By Nathan Platt of CopperVedics
For many centuries Ayurveda has maintained a healthy relationship with copper. It is among the most important metals present in the Ayurvedic understanding of the human constitution, and Ayurvedic applications involving copper include potable water storage, trace mineral supplementation and building yantras for focusing intention.
Copper has been a part of human history for thousands of years, perhaps longer than any other metal. Historical evidence indicates that copper was the first metal to be used meaningfully by ancient people about 8,000 years ago and it was the first purified metal about 5,000 years ago.
The similarly ancient roots of Ayurveda also reach back several thousand years and, as such, Ayurveda’s applications involving copper are some of the first examples of preventative natural health practices, and might be the very first example of supplementing the human diet with trace minerals.
What is behind the Ayurvedic practice of storing potable water in copper vessels? Well, as with so many other holistic health practices, modern science is only now beginning to appreciate the natural health benefits of storing water in a copper vessel – something that Ayurveda has practiced for since its earliest records.
A naturally sterile metal
There is something that scientists call the “oligodynamic effect” – the deadly affect that certain metals have on pathogens. Put simply, many germs that make us sick are rapidly destroyed when exposed to certain metals. This includes some of the strongest germs around, including “superbugs,” such as drug-resistant staph (MRSA), which traditional antibiotics cannot easily eliminate.
This phenomenon explains, for example, why doorknobs in old hospitals were made of brass: they were naturally self-sterilizing and reduced the spread of infectious diseases. It also explains the age-old tradition of tossing a copper penny into a well or a fountain – the added copper improved the sanitation of these shared sources of drinking water, making it “good luck” to add a penny when you were there!
Indian households have stored potable water in copper vases called kalash for centuries, while small quantities of water for personal use can be kept in simple copper cups. Copper water bottles are a more modern adaptation and are well suited for travel and life on the go.
Copper's role as a trace mineral
There is also more to copper than self-sterilization: Copper is also an important trace mineral and plays a vital role in processes throughout our bodies. It is a key ingredient in the connectors that link our nervous system together and help sensory energy flow within us. It helps to keep our skin and hair youthful and strong. It helps us fight inflammation, aids in digestion, and helps produce energy efficiently, resulting in less fat storage and increased use of protein.
Ayurveda has long understood the importance of copper in the human body, and storing water in a copper vessel naturally fortifies the water with trace amounts of copper. This simple means of providing copper into one's regular diet is both safe and effective – a liter of water stored for 12 hours in a copper container will receive approximately 10% of an adult's recommended daily intake of dietary copper.
Interestingly, Ayurveda recommends copper to assist in the remedy of skin diseases, gastritis, anemia, and indicates that poor hair strength is a sign of copper deficiency. Ayurveda's insights into the role of copper in human health are indeed well aligned with the modern scientific understanding. Again, and as with so many other things, Ayurveda provides ancient wisdom recognized by modern science.
Copper is among the first metals that human beings began to work with, and while we have developed many uses for this simple and beautiful metal, Ayurveda has for thousands of years provided us with a healthy way to use copper for our own well-being. Try incorporating a copper vessel into your regular routine by filling a copper container with water before you go to sleep at night and drinking the water the following morning. This simple ritual is an effective way to add a healthy and time-tested Ayurvedic practice to your daily rhythms.