Copper Fights Hospital Superbug Infections – Ayurveda
In a stunning confirmation of an ancient application in Ayurveda, a number of studies have now confirmed that copper surfaces can help prevent bacteria infections.
Few medical doctors realize that Ayurvedic medicine used copper to help build immunity and health thousands of years ago.
Today, hospital-acquired bacteria infections are growing. This has driven researchers to find new materials to use in hospitals to try to stem the rampant infection rates. Copper has proven to be one of the most successful strategies.
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Copper stethoscopes inhibit bacteria transmission
A 2017 study from the Medical University of South Carolina studied 21 doctors working in emergency medicine. They worked either in the intensive care unit or among children. The researchers tested stethoscopes made with copper alloys in use with patients. The key tests measured two typical hospital-acquired infections. These are from two bacteria, namely, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. The testing took place over a period of 90 days.
During that time, the stethoscopes were tested for bacteria counts and compared with stethoscopes made without copper.
The researchers found that bacteria counts on the surfaces of the stethoscopes were significantly lower. The counts of the copper stethoscopes were an average of one-tenth of the bacteria counts on typical stethoscopes. They also found the copper stethoscopes had a fraction of the ability to transmit bacteria from one patient to another compared to typical stethoscopes.
Copper infused clothing reduces infections
Another 2017 study from the Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem studied the use of copper-infused clothing for patients and doctors. The researchers studied two different hospital wards containing ventilator-dependent patients. One ward all the clothing had the copper infusion. The other ward had used the typical clothing.
After seven months of testing, the researchers found that the infused clothing reduced infections by 30 percent. It also reduced the need for antibiotics by 55 percent over the period.
Copper surfaces help prevent infections
Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina has 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 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.
Hospital-acquired infections are rampant
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%.
Ayurveda has used copper for thousands of years
Ayurvedic doctors have known that Copper had purifying and infection-fighting 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. This 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 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 wisdom-seeking 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.
Learn more about the science of Ayurveda in practical scientific terms:
Schmidt MG, Tuuri RE, Dharsee A, Attaway HH, Fairey SE, Borg KT, Salgado CD, Hirsch BE. Antimicrobial copper alloys decreased bacteria on stethoscope surfaces. Am J Infect Control. 2017 Jun 1;45(6):642-647. doi:
Marcus EL, Yosef H, Borkow G, Caine Y, Sasson A, Moses AE. Reduction of health care-associated infection indicators by copper oxide-impregnated textiles: Crossover, double-blind controlled study in chronic ventilator-dependent patients. Am J Infect Control. 2017 Apr 1;45(4):401-403. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.11.022.
Salgado CD, Sepkowitz KA, John JF, Cantey JR, Attaway HH, Freeman KD, Sharpe PA, Michels HT, Schmidt MG. Copper surfaces reduce 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. Microbe reduction using copper in hospital surfaces. J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Jul;50(7):2217-23.