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Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina have confirmed that using copper metal surfaces at hospitals significantly reduces hospital-acquired infections. What the study didn't mention was that copper cups and devices have been used for wellness in Ayurveda for thousands of years.
This study, published recently in the Journal of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, studied two types of superbug infections among selected internal care facilities in three hospitals. The researchers tracked infection rates from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) - two of the most hardy and difficult to treat infections known.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. The three hospitals tested were the Medical University of South Carolina, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
Over a period of nearly a year, 650 patients were studied. They were placed in 16 hospital ICU rooms – half of which had copper-surfaced objects placed inside. The rooms were tracked for infection rates among the patients.
The research found that the rooms with Copper-surfaced objects had more than half the infection incidence than those rooms without Copper. Infection rates for MRSA and VRE in the copper rooms were also significantly lower in the copper-containing rooms as compared to rooms without copper.
"Patients cared for in ICU rooms with Copper alloy surfaces had a significantly lower rate of incident Hospital Acquired Infections and/or colonization with MRSA or VRE than did patients treated in standard rooms," the researchers concluded.
According to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 100,000 people die a year from hospital-acquired infections.
Another study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found that copper alloy surfaces reduced the "microbial burden" – the bacteria counts (colony forming units) found on surfaces - by 83%.
Ayurvedic doctors have known that copper had purifying and anti-infective properties for thousands of years. For this reason, copper cups, plates and tongue cleaners have been used to help maintain wellness.
One ancient practice is to place some room temperature water into a copper cup overnight and drink it in the morning. Another is to utilize a copper tongue cleaner. The copper tongue cleaner is scraped from the back of the tongue to the front on a daily basis.
Ayurvedic practitioners believe copper therapy has three general benefits: First, copper surfaces are considered cleaner and less toxic. Second, trace levels of copper ions become infused into water or onto the skin via contact. This is called the oligodynamic effect. These copper ions are thought to stimulate immunity and wellness. Copper is also considered as Vayasthapak – which means it helps a person age with wellness (some interpret this as anti-aging, but Ayurvedic wisdom accepts the aging process as a welcomed stage not a stage to avoid - a time when seeking wisdom becomes ones central focus).
While inhibiting superbug infections was probably not within the Ayurvedic purvey, modern research has once again proven that the ancient science of Ayurveda - dating back over five thousand years - maintains a level of efficacy not well understood by conventional medicine.
- Salgado CD, Sepkowitz KA, John JF, Cantey JR, Attaway HH, Freeman KD, Sharpe PA, Michels HT, Schmidt MG. Copper surfaces reduce the rate of healthcare-acquired infections in the intensive care unit. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2013 May;34(5):479-86.
- Schmidt MG, Attaway HH, Sharpe PA, John J Jr, Sepkowitz KA, Morgan A, Fairey SE, Singh S, Steed LL, Cantey JR, Freeman KD, Michels HT, Salgado CD. Sustained reduction of microbial burden on common hospital surfaces through introduction of copper. J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Jul;50(7):2217-23.