Courtney Snyder, MD
Who knew...copper, the essential trace element important in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, respiration, immune function, energy metabolism and growth, could wreak so much havoc on the mind and body?
I never gave much thought to copper until it presented itself to me in the most delightful way...a dream of a copper tiled ceiling - the most memorable dream I've had. Copper ... "associated with the goddess Aphrodite/Venus in mythology and alchemy, ...symbolic of love, balance, feminine beauty and artistic creativity." So taken with this dream, I painted a mantel copper.
We eventually moved and left that copper mantel and dream behind. Ten years later copper resurfaced at the Walsh Research Institute where Dr. William Walsh was teaching about copper overload - one of the most
common biochemical imbalances found in brain related disorders. "In most persons, blood copper levels are kept in a narrow range through the action of metallothionein, ceruloplasmin, as well as other proteins. Unfortunately, many persons have a genetic inability to regulate copper levels and a serious copper overload can result." - William Walsh, PhD.
It is well understood that neurotransmitters play a role in psychiatric conditions. It is less well known that nutrients impact neurotransmitters.
Copper is a cofactor in the synthesis of norepinephrine:
DOPAMINE -------------------------------------------------------------> NOREPINEPHRINE (adrenaline)
Copper, Vitamine C and Oxygen
Because of this, when copper is elevated, dopamine levels decrease and norepinephrine levels rise. Having these neurotransmitters out of balance can be at play in a whole range of problems including anxiety, panic, bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, and autism. This doesn't mean that all depression (or these other diagnoses) are caused by copper overload. Dr. Walsh's database of chemistries on 10,000 psychiatric patients, show for example, there are five biochemical phenotypes of depression - undermethylation, overmethylation, copper overload, pyroluria and toxic metals. His research did find, however, that overwhelmingly women with postpartum depression had elevated copper levels.
The reason for this? - A strong relationship between estrogen and copper. Copper promotes the production of blood vessels (important if a woman's body thinks she's about to carry a baby). When estrogen goes up (ie. puberty, pregnancy, or with birth control pills or hormone replacement) - there's no problem....unless a woman can't normalize copper afterwards. This can be compounded with each pregnancy and likely explains the tragic news stories of seemingly healthy women who in the midst of a postpartum psychosis harm their children. Much less extreme would be the women who have emotional or other health problems that begin after the birth of their child. This can also be the culprit for girls who develop inattention, anxiety, panic or depression around the onset of puberty.
The rest of the body is not necessarily spared. When you consider that copper is neuro-excitatory (think copper wires conducting electricity), it's not surprising that too much is associated with muscle and joint pain, headaches, brain fog and other symptoms often associated with fibromyalgia. Too much copper can also interrupt the cell's energy cycle and cause fatigue, ie. chronic fatigue syndrome. When you consider that copper promotes vascularization, it makes sense that many women with fibroids, excessive menstrual bleeding and even cancer very often have an abundance of copper (for tumors to grow, they need blood vessels - for blood vessels to grow, they need copper).
Men and boys can have copper overload as well. This may look like hyperactivity, inattention, impulsiveness...sometimes even anger or violence. A mother and son with copper overload can have very different manifestations.
While I've mentioned genetic vulnerabilities and estrogen, there are other exposures that can raise copper including multivitamins with copper and drinking water, especially if from copper pipes or well water. Copper is also in some algae treatments for swimming pools and high in certain foods such as chocolate, seafood, avocado, beans, nuts, lamb and organ meat. When copper overload seems to be affecting multiple family members - ie. a child, a parent and a even a grandparent (copper is being studied in both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's), there is likely a genetic defect related to metallothionein, but a shared exposure is also possible.
If copper overload is so prevalent, why isn't it being identified and treated in conventional medicine? First - physicians rarely check copper levels unless they are looking for the rare and most extreme form of copper toxicity called Wilson's Disease. If they did check levels, many cases of copper overload would not be identified. The Pheiffer/Walsh normal range that we (those who have trained with the Walsh Research Institute) use is narrower than the range provided by most labs. The way we measure copper is by checking serum copper levels and ceruloplasmin (a protein that binds copper). From these, we calculate the percentage of free/unbound copper. It is this free copper that is causing the problems. Someone can have a normal copper level (using a standard lab range, or even the Pheiffer/Walsh range) and still have very high free copper. Through the work of Dr. Walsh, it was found that normalizing to this more specific range could significantly improve symptoms for a large number of people.
