In this post, we reveal everything you need to know about copper bracelets, including whether they help with joint pain and arthritis. Let's get started!
A copper bracelet is something that many of us grew up noticing were clung to the wrists of some of the adults around us. They likely seemed like nothing more than an odd colored piece of jewelry, commonly available at pharmacies or flea markets, with bands hardly thick enough to hide the green tinge of the skin beneath them. Growing older, one learns that there may, in fact, be a method to the madness.
In this article we discuss the following:
- What are Copper Bracelets?
- Benefits of Using Copper Bracelets
- Theories and Health Research
- How to Safely Use a Copper Bracelet
- Proper Care of Your Copper Bracelet
- What to Look Out For When Purchasing a Copper Bracelet
- Risks and Side Effects
- To Magnetize or Not to Magnetize?
What are Copper Bracelets?
A pure copper bracelet is made by manipulating copper into bands that can be easily wrapped around the wrist or upper arm. Because of the soft nature of copper itself, these bracelets can be creatively moulded to mimic styles of jewelry which suit regular, everyday fashion.
For centuries, the healing properties of copper have been known around the world, with different civilizations finding uses for the element in health and wellness. Think of the pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, and the way they would adorn their arms, necks and head with copper jewelry. Common copper bracelets are more recent manifestations of this kind of use, and their intent is to help everyday humans with joint pain.
Arthritis is endemic in modern civilization. The older we get, the more likely we are to develop this condition, and researchers believe that these numbers are only going to continue to rise due to the increasing prevalence of activities which strain the hands and fingers, such as typing, scrolling and drawing.
Before the body develops arthritis, it is first likely to develop mild to severe joint pain, particularly in the hand and wrist region. Some of the first users of copper bracelets reported that extensive contact of copper with the skin seemed to alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by joint strain. This led earlier users to sculpt copper into wearable fashion.
Some proponents of copper bracelets believe that the body has a subtle way of absorbing the healing elements of copper directly from a copper bracelet, and then distributing it to the joints that are most in need. It is believed that these healing elements include not just copper, but also minerals such as iron and zinc. This is because even the purest copper contains trace amounts of important micro-minerals, such as iron and zinc, which are easy to absorb through skin when sweat is introduced. Copper is considered “pure” when it falls above 99.95% in compound ratio. That remaining 0.05% is where one finds these micro-minerals.
Different manufacturers make different styles of bracelets for customers to choose from. Some prefer the classic solid band, while others get creative with cutout symbols in the copper itself, or even go as far as twisting multiple strings of copper together to create one interesting tornado-looking bracelet.
Copper bracelets offer a simple, affordable way to potentially manage daily joint pain for people who prefer holistic treatments or want to try something in combination with other more conventional treatments.
How Might a Copper Bracelet Benefit Me?
There are two perspectives from which to explore copper bracelet benefits: one being the preventative benefits of copper bracelets, and the other being the benefits of copper bracelets on existing conditions.
While health experts seem to be divided when it comes to using copper bracelets on existing arthritis, some of them are in agreement that using copper bracelets to ward off potential threats of the condition is harmless and probably worth trying. As the world shifts increasingly in favor of holistic, natural healing remedies, people who use their hands and wrists daily for work are making more frequent use of copper bracelets as a preventative measure.
Writers, typists, artists, photographers, graphic designers and pianists are all in professions that cause repetitive strain on joints, and leave one more susceptible to developing RSI (repetitive strain injury — such as carpal tunnel), and possibly eventually arthritis.
Incorporating a copper bracelet into your daily accessories, the way you would a wedding ring or medical tag, could mean that you help prevent, or at least delay, any onset of joint pain in the long run. In fact, the mere presence of the copper on the skin, and the consequential absorption of extra iron and zinc, could potentially result in an overall natural strengthening of your joints in the long run.
On the other end of the spectrum are those who are already suffering with RSI or arthritis and who are considering using a copper bracelet for pain relief. For these individuals, a copper bracelet could mean a number of things. Firstly, depending on the severity of your condition, the introduction of copper might be too little too late, and prove itself somewhat useless in providing any aid or relief.
Those in early or milder stages of joint-related conditions could find great benefit in copper bracelets even if only a small percentage of pain can be relieved. If you’ve ever suffered from pain deep within your wrists, you’ll know that no relief is too small, and most will take what they can get just to feel even a fraction better than they did before.
Of course, the successful absorption of minerals from the copper through the skin depends on the individual in question. The acidity of one’s sweat can play a role in how much or how little of the “healing energy” is able to seep through, and, based on the experience of some individuals, there is potential for certain individuals to actually experience complete, full relief from all pain and discomfort as a result of a copper bracelet.
Evidently, the benefits of copper bracelets fall on a spectrum depending on the individual, and it is difficult to say who will experience what for any given use. The best way to approach this kind of treatment is probably with an open mind.
