Are You Suffering From Copper Overload?

By Samantha Gilbert, FNC, CHNP, CNC     Last updated on February 11th, 2023

Are You Suffering From Copper Overload?

Of all the things that can be most debilitating to women, copper tops the list. Born with copper overload and a lifetime of research into the root cause of my suffering, I’ve become quite intimate with this trace element. Copper has the ability to profoundly affect every system in the body — especially the reproductive, nervous, and glandular systems.

Copper Overload in Women

Copper overload is quite common in women because estrogen increases copper retention in the body. This is also another reason why hypothyroidism and autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s are much more common in women than men; copper (along with toxic heavy metals such as mercury) gets sequestered into the thyroid gland and can block the conversion of T4 into T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. Estrogen is similar in structure to T3, and thus has a powerful effect on the bioavailability of thyroid hormone by blocking thyroid receptors on cell membranes throughout the body.

Copper is often inherited and is brought on during hormonal events such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause; as well as the use of birth control and hormone replacement therapy. [1]

The use of copper IUDs for birth control as well as synthetic hormone replacement therapy and xenoestrogens (endocrine disrupter toxins that mimic estrogen in the body) also explain why copper overload is quite common today. Xenoextrogens come from pesticides, plastics, fuels, dry cleaning chemicals, industrial waste, growth hormones from conventional feedlot animals, and many household and personal care products. Exposure to copper pipes as well as adherence to vegetarian/vegan diets also contributes to copper toxicity.

To learn more about copper overload, check out my podcast episode 10 below with Dr. Judith Bowman, Co-founder of Mensah Medical. You can also find the Eat For Life podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

Symptoms of Copper Toxicity

Copper is especially disruptive to the adrenal glands, which produce the stress hormone cortisol. This constant agitation leads to dysregulation of cortisol production, causing many copper toxicity symptoms, such as:

Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation)
Blood sugar dysregulation
Chronic infections
Food and chemical sensitivities
Hair loss
High anxiety
High blood pressure
Low blood pressure
Panic disorder
Premature greying of the hair
Racing thoughts
Sensitive skin
Skin rashes
Weight gain
Weight loss
Yeast overgrowth

Copper Toxicity and the Brain

Copper lowers dopamine (a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers) and increases norepinephrine (another neurotransmitter that also functions as a stress hormone) in the brain. Imbalances in these important neurotransmitters are related to anxiety and panic disorders, depression (especially postpartum), bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, violence, and paranoid schizophrenia. [2]

Copper Imbalance in the Cells

Copper requires special binding proteins (ceruloplasmin and metallothionine) to be able to get into cells where it can be used by the mitochondria to make ATP (adenosine triphosphate/cellular energy). Metallothionine (MT) is composed of cysteine-rich proteins that are especially important because of their antioxidant properties and ability to bind to toxic heavy metals to transport them out of the body. MT proteins also perform a wide variety of vital functions including but not limited to:

  • Detoxification of mercury and other toxic heavy metals
  • Development and functioning of the immune system
  • Delivery of zinc to cells throughout the body
  • Prevention of yeast overgrowth
  • Regulation of stomach acid pH
  • Taste discrimination by the tongue
  • Protection of enzymes that break down casein and gluten
  • Enhanced efficiency of the intestinal and blood-brain barriers
  • Reduction of inflammation after injury or illness

When copper is not bound to these special proteins, it and other heavy metals are free to roam the blood in unbound form, leading to systemic oxidative stress. With the sympathetic branch of the nervous system under attack, the body goes into a constant state of fight, flight, freeze, so calming down becomes extremely difficult.

Chronic fatigue, anorexia, fibromyalgia, postpartum depression, ADHD, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease are all forms of oxidative stress.

Elevated Copper Levels Cause Chronic Infection

With copper levels high, zinc becomes imbalanced. Zinc is essential to all forms of life and is a component of more than 300 enzymes; it enhances resistance to stress, maintains intellectual function, memory, and mood levels.[3] Zinc also enhances gene expression of metallothionine and is an essential part of the treatment process.[4]

Copper and zinc work in tandem with each other to control the overgrowth of fungal, yeast, and parasitic infections. Without the proper ratio, these types of infections can become chronic and difficult to eliminate.

Dealing with Too Much Copper in the Body

Copper overload can have a variety of outcomes for different people based on genetic variations, environment, and stress. If this post resonates with you, please share your experience in the comments below. It is through sharing your story that we create community, eliminate guilt and shame, and bring about healing.


