Copper 'Toxicity'

The Psycho-Physiological Effects on the Mind, Body, and Emotions

"When copper accumulates in the brain, this is the racing mind, the paranoia, the anxiety, the fears, the phobias, tired but wired...when you see women with their PMS, it's the copper accumulating in the brain causing a lot of the depression, anxiety, paranoia" ~ Dr. Robert Selig

"The Estrogens in [birth control pills] do have Estrogenic effects, but the progesterone (being synthetic) tends not to have true progesterone effect. Another version of Estrogen dominance. This explains why zinc and magnesium fall and why copper rises while on the OCP (oral contraceptive pill)." [22]

"Another troubling discovery we have made during our research is that women are often unable to identify the side effects they are experiencing from hormonal birth control, because they are not fully informed.  Around 60% of women go off the Pill in the first six months due to unwanted side effects. Sometimes these medications are tolerated well, but many times the side effects are insidious, like depression, anxiety, lack of libido, or headaches that can too easily be ascribed to just being a 'teenager' or a 'moody female'. Many women will begin taking an antidepressant without ever realizing that their symptoms were brought on by their birth control." [20]

Estrogen Dominance

"I will not treat a woman more than once, if at all, if she is using an IUD because it’s a certainty that it’s causing some, if not all of, her problems. I haven’t seen an exception yet."

~Dr. Stephen Gangemi, DC, DIBAK, DCBCN [40]

"TMA studies frequently reveal elevated tissue copper in women taking oral contraceptive agents which has been confirmed by others, as well in women with copper intrauterine devices." [18]

"It has been shown that women with a history of postpartum depression (PPD) exhibited significantly higher Cu level than those without PPD history." [42]


Some common symptoms of estrogen dominance 

  • cellulite
  • fat around hip area
  • bloating, puffiness, water retention
  • PMS and/or depression
  • irritability, mod swings, anxiety
  • ​crying for no reason
  • heavy menstrual bleeding, or postmenopausal bleeding
  • endometriosis or painful periods
  • enlarged breasts or tenderness
  • spider or varicose veins
  • headaches / migraines, especially around period
  • trouble falling asleep
  • liver and/or gallbladder problems


For some women, the copper IUD experience is without any significant symptoms, and most OB/GYN's insist there is no possible connection with the IUD or that an increase in copper levels or psychological changes can occur.  The copper IUD is promoted as a safe option because it's "non-hormonal". However, the copper IUD is certainly not as innocuous as those promoting it make it sound.   As far back as 1975, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer in his book Mental and Elemental Nutrients made the connection between the increasing prevalence of copper 'toxicity' and use of the pill and IUD.  After copper IUD insertion, both blood tests and hair tissue mineral tests will likely show an increase in copper levels. This (study) supports that evidence, while hundreds of thousands of HTMA profiles (including the sample profile shown on the Testing page of this site) will verify this connection.  Of course, some blood elevation in of itself does not necessarily lead to problems (initially), as for many women their diet contains enough zinc to balance the increase in copper, while their detox systems are strong enough to maintain proper regulation.  That said, it will not take much searching online to find forums filled with thousands of women who's lives and health have been utterly ruined after having their IUD put in (some stories included here), and numerous class action law suits have been filed as a result (that alone should be a clue as to the dangers).  Copper builds up slowly in the body. For many women symptoms first begin appearing 2 or 6 months after insertion, for others though the time period may be much longer, years to decades before they notice anything, or connect the dots. Typical symptoms initially begin with increasing brain fog and fatigue, often paired with a racing mind.  Eventually, once the liver is overloaded, copper will then start accumulating in the brain, and severe shifts in personality can occur as a result of increasing bio-unavailable copper and calcium and changes in neurotransmitter production. The period 2 to 5 months post-insertion is a common time for many when metabolism begins slowing and energy, behaviour, and reactions begin changing, especially with increasing depression and irritability. For some people, the simple decision to use a copper IUD can change their entire life trajectory, destroying important relationships, and beginning a cascade of health issues that can take many years to rectify.  

Copper's Connection with Estrogen / Hormones and Birth Control

"The continued use of oral contraceptives has been, and will continue to be, an important factor in influencing copper homeostasis in women." 
Karl E. Mason, PhD, [17]

(this warning was given to us back 1979!)

Estrogen dominance is a major issue which really throws off our mineral balance and leads to increased copper retention. And it's certainly not stemming from just oral contraceptive use. Largely contributing to estrogen dominance is the increasing prevalence of xenoestrogens in our environment and lifestyle.  Xenoestrogens are manmade chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body. Pesticides are our biggest source of xenoestrogens, both from crops and produce as well as eating meat from animals which previously consumed those crops.  Growth hormones given to much of the (non-organic) livestock and poultry we eat is another source.  PCB's, PVC's and plastic food and drink containers also give chemicals which mimic estrogen in the body.  Also, for women as they enter their late-thirties, progesterone levels begin to decline more quickly than estrogen, further contributing to estrogen dominance in women.  A zinc deficiency then allows copper to accumulate further, especially with the presence of estrogens and xenoestrogens which impair the body’s ability to excrete the excess copper.  Once again, the more estrogen (regardless of source), in men or women, the higher the rate of copper retention in the body.   We've already seen through scientific studies of wildlife how frogs and fish are switching gender due to this rise in estrogens.  Women are becoming more and more estrogen dominant, especially in the Western world, and some experts link this increase of estrogen to the rise in rates of breast cancer, infertility, autoimmune diseases, etc.  This most definitely further impacts the number of people who currently and who in the future will be diagnosed as copper toxic. 

