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Copper Gua Sha; An Antimicrobial Therapeutic Tool


Tatiana Parzynski, N.D.


Physical medicine has always been a part of my medical practice and when I want to increase fascial glide or mobilize soft tissue I always reach for my copper gua sha tool. I learned about gua sha early on in my medical training and started using AcuArtisty's copper gua sha tool

as soon as I started seeing patients. I liked the ergonomic feel of the tool, but more than that, there was something about the copper itself that seemed to make a difference that I just couldn't put my finger on.


My knowledge of copper as a metal and its deep historical uses in medicine was limited. I knew copper is used as a very effective contraceptive device and that for some individuals wearing copper bracelets helps their arthritis. I had little knowledge that copper has been gaining substantial attention in the medical community due to its natural antimicrobial properties. The more I learned about this metal, and its history, modern uses, and future potentials, the more my appreciation for copper grew. Turns out, my favorite copper gua sha tool is even shinier than it appears to be.


As naturopathic physicians, we are taught that copper is an important micronutrient for almost all living things. Humans require a small amount of copper every day and become ill if deficient. While it varies from country to country, in the United States the recommendation is about 900 micrograms per day, and for most people, this amount is easily obtained through diet although, unfortunately, deficiencies still occur.


Copper has a complex enzymatic activity in the human body that regulates many vital physiological pathways. Copper provides us with antioxidant defense, produces energy, and utilizes iron so that we can do things, it also helps our nervous system function properly. The list of copper’s functions in the body goes on but the main point is that we can’t live without copper and remain healthy.


Interestingly, the role of copper as an essential trace mineral in the human body was not recognized until 1928 and its benefits continue to be uncovered to this day. However, it is the oldest and 25th most abundant element found in the earth’s crust, and its use by people dates back to the 5th and 6th millennia B.C. Some sources even say that copper was the first metal used by humans to make things like jewelry, utensils, and weapons.


One way or another, we learned about copper’s antimicrobial properties a long time ago and used the metal to sterilize wounds, purify drinking water and treat diseases. These early uses date back to the 26th century B.C., and copper continued to be used as a biocidal agent until antibiotics became available in the 1930s.


Since germs, bacteria, and fungi developed abilities to resist antibiotics in the decades to follow, copper with its natural antimicrobial qualities got a chance to shine once again. In 2008, copper gained a lot of attention in the medical community when its extraordinary ability to kill 99.9% of pathogenic bacteria within two hours of contact was officially recognized.


Presently, hospitals use copper to control and combat the often deadly spread of healthcare-related infections. Pathogens can be effectively inactivated on frequently touched surfaces made of copper alloy materials, and the term “contact killing” has been coined for this process. Medical textiles (hospital sheets, patient gowns, etc.,) infused with copper compounds are being tested and utilized in some US hospitals to control bacterial contamination. Although research is ongoing there is no denying that the uses of copper in medicine are extraordinary.


These and future antimicrobial uses of copper in public health are of special importance with the current and continual threat of novel viruses such as coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Promisingly, recent studies already demonstrated that on copper surfaces the Covid-19 virus was active for less than 4 hours whereas it lasted for 3 days on other surfaces like stainless steel and plastic.


For healthcare providers who use physical medicine, working with ergonomically designed tools like AcuArtistry’s copper gua sha tool is a joy. It is comfortable when used and efficient therapeutically; it helps get things done without fatiguing the practitioners’ hands. Additionally, the use of copper in this tool gives the practitioner another level of therapeutic confidence and empowerment. It is naturally antimicrobial, and when cleaned properly and kept dry in between uses, it provides a safe effective way to treat a plethora of conditions. Copper has been our go-to metal for a long time and it has an even brighter future.


Cited:


https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/copper#function


https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Copper-HealthProfessional/


Govind, V., Bharadwaj, S., Sai Ganesh, M.R. et al. Antiviral properties of copper and its alloys to inactivate covid-19 virus: a review. Biometals (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10534-021-00339-4


Besold, A.N., Culbertson, E.M. & Culotta, V.C. The Yin and Yang of copper during infection. J Biol Inorg Chem 21, 137–144 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00775-016-1335-1


Grass G, Rensing C, Solioz M (2011) Metallic copper as an antimicrobial surface. Appl Environ Microbiol 77(5):1541–1547. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02766-10


Butler JP. Effect of copper-impregnated composite bed linens and patient gowns on healthcare-associated infection rates in six hospitals. J Hosp Infect. 2018 Nov;100(3):e130-e134. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhin.2018.05.013. Epub 2018 May 24. PMID: 29803808.


Grass G, Rensing C, Solioz M (2011) Metallic copper as an antimicrobial surface. Appl Environ Microbiol 77(5):1541–1547. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02766-10


Balasubramaniam B, Prateek RS, Saraf M, Kar P, Singh SP, Thakur VK, Singh A, Gupta RK (2021) Antibacterial and antiviral functional materials: chemistry and biological activity toward tackling COVID-19-like pandemics. ACS Pharm Transl Sci 4(1):8–54. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsptsci.0c00174




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