After suffering from hyperthyroid-like symptoms for three years, I came across a fascinating article, which made a link between full-blown hyperthyroidism and copper deficiency. My symptoms were anxiety, total inability to handle even slight stress, heart palpitations, feeling cold, inability to handle stimulants, muscle aches, exhaustion (after slight stress), insomnia, etc.
I read this article in February 2016: "Recovery from Hyperthyroidism" by John L. Johnson, published on Ithyroid.com. The author had overcome hyperthyroidism by supplementing with copper and other nutrients. I followed his advice and for the first time in three years, began to feel stronger - less heart palpitations, not so affected by stress anymore, and able to give a presentation without panic attack -like symptoms.
Whereas copper toxicity gets a lot of press in alternative health circles these days, a mention of copper deficiency is met with silence. However, the condition considered to be rare may in fact be more prevalent than we think. It is important to note that the same substance can act either as a nutrient or as a toxin in the body, depending on how well the body is able to utilise it.
Copper in its nutrient form, i.e. easy-to-digest form (and when the body is healthy enough to utilise it well) is very important for health, as reported by the Globalhealingcenter.com in an article 'Are You Copper Deficient?'. They and other sources report:
University of Maryland Medical Center reports: "Signs of possible copper deficiency include anemia, low body temperature, bone fractures and osteoporosis, low white blood cell count, irregular heartbeat, loss of pigment from the skin, and thyroid problems" (Source).
In the mainstream medical advice to the general population, copper deficiency has been reported to be a rare disease. However, Global Healing Center article (linked to above) reports that 25% of the population in the USA may be copper deficient. Also, 'Holistic Primary Care' magazine reports: "Despite their obviously different appearances, osteoporosis, anemia, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular disease, and impaired cellular immunity may all be manifestations of copper deficiency, an often overlooked nutritional problem that is more common than many doctors realize." ("Copper Deficiency May Underlie Osteoporosis, Anemia and Neurodegenerative Disorders")
One of the possible causes of copper deficiency, as widely reported, is excess zinc supplementation. It is important to keep the right balance between copper and zinc in the body.
I first began to take zinc supplements as a result of doing the 'hair mineral analysis' as part of a Nutritional Balancing Program based on the work of Dr. Paul Eck and Dr. Lawrence Wilson. I was first doing the program half-heartedly, avoiding too many supplements, but around June 2013 I began to take all the supplements recommended, which included 'Endo-Pan' by ARL Labs, one per day, which has 22.5mg of zinc per capsule. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for most adult females is 8mg/ day. In July 2013 - only a month later - I began to have fairly strong social and other anxiety symptoms, as reported in an article outlining the my first and second 'hair mineral analysis test results.
Whereas the first and second hair mineral analysis tests showed too low copper levels (and potential copper deficiency), the third test (after I had begun to supplement with zinc and suffer from anxiety) in March 2014 showed very high levels of copper in the hair. Although the nutritionists I was consulting with saw this as a good sign, saying that my body had begun to detoxify toxic copper, I now - knowing what came after - take this to mean that the zinc I was supplementing with caused inhibition in copper absorption, causing copper to become dumped in the body's tissues, including hair, instead of being utilised as a nutrient.
My blood tested for no anemia, but low ferritin levels, which some sources say is a sign of the body not utilising iron correctly, a kind of 'hidden anemia'. I got one blood test showing low THS hormone indicating (probably:) pituitary gland out of balance and (definitely:) a slighly overactive thyroid gland.
Very recently, some one month before writing this article, I found a suggestion of a link between copper deficiency and hyperthyroidism. I began supplementing with almost exactly the same supplements as recommended by John L. Johnson in the article: "Recovery from Hyperthyroidism", published on Ithyroid.com. Surprisingly, I quickly began to feel stronger. My social anxiety lessened, I was able to tolerate stress much much better, I didn't get muscle aches and physical exhaustion anywhere near as much as usual, and my body temperature began to feel more balanced (I felt warmer). Another surprising symptom was that my menstrual cramps lessened greatly, which may be a coincidence but I have good reason to believe that the cramps have been for very long time been linked to anemia (and possibly protein deficiency) - to be confirmed.
Oddly, menstrual cramps have often been linked to copper toxicity and estrogen excess, whereas in my case the opposite seems to be the case. I have heard it mentioned that those with anemia tend to have worse menstrual cramps, however.