[1] Walsh, William J. (2014). Depression Powerpoint. Retrieved from URL.
[2] Walsh, William J. (2012). Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. (19). New York, NY: Skyhorse.
[3] Mensah, Albert. Bowman, Judith. Retrieved from personal treatment protocol.
[4] Walsh, William J. (2012). Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. (43). New York, NY: Skyhorse.
Walsh, William J. Elevated Blood Copper/Zinc Ratios in Assaultive Young Males. Psychology and Behavior, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 327-329, 1997.
Walsh, William J., Crayton, John W. Elevated serum copper levels in women with a history of postpartum depression. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 14, 2007, Pages 17-21.
Mzhel’skaya TI. Biological functions of ceruloplasmin and their deficiency caused by mutation in genes regulating copper and iron metabolism. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2000; 130(8):719-27.
Chauhan, Abha, Chauhan, Ved, Brown, Ted W., Cohen, Ira. Oxidative stress in autism: Increased lipid peroxidation and reduced serum levels of ceruloplasmin and transferrin – the antioxidant proteins. Life Sciences, Volume 75, Issue 21, 8 October 2004, Pages 2539–2549.
Faber S, Zinn GM, Kern JC, Kingston HM. The plasma zinc/serum copper ratio as a biomarker in children with autism spectrum disorders. Biomarkers. 2009; 14(3):171-80.
Pfeiffer, Carl C. (1975). Mental and Elemental Nutrients. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing. Lontie, Rene. (1984). Copper Proteins and Copper Enzymes. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.


223 thoughts on “Are You Suffering From Copper Overload?”

  1. Hi, I suffer from Copper overload too and have taken a deep dive into it myself, thats a great article thank you! I have been balancing my mineral status, and trying to chelate the copper, its affected my nervous system alot, I accidentally ingested a high dose the other day, and i got severe dizziness, i get burning hands and feet and then the adrenal ‘surges’ when i try to sleep, I think this is my body saying, get it out! So thats why I was reading your article, because I was thinking about how much free copper is floating around my body, and when if ever, i can stop chelating, and how do I know when Im done? Im getting better and that is a relief. There is always the spectre of wilsons disease in the background that worries me alot, but it seems that copper toxicity is quite common, I like that you said that there, because I think its extremely prevalent. I think its an epidemic, but no dr will tell you its real.
    I will listen to your podcast, im extremely interested in what you have to share!

  2. I had a copper IUD placed in October 2018. Shortly after I started having strange trembling. I had extreme fatigue, brain fog, heart palpitations,excessive thirst, dry tongue,memory loss, muscle spasms, stomach bloat, I was always hungry, bladder urgency, hives, irritability, strange thoughts, insomnia, hair loss, always cold, dry eyes, which affected my vision, fullness in ears, joint pain, horrible cramps, also felt emotionless, night sweats, my skin also felt strange like thinner.
    Chin whiskers ridges on my nails, brittle nails, anxiety, depression. I had the the IUD removed in March 2020 my anxiety and depression sky rocketed. I made an attempt on my life 🙁 I am now on a SSRI but I need healing. I hope I could connect with you to help me.

  3. Hello, I am struggling with alot of the above. Copper 11 points higher and zinc is low. No matter how much I take my levels drop dramatically and quickly. I have Eoe, SIBO, intolerant to almost all food. I am currently checking into my contraceptive pill as a root cause as it feeds the estrogen which feeds the copper. Also I am getting my retaining wire in my top and bottom teeth removed after braces to hold them in place as I have had some feedback this has reduced someones intolerances. Other than these things do you have any suggestions for root causes to explore?

    1. whilst studying diagnostic orthomolecular medicine and already on a copper-removing diet (all from my own patch – we use no plastics, chems or drugs) i kept noticing the aluminium going up and down on my hair tissue mineral analysis (htma). i couldn’t understand where this aluminium was coming from as i’d removed all metal utensils etc from my kitchen, had my rainwater tested and made my own charcoal filters from my own slow=burned jarrah logs for my water supply. after 10 years of trying to remove copper i realized the reason i wasn’t getting better was my white ceramic ionomer, monomer etc dental fillings (alot of research and lateral thinking required). they were poisoning me. as i discovered, it wasn’t just aluminium oxide which was toxic in these dental materials but also nickel (illegal to sell jewellery made with nickel in many european countries but the dental boards around the world think its okay to put it in my mouth 24 hours a day. yes, we’ve alot to learn about the greedy gene….). after removing all my teeth (by this stage the glue on the fillings had also deteriorated and decay had set in under the teeth). sad world when 40 years ago we could get high noble metals (gold/platinum etc without glue/cement) – or even those silver fillings aren’t as bad as the ceramics as i had mine in for 35 years and my father, who died at 92, 75 years. neither of us had problems with our mental state or mind and they didn’t need replacing thus saving all ones teeth. so, i’m guessing, the mercury hadn’t attacked us and also never showed up high on my htma. so the moral of the story is do you have any modern day appliances eg titanium leg parts, ceramic fillings, implants (urgh – these destroy the meridian points under each of your teeth that keep you alive!). So sort that out first and you’ll save the ten years of eating healthily i wasted. Good luck. ps i only use live ingredients for my medicine (including olive leaves from the tree), although i do realize cityfolk may find this a bit hard….

