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Metals: Copper Allergies

Updated on August 16, 2017
Lady Lorelei profile image

Writing is my hobby, my work, my play, and my passion. I have enjoyed writing online since March 2007. I hope you enjoy your visit.

 Article copyright 03/23/2008.
Article copyright 03/23/2008. | Source

It isn't a common allergy but it does happen.

Metals are not something which our body usually needs but copper is one of the few metals which our body does require to maintain optimum health.

Like all the other little components that come together to give our life balance, our key to good health lies in never having too much, or too little of this essential metal within us.

Copper is an essential element for human immune system health, but as with most substances which we ingest, things can go wrong, and cause an allergy to occur. Copper allergies are not common but they do occur.

Elements from copper cookware absorb into food and liquid as it cooks. It is also naturally occurring within some foods.

Copper pots, pans, and molds
Copper pots, pans, and molds | Source

The uses of copper are many and our body is one area where this metal is required.

Copper (cu) is one of the basic metal elements within our environment, it is also present in the systems of most plants and animals, and a proper balance of this metal is essential for maintaining the good health of living systems. It is one of few metals required by the body.

When copper is ingested it travels mainly through the blood. Copper is absorbed within the gut, then transported from there to the liver where it is released into bile, from which it can be excreted from the body. While in the body copper plays a key role in the absorption of nutrients and electron transference.

The human body does not synthesize copper so it must be replenished within the human system on a regular basis; this is the reasoning as to why it is so vitally important for us to insure that we have sufficient amounts of this essential element in our diets.

Copper cookware is decorative.

Old Dutch Hammered Copper Teakettle with Wood Handle, 2 Qt.
Old Dutch Hammered Copper Teakettle with Wood Handle, 2 Qt.

Delightfully decorative there is no reason to put your pots away when they are not in use. Copper cookware is so beautiful it is ideal to put out on display. I love the pieces I have. They garner quite a few compliments from visiting friends.

Vintage copper kettle.
Vintage copper kettle. | Source

It is not rare but you can have an allergy to copper?

Copper, also known as the basic element Cu, is a metal which aids the body in absorbing the vitamins and minerals such as zinc and iron into it. Copper also aides in the functioning of biological enzymes, electron transfers, and the formulation of red blood cells within the body. Copper is as essential to our overall health as are all the other vitamins and minerals which we consume.

But just as it is important to have an adequate supply of copper in our body so too is it important to not have an excess of this metal to prevent an allergic reaction from occurring. Too much copper will cause a severe imbalance of vitamins into the body. An insufficient absorption of folic acid, zinc, vitamin C and other important vitamins and minerals may occur.

Copper settles in the liver so the liver will be affected, and as the toxic effect increases, the overabundance of copper will move into other key organs within the body. Disability and eventually death can occur. Thirty grams of copper sulfate is sufficient to be a potentially lethal dose in humans.

Wilson's disease: A case study

One of my copper kettles.
One of my copper kettles.

Symptoms of an intolerance to copper.

Copper poisoning usually occurs from a gradual buildup within the body of this metal which slowly poisons the living system. But a toxic intolerance to copper is extremely rare.

A study of thirty-seven patients who had used copper Inter Uterine Devices (IUD), and who showed negative health symptoms, were tested for allergies to copper, nickel and cobalt. Four of these individuals were found to be allergic to nickel, one to cobalt, and none to copper. This study shed light on the fact that it is generally an intolerance to other elements, or components, rather than copper which are more likely to be the cause of health problems in individuals.

If you do believe that you are suffering from a reaction to copper this form of toxicity can be determined by a hair mineral analysis.

Symptoms of copper allergy or poisoning may include green hair discoloration, metallic taste, nausea, circulatory problems, chills, convulsions, anemia, headaches, bloody or blue in color diarrhea, fever, liver failure, arthritic symptoms, muscle aches, difficulty urinating, yellow eyes, yellow skin, or vomiting.

Allergies are more common than you might first imagine.

Do you suffer from an allergy or intolerance to a substance.

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Older copper pennies have a high concentration of copper.

As the value of copper increased the penny's composition has decreased in this metal.
As the value of copper increased the penny's composition has decreased in this metal. | Source
Allergies are the body's way to let us know they cannot tolerate a substance.
Allergies are the body's way to let us know they cannot tolerate a substance. | Source

What cause an allergy to copper to occur?

The chief cause of an intolerance to copper is Wilson's disease which is an inherited illness.

Those individuals who suffer from Wilson's disease are not able to secrete copper from their body so the metal stays within the liver. If left untreated this will cause deadly liver and brain damage to develop.

Other copper allergies are very rare but when they do happen it is for basically the same reasons as other food allergies occur. What cause allergies to copper to occur is basically either too much or too little copper in the body.

