Silver has been used as a healing and anti-bacterial agent by civilizations throughout the world for thousands of years. Its medical, preservative and restorative powers can be traced as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman Empires.

Long before the development of modern pharmaceuticals, silver was employed as a germicide and antibiotic.  In ancient Greece, Rome, Phoenicia, and Macedonia, silver was used extensively to control infections and spoilage.

Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” taught that silver healed wounds and controlled disease. Around 400 B.C. he listed as a singular treatment for ulcers “the flowers of silver alone, in the finest powder.”

Herodotus describes how the King of Persia carried with him water boiled in silver flagons to prevent sickness. In 69 B.C., silver nitrate was described in the contemporary pharmacopeia.

The popularity of medicinal silver especially arose throughout the Middle East from 702 A.D. through 980 A.D. where it was widely used and esteemed for blood purification, heart conditions, and used to control halitosis.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • The Greeks used silver vessels to keep water and other liquids fresh. The writings of Herodotus, the Greek philosopher, and historian, date the use of silver to before the birth of Christ.
  • The Roman Empire stored wine in silver urns to prevent spoilage.
  • The use of silver is mentioned in ancient Egyptian writings.
  • In the Middle Ages, silverware protected the wealthy from the full brunt of the plague.
  • Before the advent of modern germicides and antibiotics, it was known that disease-causing pathogens could not survive in the presence of silver. Consequently, silver was used in dishware, drinking vessels and eating utensils.
  • In particular, the wealthy stored and ate their food from silver vessels to keep bacteria from growing.
  • The Chinese emperors and their courts ate with silver chopsticks.
  • The Druids have left evidence of their use of silver.
  • Settlers in the Australian outback suspend silverware in their water tanks to retard spoilage.
  • Pioneers trekking across the American West found that if they placed silver or copper coins in their casks of drinking water, it kept the water safe from bacteria, algae, etc.
  • All along the frontier, silver dollars were put in milk to keep it fresh. Some of us remember our grandparents doing the same.
  • Silver leaf was used to combat infection in wounds sustained by troops during World War I.
  • Prior to the introduction of antibiotics, Colloidal Silver was used widely in hospitals and has been known as a bactericide for at least 1200 years.
  • In the early 1800s, doctors used silver sutures in surgical wounds with very successful results.
  • In Ayurvedic medicine, silver is used in small amounts as a tonic, elixir or rejuvenating agent for patients debilitated by age or disease.

Silver Re-discovered!  

Not until the late 1800’s did western scientists re-discover what had been known for thousands of years – that silver is a powerful germ fighter.

Medicinal silver compounds were then developed and silver became commonly used as a medicine. By the early part of the 1900s, the use of silver as an antibacterial substance was becoming widespread. By 1940, there were approximately four dozen different silver compounds on the market being used to treat every known infectious disease. These were available in oral, injectable, and topical forms.

Although there were a few flare-ups of negative publicity regarding medicinal silver in the early 1900s, (due to the overuse of certain types of protein-bound silver compounds and due to a supply of improperly prepared and unstable silver) reputable medical journal reports demonstrated that a properly prepared colloidal dispersion of silver was completely suitable with no adverse side effects.

T. H. Anderson Wells reported in the Lancet (February 16th, 1918) that a preparation of colloidal silver was “used intravenously. . . without any irritation of the kidneys and with no pigmentation of the skin.”

Bacteria killed by silver store it in their cells, making them deadly to other bacteria. Silver nanoparticles are visible inside the bacteria as white spots

The use of silver in medicine dates back thousands of years, and scientists have long known that the metal is a potent antibacterial agent. Silver ions perform their deadly work by punching holes in bacterial membranes and wreaking havoc once inside. They bind to essential cell components like DNA, preventing the bacteria from performing even their most basic functions. sciencemag.org