Brief History of Silver as an Antimicrobial

Brief History of Silver as an Antimicrobial

BioClad hygienic wall cladding uses silver ions to create the antimicrobial affect but silver has been used for its antibacterial properties for thousands of years. The Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, Macedonians and ancient Chinese are all known to have used silver for hygiene & medicinal properties.

Silver Cup

One of the earliest known uses of silver for its antibacterial properties was the Phoenicians using silver vessels to store water, wine and vinegar to preserve and purify as early as 1500 BC. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, often referred to as the father of modern medicine, wrote about the healing properties of silver, proscribing “the flowers of silver alone, in the finest powder” for ulcers.

 silver Coins

Silver was utilised by the Roman Empire, legions would keep silver coins in their water vessels when travelling, the early US settlers would drop a silver dollar in their milk to stop it turning a technique used by sailors until the advent of refrigeration. Throwing a coin into a well for good luck starts to make more sense.

Use of silver for health reasons has even entered into common language. Being born with a silver spoon in your mouth was not just fortuitous for your parents’ wealth, but you were likely to be far healthier than those eating with wooden utensils. You would also be alerted by a chemical reaction with the silver if your food contained arsenic.

Although use of silver declined with the invention of antibiotics, advances in technology are now allowing us to utilise this ancient principle in new and inventive ways.

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