For over 2000 years, silver has been used to help safeguard human health. Prior to the introduction of antibiotics, silver was used by early pharmacists and apothecaries. Today, silver is seeing a resurgence as the world seeks out more natural ways to support well-being.
Note: This information is provided for educational purposes only.
1853 – First true hypodermic syringe made entirely of silver invented
1887 – Nobel Prize Winner Emil Von Behring illustrated that 0.25% and 0.01% silver nitrate solutions were effective against typhoid and anthrax bacilli
384 B.C. to 322 B.C. – Aristotle reportedly advised Alexander the Great to boil water and store it in silver vessels to prevent waterborne diseases. ref. Russell (1994)
793 AD – 1066 AD – Vikings would apply strings of silver and copper below the waterline on the hull of their ships to prevent barnacles and the growth of algae. This practice is still in use on modern ships
1617 – FABRICIUS of Aquapendante, fed patients suffering from tetanus by inserting a small silver tube via the nasal passage.
1656 – Sir Christopher Wren, an English astronomer, mathematician, and architect, developed the technique of administering intravenous medications. The first use was for (dogs) by use of an animal bladder attached to quills to inject a nutrient solution, later silver cannula (tube with a sharpened end ) was connected to a small leather bag as a syringe-like apparatus.
1881 – The first documented ‘modern day’ medical use of silver was generally attributed to Credé for the prevention of eye infection in neonates as well as for internal antisepsis in 1901. Ref. Russell AD, Hugo WB. Antimicrobial activity and action of silver. Prog Med Chem 1994; 31: 351-70.
1884 – Crede, a German obstetrician began administering 1% silver nitrate solution on newborns to prevent blindness (3). This was the treatment of choice to prevent blindness of children born to a parent with venereal disease or post-partum infection (3). Although Searle et al. gave ample evidence that colloidal silver was superior in this regard, yet this use of silver nitrate continues to this day. “the introduction of colloidal silver by Crede* in 1896 was the first instance of the employment of a colloidal metal because of its colloidal nature.” Ref. Bechhold, H, Colloids in Biology and Medicine, translated by J. G. M. Bullow, D. New York: Van Nostrand Company;1919; p. 365.
1887 – Emil Von Behring ( Won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1901 regarding his work on serum therapy) illustrated that 0.25% and 0.01% silver nitrate solutions were effective against typhoid and anthrax bacilli, respectively. – Ref. Grier N. Silver and its compounds. In: Block SS (ed). Disinfection, Sterilization, and Preservation, Third Edition. Philadelphia, Pa.: Lea + Febiger;1983.
1888 – Variot developed a procedure using silver nitrate for disruptions of the skin surface after punctures and incisions. Ref. Variot G. Nouveau procede de destruction des tatouages. Compte-Rendu Societe Biologie (Paris). 1888;8:836.
1910-1913 – Henry Crookes documented germicidal action of silver in a manner that was widely published and acknowledged.
1913 – Dr. Henry Crookes. Additionally Dr. Crooks published the following statement: “silver in the colloidal state is highly germicidal, quite harmless to humans and absolutely non-toxic. Rather than in a chemical compound, the silver in the colloidal state may be applied in a much more concentrated form, with correspondingly better results. All virus, fungus, bacterium, streptococcus, staphylococcus, and other pathogenic organisms are killed in three or four minutes upon contact. There are no side effects whatsoever from the highest concentrations.” – Ref. Use of Colloids in Health and Disease.
February 1923 – “Pure Silver is entirely non-irritant. In tests at very high concentrations, it has been shown repeatedly that the rapidly exerted disinfectant action is of considerable therapeutic value.” – Ref. The British Medical Journal.
1928 – Katadyn of Switzerland developed a silver impregnated ceramic gravity fed water filter, used in remote areas where clean water is not readily available by NGOs, Relief Agencies, and Missionary groups and military around the world.
1965 – Moyer et al were the first to document the use of silver nitrate for the treatment of burns. They recorded pronounced antibacterial activity via the use of compresses soaked with 0.5% silver nitrate that was then applied to bad burns. Ref. Moyer CA, Brentano L, Gravens DL, Margraf HW, Monafo WW. Treatment of large human burns with 0.5% silver nitrate solution. Arch Surg 1965; 90 : 812-67.
1968 – Sulfadiazine was introduced as a formal treatment for burns and is still in use worldwide. – Ref. Moyer CA, Brentono L, Gravens DL, Margrat HW, Monafo WW. Treatment of large human burns with 0.5% silver nitrate solution. Arch Surg. 1965;90:812
1869 – Raulin recorded the first description of the water cleansing effect by silver, observing that Aspergillus niger could not grow in silver vessels.
