“Silver can be seen as the Trojan horse or vehicle that opens the door to antibiotics to enter the cell and cause further damage,” Morones-Ramirez said in a statement to the news media. “It's as if we have had a 'super' antibiotic cocktail behind a first aid kit where the key is made of silver.”
In the experiments on mice, researchers induced urinary tract infections, systems infections, and infections caused by bacteria build-up in a catheter. Some of the mice received no treatment, some received just silver, some received just antibiotics, and the rest received silver-antibiotics cocktails. The results showed that the cocktails worked best.
He noted that his work shows silver is safe when injected at the levels he tested. The payoff is huge—the metal boosts the antibiotics' power by as much as 1,000 times, he said.
Acccording to Morones-Ramirez, people have known about the antimicrobial benefits of silver since ancient times. “The word 'silverware' comes from silver where the Romans and Greeks saw that people who ate with silver utensils got less sick with stomach infections,” he said. “The Romans would put silver coins in water barrels to keep water sterile.”
Today, many products contain silver, including athletic and camping underwear used to block body odors from bacteria in human sweat. Some bandages and gauzes also contain silver. Colloidal silver, or silver salts, can be purchased online or at health food stores.
However, in a ruling issued in 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was not aware of any substantial scientific evidence that supports the use of over-the-counter colloidal silver or silver salts for the treatment of diseases. At the time, the FDA called for further research into its use.
A representative of the FDA did not return Healthline's request for comment.
Although there had previously been little research to demonstrate that silver has an antimicrobial effect, Morones-Ramirez said, “Our work shows clearly that it does and also serves as a way to potentiate antibiotics that we currently use. I believe the piece is a strong bridge to incorporate silver in clinical therapies after some more work regarding toxicity and pharmacokinetics (what the body does to a particular drug).”