Aside from high copper foods, other dietary factors can also be at play, such as zinc and/or protein deficiency. Zinc helps regulate copper and protein is necessary to have enough ceruloplasmin to bind with copper.
So, what can be done? I'd like to say, "zinc, zinc, zinc...." however, it's more complicated than that. Knowing someone's zinc level is helpful, otherwise you may not know how much (if any) zinc they need. Too much zinc, too quickly can rapidly mobilize copper and a cause worsening of symptoms. Excess zinc can cause anemia. We use other nutrients as well to help normalize copper. Knowing Vitamin D levels and thyroid functions are also important. If abnormal, these will need to be corrected in order to more easily correct the copper overload. In short, treatment involves:
As for my copper dream - I was pregnant with my daughter at that time. Thanks to copper, there was a good blood supply for her and she grew into a healthy baby. It's likely, however, that is when my own copper levels were starting to rise. Eventually, I would reach that copper ceiling and for me that meant severe headaches, muscle pain, fatigue and a range of neurologic symptoms that I was previously unable to find help for. But for checking my own levels upon returning home from my training, I may have never known, just as many others may never know.
Post Script - Sometime after writing this post, I discovered that I also mold toxicity and realized this was likely another factor in my elevated copper).
To find a physician trained in treating copper overload, (or if you are a physician interested in training in the evaluation and treatment of biochemical imbalances), visit walshinstitute.org.
6/11/2015 11:48:59 am
Wow, Courtney, how amazing that you dreamed of the copper ceiling long before you ever knew about your own elevated copper levels! Great post. It's remarkable that such a common treatable problem is completely unrecognized by conventional psychiatry.
6/11/2015 09:49:54 pm
Thanks so much, Judy. I'm hoping that with greater awareness, more doctors will be trained. Yes - I'm grateful for that dream. It helped me look at copper (in my life) differently than had I just considered it biochemically. I also like that that copper is ancient feminine symbol and now we know there's a strong relationship between copper and estrogen.
2/26/2019 07:32:40 pm
I just found out my copper levels are 222. The highest my doctor has seen. Needless to say I am looking forward to starting zinc and the other supplements he put me on!
2/27/2019 05:50:07 am
Alissa, please check the discussion I was in earlier with Dr. Snyder. Supplementing zinc is good, but you definitely need to look for insidious sources of copper in your environment, such as water pipes. I still have no filter on my tap water, but I never drink water, or use it for coffee when it has sat overnight in the copper plumbing, absorbing copper. My first-draw morning cold water tested about 900% higher in copper compared to what I found after the water had run for a half minute. This is scary, but just one way you may be ingesting/breathing a lot of copper.
6/13/2020 09:05:03 pm
My free serum copper is 480. I have not yet started any protocols other than told to take Metalloclear and Zinc Pic. I am trying to locate a doctor that can really address this properly. This has been very helpful.
6/11/2015 11:21:16 pm
That is truly amazing that copper is an ancient feminine symbol and it is so impacted by estrogen. I wonder what other "elementals" have those sorts of associations.
6/12/2015 08:59:16 pm
Judy - Perhaps you're already familiar with this website by Avi Venefica about symbolism. She has a page listing the metals and their symbolism - ie. iron being a ancient male symbol and even has the same sign as is used for male.....http://www.whats-your-sign.com/elemental-alchemy-symbols.html
6/13/2015 01:00:34 am
Thank you for such a clear explanation of something so complicated. I'm excited that in addition to the impact of trauma, psychiatry is looking at nutrients and heavy metal. I'm hoping the Postpartum Support Kentuckiana gets you on their speaker list immediately!!
6/13/2015 03:55:41 am
Your welcome, Katie. Thank you. And, yes - there are so many things at play.
6/16/2015 12:01:53 pm
I am speechless! I am going to send this to my Doctor!
6/17/2015 03:48:06 am
You may want to also let her/him know, there's a lot of good information on the Walsh Research Institute Website. (link above).