"One of the effects of Xenoestrogens is to reduce the excretion rate of copper from the body. All estrogens cause copper accumulation, xenoestrogens look like estrogens to our biochemistry and hence also cause copper retention. These patients have very high copper levels." ~Dr. Igor Tabrizian

"Women recently have been encouraged to substantially increase their dietary intake of calcium in hopes of preventing osteoporosis in their old age. TMA data strongly suggest that most women today are slow oxidizers. Adding significant amounts of calcium to their dietary intake will very likely exacerbate tendencies toward hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiency (characteristics of slow oxidizers). Increasing calcium intake will further slow the rate of metabolism of these women and allow for greater accumulation of toxic metals in the body. Increasing calcium intake in a slow oxidizer will especially allow for increased accumulations of excess copper. This phenomenon will be intensified by the use of the birth control pill or by estrogen replacement therapy during and after menopause (Mehta & Eikum, 1989). The accumulation of excess copper will lead to greater storage in the liver and in the brain. The excess copper accumulation will further slow the rate of metabolism with both psychological and physical problems manifesting more frequently (Malter, 1985). This process may be leading to a major iatrogenic health disaster."[21]

Update September 2017: The petition below has been started to help women receive fuller disclosure. If this matters to you, please click and sign

"Excess copper can cause dramatic imbalances in two key neurotransmitters, and may lead to depression or behavioural/learning issues. For example, 68% of all ADHD kids have a tendency for very high levels of copper. Excess copper can cause inattention, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Copper is especially problematic for women because estrogen and copper are proportionately related. If you're high in estrogen, you'll be high in copper."  ~William J. Walsh, PhD

The Internet's #1 Most Comprehensive Compilation of Research & Support on Copper Toxicity

The copper problem has significantly worsened in the years since the birth control pill was introduced. Since that time, more and more females have become copper toxic (and we see this with the evidence provided through HTMA data). The mother's excess then gets transferred in utero via the placenta to the fetus during pregnancy, leading to elevated levels in the male population as well. Young girls entering adolescence are especially at risk since their own estrogen build-up will further increase the vulnerability to the problem - this is why it's so important to acknowledge this issue and proactively test female children early.  The birth control pill affects copper by way of estrogen. Anything that raises estrogen (as the pill does) increases copper retention, and in turn, many of the direct psychological effects of copper (especially depression and anxiety). In fact, the 'science researchers' seem to finally be catching up to this connection with a study published in 2016 (something the pioneers of HTMA and copper toxicity research have already known about for 40 years, trying for decades to get the medical community and public to listen). This study[33,34], the largest of its kind with over a million women tracked over 13 years, showed the direct link between hormonal contraceptive use and significantly increased rates of depression.   Most people however just think of the Pill's connection to estrogen, without making the copper connection. When the copper connection is made, considering excess copper's direct link to increased rates of depression and copper's effect on raising tissue calcium and lowering magnesium (which in turn increases the risk of blood clots [54]), questions raised by cases examined in articles such as this one would certainly find clearer answers, and those researching why youth mental health cases are exploding in schools (example) might stop scratching their heads. How many more have to suffer before this nutrient connection is made!?

​"Blood clots and blockage of blood vessels are one of the most serious side effects of taking oral contraceptives and can cause death or serious disability." 

~Merck (package insert for Desogen tablets) [55]

 The estrogenic effect of the oral contraceptive pill, combined with the fact that the synthetic progesterone does not have a true progesterone effect, means that minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and B6 diminish while copper rises [22].  On that note, consider the unstable (negative) emotions associated with pregnancy, or post-partum, or with PMS.  During pregnancy, estrogen rises, increasing copper retention.  After giving birth, if the mother is not able to detox her copper load (either through natural and healthy liver and bile functioning) or through breast-feeding, much of her elevated copper level remains stored in her body, a contributing factor to PPD.  In fact, women with a history of PPD have significantly higher serum levels of copper[32]. (It would be interesting to see how even more prevalent this connection would surely be if proper HTMA testing had been done for that study).  Many of the emotional symptoms of PMS are also copper induced as estrogen rises during the cycle. Estrogen rises up until ovulation at which point progesterone takes over as the dominant hormone and helps bring down estrogen (and copper).  But when the woman is estrogen dominant (low progesterone) or already copper toxic, the cycle build up of estrogen leads to a further increase of copper along with its correlated emotional symptoms.  Studies have clearly shown that zinc deficiency resulting from increased copper occurs during the luteal phase - when PMS symptoms occur.[27]   Copper increases sodium which aggravates PMS symptoms, while lowering zinc and vitamin B6 - two nutrients which help reduce PMS symptoms and are both also essential for serotonin production (our happy hormone).

The majority of women on the pill have negative side effects [19], but because this all-important mineral connection is so rarely discussed (even denied!) in medical circles and by prescribing physicians, women often don't associate their symptoms with the pill, or even more so with the ‘non-hormonal’ IUD.  Nor are they being given fully informed consent when they are prescribed the pill or the IUD - something (informed consent) every woman surely deserves to have!   This page is not meant in any way to discourage the use of birth control, but rather help women understand the effect it can have on their mineral balances so that they can proactively take steps to maintain a healthy balance and body.

"In a fair number of these women [on the Pill]...problems are often stated by other members of the family who have observed a total change of personality.” ~Dr. Philip Ball testifying on the side effects of birth control at the Nelson Pill Hearings in 1970

"Birth control pills and copper IUDs - these two birth control methods definitely affect copper metabolism in the body.  While some women can handle them, others experience depression, anxiety, personality shifts and many horrible side effects from them, either acute or chronic. This aspect of women’s “sexual revolution” has probably caused more disasters in women’s health than any other." 

~Dr. Lawrence Wilson