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  • The Magic of Silver
  • Post author
    Josh Hutchison

The Magic of Silver

We are often asked why we put silver in our yarns, so today we have a short history and explanation of how silver works.

Silver is a time-tested solution to many of life's daily concerns. Silver inhibits the growth of a number of bacteria including those that cause odor, has excellent thermal properties, and is nontoxic.

The History of Silver for Medicinal Purposes

Over the past six thousand years, many civilizations have recognized the healing properties of silver - starting with the Macedonian culture which used it to cover wounds. Ancient Romans also used silver nitrate therapeutically. In the Middle Ages, the hermetic and alchemical writings of Paracelsus speak of the virtues of silver as a healing substance. “In fact, ‘born with a silver spoon in his mouth’ is not a reference to wealth, but to health. In the early 18th century, babies who were fed with silver spoons were healthier than those fed with spoons made with other metals, and silver pacifiers found wide use in America because of their beneficial health effects.”

 

Von Naegeli, the father of modern medicine, discovered in 1893 that the antibacterial effects of silver were primarily due to the silver ion itself. At about the same time, Dr. W. S. Halstead, one of the founding fathers of modern surgery, advocated the use of silver foil dressings for wounds and created the Halstead Silver Foil Bandage. At the same time, Dr. Albert Barns developed a silver colloidal medicine called Argrol. The traditional medicinal uses of silver rapidly disappeared as antibiotics were introduced and the price of the metal itself became more expensive than new treatments. Now, silver is having a renaissance due to concerns about antibiotic-resistance virus strains.

How does silver work?

All bacteria contain a semi-permeable exterior membrane. Along the membrane there are receptors and enzymes that are responsible for the cell’s respiration. Because silver ions have a positive charge, they can easily bind with the negatively charged membrane and causes the protein to unravel. The unraveling of the protein then disables the bacteria’s oxygen metabolizing enzymes. Because the enzymes are altered, the bacterium cell suffocates and dies. Silver ions are nontoxic to all animal and plant cells because the cells have a thicker, more complex outer membrane. The exterior membrane is not made of peptidoglycan nor does it have a negative charge that attracts silver ions.

How is the Silver added to Fine Silver Products?

The silver layer on the yarn fiber/fabric substrate is 99.9% pure and permanently bonded to the surface of the textile in an unique metallizing process that bonds silver on polyamide based materials. Silver is a naturally occurring element, and there are no artificial chemicals that may cause fear of toxicity. Silver fibers are the active ingredient in many FDA approved medical devices. The silver is irreversibly bonded to the polymer yarn and does not wash out. For example, ARGENTEX textiles have been tested for more than 250 washes without reduction in antibacterial effects. In fact, the hotter and wetter the environment, the more effective the silver fibers become. Wash Fine Silver Products clothing/aids according to instructions and the silver layer will continue to work for years to come.

 

SilverSpun Yarn for Pain Relief

We've received numerous unsolicited testimonials from knitters who have used our SilverSpun yarn.  Here is one of them:

I bought two skeins SilverSpun to make some fingerless mitts for my mom.  She is 91 and suffers from arthritis in both of her hands, making it harder and harder for her to knit – a lifelong passion.  I made her some fingerless mitts and she says her hands feel so much better and that she can knit with them on!  She is very excited about them.  I wanted to let you know and I will keep you posted on her comments. - NS from N. Carolina

We aren't aware of any scientific studies that prove that fabric with silver can help with arthritis and carpel tunnel pain, but there is quite a bit of evidence that other forms of silver are helpful in treating joint pain. We've heard lots of great stories from our customers on the healing powers of garments made with SilverSpun and we plan on sharing them with you in the weeks to come.

Sources:

Grosse Wundartzney {1536}, W.Pagel, Paracelsus (2d ed. 1982)

www.doulton.ca/silver.html “Silver’s Importance to Health” 5/27/2004

Halstead, W.S., Ligature and suture material: the employment of fine silk in preference to catgut and the advantages of transfixion of tissues and vessels in control of hemorrhage – also an account of the introduction of gloves, gutta-percha tissue and silver foil,

JAMA LX, 1119, 1913 Etris, Samuel. “Why Silver Kill Germs and Heals Wounds.”

Silver News from The Silver Institute. 20 May 2004

Gupta, Rani., et. al. “Microbial biosorbents: Meeting challenges of heavy metal pollution in aqueous solutions.” Current Science. Vol. 78 (25 April 2000): 967-972

  • Post author
    Josh Hutchison