Depending on the extent of accumulation and the body's natural ability to detox, the detoxing of excess copper is often a complex, long-term commitment. It will involve the removal of the source of excess exposure, support for the body's detox pathways, specific nutritional support (ideally based on the mineral pattern best viewed through HTMA), and even some element of emotional healing and growth. Contrary to popular perception, it also is not about trying to get rid of all the copper in the body, as copper itself is an essential nutrient. This is so often overlooked when copper toxicity is not properly understood. A key part of the healing process also involves supporting the body to better utilize the copper it does have.
For those who commit to their healing, the eventual 'detox' of copper (as well as lowering of the calcium shell if present) is frequently described as a gift offering a heightened sense of openness, self-awareness and appreciation, along with improved energy and health. This GIFT OF HEALING is described more at the bottom of this page.
Caution is needed against "one-size-fits-all" protocols, as the specific healing protocol can vary greatly from person to person based on their unique mineral profiles, symptoms, tolerance to certain supplements, and even ones psychological past. That being said, there are some generalities that can be explained here. This site is not meant to diagnose, nor is it meant to 'cure'. The information compiled here is meant to support your healing journey and bring clarity to a topic so often misunderstood, but the importance of working with HTMA and a qualified practitioner well-versed in copper toxicity cannot be understated.
Depending on severity, it can be expected to take anywhere from 6 months to several years to correct a copper imbalance ).. and this assumes the patient is undergoing a properly constructed and monitored nutritional balancing program. Removing excess tissue copper is required, which in turn requires sufficient adrenal strength and bile production, and all of this requires a long term commitment. Typically vegetarians/vegans and those on raw food diets take the longest to recover, not only because the copper has been building up in the body over a long period of time, but also due to their reduced adrenal and metabolic function, paired with possible resistance in adding meat back into the diet. Vegetarians will have further difficulty in adequately detoxing copper due to their lack of Taurine, an amino acid not found in plant foods yet which is critical for bile production. Even for the meat eater, the balancing of minerals takes many months, and commitment to the program is necessary. The greater the adrenal weakness/burnout, the longer the process will take. Adrenal restoration can take 9-15 months for a fast oxidizer and 15-36 months for a slow oxidizer (Eck), and this needs to take place before copper can be properly regulated. Attempting to detox too quickly can result in serious reactions both physically & mentally. Note: if symptoms were exacerbated by a copper IUD, removal can often lead to a very quick return to 'feeling better' (increased energy, improved libido, less brain fog, etc), though this does not reflect having detoxed or 'healed'.
"I have talked to so many people who say, “Well, I read that zinc was good, and I did this and that.” And I said, “You know what you did? You actually activated detoxification mechanisms that now cause your depression to get worse."
~Dr. Albert Mensah
"Copper is one of those bad boys when it is leaving your system....if it’s coming out too quickly. You can indeed control the rate at which elements like copper are removed from the system through detoxification. And that’s extremely important, because believe me, you don’t want somebody or a family member calling you saying, “What did you do to my wife? She is not the same person and…” I’ve had that happen before. So we have to be very careful."
~Dr. Albert Mensah
"Insomnia, increased fears and paranoia are common during the detox as the dumping of copper causes copper to enter the blood stream which causes a sodium potassium inversion...If you're not prepared for the copper dump, you'll have unbearable insomnia, anxiety,
~Dr. Robert Selig
" Many symptoms can occur when excess copper is eliminated from the tissues. One may experience headaches, usually of the migraine type. Extreme fatigue, acne, skin eruptions on the head, chest and thighs, free floating anxiety feelings, spaciness, fears and disorientation may occur.
Changes in the menstrual period are common, including irregular periods, cramps and symptoms of premenstrual tension. Men may experience testicular pain. The elimination of copper can also cause joint pains. Nausea, digestive disturbances, anorexia and discomfort in the area of the liver may also occur during copper elimination." ~Analytical Research Labs Inc
As the heavily copper toxic individual will most always present with adrenal exhaustion, the most common approach is to immediately target the adrenals to restore the person's energy. Zinc is so commonly recommended as it is the most well known copper antagonist (getting depleted as copper goes too high). Many practitioners tell their patients to take zinc to detox, and unfortunately that is NOT how copper detox works. As well, when copper is mobilized too quickly through adrenal support and other copper antagonists without first ensuring an efficient biliary tract system and sufficient bile production, the mobilized copper simply gets stirred around and redeposited, potentially resulting in undesirable psychological, emotional, and/or physical reactions.
As copper is mobilized from storage sites and enters the blood, adrenalin secretion is increased. Adrenalin is an anxiety and panic hormone, and this is one reason why during copper dumping (when blood copper is elevated), these psychological reactions can amplify.
All too commonly, well-meaning individuals promote the notion of simply using zinc to detox, and this message further muddies the waters of public understanding. To be clear, zinc has a role in decreasing copper absorption in the gut, but it doesn't have a strong ability to remove excess copper from overloaded tissue. As well, zinc tolerance is highly individual, and in many copper toxic individuals, giving amounts greater than 20mg-25mg can often make their symptoms worse.
