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Wilson's Disease: An Allergy to Copper

Mother of 2 daughters and grandmother of 7, I strive daily to achieve an optimum level of health and happiness. Life is all about balance.

Elements from Copper Cookware Can Enter Into Food and Liquid as They Cook


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.

Our Body Requires this Metal

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 a few metals required by the body.

When copper is ingested it travels mainly through the blood. It is absorbed within the gut then transported from there to the liver where it is released into bile. From there 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.

The Type of Cookware You Use Can Affect the Food


Most of Us Have Pots and Pans we Prefer Over Others

It's Not Common but Copper Allergies Occur

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. It 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 the other vitamins and minerals we consume.

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.

The metal settles in the liver 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.

Symptoms of an Intolerance

Copper poisoning usually occurs from a gradual buildup within the body of this metal which slowly poisons the living system. 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, this form of toxicity can be determined by a hair mineral analysis.

Symptoms of an 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.

Wilson's disease: A case study

Do You Own Any Copper Pots Pans or Kettles?

Wilson's Disease

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.

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It is a Metal that can be Delightfully Decorative

Vintage copper kettle.

Vintage copper kettle.

Allergies Are More Common Than You Might First Imagine

Food Sensitivities Are Actually 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2008 Lorelei Cohen

Do You Know Anyone Suffering From Metal Issues?

Audrey Donohue on March 11, 2016:

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

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on April 06, 2015:

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 on April 06, 2015:

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

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on August 06, 2013:

@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.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on August 06, 2013:

@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.

anonymous on July 01, 2013:

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 ???????

anonymous on June 09, 2013:

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.

anonymous on December 23, 2012:

@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.

Anja Toetenel from The Hague, the Netherlands on December 07, 2012:

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?

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on November 12, 2012:

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

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on November 12, 2012:

@CruiseReady: Copper allergies are fortunately very rare.

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on June 04, 2012:

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

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on June 02, 2012:

@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.

anonymous on June 02, 2012:

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.

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on June 01, 2012:

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.

miaponzo on May 21, 2012:

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!

anonymous on April 12, 2012:

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 on January 18, 2012:

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

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