Copper bangles: A panacea for all ills?

Monica Cheru-Mpambawashe
They can cost as little as a dollar with the price steadily climbing up as weight and craftsmanship improves. Some are plain while others are intricate. They have been around for a long time but have not quite managed to make a fashion statement although you will occasionally see them on a hand now then. But copper bangles should be the ultimate accessory that any person can wear.

That is if the health benefits associated with wearing them can be proved to be true.

According to documented research copper bangles have a history dating back to ancient Egypt which is an acknowledged base of much of present day civilisation including some developments in the field of medicine.

It is said that copper was used to treat all manner of ills including hastening the healing of wounds, treating muscular pain and inflammation as well as in the purification of water and infertility.

Today copper bangles can be found in many health shops around the world with pundits claiming that they can help in managing arthritis and other joint pains as well as solving bodily deficiencies in zinc.

Why does that matter?

According many of us need to worry about Zinc deficiency: “Zinc deficiency (ZD) is associated with stunting of growth, metabolic disorders, behavioural disorders, slow wound healing, and poor immunity.

ZD is hard to diagnose because no one laboratory test or combination of tests is decisive in every case. As a result, the prevalence of ZD is not known.

However, many patients with chronic infectious diseases have ZD.”

Effects of Diabetes, HIV, high blood pressure, asthma, and other chronic conditions have all been listed as being mitigated

The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine says that there are those who claim that copper emits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Wearers of the bangles swear by them. Copper beads strung together as anklets are also an alternative that those with pains in the legs from various causes sometimes try.

If copper accessories are so helpful why are we not seeing a glut of them on the market as everyone finds a new unique way to make a fashion statement while deriving all these health benefits?

The answer lies in that little scientific research and resultant mainstream promotion of copper bangles have gone on.

According to the reason is that most money for medical research comes from giant pharmaceutical companies who have nothing to gain from the promotion of copper bangles.

The opposite would be true as they stand to lose billions of revenue if people who currently rely on their patented supplements were to switch over to copper bangles.

Copper bangles cost so little and there is little repeat business.

But in Zimbabwe we do not have the same challenge. Our pharmaceutical industry is struggling and most supplements on sale in health shops and pharmacies are exorbitant imports. A lot of people are also turning to spiritual healing for many ailments as a result of the prohibitive costs of conventional medicines and a lack of faith in the system engendered by slack service, overcrowding and drug shortages.

Meanwhile copper is a local resource available cheaply and in abundance.

Why are we not investing in research of the health benefits of the copper bangle?

Imagine the savings in medical service bills and drug imports we could realise if the results were positive. There is also the ripple effect of jobs created as artisans and support players get more work.

If as a nation a good size of our population is preferring alternative healing in the form of spiritual deliverance, imported supplements sold as cure-alls and other options like the Ceragem machines, why would we ever reject the copper bangle which is indigenous?

As a country I think we need to invest more in exploring our latent indigenous medical knowledge instead of side lining it in preference for imported knowledge which many not always be in our best interest.

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