It would be hard to think of a more suppressed and misunderstood health epidemic than that of copper toxicity. While millions around the world struggle with the effects, the mainstream message is that of denial and avoidance - "copper toxicity is rare"... or "there's no such thing".
Rather than educate people on the potential effects of excess copper accumulation, the overly-simplistic message sold to people is that "everyone is deficient and should consume more".
Rather than test for cell and tissue status of toxic accumulation, standard medical testing and most research is focused on the blood level, which conveniently ignores stored cell and tissue levels.
Rather than providing fully informed consent to women being given birth control, the possibility of copper toxicity is almost never mentioned. Even after symptoms develop from a copper IUD, the connection to copper is often denied.
Rather than provide education on the role that mineral imbalances (in general, and that of copper specifically) have on both physical and mental health, the mainstream response is simply to ignore any possible mineral connection and instead prescribe medication when symptoms appear.
Beginning with the work of Dr Carl Pfeiffer, MD, PhD in the 1970s, and further brought to light by the works of Eck, Watts, Walsh, Wilson, Malter, Fischer, and others, there is a wealth of research showing the existence of copper toxicity and its effects on human health. Yet, most doctors remain unfamiliar with this imbalance, or worse yet, deny its very existence.
One of the reasons for this is that treatment of copper toxicity (at least for non-acute cases), is based on nutrition, not pharmaceuticals; the latter approach provides big profits, the former does not (research and marketing tends to follow money). Nor is nutrition adequately taught in medical school.
Furthermore, when it comes to assessing copper status, almost all doctors and researchers rely on blood test results (and studies based on blood testing). This ignores one of the most fundamental aspects of copper toxicity - excess copper does not get stored in the blood! Blood levels have very little correlation to stored tissue levels! Lack of education in this regard has led to even those with PhDs and other credentialed "experts" being skeptical that a mineral imbalance could possibly affect health. After all, "it wasn't what they were taught in school".
Equally unfortunate, most people come across the plethora of articles that promote copper deficiency, and even articles that outright deny copper toxicity. The toll such messaging has taken on human health is devastating, all the way down to suicide because a young lady was told by her doctor that copper toxicity didn't exist (her post-mortem testing verified her high copper load!). That young lady was not a singular case, there are many! The toll on mental health is profound, especially when one comes to understand the effect of copper in relation to other resulting mineral imbalances.
The benefits of copper, as an essential nutrient, have been known for thousands of years. These benefits are nothing new, and that's what most people are simply taught. Promoting only the benefits makes it easy to sell books, supplements, and copper devices when people can be convinced of a "miracle cure". Unfortunately, with copper, there are two sides to the story, and the research on this site (as well as that provided by the pioneers in this field who dedicated their lives to this research) aims to bring that other side to light.
Just as with some other minerals too, too much can be just as problematic as too little. Take for example iodine -an essential nutrient, but too much of it could lead one into hyperthyroidism. Or calcium - an essential nutrient, but too much of it without enough magnesium could actually make bones more brittle, not to mention can also contribute to cell death. Or iron - an essential nutrient, but too much of it can also be quite problematic. The list goes on. Yet, when it comes to copper, promoters just talk about the benefits, and conveniently ignore the risks. There's no denying that many people are deficient in copper (bioavailable copper!). In fact, most people are deficient in that sense, and we must remember that copper is an essential nutrient. However, for many of those people with deficiency of available copper, often it can be their excess copper exposure contributing to their underlying deficiency. In such a case, more copper exposure could just be adding fuel to the fire.
We could use the examples of water, or sunshine, to make this more clear. A person dying of thirst in the middle of an ocean has both an excess and a deficiency of water at the same time. There is more than enough water, but none of it drinkable. In fact, drinking more of that water could be disastrous for the person's health, even fatal. We also know that sunshine has health benefits. However imagine if a dark skinned equatorial tribal person with lots of melanin were to tell a fair-skinned Celtic person that there's no harm in getting many hours of sun on unprotected skin just because he or she (the tribal person) can tolerate it! We have to raise our understanding of minerals and recognize that there is a delicate balance in nature, and both too little and too much of something can both be harmful. This underscores considering both sides of the "copper coin". It also underscores the importance of considering biochemical individuality - a nutrient (in higher amounts) that may make one person feel better, could send another person completely off the edge, health-wise. And this is seen in clinical practice countless time and time again where some one-size-fits-all advice was given, dangerously painting everyone with the same paintbrush, causing harm.
