Friday, January 17, 2014

Copper Toxicity

While I was bitching and whining about how I didn't like to drink water (it's the "phase" I've been going through for the last year or so -- after I took this job in San Francisco), someone said, hey I've heard that disliking water can mean you have some issues with copper! 

So another blog topic was born!  (Thanks, Angela!!)

Let's talk about copper toxicity, because I had never heard of this before!

"Copper Toxicity is a condition that is increasingly common in this day and age, due to the widespread occurrence of copper in our food, our hot water pipes, along with the common nutritional deficiencies in Zinc, Manganese and other trace minerals that keep levels of Copper from getting too high.

The use of birth control pills increases a woman's risk of having a Copper toxicity condition due to estrogen's effect of increasing copper retention in the kidneys. Estrogen overstimulates Aldosterone receptors in the kidneys, increasing Sodium, Copper and water retention. Both estrogen and Copper tend to raise the blood pressure by increasing water retention, raising the blood volume.

Copper builds up first in the liver and disrupts the liver's ability to detoxify the blood in general. This Copper toxicity in the liver therefore disrupts the Liver's ability to detoxify excess estrogen and other toxic heavy metals from the body by blocking Zinc in the binding sites of metallothionein and other Zinc dependent Liver enzymes needed to make Glutathione."

Ummm....I have been on birth control for about 22 years. My liver panels are also often "off" when I have my annual blood tests (post-gastric bypass; although there is no proof that these issues are related). Recently, unrelated to this copper discovery, I had started taking more zinc and magnesium, so hopefully that is helping keep the levels of copper down. Suggested treatment from the same article:

"The main thing to do is to increase Zinc and Magnesium levels to calm the mind and nervous system. However, just taking Zinc alone can cause serious side effects as Zinc will cause a Copper detox as the body dumps this excess copper and Mercury and other heavy metals from the tissues. This can cause rashes and flu-like symptoms. Zinc will also lower Sodium levels which may make you feel extremely tired."  

Here's why we DO need some copper in our bodies, though:

     1. Bones and connective tissue. Copper is required to fix calcium in the bones and to build and repair all connective tissue. This includes the tendons, ligaments, skin, hair, nails, arteries, veins and a few other tissues. Imbalances can contribute to osteoporosis, bone spurs, and almost all conditions of the skin, hair and nails. Others symptoms related to connective tissue include most cardiovascular problems, tendon and ligament conditions, scoliosis, and other skeletal and structural imbalances as well.

      2. Energy production in the cells. Copper is needed in the final steps of the Krebs energy cycle called the electron transport system. This is where most of our cellular energy is produced. Any problem here causes fatigue, depression and other imbalances related to low energy.

      3. Immune Response. Copper must remain in balance with zinc. When imbalances occur, one is more prone to all infections, in particular fungal and yeast infections that are so common today. For example, most people have some intestinal yeast if they eat sugars and most people have chronic sinus infections if they have common symptoms such as post-nasal drip and others.

      4. The glandular system, particularly the thyroid and adrenal glands. The thyroid gland is extremely sensitive to copper. In part this is due to its nature and how easily it is influenced by the sympathetic nervous system. Common conditions seen with copper imbalance include hypothyroidism and even hyperthyroidism of a particular type that is very common that I all secondary hyperthyroidism. Grave’s disease usually due to stress, copper imbalance and often mercury as well. Anyone with a diagnosis of Grave’s disease or hyperthyroidism should have a hair analysis performed at a lab that does not wash the hair and properly interpreted. Most often, the problem goes away with a properly designed nutritional balancing program. Reducing all stress and balancing the body chemistry are both required to resolve the condition naturally in my experience. Drugs may be needed temporarily to control the symptoms. Surgery or radioactive iodine treatment and too drastic and not needed, in my experience so far.

      5. Reproductive system. Copper is closely related to estrogen metabolism, and is required for women's fertility and to maintain pregnancy. Imbalance can cause every conceivable female organ-related difficulty such as premenstrual syndrome, ovarian cysts, infertility, miscarriages, sexual dysfunctions and more. It affects men less than women in this area, but it may affect men’s potency and sexual drive as well as that of women.

