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Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome and How it Relates to a Copper Imbalance
There are countless illnesses out there that are considered genetic, but what if they truly weren’t? What if things only appear genetic because we are passing down nutrient deficiencies and imbalances, as well as lifestyles and habits? The soils in the US have been depleted for nearly 100 years now, the rise of processed foods began shortly after, and the overuse of antibiotics (as well as other pharmaceuticals) has ruined our nutritional status even further. (I’m sure there are some illnesses that are truly genetic- but there are many that are due to nutritional issues that are passed down!)
Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, and the symptoms associated with it, is one of those illnesses that might be due to nutritional imbalances and toxicities.
Many genes are actually nutrient dependent as well! Vitamin A and copper are both nutrients that play a big role in gene expression. Vitamin A also plays a big role in copper imbalances, which can create issues with connective tissue, joints, and muscles, all of which are a part of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome. Whole food vitamin C is also a crucial nutrient for tissue repair, collagen formation, immune system health, plus is very important for joints, blood vessels (think varicose and spider veins!), teeth, bones, and skin.
From Linus Pauling Institute: “Copper is an essential cofactor for oxidation-reduction reactions involving copper-containing oxidases. Copper enzymes regulate various physiologic pathways, such as energy production, iron metabolism, connective tissue maturation, and neurotransmission”.
Even a slight copper imbalance can contribute to impaired immunity, bone issues, and neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Copper helps certain gene transcriptions, plays a part in the production of melanin (helps skin pigmentation), and also has a huge role in Superoxide Dismutase, an important antioxidant.
What is EDS?
“Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a disorder that deals with the connective tissue. It is inherited and cannot be passed on any other way….This disorder essentially causes a severe defect in the product of collagen. Collagen is responsible for providing your muscles and skin with elasticity and firmness…Surprisingly EDS isn’t too uncommon, about 1 in every 5,000 children born will have EDS…There are six specific types of EDS that stand out to scientists and medical professionals…..”
When I first read about EDS a few years ago, the first thought I had was, “Well which nutrient deficiency does this sound like? Connective tissue, collagen and skin issues, joints, possible cardiovascular issues. Duh, COPPER!” Copper imbalance is incredibly common these days and I rarely see anyone with ideal copper balance. And in the above phrase about how there are 6 types of EDS: hmm sounds an awful lot like variations in the severity of the deficiency!
Common EDS Symptoms that are also related to copper dysregulation:
- Lax joints
- Inability to hold a chiropractic adjustment because of the severity of lax joints
- Muscle pain
- joint pain
- fragile skin
- easy bruising
- Chronic degenerative joint disease
- Varicose or spider veins
- History of aneurysms
- GERD/hiatal hernia
- Carpal tunnel
- Heart Murmur
Copper Imbalance symptoms:
Copper Deficiency Symptoms:
Decrease in number of white blood cells
Nerve damage can cause tingling and loss of sensation in the feet and hands
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Low blood levels of fat-soluble vitamins, zinc, and folate
White, gray and silver hair
Copper Excess Symptoms:
Feelings of doom
Fatigue and exhaustion
Hypothyroid (slow thyroid)
Mind is in a fog
Cold hands, and/or feet
Feeling of loss of control
Despair, suicidal feelings, hopelessness
Arthritis, calcium spurs
Racing heart, pounding heart
Adverse reaction to vitamins and minerals
Problems with concentration and memory
Short attention span, ‘spaciness’
Eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, overeating
Panic attacks, high anxiety, free floating anxiety
Yeast infections (candida)
Aching muscles or muscle cramps
Mind races — insomnia, interrupted sleep
Low blood pressure
(These lists are from This Article on nutritional balancing)
Do any of those symptoms sounds familiar? Then read on!
How to Test for and treat a Copper Imbalance
The best first step is to figure out your personal copper balance. Getting an HTMA will show the state of your adrenals as well as overall vitality, and getting the Copper serum/zinc plasma or serum/ceruloplasmin blood panel will show the other side of the copper story. You can request that blood panel from a trusted doc or use a service like Walk-in Lab.
Overall you want to be looking at everything: how strong your adrenal function is, what your metabolic type is, how well your liver is working, and how severe your copper imbalance is. Many people cannot tolerate detox of any kind (including excess copper) when they are in very slow oxidation because their bodies are so depleted of nutrients and detox pathways are sluggish.
A hair tissue mineral analysis is a huge part of the healing process. This will not only show you the relationship between your zinc and copper, but it will give you an idea on the state of your adrenal glands. Strong adrenals are needed to balance copper. An HTMA will also show your magnesium and calcium levels, which both play a part in regulating copper.
If you are on any kind of birth control, have been diagnosed with estrogen dominance, or are in the post-partum period, it would be very crucial for you to test for a copper imbalance. Copper can triple while we are pregnant- if we are depleted during or after the birth, then it is common for us to hold onto this excess copper instead of excreting it like we are supposed to.
Other helpful ideas for healing from EDS:
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is one of the most versatile and amazing herbs out there. It helps immensely with gut and liver health, it helps heal joints, and it can increase nutrient absorption as well.
Collagen: If you have a collagen deficiency, it helps to actually consume collagen! I love Perfect Supplements grass-fed collagen. We start to lose the ability to create our own collagen once we hit our 20s so using collagen as a supplement can help quite a bit with joints, muscles, and also gut healing. If you have gut issues, you’re likely not digesting and utilizing protein very well so collagen can also help with that. It is a very easily digested protein!