How is silver used today in medical applications?
As previously mentioned, silver is used in surgical implants and in the studs of earrings placed in newly pierced ears to prevent infection. Silver is used to "sanitize hundreds of thousands of swimming pools worldwide" (reducing the amount of chlorine required for the suppression of bacteria.) "More than 125 leading hospitals in the US have installed silver/copper ionization systems, which have been successful in eradicating L. pneumophila from their hot water systems. Silver/copper ion sanitation systems which carry the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency and/or the Food and Drug Administration, and certified for performance by the National Sanitation Institute International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, are available in the marketplace."
"Silver has also had a significant impact on the treatment of burns. Twenty years ago it was common for the wounds of severly burned patients who become infected, which delayed healing and sometimes led to death. Today silver sulfadiazine is used by hospitals worldwide to kill bacteria allowing the body time to restore the area naturally. Sulfadiazine is a known antibacterial agent. Combined with silver, studies show it is at least 50 times more active than other antibacterial agents. 'Silvadene' now is the most widely used topical treatment for burn therapy. Other silver compounds also are being developed for use wherever silver sulfadiazine proves ineffective."
"Silver also has been successfully used to grow new skin on accident victims, including restoration of fingertips with the original fingerprint" "In a treatment developed by Mountain Medical Specialties of Lakemont, GA, a silver-coated fabric is used to cover the wound. A miniature battery is connected to the fabric to begin a flow of silver ions to encourage normal skin growth and eliminate bacteria which generally prevents complete regeneration of the skin and nerve function." Silver treated sutures are also being developed for surgical applications.
"Silver-based water purification units for the home have been in use in Europe for more than 50 years. Today Brita Products Company markets a silver-impregnated activated carbon filter containing ionexchange resins. This filter meets the National Sanitation Foundation Standards covering bacteriostatic efficacy, the reduction of lead, copper, and particulates and the reduction of taste and odor. It also has the approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a bactericidal unit." Silver water purification systems are also reportedly used by NASA aboard the space shuttle and by major airlines on commercial flights.
"Tests by researchers at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences show that silver and copper ions added to oyster tanks destroy harmful bacteria in the water without affecting the oysters. Once oysters are harvested from the ocean, they are cleaned in 'depuration' tanks which are prone to bacteria infiltration. Silver ions added to the water destroy bacteria and copper ions kill fungus, making an inexpensive and environmentally friendly combination for keeping oyster tanks clean. 'Silver and copper ionization is the perfect solution,' says Richard Ganim, president of Superior Aqua Enterprises in Sarasota, Florida."
"'The applications for ionization are almost endless,' Ganim said. Currently ionization is used by chicken farmers to reduce bacteria and fungus without affecting the health of the chickens. 'We think this system will also work for citrus growers' who routinely spray their trees with chemicals."
The quotes above are all from the article, "Silver's Increasing Importance To Health", The Silver Institute, February 28, 1997 In another article, the Silver Institute looks at the increasing applications forcasted for the future. This article, "Silver's Use as a Biocide Expected to Escalate Through 2006" January 16, 2001, contains the following information:
"Demand for silver in biocide applications is forecast to double over the next six years." And this report also states "that global use of silver as a biocide or bacteristat in polymeric formulations is projected to rise by 600% . . . by 2006." Polymeric applications involve adding silver to liquid plastics in the molding process to increase the resistance to germs.
This article also states that Japan is leading the development of silver-based biocides, including incorporating these in textiles such as automobile interiors. "Other consumer products for which silver is being evaluated as a biocide are dishtowels, scrubbing pads, and fabric products, such as pillowcases that collect dust mites. Silver biocides are also being researched, and in some cases being marketed, for the control of odor generating organisms in shoes and clothing."
From Colloidal Silver: Medical Uses, Toxicology, & Manufacturing, Chapter 1, "Brief History of Silver and Silver Colloids in Medicine": "Recently, with the development of antibiotic resistance in many diseases and the increase in the new strains of bacteria and viruses worldwide, there is renewed interest in silver. Large companies are developing and introducing new compounds for a variety of anti-microbial applications, including protection against the spread of the AIDS virus."
"Another application for silver in medicine has been approved by the FDA. A.B. Flick, M.D., founder of Argentum Research, Inc., has developed a line of bandages and wound dressings in which the fibers are plated with silver. These dressings are germicidal, analgesic, and facilitate healing. The effects of the silver from these bandages is local only and not systemic. Dr. Flick has gone through the necessary steps to secure approval by the FDA for these products."