Using "zinc to detox" therefore is an elementary approach that pays no attention to supporting bile production which is necessary to excrete copper. It pays no attention to helping bind copper to ceruloplasmin in order to make copper more bioavailable. And it assumes that the issue is merely a copper imbalance, paying no attention to all the other minerals that have been thrown off by the copper toxicity...mineral imbalances that have their own set of symptoms.
Too strong and quick an adrenal boost can also bring on serious copper dump symptoms. Often the patient will stop the program, either because the symptoms of copper dumping initially are too intense, or because, paradoxically, they actually begin feeling better due to their increased energy and believe they've healed. Adrenals react quickly to support, and energy can return rather soon, giving a false sense of improvement. This is where one must understand that this quick return in energy does NOT represent a proper restoration of adrenal function. Nor does it necessarily even mean that the body is effectively dumping copper, since usually energy decreases during periods when the body is dumping copper. Stopping the detox process at this point is like giving up on a weight loss program as soon as you lose the first pound. For women in full burnout, recovery can be expected to take one to two years on stringent adrenal therapy.
An important to understand danger with offering adrenal support formulas without monitoring mineral levels through HTMA, is that the adrenal support may increase one's sodium level. As sodium increases, the sodium to potassium ratio increases. Considering that copper dumping further depletes potassium, this will really increase the Na/K stress ratio and in turn the stress response - leading a person to more extreme reactions and a shorter fuse than would be normal, and rash decisions / over-reactions could result. It can be very difficult to get through to a person in this state. Once again, the patient should always be made fully aware of what negative psychological symptoms may appear once detox begins so that extreme over-reactions and potentially damaging decisions can be avoided during this time.
The aforementioned is also true for doing exercise while detoxing copper. Anything what whips up the adrenals, which exercise does, will result in potentially similar physical and psychological reactions of a copper dump as explained above. If any of these circumstances are occurring without adequate liver and bile functioning, copper gets stirred up and largely redeposited, often in secondary locations including the brain.
Adding too much zinc too quickly into a detox program can aggravate mental symptoms in a very inconspicuous way. First, it's important to understand that zinc has been shown to have an antidepressant effect. Through this tinted lens of the calcium shell (if occurring), zinc's antidepressant effect, and the energy boost given by adrenal support, the individual may feel better and decide that their healing is done. Unfortunately, the zinc has done very little to actually lower the copper level, especially considering that zinc's antagonist effect on copper is only at the intestinal level . In other words, consuming zinc with a high copper diet is helpful to prevent a copper build up, but once that copper has accumulated and become stored in tissues, zinc will have a very weak effect on lowering copper. If the introduction of even low dose zinc brings on symptoms of nausea, this is further suggestive that manganese should be provided for a few weeks before attempting to give (or restart) zinc).
This also underscores the importance of supporting the liver and ensuring adequate bile production before any copper antagonists (such as zinc) or adrenals stimulants are given. If the liver is weak / congested, then there is likely low bile flow. Bile is necessary to excrete excess copper, with copper excreted via bile the least readily reabsorbed. This is why working on the liver and bile is so important. However, a caution is needed here too. With the 'cleansing' of the liver can also come the release of a lot of negative emotions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, long ago buried negative emotions are stored in the liver, and these can be released along with the toxins during a detox. Being mindful of these consequences beforehand can be helpful to reduce (or at least understand) the psychological reactions that may appear.
Herein is the challenge with detoxing copper - anytime you begin a detox, you whip up the bad stuff. This underscores why the detox must be approached slowly and cautiously.
"The correct approach consists of making copper (or calcium) more bioavailable by supplementing the proper co-factors, with the best choice being those whose levels are lowest ratio-wise to copper - and as mentioned above - may include Vitamin C, chromium, sulfur (MSM), molybdenum, nickel, or (rarely) zinc. The avoidance of foods high in copper is important as well. This will take care of the medical conditions a practitioner was originally consulted for, and at the same time prevents the potential development of new medical problems elsewhere related to excessive copper intake. Chromium has to be considered first when trying to normalize copper, since it is its associated trace element. Following a close second is Sulfur, usually supplemented in the form of MSM, whose main action in addition to helping restore cartilage formation is the lowering of copper!" 
While this site should not be used to treat or diagnose any condition, the following provides generalities that may be considered when working to detox and heal.
