Copper pain relief’s been around for generations


When I was a kid my father ran a gas station in Monroe. I loved “helping” my father with his business. I swept the floor and washed windshields—albeit I had to stand on a five-gallon bucket in order to reach the windshields. Mostly, I drank pop and ate Cherry Mesh candy bars.
Farmers would come into the gas station, sit down in the chairs and empty grain out of the cuffs of their bib overalls, which I would then sweep up. One old farmer, I noticed, had a thick strand of copper wire around his wrist. It was crudely fashioned, probably with the use of pliers he carried in the side pocket of his bibs. I wished I had pair of pliers like that. Being a nosy kid, I asked the farmer what the copper wire was for. He told me he had arthritis in his fingers and the copper relieved the pain. He held his hand out in front of me, flexed his fingers, then spread them apart in a fan formation. His fingers were bent and gnarled, and fit together in an “S” pattern. They did indeed look painful. I doubted whether the copper had any real effect.
Fast forward to today when I was having my annual check-up. The doctor asked if there were any problems. I had prepared for this question and told the doctor that my left elbow hurt. He checked my elbow, applying pressure here and there, and told me to get an elastic bandage or a copper bracelet. I couldn’t believe he was telling me this. My mind flew back sixty years to the farmer and his copper wire.
When Ginnie and I were in Colorado this summer, we ran across a roadside jewelry stand. My elbow was acting up that day, probably from the altitude. Figuring it wouldn’t hurt to ask, I inquired if the vendor had any copper bracelets. His eyes lit up as he pointed to a case of rather attractive silver and copper Navajo jewelry. I liked the looks of this jewelry immediately. He pulled out a couple of bracelets and asked, “Got arthritis?”
“As a matter of fact, I do,” I told him. “My doctor actually prescribed copper as a pain reliever.”
Knowing he had me, the vendor said, “Oh, yes. It’s been known for years that copper reduces pain. No one knows for sure why, and it might be psychological. But if it works, who cares?”
He slipped a copper and silver bracelet onto my wrist. I really liked the looks of it.
“If it turns your skin green,” the vendor continued, “don’t wash it off. It just indicates that the healing quality of the copper is working its way into your skin.”
I reached for my credit card. Ginnie pulled hers out first and said, “You’ve got a birthday coming up. My treat.”
That was in July. It is now September and I’m glad to report that the pain in my left elbow, after wearing the copper bracelet continuously is, and I’m going to go out on a limb here (get it?), reduced by 75%. Psychological or not, the pain has lessened to a tolerable level—not gone completely, mind you, but minimized considerably. Yes, my wrist is a little green, but I can carry a bucket of water out to the chickens with the left arm and not have to switch arms half way there.
Simply amazing—no expensive arthritis medication, no elastic bandage, just a good old-fashioned home remedy. By the way, when I wear bib overalls, I carry a pair of pliers in the side pocket. Ginnie has to rescue them from the dryer.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

About Chuck Vandenberg 5617 Articles
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