by Nathan Platt
Ayurveda has a certain appreciation for copper. It is an important metal present in the ayurvedic conception of the human constitution and it is found in a diverse range of ayurvedic applications, including the storage of potable water, the refining of minerals for supplementation, and the creation of yantras for focusing worshipful intention.
Humans have used copper for thousands of years. Indeed, copper was the first metal to be used purposefully by ancient people about 8,000 years ago and it was the first metal to be refined and purified about 5,000 years ago.
Ayurveda’s similarly ancient roots date back to at least this period of time and as a result, ayurveda’s applications of copper are among the oldest examples of practicing preventative natural health, and may be the oldest known examples of trace mineral supplementation.
So, what beneficial properties does copper have that ayurveda has understood for so long?
Perhaps the most well known and most important property is that copper is naturally self-sterilizing. Modern science calls this the oligodynamic effect – the inherently toxic effect of certain metals on pathogens.
Put simply, germs are destroyed when they come in contact with copper, silver, and a handful of other metals. In the case of copper the effect is particularly strong and extends even to some of today’s most resistant bacteria or ‘super-germs’ such as MRSA, which now survive many of the traditional antibiotic treatments that doctors use to eliminate them.
In the ancient world of our ancestors, and in countless places throughout today’s modern world, infectious diseases which are spread through potable water are a major threat to public health. Ayurveda has recognized for centuries that exposing one’s drinking water to copper before consuming it is a simple and effective way to minimize exposure to such infectious diseases. This simple and beneficial relationship between human health and the basic elements of nature is a good example of ayurveda at work, and one of many examples where modern science is slowly catching up to ancient wisdom.
There is more than water safety involved in this beneficial relationship that we can have with copper. Copper is an important trace mineral that plays a vital role throughout the systems of our bodies. Storing water in a copper vessel is a simple and efficient means of providing trace copper on a regular basis. These trace deposits of copper are picked up naturally by water stored in a copper container, and only in trace amounts that equal a fraction of a person’s daily recommended intake.
Modern science recognizes copper’s important role in a diverse range of bodily functions. Copper helps sensory information flow through the nervous system. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps us recover from physical injuries. It helps keep our skin and hair healthy and strong, aids in digestion, and helps us efficiently process food, resulting in less fat storage.
Likewise, ayurveda recognizes that copper plays an important role in the health of our skin and hair, our digestion, and in our body’s ability to heal. Ayurveda might recommend copper for skin conditions, gastritis, or anemia, and an ayurvedic practitioner might recognize poor hair or skin as a sign of a copper deficiency.
There is nothing complicated about incorporating a copper drinking vessel into your life. Large copper vases are traditionally used in India to store quantities of potable water for groups or families, and then poured into smaller containers for meals and individual use. Some people use a simple copper cup or a kalash, a miniature vase.
Modern day copper containers, such as those made by CopperVedics, diverge from the traditional appearance of the kalash and are built in a cylindrical shape. They are made either with a single piece of copper or with two pieces which form a metal seam, and the mouths are threaded with screw-top lids, sometimes accompanied by a seal to prevent them from leaking.
A simple practice for using a copper container for your drinking water is to fill your copper container at night before sleeping and drink the water during the following morning. Many people who first worry that the water might taste ‘metallic’ are soon impressed by the crisp and clean taste that copper seems to impart on the water it holds.
Try using a copper vessel regularly for your drinking water and you may find that you take a liking to it. A copper water vessel is a simple and practical way to employ an ayurvedic practice in your everyday routine.
Nathan Platt is the founder of CopperVedics bottles, a small selection of water bottles made from pure copper, food-grade silicone seals and conscious design. Nathan first found copper water bottles while traveling through India and was inspired by the simple elegance and healthy properties that they embodied. Today CopperVedics is reaching out to work with charities who help improve access to clean water in India and around the world.