4. General diet: It's widely accepted that vegetarian/vegan diets exacerbate copper toxicity, and vegans/vegetarians should strongly consider slowly reincorporating animal meat back into the diet (despite the strong resistance to this that will naturally be felt by many with copper toxicity). It will be almost impossible to properly detox otherwise. This is not meant to promote meat - the modern Western meat based diet is far from healthy and plant based diets have great health benefits, certainly short term. However, if you are hoping to fully recover from copper toxicity, despite personal objections to eating meat, it is of paramount importance to add at least some meat back into the diet. This does not need to be a lifelong commitment. Certainly though it can help speed up and make more effective the period of detox, and could be the make or break decision determining a proper recovery - physically and psychologically. Organically raised grass fed meat is recommended. Organic or not though, foods that have high enough zinc levels to counterbalance the high copper should be increased, these being red meat (best source) such as beef, lamb, and venison, chicken, eggs and pumpkin seeds. Likewise, high copper containing foods should be reduced or eliminated - these being notably shellfish, nuts and seeds (except for pumpkin seeds), soybeans (tofu, tempeh, miso, etc.), legumes, wheat germ (though also high in zinc, remember that the phytic acid greatly impairs the utilization of that zinc), coconut, avocado, chocolate, coffee, and leafy greens. To help recover and detox, these foods should be limited. Finally, a note regarding desiccated beef liver sometimes suggested by practitioners. While certainly a health food and a great source of nutrients, beef liver contains a very high amount of copper, and for the copper toxic person, even half mg of copper can have adverse effects. Sulfur rich foods (such as eggs, garlic, onions) are highly important to help with detoxing toxins in general.
5. Other foods and herbs that can generally help the liver and the detoxing process include: Fermented foods, Turmeric, Pomegranates as well as Brassicaceaes Vegetables, Milk Thistle (very important for liver detoxing), Stinging Nettle (nettle infusions), Flax, Dandelion Root Tea, Kombucha Tea, and Diatomaceous Earth (both of which bind to and help remove heavy metals from the body), and Castor Oil packs.
6. Remember that it is not just about correcting the copper level. Your recovery will also be determined by the balancing of other key minerals and ratios. Those minerals that are deficient in relation to others will need to be increased through diet and supplementation, while other minerals in excess may need to be reduced. Keep in mind there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation that can be given here - again the detox and nutritional plan is a highly personalized plan that must be properly assessed and monitored. Without HTMA results to use as a guide, any supplement or detox program becomes nothing more than blind guesswork.
"One of the key mistakes made is recommending very high doses of zinc as a first line treatment.
My approach is to first immediately deal with the excitotoxic effects of copper overload using key nutrients and trace elements. Chief amongst these is lithium orotate. This approach gives fast relief from the debilitating effects of excess copper. The first step is to reduce suffering. Not to do an aggressive detox that overwhelms the person. In some cases it is advisable not to attempt any detox at all, no matter how bad the numbers look, if the person is in crisis. Simple protocols that focus on key nutrients like magnesium, potassium, B6 and lithium orotate can literally be life saving." ~ Abduul Saad
"One of the key things you first have to understand is who you are biochemically and how the wrong detox mechanism can affect you psychologically and psychiatrically."
~ Dr. Albert Mensah
"Detox affects the emotional and psychological experience of the patient, as nutrient mineral levels become severely affected"
~ Dr. Karen von Merveldt-Guevara
Here are some additional things to look at to enhance the healing/detox process.
1. Ensure adequate ceruloplasmin (with a word of caution). Ceruloplasmin (Cp) is a key protein that binds to copper to make it bioavailable. The lower the Cp level, the faster copper will accumulate in the liver and the brain as insufficient carrier protein exists to bind the copper. With adrenal exertion and as copper increases, Cp levels generally rise. However, as with most of the other actions of copper, things reverse post-burnout. At this point the liver is too weak to allow for adequate production of Cp and so, with declining Cp, copper then begins accumulating even faster. However, while adequate Cp is a necessary factor, please be cautious with protocols out there that mislead people into the notion that raising the serum Cp level is the key to healing; or seeing a rising serum Cp level is a measure of progress. This stems from a lack of understanding of the nature of copper toxicity, and in fact one of these 'popular' protocols even denies the existance of copper toxicity altogether. Consider that Cp will also rise together with estrogen (especially supplemental forms), as well as during pregnancy, lactation, with use of the contraceptive Pill, and ... during inflammation! Cp is also a late acute phase protein and high levels can be an inflammatory marker. If you give more copper as such protocols out there teach, (or if you supplement Vitamin D for that matter) to an already copper toxic person with low potassium and slow metabolism, you're only further tanking their potassium level while increasing their Na/K stress ratio --> in turn potentially increasing inflammation and, as a result, Cp may increase too. People then get excited because they see their Cp rising and think the protocol is working, not understanding all the negative factors that can also cause Cp to elevate. Rather than spend time and money on blood tests that measure Cp, equally or more important is re-regulating the overall mineral pattern together with reducing physical exertion and internal/external stressors. The adrenals can then strengthen, Cp production occurs in a healthy way, and negative side effects both physical and psychological can be minimized. Some simple steps to naturally improve Cp levels include:
2. Reduce Stress. Find which areas or events in your life are causing you stress, and reduce or eliminate them. Taking on new projects, workloads, or hard exercise (heavy weights, intense cardio, crossfit, etc) all increase stress and can bring out many of the negative symptoms as the stress stimulates copper being dumped from storage. Other stimulants such as drugs, caffeine, sugar, glutamates) can have a similar affect and should be avoided. On the surface, that stress may even give energy in the short-term, but in the long run it will make the adrenals even more exhausted. Stressful events of any kind cause the adrenals to weaken further, making it even harder for the body to excrete excess copper while further impairing the utilization of copper. During stress, stored copper can sporadically 'leak out' from tissue storage reservoirs, leading to increased anxiety, depression, PMS symptoms, mood swings, insomnia, joint pains, acne, and a host of other issues. To avoid negative detox reactions, it's important to find ways to relax and be at peace during the process.