  4. I have a question about copper infused mattress toppers. These are raved about and I am wondering if there is enough copper in them that should make me worry and not sleep on one?

    1. Hi Leanne – this could be an issue if you are overloaded in copper. I have a friend who is a printmaker and was using copper plates and became very ill as a result. I hope this helps.

  5. So, is the issue really copper overload – or is it not more accurately Ceruloplasmin deficiency? Without enough CP & other copper-based enzymes, it’s the unbound copper that becomes an issue. Once it is correctly bound, the body is then able to properly utilise it & eliminate any excess.

    Without enough CP the copper cannot manage iron either & iron storage overload can also become an issue. Quite often ‘iron deficiency ‘ anaemia is not due to actual iron deficiency, but a lack of enough CP production to enable the copper to utilise the iron the body already has. Understanding this has made me realise that my poor mother, struggling with ‘iron-deficiency’ anaemia all her adult life, & having to constantly top up with Ferrous Fumarate, despite having had a hysterectomy at 36, was very likely not iron deficient at all, but Ceruloplasmin-deficient. The poor darling Was almost certainly pickled with heaps of unbound iron & basically rusted to death aged just 64……

    Low CP can be due to various factors, such as vitamin A deficiency, magnesium deficiency, poor sleep, lack of enough good sunlight, etc. It could well be that the symptoms attributed to ‘copper overload/toxicity’ might actually be due more to undetected iron storage overload (the iron is only stored in certain areas of the body, so will be unlikely to be picked up by a routine serum blood test).

    Check out the Root Cause Protocol website which is dedicated to this issue & it’s remedies.

    1. Hi Ali – One can have normal Cp and still be overloaded in copper. I always check Cp levels in addition to Cu and Zn to ascertain a patient’s copper status, both bound and unbound (free copper).

  6. I have the majority of these symptoms!! I have the Paraguard IUD, hairloss, nervous system issues, eye issues, infections, extreme mood changes and issues, brain fog. Severe aniexty, tooth decay, SO SO MUCH ON HERE! I’m told in the last 5 yrs since inserted. I Just have multiple autoimmune ISSUES, my body is in FIGHT or FLIGHT!!
    I need the Cooper test now and this IUD OUT. My two daughters are now expericing my symptoms after having the IUD’S! HELP!!!

  7. My serum copper is 62, ceruloplasmin is 14, 24 hour urine is 14. However, I had a micronutrient test run (Spectracell) and my copper and zinc levels showed that they where in the normal range (maybe a little high on copper). What, in your experience, is going on? I have a lot of signs of low copper, but the signs for low copper and high copper are all the same. When I take copper (or iron) I can’t turn off my brain, especially when trying to sleep.

    1. Hi Eric – I strongly caution taking copper even though your serum Cu and Cp are low. However, your free copper is a little over 32% which is problematic. Spectracell is not a good testing method for zinc and copper.

  8. I have had the cooper IUD as of November 2018. Ever since, I have been having severe brain fog. I can’t remember something that happens 2 minutes ago. I can’t even form sentences because I can’t seem to remember words or which words to use. I did not connect the dot until I was spontaneously searching “possible hemorrhaging during period”. Ironically, symptoms for cooper toxicity showed up and one of them was brain fog, anxiety, and memory loss. Which I am suffering from. I now have severe anxiety (I normally have mild social anxiety, before iud), but now constantly sweating and profusely at that. My heart seems to be always beating fast. I am so disappointed at how these side effects were never mentioned to me before the placement of the iud. I’m glad I have found some answers though. Thanks ladies for sharing your stories too.

    1. Thank you for sharing with us, Sally Sue. I wish more doctors understood and disclosed the horrendous side-effects of the copper IUD. I liken it to a medieval torture device.

  9. i saw a site in my native language(farsi) about curing from high copper several years ago and now they have removed their phone and address from the site. also i had seen as the best site of that time about the issue and now i see it has not updated after 5 years. i live in iran and should do the procedure by mail and email because i can’t speak english well by phone. i wonder why the things has not get easier after this years and i still should find someone out of my country to help me.

