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Could it be Copper Dysregulation?

Now that we are all becoming aware of mineral balancing the premise being that we can work towards optimal health by focusing on strong foundations- getting minerals back into balance. This means correcting the ratio of the four big minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium) that run the body and its biochemistry. Attention also needs to be given to copper and zinc for reasons outlined below.

You will soon become familiar with the term ‘copper toxicity’ and while clinically we see a lot of (HTMA Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis) with excess copper the reality is that most people end up with a (copper) deficiency. We prefer to name this copper dysregulation.

Lets’ explain this a little better.

So copper is essential to the body. It is needed is small amounts for: –

  • Energy Production – for ATP in the Krebs cycle and iron metabolism
  • The Women’s Reproductive system – fertility issues with excess copper (estrogen) causing PMS symptoms, cysts in reproductive organs.
  • The Nervous system – to stimulate all the emotions and for neurotransmitter function (serotonin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine) production
  • Immune Response- as an antifungal defence (candida, parasites)
  • The Glandular System -adrenals and thyroid sensitive to copper
  • Imbalances in copper can contribute to skin, hair, nails, bone health – the production and repair of connective tissue and collagen formation

When copper is insufficient in the body there can be numerous health issues and presenting symptoms: –

*High blood pressure/all hypothyroid symptoms/chronic fatigue/depression/heart disease/miscarriages/chronic fungal infections/loss of sex drive/compulsive (over)eating and food cravings (chocolate/cheese)/addictions.

Studies have also confirmed psychological and physiological symptoms- anemia/mania/autism/bipolar/schizophrenia/Tourette’s/insomnia.

Copper only becomes toxic if it accumulates in excess (hypercupremia).

Interestingly Copper is used for breaking down the neurotransmitter histamine. If copper is in excess, it can result in excessive degradation of histamine and again this can result in histamine levels also being too low. Histamine regulates sleep, pain sensitivity, digestion, mood, sex drive, immune response. Low histamine (histapenia) can lead to irritability, hallucinations, and paranoia.

To simplify there can be 3 types of copper imbalances– copper insufficiency, copper excess or copper that is bio-unavailable.

Insufficiency and excess explain themselves. Copper bio-unavailability occurs when there is excess copper however it is not easily accessible for the body to use. This occurs when copper binding proteins called ceruloplasmin and metallothionein are deficient. These proteins bind to and transport the copper to where it is needed. In this situation an individual may experience both a copper insufficiency and toxicity simultaneously given there is high levels of copper circulating through the body, but the body is not able to utilise it.

Ceruloplasmin production depends on the following: –

  • Strong adrenal function
  • Sufficient liver function
  • Adequate animal-based retinol (vitamin A)
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper – a very narrow range for optimal function

The key here is to consider how the body is making ceruloplasmin and then how the liver processes the excess (unbound copper). With a high proportion of individuals with congested and overloaded livers from environmental toxins we also often see critical nutritional deficiencies. Our primary strategy here is to prevent the liver from being sluggish by increasing bile production and supporting and healing the adrenals.

Ceruloplasmin can be measured as a blood marker providing good insights into liver function. Ceruloplasmin is also a key factor in regulating not only copper but iron as well.

Copper increases the absorption of iron by working with the production of heamoglobin and building red blood cells. Without copper heamoglobin cannot be properly synthesised and as a result there is not enough oxygen to carry the iron around the body leading to anemia.

There is a lot more to iron metabolism and best to explore in a future discussion.

Let’s discuss what may elevate copper?

  • Drinking unfiltered water from copper pipes is a leading cause. Copper sulfate is also added to the water supply to control algae
  • Zinc deficiency. There is an antagonist relationship where they balance each other. Zinc is also needed to form ceruloplasmin and metallothionein both needed to bind to copper to carry it into the mitochondria.

Zinc is depleted by stress, sugar, alcohol, coffee, and poor digestion. We need good stomach acid to make HCL for our gut function and HCL is required to absorb zinc.

Dietary zinc can also be low as high concentrations are found in red meat. Vegetarian diets are generally high in copper foods further depleting zinc. A diet high in processed or refined foods are also low in zinc. Our soil is depleted of zinc from modern farming, the lack of regenerative practices and environmental toxins. Glyphosate depletes zinc.

  • Adrenal Insufficiency. For copper to be carried into the mitochondria to help form ATP it must bind to ceruloplasmin or metallothionein both produced only when adrenals signal to the liver to do so. Strong adrenals are needed or there will be an accumulation of copper in the blood, not being utilised by the body.

Also, interesting to note if copper is high the nervous system is stimulated which further depletes the adrenal glands and perpetuates this issue. Having a sluggish liver will also increase copper so it becomes a vicious cycle in parts.