3. Sweating / saunas offer a gentler and safer approach with a less severe effect than enemas. Infrared sauna therapy is in fact excellent for detoxing copper as well as other heavy metals and toxins. It also allows creates a parasympathetic effect which further helps with bile secretion, allowing toxins to be excreted.
4. Meditate or do Tai Chi
5. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
6. Breathwork. Breathwork can be one of the most powerful anti-anxiety and stress relieving tools you can use. One very successful method is the "4/7/8 Breath". To do this, begin by fully and powerfully exhaling through the mouth. Then inhale fully through to the nose to a count of 4. Hold for 7 seconds. Then release and exhale through the mouth forcefully for 8 seconds. Repeat this for 4 breath cycles. Then stop. Do not go longer. Do this twice a day, consistently each day, for at least 6 to 8 weeks. Butekyo Breathing can be another useful technique.
7. Get adequate rest (and avoid excessive exercise for the reasons discussed above)
8. Epsom Salt Baths or Magnesium Chloride Baths (these can help enhance your magnesium absorption without the laxative effects as this way it bypasses the gut.
9. Coffee enemas are excellent for removing toxins and especially stimulating bile flow. Just be cautious as you can't control which minerals it will deplete. In other words, if you use it to reduce high levels of copper, it can deplete other minerals in the process. For this reason I do not suggest coffee enemas when all the minerals are low to begin with. Otherwise, as long as your mineral levels are being monitored and adjusted, coffee enemas are very beneficial for detoxing. [Here is one brand recommended for enemas, and they also supply all the equipment needed].
10. Though still an area of research, DPM-1001 is showing good promise as a potent chelator of copper . It shows special effectiveness in the case of Wilson's Disease, yet its mechanism should work for general cellular overload as well. It may be an effective way to lower copper levels in the brain and liver, and provides a method of copper chelation with far fewer potential side effects than the commonly used urinary chelating agent D-penicillamine.
11.Be objectively aware of recent behaviours. Did you make a drastic decision or did your life take a turn around the time your copper hit a peak or you began to detox? Decisions which could be seen as hurtful or have dragged you in a more closed-off direction are usually not your true, higher self, but rather are influenced by copper, negative energies, and triggers. Try as best you can to focus on positive, higher conscious behaviours such as forgiveness, love, kindness, compassion, openness, understanding. Believe in the real you, which is always positive towards yourself and others.
12. Seek support and guidance from those who understand copper toxicity and the detox roller coaster. Copper toxicity is very poorly understood. Though people and practitioners will offer you their advice, they rarely have true understanding of the extent of changes that copper can cause in an individual. Make sure the actions you take are based on advice from those who've taken the time to really understand the effects of copper toxicity.
13. Psycho-therapy, recommended to help reduce the destructive effects of the superego (also known as the Judge (Malter, 2001) which copper gives rise to, and emotional support, are both very beneficial. In fact, psychotherapy and counselling are highly recommended to help the individual cope with the rush of awareness and emotions that may return as the calcium shell dissolves.
14. Read & Research. A number of additional resources (books as well as links) are provided in the references section of this site.
5. Investigate your methylation. Methylation, a process that in most simple terms turns on systems within the body, is an extremely complex topic with many variants.
It plays a role in many emotional or psychological or brain development disorders and, in the context of toxic levels of copper and other minerals and metals, converts these toxins into water-soluble compounds which can then be more easily eliminated. It is therefore a key component of being able to effectively detox.
As copper rises, zinc decreases. Inadequate zinc inhibits the methylation process, which then impairs detoxification. Though far beyond the scope of this site to discuss methylation in detail, a brief overview is provided below:
People may be over-methylators, normal methylators, or under-methylators. Overmethylation leads to an overproduction of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. This overproduction is not a good thing. High levels of copper increase the conversion of dopamine (the feel good hormone) into norepinephrine (increasing anxiety and depression). On the other side of the coin, under-methylation stops those neurotransmitters from doing their job. When serotonin is not methylated, it becomes inactivated and leads to depression. Copper toxic individuals are usually (though not always) over-methylators. Studies show that high copper and over-methylation are traits found in the majority of paranoid schizophrenic and mentally ill patients. Methylation turns on the aforementioned neurotransmitters, and so even if your neurotransmitter levels on a test show normal, if they don't have enough methyl, they remain inactive and aren't able to do their job.