      6. Nervous system. Copper stimulates production of the neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. It is also required for monoamine oxidase, an enzyme related to serotonin production. As a result, copper is involved deeply with all aspects of the central nervous system. Copper imbalances are highly associated with most psychological, emotional and often neurological conditions. These include memory loss, especially in young people, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and others discussed below.

"One of the most common symptoms of biounavailabe copper or a frank copper deficiency is an anemia that appears identical to iron deficiency anemia. Those most affected are young adult women, and sometimes children. Vegetarians also tend to have too much and biounavailable copper and may be affected. ... Few doctors are aware of this cause for anemia. As a result, most physicians make the mistake of giving supplemental iron for this condition, which may work a little, but makes the patient much worse in terms of overall health."  

I also have mild anemia, which I have always attributed to the gastric bypass. Perhaps it is connected to copper. So, how do we fix it? From the same article: 

The key is to use a number of methods simultaneously. This does not mean taking piles of pills or strange diets, however. It can be done easily and rather inexpensively and without a lot of fuss. The methods used in nutritional balancing to balance copper include:

      1. Reduce exposure to sources of copper. Common sources include copper intra-uterine devices or IUDs, swimming in pools, vegetarian diets and high copper foods such as nuts, seeds, and avocado.

      2. Diet is critical. The diet must contain seventy to eighty percent cooked vegetables, not raw ones. Also needed is healthful animal protein daily, and some whole grain rice and corn, if these can be tolerated well.  ...  Equally important, the diet must be as low as possible in sweets, fruits and sugars as possible. These foods, along with all stimulants, stress the adrenal glands and tend to make copper imbalance worse. Stimulants include sugars, caffeine and food additives such as MSG, aspartame and other excitotoxins in the diet. ... Vegetarian diets tend to aggravate copper imbalance badly. Wheat and refined flour products are also not helpful at all. ...

     3. Lifestyle modification. Most people with copper imbalance are very sensitive emotionally. Many also need to slow down, relax more and let go of anger and resentments. Some also need to make changes in their relationships, location, work and other important aspects of their lives so that they “live their truth” to a greater degree. Living a lie can be an important problem, in fact, with copper imbalance. Reducing fear and stress. This is often very helpful and necessary to balance copper. Methods range from a change in location or work to meditation, more rest, counseling and other changes. ...

      4. Carefully chosen nutritional supplements are extremely important for adrenal gland restoration and to balance copper.  ...  They must always include a powerful digestive aid, a multiple nutrient product for one’s oxidation type, supplementary vitamins and minerals as indicated by the test, kelp and perhaps a few other simple supplements to support the body properly. ...

      5. Detoxification procedures. These are not always needed, but can be most helpful. Copper imbalance responds beautifully to the use of coffee enemas and the use of a near infrared lamp sauna. These may be absolutely essential for those with emotional problems connected to their copper imbalance. Other methods of detoxification are less effective, in our experience. These include cleansing diets, foot baths, clay packs and other methods which can make the copper problem worse. 


Another suggested way to deal with this was through Neuro-Emotional Therapy. You can read up on that HERE: "NET is not a "talk-it-out" therapy. It is a mind-body technique that addresses a physiological dysfunction. Before the discovery of neuropeptides (chemicals now known to carry emotion throughout the body), emotions were considered to be largely in the domain of psychology. Now emotions are also considered within the domain of acupuncturists, chiropractors, medical doctors and other practitioners of the healing arts."

Have you had experience with copper toxicity and/or neuro-emotional therapy? I'd love to hear about your experiences and I continue to try to heal my own body and make myself whole again.


  1. Holy cow! That's a lot of research! How interesting. I haven't made a big effort on the physiological remedies (I did the NET therapy with 100% success in making me enjoy water and drink tons of it a day) but I might need to give it some thought. I didn't realize there could be a correlation between lifestyle/stress and copper. Interesting.

    1. I don't know if I am ready to go off the birth control pill or give up sugar. I may just have to live with the poison! lol