Copper and Emotions

The effect of elevated total or free copper on neurotransmitters is significant. As a cofactor in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine, the effect of copper and emotions is profound. Dopamine is a mood enhancing, feel good neurotransmitter. And there is an important need for dopamine to convert to norepinephrine. But there needs to be a balance. When there’s too little dopamine and too much norepinephrine, which occurs in the presence of elevated copper, the effect of copper and emotions is important to address. 

Elevated copper is an indication that the body is having a difficult time managing free radicals and heavy metals. This often occurs when there is insufficient amino acid uptake to produce important metal binding metalothionine’s, such as ceruloplasmin, which binds free copper and neutralizes it. An excess of other heavy metals, which can be characterized as oxidative stress, also leads to a general inability to neutralize and mobilize metals such as copper. Lead, mercury, cadmium and aluminum are examples of the most reactive of free radicals. We are exposed to oxidative heavy metals from the air, water and soil. We are exposed through industrial pollutants, silver fillings, smoke, skin products, etc. Metals are a major reason for taking anti-oxidant free radical scavengers.

At Second Opinion Physician we will check your hair, plasma, serum and whole blood to get a good picture of your oxidative stres and the potential impact of copper and emotions. If you’ve already had these tests, let us know your results and we will prepare a supplements and lifestyle plan to get levels back on track.

Copper and Emotions

…the main thing that happens with metal retention is copper toxicity because everybody is getting copper constantly. Almost everything you eat has some copper in it. A lot of really popular foods like coffee, chocolate, avocado, soy, shellfish like shrimp and lobster, and certain beans and nuts like pecans are pretty high in copper.

This isn’t a problem with good liver, gall bladder and especially adrenal function. If adrenal function is strong, we just mobilize that copper and excrete it through the bile. Unfortunately, the way we live these days, that is not what is happening. Most people are not able to get rid of the excess copper. How many people have impaired liver function, congested gallbladder or adrenal fatigue? Probably the majority these days.

If adrenal function becomes impaired, the copper builds up in the liver, brain, joints and lungs. When this happens, you see very specific problems, including mental problems, liver problems and detoxification problems. Phase II liver impairment is often made worse by copper toxicity , if not actually caused by it.

You also see a lot of copper toxicity with asthma and breathing problems, including emphysema. Copper also tends to build up in the joints, leading to arthritis. Chronic skin problems are also an indication of copper toxicity .

Vegetarian diets are very high in copper because the vegetable foods are a great source of this mineral. Since vegetarians don’t eat meat, and possibly not even eggs, they are not getting enough zinc, which is the natural antagonist to copper. Zinc naturally balances copper and keeps it from building up in the tissues. If you are not eating much in the way of meat and eggs, you will develop copper problems.

Excess copper interferes with energy production at the cellular level. It impairs various energy pathways in the cell so it contributes to the very fatigue that tends to make you retain copper, leading to a vicious circle. Once this pattern gets going, it is totally self-reinforcing and very difficult to break, even by adding zinc-rich foods back into the diet.

Copper is an excitotoxin, and is stimulating to the brain. This is why you will see copper toxicity in manic states like paranoid and bi-polar disorder. The so-called copper head tends to be very emotional, very intense, often very creative. Such individuals are prone to crash and burn because their overactive mind is being supported by a very fatigued body.

Copper toxicity is a major factor in irritable bowel syndrome because copper is excreted through the bile and certain things will cause you to suddenly dump copper. If you have been building up copper, anything that causes an increase in your metabolic rate will cause a copper dump and it comes out through the bile. If you are copper toxic and suddenly under a lot of stress, this may bring on an irritable bowel episode because suddenly excess copper is moving through your bowels and irritating them.

The tendency of copper to build up in the body is similar to iron, which is another essential nutrient that is also a heavy metal. They’re both highly electrical, very conductive metals that produce a lot of free radical activity and have to be bound by special proteins, such as ceruloplasmin and metallothioine. The production of these proteins is controlled by the adrenal glands, and they are produced in the liver. If the adrenals are not functioning properly and the liver is impaired, possibly from copper buildup, you will not produce these binding proteins, so copper remains in free form. That makes it a toxic and reactive free-radical generator capable of causing a lot of damage.

The increase in copper is stimulating, it gets you going, which is just what you need in the short term. But chronic unremitting stress never gives you time to recover, you never get to address your biochemical imbalance, you never have that down time to excrete the excess copper now.

When your adrenal glands are in great shape, you can excrete excess copper whenever you need to. But when your adrenal glands are just hanging on by their fingernails, just barely able to mount a stress response, you have an excess of stimulating copper. It becomes very hard to go to sleep and the mind races. You think, think, think, worry, worry, worry, and all of that makes it worse. You are always worn out. In fact, people with chronic fatigue often wake up tired because they don’t really ever rest.

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