1/26/2019 07:59:38 pm
What are your thoughts on the use of Paraguard? I feel like it’s use could be causing some of the symptoms mentioned and I thought maybe they were related(as well as my routine spotting that my OB workuo woth an ultrasound and ultimately said it’s jusy a side effect 😒) . I have been seriously contemplating removing it for over a year now and this might have just put me over the edge.
6/16/2015 11:31:57 pm
For more on excess copper from plumbing and as a possible cause of Alzheimer's, here's an article I happened on a year and a half ago:
6/17/2015 04:22:29 am
Glenn - thanks so much for sharing that link as well as your very informative experience. While there are many theories out there re: Alzheimers, it (as with anything), is likely a combination of factors, I think the most promising work currently is by Dr. Walsh, in which he is basically addressing metal metabolism (of which copper overload would be at the core) - by promoting the functioning of the metallothionine protein (one of the body's major antioxidants). Basically, they are finding that by doing so, they can very often halt the progression of Alzheimers. We use this same therapy, called Metallothioneine Promotion Therapy in the treatment of autism. So, as far as your link, I would say, yes, it seems copper to be a significant factor in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's. We don't have double blind, placebo controlled studies yet).
6/17/2015 07:32:57 am
Thanks. I just read Dr. Walsh's presentation on Metallothioneine Promotion Therapy. Interesting. Does he cover that at all in "Nutrient Power"?
6/18/2015 01:47:22 am
6/18/2015 09:40:11 am
Thanks for the Dr. Walsh talk. It was all very fascinating. I'm glad there are such dedicated people to continue the investigation for dozens of years.
6/30/2015 06:56:09 am
I am a primary care physician in Dublin and I attended the Dr Walsh course in Sydney in 2006. I learned a great deal there and I use his work almost every day. High copper in women is very common in Ireland and it is quite easy to bring it down after the first month of treatment. I have been to courses all over the world from Harvard to Cambridge but the course in Australia was the most useful of them all. Every week I utterly change the life of some people and it is a real privilege to have that opportunity.
6/30/2015 08:22:46 am
Thank you, Edmond, for commenting and describing so well what I think has been the experience of many of us who are using Dr. Walsh's work in our everyday practice. The course just became available to physicians in the US last year, so your have more experience than most of us here. Separately - because of my love of Ireland, your name on the WRI site previously caught my attention and led me to visit both your website and see your video about nutrient therapies online. I hope all is well in your beautiful and hospitable country. Thanks again. - Courtney
11/12/2018 07:32:23 am
Hi Edmond, I'm in the UK, desperate to get well and am very confused by so many potential answers, I have a fibroid, heavy periods, low immunity, fatigue, ringing in my ears... I am mthfr homozygous too. Would you know where to direct me for help in the UK? Thank you.
8/1/2015 12:46:01 pm
A fantastic and informative article!.
8/3/2015 05:50:59 am
Thank you, Vanessa. The ranges used by those of us trained with the Walsh Research Institute are different than what you would typically see on most lab reports, however these ranges are based on research on large populations with psychiatric/brain related symptoms. So for us, a zinc at the low end of normal (in a typical lab range) may be considered significantly deficient. I check serum copper and ceruloplasmin and then from those calculate the percentage of free copper and do not measure copper through hair.
8/3/2015 08:50:24 am
Thank you Dr. Snyder for this thoughtful reply. This is very helpful, especially with regard to the lab testing. Is it the Direct Healthcare Access Lab that WRI trained practitioners normally use?
9/22/2015 07:53:57 am
8/1/2015 12:57:53 pm
I wish we had more MD's and psychiatrists here in Canada that were better educated on this topic. I am struggling to find a practitioner who can help me investigate this further.
8/3/2015 05:58:03 am
Ah - Canada - Apologies I didn't realize you weren't in the US - still you may want to consider contacting the WRI and seeing if anyone has trained from Canada (or the northern US). They trained a group in June and those names may not have made it to the website yet. I would love to come to Canada.
