Before the days of antibiotics, silver was the most common treatment for a variety of infections, burns, and diseases. Elemental, or colloidal, silver was well documented as a disinfectant in ancient Rome and Greece. It has more recently proven effective as an agent to maintain potable water on NASA shuttles. Silver ions, or free silver radicals, have antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties that promote tissue healing. According to the Merck online library, people turn to natural infection alternatives to avoid allergies, negative side effects, and bacterial resistances associated with antibiotics. The most important challenge is delivering the positive benefits of silver to the wound without incurring some of the risks associated with the toxic complexes often used as delivery methods.
Know what kind of silver to use. While silver has been shown to increase healing through its antimicrobial properties, many of the compounds used to carry the silver may be caustic to skin tissue. Silver sulfadiazine, for example, is a water-soluble cream used primarily for small burns and wounds that penetrate no more than a few millimeters. The sulfadiazine counteracts the silver's healing properties, however, causing a slowed rate of healing and even bone marrow toxicity. Silver salts, like silver nitrate, are more easily available and slightly safer. Nitrate can also act as an oxidant toxin to healing cells, especially in doses of 2 percent or higher. Look for a 0.5 percent solution for a less toxic antimicrobial for wounds.
Find the safest and most potent silver delivery systems available. Electrically charged colloidal silver solutions and silver-releasing bandages are available at many health food stores and online retailers. Colloidal silver solutions are reported to decrease wound inflammation and act as a strong antibacterial. According to BurnSurgery.org, "Elemental or ionic silver (colloidal silver) without an added attached compound has historically produced the best wound healing and antibacterial results." Acticoat is a wound dressing containing layers of silver-coated gauze. This more recent method is proving effective at killing pathogens and decreasing inflammation without toxicity. The slow-release bandage is a pure delivery method that controls odor and heals wounds rapidly. A 2008 Mayo Clinic study showed a 97 percent healing rate as well as reduced discomfort.
Apply the dressing or solution as directed by the label or by your doctor or naturalist. Silver solutions become unstable in light, so the solution must be stored in a tinted container, applied topically, and covered immediately with a bandage. Monitor the wound and change the dressing if necessary. Keep the wound moist with good drainage and clear of slough and debris. Wet the Acticoat bandage with sterile water to keep it active and potent for up to seven days. If the wound is not healed within seven days, repeat the process for as many days as necessary.
Read labels and be sure you are getting as close as possible to pure silver.
The silver used for healing is the same element found in silver jewelry and tableware, but collodials contain finely dispersed ions, so the proper amount for healing is quite affordable.