  10. I would love you to know what tests are recommended, as well as, what supplements are also recommend. These stories hit home 100%. I look forward to feeling better, and helping both of my daughter’s to feel better. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Tonja – thanks for reaching out. Nutrient recommendations will be different for everyone, based on biochemical testing. If you are interested in working with me so I can be your healing champion, click this link.

  11. My copper levels were found to be high, and my integrative doctor has me on zinc carnosine to counteract that and help bring it down. We do have copper pipes in our home. I am also high in manganese, vanadium, gallium, and tungsten. I do have hernia mesh in my abdomen, after an umbilical hernia repair, so I am wondering if that is where these other metals are coming from? There is really no fixing that, if so. My doc is focusing on the copper right now, and has me on thyrotain supplement to help my liver. My thyroid & liver is where some of my issues are steming from. I am clinically diagnosed with ADHD, also have a steadily high c-reactive protein. Any suggestions on how to help these other metals, or where they may be coming from? We are still in the midst of working on all of this, but I love reading other’s stories and input. Thanks!

  12. My dad was a copper miner. This article even more makes me suspicious that this is what’s wrong with me and with my son. He had a heavy metals test and his copper was toxic as well as lead aluminum and cadmium. His nutritional elements showed signs of oxidative stress. Me and him both reacted severely to vaccines. He has sensory issues and aggression. He’s only 3. I’ve dealt with anxiety, stress, depression and just feeling like I’m in a fight all the time, for as long as I can remember. I sent in my hair tissue analysis and I’m anxious to get it back. I think it’s just going to confirm what I already know.

  13. Great article! Thanks for putting that together. I did have a question though I think you could answer. Is it possible to deal with ADHD as an adult without medication? My brother was recently diagnosed and I’m trying to help him out. Thanks in advance for your answer.

    1. @Allah. I think you are right about that. I don’t think this needs to be made complicated: one important function of the liver is to detoxify excess metals (such as copper) and excess hormones as well. If our liver is not healthy, it can’t do this job. Look to the liver and things will straighten themselves out without forcing oneself on a diet that we may not really like to follow.

      1. Liver health is important but it is incorrect to say “look to the liver and things will straighten themselves out without forcing oneself on a diet that we may not really like to follow” when the body is in a state of high oxidative stress and not making the protective antioxidants such as metallothionein that is required to safely balance all heavy metals and provide protection to the GI tract and liver.

      2. @Sami G Thanks for replying to me. Not everyone can follow a specific diet because it is touted (probably correctly) as the cure for copper toxicity. Some can. But others have cravings for such and such foods or substances that they will kill for, or they just find it stressful to try and follow any kind of diet because of the structure of their lives. IMO herbs and neutriceuticals might be more helpful, but then I’m not a medical practitioner.

        There is nothing more personal than what we put into our mouth 3 times a day (or more, in some cases!) It is like having sex: you cannot go about “doing it” with a specific person (or just any person) just because a health advisor says that “sex is healthy”. Yes, it is healthy – with the right person, and when you want it. I wish I had a dollar for every guy who (when I was young) told me that I “needed” his attentions and then I’d feel really good and sleep well at night and etc. etc. Right…

        We humans are not cars or aircraft or lawnmowers which you fill up with the correct fuel, and voila! all will be well. We are far too complicated to be able to follow this or that regimen, for a variety of reasons. I hope that you will take these ideas into consideration when advising the copper toxic. (In our family, the issue was aluminum toxicity, but that’s another story.)

  14. I just found out that my copper level is high but zinc/ceruloplasmin normal. My history:
    1) psoriasis on hands mainly fingers to point I lost all nails except for thumbs at age 8-9
    2) chronic strep throat in early years thru high school then became chronic bronchitits
    3) diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 13 but doctor didn’t believe in treating that young so waited until I was 16.
    4) yeast overload at age 17
    5) endometriosis with last pregnancy (started during pregnancy) at age 29-30
    6) complete hysterectomy from endometriosis age 32
    7) started bioidentical hormones and progesterone age 55 thru a wonderful DO who does bioidentical hormones/biomeridan/biodynamics and is the one who has helped get my health back on track. When I went to her my hormone levels were so low they had packed up and left. Now thanks to her my hormones have come back home and have stayed put. My thyroid on the other hand is problem child we’re working on. For 10 months have been on Tirosint (T4 only) as I have developed Hashimoto’s. It is working great and she monitors the levels every 4 months. I have been seeing her for 7 years and I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Now to work on the thyroid and high copper levels. She and I will have a phone conference next week to get a game plan.
    I am so glad I found your website!

