What does copper do for the body

The History of Copper Before it was recognized that microorganisms existed, citizens of the early Roman Empire used copper piping to improve public hygiene. They observed that water delivered through copper was safe to drink and that copper utensils and cookware helped to prevent the spread of disease. Much later, after microbes were discovered and the germ theory of infection linked bacteria and other microorganisms to infection and disease, scientists began to understand how copper’s antimicrobial properties could be harnessed to provide additional benefits.

Today, the antimicrobial uses of copper have been expanded to include fungicides, pesticides, antimicrobial medicines, oral hygiene products, hygienic medical devices and antiseptics. You Cannot Live without It.

Copper is one of a relatively small group of metallic elements which are essential to human health. These elements, along with amino and fatty acids as well as vitamins, are required for normal metabolic processes. However, as the body cannot synthesize copper, the human diet must supply regular amounts for absorption. Copper is minuscule in small amounts and is actually a nutrient.

Copper assists in the formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells, it is involved in forming pigments in your body’s natural hair colour. Copper is also involved in enzymes for digestion, protein metabolism and in healing processes necessary for proper bone formation and maintenance, it’s also necessary for the RNA (Ribonucleic acid) in all of your cells. Without copper your body can’t make new cells. It’s also involved in the formation of elastin, the healthy, youthful skin and chief component of the elastic muscle fibres throughout the body. Your body actually NEEDS copper.

Do You Get Enough? Until recently, it was generally believed that most people consumed adequate quantities of copper. However, modern research has shown that only 25% of the U.S. population consume the amount of copper a day estimated to be adequate by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. It is now recommended by The National Research Council that a minimum daily intake of 2 mg/day of copper for adults is required. Copper can be found in green leafy vegetables, salads, almonds, whole-grain products, liver, seafood, avocados, barley, garlic, nuts, beets and lentils. Oysters are the richest source of copper.

Deficiency Symptoms

Deficiency of copper can have the following symptoms within human beings:

  • Anemia
  • Low body temperature
  • Brittle bones
  • Osteoporosis
  • Dilated veins
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Uneven heart beat
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Low resistance to infections
  • Birth defects
  • Low skin pigmentation
  • Thyroid disorders

Some other symptoms include lethargy, paleness, sones, egema, stunted growth, hair loss, anorexia, diarrhoea, bleeding under the skin and dermatitis. In infant boys, inherited copper deficiency of Mankes syndrome can happen rarely where natural absorption of copper becomes impossible. Early medical intervention is vital in such cases.

Facts about Copper

Copper has many important roles to play in maintaining a healthy body and some of these benefits include the following:

Arthritis: The health benefits of copper relate to its anti-inflammatory actions to assist in reducing the symptoms of arthritis. Market is also flooded with copper bracelets as well as other accessories for the cure of this disease. Copper also works as a home remedy for arthritis i.e. water stored in a copper container overnight accumulates copper traces which are beneficial to strengthen the muscular system.

Proper growth: Copper is highly essential for normal growth and health. Thus, it is definitely important to include this mineral in balanced form in regular diets of an individual. It is helpful in protection of skeletal, nervous and cardiovascular systems.

Pigmentation to hair and eyes: Copper is a vital element of the natural dark pigment, melanin, which imparts coloration to skin, hair, and eyes. Melanin can be produced by melanocytes only in the presence of the cuproenzyme called tyrosinase. Intake of copper supplements helps in protecting the greying hair.

Connective tissues: Copper is an important nutrient that has a significant role in the synthesis of haemoglobin, myelin, body pigment melanin and collagen. It helps to protect the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves. It is also actively involved in the production of an element of connective tissue, elastin.

Brain Stimulation: Copper is widely known as a brain stimulant. It is also otherwise called “Brain food”. However, copper content in the diet has to be in right proportions. Too much of copper is also not healthy for the brain. Copper has a control function to play for the brain and hence the extent of copper supplement intake has to be balanced.

Utilization of iron and sugar: Copper helps in the absorption of iron from the intestinal tract and release from its primary storage sites like liver. It also helps in the utilization of sugar in the body.