1997 – January 16, the FDA issued new guidelines regarding colloidal silver labeling that went into effect. It was then no longer permissible to label colloidal silver as an antibiotic but was allowed to continue to be labeled and sold as a mineral supplement.
1999 – FDA finalizes rule applying to any nonprescription colloidal silver or silver salt product claimed to be effective in preventing or treating any disease. Silver products can still be sold as “dietary supplements” provided that no health claims are made for them.
2002 – The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration amended its rules so that water-treatment products containing substances like colloidal silver for which therapeutic claims are made must meet the requirements of medicines included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. This means that such products can no longer be legally marketed without proof that they are safe and effective for their intended purpose.
2015 – The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority ordered upheld a complaint against a Facebook advertisement for Salud Colloidal Silver health products that included the statement that, “Most prescription antibiotics kill only a few different disease-causing organisms, but Colloidal Silver is known to successfully kill over 650.”
Side Note Factoids:
Karl Wilhelm von Nägeli ( March 27, 1817 – May 11, 1891 ) a Swiss botanist, as a point of interest, he discovered what he called transitory cytoblasts, which are what we now know as chromosomes. The antibacterial effects of metals against bacteria and lower life-forms described by von Nageli. His scientific designation describing the intense antibacterial activity caused by minute amounts of extremely fine silver, copper as well as other metal hydrosols was dubbed oligodynamic effect.
1940s In FBI declassified document 100 – 93211. 247 dated December 21, 1949 and declassified 09/09/2004; it is recorded therein, that Alexander Goetz, Associate Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, worked with the U.S. Navy. “He helped perfect the process for conversating sea water into fresh water by the use of silverized carbon pellets,” which no doubt was of great benefit to the World War II effort, although the exact date of the development is not given in this document. It appears this knowledge was held in confidence as a strategic edge against the enemy as other references to this evolution are otherwise lacking.
As of 1939 there were 94 Proprietary silver preparations listed as in use by medical practitioners in a book titled ‘Argyria The Pharmacology of Silver; by William R. Hill, M.D. (Baltimore) The Williams & Wilkins Company; 1939. Not surprisingly, these silver preparations are inappropriately ALL listed in this ‘self-published’ book as “Proprietary Silver Compounds.” Which illustrates in a blatant manner the lack of understanding on the part of the author regarding the proper designation of the term compound, as well as a lack of necessary knowledge regarding chemistry, as evidenced by the authors’ inability to differentiate between compounds and colloids. Moreover, this also illustrates a similar lack of understanding by current-day so-called experts who reference the above work when seeking to discredit the use of colloidal silver.
This use of silver nitrate led Dr. Carl Moyer of Washington University (Head of Surgery 1951-1965) to begin experimentation. He discovered it was very useful for sterilization and went on to establish a burn unit at Barnes Hospital in 1964. In burn cases, silver compounds speed up the healing process dramatically. It is for this reason that the vast majority of burn centers across America use silver sulfadiazine today. The reason they still use a time tested silver compound in these centers is because of a simple fact. Using an antibiotic on a large damaged section of the human body would result in more harm than benefit. In some cases this results in death of the patient. However, silver sulfadiazine actually helps the patient to heal.
Indians consume large amounts of edible silver foil used to wrap sweets and betel nut products. Indians regularly buy silver-foiled sweets for weddings, special occasions and everyday snacks such as silver foil wrapped leaves for “paan masala,” a chewy concoction of betel nut and spices. Other Indian foods include an edible silver foil called Varak . In 2005, it was estimated that Indians eat around 2,75,000 kilograms (605,000 pounds) of silver foil each year. As reported by the Industrial Toxicology Research Center of India.
NASA began using a silver based water purification system in the Apollo spacecraft. This system was chosen over many others because it was light, required minimal power and eliminated bacteria successfully. These bacteria include E. coli, Pseudomonas, Legionella Pneumophila (Legionnaires’ disease), Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella, and others. This ingenuity led to the development of many commercial and industrial applications. Today many modern airlines use silver water filters to guard against water-borne diseases.
Check out this Peer Reviewed paper on Colloidal Silver, including it’s use to fight off infections: History of the Medical Use of Silver
About This Timeline’s Curator:
David Edwards is a marketing consultant and more importantly, a cancer survivor. His experience with his own encouraging recovery made a believer out of him in the benefits of Colloidal Silver.