Elaine and Janie: The High Copper Detox Queens Share Their Stories

Janie Elaine HIGH COPPER QUEENSThough this Stop the Thyroid Madness blog and website pertains to thyroid patients and their issues, it’s been observed that a lot of thyroid patients have also found themselves with high copper, whether because of the MTHFR or other methyl mutations, high estrogen, the use of a copper IUD, or other causes.

Elaine and Janie are two hypothyroid individuals who have found themselves with high copper levels. Here is their story via interview, and they hope that you gain good information to help you either discern if you, too, have a high copper issue, and what to do about it.



Janie:  I am someone who, other than being quite hypothyroid for 20 years due to the poor treatment with Synthroid and Levoxyl, and who also has Mitral Valve Prolapse, have had very few problems in other areas. I then found natural desiccated thyroid in 2002 and my life changed ten-fold. I am now the founder of the patient-to-patient Stop the Thyroid Madness movement as evidenced by the website (www.stopthethyroidmadness.com), books (//www.laughinggrapepublishing.com), Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/StoptheThyroidMadness/) and other areas.

Elaine:  I was not diagnosed with Hashimoto’s until age 20, but was suicidal at age 9, sick all of the time, tested for mononucleosis (mono)/EBV from then through high school due to exhaustion.  My dr’s falsely said there was nothing I could do about Hashimoto’s and to wait for it to be killed off.  I was very sick all of the time, from colds, bronchitis, ear infections, multiple surgeries for hypo symptoms, diagnosed bi-polar and with fibromyalgia.  All went away when I became optimal on Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) and T3 thirty-five years later. I am now one of the managers of the FTPO system of groups on Facebook. 


Janie: Looking back, I’m fairly certain it was manifesting itself in 2014. Though I didn’t connect the symptoms at the time to rising copper, I know in August of 2014, I suddenly developed very weird iron labs. My serum iron plummeted from 103 down to 55 in just one week of high physical activity. Huh?? I’d get it back up, then down it would fall. Turns out that high heavy metals can mess with your iron levels–others might see low ferritin with high iron.  I also started to notice movement headaches in the Fall of 2014, and I’m not a headache person, so that was new. In October of 2014, I did hair testing and though copper was midrange, I didn’t understand the significance.  In early 2015, I was seeing my hair come out in clumps, yet I had gotten my iron back up once again. Finally in March of 2015, I was noticing I had ruminating negative thoughts--not at all like me!! What the heck was this about?? So by April of 2015, I did serum testing of copper and zinc and there it was: high copper, relatively low zinc–they have a see-saw relationship!  Another important test is hair testing, also called the HTMA, since not everyone is lucky with blood testing as I was. Finally, a good indication is high calcium, which I had and is called the calcium shell, but didn’t now the connection to high copper!

Elaine: When I first began NDT and tested at 3 grains after holding my dose for 6 weeks, my Reverse T3 came back high. I then tested iron, which was high and indicated MTHFR and heavy metals. Equally, high iron from MTHFR actually puts you in a low iron state since it’s not being broken down for use! From there I actually tested MTHFR (I am Homozygous, from both parents, for MTHFR A1298C) plus Copper, Zinc and Ceruloplasmin. Copper was high. It was also suggested to look at my sex hormones, so I tested them as well and came back as highly Estrogen Dominant, which can promote high copper.


Janie: These were done in April 2014.

Copper, Serum: 1.36 mcg/mL (.75 – 1.45)  HIGH
Zinc, Serum: .81 mcg/mL (.66 – 1.10)  LOW
     Ratio: 1.68 (should be .7 – 1.0) TOO HIGH            
Ceruloplasmin: 40.5 mg/dL (16 – 45)  (this is the protein that binds and carries copper around)

Bound Cu: 121.5, Unbound Cu: 14.5 (optimal unbound Cu: 5-15)
% Unbound Cu: 10.7% (optimal 5-15%)

*** Note that I did serum copper and zinc–some will say it needs to be plasma, but serum confirmed it anyway as did my symptoms. Others recommend Copper RBC and Zinc RBC, but again, serum proved it  (SEE UPDATE on COPPER/ZINC LABS at the bottom of this post)

Elaine: These were blood tests done, tested on 8-18-14

Ceruloplasmin, S 31.6 (16.0-45.0 mg/dL) LOW
Copper,S 1.58 (0.75-1.45 mg/dL) HIGH
Zinc, S 0.74 (0.66-1.10 mcg/mL) LOW

At this point I was still hypo with RT3 issues and so VERY tired, but at that time I did not feel I had symptoms of high copper.


Janie: I’m fairly certain it was because 2014 was a year of constant and unrelenting high stress, both good and bad. I was editor of the STTM II book, plus had many other things going on in my life–good things, but stressful. And turns out that chronic high stress can deplete your zinc, which in turn can cause copper to rise. 1) On top of the stress/zinc fact, I was eating a huge amount daily of stevia-sweetened chocolate daily as my way of self-comforting myself through the unrelenting stress. And chocolate is high copper! I was unknowingly feeding my internal levels of copper that were destined to climb. 2) Additionally, I found out later the next year via hair testing that I had low levels of both manganese and chromium—another inducement of rising copper. 3) Some literature states that deficient levels of B-vitamins and vitamin C can also promote rising copper levels—I had both deficiencies but didn’t know it at the time.