Enzymatic reactions: Copper is either an element or a cofactor of as many as 50 different enzymes that take part in various biological reactions within the body. These enzymes can function properly only in the presence of copper.

Helps with anti ageing: Copper is a strong antioxidant, which works in the presence of the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase, to safeguard the cell membranes from free radicals.

Increases energy production: Copper is essential for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate, which is an energy storehouse of the human body. The cuproenzyme, cytochrome c oxidase, affects the intracellular energy production. It acts as a catalyst in the reduction of molecular oxygen to water, during which the enzyme produces an electrical gradient used by the mitochondria to synthesize the vital energy-storing molecule, ATP. Therefore, when we have enough copper in our bodies, we will have enough functional and accessible energy to get through the day without feeling lethargic or tired.

Bactericidal properties: Studies have shown that copper can destroy or inhibit the growth of bacterial strains such as E Coli.

Thyroid glands: Copper has an important role in ensuring the proper functioning of thyroid glands.

Red Blood Cell Formation: Copper is essential in the production of red blood cells, hemoglobin, and bone matter. This is because copper is partially responsible for the efficient uptake of iron from food sources.

Immunity: Copper is a vital part of the healing process and ensures better wound healing. Copper acts as an extremely good immunity builder, and it also works as a cure for anemia, which will allow your body to both defend itself better and heal itself faster. Copper is a co-factor in various enzymatic processes that result in endothelial growth, or the healing process of tissue.

Reduces Cholesterol: Research studies have shown that copper can reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and help to increase beneficial cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). This lowers the chances of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

Copper for Medical Use

The first recorded medical use of copper is found in the Smith Papyrus, one of the oldest books known. The Papyrus is an Egyptian medical text, written between 2600 and 2200 B.C., which records the use of copper to sterilize chest wounds and to sterilize drinking water. Other early reports of copper’s medicinal uses are found in the Ebers Papyrus, written around 1500 B.C. The Ebers Papyrus documents medicine practiced in ancient Egypt and in other cultures that flourished many centuries earlier. Copper compounds were recommended for headaches, “trembling of the limbs” (perhaps referring to epilepsy or St. Vitus’ Dance), burn wounds, itching and certain growths in the neck, some of which were probably boils. Forms of copper used for the treatment of disease ranged from metallic copper splinters and shavings to various naturally occurring copper salts and oxides. A “green pigment” is spoken of which was probably the mineral, malachite, a form of copper carbonate. It could also have been chrysocolla, a copper silicate, or even copper chloride, which forms on copper exposed to seawater. In the first century A.D., Dioscorides, in his book De Materia Medica, described a method of making another green pigment known as verdigris by exposing metallic copper to the vapors of boiling vinegar. In this process, blue-green copper acetate forms on the copper surface. Verdigris and blue vitriol (copper sulfate) were used, among other things, in remedies for eye ailments such as bloodshot eyes, inflamed or “bleary” eyes, “fat in the eyes” (trachoma?), and cataracts.

In the Hippocratic Collection (named for, although not entirely written by, the Greek physician Hippocrates, 460 to 380 B.C.), copper is recommended for the treatment of leg ulcers associated with varicose veins. To prevent infection of fresh wounds, the Greeks sprinkled a dry powder composed of copper oxide and copper sulfate on the wound. Another antiseptic wound treatment at the time was a boiled mixture of honey and red copper oxide. The Greeks had easy access to copper since the metal was readily available on the island of Kypros (Cyprus) from which the Latin name for copper, cuprum, is derived.

By the time the Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus began practicing medicine, during the reign of Tiberius (14 to 37 A.D.), copper and its derivatives had been firmly established as an important drug in the medical practitioner’s pharmacopoeia. In Celsus’ series, De Medicina, books one through six list many purposes for which copper was used together with the preparation and the form of copper most effective for each ailment. For the treatment of venereal disease, for example, Celsus prescribed a remedy consisting of pepper, myrrh, saffron, cooked antimony sulfide, and copper oxide. These were first pounded together in dry wine and when dry, once again pounded together in raisin wine and heated until dry. For a non-healing chronic ulcer, treatment consisted of copper oxide and other ingredients including enough rose oil to give a soft consistency.

