Copper has been used as a medicine for thousands of years including the treatment of chest wounds and the purifying of drinking water. More recently, research has indicated that copper helps prevent inflammation in arthritis and similar diseases. Research is going on into anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory medicines containing copper, and its use in radiology and for treating convulsions and epilepsy. Although there is no epidemiological evidence that copper can prevent arthritis, there have been claims that the wearing of copper bangles does alleviate the symptoms.
Acute copper poisoning is a rare event, largely restricted to the accidental drinking of solutions of copper nitrate or copper sulphate which should be kept out of easy access in the home. These and organic copper salts are powerful emetics and inadvertent large doses are normally rejected by vomiting. Chronic copper poisoning is also very rare and the few reports refer to patients with liver disease. The capacity for healthy human livers to excrete copper is considerable and it is primarily for this reason that no cases of chronic copper poisoning have been reported.
Copper For Health
Our daily diet must provide specific trace amounts of copper for a number of reasons in order to maintain human health. Plants and animals also require copper to maintain healthy growth which then benefits humans through the food chain. Copper is readily available in a range of foods and normal balanced diets should provide adequate daily amounts of copper without the need for additional supplements. However, it should be appreciated that changes in eating habits and the introduction of limited medically controlled diets may result in inadequate intakes of copper.
- “Copper and Human Health and Safety,” George A Cypher, International Copper Association Limited, 260 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.
- “Copper in Human Health,” Technical Note TN 34, Copper Development Association, Orchard House, Mutton Lane, Potters Bar, Herts EN6 3AP, UK.
- “Copper in Plant, Animal and Human Nutrition,” Technical Note TN 35, Copper Development Association, Orchard House, Mutton Lane, Potters Bar, Herts EN6 3AP, UK.
- “Copper, The Directory of Nutritional Supplements,” The Vitamin Connection, January/February 1992.
- “Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom – Report on Health and Social Subjects 41,” Department of Health, HMSO, London 1991.