Excess copper > severe insomnia (and lots of other problems)

Mary

Moderator Resource
Messages
16,355
Likes
37,163
Location
Southern California
I very recently learned the very hard way that excess copper can cause insomnia - in my case, severe insomnia. According to Copper Toxicity: A Common Cause of Psychiatric Symptoms | Psychology Today
When copper levels are high, more norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) are synthesized from dopamine, which can causes feelings of agitation, anxiety and panic, overstimulation, racing thoughts, restlessness, and insomnia. In other words, it has an amphetamine-like effect, revving the nervous system into a state of overdrive. Consider that copper is often used in electrical wires because it conducts electricity well, and likewise increases nerve transmission, which is an electrical chemical process.
And according to the same article, the following are associated with copper overload:
ringing in ears, sensitivity to food dyes and shellfish, high anxiety, depression, poor immune function, sleep problems, poor concentration and focus, low dopamine activity, and elevated activity of norepinephrine and adrenaline.

Other medical conditions associated with copper overload include acne, allergies, Candida overgrowth, hypothyroidism, anemia, hair loss, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, migraines and male infertility.
Sound familiar? (btw, I'm not crazy about Psychology Today as a source, but I think this is a good article)

Also see Why do you have Insomnia? (holisticpharmd.com)

I’ve been taking a copper supplement (2 mg) for several years on my former ME/CFS orthomolecular doctor’s recommendation. Unfortunately he died about 5 years ago. Interestingly, he originally practiced as a psychiatrist until he discovered that many of his patients had nutritional imbalances causing their symptoms, and that became his focus. He was the only doctor I had seen up until that time who even believed ME/CFS was real.

Anyways, several months ago I decided to double my dose of copper. I can’t remember why. It wasn’t a smart thing to do. (You don’t need to lecture me - I’ve already kicked myself enough!) Many things are forgiving (at least for me) if I increase or decrease them a little (vitamin C, magnesium, certain of the Bs) but copper is not one of them.

Some of you may have read my summer vacation post where I describe in great detail how my long-planned summer trip to see family in Texas was derailed by severe insomnia of a type I’d never experienced before (wide awake from 11:00 p.m. to 5.:00 a.m.) And it seemed the culprit was high dose liposomal vitamin C - my sleep improved after I cut that out and returned to my regular vitamin C dosing. (I’m now wondering what effect the high dose vitamin C had on my copper metabolism)

Only my sleep was still problematic, though not as bad, in the ensuing weeks. And it was getting worse, again, a few nights with only 2 hours sleep. And all my usual stuff wouldn’t touch it.

Well, I finally found the ultimate culprit (I think!) - excess copper. About 6 days ago copper came to mind, I read about it and bingo! I immediately stopped the supplement, and increased my zinc (now taking 22 mg zinc in the a.m. and 50 p.m. with dinner) and also increased molybdenum to 2 mg (taken at night) and I immediately started sleeping better. It’s been about 5 nights now and it feels too good to be true, but I’m finally sleeping again.

Copper helps produce adrenaline. So this explains why I was waking at 11:00 p.m. with a surge of adrenaline, and I could feel my BP going up - at 11:00 at night, after being asleep - WTH? Well, now I know. I’ve seen many here write about being awakened by adrenaline surges so urge you to look into copper.

(One other culprit with severe insomnia is high cortisol at night, which I’ve also experienced, but this was different, and also Seriphos (phosphorylated serine, not phosphatidyl serine) which is very effective at normalizing cortisol levels (when taken in the morning) didn’t help this time.)

The above articles talk about excess copper being stored in the body and how zinc can mobilize it, so that your symptoms can get worse initially when taking zinc. I’ve been on the lookout for this, but fortunately have only slept better since I cut out the copper and increased my zinc. And the increased zinc is temporary (I know - excess zinc can cause its own issues).

I’m getting a hair analysis done - my former doctor used to order one each year, and he knew how to interpret them. The company I’m working with now also provides an analysis - e.g., after the last one I had done 3 years ago, they told me that my magnesium/calcium ratio was way off, very heavily skewed in favor of calcium, and recommended I stop my calcium supplement and increase my magnesium. I did that, and immediately started sleeping better (sleep or, rather, insomnia, has been my bete noire for many years) I eventually added some calcium back in, but only half of what I had been taking, and was doing okay until recently. I learned it’s not just levels of various mineral that are important on hair analysis, but the ratio of various minerals to each other.

I also plan to get blood work done to measure ceruloplasmin, serum copper, zinc and will see what my (new) doctor recommends.

I’m now wondering if many or most people with ME/CFS might have a fundamental derangement in copper metabolism. It could explain our insomnia, lots of things maybe?

This is one of the few times that my self-experimentation has backfired on me. Overall I’ve improved a lot with my experimenting with supplements of various types: (cut PEM by more than half, noticeably increased energy, stopped detoxing at the drop of a hat, immune system functioning improved, and better sleep overall (once I stopped sabotaging myself!) The one thing I haven’t been able to do is stop crashing and extend my activity window, though I feel better and have more energy in between crashing. I believe that ME/CFS causes nutritional deficiencies and all I am doing is remedying these deficiencies with my supplements so I feel better, but unfortunately have not reached the root cause of ME/CFS.
 

