Wearing silk has been associated with various healing powers like easing the symptoms of the menopause to anti-aging and recently calming recurrent vaginal thrush.
The study, a double blind clinical trial at the University of Bologna, Italy, concluded that a new range of silk underwear dramatically reduced the itching and redness that can accompany persistent and recurrent vaginal thrush. This fungal infection is common, affecting three in four women at some point in their lives, and for one in 20 it will recur more than four times a year.
The Bologna team asked half the women in its trial to try DermaSilk Intimo briefs, made from a special silk fabric developed by the Italian firm Alpretec.
After six months, about 90 per cent of the group wearing silk found their symptoms reduced, and recurrence of the infection was halved, reports the Telegraph.
Candida albicans, the yeast that causes thrush, thrives in warm, moist conditions. The briefs are made from fibroin, a medical-grade silk that absorbs excess moisture.
It is also impregnated with an antimicrobial agent that kills a wide range of bacteria and fungi on contact, including C. albicans, and never loses its full activity even with regular washing.
There is no substantial supporting research to show that silk can help women manage the menopause, but anecdotal reports of its benefits are common.
There is some scientific evidence dating back almost 20 years that may explain the benefits of silk on the skin: Swiss scientists published research in the Cosmetics and Toiletries Journal to show that sericin, the protein in silk, can adhere to the keratin (protein) in skin and hair resulting in a perceptible "homogeneous protective film".
This means silk can form a barrier layer, helping retain moisture and possibly having a plumping, anti-wrinkle effect.