12/19/2015 01:42:27 pm
Since reading this article a while back, I have passed on several copies to the physicians and psychiatrists that I know. Spreading the word because this is not well known in the medical community here in Canada. I also got the Walsh panel of tests done at Direct Healthcare AccessII Labs (metabolic panel) recently. Looks like the testing confirms the copper overload/low zinc that was initially flagged in the hair element profile. I also found out I am severely overmethylated. It feels good to have finally identified the underlying causes after about a decade of struggling with insomnia, hypersensitivity and treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. This is great!
12/28/2015 08:38:57 pm
Hi Vanessa. Though I haven't seen liver function tests being impacted, "serious copper dump and flare up of symptoms" would make me think of a couple of things - we typically nutrients, including zinc, slowly to avoid intolerable worsening of symptoms. Some individuals will need to go especially slow. If someone is unable to tolerate the nutrients or having severe "detox," it also leads me to think of gastrointestinal candida or yeast overgrowth which may need to be addressed simultaneously. If someone's copper is extremely high, we may use a nutrient combination that helps promote the functioning of metallothionine (a major antioxidant in the body) that has many roles, one is to regulate trace metals. This combined supplement requires a prescription and monitoring by a physician trained in using it. Glutathione is just one of the components. This particular treatment can be used in under and over methylation. At the moment, I don't use NAC or glutathione (other than as I described above). Thank you for your questions and comment. Best to you as your find your answers.
12/27/2015 03:35:17 pm
I am so glad to have found your site. I suffered from postpartum psychosis 2 months postpartum and was put on an antipsychotic. I came off of the antipsychotic 5 months later and now have insomnia. From what I've researched I think I have copper overload. I believe my body is trying to eliminate the extra copper on its own but I want to see a doctor to get tested and start a plan. Everything I've researched says the detox can take years but your site says 2 months. This is giving me great hope. What is so different about your plan that it takes less time. How hard is the detox? Thank you.
12/28/2015 08:53:48 pm
Hi Darcie. The "detox" can be pretty variable, though most people tolerate it well if the nutrients are increased gradually. I don't have an answer for you as to why what you've read suggests copper clearing can take years (I don't know what they are using to lower copper). I would direct you to Dr. William Walsh's book, "Nutrient Power" which may help you differentiate what you've read and what I and those trained at the Walsh Research Institute are doing to address elevated copper. Thank you for your comment. Best to you as you pursue your answers.
6/2/2016 05:22:38 am
" The way we measure copper is by checking plasma copper levels and ceruloplasmin (a protein that binds copper).."
6/2/2016 06:00:49 am
Peter - Thanks so much for pointing that out. Yes, you are absolutely correct - we check serum copper. My error and not an insignificant one at that. I suspect I was thinking "plasma" zinc when I mistyped that. I just made the correction. Thanks again. Courtney
9/13/2016 06:44:43 am
I wonder if using the Copper 7 I.U.D. would have any effect?? I used one for several years in my 20's + 30's - then changed to the 3 month injections (don't know what was in them either!!!) - am 64 now!... I have been ill all of this time, with Fibromyalgia and quite a lot more illnesses - but as times change and we learn more - it could all be something else?? grateful for any comments ? thanks
3/7/2017 05:18:39 pm
5/12/2017 01:32:04 pm
Lyn - apologies for my very delayed response. You likely have your answers by now, but yes, copper IUD's can contribute to elevated copper in someone who has problems regulating copper. There are a number of issues that can contribute to chronic fatigue beyond elevated copper. You may want to visit the website of Dr. Neil Nathan who addresses many of these on his website including mold toxicity, mast cell activation, tick born illnesses like Lyme, etc.
2/22/2017 06:03:31 pm
I was tested years ago by Dr Mensah and I was undermythelated, low zinc and mild pyroluria. I take my targeted supplements but I also have been taking a stimulant (adderall) for chronic ADHD for over ten years. I have tried to stop the adderall but my symptoms return. I have even tried taking certain amino acids which help but I find nothing works like the stimulant with my symtoms. To counter act much of the oxidative stress I take a number of targeted nutrients such as zinc; B6; evening primrose...all the correct ones...My question, just how damaging is taking a stimulant med for my issues? I am careful not to abuse it and my dose has stayed consistent for years now. I do want to test my copper and zinc levels, do you know if adderall can increase copper levels? I do worry about taking this med but again, it does work although now i am concerned about it leading to adrenal issues...which could really be elevated copper?