Viala

Senior Member
Messages
367
Likes
995
I believe ratios between minerals are important. It sounds like you had too much copper and not enough zinc. We get in general about 10mg zinc in our diet and about 1mg copper. From what I've researched the best zinc to copper ratio should be between 5:1 to 10:1, ratio may be different if someone has only zinc or copper deficiency.
 

LINE

Senior Member
Messages
466
Likes
921
Location
USA
Thank you for sharing. As you mentioned, excess copper can be problematic but copper also serves as a critical nutrient ( supports neutrophils, aids in metabolic pathways etc). Vitamin C in lower levels allows copper to stagnate and as you mentioned, zinc is antagonistic to copper.

A tissue mineral analysis can be a helpful test to do, however it depends on the lab.

https://traceelements.com/Docs/The Nutritional Relationships of Copper.pdf

Other resources
https://traceelements.com/EducationalResources/PublishedArticles.aspx

https://traceelements.com/EducationalResources/NewsLetter.aspx
 
Last edited:

LINE

Senior Member
Messages
466
Likes
921
Location
USA
https://traceelements.com/Docs/NewsletterJune-July2020.pdf

Copper Excess and Pro-Viral Activity
We consider copper as a pro-viral agent. It has an
antagonistic effect on the mineral zinc which is known to
have anti-viral properties. We often see elevated HTMA
copper in individuals who have had or who are suffering
from viral episodes, including mononucleosis, AIDS, EBV,
CMV, etc.

Copper also acts synergistically with calcium and
enhances increased tissue calcium accumulation and
thereby, predispose the cell to viral replication. (Virol J.
2017) I realize there are a lot of statements on the internet
promoting copper as an anti-viral agent which I find a bit
questionable. Copper has long been known for its
antimicrobial properties particularly toward bacteria.
Bacteria such as staph, MRSA and C. difficile, etc. were
destroyed almost immediately when exposed to copper
surfaces with almost 100 percent within a couple of hours
which is why many hospitals use copper coated surfaces
and bed rails which has reduced hospital-acquired staph
infections tremendously. While COVID-19 is known to take
up to 4 hours to degrade on copper surfaces. It is possible I
suppose that the effect of copper on viruses could be due to
differences between RNA and DNA viruses.
 

Pearshaped

Senior Member
Messages
554
Likes
1,205
I have to much copper in my liver according to biopsy results.
But since copper in urine is normal, my Gastro Dr just shrugged it off.

@Mary , what kind if Zinc do you take? Do you know if there is a certain form of zinc which is better to dump copper?
 

Mary

Moderator Resource
Messages
16,355
Likes
37,163
Location
Southern California
@LINE - thanks for the links! Yes, I am using trace elements hair analysis, through this company: Hair Analysis: Lab Test for Do-it-yourself Nutrition (hairanalysisreport.com) They did provide an analysis of the test I did 3 years ago, plus a phone consult, for around $135.

ETA: The $135 included everything: the test, the printed analysis and the hour-long phone consult with someone at the company (not a doctor).
 
Last edited:

Mary

Moderator Resource
Messages
16,355
Likes
37,163
Location
Southern California
what kind if Zinc do you take? Do you know if there is a certain form of zinc which is better to dump copper?
@Pearshaped - I don't know if one form of zinc is better than another. I've been taking zinc picolinate from Swanson's, so initially just increased my dose, and then ordered this product from iherb, 50 mg of "Zinc (as OptiZinc® zinc monomethionine, zinc citrate) ". I don't know if one is better than the other. Right now I'm taking 22 mg of the Swanson's product with breakfast, and one capsule 50 mg Life Extension product with dinner. I do recommend taking it with food - it tends to upset the stomach if taken on an empty stomach.

One other thing, I'm also taking 2 mg. molybdenum which is supposed to help as well. I also take a ton of other supplements which I've taken for a long time.

I'm not an expert on this - this is all new to me, so I'm sure others here would know more!
 
Messages
2,819
Likes
6,249
Location
Canada
@Mary I'm glad you were able to figure it out! I tried copper earlier in the year and nothing good came of it for me. Zinc is helpful but something to watch out for is it can cause a need for more potassium, I've noticed.

I hope you are sleeping well again!
 

Wishful

Senior Member
Messages
4,537
Likes
8,273
Location
Alberta
This statement "Consider that copper is often used in electrical wires because it conducts electricity well, and likewise increases nerve transmission, which is an electrical chemical process." makes me suspicious about anything else in the paper. Yes, metallic copper conducts well, but that says nothing about its electrical conductivity in ionic form, or its effects on conductivity of biomolecules. I guess that psychiatrists don't need to know any chemistry or physics, so just ignore (or verify yourself) any statements they make about those subjects. :rolleyes:
 

Mary

Moderator Resource
Messages
16,355
Likes
37,163
Location
Southern California
I verified for myself the statements made in the Psychology Today article - and I started sleeping immediately better when I cut out my copper supplement and doubled my zinc dose (I've now tripled my zinc, temporarily). All psychiatrists are MDs, just as knowledgeable as the other MDs who blithely hand out statins and anti-depressants without a word to their patients about their dangers. Only I think the author of the above article (an MD as well as a psychiatrist of course) is more knowledgeable. I did have an orthomolecular doctor, who started out as a shrink only to find that many of his patients had nutritional imbalances. So he started treating those imbalances, instead of automatically reaching for the prescription pad. He was a great doctor and I'm really sorry he's gone.

