Silver Continues to Sparkle in Masks, Consumer Products and Ayurveda

Masks have become a part of the wellness range of products offered by cloth merchants world over. In India, in the hosiery town of Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu, textile units have started making masks for both domestic as well as for export for global brands.

An entrepreneur and social activist from Upasana Design Studio in Auroville has made masks of organic cotton fabric infused with neem and also silver grid masks. While the benefits of neem are well known all over the world, the entrepreneur says that increasingly, silver is also being used today as it was in the past, as an anti-pathogenic, cleansing and energising agent.

“The mask made with a special textile woven with a grid of silver thread creates an energetic protection field around the wearer’s head. Through its air-ionizing action, the grid also reinforces the immune system by eliminating the positive charge of harmful free radicals in the air we breathe,” she told and Indian daily.

Silver's popularity as a bacteria killer has led to companies embedding tiny, nano-sized silver particles in running shirts, underwear, socks, shoe insoles, food cutting boards, toothbrushes and an expanding array of other "antibacterial" consumer goods.

Metallo Therapy is an age old therapy to treat various neurological disorders, diabetes, kidney disorders. Long before modern medicine and antibiotics were developed, silver has been used as an antimicrobial agent. Silver has been used as medicine for over 5000 years in the form of calcined formulation known as Rajat Bhasma. Maharishi Charaka in ‘Charaka Samhita' has written about the importance of the use of metals in medicine. Silver is one such metal that is soft, lustrous and turns white on heating without the formation of ridges and furrows. It is therefore used in the preparation of Ayurvedic formulations. Ayurveda uses silver in the form of colloidal silver. Colloidal silver is a solution of nano-sized silver particles. Colloidal silver particles have the ability to inhibit the oxygen metabolism enzyme and thereby affect the living processes of the organism. Silver is known to be used as antiviral, antibacterial, anticonvulsant. It is taken internally to treat herpes, common cold, sinusitis. Some sprays contain silver particles in them. Even ointments contain silver that is used to treat warts, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Metals used in Ayurveda are usually processed at a high temperature and powdered. This reduces the intense metallic properties and makes it suitable to be used in therapy.

A study showed that when a microbe was placed in a silver solution, the scientists observed that it not only caused the death of these organisms but these dead organisms behaved like ‘Zombies’ and were able to inhibit the growth of any other organism that came in its vicinity. This was due to the presence of the remnant silver particles in these dead organisms. Scientists are now trying to develop products that can use these dead bacteria to keep other pathogens away.

Scientific evidence on the mechanism of action of silver was not known. It was later understood that the silver ions form pores on the microbes cell wall and enter the cell disrupting the metabolic processes that result in the formation of reactive oxygen species that are harmful to the organelles of the cell. They then attack the DNA and disrupt the replication cycle.

In modern medicine, silver has been used extensively owing to its antibacterial properties. Silver was used to coat medical apparatus, surgical needles to avoid infection, and in denture materials. Silver amalgam was largely used in dentistry to fill in cavities, but this method was stopped due to the toxic effects of mercury in the mixture. Silver nanoparticles were used in wound dressings to minimise scarring and in bone implants as well. Silver promotes the natural repair processes and controls the infection and pus formation. Bandages containing silver particles infused in them are sold in the market that can be applied to wounds, bed sores to facilitate faster healing.

During the first world war, when a few antibiotics such as Penicillin, Sulfonamide were developed, the use of silver took the back seat. Currently we have many organisms that show antibiotic resistance, therefore including silver particles in the development of antibiotics can help overcome this issue. A study was conducted to study the effect of silver ion solution in E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus generated in the laundry machine, both organisms show high levels of antibiotic resistance. What was observed was that silver showed great bactericidal efficacy against both E.coli and S.aureus, with the effect being greater on E.coli than S.aureus. This could possibly be due to the thicker cell wall in S.aureus. Silver nanoparticles produced from Neem leaf extract. The nanoparticle showed great efficacy against a range of organisms from E.coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, S.epidermidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Silver leaf was used to combat infections in wounds sustained by troops during World War I. These nanoparticles can be used in different industries such as textiles, optical and electrical.

Speaking to CSP, Dr Raveendranath, an Ayurveda practitioner from Poonthottam Ayurvedasram Kerala, said that silver is used only in the form of bhasmas. His Ayurveda ashrama does not prepare the bhasmas but buys it from very trusted ayurvedic pharmacies. This silver bhasma is used mostly for the treatment of male infertility, also known as Oligospermia. It is known to increase the sperm count and motility. Silver is said to reduce the vata dosha in the koshtha, which are the large spaces or cavities in the body which accommodate the organs. For example, the thoracic cavity that holds the lungs, heart and part of the food pipe. It reduces the pitta in the sakha which indicates the limbs of the body and the kapha dosha in the area above the neck. Silver is recommended to those who suffer from vertigo. Very importantly, silver improves one's buddhi and smrti.

Silver particles find use outside the medical field as well. For years, man has used silver plates and other utensils to eat, drink and store water in. Silver has been used for storing and purifying water aboard the Apollo spacecraft, the MIR space station, and the NASA space shuttle. Captains in the ship tossed silver coins in water barrels to keep the water fresh for a long time. Silver is one such metal that resists corrosion and oxidation and it is a conductor of electricity and heat. Hence it is used in electrical appliances. Silver can be beaten into thin sheets and drawn into wires and thus finds its use in many industrial applications. It is used in film photography due to its photosensitivity.

Silver is used in switches as contacts. A plasma screen TV requires silver if it contains a silver electrode to give a better quality image. CD’s and DVD’s have a thin coating of silver in the recording layer. Silver-zinc batteries are an alternative to lithium batteries and are used in electric cars and laptop computers. Silver in fabric allows touch screen users to keep their gloves on during cold weather.

Silver paste is applied on solar panels that can capture and carry the electric current. Silver is employed in nuclear reactors to slow the rate of fission in the reactors. Silver has a high melting point and is used in engines. Steel is electroplated on silver. It is a good substitute to platinum as a catalyst in diesel engine filters. Silver is an excellent catalyst and hence is used in many chemical reactions to better the rate of the reaction.

Silver also finds its use in plumbing (silver scrap is used here and not pure silver). Silver scrap is soldered between the metal joints as it strengthens the joints and these are found in air-conditioning vents and plumbing. Silver-copper ions can be a good alternative to chlorine in swimming pools.

The most common use of silver is in jewelry and in the making of items that are required for Pujas like lamps, kumkum-turmeric holders, pancha-patre, plates, flower-baskets. The bright lustre in silver is why it is used as jewelry. Pure silver is very soft and hence it has to be alloyed with a few metals like copper to give it that tensile strength. Since silver is found abundantly, it is much cheaper than gold. Silver is used in fine dining. In many households, silver plates are used on a daily basis to have food. Silver is used in food packaging and in refrigerators.

A coating of silver is applied on windows to reflect sunlight. This allows indoor cooling which is beneficial especially during summers. It is used in the minting of coins. It has a high melting point and is malleable. This makes it perfect to be used in the minting of coins. It is still used as an investment like stocks and mutual funds.

These unique properties and uses of silver definitely makes it a one of a kind silver ring. Due to its many benefits with regard to medicine and health, fine dining may not have to exist in fancy restaurants or in gala meetings. We might as well fine dine everyday.