5/12/2017 01:39:40 pm
Michele - we would not expect stimulant medication to cause copper levels to go up. Beyond nutrient imbalances, histamine intolerance, food sensitivities and other sources of inflammation, etc. can cause attentional problems, as well as other problems in the body.
I like to share some interesting links about Dr. Walsh / Dr. Pfeiffer research.
5/24/2017 08:03:08 am
Is 'copper dysregulation' a consideration for someone diagnosed as 'bipolar' ..??... A friends 24 yr old daughter is struggling -- all the different antidepressants the psychiatrist has prescribed doesn't seem to be helping.
6/26/2017 04:25:27 pm
Elevated copper can certainly be at play, as elevated copper can cause someone to have depression, ADHD like symptoms and high anxiety. More often, however, we think of overmethylation (with Bipolar 1 - mania being the predominant problem) - and for these individuals, a mood stabilizer rather than an antidepressant would usually be recommended. Or we think of undermethlyation (with Bipolar 2 - primarily depressive episodes with episodes of hypmania which is less severe than mania) . Or pyrrole disorder which presents as a rapid cycling mood disorder- rapid fluctuations between mood states without longer episodes. Dr. Walsh is about to publish an e-book about bipolar disorder in which it describes bipolar disorder as an ion "channelopathy" - which relates to the movement of ions across the nerve cell. It's a complicated theory, but explains why the nerves have decreased activity at times and then increased activity at other times. This is why when we use nutrient protocols for Bipolar disorder, we often have to switch the protocol depending on if the person is tending towards depression or mania. Bipolar disorder is unique in this regard - usually we expect a nutrient protocol to be stable. All that being said, there are a number of people who are misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder who have something else going on.
4/17/2022 08:12:38 am
I'm curious if this e-book ever got published by Dr. Walsh? The one about bipolar?
My issues with copper overload were mainly nutritional. I had trouble getting enough of certain nutrients, especially iron. I discovered my copper overload by switching to the Centrum Adults multivitamin. I wanted to see if another brand of multivitamin, with different percentages of certain nutrients, would help me get more iron. It had a high zinc-to-copper ratio. I was concerned that it only had 25% of the RDA for copper, so I decided to research it to see if it would be an issue. I ended up reading about copper toxicity and wondered if it might be my issue. Although I was feeling better on the new multivitamin, I was having other symptoms that I wondered were due to copper elimination. Since balancing copper and zinc in my diet, I no longer need a multivitamin. I take 400 IU of vitamin D and get enough vitamin A in my diet to balance it out. I also balance vitamin E and iron in my diet. My skin has really cleared up, and I actually gained about seven or eight pounds. I thought the copper toxicity caused some malnutrition, which at one time I thought might be due to undiagnosed celiac disease. Testing for celiac came back negative. Overall I'm feeling much healthier.
3/5/2018 02:45:43 pm
Thanks for sharing experience with copper overload. I'm glad you're doing so well.
10/15/2017 08:39:38 pm
Hi I have been tested and have high copper levels and want to visit with a doctor that is knowledgeable in this area. Do you have a list of doctors that are aware of this problem.
10/16/2017 12:06:47 pm
Hi Katie -
11/8/2017 08:17:48 am
Excellent article! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it :)
3/5/2018 02:43:21 pm
Thank you, Chrissy, for letting me know. I'm glad you enjoyed reading that. Courtney
11/8/2017 05:45:28 pm
It appears that this 'copper dysregulation' topic could use some more attention.... seems to affect a lot of people.
3/5/2018 02:42:24 pm
Jann, - Yes! - it really could... and yes, it does.
4/13/2018 10:33:31 am
Great article. Thanks for this Courtney. I’m on a search to learn more about what breastfeeding postpartum moms can do when they have elevated copper levels. Are supplements safe or would the copper end up in the milk? Any good reading you can recommend? I know my copper levels are high since giving birth and I want to prepare for another baby.