  15. Hello,
    Please help me understand. Struggling with sever anxiety and depression for years.
    Copper serum is 18.6
    Zinc is 15.6
    Functional pharmacist says it is unbalanced and ND says it is normal. So confusing.

    1. Hi Brenda – your copper level is high normal and zinc is normal per our functional range, making your zinc/copper ratio unbalanced. Keep in mind free copper levels must also be assessed and may be high. You might also have Pyrrole disorder and/or a methylation imbalance.

  16. Hello,

    How is best to test copper toxicity? DO you think hair mineral analysis is reliable- I’m a bit worried that it may just pick up shampoo?

    Also I’m a bit worried that I am copper toxic , anxiety/insomnia started post starting the pill and has been hard to normalise although finding taurine and l theanine help. Is there any hope to rectify a copper imbalance whilst staying a vegetarian?


    1. Hi Danielle – HTMA is not a good marker for copper toxicity. I use serum copper, ceruloplasmin, and zinc levels to determine overall copper load. It is difficult to balance copper on a vegetarian diet.

      1. hi sami, nearly all westerners have copper overload (both everyone i have ever tested and my professor have always come up trumps with regards to that). one must understand how to read an htma. there are some easy clues (check our dr wilson’s copper overload paper on that). but, generally speaking you wouldn’t have to test as it’s a dead cert. dr igor tabrizian also has an algorithm (pretty simple) which opens a few avenues for the non-experienced interpreter of htma. there are layman’s methods too. they all work. i wouldn’t necessarily suggest eating meat although dr wilson condones this and cooked veg. i’ve seen the opposite work much better – raw greens are amazing but i stick to the asian greens as alot of western greens are high in phytates (mineral-eating stuff!). but i do know some people have had improved sleep and reduced sweet cravings when eating meat (pls avoid beef as its one of the most cloned animals on the planet). camel and sheep is also the only dairy i would suggest. goat is huge in copper and most farmers mix the little goats with cows (nothing short of cloning!) for their milking all year round for annual production of their wares. (very sad….. both for animal and environment and us). there’s lots i can suggest but, as you know, it is an intracate and very detailed subject. i also believe that suppressed childhood emotions play a huge part in our dis-ease.

  17. Hi Sami, I found out in June of 2018 that my copper lever was 400, yes 400. Then I was re tested in August of 2018 and it went up to 500. Then 3 weeks ago it was tested again and now its 600.
    I have had CT scan of the Brain, Liver ultrasound,Chest x-ray. Nothing shows up there.
    I have been taking Adrenal re-Build, Vit C, B complex.
    I need to find a Doctor that can treat me. I read that taking Metallothionine can help.
    Please help me find a Doctor that can help me.

  18. Hello, I am having all kinds of issues including fatigue, brain fog, exhaustion, etc…
    I am currently seeing a new functional doctor who is looking for the root of my problems. I just came across old testing that shows a hair analysis done 18 years ago with a copper level of 474. I am now worried that this may be a bit part of what’s going on. I am also on bioidentical hormones and if that is my issue, then I may be making it all worse rather than better by adding those in. Any comments or help that you may have are greatly appreciated

  19. Hi there,

    Have been sick for almost a year with a balance disorder. I have had 3 24 hour copper urine tests and all gave come back high but not high enough for Wilson’s disease.I also have a well and copper pipes.

    Thanks for your time..

  20. It strikes me that “excess” free copper that is driven primarily by a low ceruloplasmin value may be a different phenomenon or at least suggest a different treatment than when it is driven by high serum copper. In the former case, it would seem logical to me that a better approach than taking lots of zinc to lower copper might be to try to increase cerulopasmin levels to make more copper bioavailable. I am not finding much information online about how to do that, do you have any suggestions?

  21. Hi, I’m 26 and about a year ago I came off birth control pills and switched to the copper IUD because I didn’t want to put artificial hormones into my body anymore. After about a month or two, my skin started getting really bad (for me). I’d never really had any major problems with my skin before, but now I get big, under-the-skin style spots that are really sore and stay for weeks. In general I get a lot more ‘normal’ spots too. I have also been feeling very tired, anxious and stressed – I do suffer from all of these normally, but it’s been far, far worse recently. I hadn’t heard of the issues with copper before, but I’m wondering whether this could have anything to do with my symptoms? I’m also vegan, which I think could be reducing the amount of zinc I have in my diet already, then my IUD could be making it worse? Any suggestions/advice you have would be much appreciated as this situation is really upsetting me! Thank you

  22. Hi- thank you for this article. I just came across it and have been deciding whether to get my copper iud out. I waa recently diagnosed with Hashimotos and my blood tests seem to be getting worse. I am going to a natural doctor and we are doing our best to tackle it naturally. I have been reading up to see if hashimotos or copper or both is the cause of my hair loss. Do you have a range for copper in a blood test that you would consider to be “toxic” or just very high? Thanks!