Elaine: For me, MTHFR (inability to detox) and high estrogen were my causes.  I actually was able to detox it all in about 8 months. But later, when my Dr put me on DHEA, I had high estrogen symptoms in 3 days, and retested copper to see that it shot up higher than ever before, not to mention estrogen was now higher than ever before, too. 


Janie: This is where there is all sorts of strong opinions in groups, so I had to do careful reading in books and on the net to make a decision for myself. 1) I first got on Manganese and Molybdenum (not even knowing I was low in both, as I found out later). Manganese is stated to help remove copper, especially from the liver.  Molybdenum is stated to bind to copper and greatly facilitates its excretion. 2) I also got on B-vitamins, especially b6 and zinc to start detoxing. But I had to learn the hard way that both of those b’s heightened the speed of my detoxing (and fatigue misery) and I had to take MUCH lower amounts. I may be a fast metabolizer. 3) Some will say take no zinc whatsoever, but my experience is that very low levels were fine. 4) I was also taking curcumin/turmeric and astaxanthin for inflammation–don’t remember why I thought I had inflammation. 5) It was later in my detox than I realized that my main focus needs to be to support my liver and kidneys—the detoxing glands!!  I used Milk Thistle (but had to eventually stop as it was lowering my ferritin too much) then moved to Dandelion Root, plus Swanson’s Kidney glandular. P.S. I also stopped eating chocolate completely during detox. **sigh** (Update: I also detoxed a second time starting June, 2016)

Elaine: The first time, I took Molybdenum, Zinc, manganese.  I supported my liver with Dandelion root and NAC.


Janie: I started detoxing in late April 2015, and it ended on its own by October 2015. And frankly for ME, it was absolutely miserable. I was completely exhausted the entire time in an extreme way–much worse than I read others having. Turns out I had a mitochondrial problem beneath it all, and I think the copper detox overwhelmed my mito. Detoxing takes a lot of energy, and my energy metabolism was faulty already…even if I didn’t know it. Ironically, though my body stopped detoxing on it’s own as I neared six months, and though my zinc levels were fabulous now, my serum copper was still a little too high. But I redid hair testing, and things were good enough there in my mind i.e. 16 (11 – 37). That was far better than the previous mid-range of 23—and which I have no doubt got MUCH higher before I caught it all (In hindsite, I probably should have detoxed more). 

Elaine: I detoxed the first time for 8 months. I had brutal headaches that began at 6:30 PM every night, loose stools that were orange (copper) in color, and exhaustion once again like I was when hypo. I also have mito problems as revealed by the OAT test. 


Janie: It sure did. I had movement headaches in late 2014 before I ever knew about my rising copper i.e. if I bent down to pick up something, there it was. Right before I started to detox the first time in April 2015, and when my copper had to be sky high, I noticed I had ruminating fearful negative thoughts. My brain must have been loaded with copper by then, as copper is a known neurotoxin. The second time around in 2016, and as I was entering the third month of detoxing, I noticed depression was creeping in, irritability, impatience. I can imagine that the latter is related to the copper moving around to be released.

Elaine: Copper dumping gave me headaches. Sometimes I felt irritable when there seemed to be no cause for it. I tend to be a happy-go-lucky type, so this irritability was a surprise to me (and my poor husband!). The headaches came nightly for me while detoxing, like clockwork at 6:30 pm. I chose not to take Ibuprofen due to more strain on my liver and harm to my gut which already has issues, so drank extra water which helped to make it bearable. The irritability came and went–it wasn’t constant. I recognized it coming as a sense of anger in the pit of my belly. I would go and read, be unsociable, warn my husband and wait for it to pass!


Janie: Unfortunately, there was evidence that I didn’t keep it down at all after 2015’s decline by the Fall, or that I should have gone much lower. But in the Spring of 2016, I was seeing more hair loss than normal again, yet my iron was great. No, I didn’t have the movement headaches or the ruminating negative thoughts like I did the year before, but the hair loss was a sign. Then at the beginning of June 2016, my body started detoxing copper again! I wasn’t trying to do so–it happened from taking phospholipids, known to help heal the mitochondria (of which I had a problem as revealed by the Organic Acids Test and symptoms–not everyone does). But it turns out that phospholipids induce detoxing! So here I was, once again detoxing copper with the exact same symptoms I had in 2015–copper-colored stools, adrenal stress, fatigue.  

The two phospholipids are NT Factor and Body Bio–one in the morning and one in the evening. Some just use NT Factor.

Elaine: No, because my Dr put me on the DHEA, which my body converted to crazy amounts of estrogen in 3 days, I had to do this all over again…  I am currently holding off as I am working on mitochondrial issues which are worsened with detoxing…although my stools are indicating that what i am taking for Mitochondrial function is causing me to detox...


