If you are reading this blog after discovering you are, or may be, copper toxic, I want to start by letting you know you are not alone!
Copper toxicity causes a whole heap of physical and mental dysfunctions and is very common. I have even read that 80%+ of women are estimated to have it, yet people rarely know about it.
Copper toxicity is 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.
I hope it helps to explain your current health struggles as well as give you some direction in how to work with your copper toxicity.
HOW DOES OUR BODY USE COPPER?
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, as well as 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 bio unavailable, 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.
WHAT ARE THE 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, PMS, racing thoughts, panic attacks, depression, feelings of despair, eating disorders, brain fog, frontal headaches/migraines, heart palpitations, social withdrawal, problems concentrating, and problems with memory.
If you feel you are an emotional wreck, get super anxious and/or fearful, you keep walking into rooms and forget what you went in for, and you find are becoming ever more intolerant of your hubby…chances are it’s not that you are going crazy…it’s to do with copper. Some even believe this prevalence of 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 reproductive issues including infertility, miscarriages, endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, oestrogen imbalances, and a sex drive that is non-existent, Bile issues can also result due to oestrogen having a thickening effect on bile.
Copper can interfere with the metabolism of zinc impacting our immune system health, and remember it’s anti-microbial properties? Copper toxicity can also cause chronic fungal/yeast infections, candida, UTIs, skin problems like chronic or cystic acne, and digestive problems.
Because copper is involved with the electron transport chain and our energy production, and is an excitotoxin that stimulates the adrenal glands, it can also cause chronic fatigue, adrenal burnout, insomnia, and a feeling of being 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.
Slow thyroid or metabolism…again can be a result of copper toxicity.
It’s even linked to histamine issues like eczema, rashes and hives as it can inhibit the breakdown of histamine. As well as low iron, arthritis, celiac disease, scoliosis, Hodgkin’s disease, elevated cholesterol, schizophrenia, strokes, paranoia, phobias, senility, experiencing a spacey feeling, and tooth decay.
If what I am listing is all sounding very familiar then it’s highly likely copper is the issue, not who you are or who you think you are becoming. I know that can be very comforting to hear.
In fact, I think I hear you shouting, “Thank F&%K it’s not me…it’s bloody copper!”
WHAT CAUSES COPPER TOXICITY?
After all that you are probably wondering how you got copper toxic in the first place.
Probably 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).
Other sources include it being passed from mother to baby in utero, xenoestrogens, dioxin, PCBs, DDT, 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 jewellery.
Initially the copper will 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 DO I KNOW 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 (or what I like to call ‘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 whether you have a history of copper exposure (see causes below).
I should clarify that I said high AND LOW copper. Low copper on a HTMA can be due to a hidden copper toxicity so you can’t just take this reading individually to determine your status.
So, if you have feelings of being ‘crazy’, maybe you are having relationship problems, you struggle with chronic fatigue, and brain fog or memory issues…any of the things listed above…then consider HTMA testing with a Functional Health Practitioner.
HOW CAN I DETOX FROM COPPER TOXICITY?
First you want to plug the hole in the boat before bailing out the water. In other words, 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 etc.
Next you need to ensure your body is ready.
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 and 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.
This is another reason why HTMA testing is so good as this allows us to assess, monitor and address issues with metabolism, thyroid, adrenal and liver health, all necessary to deal with copper toxicity.
Once the body is ready it will start to release copper naturally in a gentle way, which will be seen as increased copper on the HTMA.
Symptoms can get worse as the body starts to dump copper, which is known as Copper Dump Syndrome. Supplements like zinc, chromium, molybdenum, vitamin C, manganese, MSM, adrenal glandulars, and activities like intense cardio or restricting calories can even trigger a dump.
This dump can make life pretty damn miserable. You may experience intense anxiety, panic, exhaustion, constipation, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, emotional outbursts, irritability, 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 and you will likely feel the best and the worst you have ever felt. I hope that doesn’t put you off though! There are many benefits to detoxing your copper.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DETOXING COPPER?
When you have detoxed your copper, you will have a much stronger immune system so will experience less infections.
You will have a much better mental and emotional state. Goodbye anxiety, depression, mood swings, panic attacks, and emotional outbursts!
You will have more energy, better hair, skin and nails, less risk of heart and artery disease, as well as liver disease, and your blood pressure may normalise.
Your reproductive system will work better meaning you are less likely to suffer with PMS, endometriosis, ovarian and uterine tumours, and you will have 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 your core!
If you still have any burning questions about copper toxicity or working with me to eliminate your copper then please head to the ‘Work With Me’ page or contact me for a free enrolment call.