled, reddish-blond man and had remained so until he saw an ad one day.

Karason before he began using his silver mixtures.
YouTube / Inside Edition
YouTube / Inside Edition

He was interviewed by ABCNews in 2008, wherein he told them his story. A new-age magazine published an ad “promising health and rejuvenation through colloidal silver.”

He bought in immediately. He started making and drinking 10 oz of the colloidal silver, which he would dissolve in water every single day. After a while, he also began rubbing a colloidal silver solution on his face.

Historical Evidence

It’s worth noting that he was doing these things to treat chronic sinus, dermatitis, and acid reflux problems he’d been dealing with for some time (among other things). Silver indeed does have antibacterial properties that humans have used to fight infections for millennia now, but by the time he started his at-home treatment, there was highly-effective and doctor-approved penicillin he could have been using instead. Still, he chose the silver mixture.

Karason during one of his TV appearances, looking down and away from the camera, appearing concerned.
YouTube / Inside Edition
YouTube / Inside Edition

He claims the mixtures did cure him of all his ailments. “The acid reflux problem I’d been having just went away completely,” he said. “I had arthritis in my shoulders so bad I couldn’t pull a T-shirt off. And the next thing I knew, it was just gone.”

Unexpected Side-Effects

However, it was also having another extreme effect on his body. It was turning his skin blue.

Karason during one of his TV appearances, wherein the host is holding his hand to Karason's face to show the difference in hue.
YouTube / Inside Edition
YouTube / Inside Edition

He said he didn’t even know it was happening until an old friend of his came to visit.

“He looks at me and he says, ‘What have you got on your face?’ ‘I don’t have anything on my face!'” Karason said. “He says, ‘Well, it looks like you’ve got camouflage makeup on or something.’ And by golly, he came in and he was very fair-skinned, as I used to be. And that’s when it hit me.”

Pop Culture Lookalike

The condition is called argyria and is caused by the use of certain dietary supplements. He had a brief moment of fame in that year of 2008 when he did a number of interviews and TV appearances discussing his life as a blue man.

Karason during one of his TV appearances, sitting next to his wife.
YouTube / Inside Edition
YouTube / Inside Edition

One fact he’d touch on was the nickname he’d earned, Papa Smurf. His estranged wife, Jo Anna Karason, said it was hit or miss with him.

“That was a nickname he didn’t appreciate, depending on who said it,” she said. “If it was a kid who ran up to him saying ‘Papa Smurf,’ it would put a smile on his face. But if it was an adult, well…”

Dedication To His Drink

After his internet and social virality, he turned to a reclusive life, preferring solitude and a life out of the limelight. He continued taking his silver mixtures despite the change in his appearance, believing the other health benefits outweighed his heavy blue tint.

Karason during one of his TV appearances, drinking from a mug.
YouTube / Inside Edition
YouTube / Inside Edition

He passed away a few years after his 15 minutes of fame at the age of 62. He had been admitted to a Washington hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was found to also have pneumonia and would later suffer a severe stroke while in the hospital’s care. Jo Anna reported that he’d had heart issues for years, though no one specific cause of death was immediately determined.

Until The End

“He has been too ill to work for a while,” Jo Anna said, also sharing that Karason spent the last couple of years reading historical books and watching the History Channel.

Karason during one of his TV appearances, appearing surprised or perplexed.
YouTube / Inside Edition
YouTube / Inside Edition

“He didn’t like to go out in public much — only when he thought he needed to, like to go to the bank or to pick up tobacco.”

Karason continued taking his silver mixtures until his death. He was recorded saying that “there was not the slightest doubt in my mind,” that colloidal silver cured him of his illnesses.

Daniel Mitchell-Benoit

Dan is a content writer with three years of experience under their belt, having mostly covered viral media but now shifting toward spirituality and astrology. He’s a strong believer in using one’s beliefs as a means of self-improvement and being in touch with whatever messages the universe has to offer.

He can’t wait to share his insights with a[…]