Janie: This is where I’m doing some educated guessing. The first time my copper went high, I’m pretty sure it was a combination of chronic high stress depleting my zinc along with excessively high copper chocolate consumption for months and months.  i.e. I greatly did to myself.  But I also can’t discount that a potential underlying mito problem may have contributed, and my low levels of certain nutrients like manganese, molybdenum, b-vitamins, vitamin c as revealed by the Organic Acids Test later.

Now I WAS on zinc, molybdenum and and molybdenum the entire time after I finished detoxing in 2015 and up until I started detoxing again in mid-2016. So it clearly didn’t stop my copper from going up again,  even if they were important supplements. But this time around, I’ve been improving my B-vitamin and Vit. C levels, plus treating my mitochondrial problem better.  I’m also determined to stop the chocolate eating/self-treatment for stress, and only have chocolate in some foods for enjoyment here or there.  I also purchased a water filter, just in case there are heavy metals in our water. So we’ll see.

Elaine:  For me, keeping a close eye on my estrogen levels, taking “DIM Plus” daily to lower the estrogen and keep it in the right pathways. We do not have copper pipes at home, and will not in our new home. I eat copper  containing foods as treats vs daily.  I also have successfully treated my MTHFR, so that I should be able to better detox naturally now.


Janie: Since the MTHFR mutation can contribute to high heavy metals, there is a question if my single 1298 heterozygous mutation may have contributed, or my other methyl mutations like COMT. I’ve seen that happen to others. So today, I am treating that with methyl b-vitamins, just in case, though I can’t be on methyl B12–have to use hydroxy B12.  I needed to raise my b-vitamin levels anyway to help assist my compromised mitochondrial function! 

Elaine: I have treated my MTHFR mutation successfully with the active forms of B vitamins, Hydroxy B-12, Methyl Folate, P5P for B6, I also take B1, B2.


Janie: My biggest one was finding out that not only did I have high copper, I also had high lead (though not as high as the copper). Both were revealed by hair testing in 2015…and both came down after those six months of detoxing in 2015 as also revealed by another hair test.  The second surprise was discovering that copper detoxing (or high copper) can cause SIBO…Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. Have never had gut problems in my life, then found myself with SIBO that I had to treat. The third surprise was that I started to detox again in 2016 by accident!

Elaine: I  had also done an HTMA hair test in addition to serum copper that also showed high Copper, but also high Cobalt, Iron and Beryllium (my iron is almost perfect now through treating MTHFR and heavy metals).  I am finding that the first detox of copper was the fastest and the easiest of the three I have done so far. After the second time detoxing Copper, I also got SIBO and some pretty bad mitochondrial damage–the latter as evidenced by the Organic Acids Test. Janie has this, too.


Janie: Absolutely! It happened when I detoxed for six months in 2015 (and went away once my body stopped) and happened exactly again when I started to detox in 2016. It’s a classic sign for me.

Elaine: Positively glowing copper penny orange stools!  Stains toilets too, so they have to be washed often!


Janie:  One, I find the biggest emphasis should be on supporting your natural detox organs like the liver, kidneys and skin. If you do a sauna to sweat out the metals, it’s the skin helping you. But I supported more my liver (Dandelion Root twice a day, for example) and kidneys (Swanson Kidney Extract twice a day). Second, I find it quite important to take key antioxidants when detoxing like Astaxanthin, Grape Seed Extract, Vit. C and E, etc. I didn’t get into that well enough the first time around and regret it, so I did much better using them the second time around. Third, it’s going to be quite important to find out if you have the MTHFR mutation and treat it. //www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/mthfr And 4th, with what I know now, I would be on CoQ10 while detoxing to support my mitochondrial. I am now because I have no choice—my mito are screaming for it, and were even before I started to detox again. 

Elaine: I also agree, support the liver, the kidneys, use antioxidants, of which I now take many.  NAC, Astaxanthin, Vit. C and Vit. E.


Janie: Definitely. Detoxing heavy metals can be a huge stress on one’s adrenals! Now understand that I didn’t have an adrenal issue before I started detoxing. So at the beginning of detoxing, I didn’t even think about it. But as it continued, it became clear that my cortisol was shooting high. I started to have sleep issues through the night. I felt shaky in the morning (adrenal excess can go with high cortisol just as it can with low). And around dinner time later in my detoxing, I had the internal buzzing feeling that can go with a cortisol issue. The second time around with detoxing high copper brought on high cortisol again–sleep issues, morning adrenaline and shakiness, evening same.  What was effective for me was to take Holy Basil in the morning, again in the late afternoon if I noticed symptoms, and before bed.  A side note: during the second detox, and after 4-5 weeks of my mitochondrial treatment with high-dose CoQ10 and B-vitamins, and my cortisol issue mostly went away.

Elaine:  I was having adrenal issues anyway, and they did get worse. I began with a see-saw saliva testing pattern of Low, High, Low, High.  A year later after first detox I was Low, High, High, High. A year later after second and third detox, I was Low, Low, Low, High…aka adrenal fatigue. I had been treating adrenals through all the detoxes, and my Mother died during 3rd detox and I also got SIBO then (just like Janie did after copper issue), so those I am sure contributed to my adrenals getting worse, but the pattern was there before. Clearly it was too much for me!