  23. I had a copper IUD for almost 4 yrs. recently removed as I have a gut feeling that all of my emotional flatlining, fatigue and libido issues are due to copper toxicity. I did feel much better for about 5 days after having the IUD removed, but unfortunately I have regressed back to where I was. My FMD did do blood testing with the following results, copper 110, ceruloplasmin 28 and zinc 84. I’m thinking about getting a hair test kit done. My blood copper/zinc ratio is 1.31 – does this indicate copper toxicity?

    1. Martina hagues

      Htma testing is best for copper overload toxicity. But ensure you get a professional trained in interpret th results as what one sees is not what one has! There is no immediate cure but changes in diet over time will do the trick. Keep it up and keep testing with htma.

      1. HTMA is only a half analysis and does not provide the full picture where copper is concerned. A copper blood panel is also required to safely treat copper toxicity. To understand this better, click here to listen to my podcast episode about copper overload.

  24. Hi Sami,

    Your article really resonates with me, and seems to hit the nail on the head with so many problems I’ve been experiencing over the years. I am 29 years old and developed Tinnitus at the age of 21, and since then I’ve also experienced regular hair loss (linked to coming off the pill and heightened stress levels which I think must affect the copper/zinc balance) but it’s frustrating that doctors have never given me an answer. More recently, I had the copper IUD inserted in January and from June onwards my hair has been falling out and thinning again (luckily I have naturally thick hair because otherwise I’d be bald by now!). I’ve also experienced episodes of intense anxiety, accompanied by terrifying panic attacks and my mind is unable to switch off. Everyone says that these reactions seem so out of character for me. I often get very dizzy and faint and strange circulation, for example, if i have my hands raised for too long (in bed if they are up against my chest) they will go numb and tingly and i have to lower them. I also feel very fatigued a lot of the time. I’ll have days after work where I just don’t have the energy to even wash or make dinner – and this just doesn’t seem normal to me. I’ve since had my coil removed so I’m sure the hair loss will stop, as it always does eventually. And I’ve had a blood test and am awaiting the results. In the meantime – do you think this sounds like copper toxicity? And are there any supplements you recommend I take to redress the balance? Thank you so much for this article! It makes me so angry that doctors claim the copper IUD is ‘safe and doesn’t affect hormones’, and they don’t warn you of the possible side affects outside of the heavier and longer periods.

  25. Hi Sami,
    I have a non chlorinated swimming pool (Clear Comfort)
    But last month added an Algaecide product that contains copper.
    I just noticed my hair has a green tint. Does this confirm I am absorbing too much copper? Or ‘just’ in my hair follicles?
    Thank you!

  26. Hi there ! This is so interesting . I have been seeing both a Liver Dr and Hematologist to find out why my blood levels are off. And being diagnosed with a blood autoimmune disease ( and thyroid disease years ago) I have every side affect from high copper load, and being vegan my diet is all high copper ! After a liver biopsy, the Dr diagnosed me with Wilson’s disease and had me on medication , then the genetic testing came back negative and discovered I had 10x the amount of copper in my body. I am now on a very high dose of Zinc and other vitamins. I can’t believe the back and fourth and stress these doctors have caused…thank you for the info

  27. I have been having extreme symptoms for 5 years. I finally got a Dr to check my copper serum level which came back at 215 ug/dL. I was told that it was really high. End of discussion. I am trying to find a Dr. who can help me, all I get is “I don’t deal with that” and they will not tell me who might. What kind of Dr. deals with high levels of copper? It is so frustrating to get absolutely no guidance with this. I have spoken to over 20 doctors and have been ignored by each and every one. Any guidance at all would be appreciated. Most importantly, what type of Dr. should I be seeking out?

  28. I have had my ceruloplasmin checked and its low. copper plasma and total copper are very low (below normal range) and hair analysis showed low copper (<1). I am having alot of hair loss and have both vitiligo and melasma. Is this biounavailable copper or just low copper? I have tried taking 2mcg of copper and it makes me extremely jittery and causes heart palpitations

  29. Hello,

    I currently am experiencing muscle weakness in my legs, and my doctor ran a bunch of tests in an attempt to see if I have a muscle disease. My copper serum level came back at 243 mcg/dL and my zinc at 65. I also have slightly low B12. Any thoughts?