In the case of over-methylation, there is an under functioning of metallothionein, partly due to the lack of zinc which is required for metallothionein formation. Metallothionein is essential for the regulation of the copper / zinc balance (protecting the body against excess copper accumulation), as well as the body's ability to cope with and eliminate heavy metals…not to mention it also affects immune, digestive, and brain functions. Over methylation, as mentioned earlier, causes the overproduction of neurotransmitters including serotonin and norepinephrine, which can then result in high anxiety, reduced libido, confusion, and various forms of mental illness (especially paranoid schizophrenia). Other symptoms of over-methylation may include depression, frustration, sleep disorders, self mutilation/cutting, increased pain tolerance, weight gain, paranoid thoughts and/or auditory hallucinations, delusions, belief that people think ill of them, self-imposed isolation and/or withdrawal.
Under-methylation (histadelic) can interestingly also occur as a result of copper toxicity. High levels of bio-unavailable copper can lead to under-methylation by way of poor gut health. Copper is a natural anti-fungal and helps control candida. However, when copper becomes bio-unavailable, it's ability to control candida. Candida impairs the methylation process. Furthermore, candida produces a toxic by-product called acetylaldehyde (also a by-product of ethanol). Note that similarity in symptoms between a hangover, a yeast infection, and under-methylation: fatigue, foggy thinking, irritability, depression, and headaches.
Meanwhile, those with gut issues may have reduced histamine-lowering-enzyme production, which makes it harder to eliminate histamine, thereby increasing levels.
Determining your methylation status can easily be done through a whole blood histamine test, assessed by a skilled practitioner in the field. Your methylation status may impact which supplements are best for you and again underscores why one-size-fits-all approaches are not recommended.
Is knowing your methylation status required? While biochemically there exists very good scientific understanding of the methylation process, there is less clarity behind using methylation in a practical approach to clinical nutrition. That being said, when it comes to Vitamin B9, while folate is generally a safer choice, folic acid (which blocks folate receptors), may be better tolerated by those with overmethylation.
While understanding one's methylation status can certainly be useful (as addressed above), it can also be a costly distraction from working with the fundamentals of nutritional balancing of which minerals should take primary importance. Addressing methylation without using HTMA still ignores a major piece of the puzzle. HTMA should be the foundation, though investigating your methylation status may offer more clues to both mental health symptoms as well as challenges to detoxing or reactions to certain supplements.
"The mobilization and removal of excess copper can cause psychological and physical symptoms, including; PMS, fatigue and exhaustion, allergies, brain fog, headaches and migraines, mood swings, cry easily or for no reason, cold hands and/or feet, depression, dry skin, chocolate cravings, feeling out of control, paranoia, despair and hopelessness, arthritis and calcium spurs, constipation, tachycardia or bradycardia, poor concentration or memory, short attention span, spaced out, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, overeating), anxiety, panic attacks, yeast infections (candida), aching or cramping muscles, hypoglycemia, insomnia, mind racing, obsessive thoughts, cysts, mononucleosis, low blood pressure, hypothyroid."
~ Julie Casper, L.Ac .
"Correcting a copper imbalance can NOT be done in 2 weeks or even 2 months."
~Dr. Lawrence Wilson
"In the case of copper, a mineral almost all burnout victims accumulate, this by itself can take three or more years to eliminate. Sometimes we have had people on a nutritional correction program for up to two years before any of the stored copper starts releasing."
~ Dr. Paul Eck
"The first factor that can cause emotional reactions is the association of memories with mineral patterns. It is well known that thoughts and memories may be triggered by such things as odors, music, or specific locations that remind the person of something from the past. What is less well known is that memories can also be associated with specific biochemical patterns. As we rebuild and rebalance the body chemistry a person may pass through a mineral pattern of 20 years ago. Suddenly, thoughts or feelings from that time can flood into consciousness. The change in body chemistry unlocks, releasing feelings that were dormant or subconscious. To suddenly experience these feelings can be frightening inasmuch as they can occur out of the blue, when one thought they had finished with or forgotten a particular situation or emotion."
~Analytic Research Labs
As one eliminates copper through detox (even one properly monitored), patients will often experience the effects of copper "dumping". The dumping is simply the elimination of copper. Though many people have elevated copper in their body, not everyone experiences the side effects. Side effects appear more so in individuals who have accumulated a significant copper level AS THAT COPPER IS DUMPED (OR MOBILIZED FROM TISSUE STORAGE INTO CIRCULATION). For those people, often the copper detox symptoms are frightening and very uncomfortable, and if the patient is unaware of what is happening they may stop treatment as it is too unbearable. Conversely, patients may also stop copper toxicity treatment if they feel they have improved by a sudden increase in adrenal strength / energy. By understanding that copper dumping and the associated symptoms are part of the detoxification process, patients (and their partners) are better able to endure what they are experiencing. Dumping usually occurs in cycles, and life can feel like quite a roller coaster for some time. Detoxing is NOT a quick process, and there may be many up and down cycles during the process. Women generally have a rougher and harder time detoxing than men, due to their higher estrogen levels and monthly cycles.