  1. Once I start detoxing, my body is simply going to continue it on its own no matter what. I must be a super detoxer.
  2. If there is excess fatigue with detoxing, look at your mitochondrial function via an Organic Acid Test (OAT). I am thinking my mito were functioning less than optimal before my 2015 detox, and the detox plus the SIBO plus a yeast infection from hell….ruined my mito. I now have to take a very high dose of CoQ10, and added in NADH, along with the other supplements that the OAT told me about. I am not out of the woods. 
  3. I got a lot of good information from these websites: http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/copper_toxicity_syndrome.htm and http://www.coppertoxic.com/  
  4. Use your best judgment after reading several sources. Be wise within any copper groups, as you will have to sift through “strong opinion” vs “valid information” and decide what fits you.
  5. This is the hair testing I have used twice, also called HTMA, and I will use it again to keep track of where my metals are: https://www.directlabs.com/sttm/OrderTests.aspx (3rd test down)
  6. Testing should always be copper, zinc and ceruloplasmin at the least (ceruloplasmin is the major copper-carrying protein). If ceruloplasmin is quite low or below range, might want to explore Wilson’s disease. 


  1. The Organic Acid Test was a huge help to me, The second time I detoxed copper, my zinc levels were fine, I used Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth instead of zinc successfully (along with the other things I took the first time), I took it away from medications and supplements to be sure they absorbed still.
  2. Copper detox makes me have loose stools
  3. Copper detox usually made me exhausted
  4. Copper colored poop
  5. When I detoxed with Zinc and DE, headaches every night
  6. Detoxing by accident with Mitochondrial supports, no headaches, no exhaustion



  1. It’s rare, but there are some who might have Wilson’s disease, which is an autosomal recessive inherited disorder. It causes accumulation of copper in major organs like your liver (failure to filter it out), brain, and more. www.wilsonsdisease.org/
  2. About zinc and how it can be depleted: http://drlwilson.com/Articles/ZINC.htm
  3. About ceruloplasmin: http://www.clinchem.org/content/51/8/1558.full
  4. Since high levels of copper is usually in the unavailable form, you might see problems with yeast.  
  5. Also going hand-in-hand with high copper is high calcium, called the “calcium shell”. With that high calcium can be lack of emotion/apathy.
  6. High copper can also cause excess fears or anxieties. Detoxing may create some of the same.
  7. You will see ceruloplasmin mentioned on key copper websites–the major copper-carrying protein. Some will state that the lower it is, the quicker copper will build up in your liver and brain. Janie had high ceruloplasmin and still an obvious brain buildup! Just to show that there can be exceptions to the rule.
  8. If you want to work with a doctor, find one who is open-minded about hair testing  aka HTMA. But you may be lucky and the blood testing shows the problem anyway along with symptoms. Want to order your own HTMA?? You can! Go to the following page, scroll down and click on the DIRECT LABS icon, and the hair test is the 3rd one down: //www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/recommended-labwork
  9. Copper IUD’s have caused many women problems with rising copper levels! That can especially be true if you have the MTHFR mutation, which prevents your body from breaking it down.
  10. It’s stated that vegetarians have a high risk of becoming copper toxic.
  11. Foods high in copper include chocolate (darn it), avocados (darn it again) molasses, liver, oysters, shrimp, mushrooms, sesame or sunflower seeds, cashews, etc. A more comprehensive list is here.


If you found yourself with high copper, let us know your story by commenting below!


Here is what I got down to in Sept. 2015 when I suddenly stopped detoxing following 5 1/2 months:

COPPER: 1400 (810-1990) (I was 1571 after detoxing two months)
ZINC: 1.09 (.66 – 1.10)
RATIO: 1.0 (you want it to be .7 – 1.0)

And here is where I am in late November 2016, after 5 1/2 months of detoxing high copper once again

COPPER: 1400 (810-1990)
ZINC: 130 ug/dL (60-130)
RATIO: 1.0 (you want it to be .7 – 1.0)

You can see they are nearly identical, each after detoxing 5 1/2 months.  Zinc was a different measurement above, but at top of the range, just as last year.

And, with both detoxes:

1) High inflammation
2) High RT3, needing T3-only
3) Massive easy fatigue (I think both detoxes heavily messed with my mitochondria–the powerhouse of energy



  1. This is a great read about what high copper can do to you: https://healdove.com/alternative-medicine/Hypercupremia-High-Copper  And also note in the latter article that high copper can mess with your Glutamate/GABA balance, ie resulting in high glutamate levels in your brain (causing inflammation), plus in some,impaired speech, aggressive behavior, intense irritability, anxiety, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), and eventually neuronal destruction.

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40 Responses to “Elaine and Janie: The High Copper Detox Queens Share Their Stories”

  1. Jeff says:

    Thanks for sharing your copper stories. Within the last couple of days I was investigating the use of copper water bottles to help with my Hypothyroidism. If you search”12 reasons drinking water in copper vessel is beneficial” one benefit stated is: #9 Regulates the working of the thyroid gland.
    Experts say that one commonality amongst people with thyroid diseases is that they usually have low levels of copper in their body. While this is most commonly seen in people with hyperthyroidism (excessive thyroid hormone), those with hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone) may also suffer from this deficiency. Copper is one of the most important trace minerals the thyroid gland needs to function optimally. A lack in copper can send the functioning of the gland out of sync. So when you drink water from a copper vessel. it makes up for this possible deficiency and regulates the functioning of the thyroid gland.
    Is there any truth to this statement? I am on NDT for Hypothyroid.
    Thanks, Jeff B.