  30. What type of physician is best to investigate into copper toxicity or copper overload ? I live in Orlando and the medical community is in the stone ages!!!
    My new PCP Nurse Practitioner seemed to have no clue about it or any correlation with skin rashes & the Copper IUD, even when I suggested it.
    My Dermatologist, I highly renowned Dermatologist, blew off any possibility of my skin disorder having to do with my Copper IUD or Dx of Lichens (even said my lesions on arms & legs could not be lichens planus).
    I’m wondering if a holistic physician may be an option??

    Thank you.
    Sibyl C Robinson RN

  31. Hi there! I have high free unbound copper and at it’s highest it was 34.492 µg/dl. I have low/normal copper and low/normal ceruloplasmin. Is this pattern more common in under or overmethylation? I sadly also had a miscarriage 8 weeks into my pregnancy. Given that I do have a copper dyregulation issue, would this make things worse so little into the pregnancy, given that copper levels rise during pregnancy? And this would probably mean % free copper has risen too. I am definitely feeling worse. Achy joints, very anious and depressed, headaches, fatigue, concentration issues an so on.

  32. This is an old thread but I thought I’d ask anyway. Are you familiar with the Spectracell micronutrient test? I’m not sure how to determine values for zinc and copper because of how the report reads, its more on a scale of percentages than actual values. My copper was 53 and zinc 50.

  33. Sarah Kundinger

    I just want to know why there isn’t a single mention of Wilson’s Disease in this article? That is what you are describing here and yet you never mention it.

    1. That’s because Wilson’s disease and copper overload are not the same disorder. They may have overlapping symptoms, but copper overload/toxicity and Wilson’s disease have different underlying components.

  34. My copper was in the range at 105, but my zinc was only 51. Would this still be considered copper overload because of the imbalance?

  35. A close family member has suffered for 5 years with severe insomnia and bipolar symptoms on a yearly basis. Lots of copper symptoms according to the article. We started her on a Nutritional Balancing Program in September ’17 and for the first fall/winter in 5 years she started sleeping, had no psych symptoms, and has lost 20 lbs in the last 3 months. This works! I am anxious to get my son with high RT3 and my husband with high blood pressure and burnout on the program. This article does such a good job of concisely describing many copper dysregulation problems in my family.

  36. I’m Shawna. I am a carrier of a defective gene that is needed to eliminate copper. I was tested by a scientist name Brewer. An arbor Mi hospital sent jugs to analyze if I was excreting copper by measuring urine out put. It was concluded that although my copper readings are high I am excreting some copper becaus a liver biopsy would have reveled copper accumulated in my liver. The overload of copper killed my brother. I struggle with extreme anxiety , been hospitalized with schizophrenia and later it changed to a bipolar diagnosis. I struggle daily with mental and physical health issues. This being said I know for a fact the extra copper affects the medicines I take and other stuff. I’m unsure if it’s related to the mental diagnosis’s , I hope future research will reveal if and how it causes or affects mental, physical Illness.

    1. It is absolutely related to mental health. Find a Nutritional Balancing Coach and get HTMA hair test mineral analysis. Take the prescribed supplements and do the diet. This totally changed my bipolar daughter’s life. You will be a different person within 3 months and will be healed within 2 years if you stick with the program. Weight will fall off without low calories and exercise. Not to mention that you will be able to get off all of those horrible drugs. It works when you treat the root cause, which is copper dysregulation.

  37. My name is Deshawn and I think I might be suffering from copper overload. I have a metallic like electricity feeling In my mouth/tongue and I have a ring around my iris like that would be of Wilson ma disease

  38. I was not able to get accurate cooper results until I had a hair/saliva test. My numbers were off the charts. I was in a supplemental detox for a couple of moths but it was excruciating. I’ve eliminated foods that are high in cooper but my question is what should I be doing to eliminate the cooper?? I’m still having horrible symptoms and it’s so hard to find anyone who understands this. Thank you!!

  39. I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at age 21 and am now 28.
    After 4 years of bouncing around from different Psychiatrists (Because they were all tools) and Psych wards (Because psychiatry couldn’t fix me), I found out about Orthomolecular medicine on the internet and found a Doctor in my locality.


    The first time I saw her, I stopped taking the supplements and went back into hospital (Because I thought the detox symptoms were a sign it was quackery).


