The Power of Copper
Thousands of years ago, Ayurveda recommended scraping the tongue with copper. Just in the past 10-20 years, Western medicine is recognizing the power of copper.
In 2008, copper was recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the first metallic antimicrobial agent. This led to many investigations of the various properties of copper as an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent.4
In a recent study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 650 ICU patients were studied over a one-year period. Sixteen ICU hospital rooms were used: half had copper-surfaced objects and the other half did not. Both rooms were tracked for infection rates among the patients.
The rooms with copper-surfaced objects had half the incidences of infection as the rooms without copper. The rate of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph infections) in the copper rooms was also significantly lower than in the rooms without copper.2
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Another study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found that copper alloy surfaces reduced the “microbial burden”—aka bacteria counts (colony forming units)—found on surfaces by 83%.1
For years, getting enough copper was not a big concern because most Americans had copper pipes delivering their water, which perhaps offered copper ions. Today, most copper pipes have been replaced by plastic, and few people drink right from the tap. Depending on the filtration method, filtered water may be stripped of any copper ions it may have once contained.
Copper + Lymph
It was traditionally believed that copper helped support lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is the gatekeeper of the body’s immunity. Copper ions were believed to absorb into lymph and blood and support a healthy immune response.
Many studies have linked copper to healthy immune function and copper deficiencies, although rare, to compromised immune function. (3) Perhaps the immune-boosting properties of copper were known thousands of years ago in Ayurveda. Jihwa prakshalana, or tongue scraping with copper, is now backed by many Western studies and has become a popular practice around the world.
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Tongue Scraping Benefits
Tongue scraping is the simple practice of scraping your tongue before brushing your teeth. Studies show that this simple technique:
- Reduces undesirable bacteria in the mouth that can compromise gum, teeth, and oral health.5
- Reduces volatile sulfur compounds (VSC), byproducts of mouth bacteria linked to bad breath.6
- Improves taste sensation and reduces tongue coating.7
- Changes environment of the mouth to reduce putrefaction and decrease bacterial load.7,8
How to Scrape Your Tongue
1. In the morning, right after you wake up, scrape your tongue. Make it the first thing you do. Even if you wake up in the middle of the night, scraping the tongue followed by a glass of water can reduce accumulated digestive ama (toxins).
2. With a relaxed tongue, using your U-shaped tongue scraper, gently reach to the back of the tongue and scrape the tongue from back to front. Repeat this 5-10 times, reaching as far back as comfortable, rinsing the scraper after each pass. A slight gag can help bring up some mucus and ama from the back of the throat.
3. Follow tongue scraping with brushing (with non-fluoride toothpaste), flossing, and a large glass of water.
4. To complete an Ayurvedic oral hygiene routine, this can be followed by oil pulling—of course, this would require another round of tooth brushing.
5. Get into the habit of scraping your tongue prior to each brushing.
Do you practice tongue scraping? What have you noticed?
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