It should be noted that aerobic exercise, stimulant drugs, and increases in stress while detoxing can further exacerbate symptoms of copper elimination. These activities increase metabolic rate and cellular energy production which in turn can trigger copper dumps from cellular storage. Exercise, by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, also reduces bile secretion, causing copper to get stirred up but blocking its elimination . The copper detox process usually brings to the surface some of the worst symptoms of toxicity, both physical and psychological. Many of the case histories here exemplify this. The importance of proper monitoring and support throughout the detox process cannot be over-stated. As noted, not everyone will experience severe copper elimination symptoms - it depends on the extent of the copper accumulation and the aggressiveness of the detox approach. "The mobilization and removal of excess copper can cause psychological and physical symptoms, including; PMS, fatigue and exhaustion, allergies, brain fog, headaches and migraines, mood swings, cry easily or for no reason, cold hands and/or feet, depression, dry skin, chocolate cravings, feeling out of control, paranoia, despair and hopelessness, arthritis and calcium spurs, constipation, tachycardia or bradycardia, poor concentration or memory, short attention span, spaced out, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, overeating), anxiety, panic attacks, yeast infections (candida), aching or cramping muscles, hypoglycemia, insomnia, mind racing, obsessive thoughts, cysts, mononucleosis, low blood pressure, hypothyroid." ~ Julie Casper, L.Ac . In addition, other symptoms of mobilization and copper detox can include flu-like symptoms, decreased libido, acne, spaciness, disorientation, digestive problems, nausea, joint pains, and emotional detachment especially when accompanied by the calcium shell.
As one begins copper toxicity treatment / detox, it's not uncommon for the copper level on the Hair TMA to show up at an even higher level than before - this is simply the copper being mobilized. The copper released from storage into the blood as a result of detox is now free, unbound copper. Without adequate ceruloplasmin or minerals such as molybdenum to bind to the copper, the mental symptoms will worsen. This can also affect the ratios with other minerals (such as magnesium and calcium), and lead one further into a calcium shell. This is why changes in perception and personality are not uncommon during the detox phase. The calcium shell also helps slow down the previously racing mind while also numbing the patient to what is happening around them, both of which lead to a false sense of improvement. In effect, though some symptoms have "improved", other symptoms (psychological) are less obvious to the patient and can get worse. This is why detox must be done in a slow, gentle, and monitored way. Relationship struggles / break-ups are common during this time (forums are filled with these cases, and is explained further on the Emotions page). It's important to keep this in mind if you feel your relationship heading down the same path. Remember that you are not yourself during this time. As copper stimulates the old brain and weakens the neocortex, selected parts of reality and the perception of certain people and beliefs can get distorted, compounded by the rise in calcium which creates what has been described as an 'emotional cataract'. Over time, as copper is eventually eliminated, the calcium shell (which previously had numbed the emotions and blocked awareness of what was happening), begins to break apart. This breaking of the shell may be experienced suddenly, or in some cases gradually, with little sparks of old awareness, memories and feelings slowly peaking through as the shell disintegrates.
"When the shell breaks up, it is often described in the person's own words as a wall or a plate glass coming down or disintegrating. Or, it may be experienced like a dam breaking and a flood of blocked feelings rushes in an overwhelms the person." ~The Strands of Health, Dr. Rick Malter, Ph.D.
“Lower emotions such as resentment, grief, sadness, and anger will surface to be released during the cleansing process…A big mistake is to feel these feelings, then start attaching a mental story to them, creating a “drama” and becoming upset about the emotions, or projecting the cause of them onto others in your life, or taking some unnecessary action.” ~Niki Gratrix
Another thing that can happen during detox is something known as "retracing". Retracing stems from a subconscious association of memories with biochemical patterns, similar to how hearing a certain song brings back memories of that time .
It's imperative that the overseeing practitioner helps the patient understand the long-term commitment required for copper detox. When the patient quits detox too soon (either because they 'feel better' or in some cases due to the unpleasant effects of copper dumping), the liver may have lightened its copper load and adrenal function may have improved, but the work has not yet been done to detox the stored copper that in the latter stages accumulated in the brain. The person can wind up being left in a pseudo-reality state psychologically as a result with selectively altered perception and diminished awareness of what's happened. Though the patient feels better and a blood test shows "normal", there could still be large amounts of bio-unavailable copper in the brain. Furthermore, other mineral levels will likely also be out of whack, causing a wide range of psychological effects. All of this can only be properly determined through HTMA, and this underscores the importance of being monitored constantly via HTMA throughout the often lengthy detox process, as well as the importance of working with a practitioner that, beyond just treating the liver or adrenals, understands the strong psychological connection copper has to the brain and thoughts. Without such proper guidance or HTMA testing, the patient can easily believe they are fine and determine they no longer need treatment.
There are a number of additional resources on the web which explain in more detail what one can expect, including http://www.arltma.com/Articles/CopperElimDoc.htm, and the numerous links on the resources page of this site. The book "The Strands of Health" by Dr. Rick Malter Ph.D offers not only one of the most comprehensive looks at Hair TMA testing, but should also be mandatory reading for all who are navigating their way through copper detox, both patients and practitioners alike, in order to understand the importance of precise mineral balancing and the consequences of not doing so properly.
