Home Health & Wellness From Man to Smurf: The Shocking Story of a Blue-Skinned Self-Medicating Patient

From Man to Smurf: The Shocking Story of a Blue-Skinned Self-Medicating Patient

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In a desperate attempt to alleviate his painful dermatitis and other health conditions, Paul Karason resorted to a silver compound mix that eventually turned his skin entirely blue.

Recently resurfaced, his striking appearance serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of self-medicating with dietary supplements

Paul, a man with a longing for better health, stumbled upon an ad in a new age magazine promising rejuvenation and health benefits from a homemade silver colloidal mixture. Without second thoughts, he began drinking the liquid mixture, not knowing its potential danger. Soon, he discovered his skin turning blue – a transformation he didn’t even notice until a friend pointed it out. 

Inside Edition interviewed Paul, who had not seen a friend in a while. The friend commented on Paul’s appearance, prompting him to reveal that he was born with fair skin and red hair but now had blue skin. Although being blue had its advantages, such as never getting sunburned, Paul found the attention he received from looking different to be uncomfortable. When asked if he would prefer to return to his previous appearance, Paul expressed uncertainty.

In 2008, Paul and his then-girlfriend Jackie Northrup appeared on the TODAY show. She shared that Paul did not appreciate being called “Papa Smurf”, although the children said it would bring a smile to his face. Unfortunately, Paul’s personal life went downhill years after gaining notoriety for his blue skin.

Paul Karason faced several challenges, including difficulty finding employment, a broken engagement, and health issues such as prostate cancer and heart problems. In 2012, he lost his home in Madeira, California, and had to move to his hometown of Bellington, Washington, where he resided in a homeless shelter. However, upon his return, he reconnected with a former schoolmate, Jo Anna Elkins. The couple moved in together and later married.

Unfortunately, in September 2013, Paul Karason passed away at the age of 62 while receiving treatment for pneumonia and a heart attack at a Washington hospital. His estranged wife, Jo Anna Karason, revealed that he had also suffered a stroke. Paul’s use of colloidal silver, a suspension of silver in a liquid base (in his case, distilled water), gained notoriety. Silver has antibacterial properties and has been utilised for centuries to combat infections, but its usage declined with the development of more potent antibiotics like penicillin.

Despite its declining usage, silver was still present in some over-the-counter medicines until 1999. But the FDA banned its use due to its association with argyria, a condition that occurs when silver reacts with light in a similar manner to photography.

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Image credit: Kevyn Jacobs


Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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