Silver & Bacteria

Silver has long been used as a natural and proven antimicrobial against bacteria, fungus, mold and mildew. Silver’s safe and natural properties have been harnessed for use in wound care (especially burn treatments), water purification, bone prostheses, cardiac devices, catheters and surgical appliances.

“According to Philip M. Tierno, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at New York University Medical Center and author of The Secret Life of Germs (Atria Books 2004), he states, “Silver is a natural antibacterial that works by killing bacteria, fungi and yeast by interfering with the metabolism necessary for respiration of these microbes. It fights germs with much less fear of developing antibiotic resistance.”

Even in relatively low concentrations, biologically active silver (Ag) readily kills bacteria and fungus. There has recently been renewed interest in silver as a broad spectrum antimicrobial because of the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Silver’s Use in History

Silver has a long and documented history as an antibiotic in human health care, and has been one of the most sought-after materials globally for centuries. Silver has been seen in use as an anti-microbial as far back as 300 B.C. in ancient Greece. Other examples of silver’s beneficial use in history include:

  • Hippocrates (300 B.C) ‘The Father of Modern Medicine’ noted the beneficial use of silver in wound care.
  • The Phoenicians used to store water, wine and vinegar in silver bottles to prevent spoiling.
  • Prior to antibiotics, Silver was used widely in hospitals as a bactericide.
  • In the early 1800s, doctors used silver sutures in surgical wounds with very successful results.
  • Pioneers of the American West placed silver dollars in their casks of drinking water to keep the water safe from bacteria, algae, etc.
  • In the early 1900s people would put silver dollars in milk bottles to prolong the milk’s freshness.
  • Silver leaf was used to combat infection in wounds sustained by troops during World War I (before antibiotics).

Modern technology has incorporated silver into several different products to help kill infection and odor causing bacteria, mold and mildew. Some examples:

  • Pools, Spas and whirlpools use silver as a chlorine alternative to sanitize water systems.
  • Food packaging liners use silver to preserve food quality.

And now, Argent 47TM antimicrobial silver yarn is used in the entire Bye Bye Bacteria Corp.’s line of baby products.