Has silver been used for its health benefits for long? Or is this a recent find?

Silver has been used as medicine and a preservative by many cultures throughout history, for at least a thousand years. Greeks used silver vessels for water purification. Pioneers trekking across the west used it to keep their water safe and prevent dysentery, colds, and flu. They actually put silver dollars in their milk containers and wooden water casks to retard the growth of bacteria. Settlers in the Australian outback suspend silverware in their water tanks to retard spoilage.

Nowadays, silver water purification filters are used in Switzerland, as well as in international airliners and some swimming pools. Medicinal silver compounds using its germicidal properties were first developed in the late 1800s; the use of silver compounds and colloids was widespread by 1930. In 1940 there were approximately 48 different silver compounds being marketed to treat virtually every infectious disease known to man. These were available in oral, injectable, and topical forms. They carried such names as: Albargin, Novargan, Proganol and Silvol. (9) Since 1973, silver has been shown to have topical activity against 22 bacterial species (643 isolates) including gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. (10) Most recently, a Silver Sol gel has been approved by the FDA in July 2009.

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