Copper Imbalance and Bipolar Disorder

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How a Copper Imbalance relates to Bipolar Disorder

“Copper is stimulating to the brain, causing it to produce high levels of the activating neurotransmitters, like serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine. This is why you will see copper toxicity in manic states like paranoid schizophrenia 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.”- Metals and the Mind


It may sound extremely far-fetched to many people that illnesses like bipolar, autism, ADHD, and schizophrenia could be related to an imbalance of minerals.  Doctors will tell you that people have chemical imbalances and that they need drugs- boom, end of story.  So are we really supposed to just take their word for it? In 2011, 3.1 million Americans were prescribed antipsychotics for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression. (This made the pharmaceutical industry about $18 Billion, if you are wondering- check it out here in an article from the NY Times.)

So are 3 million people suffering from real chemical imbalances or is the pharmaceutical industry just trying to make us believe that? I’m going to go with the latter. A profit of $18 Billion is nothing to sneeze at, just from one branch of drugs.

We know from my previous posts that copper dysregulation is extremely common nowadays. With the use of birth control pills, vegan or vegetarian diets, the Standard American diet, chronic stress, and copper water pipes, it is very easy to create an imbalance. A copper imbalance can also be passed along from mother to child. Now, we also know that it is extremely common to be both copper toxic and copper deficient.  It is the excess, unbound copper that creates an imbalance in our mental status.

Symptoms of Excess, unbound copper:

Feelings of doom
Fatigue and exhaustion
Mind is in a fog
Headaches, migraines
Mood swings
Super sensitive, weepy
Cold hands, and/or feet
Dry skin
Feeling of loss of control
Despair, suicidal feelings, hopelessness
Racing heart, pounding heart
Racing mind
Problems with concentration and memory
Short attention span, ‘spaciness’
Eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, overeating
Panic attacks, high anxiety, free floating anxiety
Yeast infections (candida)

Symptoms of Bipolar disorder from Help Guide:

  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
  • Irritability
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Physical and mental sluggishness
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

You cannot help but realize that the symptoms of bipolar are all symptoms of excess, unbound copper. Bipolar is know for the fluctuations of moods- and so is copper dysregulation.  Depending on stress, diet, adrenal and liver health, someone that is going through a “copper dump” could easily switch between moods and states of well-being. A copper dump is when stored copper (it tends to accumulate in the liver, brain, and joints the most) gets pushed out into the bloodstream and causes many uncomfortable symptoms as it is excreted.  Ideally, we want to be supporting our bodies to help make copper bioavailable so we don’t create a further copper imbalance but for those with excess, stored copper, copper dumping is inevitable.

Instead of trying to paraphrase from other sites, I want to share some great portions from articles I have read that explain it great. Here is another excerpt from Metals and the Mind on the WAPF website:

“Copper increases the electrical potential of the neuron, probably because of the enhanced movement of sodium. This leads to over-production of the activating neurotransmitters—dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin—leading to anxiety, racing mind and insomnia. Researchers Pfeiffer and Goldstein demonstrated that brain waves exhibit an equivalent central nervous stimulation from either 5 mg of copper or 5 mg of Dexedrine—so copper is equally as stimulating as Dexedrine to the mind. As we know, amphetamines can eventually make you psychotic if you keep using them.

The body will begin storing the excess copper in the brain as the liver becomes overloaded. Copper stimulates the diencephalon, which is the emotional brain. Zinc stimulates the cortex, the new brain, the rational mind, and is calming to the emotions. Thus, copper-toxic people often keep themselves in a state of high drama, and their symptoms can even mimic bi-polar syndrome. Carl Pfeiffer, PhD, MD, has found that one-half to two-thirds of schizophrenics have high levels of copper and low levels of zinc and magnesium, especially during acute phases. Copper has an adverse effect on methylation, a metabolic pathway that is essential for detoxification and for controlling free-radical activity. Poor methylation can be an important factor in cases of autism and schizophrenia.”

Here is a study that shows the correlation between bipolar disorder and Wilson’s disease. Wilson’s disease is A “genetic” disorder that creates a copper imbalance in the body because of a low ceruloplasmin level.  (I say “genetic” because we now know how to increase ceruloplasmin prodiction- I have my doubts about what is considered genetic)

So, again, it may seem very unlikely to people that minerals have anything to do with mental health, but the truth is that they are very intricately connected. Minerals and other nutrients are needed for the neurotransmitter health.  Copper dysregulation especially plays a huge part- both because excess, unbound copper negatively effects us just as much as low bioavailable copper does.  It may take time and proof for many people to believe that illnesses like bipolar are 100% reversible. But in order to heal ourselves, we also have to believe it. We have power over our thoughts and actions, just like minerals do.

