By Michael Biamonte, C.C.N.
Copper is an essential nutrient. Without enough copper you can develop malignancies, bacterial infections, arthritis, heart diseases, neurological disorders, anemia and other disorders. Clearly having low levels of copper can cause health problems. However, excess copper (meaning an overload which is toxic to the body) is common and can causes a variety of symptoms and maladies. Most doctors are unaware that copper toxicity is a widespread problem in the U.S. The human body contains about 80 mg of copper. Daily intake from foods is usually 3-5 mgs. If the metabolism is fast copper is used up quickly and may become deficient. If the metabolism is slow then copper will not be used quickly and it will accumulate in the tissues. Copper water pipes can lead to copper toxicity. The appearance of bluish green discoloration on the drain or porcelain plumbing fixtures is a sign of excess copper in the water. Copper sprays are also used by farmers to prevent fungus and algae growth and produce. Copper is stored in the liver and is a principle constituent of bile. If constipation occurs, bile will not be excreted in the correct amounts. This causes copper build up in the liver. Copper can also invade other tissues and organs. It can build up in the brain as well. Excess copper can even be deposited in the eyes causing a copper ring to form in the cornea. This happens in extreme cases or in “Wilson’s Disease”. Wilson’s is a genetic defect. Copper accumulates as the metabolism slows down. If the energy producing glands, the adrenal and thyroid gland, slow down copper will build up. However, copper also slows down these glands. A women can also transfer excess copper to her fetus while it is developing in the womb. In this case the baby will be born with excess copper and may be prone toward bowel problems, allergies, asthma and skin problems. Mercury fillings have been given a lot of attention over the last few years. Many doctors feel that the mercury contained in the fillings can leak into the body and cause a host of medical problems. “Mercury fillings” also contain high amounts of copper! Dr David Watts, the director of research at Trace Minerals Inc., feels that copper is equally or more dangerous then mercury. Copper can have a very negative effect on a women reproductive system. PMS and Postpartum depression are associated with copper toxicity. Estrogen and copper are closely related. As estrogen rises more copper is retained by the body. Estrogen’s rises during pregnancy, during the premenstrual cycle and while taking estrogen medications including many birth control pills. Copper increases sodium retention which aggravates PMS symptoms. Copper also antagonizes zinc and B6 which help reduce PMS symptoms. Fibroids and cysts in the reproductive system are more common in high copper patients. Copper has been shown to antagonize the function of both the adrenal glands and the thyroid. All hypo thyroid patients are seen to have elevated levels of copper. Copper blocks the activity of hormones produced by these glands causing weight gain on the thighs and hips, hair loss, cold hands and feet, fatigue and constipation. Excess copper interferes with fat digestion and metabolism. Copper stores in the liver. When in excess it causes a sluggish liver which cannot properly metabolize fats. This is partially do to copper blocking effect on nutrients and enzymes that burn up fats. It is also caused by the formation of gallstones Copper encourages the formation of gallstones! This causes a diminished flow of bile which is the main substance that helps break down fats. This also causes wastes, which the liver would normally excrete, to build up.
There is a strong correlation between migraines and high copper!
Reducing copper levels have been shown to greatly reduce migraines. It is thought the excess free radical or toxic activity causes inflammation that causes migraines. Copper also causes estrogen induced migraines. These are migraines that occur either before or after the menstrual cycle. As I said earlier copper is important to the body and particularly the immune system. The thymus gland uses copper to attract toxins of all kinds. The toxins bound to copper are then transported through the lymphatic system to the liver were the liver discards them. If the liver is unable to eliminate them a build up may occur in both the liver , the lymph system and the thymus itself. This will cause a suppression of the immune system. The adrenal and thyroid glands also stimulate the immune system through the nervous system. As mentioned previously the adrenal and thyroid glands can be suppressed by elevated copper. While copper is necessary to help fight bacterial infection, excess copper can increase susceptibility to viral infections. Copper has also been found to activate virus already in the body. HIV and EBV patients commonly have very elevated copper levels. Copper in excess, blocks the functions of many minerals and vitamins. Zinc has been used to treat acne and eczema for many years. Its beneficial effect on these skin problems may be largely due to its copper lowering effect. Zinc is the main mineral antagonist to copper. Zinc helps to flush excess copper out of the body Copper toxicity is routinely found in those with acne and eczema. Copper can clog the lymph system causing toxins to breakout through the skin. Since it interferes with fat digestion it cause a deficiency of vitamin A, E and essential fatty acids regardless of how much you are taking. Researches have found that elevated copper levels common in both these conditions. Dramatic improvement has been noted when copper levels are corrected. The theory of why this is largely centers around brain hemisphere dominance. It is interesting to note that children with ADD also frequently have elevated copper as well as other toxic metals.
CAUSES OF HIGH COPPER!
Any medication that has a tranquilizing or sedating effect can raise copper. Estrogen medications also have a copper increasing effect. Most psychotrophic drugs have a copper elevating effect. Also any medications that interfere with liver or gallbladder function will elevate copper as excess copper is excreted through bile. Constipation can cause copper toxicity. The body eliminates copper through the stool. Bile from the liver carries copper into the stool and out of the body. If bile is not secreted into the stool it will accumulate in the liver. Copper can however cause constipation. Do to its “slow down effect” on the liver and the metabolism it will cause the digestion to slow down and cause constipation. The key is what comes first, the copper or the constipation. Vegetarian diets can promote copper toxicity. They tend to be low in zinc and high in copper. Soy is very high in copper and estrogen’s which increase copper storage. Soy also contains “thiocyanates” which slow down the thyroid . Animal protein which is high in zinc has been found to cause copper excretion. Fructose and flax oil also pull copper out of the body. Candida and parasites create both toxicity and infections that can encourage the body to hold onto more copper. The body uses copper to try and “clean up” after the infection. However this can get out of hand and result in extreme build up which then has the reverse effect of suppressing the immune system.
I have been developing programs to reduce copper levels for 15 years. The body must be clear of chronic infections and the bowels must be moving well for the programs to work. So if these areas are problems they must be addressed first. A special diet of copper lowering foods along with newly formulated supplements are used to remove the copper from the tissues and get it excreted from the body. This can take several months depending on the overload. Often the person will taste copper in the mouth as it leaves the system. This is normal. Copper removal can cause headaches and flu like symptoms. These are temporary. Generally, copper removal should be done slowly and gradually to insure that sudden severe reactions do not occur.
Michael Biamonte holds a Doctorate of Nutripathy, and is a New York State certified Clinical Nutritionist. He is a professional member of the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists,The American College of Nutrition and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. He is listed in “The Directory of Distinguished Americans” for his research in Nutrition and Physiology.
For an appointment, contact our office.
©1997 – Current Year: MTB Management, Inc.