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How do copper bracelets work for arthritis, and does your skin absorb the copper?

Answers:1   |   LastAnswerAt:2010.10  

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roo285 
Asked at 2010.10.13 00:45:23
A friend is wearing a copper bracelet, which he says helps his arthritis. I think this is fine, but I wonder how much copper his skin is absorbing, and is there a toxic effect in the long term?
It turns his wrist a bit green.

Also, how does this idea work? Is there a chemical reaction in the body? Or, if it's all in your mind, isn't it still effective since the pain is gone, for whatever reason?
answer RobMartin  Answered at 2010.10.13 00:45:23
We don't really know...and to be honest we have little clinical evidence to say that they have any effect whatsoever. However I'll outline some of the work done:

A single study in 1976 looked into this and determined that a significant number of people using the copper bracelets felt a positive effect on their condition vs wearing a placebo bracelet made of aluminum. They also found that over 50 days a copper bracelet worn around the wrist lost about 90 mg.
A 1983 study in animal models showed that arthritic rats would preferentially increase their intake of a solution of Copper Salicylates, suggesting that it had an analgesic effect on condition. The same team looked at the potential for copper to form ligands with the contents of human sweat and to permeate through the skin and found that it was plausible in an animal model.

It appears then that their use might be plausible. I don't think there would be any toxic side effects to their use - Wilson's disease is a disease of copper metabolism and there is no chance that the copper from these bracelets could lead to anything like that.
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