Sterling Silver Information

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Medicinal Uses of Silver

Silver has a long and illustrious history of medicinal use. A brief history follows:

  • The ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome used silver to control bodily infection and prevent food spoilage. In the fifth century B.C., Hippocrates (known as the Father of Medicine) used silver to heal wounds. Medicine's dad also used silver as an ulcer treatment.

  • In the same century, the King of Persia (now known as Iran) used silver container to carry water to prevent contamination.

  • Approximately seven decades before the birth of Christ, the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote of the ability of silver to heal wounds by preventing infection. No mention was made of Neosporin.

  • In the 8th through 10th centuries, silver became a very popular treatment in the Middle East for many ailments, from cardiovascular disease to bad breath.

  • In the 16th Century, a Swiss alchemist and physician by the name of Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim (no kidding!) used silver and other elements as medicines. He is often know as the Father of Toxicology, and believed that things became poisonous in large doses He wrote, "All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes that a thing is no poison."

  • In the early 1700s, Angelus Sala used silver nitrate (AgNO3) to treat syphilis and chorea.

  • Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, it had been noticed that royalty, who consumed their food and drink from silver tableware, utensils and cups, tended to develop a bluish skin tone. (Ever heard of the phrase "blue bloods"?) This was thought to be due to the silver that entered their bodies during consumption. Furthermore, the lower rate of plague-related deaths among royalty led to the inference that silver could be protective.

  • As a result, silver became a popular material for tableware, goblets, cutlery, and food storage containers. It was believed that the silver in these items could kill germs. Russia's army likewise used silver lined containers to cleanse river water before drinking it.  Modern science has confirmed that low levels of silver in water can indeed kill some types of bacteria.

  • In America's Wild West, silver coins were placed in containers of water and milk to prevent spoilage.

  • Over the past couple of hundreds of years, scientists continued to document silver's anti-bacterial properties.

  • Virtually everyone reading this probably had a drop of silver nitrate solution dropped into their eyes to prevent blindness, in the event that mommy had a venereal disease. Indeed, our great grand parents probably got the same treatment, which became standard practices at the end of the 19th century.

  • In more recent years, silver (along with copper) has been incorporated into many water purification systems.

  • Stainless steel is used to create most surgical instruments, but fifty or sixty years ago, such instruments were made of silver, again to prevent infections.

  • At present, several companies are marketing "break through" food storage containers that include Antibacterial silver nanoparticles to prevent spoilage.  These products are touted as modern day miracles.  The King of Persia was way ahead of his time!



Index Of Articles

"Silver 101"
"Sources of Silver"

"Sterling Silver Defined'"
"Silver Standards"

"Silver Marks and Hallmarks"

"Silver Testing Kits"

"The Silversmith"
"Silver Coins"

Plating & Treatments

"Silver Plated Jewelry"
"Gold Vermeil Jewelry"
"Rhodium Plated Sterling"
"Antiqued Silver"

Fake Silver Jewelry

"Alpaca Silver Jewelry"
"German Silver Jewelry"

Silver Jewelry Styles

"Bali Silver"
"Indian Silver"
"Thai Hill Tribe Silver"
"Tibetan Silver"
"Turkish Silver"

Silver Allergies

"Silver/Nickel Sensitivities"
"Hypoallergenic Jewelry"

Recent Developments

"Argentium® Sterling Silver"

"Silver PMC®"

"The Origins of Tarnish"

"Tarnish Removal"

"Firescale (Firestain)"

"Proper Silver Storage"

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