Lastly, like with any detox, it's imperative that you be aware of how it will affect your emotions and spiritual energy. Excess copper's close linkage to the emotions and feelings of depression, anxiety, and paranoia are troublesome enough. On top of this though, understand that lower energies are being released (and surface) during this detox time. If one is not careful, these too can play havoc with one's life path and relationships.
The stimulating effect of exercise is so powerful that it can actually allow an adrenal burned out person to feel fit and healthy, even as key mineral reserves are being dangerously depleted. The following excerpt is from the 1981 Healthview Newsletter Issue 27-29 in discussion with Dr. Paul Eck:
"When you are fatigued, and cannot, or will not, do anything about it, the body often dulls your sensitivity. It reduces your awareness so you can continue to function. Often the person has no idea of the trouble he is in until you pull him out of it. This is frequently true of heavy exercisers. One reason for this is that exercise can give people a sense of physical and mental euphoria which is not warranted by their physical condition. Vigorous exercise can cause a release of narcotic-like substances from the brain and pituitary gland. This is why runners say they get a "natural high." ...The person is getting an exalted and exaggerated sense of well-being that is frequently NOT supported by a solid mineral base. What concerns us about heavy exercise is that it is so stimulating. It has the ability to prevent people from feeling bad when they should feel bad. It has the ability to block out awareness of an underlying fatigue."
As a result, a return to exercise too quick and too hard in a copper toxic burned out individual can further support a false sense of improved wellness and cause them to abandon further treatment. The exercise, just like adrenal stimulants, also raises sodium over potassium, increasing the stress response, further burning magnesium, further increasing the calcium shell, and further complicating the process of counselling the individual.
Most people with copper toxicity are not affected by Wilson's Disease, as WD is only one of many factors that lead to an increased accumulation of copper in the body. This website is not focused on Wilson's Disease, but rather the other more common causes of copper toxicity. The chelation approach also is generally not an ideal way of detoxing general copper toxicity, as it ends up creating a nutritional vacuum in the body. In that way, chelation does not align with an HTMA-based mineral balancing approach to addressing copper toxicity.
However, for those specifically with Wilson's Disease, there are chelation approaches that have shown to be helpful. For those wishing to explore this topic further, the link below is included for your reference as it provides an excellent summary of various zinc + chelator studies for the specific purpose of addressing WD.
"Over 30 years ago, Hoffer and Osmond discovered that Vitamin C was helpful in the treatment of certain, not all, schizophrenics. We know today, from hair analysis research, that the type of schizophrenia that responds favorably to massive doses of vitamin C, is what we refer to as copper-induced schizophrenia. It is the accumulation of excessive amounts of copper in the brain, which is responsible for this particular type of schizophrenic behavior. Vitamin C causes copper to be chelated and removed from liver and brain reservoirs." ~ The Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd.
"In cases where high copper and low zinc levels have altered the brain (ie: high copper induced schizophrenia), the following is one treatment protocol as presented by Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D. and Scott LaMola, B.S. "The treatment program consists of the administration of Zn, Mn, vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B12, and folic acid. The rationale underlying the treatment is that folic acid in conjunction with vitamin B12 injections raises the blood histamine while lowering the degree of symptomatology. Zinc and Mn allow for the normal storage of histamine in both the basophils and the brain. With this treatment the high blood Cu is slowly reduced and symptoms are slowly relieved in several months time. Zinc and Mn with vitamin C remove Cu from the tissues. The largest tissues of the body, namely the liver and muscles, are flushed of their Cu first so the serum Cu may rise to aggravate mental symptoms. If this occurs then the dose of Zn should be reduced." 
"A great deal of energy is expended to hold on to resentments, frustrations, anger, guilt, rage, shame, and fears. Whatever energy may be built up by taking vitamins and minerals may continue to be drained and wasted in holding on to emotional conflicts and feelings that are not adequately dealt with.... Mineral patterns may remain out of balance because there is an internal psychological resistance to change. Until the person works through and resolves the emotionally conflicts, mentally, he or she will be blocked in changing their related adverse mineral pattern....When the emotional conflict is finally resolved, a tremendous amount of energy is freed up and a significant mineral pattern change may then take place."
~Dr. Rick Malter Ph.D (Excerpt from "The Strands of Health")
"A high tissue level of calcium tends to block natural cellular functioning [and] tends to be associated with emotional blocking, numbing of feelings, depression, low self-esteem, pessimism, and feelings of inferiority. The more need there is for emotional blocking and deadening of feelings, the more the TMA calcium will tend to exceed magnesium. …In alcoholic or other dysfunctional families, there seems to be a strong tendency for a child to develop a calcium "shell" as a natural self-protective mechanism which helps to constantly deaden feelings of vulnerability and anxiety. …This calcium shell can become a chronic entrenched mineral pattern. …Psychologically, a chronic high Ca/Mg ratio tends to be associated with denial or covering up a problem with which the individual cannot or will not deal." 