Pliny (23 to 79 A.D.) described a number of remedies involving copper. Black copper oxide was given with honey to remove intestinal worms. Diluted and injected as drops into nostrils, it cleared the head and, when taken with honey or honey water, it purged the stomach. It was given for “eye roughness,” “eye pain and mistiness,” and ulceration of the mouth. It was blown into the ears to relieve ear problems.

In the New World the Aztecs also used copper for medical purposes. Don Francisco de Mendoza commissioned two learned Aztec Indian physicians to record the pharmacological treatments known by the Aztecs at the time of the Conquest. For the treatment of “Faucium Calor” (literally, heat of the throat, or, sore throat) they prescribed gargling with a mixture of ingredients containing copper.

Copper was also employed in ancient India and Persia to treat lung diseases. The tenth century book, Liber Fundamentorum Pharmacologiae describes the use of copper compounds for medicinal purposes in ancient Persia. Powdered malachite was sprinkled on boils, copper acetate as well as and copper oxide were used for diseases of the eye and for the elimination of “yellow bile.” Nomadic Mongolian tribes treated and healed ulcers of venereal origin with orally administered copper sulfate.

Turning to more modern times, the first observation of copper’s role in the immune system was published in 1867 when it was reported that, during the cholera epidemics in Paris of 1832, 1849 and 1852, copper workers were immune to the disease. More recently copper’s role in the immune system has been supported by observations that individuals suffering from Menke’s disease (an inherited disease in which there is defective copper absorption and metabolism) generally die of immune system-related phenomena and other infections. Further, animals deficient in copper have been shown to have increased susceptibility to bacterial pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria. Evidence such as this has led researchers to suggest strongly that copper compounds not only cure disease but also aid in the prevention of disease.

In 1885, the French physician, Luton, reported on using copper acetate in his practice to treat arthritic patients. For external application he made a salve of hog’s lard and 30% neutral copper acetate. For internal treatment, he used pills containing 10 mg. of copper acetate. In 1895, Kobert published his review of the pharmacological actions of copper compounds. Copper arsenate had been used to treat acute and chronic diarrhea as well as dysentery and cholera. A variety of inorganic copper preparations were found to be effective in treating chronic adenitis, eczema, impetigo, scorphulosis, tubercular infections, lupus, syphilis, anemias, chorea and facial neuralgia. An organic complex of copper developed by Bayer was shown to have curative powers in the treatment of tuberculosis. Copper treatment for tuberculosis continued until the 1940s, and various physicians reported on their success in using copper preparations in intravenous injections.

In 1939, the German physician, Werner Hangarter, noticed that Finnish copper miners were unaffected by arthritis as long as they worked in the mining industry. This was particularly striking since rheumatism was a widespread disease in Finland, and workers in other industries and other towns had more rheumatic diseases than did the copper miners. This observation led Finnish medical researchers plus the Germans, Hangarter and Lübke, to begin their now classic clinical trials using an aqueous mixture of copper chloride and sodium salicylate. They successfully treated patients suffering from rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis, neck and back problems, as well as sciatica.

Until recently, just as in Pliny’s time, the medical profession used copper sulphate as a means to clinically induce vomiting. This is based on the fact that one of the body’s natural physiological responses to prevent copper intoxication is vomiting. A Manual of Pharmacology and its Applications to Therapeutics and Toxicology, published by W. B. Saunders Company in 1957 recommends the use of 0.5 gram of copper sulphate, dissolved in a glass of water, in a single dose, or three doses of 0.25 gram fifteen minutes apart, for this purpose.