    • Based on observation, I think that low copper is not common for hypothyroid patients, though I do see someone mention it from time to time, so it’s a possibility. One could get tested to be sure. In fact, I would test before drinking from a copper vessel, because it’s all too common for people to have the MTHFR mutation which could push copper up, too, if one isn’t careful. Copper is involved with thyroid function, but so are a lot of minerals.

      • Jeff says:

        Thanks for your response Janie. I am a big fan of cocoa powder as a food supplement. I was thinking about your chocolate indulgence (which is usually a good thing). In chocolate candy or bar production there always seems to be huge copper vats. Could that be contributing to the copper content of chocolate?

        • Whoa. Good question! I have no idea. I was consuming a dark chocolate thats only sweetener was stevia, so not sure how they make it. I falsely assumed that because it didn’t have sugar in it, I was safe to be eating as much as I was. Not. I was consuming a LOT day after day after day after week after months. I tend to be obsessive about chocolate. lol.

          • Jeff says:

            I drink the equivalent of 3 cups of cocoa (hot or iced) a day.
            I add 1tbsp. cocoa powder, 1/2tsp ginger powder, 1/2tsp cinnamon powder and a pinch of cayenne.
            Usually unsweetened, but as a treat I occasionally add a tsp.of male syrup
            or honey. The Mayans lived long, healthy lives and cocoa powder was an
            important part of their diet. There are 3.3mg of copper in a cup of dry cocoa powder.
            It is a very relaxing/calming beverage.

          • Jeff, I don’t doubt that it’s good for us. My situation was different. I wayyyyyy overdid it, on top of having chronic high stress that was tanking my zinc.

        • Cisca says:

          Well, I have to reply to this…. just see Dr Wilson website about copper, you can have high copper that get stocked by your liver, which gives you at the same time symptoms of high and low copper!
          We tend to crave high copper foods when we are toxic with it, because it is a brain stimulant that gives the strength we actually miss, because of low energy levels. And copper toxic people have low bioavailable copper…
          So copper rich foods are a trap, a pit, a catch!

  2. Mellie says:

    Hi Janie,
    Thanks so much for sharing this helpful info via your website. I have a quick question for you regarding the detox side affects. I am curious why neither you nor elaine did not use activated charcoal to help limit your detox symptoms. I have done tons of reading on it and it seems to be quite effective. I have even used it with succes for managing some of my IBS and Ceoliac symptoms and once even successfully used it to avoid a gluten intoxication. So It seems like you could better protect your adrenals and other internal organs by binding that stuff up and getting it out. Is there a particular problem with using activated charcoal that I am not aware of?


    • I didn’t use charcoal because I wasn’t yet aware of it last year when I first started detoxing. But when I did become aware of it, I discovered it can also bind and pull out other key nutrients, which I felt was a negative in using it with the length of time it takes to lower high copper.

      • Elaine says:

        Hi Mellie! I chose not to use Charcoal because I take NDT and T3 throughout the day, I also take many supplements that I need to function and knew that the Charcoal would also absorb those leaving me hypo and vitamin and mineral deficient yet again. After 35 years being sick, I have no interest in going backwards! I found additional water helped the headaches and other detox symptoms making them bearable.

  3. Jeff says:

    Elaine, if you isolate the time you take charcoal (a couple of hours after or before you take supplements) do you think the charcoal will still absorb a fair amount of nutrients from your body? I typically take a half teaspoonful in water before i go to bed, especially if I have any gastro intestinal upset.

    • Elaine says:

      I take NDT and T3 at 6 AM, at 7:30 AM I take many supplements, at 10 AM I take T3, at noon I take more supplements, at 2 PM I take T3 and more supplements at 3 PM, I take supplements at 6 PM and I take NDT and supplements at 9 PM, leaves me with no space to take Charcoal safely.

  4. Dean Smart says:

    Zinc opposes copper absorption in the gut. High amounts of zinc, guys do this, can lead to copper deficiencies.

    Softened water will lead to dissolved copper, or acidic water will do this. Never drink softened water. Reverse osmosis water can also release copper from pipes

    Some multi-vits contain copper.

    If lead shows up, get water tested. Others in the home will be at risk as well.

  5. Cynthia S says:

    I had a bad/unusual reaction in my bowels when I took 30 mg Zinc Monomethionine as part of a recommendation for Macular Degeneration. But oddly, I had had this same unusual reaction/symptom a couple of times before in the last year, and put 2 and 2 together. I’d been on a very low carb regimen for the last year, and researching I discovered that a very low carb diet was 1) very low in copper. 2) fairly high in Zinc. You need to look at a lot of food values for the 2 metals to realize this. Copper seems to inhabit all the high carb foods, but not the low carb foods. And Zinc is pretty much only in meat.