The hope of this research, and website, is to advance nutritional understanding related to copper and presenting the "other side of the coin" so often dismissed. It also hopes to encourage greater appreciation of biochemical individuality, as well as the importance of looking beyond just blood. Unfortunately, for the millions of those affected by copper toxicity, the one-sided promotion of copper's benefits overshadows this research and is one of several factors that keeps copper toxicity off people's radar. Denial, lack of education in this field, and even the outright blocking of this information on a few prominent social media groups and other health platforms, means more and more people are being affected, unaware, with sometimes life-saving answers kept hidden away from them.
2 Popular Myths That Add to the Confusion (& Denial) Surrounding Copper Toxicity
1. Copper toxicity can't exist because copper is an essential nutrient
This is already explained above with the examples of water, sunshine, or other nutrients like calcium, iron, etc. All of these elements are essential and healthy, but in excess, or in the wrong form, can indeed be harmful. Ample evidence, both anecdotal in clinical practice, as well as scientific (including the toxicological profile and all the references here), acknowledge the potential toxic nature of copper in excess.
2. Since the copper IUD gives off such small amounts of copper, it can't possibly contribute to copper toxicity symptoms
Clearly, from the hundreds of thousands affected by their IUD every year, there is an affect, with just the tiniest tip of the iceberg presented on the Cases page. The argument, however, that the amount of copper given off from an IUD is not significant enough to cause such symptoms is based on the overly simplistic and erroneous assumption that all copper acts the same. This is not the case. It is known that exposure from biomaterials acts differently from that of natural dietary sources. The argument also incorrectly assumes that everyone has highly efficient detox capability, which also completely ignores genetic predispositions, pre-existing imbalances, bowel motility / excretion, other toxic elements in the body, etc. Just as we cannot paint everyone with the same paintbrush in terms of health, we cannot paint all sources of copper equally, nor the effects on the individual.
Misinformation & the Blocking of Information
Throughout this site we explain, in significant detail, the various causes and effects of copper toxicity. Hopefully this work will shed clarity on a topic which affects so many, yet which still remains so unknown, and on which so much false information continues to be written about . Adding to the challenge of greater awareness, the Internet today is flooded with articles that:
dismiss the concept of copper "toxicity", instead suggesting that most of the population needs to consume more (despite the standard diet of the Western world sufficiently supplying the recommended daily intake for all age groups). Such articles also fail to help educate the reader that much of the copper deficiency in the West is in part a result of excess copper exposure and other factors that affect copper metabolism.
dismiss the connection to birth control by denying (or failing to mention) that birth control methods like the pill or copper IUD could lead to the presenting symptoms,
espouse only the 'benefits' of copper (ie: being healthy or stimulating for the brain, energy, thyroid...), leading the reader to believe we all need to consume more - despite mountains of evidence showing excess copper over time can contribute to various forms of mental illness, adrenal burnout, slowing of the thyroid, and much much more...
promote the Ayurvedic benefits of drinking from copper vessels. Though such practice served a sterile-water-storage benefit in ancient days (since copper provides antimicrobial properties), what's not mentioned is that our biochemistry today (mineral profile) is different than it was thousands, or even hundreds, of years ago. We know today that copper being leached from copper piping in homes can be harmful, and are moving away from such practice; certainly not toward it!
promote their copper-containing products (using copper as a selling feature) using such phrases as 'copper toxicity is rare', 'any excess copper is excreted', or in the case of excess, copper can simply be 'removed by chelating agents or by the consumption of high levels of zinc'. Ignorant advice that is both misleading and downright dangerous!
sell special copper supplements and, in the case of one product in particular, sells to their audience the idea that taking their copper supplement will 'fix' copper toxicity!
portray copper as a 'love mineral', without expanding on the fact that excess copper can be a major cause of emotional shutdown, depression, anxiety, panic, and broken relationships,
promote blood testing as the standard way to determine copper status (despite the fundamental fact that excess copper gets stored in tissue and NOT the blood),
base arguments that "copper toxicity doesn't exist" on studies which use blood (which of course most studies do), or on the two widely publicized studies from 1985 and 2001 on HTMA that intentionally aimed to dismiss the benefits of HTMA through faulty testing and manipulation of results),
Social media, while it can be used to educate, has also become a source of much confusion. Several support groups exist today, however most are filled with opinions and un-researched commentary that end up sowing even more confusion and make it harder for people to navigate fact from fiction. One of the hardest places to educate is, ironically, a group of 15k members all struggling with copper toxicity and looking for answers. Yet, it's so over-run with guesswork and misinformed suggestions which inadvertently perpetuate the same misconceptions that have kept copper toxicity off people's radar to begin with.