Please, read the Metals and the Mind article that I posted above- read it as many times as it takes to understand and remember.  That article has helped me so much in the last 2 years in understanding the effects of toxic metals and our health.  Here is my post on Copper Dysregulation to learn how to test and treat it. The best place to start is an HTMA and a blood panel for copper, zinc and ceruloplasmin.

I hope that this post can help people understand copper and bipolar a little better. There is so much information out there on this topic, but not many people talk about it!

Read more about copper imbalances here:

Copper Heads

Biochemical Individuality

Weaning away from Psychiatric Drugs


Medical Disclaimer– I am not a doctor so if you are suffering from an illness, I would advise you to seek out a licensed health professional before embarking on any suggestions I make. The suggestions on this website are just for informational purposes only and by choosing any of the natural remedies discussed here, you will be taking responsibility for your own health and wellness.

The statements contained in this website/blog have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products, foods, or remedies mentioned in this website or blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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2 Replies to “Copper Imbalance and Bipolar Disorder”

  1. High levels of free copper, or unbound copper are indicative of acute or chronic infection(s). Generally this would point to a deficiency of bioavailable copper.

    When the body encounters toxins, inflammation, fungal overgrowth or parasites, copper is taken up immediately and stored to use against the intruders.

    This is why you will see with a C.albicans infection that an individual will show high amounts of stored copper, as a symptom not a cause. Copper is incredibly anti fungal and parasitic, more so than any herb or pharmaceutical medication. So how could it be that an overabundance of anti fungals would cause a fungal overgrowth?

    There was a misconception a while back that high levels of stored copper equals high dietary intake of copper. And everyone jumped on the bandwagon to chelate their copper, draw it out and avoid all copper containing foods (which as a matter of fact are very scarce, considering the high sulphur content of these foods which blocks copper absorption, and high levels of iron fortified foods in our diet and a depletion of copper in our soil).

    As a matter of fact the consumption of bioavailable copper not only lowers free copper, but also helps to fight the infections that caused the high levels of free copper in the first place. Once the body has adequate copper intake it can release its stores. This has been proven.

    Look at how many people have been “detoxing” copper for a year, 2, 5 or 10 and still feel terrible, even worse than before.

    The daily RDA for copper is incredibly low compared to the tolerable upper limit, and the majority of us are even still deficient at the RDA level.

    I’ve seen people report that they’ve cut all copper containing foods out, and are using water purifiers, yet still have high amounts of copper. And they are so convinced that copper toxcicity is the problem they start to blame it on having drank the occasional glass of unpurified water or had touched a piece of copper.

    So many people fighting copper toxcicity should in reality be treating copper deficiency, and articles like this just propagate the misinformation.

    Myths: Smoking increases copper, it actually decreases it and forces what little you have into SOD to clear up toxins.

    Copper bracelets either pull from or introduce copper to the body, sorry the world just doesn’t work this way.

    Copper causes candida albicans overgrowth. It is likely the greatest way to fight it.

    Copper lowers dopamine through the creation of DBH, it has been shown to raise catecholamines upwards of 30% from a deficient state, and has the same efficacy in stimulating the CNS as dexedrine, a 1:1 ratio.

    Copper toxcicity is linked with pyroluria. Wrong. If anyone ever actually finished watching the introduction to pyroluria or paid attention they would have noted in research high unavailable copper was shown necessitating copper supplementation. If pale skin is a hallmark of pyroluria, and almost essential to a diagnosis beyond kryptopyrole screening. Then how could it be that our body’s natural process of skin darkening (copper bound to tyrosine at melanin) being too abundant, be the reason why pyrolurics are pale?

    Copper toxcicity should be read backwards. A high level of free copper or unbound copper indicates a low amount of usable copper, somewhere along the line things got mixed up and everyone jumped on the bandwagon heading straight towards a brick wall.

    1. Hi Willard. From your comments it is clear that you aren’t familiar with any of my other articles or my approach to copper. There is a huge issue with copper dyregulation where one can have both high unbound and low usable copper, and they can have symptoms from both. I invite you to actually search my site and read the dozen other articles I have on copper before making the assumption that I am “propagating misinformation”. This is a big assumption on your part as (again) you clearly don’t know the rest of the story. This article was written to shed light on how copper imbalances can lead to mental symptoms. Having gone through copper dumping myself (even while supporting its bio-availability) I don’t appreciate others talking about how it “doesn’t exist”. Balancing copper takes a lot of effort- you cannot just take copper and fix the deficiency. I have written articles on how copper deficiency is related to candida, EBV, parasites, and hormonal imbalances. So please, feel free to look for those because we’re clearly on a similar page. Copper dysregulation is one of my main focuses and I assure you that there is no misinformation on my website. 😉

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