Theories and Medical Research
As you research copper bracelets, you will find a symphony of theories and opinions about whether they work and, if so, how they work. In truth, the function of copper is still not fully understood by most health practitioners.
The first thing one needs to understand about copper is its relationship to the human body in general. Copper is a highly necessary mineral in the normal function of both males and females. It is almost solely responsible for our antioxidant enzymes, as well as metabolizing Vitamin C.
Copper deficiency is an actual condition, and almost all inflammatory related diseases can be linked back to it, including the various dreaded forms of arthritis.
Doctors and scientists alike have pondered whether copper bracelets work and if so, whether they can help with joint pain and arthritis. Many studies have been conducted using a range of volunteers and a mix of pure copper bracelets as well as placebo versions (i.e. mock copper).
Dr. Sarah Brewer reported on one specific study conducted on 240 patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers in that study were not only monitoring the improvement in the physical conditions of the patients, but also the changes in the copper levels of the bracelets used by them.
At the conclusion of the study, it was determined that those wearing the pure copper bracelets could report significant improvement in pain levels, compared to those who merely wore the placebo bracelets. What’s more, each of the pure copper bracelets was shown to have lost an average of 13mg of copper throughout the trial compared to their starting levels, suggesting that compounds of the element were likely absorbed by the body.
A similar study was conducted in England by a different group of researchers. They were concerned with the question of whether copper helps with pain and brought together 70 individuals suffering with the same aforementioned rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike the findings of the previous researchers, it was the conclusion of these researchers that the wearing of copper bracelets did not result in sufficient alleviation of pain and was no different from wearing a placebo.
Both of the above-noted studies were focused on testing the theory that copper may help with joint pain and arthritis because of its absorption into the body. Not everyone is convinced by the theory of absorption, however. Some proponents believe that copper bracelets actually work because of something known as iontophoresis. This loosely means that copper draws sulphates out of the body and up into the skin, which, according to these proponents, is why the skin underneath a copper bracelet eventually turns blue-green.
Those that subscribe to this theory believe that it is therefore the lack or presence of copper in the body that will determine whether or not the bracelet is able to provide any kind of tangible effect on the wearer’s joints.
Another theory offered by some proponents focuses on the supposed 'energy' of copper bracelets. You might remember the sudden outbreak in popularity of so called ‘power bands’, which were rubber bracelets with a holographic sticker stuck to them that claimed to manipulate bodily energy in order to improve performance. The bands supposedly influence the electromagnetic sphere of the wearer, resulting in better bioelectrical flow.
Jewelry that claims to be able to manipulate the frequencies of the human body has been around since as early as the 70s. To some proponents, copper bracelets fall under this same product category.
The fact that there exist individuals who wear copper bracelets, or power bands, and feel a legitimate difference means that there may be something going on, even if we don’t necessarily understand it.
One also needs to keep the power of the human mind. Often we forget that sometimes our sheer belief in an object can be more powerful than the object itself. This is proved time and time again through medical research that make use of placebo versions of pharmaceutical drugs. The only subjects that should see an improvement in their condition would be those who are given the real drug. There should technically never be any placebo subject finding themselves cured of the ailment in question, and yet this happens — and often!
So, the final theory for copper bracelets advanced by some proponents is that the belief that the wearer holds about the bracelet is where the true power lies.
When looking at the many theories surrounding the use of copper bracelets for arthritis, one thing seems to be clear: while the science does not definitively support a link between copper bracelets and reduced pain, many users of copper bracelets report significant pain reduction through their use.
It seems that there is widespread hype and genuine support by individuals who have chosen to ignore the nay-sayers and try the bracelets for themselves, many of whom have found exactly what it is they were looking for — mild to strong relief from joint pain.
As a result, copper bracelets remain a recommended form of self-healing by holistic healers, reiki practitioners and botanical pharmacists around the world. Their popularity is significant even in eastern cultures, with copper bracelets being sold from the souks of Morocco all the way to the street markets of Indonesia.
How to Make Use of a Copper Bracelet Each Day
A copper bracelet, to a serious user, should essentially become like an additional limb. As mentioned, these bracelets can join your ritual jewelry (such as your wedding ring or medical tag) and be on your person more often than not.
Those who say they have success with copper bracelets seem to be the religious wearers who actually never take them off unless absolutely necessary. This makes sense, as the longer the copper is left on the body, the more significant any impact is likely to be. Wearing the bracelet for two hours each evening, for example, means that there is little to no chance for any copper absorption to take place. Wearing it at all times means even wearing it to bed and in the shower, or while washing the dishes.
If you are simply using a copper bracelet as a preventative aid for expected future bodily ailments, then, according to some proponents, wearing it for half of the day will suffice. According to proponents, the best way to do this is either to wear the bracelet all day as you are out and about, or all night while you sleep.