It's also getting harder and harder to "post" or share education on certain social media groups or health platforms. Numerous attempts over the years to teach this information have been blocked or "not approved". The same is true for one of Facebook’s largest health ‘advocacy’ groups - mention of copper toxicity has been repeatedly attacked and trolled over the years, dismissed by the administrators who call copper toxicity a "myth". Similarly, a popular detox / chelation group has blocked this information from being shown to its members.
Another one of the ‘world’s leading online independent health platforms' with over half a million members and millions of visitors each month, offers a discussion group for women complaining of negative symptoms that started after inserting their IUD. These women are looking for answers, trying to understand what’s causing their symptoms. Yet, when copper toxicity was brought up and a link provided where people could learn more, publication was denied by the site administrators. To this day, people continue to post, seeking answers, but the public is effectively blocked from receiving this information. This keeps hundreds of thousands of people in the dark, away from this vital health information that could be, for some, even life-saving.
Meanwhile, people affected are asking, "why is no one talking about this?!" Well, that is why. So many attempts to educate have repeatedly been blocked.
Without mentioning site names as their further promotion is not deserved, it is important for people to understand the caution necessary when researching this topic. By far the majority of websites and blog articles out there writing on copper are presenting blatantly false or misleading information, a huge disservice to women's health and those seeking real answers. As a few examples:
A popular medical website widely used for diagnosis of various conditions makes no mention of HTMA but instead promotes urine and blood testing as the best ways of diagnosing copper toxicity (the reasons why such advice is dangerously flawed are addressed on the Testing page of this site). The same medical website also makes the incorrect claim that constant fatigue has a weak or unproven link to copper toxicity. Again, this is a reflection of a complete lack of understanding behind how excess copper directly affects and weakens the adrenals, leading to fatigue.
One of the world's leading providers of online medical health information states the primary cause of copper toxicity to be the consumption of illicit drugs or prescription, over-the-counter, alternative medications or drug overdoses. They fail entirely to make any mention of the MUCH more prevalent and important causes of copper toxicity, nor do they make any mention in their discussion of the key symptoms of fatigue, adrenal issues, or influences on mood and mental health. Quite frankly, their explanation of copper toxicity is misleading at best and void of any substance or truth on the topic whatsoever. How can the public ever be properly informed when such mainstream medical sites purport such astonishingly false information?!
A doctor-authored 'science based' site promotes copper as the protective, anti-aging, love mineral. The site suggests people do not need to worry about copper excess because the body does a fantastic job regulating levels, citing "with amazement" how numerous studies show that copper "magically" disappears out of the blood. It completely fails to make mention of where this excess copper goes (ie: into tissue and accumulating in the body)!! Furthermore, copper toxicity can have a powerful impact on the emotions - though not always good. Misleadingly, the article goes on to imply that copper is great for mental health, completely ignoring the EXTREMELY significant negative psychological symptoms that can present with high levels of copper stored in the brain (including Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, ADD, depression, anxiety, the list goes on!) The article then goes on further to make such false claims as "the only dietary source of copper that a person should worry about is in contaminated water" (implying that diet plays no role in copper toxicity and adjusting one’s diet therefore would not make any difference!), and that "copper provides preventative benefits for ALL conditions except one (Wilson's Disease)". The amount of blatantly false information in this one article alone is astonishing, yet people read and trust this kind of literature because it’s authored by a doctor, and as a result the public continues to be misled.
A national public service information site from the U.S. that claims to offer "objective science-based" information, states "The human body adjusts its internal environment to maintain copper equilibrium" and that copper rarely gets stored in the body. Hundreds of thousands of HTMA profiles very clearly disprove that! Once again though, people believe such falsehoods because they come from a so-called 'trusted' source.
Sexual health and official birth control option websites make little to zero mention of the ‘copper connection’ to the common symptoms of copper toxicity that arise from the birth control Pill and copper IUD. Young women go to these sites (and to their doctor’s) expecting reliable information, yet without receiving full disclosure to symptoms, their physical and mental health is being put at risk. Women so often realize something is wrong but they simply can't get their doctors to listen, and information (or lack thereof) being relayed from sexual health officials doesn’t help the matter.
a copper-based health product, in their sleek marketing, uses misleading attribution from a randomly selected article that claims copper to be a new 'gold standard in saving lives', without disclosing copper's negative effects, and attributing the quote as coming from one of North America's leading healthcare research and publishing services.