Generally allergies to copper occur when too much copper is ingested, or when the body has problems excreting this metal, and this causes metal poisoning to occur.

An allergic reaction can be more than just an annoyance.
An allergic reaction can be more than just an annoyance.

Allergies to food, and the elements within food products, are quite common.

An allergy is your body's way of telling you that it cannot tolerate something.

If you are suffering from the symptoms of an allergy then you should be seriously looking into removing the offending substance or food product from your lifestyle.

Sources of copper are multivitamins, water from copper pipes, cooking with copper cookware, drugs which may cause the liver to store copper, and foods such as cashew and brazil nuts, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, organ meats, liver, oysters, chick peas, wheat, corn, soybeans, and chocolate.

Do you use copper pots, pans, or a kettle for your cooking needs?

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    • profile image

      Audrey Donohue 20 months ago

      I recently bought copper bracelets to help my restless legs at night

      But I have noticed one of my wrists has a red line round it which has swollen up and looks inflamed

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Very interesting Lorelei - I wasn't really aware of the benefits or side effects of too much copper in our system before this and where and how we get copper into our system

    • annmackiemiller profile image

      annmackiemiller 2 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      I never thought about how it could be absorbed from cooking in copper pots. interesting!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: I am not a doctor so cannot say much on this but please keep searching online for others like yourself. I suffer from a rare chronic illness and online I discovered a support group of others who also have similar illnesses. It helped a lot just knowing there were others like myself. Best of wishes that you find some relief.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: I would discuss your concerns with your doctor. I know there are many degrees of sensitivity so you may be extremely sensitive to copper if you have an allergy to it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi ive been a bus driver for the last 8 years, and after 2 years in the job I developed severe itchy blistering hands.In march I had severe facial eczema as well,which still hasn't completely cleared.I had an allergy test and was told I am highly intolerant to copper.So handling copper coins every day I guessed was the answer to my skin complaints.This may sound really daft,but we have a Copper curtain pole in our lounge,which my partner made for our bay window.Could I be allergic to this even though its just hanging in the room ???????

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have been suffering from nerve pain from head to toe for two years now. I am a longtime sufferer of occular migraines I have had nerve pain in my legs since I could remember (3-4) I was born with two clubbed feet (only known). I am 30 yrs old and just got my first pair of glasses---my left eye is fine but my right is -110 I think. I also have astigmatism. I have had 2 children (now 5 and 18months). The arm pains started when the younger was about 6 months old. So bad it felt like my arms we are fire. It was progressive starting in my fingers and then working into my hands and then eventually all the way up into my shoulders. I am on a migraine medicine which I take to sleep deeper. I see a rheumatologist who came up with that solution. He thinks it may be a sleep disorder. Lupus, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and sjorgen's run in my family as well as strokes. I am a bit worried I am missing something. Or could it just be a diet thing? I don't really pay too much attention to what I eat--but I eat a lot of vegitables and meats. I was anemic in both pregnancies and always took my vitamins, still do. I could go on and on, but what do you get from this? Any incite would be appreciated, ANYTHING.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @darkflowers: It's probably not an allergy to the copper. When copper oxidizes it turns green. Any skin in contact with the copper will have that green color rub off on it. This is especially true if it's a ring or bracelet because of the close contact. Taking copper jewelry off at night and cleaning it at least once a week can prevent it. However, if you experience any redness or itching on the hand you wear your copper ring that is a good sign that you are indeed allergic.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      A wonderfully informative lens! I had heard of the supposed healing properties of copper, but not about copper allergies!

    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 4 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      Thanks for this helpful information! When I wear a copper ring my finger turns green! Is that a copper allergy symptom or is this not something to worry about?

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @miaponzo: I loved my copper kettle but I actually prefer to use cast iron for cooking.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @CruiseReady: Copper allergies are fortunately very rare.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Although most metals are not good for us copper is one of the metals that our body requires for good health. So yes, go ahead and use your copper pots and pans, they are good for you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      It is so difficult to know what is causing allergy. and now copper is added in the list too. Usually I would not use copper vessels in the kitchen but in ancient days people used to collect water in the copper vessel. And then drink the water when a layer of thin copper used to form, it was thought to provide good content of minerals.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Excellent information. My Mum used to have a copper bracelet which she bought for health reasons, but she had allergies and it made her arm break out in sores.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I don't like using copper for cooking, and I don't need any extra copper, so I wouldn't want to have too much... Soooooo.... thank you for all this GREAT information! Very helpful! Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I know I was here before but my comment got caught somewhere in the sea of squids I guess. I remember thinking this was such good information for those who are exploring what toxins may be built in their systems and was glad to hear that it isn't usually the copper itself but other associated metals...*

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 5 years ago

      I had collected a whole set of copper pans, so beautiful, but so hard to keep clean!