Typically, for treatment of disease, proponents advise wearing your copper bracelet on your left wrist. Anyone who suffers from anemia, however, is encouraged to wear their copper bracelet on alternating wrists in order to distribute micro-minerals such as iron.
One of the biggest perks of copper bracelets is how long they last. According to some proponents, will only need to replace your bracelet after two years of continued use for optimal effect, but this can be extended if you are not a constant wearer.
Care and Cleaning Instructions
Your copper bracelet will rarely collect dirt or grime, and if it does it is easy to wipe down with a damp cloth, the same way you would any other mental object. That being said, copper is a unique substance in that it tends to oxidize very easily, and oftentimes one will confuse this copper oxide (also known as 'patina') for regular filth.
The best way to understand patina is to think of copper coins, like pennies, found in most currencies around the world. Dull looking coins are usually assumed to be incredibly dirty and undesirable, when in reality it’s usually just a layer of oxide that can be easily removed with proper care. Now, that’s not to say pennies aren’t dirty, but the dirt you need to worry about is likely in the form of bacteria and therefore invisible to the naked eye!
As a rule, make an effort to regularly polish your copper bracelet with a gentle cloth. If copper oxide begins to form on your bracelet, then use one of the following methods to strip it off:
The Lemon & Lime Method
Cut a lemon or a lime in half, and sprinkle salt on the open fruit. Rub the exposed, salty side all over the bracelet until the oxide appears to be scrubbed clean. Use the rough face of a kitchen sponge to further loosen any extra oxide. Rinse, and use beeswax as an extra layer of protection if so desired.
The Salt & Vinegar Method
Use a shallow dish to drench your copper bracelet in a generous amount of white vinegar and salt. Rub the mix all over the bracelet, until all of the oxide has been dissolved away. Use a cloth to polish.
You can also bring vinegar and salt to a boil on a stove and drop the bracelet into it. The oxide will wash away after a few minutes.
The Ketchup Method
This method works best for light oxidization. Simply rub store-bought ketchup all over the bracelet and let it sit for 15 minutes. Rub it off with a soft cloth, give it a rinse, and then use a clean cloth to polish.
The Flour, Vinegar & Salt Method
Measure a cup of white vinegar and a tablespoon of salt into a bowl. Slowly add flour into the mix, stirring and watching as it turns to a thick paste. Coat the copper bracelet in this paste and leave it to sit for an hour. Use warm water to rinse it off, and a soft cloth to polish.
The above cleaning methods are all at home solutions to solving the problem of copper oxide. There are store-bought products on the market that can be used to do the job, but there really is nothing quite as satisfying as simply using a lemon to revive an old piece of jewelry.
As a further preventative method, regularly coating your copper bracelet with a thin layer of Vaseline can drastically reduce oxidization. Unfortunately, copper oxide occurs simply because of copper meeting air, so it’s very difficult to ever guarantee that it won’t happen.
Copper Jewelry for Sale: Here’s What to Look Out For
First things first: be well aware of how much, or how little, you are being charged for the copper bracelet of your choosing. While quality matters, these are relatively inexpensive items to manufacture, and some suppliers are honing in on the ‘wellness’ trend in order to spike their selling prices to exploitative levels.
Those who know that they cannot charge exorbitant amounts for this kind of metal have gone to the liberty of incorporating silver (and sometimes even gold) into their jewelry designs, so that the metals wrap around each other in an aesthetically pleasing way. These bracelets will cost almost quadruple what one should be paying for a device of this sort, and while silver and gold do nothing to enhance the abilities of the copper, if you prefer the look of it then you’ll need to pay for it.
Generally speaking, an average copper bracelet should cost you between $25 and $35. This would be considered a good quality, and probably sustainable, product. If you are unable to buy a copper bracelet in person and need to use the internet to place an order, then you’ll want to look out for bracelets that are adjustable in size. Since you can’t try it on, you’ll want a bracelet shaped like a ‘c’ as opposed to an ‘o’; the gap means you’ll be able to squeeze it into the most appropriate size for your wrist.
Something you want to not look out for is the tone of the copper as you perceive it to be in the images shown online. Certain brands might use lighter looking copper in their images, while others may exhibit deep, almost brown, looking copper bracelets. The truth is that because copper reacts to the air there is no way to guarantee what shade the bracelet will be upon arrival — so don’t even make this a priority! What’s more, once the copper is attached to your wrist, the color will begin to change as it reacts with your body's moisture and temperature.
There is no information available as to what band width of copper is necessary in order to achieve optimal results. There are copper bracelets available that are pencil thin, and there are others that are as thick as a cuff. A happy medium that most manufacturers pursue is around the 1cm/1.5cm copper thickness.
