If you are reading this blog after discovering you are, or may be suffering with copper toxicity, I want to start by letting you know you are not alone!
Copper toxicity causes a heap of physical and mental dysfunctions and is very common although often missed. It’s something that can affect women, men, teenagers, and children and is a very problematic mineral today.
After having several clients reach out after finding they are copper toxic with no idea of how to manage it, I thought I would write this blog highlighting the symptoms, and causes of copper toxicity, and how to go about detoxing excess copper.
I hope it helps to explain your current health struggles as well as give you some direction in what to do about your copper toxicity.
COPPER’S FUNCTIONS IN THE BODY
If you have ever taken a multivitamin you will no doubt, see copper listed as an ingredient because the body needs copper.
Copper is an important mineral involved in:
- the electron transport chain creating energy,
- haemoglobin synthesis,
- neurotransmitter activity,
- immune system health,
- cardiovascular health,
- fertility and maintaining pregnancy,
- the synthesis of collagen and elastin, and
- iron availability.
It also has strong anti-fungal, anti-mould, and anti-bacterial properties (it’s often used in swimming pools for these properties) and a copper deficiency can be linked to yeast/fungal infections like candida, sinus, ear, and digestive problems.
What’s interesting is that the primary cause of copper deficiency is a copper toxicity.
Yep you read that right. Excess copper is stored in the body and becomes what we call biounavailable, meaning it can’t be used by the body. This unbound, unusable copper, at excessive levels can, therefore, cause both symptoms of copper deficiency as well as toxicity.
SYMPTOMS OF COPPER TOXICITY
Problems occur when copper begins to accumulate in the body’s tissues, then liver, and then brain.
It can cause severe mental health issues and is linked to:
- mood swings,
- racing thoughts,
- panic attacks,
- feelings of despair,
- eating disorders,
- brain fog,
- frontal headaches/migraines,
- heart palpitations,
- social withdrawal,
- problems concentrating, and
- problems with memory.
So, if you’re emotions are all over the place, maybe some times feeling totally numb and others really on edge, you are super irritable, foggy headed and anxious…chances are it’s got something to do with copper. This can have a massive impact on our relationships. Dr Rick Fischer even believes copper toxicity is linked to the high divorce rates.
But it doesn’t stop there!
Copper is very much interrelated with oestrogen. It stimulates the production of oestrogen, and oestrogen enhances the retention of copper, double whammy! As a result, copper can cause oestrogen dominant symptoms including:
- raise in histamine issues,
- joint pain,
- weight gain especially on the hips, belly and thighs,
- low energy,
- angry/short fuse,
- reproductive issues including infertility,
- ovarian cysts, and
- a sex drive that is non-existent.
ISSUES OF COPPER TOXICITY
- Hinders detox and liver health – the excess oestrogen caused by copper retention has a thickening effect on bile, which in turn affects our detox abilities and liver health.
- Reduces immune health – copper can interfere with the metabolism of zinc, and can cause chronic fungal/yeast infections, candida, UTIs, skin problems like chronic or cystic acne, and digestive problems.
- Decreased energy and adrenal burnout – copper is involved with the electron transport chain and our energy production, and is an excitotoxin that stimulates the adrenal glands, it’s also linked to chronic fatigue, adrenal burnout, insomnia, and a feeling of being ‘tired and wired’, anxious, and panicky. Do you often get dizzy when you stand up from lying or sitting down? This can be linked to poor adrenal function, which may be a result of copper toxicity.
- Eczema, rashes, sinus problems, and hives – copper can inhibit the breakdown of histamine
- Low iron – bioavailable copper is needed for iron regulation
- Hypothyroid – copper impact the metabolism of many minerals, particularly calcium and potassium, which are needed for good thyroid function.
Copper issues have also been linked to arthritis, Coeliac disease, scoliosis, Hodgkin’s disease, elevated cholesterol, schizophrenia, strokes, paranoia, phobias, senility, experiencing a spacey feeling, and tooth decay.
WHAT CAUSES COPPER TOXICITY?
The most common source is copper pipes delivering water to your home, or the addition of copper to the water supply as a fungicide. Another big reason I always recommend my clients get a good water filter!
Secondary to that is probably any birth control involving oestrogen like IUD’s (intra-uterine devices) and the birth control pill, as well as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Even those progesterone only formulas can cause problems as the synthetic progesterone doesn’t interact with oestrogen the same.
