COX-2 drugs:Arthritis relief: Is copper a cure-all?

Although official organisations such as the Arthritis Research Foundation pooh-pooh the idea, in one study of 240 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), those wearing copper bracelets showed statistically significant improvement compared with patients given a placebo bracelet (Agents Actions, 1976; 6: 454-9).

The very low incidence of RA in preindustrial Europe has been put down to the use of copper cooking utensils and plates (Rainsford KD, in Sorensen JRJ [ed], Inflammatory Diseases and Copper, Humana Press, 1982). Supplemental copper may, however, be better for some. Its anti-inflammatory effect is due to copper’s ability to create antioxidants (J Int Acad Prev Med, 1980; 7-21).

This is why practitioners of nutritional medicine sometimes advocate replacing conventional medicine’s high-dose aspirin therapy with a copper-salicylate supplement. In a study of more than 1000 RA patients given this copper-salicylate complex, 89 per cent showed better joint mobility, less joint swelling and normal red blood cell levels for an average of three years (Inflammation, 1977; 2: 217-38).

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