4/16/2018 01:01:48 pm
Cathleen J Dell
7/3/2018 06:48:39 am
Wow, amazing read! Thank you. A bit about my medical history. Juvenile RA, Adult RA, and had a Gastric By-pass December of 2016. My weight loss has been an amazing success. However, my blood work shows boarder line low zinc and boarder line high copper. All of the other nutrients are in the low "within acceptable range." My GP and I are both very concerned because I continue to lose weight even though I am a year and a half post surgery. To date I have lost 168 pounds. I was most healthy when I reached 130 pounds but now I am down to 117. It is my understanding that I am experiencing a malabsorption issue.
9/16/2018 10:23:47 pm
Please help me . .Im pretty sure I've developed Copper overload from my iud. I have read so many articles on it and I've joined a fb group for Copper toxicity and there are thousands of other women too! I'm debilitated. I've lost my job. I can't drive anymore. My anxiety is so bad! I've been to numerous doctors and they just tell me I'm depressed and put me on anti-depressants. I know that's not what is wrong with me. I had a very good life ! Great job . I'm loosing everything. I looked for a doctor near me on the website and it looks like the closest one is hours away... I would like to get a hair analysis done but can't afford one. I have insurance but I have a crappy doctor that won't order one, like I said she thinks I'm just depressed .I know I have too much Copper. I need help. Please tell me where to start.
9/17/2018 04:11:43 pm
Hi Melissa, copper overload can be a bad thing, but it also takes 6-12 months to heal with the right supplements. I do not know where you are from, but I would highly recommend start by reading "Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, by William J. Walsh". It will be boring for the first 6 hours (if you buy the audible audio version), then the latter 2-4 hours it will be very interesting as the examples come out and one goes "hey that's me", but sticking through the first 6 hours helps to understand that section better. I also made a website with some more info, but it's not complete. See practical healing . com (without any spaces). Sorry I've let my https certificate expire. Basically once you have the knowledge of Walsh, you need to find a doctor trained by him not too far from you. You can find that info on Walsh' website. Stick in there. I have been in dire situations before myself and each time managed to get out of it at the end. I will pray for you and ask you to join my prayer for you. God can and will heal all things, but in His time. Sometimes we're on a journey that's not finished yet. God bless.
10/31/2018 09:47:15 pm
9/17/2018 12:46:20 pm
Hi Melissa. I’m sorry you are struggling and having difficulty finding what you need. On the Walsh Research Institute Website under the resource tabs, there are some doctor’s listed who provide telepsychiatry/treatment (as opposed to consultations). DHA lab has panels that include serum copper and ceruloplasmin. They also have a consultation with a physician with expertise in this area.
11/2/2018 08:58:09 pm
Thank you so much! And did I read in your article about Celtic salt? I've been using this every-day. It's made a big difference. Tell me more about this and how it helped you.
1/19/2019 10:03:59 pm
Thank you for the information, Courtney Snyder!
2/13/2019 11:25:47 am
hi Courtney, I'm really battling. I'm 44 and was just told that I have Wilson's Disease. the psychiatric symptoms are the worst. I suffer memory loss and I've become very different in character. I'm on zinc but I'm told the damage may be irreversible. please help. any advice will be appreciated.
2/13/2019 06:13:42 pm
Hi Nina. I’m sorry you are struggling. I’m assuming you are seeing a liver specialist who is treating you for Wilson’s Disease. You might also consider seeing a functional medicine doctor who could evaluate you for other contributing factors (the Walsh Research Institute Website has a resource page). Also you it could be helpful to see a functional neurologist who could evaluate and give targeted treatments to the areas of your CNS that may have been impacted. There is a great deal of work on “neuroplasticity” which relates the way the brain attempts to heal itself and growing belief that what was once thought be irreversible can often be significantly improved upon with strategies to promote neuroplasticity. You may want to look into this. Kind regards, Courtney
12/9/2019 11:00:00 pm
Thanks for the informative article. I have calculated a high free serum copper (low ceruloplasmin). However, the urine copper over 24 hours is low, so it doesn’t quite fit the Wilson’s disease picture. Can you please comment on this? The biochemist says that the urine copper being low means that this is a copper deficiency. However, the high unbound or free serum copper is high. How would you interpret these results?