    I’m sure the copper dumping causing the discomfort was because I had had a copper IUD for a good 15-20 years. So, pursuing a regimen to get rid of the copper, I started 9.5 mg Zinc Orotate and 2 gm Taurine. The Taurine kept me from being nauseous from the copper being dumped. After a number of months of this, I could move the Zinc up to 19 mg. After another number of months I moved the Zinc to 28.5. Tonight, after another several months, I will be starting the 30 mg Zinc Monomethionine. Wish me luck. After a few more months, I will start to cut back on the Taurine, then consider myself done, but keep up the high Zinc.

    During most of this period of trying to eliminate the Zinc, I have been taking 1 mg of bio-available copper, since my diet is SO low in copper, but half a day apart from the Zinc. The dumped copper can be assumed to be bio-unavailable. Just moved my copper up to 2 mg last week.

    Any comments on the copper situation? I also take a mountain of other supplements for the AMD and started Nature Throid a few months ago, as well as a host of other hormones.


  6. Diana says:

    Great article… thoroughly enjoyed reading through it!! Quick question… how would one know if they have copper pipes in their home AND if so, are you aware if these can be changed out?

    • Several possible clues. One is if your home in more than 40-50 years, the risk is higher that there’s some copper piping. Another is by looking at the pipes under your sink to see if you see any evidence of copper, or look at the top of your water heater. Or examine outside water taps. Yes, they can be changed out but you’d need to talk to a plumber.

  7. Kitty says:

    Hi Janie & Elaine, many thanks for sharing your copper detox experience. I believe I’m in the same
    boat! I’m MTHFR (homozygous a1298c), hashimoto’s, had a year of stress and was eating high copper foods such as chocolate & lots of nuts daily, My signs of high copper were watching myself go into anemia with strange exhaustion. Then eating what I thought was high iron foods (liverwurst & sunflower seeds, beets to bring iron back up). These foods are really high copper, then breaking out in a deep red scaley rash on my face. My blood tests came back high serum copper and low ferritin. I’m now on the copper detox diet, with Vit. C, Zinc, Molybdenum, Spirulina, and liver & kidney support. My question is were either of you able to take iron when detoxing copper? Intially, before I got on the copper detox plan, I was trying to take iron and it was making me feel more exhausted!? I would appreciate your Input. I’m going into my 4th week of detox, slow, exhausted, negative thoughts, and very low dose supplements to start. And this too shall pass…Thanks, Kitty

  8. Kitty says:

    Hi Janie & Elaine, thanks for your input on iron. At this point, I cannot tolerate iron supplements( tried 3 different Irons). My ferritin is 53, range, 10-291. I’m adding high iron, low copper foods to try and bring up the iron. I’m very light´-headed and weak…this is brutal! Thanks for letting me know ahead, this is not an easy one! I chelated mercury with Andy Cutler’s Alpha Lipoic Acid protocol for several years and did very well. It wasn’t hard and it really improved my health. I’m almost at 1 month of copper detox, taking very low doses, (zinc 15mg, manganese 2mg, molydenum,100mcg, spirulina)-2xs daily, Alpha Lipoic Acid seems to help push it out, 125mg/ 3xs daily, liver & kidney support, Activated Bs, Omega-3s, Coconut Oil, and a big dose of Magnesium before bed. The brutal part is the headaches at the top & sides of my skull, and the red facial rash( dots & risen lines that come and go as I chelate). I’m in Europe and cant find a doc who understands this; so I will go to them for bloodwork and manage my own health. MY QUESTIONS: 1) Were you able to raise your iron with diet only? 2) Were you able to increase your doses of copper antaganists? 3) Were you able to work and chelate copper? I trying to get my chelation doses stable so I can “function” and go back to work (home office). Janie, I have not been on your Thyroid Europe Group in several years…are any members doing copper detox? This has to get better… I think this is the most difficult health challenge yet. Thanks for sharing your experience…I greatly appreciate it! Kitty

    • Once I got my copper down, yes, my iron seemed to right itself. But I was different than others. Most get low ferritin with their copper issues. I got high ferritin and crazy low iron with mine—55 for example, when it should have been close to 110. In one week, my iron dropped to 55. Blew me away.

      As far as increasing my copper antagonists, if I tried, I would feel MUCH worse. So I stopped trying. But once I start detoxing, it just continues with whatever I’m on. My body just does a great job “detoxing” on its own after it starts. I don’t think I have an activated MTHFR mutation yet–I’m only heterozygous for 1298, though someday, it could activate. But right now, my body seems to able to get it out well once it starts doing so.

      I would not have been able to work with detoxing the first time around—it caused brutal, debilitating fatigue. But I figured out later that was because I have some mito issues, one being three homozygous CoQ10 mutations, which I didn’t put two and two about the first time I detoxed in 2015. The second time around with detoxing, I had that brutal fatigue for about 5 weeks…and in fact, it was even worse. Just awful. But then it totally went away thanks to figuring out that I needed to be on quite high doses of CoQ10. I’m still detoxing and have fabulous energy now.

      No, not aware of folks in the Europe group who are detoxing copper.