Some sellers feature a matching copper ring that comes alongside your bracelet. Since arthritis and joint discomfort can often enter the fingers, wearing copper rings can be a great additional aid or preventative measure. Another benefit of copper rings is that they can help promote blood circulation in the fingers, which can be helpful for individuals who find that their blood battles to move through them during extremely cold weather.
Dangers of Copper Bracelets
The biggest risk with copper bracelets is manufacturers who attempt to cut costs and end up selling blended metals instead of pure copper. Ever wonder why some people’s skin becomes reactive to cheap jewelry? Impure metals are sometimes filled with lead and other harmful substances in order to save money. Sensitive skin is one of the first things to raise a red flag when jewelry is not made of the substance it is claimed to be made from.
Extremely pure copper is that with a compound of 99.95% or more. These copper bracelets will usually be copper featuring trace amounts of naturally occurring micro-minerals such as iron and zinc — both of which are said to be key ingredients in the effectiveness of the bracelets themselves. Anything slightly below 99.95% can still be considered relatively pure, however the lower the mineral ratio goes the less pure your bracelet will be.
Some manufacturers will use high quantities of lead in their combination of metals when attempting to make cheap copper bracelets. Repetitive, frequent absorption of lead into the human body can be incredibly harmful. One runs the risk of experiencing headaches, digestive problems and persistent skin trouble.
Unfortunately, detecting other metals in a copper bracelet is not an easy thing to do with the human eye. The first thing one should do is simply monitor how one feels while wearing the bracelet itself. If you notice a consistent headache developing whenever you wear your copper, then you have reason to believe that the metal in question is impure.
A relatively sound way of checking if copper is pure is to soak it in lemon juice. After rinsing it with water, the copper should glow a vibrant reddish brown; this is how pure copper reacts to the acidity of the lemon juice.
Many people overlook the early signs of impure copper bracelets as they believe that if the metal is impure their skin will tell them so. This is not a good way of determining whether the metal is impure for the simple reason that 99% of the time pure copper also visually affects human skin.
The most obvious copper bracelet side effect is that it tends to turn skin blue and green after long periods of wear. Since copper is constantly reacting to oxygen in the air, the introduction of your body’s natural temperatures, sweat and oils causes the skin to develop a layer of copper carbonate between the body and the bracelet.
This reaction means that one is less likely to show any physical signs of lead exposure, as this would usually appear in a shade of red. If you know anything about a basic color wheel, you’ll know that red and green are direct opposites, and green is able to neutralize the appearance of redness. Make up artists around the world make use of this color law, and will usually use a stick of green concealer to cover any redness caused by jewelry irritation, or acne.
The good news is that the green hue on your skin as a result of the copper is not in any way harmful to you. It is also easy to correct; simply stop wearing the bracelet until the color has had enough time to fade from the arm. Some people panic at the sight of the carbonate, and attempt to scrub at their skin with soap and water. This is not a solution and is, essentially, a waste of time; carbonate must fade at its own pace.
Copper Bracelets with Magnets
The power of magnetic energy is another field of study that deserves attention. Magnets have long been explored as potential treatments for pain, inflammation and physical disability.
Like copper, magnets are a pure metal, and many believe that they are charged with energetically manipulative powers, which is easier to believe due to the mere fact that we can see them work in action. Snapping magnets together requires no effort, and the force that is present in the moment is completely undeniable.
The use of magnets as a treatment for pain can be traced back to the Renaissance era. Many communities during these times believed that magnetism had health benefits, and so would tie magnets to their wrists as a means of warding off potential diseases. It is from this early concept that magnetized copper bracelets were born.
These days, magnetic copper bracelets are as easy to find as regular copper bracelets. Neodymium magnets are incorporated into the making of the copper band, and thus the two metals are posed to work alongside each other.
Since there are not believed to be any serious health risks associated with wearing magnets of this size on the body (subject to the discussion below), and since some people do find extended relief from their physical ailments while wearing them, you might want to give them some consideration.
Alternatively, one can purchase a separate magnetic strap to wear alongside an existing copper bracelet. So long as both devices are on the same wrist they will be able to work in tandem on your wrist.
Individuals who use an insulin pump or pacemaker are advised to avoid interaction with magnets unless absolutely necessary. Interference is not guaranteed but there is always a risk. If you fall under this category then a magnetized copper bracelet might not be for you.
Like any energetically manipulative device, there are some individuals who may begin to feel out of sorts after long periods of exposure to this powerful metal. This is totally normal, and if any nausea or dizziness arises while wearing a magnetic copper bracelet you should stop wearing the device for a few days and monitor if the condition subsides as a result.
While there is no definitive scientific basis to conclude that copper bracelets are effective, many people claim to have experienced significant health benefits by wearing them. Given the lack of any significant health concerns associated with wearing copper bracelets, they may be worth a try if you are struggling with joint pain or arthritis. At a minimum, copper bracelets are a beautiful and stylish accessory and, at most, they can be loyal companions to help you address pain.
About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.