4/20/2023 02:49:56 am
Same Problem. Have not found a way to increase ceruloplasmin yet. Adding Copper supplements just spiked free copper even higher because ceruloplasmin does not move.
Roel Van de Paar
2/13/2019 10:05:20 pm
Hi Nina. Sorry to hear. I'll pray. God bless
2/26/2020 07:56:35 am
Can a patient's copper be on the low side 85 and still have copper toxicity? Zinc was low side too at 76 Haven't checked the ceruplasmin yet though
5/21/2020 09:49:00 am
If the ceruloplasmin is relatively low, then yes, the percent free copper could be high. Also, ideally a zinc copper ration is 1:1, so the ratio you give shows a copper zinc imbalance.
4/28/2020 02:05:42 pm
Ever since starting estrogen birth control pills, I have experienced mood swings, constant irritability and irrational rage. In addition, I have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and am struggling with infertility. My TSH levels now (post thyroidectomy) are 12.4. I just came across the idea of copper toxicity as a potential cause for these symptoms. I don’t think my copper has ever been tested. Would it contribute to my psychotic behavior? Any insights would be much appreciated, as all doctors tell me it’s all in my head and to just go on an antidepressant. Thank you!
5/21/2020 04:15:17 am
5/21/2020 09:47:08 am
Hi Micah. When it come to nutrient imbalances, there is a very strong association with irritability, rage episodes and high copper. And, we know that for those who are vulnerable to copper overload, added estrogen can cause copper levels to go higher. This is a fairly common issue, made more common by birth control pills. Courtney
5/21/2020 10:55:42 am
Thank you so much! I have also been diagnosed with MTHFR, which my midwife says can impair the ability to detox heavy metals.
Tina M Crooke
4/30/2021 08:28:15 am
My 15 years old daughter has high serum copper and high serum cereplasmin but normal copper urine. I cant find a doctor to help us with this! very frustrating!
5/7/2021 05:31:54 am
5/23/2021 07:01:21 pm
5/25/2021 05:17:10 pm
Hi Cleo. Typically I'm tracking serum copper (as opposed to plasma) so it is difficult for me to comment on those levels. Serum copper and plasma copper are not necessarily the same. I wouldn't expect zinc, if dosed to optimal ranges, to cause a drop in iron levels, however, there are other strategies beyond zinc that we use to bring copper down (molybdenum and if necessary - MT promotion therapy). Copper is a cofactor in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine. I don't know of it impacting serotonin levels directly. If you can clarify I'm glad to respond - I'm not sure what you mean about the ratio of zinc or about the contact information. Courtney
6/3/2021 12:54:39 pm
MY life has literally changed for the worst in the past year. I have extreme anxiety, extreme fatigue, along with a myriad of other issues. I just went to a functional medicine doctor and my copper level is 250 - Do you think this could be a reasoning for the things going on? Ive taken birth control for 16 years so maybe thats where its coming from.
6/6/2021 12:30:57 pm
Hi Ashley. A copper level of 250 could certainly be the primary or one of the primary factors for anxiety and fatigue and yes, any estrogen can contribute to copper going higher in someone who is vulnerable. It sounds like you are on the right track if you've already found a functional medicine doctor who has identified this. Hopefully you can start to feel better with treatment to address this. Warm Regards, Courtney
8/4/2021 02:19:49 am
My local health coach recommended a daily zinc intake of 130mg because of copper overload. This seems crazy high to me. Could anyone share what the usual dosage is that Dr Walsh recommends. Is it really that high?
8/4/2021 04:27:00 am
8/10/2021 01:07:06 pm
10/28/2022 03:24:57 am
Hi I have had symptoms all my life diagnosed with fibromyalgia in my late twenties
1/18/2023 01:06:22 pm
Hi Courtney, I am still recovering from copper toxicity, great article. More people need to know about this, I have it, my dad has it and my son has it. I am just slowly resolving my own copper toxicity and when I know how to do me, then my son is next. Its crazy. But im glad I found it and that I can do something.
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Courtney Snyder, MD
I'm a conventionally trained child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. My current approach to health is both holistic (pertaining to the whole person) and functional (addressing the root causes of illness). I write this blog to share what I've learned.