      • Forgot to add, Kitty, that we learned it can be a big mistake to just go by Ferritin. We HAVE to see what serum iron, % Sat and TIBC is, too. Even with the latter, who don’t try to correct Ferritin. We only correct what is going on with serum iron, etc. Ferritin will fall into place over time as long as there isn’t a high metal issue.

  9. Kitty says:

    Hi Janie,
    Many thanks for answering my questions and sharing your experience details! I have hope now & look forward to the day I’m over that”rusty” feeling. I think the only way to do this is steady and slow. I just added NADH for the fatigue (10mg, 2xs daily) & it is helping…. Also, tried SAM-E 200mg and started detoxing too quickly. As it raises glutathione and detoxes the liver. Will try again at a lower dose. For Iron…my iron is mid-range and ferritin is quite low, I believe due to copper. Thanks again for being a forerunner in copper detox! 🙂 Kitty

  10. Jan says:

    Softened water can cause high copper? We moved to our new house a year ago, and I’ve been drinking softened water since then! And my copper is high/zinc low! (According to STTM). Copper was 140 (70-175) and zinc 81 (60-130). Ceruloplasmin 26 (18-53). I started taking astaxanthin and dibencozide B12, and have been taking coQ10 for a couple of years. I have noticed stools that are more orange colored, maybe I’m detoxing? Should I try molybdenum and/or manganese?

    • Hi Jan. It’s hard for either of us to know about you, not being doctors or living in your body. But we do know that both of us have definitely had consistent daily copper color stools when detoxing. And we do take both the supplements you mentioned. And we make sure to avoid high copper foods while detoxing. I, Janie, am going to be more careful with high copper foods this time once I’m done detoxing. I don’t want to go through this again!! As I’m writing this, I’ve been detoxing 5 months solid, so far. And I had to move over to T3-only for awhile—detoxing makes my RT3 go high!!

  11. Jan says:

    Oh, great. My RT3 was high at last testing. I’m on 1-1/2 grain WP and 10mcg T3 (so far). I don’t eat high copper foods. I think I’ll stick with bottled water from now on, just in case!

  12. Liz James says:

    this sounds so overwhelming…some of the supplements you mention I can’t take because they contain corn or corn by products…i get hives from those…

  13. Laura says:

    Who do I have to see to help me with copper detoxing,Im not feeling good at all and I did blood and urine test they found out I have copper on my body:( plz hep what kind of dr should I see ti hep me??

    • Laura, we don’t have a list like that. So perhaps call around your area and see what doctor can help you with high copper, such as functional med doctors. It’s also been helpful to read whatever you can find on the web about high copper.

  14. Sarah says:

    I discovered my copper toxicity when I began having more and more problems with iron deficiency. When not even taking my supplement regimen twice a day with an extra iron supplement helped, I decided to look for another multivitamin in case something in the formulation of my current one was causing me to have trouble taking in iron for some reason. I tried Centrum Adults, which has 73% zinc to 25% copper. I took it twice a day like I did my old multivitamin. This ratio caused my body to start using and removing stored copper. What made me realize it was researching copper because I was concerned about the low percentage in the multivitamin. After about a week or so, the multivitamin was making me copper-deficient, so I went back to my old multivitamin and regimen, except I wasn’t using extra iron. In addition, I began balancing the copper in my diet with zinc. I eat some form of animal protein at almost every meal. I went back to peanut butter as my sole source of “nut” butter since the other types were higher in copper. I did hold on to my Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread to have as an occasional treat. I love this stuff too much to give up. I also cut back or eliminated the foods highest in copper that I thought would be more difficult to balance, like cashews and sunflower seeds. Over time, I began breaking out badly from my supplements and my levothyroxine. My only vitamin or mineral supplement now is vitamin D, although I have to make sure I get enough vitamin A and vitamin E in my diet to balance it out. I’m also on a lower dose of levothyroxine, and I’ll have my levels tested again in a few days to see if this dose is working. As for how I feel, I seem to be doing fine on it. I’ve made some mistakes by taking in too much zinc at times and too much copper at other times, but overall, my health has been much better since discovering and fixing my copper-zinc imbalance.

    • Sarah says:

      I ended up going back up on my levothyroxine. I found out that my test results at the end of May showed a TSH of 3.7, which is high for me. Now I’m left wondering why there seemed to be an issue with my medication in the first place. I’m thinking it had to be some combination of my supplements and the medication, but I can’t seem to find information on it or find others who may have experienced similar. When I started having issues, I cut my medication first, felt better, and then started cutting my supplements when symptoms returned. I tried my levothyroxine again about a month later and felt miserable the second day. It had been a week since I stopped taking cod liver oil and a few days since I’d eaten pork liver, and whether there’s a connection there or not, I have no idea.

    • Bond says:

      There are a couple of studies that show vitamin D lowering ceruloplasmin, which will make copper unavailable and toxic.
      Morley Robbins(there is a Magnesium Advocacy group on FB) suggests against it.

      • Hi. The problem is that there are some Vit D users that haven’t seen their Ceruloplasmin fall at all from the use of Vit. D. So for that reason, we don’t just black and white tell people to avoid Vitamin D.