After this experience, I've begun to advice people against 'hair mineral analysis', at least in the form practiced by those following Dr. Lawrence Wilson's version of the Nutritional Balancing Program. Although he seems very knowledgable and the information available on his website and his books can be extremely helpful, I also believe that the high quantities of supplements they recommend are risky. [I will write a more in-depth explanation of all the concerns I have regarding this method of alternative medicine, link to be provided in due course.]
I would also advice great caution in general, when taking supplements, as it seems that they can have powerful effects.
Specifically, the supplementation I took was, daily: Solgar chelated copper: 5-7.5mg; boron: 6mg; calcium: 1g; magnesium: 1g; vitamin B1: 200mg; vitamin B2: 100mg; a probiotic. Also: Solgar no-flush niacin: 500mg every other day; D3 vitamin 2500 IU almost every day; Spatone liquid iron almost every day.
An interesting read is also the Linus Pauling Institute's Micronutrient Information Center's report on copper, although they do not mention a link with hyperthryroidism.
Although my symptoms have not yet completely disappeared after four weeks' of supplementation, I feel so much better that I was prompted to write this article to share this information. Although there may be many causes of hyperthyroidism, I find the information on copper as a nutrient so fascinating, that I think it definitely warrants further study. For further information on hyperthyroidism, please read: "Natural Health Remedy Library > Hyperthyroidism".
To understand human health, we need to cultivate a more complex understanding of metals, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients, than just whether it is 'good' or 'bad' for you. A nutrient, such as copper, can be become toxic if eaten either in excess, or in a form that the body can't utilise. Take iron for example: You wouldn't dream of swallowing pieces of an iron pot, expecting to get nutrients out of it. Nevertheless, you recognise the importance of iron in nutrient form, e.g. as found in green vegetables.
Plants are able to transform many minerals into a form that humans can digest, which makes natural, plant-based foods probably the most reliable source of nutrients. When you starting taking artificial supplements, you may have good reason to start to worry about how well your body is able to make use of those nutrients, if at all. Without getting deeper into the topic of supplements here, I just want to note that some supplements are easier to digest and utilise than others, where the quality and quantity of the nutrient, as well as your personal biochemistry will determine whether the effect is toxic or nutritious to the body. Supplements can be very beneficial, but they have to be taken with care.
When studying this topic further, please keep in mind that it is possible to be both copper deficient and copper toxic at the same time. That is to say, you can have toxic, unutilised copper (free copper) stuck in your tissues, either because it was in undigestible form or because your body couldn't digest it well. Simultaneously, you might not have enough copper in the form that the body can utilise (bound copper).
"... while you may be building up a lot of copper in your body, you may also have the symptoms of copper deficiency because the copper is bio-unavailable. The copper is not in usable form so you will have both deficiency symptoms and symptoms of toxicity." - Weston A. Price Foundation website - "Metals and the Mind"
The longer I supplemented with copper (Solgar Chelated Copper, 2500 micrograms tablets), the more I would have problems with diarrhea, and gas (especially foul smell). I have tried to test leaving out copper and other supplements at different times and bringing them back, etc., and it seems that copper is the culprit, although I can't say for sure since the testing has been a bit half-hearted, because I've been busy on deadlines.
Some websites warn you that you should definitely not take any copper if you get diarrhea from it, as it can lead to serious problems. I left out all the supplements for a while and I began to feel less strong, a bit more anxious (though not as bad as before) and my newly-found exercise stamina lessened also. The rest of the supplements, without copper, seem to have a beneficial effect on me also, but it seems that copper has a stronger beneficial effect (again, needs retesting).
I've been searching and searching to find whether it's possible that the diarrhea is some kind of detoxification effect. Because I always feel very good - balanced, calm and light afterwards, as if some toxins would have left my body. So I'm tempted to continue with the supplementation and see if the negative symptoms lessen with time.
The only thing I've found to support this thought was in Dr. Gabriel Cousens' book: 'Spiritual Nutrition', where he says that copper is an effective parasite killer, and can cause die-off symptoms. Diarrhea has been sometimes mentioned as one of many parasite die-off symptoms (Herxheimer reaction).
"Copper seems to be involved in all the body tissues. Many of the enzymes needed for metabolism and anabolism use copper. Tyrosine converts into melanin with copper. Copper also has an effect on protein metabolism and general healing. Copper is important in the formation of RNA, and is involved with iron in the formation in the womb. Copper is important for building connective tissue and cartilage because it is needed to activate the enzyme lysyl-oxidase, which is needed for the building process. Copper helps to protect us against joint problems, ruptured blood vessels, and spider veins. These are all symptoms of poor collagen. The copper also helps keep hair from turning gray.