Since 1934, it has been known that individuals suffering from such diseases as scarlet fever, diphtheria, tuberculosis, arthritis, malignant tumours and lymphogranulomas exhibit an elevation of copper in their blood plasma. Since then, the list of maladies bringing about such elevation has been extended to fever, wounds, ulcers, pain, seizures, cancers, carcinogenesis, diabetes, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, and irradiation and tissue stresses, including restricted blood flow. This suggests that this redistribution of copper in the body has a general role in responding to physiological, disease, or injury stress. On the other hand, the elevation of copper in the affected organ has led some to postulate that it was this excess of copper that caused the disease. Nonetheless, this elevation of copper in diseased states is suggested to account for the natural synthesis of copper-dependent regulatory proteins and enzymes in the body required for biochemical responses to stress. It may be that these natural copper complexes expedite the relief of stress and the repair of tissues. Thus, it appears that in addition to the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity of inorganic copper compounds as recognized by the ancients, metallo-organic complexes of copper have medicinal capabilities that are fundamental to the healing process itself.

Copper is known to be an essential element in human metabolism. However, copper does not exist in the body in measurable amounts in ionic form. All measurable amounts of copper in the body exist in tissues as complexes with the organic compounds of proteins and enzymes. Therefore, it has been concluded that copper becomes and remains intimately involved in body processes. Some copper complexes serve to store copper, others to transport it, and yet others play important roles in key cellular and metabolic processes. Studies into the roles that these copper complexes play and the mechanisms of these roles have further confirmed that copper enters into the prevention and control of a number of disease states in the body. As will be discussed below, the key to the effective use of copper-based pharmaceuticals is not the use of inorganic compounds of copper, as used by the ancients, but rather the use of metallo-organic complexes or chelates of copper. The process of chelating metals allows them to be smuggled in the transport process across the intestinal wall and thereby enter into the mainstream of nutrient flow and usage in the body.

The first modern research on the subject of copper medicinal substances was by Professor John R. J. Sorenson, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, who, in 1966, demonstrated that copper complexes have therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of inflammatory diseases using doses that are nontoxic. Since then, copper metallo-organic complexes have been used to successfully treat patients with arthritic and other chronic degenerative diseases. More than 140 copper complexes of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (aspirin and ibuprofen, for example) have been shown to be more active than their parent compounds. Copper aspirinate has been shown not only to be more effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis than aspirin alone, but it has been shown to prevent or even cure the ulceration of the stomach often associated with aspirin therapy. Based on these experiences, the work of Professor Sorenson and other researchers around the world has progressed into the medicinal benefits of organic complexes of copper in a number of disease states. This work, thus far mainly based on animal research, has opened a whole new vista both into the understanding of copper’s many-fold role in the body and in the practicality of using supplementary copper in the treatment of wound healing and inflammation-related disease states.

Copper used for Anti Ageing

The use of copper compounds for healing and beautification has ancient precedents. Queen Nefertiti, who ruled Egypt around 1350 B.C., started a fashion trend by painting her eyes with bold colors, including green from malachite, a copper oxide. This use might have been prompted by teachings at the time about copper’s role in skin care and wound healing, which was cited in the Ebers Papyrus, the world’s oldest known book, written in approximately 1550 B.C. Later physicians noted the use of copper compounds to treat skin diseases and infections in the Hippocratic Collection (460 to 380 B.C.), De Medicina (14-37 A.D) and Pliney’s Historia Naturalis (23-79 A.D.).

Today, scientists are learning that the introduction of copper peptides (proteins containing copper ions) into the skin through creams and lotions dramatically improves skin tone and elasticity, according to Loren Pickart, Ph.D. He has been researching anti-aging processes since the 1970s and is credited with his work on the healing aspects of a peptide complex called GHK-Cu (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine: copper (II)), which is naturally found in the body. “Copper peptides trigger a response that actually removes skin damage and replaces it with newer skin,” he explains. Scientists refer to this improvement as “activating the remodeling process.”

Pickart, who owns and distributes a skin cream product line, “Skin Biology,” isn’t the only one extolling the virtues of using copper peptides in creams to improve skin. Neutrogena®, a Johnson & Johnson product, introduced the “Visibly Firm” line of cosmetics containing copper peptides after studying its efficacy.