  15. Kelsey J says:

    Hi Janie! I’m so grateful for this post. I be recently learned that like Elaine am homozygous for the A1298c gene mutation. The last few years have been a doozy for me. I’ve spent the last year following recommendation from the patient experience forums but have struggled to get answers that I’ve needed. I’ve also been following your protocols with little success. I’m sure this is because of my gene mutation! I trust what you say and because of having low ferritin (that would not successfully rise with supplementation)…I decided to check for MTHFR. The only mutations I’ve check for are 677 and 1298 due to money struggles. My thyroid is low but my T3 is pooling due to iron supplementation and being on adrenal cortex by itself for 8 months now. Everytime I tried thyroid (NDT, T3 only etc.) I struggled so I Gave up on it for a while. I’m now just testing for copper overload but I’m wondering what I should do about needing thyroid? Should I take it while I am detoxing? It’s been a really confusing process! Plus, I live off of chocolate and actually crave it(not sure if it’s the chocolate or the fat and sodium my adrenals are craving). I’m scared to give it up because it’s the only way I function! Now knowing that chocolate increases copper, Is there something I could replace the chocolatw with to help with energy? Or could it possibly be I just need thyroid? On a side note, my adrenal cortex makes me extremely tired after taking it. Dr. Lams website mentioned something about how- if adrenal medicine is making you feel really tired can point to a gene mutation- which is one of the reasons I checked to see if I have one. I’ve been on the search for a good doctor but haven’t found one that seems to know enough to help me. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated! Thanks for your wisdom!! I would love to be in contact with Elaine if that is even possible!

    • Lots to say to you, Kelsey.

      First, you only mentioned ferritin. We never try to just “raise ferritin”. That’s the wrong goal, plus it may not be low because of the 1298. It may be low because you have low serum iron, and it’s serum iron that needs to be optimal. Did you test serum iron?

      Second, just because you show having both homozygous 1298 doesn’t mean it’s active. We find it important to do a heavy metal test to see if it’s active, because if it is, we usually see some metals too high. 4th one down on this page shows you one you can do yourself: https://www.directlabs.com/sttm/OrderTests.aspx It’s also good that you are testing your copper via serum though. Another clue, though some see this and others don’t, it high B12. I now have high B12, which I didn’t when I was having all that copper issue.

      For me, I may have found out why my copper went SO high–my zinc. Found out just three weeks ago that my RBC zinc was below range. THAT may be more of why my copper went so high, not my one 1298 mutation. And my zinc went low because of mold inhalation in my case, which can tank zinc.

      If you end up having high copper and have to detox it, it’s important to test RT3 to see if it’s high. If it is, we go on mostly T3, not NDT.

      If ACE (adrenal cortex) makes us extremely tired, it’s not for the reason that Lam said. He doesn’t follow strong patient experiences. It happens because we are underdosing ourselves and not doing the DATs to find our optimal dose. Join the FTPO Adrenals group on Facebook, okay? Let them help you.

      • Kelsey J says:

        Janie-Thank you so much. This is such great info that I needed! I will definitely join the facebook page!
        I should have been a bit more clear when I mentioned my iron. All my iron levels are perfect per your website recommendation except for ferritin. My ferritin has been in the teens since I started checking it 3 years ago. For a while I thought I was supposed to treat ferretin but it would not rise no matter what I did. then I read on your website not to treat just ferritin, so I stopped about 9 months ago. Actually your website was the main reason I checked MTHFR (labs being normal except for ferritin).
        I’ve tried NDt and T3 and struggled, but I’m thinking I need to try just T3 again. My ft3 is 15.3(high) and my Rt3 is 16(higher than 11) so I think T3 only might be the best for me.
        I didn’t know that a gene mutation has to be active to cause problems! Knowing this, I guess the question I was trying to ask is, if I have a active gene mutation do the protocols change? Does the gene mutation affect how to take thyroid?
        Also, I was taking 10 of HC every morning and still practically falling asleep after I took it. It felt like the front part of my brain was shutting off, a little weird. Not sure why?! Maybe I needed thyroid. I remember reading somewhere, I think in your book, that for adrenal medicine to work properly you have to be taking some thyroid even if it’s a small amount?! Plus my aldosteone is low and I feel much better when I drink sea salt i. Water. I tried the florinef protocol in the book, but that made me feel crappy too. I guess it’s all just a balancing act. I will definitely join the Facebook page! Thank you so much for your help! I really really appreciate it!

  16. Cisca says:

    It was a good read! I was guessing a copper toxicity but my level were very normal. You gave me the idea to calculate the ratio… 1,49! And you have also explained my orange stool when I took some zinc… Now I reached the point I react with nerves symptoms if I take zinc and Bs and p5p and methyl B12 and folate.
    One thing that helped me a lot was to take orange/lemon juice in the morning, with a lot of olive oil. My liver and gall bladder thanked me! I am 50 and I think my hot flushes can be related to copper making estrogens high, or a histamine problem.
    My guts are fine at the moment, I think thanks to diatomaceous earth.
    What do you think about my genetic results?
    MTHFR – Ala222Val – AA – very high
    MTHFR – A1298C – TT – neutral
    MTR – 2756A>G – GG – high
    MTRR – Ile22Met – GG – high

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