I knew if I had gone to a regular MD or even the ER with my crazy insomnia, their only recourse would have been to drug me to the gills, which I didn't want, and it wouldn't have solved the problem anyways. But I now seem to have found the answer - time will tell of course, but I've had more good sleep in the past 6 nights or so than I have in the last 2 months.

To me it's a bit ironic of course to learn something extremely helpful about health and sleep from a psychiatrist, when it is psychiatrists who have done more than any to convince the world that ME/CFS is all in our heads.
 
Last edited:

Irat

Senior Member
Messages
288
Likes
695
I verified for myself the statements made in the Psychology Today article - and I started sleeping immediately better when I cut out my copper supplement and doubled my zinc dose (I've now tripled my zinc, temporarily). All psychiatrists are MDs, just as knowledgeable as the other MDs who blithely hand out statins and anti-depressants without a word to their patients about their dangers. Only I think the author of the above article (an MD as well as a psychiatrist of course) is more knowledgeable. I did have an orthomolecular doctor, who started out as a shrink only to find that many of his patients had nutritional imbalances. So he started treating those imbalances, instead of automatically reaching for the prescription pad. He was a great doctor and I'm really sorry he's gone.

I knew if I had gone to a regular MD or even the ER with my crazy insomnia, their only recourse would have been to drug me to the gills, which I didn't want, and it wouldn't have solved the problem anyways. But I now seem to have found the answer - time will tell of course, but I've had more good sleep in the past 6 nights or so than I have in the last 2 months.

To me it's a bit ironic or course to learn something extremely helpful about health and sleep from a psychiatrist, when it is psychiatrists who have done more than any to convince the world that ME/CFS is all in our heads.
Mary,as I like reading in Dr.wilson/Chinese medicine ,you might would like to read here about copper toxicity,and also symptoms to watch out from dumping copper too fast ,I find it a good read
https://www.drlwilson.com/articles/copper elimination.htm
 

LINE

Senior Member
Messages
466
Likes
921
Location
USA
I have to much copper in my liver according to biopsy results.
But since copper in urine is normal, my Gastro Dr just shrugged it off.

@Mary , what kind if Zinc do you take? Do you know if there is a certain form of zinc which is better to dump copper?
Yes, they are the best in my opinion. I have been a provider with them for 20 years and have always been happy with their insights.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Messages
14,657
Likes
33,593
Location
Second star to the right ...
@Mary
Be careful with very high doses of zinc, but I know that you will be.


High doses oif Vit C will inhibit copper, which is probably why it helped you.

I agree with you. I think that while we may not b able to cure ME with supps and herbs, we can definitely modify or potentially eradicate some of the worst of it's effects, tho probably not all. I've experienced enormous improvement thru their use, as you have, and bugger the begrudgers :D:D:D ....

This is fascinatin' info, Mary, and thank you for opening this thread ....

PS ... I agree, too, about Psych Today .... it used to be really good many years ago, and I had a standing subscription. But little by little, the articles declined, the subject matter became simplistic and aimed more at crowd-pleasing and entertaining than opening doors to interesting input and thoughtful articles. But very once in a while, they still will come up with things of interest.

I hate 'progress' .... nothing good ever comes of it :meh::meh::meh: ...

EDITED ... for missing '''s .... yes, I'm just that OCD ....
 
Last edited:
Messages
14,657
Likes
33,593
Location
Second star to the right ...
From what I've researched the best zinc to copper ratio should be between 5:1 to 10:1, ratio may be different if someone has only zinc or copper deficiency.
This is a pretty common belief and who knows, may be right. But several sources, including a piece of research in PubMed (I'll see if it can dig up the link, but dont wait, as dad used to say, standing up) say that the ratio is less important than just making sure you get your daily allowance of each of them.


Not being sure, I separate them into morning vits and after dinner vits, taking the copper earlier because a poster here (I wish I could remember their name or the thread title ... I like to attribute accurately when I can) pointed out that copper at night seemed to interfere with their sleep, and I need all the help I can get in that department.

I'm not sure if it makes much difference, but at least it keeps the copper and zinc, which compete at the same site for absorption, separated enough to eliminate that issue ....

EDITED.... I'm now committing word-length typos .... very disheartening ....
 
Last edited:
Messages
9
Likes
22
Location
Germany
I think I have developed excess copper from repleting copper deficiency. I didn't stop or reduce dosage early enough. I was on 2.5-5 mg daily. I stopped 6 weeks ago, also on zinc and molybdenum. Hope it levels out soon. Labs haven't been helpful, I think the copper deposited in different organs.