James J. Leyden, a professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of the school’s Skin Study Center, conducted the study for Johnson & Johnson. He found that, “Products containing GHK-Cu, including a facial cream, eye cream and foundation, result in rapid improvement in skin condition, including reduction in the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, roughness, sallowness (a sickly yellowish skin color), laxity and hyperpigmentation (brown spots).”

Skin elasticity, thickness and firmness were also improved. “GHK-Cu incorporated into skin care and cosmetic products is useful for improving the appearance of aging skin,” adds Leyden.

“Copper is known to play a critical role in the integrity of connective tissue; it has been shown to stimulate collagen synthesis, critical to maintaining skin tone and firmness, and many publications have reported that copper positively affects wound healing.”

According to Pickart, at age five, 90 percent of our skin is comprised of collagen 3, which has strong elasticity and flexibility characteristics. This is what makes children’s skin look so fresh and removes scars quickly. By age 60, only 10 percent of the skin is collagen 3, so its ability to naturally rejuvenate decreases with age. “GHK-Cu induces production of collagen 3, which allows the skin to be more soft and firm. It repairs the skin barrier, preventing allergens and bacteria from entering, and increases production of molecules that hold water in the skin, improving suppleness.”

Overview of Copper Fabric (Cu29)

Copper has potent anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Copper is also an essential trace element vital for the normal function of many tissues and indispensable for the generation of new capillaries and skin. Human skin is not sensitive to copper and the risk of adverse reactions due to dermal exposure to copper is extremely low.

It is understood that part of the increased risk or developing skin or foot pathologies in patients with compromised blood circulation is due to low local levels of copper. We further understand that copper ions which are absorbed through the skin would improve the well-being of the skin of patients and induce angiogenesis which is the production of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels, In addition to their biocidal effect of reducing the risk of fungal and bacterial infections.

Copper as opposed to silver is essential for the normal function of many tissues, gene expression and many metabolic processes. Copper, unlike silver, is readily metabolized and utilised by the body when absorbed either orally or through tissues. May, I remind you that I.U.D’s are mostly made from copper and have approval to be inserted in the female body for 10 years at a time.

Copper should be used as close to the skin as possible for effective; odour control, improved hygiene and healthier skin tone and texture.

Bacteria typically are not ‘mobile’ by themselves; they don’t fly or crawl from place to place. They are transported solely by contact.

Environmental factors

Copper also has the power to eradicate nosocomial infections through its anti-microbial properties. It is understood that microbes are destroyed on the surface of Copper through cell destruction and does not allow for mutation activity. Therefore, the microbes do not become tolerant of the copper and as a result are not able to become resistant.

To conclude, the copper ions are tremendously important in the effectiveness of the fabrics to facilitate the conditions that are described in this document and probably many more. Copper fabrics can be beneficial to conditions such as; Arthritis, Wound healing (especially difficult-to-heal wounds), Athletes foot, both fungal and bacterial infections, Rejuvenation of the skin through the production of collagen and elastin and the opening up of capillaries improving microcirculation. Also, there is evidence to suggest that Copper reduces tissue inflammation at the site, therefore reducing pain.

Also sportswear made of copper fabric is highly favourable, for example you could have a full workout wearing a copper-infused top without the need to wash the top as it will be impossible for it to smell as the bacteria which produces the smell is not culturable. You can only imagine how it would smell otherwise!

Additional Resources

Ultimate Guide to Copper Compression Socks

Study showing Copper Infused Pyjamas versus Standard Hospital Textiles

Antimicrobial Copper Live Demonstration

World’s Healthiest Foods rich in Copper

Study Of Reducing The Risk Of Skin Pathologies In Diabetics By Using Copper Impregnated Socks

Antibacterial Agents in Textile Industry

Copper Oxide Impregnated Wound Dressing: Biocidal and Safety Studies

Can copper help prevent lower extremity complications patients diabetes?

Mission Critical Health: Antimicrobial properties of Copper