  • Estrogen imbalances and being on the Contraceptive Pill. High estrogen means high copper as anything that raises estrogen will also raise copper. Estrogen increases the retention of copper in the kidneys
  • Heavy Metal Accumulation. Metallothionine being one of the primary copper-binding proteins also attaches to other toxic metals (mercury and cadmium). If metallothionine is occupied dealing with heavy metals it can mean it is not available to transport (the small amount of) copper needed for the body’s’ functions.
  • Genetic/Inherited Factors If your Mother had high copper or more likely low zinc during pregnancy this will be transferred through the placenta to the child.
  • A genetic disorder that results in a zinc and B6 deficiency will eventuate in an accumulation and/or excess of copper.
  • Xenoestrogens or other estrogenic compounds in the environment. These are known as endocrine disruptors and are commonly found in pesticides, plastics, cosmetics, personal care products. These will also increase copper retention in the kidneys.
  • Other environmental exposure. Cooking utensils, swimming pools (copper is used as an antifungal), dental materials, medications, cigarette smoke, copper IUDs.

Could this be something I am dealing with? How can we test?

From our clinical experience there is a growing health epidemic of copper dysregulation in large part due to over-reliance on testing blood status.

Copper levels in the blood can remain ‘normal’ even when quite high in the blood. Blood copper only appears high during the mobilisation of copper (when the body is detoxifying copper from the body) or if there is an ongoing exposure i.e. like being on the Pill or an IUD. The blood is a transport system where the problem ends up being in the cells and tissue. Copper stores in the tissue so the only proper assessment of copper dysregulation is with a HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis).

HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis) is a gentle detoxification strategy that also incorporates a healing journey. It is by no means a quick fix. Clients may feel quickly regenerated on starting this process but generally it is a program that takes time and commitment.

HTMA will provide the relationship between your zinc and copper and the status of your adrenals. You need strong adrenals to be able to balance your copper. An indication of your magnesium and calcium levels will also play a role in regulating your copper.

There are a variety of methods to assess the presence of elevated copper and this requires the interpretation of a skilled and knowledgeable Practitioner. Preferences can be blood, hair, and urine.

Results are not always clear and concise. Copper may not be reflected in a hair analysis however there may be other indications of a copper imbalance by looking at the full mineral picture. High copper may indicate your client is a good excretor rather than having a toxicity issue. Or low levels can indicate poor excretion and poor detoxification.

Birth control and copper

Copper Healing

There are several strategies to rebuild your mineral status and nourish the body at the same time. Some detox processes can be harmful and harsh on the body and cause the adrenals to crash so care needs to be taken.

The goal should be to strengthen the body by supporting the adrenals and liver function with a focus on increasing ceruloplasmin production. By trying to eliminate copper or any heavy metal accumulation may only weaken the body and immune function. Rebuilding and remineralising is a gentler and more supportive approach and can protect against copper dumping.

Steps to release copper needs to be supported with a confident Practitioner to lessen the severity of what is known as copper dumping symptoms.  Without careful consideration the incorrect mechanisms can exacerbate the condition. Sometimes copper dumping can be inevitable however the intensity can be lessened, and more preventative strategies adopted.

Sometimes one may feel worse before they feel better. By not knowing how much excess unbound copper is stored in the tissue, liver, or brain (where it accumulates) it needs to be a slow and low approach.

When copper is mobilised it needs to exit through detoxification pathways so generally you may experience detox like symptoms – headaches, skin conditions, difficult to concentrate, mood swings and fatigue. It’s very important to be under the care of a knowledgeable Practitioner.

Symptoms of Copper Dumping

Anxiety/Insomnia/Depression/Liver pain/loose stools or increase in frequency/Mood Issues/ Anger/Emotional Dysregulation/Exaggeration of current presenting symptoms.

Dr Rick Malter* explains that copper dumping occurs as we waste potassium, and this leads to an imbalance of our sodium/potassium and therefore our adrenals and our fight/flight response.

Other Strategies to move copper out of the body

Identify the source or root cause of what may be driving an excess copper picture

Consider antagonist minerals (under the care of a trained Practitioner)

Saunas, Epsom salt baths that encourage sweating (be mindful of not depleting other minerals)

Support the detoxification pathways- skin/liver/kidneys/colon

Reduce/Avoid foods high in copper – chocolate/wheat/coffee/avocadoes/cashews and more

Support your adrenal function

Research vegetarian diets re high copper

Manage stress and your emotional health

Balance your mineral status (using HTMA) under the care of a passionate and knowledgeable Practitioner.

It is vital to your health to have an awareness of your copper picture as the accompanying symptoms can be debilitating to one’s physical, emotional, and mental health.

Mineral balancing is a healing process that brings the body back into balance. Whilst copper may in excess in the body the key strategy is to make it as bioavailable to the body so it can be utilised by the body to support the mechanisms of the body’s’ systems and biochemistry.


Dr Lawrence Wilson Copper Toxicity Syndrome https://drlwilson.com/articles/copper_toxicity_syndrome.htm

Dr Rick Malter  https://malterinstitute.org/

If you would like to know more about copper and whether this affects you, book your free strategy now.