"As an adult, if we find ourselves overreacting to stressors in our life with a heightened stress response – an argument with our spouse, a bill we weren’t expecting, a car that swerves in front of us on the highway – our inflammatory response stays on high, and this leads to physical disease and neuroinflammation, and mental health disorders. Mental and physical health disorders are a result of both the toxic stress response that developed in childhood, intertwined with our behavior — how we react to the adversity around us now — and together this becomes embedded deep into our biology. " ~Donna Jackson Nakazawa
"Individuals with an abuse history, or a history of trauma, also form neural units that do not serve them for health, wellbeing, and a peaceful life. This is one reason why individuals have a difficult time correcting their mineral balance without healing their emotional history, and/or spiritual levels. We are much more than a body." ~Rachel Neumann
As copper rises, so too does sodium, while conversely potassium levels decrease. The ratio between sodium (Na) and potassium (K) is known as the 'stress ratio'. As the Na/K ratio is allowed to rise, the intensity of stress rises, and one's ability to handle stress becomes less. The slightest irritation can cause intense agitation, and the person may act out in a reflex over-reaction that bypasses higher cortical intellect function. Balancing this ratio is essential to correcting a copper toxicity issue. The challenge is that emotional issues from childhood may block the correction of this ratio and even over-ride the effect of supplementation because the issues are imprinted in the brain and nervous system at a subcortical cell and tissue level. (I talk more about this in my article here). Further compounding this challenge is that if by this stage the calcium level has also risen to form a "shell" effect, emotions are numbed and awareness of certain behaviours and reactions is selectively blocked. If the calcium shell is a self-preservation mechanism ingrained since childhood as protection against some trauma, this becomes very counter-productive to self-care and healing, making it very difficult to resolve the mineral pattern through mineral balancing alone.
Indeed, beyond the HTMA and correcting nutritional imbalance, a big part of healing is spiritual in nature - identifying beliefs and possible childhood traumas that have not only led to the current condition, but are also blocking further healing. Protective mechanisms may have been learned in childhood in times when expressions of love were met with pain, and those self-preservation adaptations are now getting in the way of self care and self love as adults. Counselling to overcome fear and anxiety, healing one's emotional history of abuse or trauma, and helping the person move into a renewed state of self-love can be most helpful.
Copper toxicity perfectly demonstrates the intimate connection between mind and body, between biology and psychology, each influencing the other. Beyond the physical symptoms, we've also seen how excess copper plays a powerful role on emotional/mental health. It can also play a role in our spiritual growth. Excess bio-unavailable copper gets largely stored in our tissues, which also is where an energetic memory of our fears get stored. As copper gets stirred up and mobilized through detox, so too can old belief systems from our parents and childhood, along with traumatic memories and fears. If we're not careful, we then approach healing as if we're driving a car and deciding which way to turn based on what we see in the rear view mirror. We need to be mindful of this influence. We can also consider the view of Traditional Chinese Medicine which says that anger gets stored primarily in the liver. Many experts regard depression as a form of repressed anger. As one cleanses the liver through detox, these long-buried negative emotions of anger, fears, or traumas which we don't want to look at may come to the surface together with the toxic load. Awareness of this possibility can hold a key to continuing the journey versus giving up.
This is an opportunity therefore to examine how past hurts and beliefs may be affecting one's current behaviour, and to let them go so they no longer control and sabotage our lives. Did you inherit non-supportive beliefs from your parents? Are you now acting in a similar way or pattern as one or both your parents? Is there a trauma to deal with? As for fear, it is the greatest enemy that stops us in our evolution in life. Sometimes the greater our spiritual evolutionary 'reward' (awakening), the greater the fear that one must conquer first...and in the context of this topic, copper toxicity may be the catalyst that calls one to that challenge of growth. Forgiveness, of yourself and others, becomes the next step. In this light, a quote from the book 'A Course in Miracles' is well suited: "The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference...Projection makes perception. We look inside first, decide the world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing...We have distorted the world by our twisted defences, and are therefore seeing what is not there. As we learn to recognize our perceptual errors, we also learn to look past them or 'forgive'... Forgiveness means no longer living in the fearful past...Forgiveness is the most powerful healer of all... "
If a calcium shell has been present, that shell may also 'dissolve' over time, helped of course with targeted nutritional support, but it may also dissolve by itself over the years or decades. With the calcium shell gone, one may experience a sense of awakening... a re-opening towards people, feelings, and activities which previously had brought enjoyment prior to the calcium shell forming.
It can be helpful to take a step back and question reactions to people that may have occurred during the phase of copper accumulation and the detox process. If a part of your life became closed off, that may present a clue to where a hurt or fear exists, and thus the most important, albeit hardest, area to examine.
Not to be confused with the way things may have appeared to be normal while under the influence of the calcium shell or other imbalances, but those who put in the effort to truly heal themselves physically and mentally (arduous and long as the process often is), invariably refer to copper toxicity as the catalyst to their greatest spiritual growth and self-awakening.
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