"Copper is one of the most important minerals for protecting us from parasite infections. Copper has been found to kill almost all microscopic parasites. There are thousands of different parasites that significantly impair our health. Doses of copper that are too high or too fast can have die-off type of side effects, however, because depending on the number and different types of parasites in the body, copper can cause a healing crisis as the parasites use toxins as a defense mechanism before the copper kills them. Parasites, as they die, also give off toxins, particularly ammonia that can cause flu-like symptoms, Angstrom-size copper itself is not toxic and that's the copper that should be used. According to Dr. Tru Ott, the way to start a copper parasite purge is to use half a dropper of copper for a few days, then go to a dropper, then to two droppers a day for a period of one month. You can do this twice a year. [...]
"Copper may have a contrary or destructive effect on vitamin C in the body. Excess copper in the system can cause paranoia. Wilson's disease, and deposits in the liver, brain, kidneys, and the corneas of the eyes.
"Best sources of copper are whole-grain cereals, almonds, green leafy vegetables, and legumes (beans)."
- Gabriel Cousens, MD, in 'Spiritual Nutrition', p. 455-456
Some people seem to use colloidal copper also with good results (see You Tube). I may try that approach or angstrom-size copper, am just a bit worried to buy that off the internet because there seems to no guarantees that I would be purchasing the real thing. Making colloidal copper at home would seem a more attractive option, but is it safe?
I had to stop taking the copper capsules (long time ago) and have recently begun to experiment with angstrom-size copper supplementation - i.e. ionic copper. I've stopped taking the other supplements, however, since they are potentially causing headaches (although the cause could be many other things also).
Listening to Dr. Joel Wallach, I came across the idea (again) that although mineral deficiencies cause many problems, we can't fix it by taking minerals in isolation. According to Joel Wallach, we need 90 essential nutrients - 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, all essential fatty acids (EFAs) and all essential amino acids - to stay healthy and eliminate diseases caused by deficiencies. These nutrients, he says, work as catalysts to each other, and therefore they will not work as well (or at all) when taken in isolation.
The only supplements I am currently taking are a multi-mineral supplement (Trace Minerals Research 'ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops' with over 72 ionic minerals in it derived from natural water) and ionic copper (Eidon Ionic Minerals Copper). The ionic copper doesn't cause diarrhea (as the tablets did), however, I don't seem to be getting as clear benefits from it as I did previously - not as quickly anyway. The reason may be that I'm not taking the other supplements - for John L. Johnson the copper supplementation only worked when he combined it with the other supplements anyway.
The liquid multi-mineral solution seems to be making me stronger, however. I have been taking the maximum recommended dose: 1/2 teasp x2 daily, and sometimes more. Too much will cause diarrhea, again, but at the recommended dosage (or a little more), diluted in a lot of water, taken straight after eating (never in an empty stomach) seems to work well and makes me feel stronger. One clear difference is that my eyes are clearer on days when I take larger doses of the minerals.
Therefore I would suggest that the best way to supplement with copper may be to take it in a multi-mineral solution, in as natural form as possible, where 60-72 of the minerals the human body needs are all included. Of course they have to be in correct proportions and in correct form for the body to utilise and not become toxic. Currently it seems safer to me to take all the minerals at once since imbalances can easily be caused by taking one mineral in excess.
Genova Diagnostics - www.gdx.net - offer mineral balance tests and various other useful tests, which can be ordered with a help of a certified healthcare provider (nutritionists included). The prices and types of tests can be read on their website. Additionally, hair mineral analysis can be a useful way to test for mineral deficiencies, however, my experience with one of the labs was not very good as you can read here. Therefore you can test for deficiencies or just take a multi-mineral supplement like I do, but whichever route you follow discuss it with your doctor first especially if you are on any medication.
Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism: What You Must Know Before They Zap Your Thyroid with Radioactive Iodine by Sarfraz Zaidi, M.D.
Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease by Eric M Osansky:
Natural Health Remedy Library: Hyperthyroidism, Anemia, Anxiety, Autoimmune Disorders, Bone Density Loss, Confidence Problems, Copper Toxicity, Heart Palpitations, Immune System, Weak, Inflammation, Insomnia, Menstrual Cramps, Nervous System Disorders, Nervousness.
Holistic Primary Care magazine: "Copper Deficiency May Underlie Osteoporosis, Anemia and Neurodegenerative Disorders"
John L. Johnson: "Recovery from Hyperthyroidism"
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Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.