Countless more websites (including one of the world's top 10 most visited natural health websites) talk about all the benefits of copper (it helps increase energy, is good for healthy brain function, assists emotional health, supports healthy metabolism, helps thyroid activity...) ... and lead the public to believe we should all be increasing our intake.
Or, several websites claim that the body is able to self-regulate the level of copper. Well, if they are only considering blood, then yes. However, anyone who studies the interrelationship of minerals and uses the hard evidence provided by HTMA testing knows how absurd such claims are.
And finally, one of the biggest search engines has de-ranked many natural health websites, including this one, making it even harder for people to find this information provided here on copper toxicity.
How many more people have to painfully lose their health or a loved one because of ignorance surrounding copper toxicity, or their practitioner not understanding that the blood copper level is a fluctuating and highly unreliable marker, or not understanding the effect birth control pills, copper IUDs, copper sulfates, estrogens, copper piping and high copper diets have on people, physically and psychologically. How many more stories do we have to hear of young women being prescribed anti-depressants, without even an investigation into her copper level and associated mineral imbalances? To deny copper toxicity is to deny an individual's right to possibly finding the one answer that could save their life or transform their health. Too many lives have already been hurt or destroyed as a result of medical ignorance, and the health of our future generations, especially our young women, is most at risk. Those of us in the health care and holistic healing communities have a duty and owe it to the people we serve to promote proper understanding of this epidemic.
It's time we move into a new paradigm of health, recognizing the interconnection between our environment, food choices, and minerals levels, and how those interrelated minerals influence, and indeed control, our health, even our personality. The science, research, and hard evidence has existed for over 40 years; it's time we recognize the toxic nature of excess copper on the body resulting not from just mere internal 'dysregulation', but from the large number of sources from which we are receiving over-exposure (copper sulfates, copper IUDs, copper piping, xenoestrogens as examples). Leaving outdated medical and nutritional beliefs behind, let's open ourselves to knowledge which can truly serve the greater good of people. While still acknowledging the health benefits of copper as an essential nutrient, there are two sides of the coin, and people deserve to be taught both sides.
When women receive fully informed consent to birth control, when nutritionists understand the importance of program design based on a client's individual mineral profile and not fad dietary beliefs, and when the medical system allows for greater conversation on the role mineral imbalance plays in disease, what are the possibilities for our world in terms of reducing illness, increasing human energy, and saving relationships and lives?
The research on this site is the summation of 40+ years of research specific to mineral balances and copper toxicity. There is no longer a lack of research, or evidence. The evidence is clear and overwhelming, especially through HTMA data. The hope is that through this website and furthering the life work of pioneers in this field including Drs Eck, Watts, Pfeiffer, Malter, Wilson, and others, the tide will eventually be turned in favor of awareness and proper understanding for the benefit and healing of all those affected.
"It's not too difficult to think of a conspiracy behind the copper toxicity epidemic. This is especially so when we note that, in 1975, Carl Pfeiffer, MD, PhD wrote his book Mental and Elemental Nutrients with a chapter on copper toxicity related to contraceptives. The vital information about copper toxicity was clearly there in Dr. Pfeiffer's book.
Then, the hair analysis research of Drs Paul Eck and David Watts showed the epidemic levels of copper toxicity, but in August, 1985, JAMA published their first article attacking hair analysis, claiming it was inaccurate and a "commercial" scam. Ironically, this 1985 JAMA article was based on shoulder length hair samples from two 17 year-old girls who were both copper toxic! The article's author and the editors of JAMA obviously had no idea that their own data validated copper toxicity as revealed in HTMAs.
In my view, ignoring the significance of Dr. Pfeiffer's work on copper toxicity as well as JAMA attacking the best lab test (HTMA) for detecting copper toxicity made sure that medical doctors and psychiatrists remained ignorant of the real problem of copper toxicity.
Therefore, millions of teen girls and young women have struggled with the effects of copper toxicity. They have had little or no chance of getting adequate help from most medical doctors or psychiatrists and other "mental health" practitioners. Essentially, the "standard of care" for decades has been based on continued ignorance of copper toxicity and the nutritional interventions that can really be helpful"
~ Dr. Malter, PhD