In the history,
silver has been used extensively for a variety of medical purposes. Over six
millennia, it has been used as an antimicrobial infections. Its effective prevention
of almost all organisms make people trust to use it to treat numerous infections
and noninfectious conditions. Silver also has played an important role in the development
of radiology and wound healing. Before the introduction of antibiotics, silver
palyed the role as the most important antimicrobial agent available 40.
Macedonians are the
first people using silver plates in attempt to prevent or treat surgical
infections. In the past, Hippocrates used silver preparations for the treatment
of ulcers and to promote wound healing. It is seem to be that silver nitrate
also was used in medical purposes due to it was mentioned in a pharmacopeia published
in Rome in 69 B.C.E 40.
The first obvious record of silver nitrate being used as a medical
agent was reported by Gabor in 702–705. Avicenna used silver filings as a blood
purifier in 980 and also to prevent palpitations of the heart and to treat
offensive breath. In 1520s, Paracelsus used silver internally and also applied
silver nitrate for the treatment of wounds. In 1614, for the treatment of brain
infections, Angelo Sala gave silver nitrate internally as a counterirritant, as
a purgative 40.
Somewhat later 1800, silver vessels were widely accepted
for storing wine, water, milk, and vinegar stayed pure for longer periods of
time. Silver nitrate also was used successfully to treat skin ulcers, compound
fractures, and suppurating wounds, well before the time of Lister 40.
In 1891, B.C. Crede, a surgeon, is reported with being the
first to employ colloidal silver for wound antisepsis, after observing Halsted
applying silver foil to wounds to treat infections 41, 42. Topical application
of silver salts became a popular therapy. In the 1890s, Crusius used silver
nitrate for the treatment of burn injuries, well before it was rediscovered. Vonnaegele
realized that the antibacterial effects of silver were
attributable primarily to the silver ion, and did systematic studies that led
to the finding that silver was an effective antimicrobial agent for almost all
unicellular organisms (at least 650 species), but frequently not against mold
or parasites 43.
Halsted was one of the first American surgeons to advocate the
use of silver foil for wound dressings, and silver sutures often were used in
surgical incisions to prevent infections 44. The use of silver for
ophthalmologic treatment was extended considerably. Roe used a colloidal form
of silver in the successful treatment of infected corneal ulcers, interstitial
keratitis, blepharitis, and dacrocystitis 45.
Between 1900 and 1940, tens of thousands of patients
consumed colloidal silver, and several million doses of silver were given
intravenously. Whereas such therapy generally is safe, it was shown that high
doses of silver, when given parenterally, could cause convulsions or even
death, and that oral administration of huge doses could cause gastrointestinal
disturbances. In clinical practice, the gastrointestinal tract probably
was the most important site to absorb silver. Once in the body, silver can be
deposited in the majority of tissues, nerve tissue and skeletal muscle excepted
antimicrobial properties have put this element in the doctor’s bag of tricks;
according to Wounds International, silver has been used to prevent the
infection of injuries for hundreds of years. Silver doesn’t kill microbes in
its metallic form, in which it is unreactive. The metal works against bacteria
only in ion form — it must lose an electron to become positively charged. The
positively charged silver ion interferes with bacterial cell walls and disrupts
other microbial processes 27, 28, 40.
may use silver-antibiotic creams on their injuries, and some hospitals use
silver-infused dressings for skin ulcers and other wound care 31, 43. There
are debates within the field, however, about the efficacy of these dressings,
particularly after a 2010 review published in the Cochrane Database of Systemic
Reviews found that they don’t speed wound healing. A Wounds International
working group of medical professionals, however, argued in 2012 that the
dressings can be useful for localized infections 40.
time, the well-established indications for the effective use of silver were for
water purification, wound dressings for the promotion of healing, the
prevention and treatment of infection, dental hygiene (the prevention and
pyorrhea, gingivitis, and bad breath), eye conditions (primarily the prevention
of ophthalmia neonatorium), and other infectious complications 40.