Other sources include:
- passed from mother to baby in utero,
- plastics like BPA,
- some pesticides, fertilisers, or fungicides,
- dental alloys and amalgams,
- copper cookware,
- chronic stress,
- slow oxidation/metabolism,
- vegetarian/vegan diet (most veggies are high copper and low zinc – meat high zinc),
- multivitamins (especially prenatals),
- occupational exposure (electrician handling lots of copper wire),
- regular swimming pool use,
- hair dye,
- industrial emissions, and
Initially the copper may not cause an issue if your zinc status is optimal and your liver and adrenal health are good. It may take around 4-6+ months for symptoms of copper accumulation to occur.
HOW CAN I TEST IF I AM COPPER TOXIC?
Unfortunately, this is probably not something your GP may know much about. Given the symptoms they are more likely to recommend an anti-depressant, birth control pill, anti-anxiety drug, ADD/ADHD medication etc that isn’t going to fix the cause and may well worsen your issue.
Instead, a Functional Health Practitioner trained in preventative, holistic, alternative (‘original’) health care, that focuses on finding the root cause of dysfunctions using patient symptoms and functional lab testing as a guide, can help.
A full health inventory should be taken to assess symptoms and when considering copper toxicity, the test of choice is a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA).
Assessment of copper toxicity on a HTMA includes:
- high or low copper,
- high calcium,
- low sodium,
- low potassium,
- high or low zinc,
- low phosphorus,
- a high Ca/K ratio,
- low Na/K ratio,
- high or low Zn/Cu ratio,
- high mercury,
- high Cu/Mo ratio, and
- history of copper exposure (see causes above).
I should confirm that I said high AND low copper. Low copper on a HTMA can be due to a hidden copper toxicity (where it’s being stored in other body tissues i.e. liver and brain) so you can’t just take this reading individually to determine your status.
If you’ve been feeling not yourself or even ‘crazy’, maybe you are having relationship problems, low energy, and brain fog or memory issues…any of the things listed above…then consider HTMA testing with a Functional Health Practitioner. You can read more about HTMA HERE.
HOW TO DETOX EXCESS COPPER
1. Stop your exposure to copper
In a sinking boat, we want to plug the hole to prevent water coming in, before we start bailing the water out. Same here, stop the copper exposure before you start trying to detox the copper i.e. remove copper IUD, stop hormonal birth control (contraceptive alternatives post coming soon), properly filter your tap water, omit food high in copper, seek other potential sources see HERE.
2. Ensure your body is ready to detox copper
When our metabolism is too slow, we hold on to toxins. Our body is not strong enough to dispose of them effectively and so it stores them away to prevent them circulating round the body causing more damage.
To properly address copper toxicity, the systems that transport and remove copper need to be strong, hence we need a relatively balanced metabolism, with strong adrenal, thyroid and liver health, and good bile function, and we need to make sure our detox pathways are open and we are pooping regularly.
I recommend using Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) to assess, monitor and address any issues with metabolism, thyroid, adrenal and liver health.
3. Monitor symptoms and go slow to avoid dumping copper
Once the body is ready it will naturally start to release copper on it’s own. This will be seen as an increased copper level on the HTMA. The HTMA is a great way to keep check on the body’s systems allowing us to best support your body during your detox.
When copper starts to release, if it’s not managed properly, and if it happens too quickly, we may gets what’s known as Copper Dump Syndrome.
COPPER DUMP SYNDROME
Supplements and activities like the following can trigger a copper dump:
- vitamin C,
- adrenal glandulars, and
- activities like intense cardio, or
- restricting calories.
This dump can make life pretty damn miserable. You may experience:
- intense anxiety,
- suicidal thoughts,
- emotional outbursts,
- anger, or
- psychological episodes.
That is why it is important to work with a practitioner that knows what they are doing, that can help dose you correctly, that works with binders, goes slow, and supports your digestion, liver, gallbladder, potassium, and bile as part of your protocol to help minimise any dump symptoms.
Removing copper from the body is a slow process sometimes taking years, and you will likely feel the best and the worst you have ever felt during the process. I hope that doesn’t put you off though! There are many benefits to detoxing your copper.
BENEFITS OF HEALING FROM YOUR COPPER TOXICITY
When you have detoxed your copper, you will:
- have a much stronger immune system
- experience less infections
- better mental and emotional state (goodbye anxiety, depression, mood swings, panic attacks, and emotional outbursts!)
- more energy,
- better hair, skin and nails,
- less risk of heart, artery, and liver diseases,
- improved reproductive health
- decreased PMS, endometriosis, ovarian and uterine tumours, and
- more regular ‘better’ periods.
If you have a baby you will be less likely to develop post-partum depression, morning sickness, and problems with your baby including ADD, ADHD, autism, ear infections, and delayed development or other birth defects.
The symptoms of copper dumping are temporary, but the benefits make for a much better quality of life. You might even say a life where you feel radiant from within!
If you still have any burning questions about copper toxicity or working with me to eliminate your copper then email me or fill out THIS application and let’s chat.