    So now I’ve been back on the supplements for two years and my last test, about 8 months ago showed that my serum copper was in the normal range. So that’s step one. Since then I have continued taking the supplements but in the last couple of months I started a Mens Multivitamin and that caused me to have more detox symptoms when I first started it. It was great because before that point my brain felt much improved, but after that point everything fell into place and all of my “Schizophrenia Symptoms” have virtually ceased, apart from what I describe as “spikes”, which is where 99% of the time I am virtually symptom free but that 1% of the time I have a noticeable “strange thought” (delusions) or “strange thought” (pranoia). They are just little blips and assume that it is some part of my brain that has a little bit more damage than the rest… I dunno… It is getting better though.

    If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with “schizophrenia” then you have to get tested by an Orthomolecular Doctor.

    I just had a trial of seeing how long I could go without my medication because I am mentally in a good place where I can be honest with myself if I needed to take a dose. I went almost two days without meds, which I feel is remarkable considering I used to need to take my meds on the dot just to hold myself together.

    I do not suggest stopping your medication because it is a very dangerous thing to do. You need to work towards understanding your illness and how it affects you and that takes a lot of time.

  40. Thank you so much for this article. I just got my results back from the doctor and my level is at 260. I am nervous/scared about this and won’t be meeting with a hematologist until the end of October. Anything I can do now to try and bring my levels down??

  41. When you say a 1:7 ratio of copper and zine, is that like if your zinc is at 100, your copper should be at 70? My zinc is 100 and my copper is 111….I’m so confused.

  42. When you say a 1:7 ration of copper and zine, is that like if your zinc is at 100, your copper should be at 70? My zinc is 100 and my copper is 111….I’m so confused.

  43. Im 23 male would like to say I’m relativity healthy but apparently copper toxic from a HTMA. problem is I’m covered in spider veins, my skins wrinkling up I’m pale as a ghost, this did not happen because of the detox but has been a symptom for ages. Copper detox has definietly slowed my crazy mind down but I don’t think its gonna heal my skin and my premature aging ? any thoughts should I take copper? also suffering from neutropenia

  44. Hello, I was at 288 a month ago for copper blood tests. I am now at 318. At what point will my body start shutting down or having organ issues? I think I finally found a hematologist mildly willing and knowledgeable to help, but I have been bounced around for quite some time now.

    What else can I do to help? I am text book copper toxic with symptoms, it is so sad to me that so much of the medical field doesn’t recognize or know anything about this.

  45. Hi. I was wondering what effect would me having high unbound copper have on my electric scales? My weight can change within 25kg’s in a matter of 15 minutes. Someone advised that I should wash my feet first to get a true reading. Your thoughts?

  46. Brienna Stewart

    I had a copper serum blood test and a zinc test done along with Ceruloplasmin to test my levels. My Ceruloplasmin (sp?) was a bit low but still in range, the copper showed normal, but my zinc was low. I have heard that the copper serum blood test is not that accurate and have wondered about hidden copper. I have some copper toxicity symptoms, but I feel like more zinc symptoms. Are there any specific signs I could look out for that might mean hidden copper?

  47. Hi Sami,

    I’ve been dealing with what seems to be a either a copper toxicity or pyloria, I’ve had a zinc and b6 test done and my b6 levels were high 71 while my zinc levels are 61(low end of normal range) . I’m not really sure what can cause such a high b6 levels but I’m also worried bout the low zinc and was thinking maybe I should also test for copper as well but I’ve been hearing that serum copper levels are not accurate and can be misleading. I plan on just taking a multivitamin without copper just to cover my bases but I’m not really sure of what exactly to do. My symptoms are lack of focus brain fog sensitivity to light severe fatigue and depression.
    I’m not sure if I should get my copper levels tested as well or the multivitamin without copper should be enough. any thoughts? Thanks

  48. Hello Sami,
    I had a copper iud for about 8 months. I had it removed about a month ago because of pain in my hands and other joints. I’ve been taking zinc and vitamin C but I feel like the pain is getting worse. It’s in my chest when I breathe and sometimes I can barely walk. Sleeping seems to make it worse. I made an appointment to have more blood work done but I was just wondering if you’ve ever seen symptoms like that from copper toxicity? I thought I’d start to get better after I had the iud removed but I feel like I’m getting worse. Is it possible that this is all from copper?

    1. Yes, joint pain is very common in copper toxicity and zinc deficiency. If you added zinc and other nutrients without proper testing, your body will dump copper and that won’t feel good. I highly recommend proper testing and assessment before taking anything, plus you could have other biochemical imbalances that need to be addressed. Nutrients are powerful! Don’t take them lightly!

  49. Thank you for the information. A neurologist is testing me for copper overload and “Wilson’s Disease”. I have a lot of the symptoms.

  50. I am in my 30s and have been suffering with increasing issues the past 3 years. I have gained about 60 pounds and have had a horrible time trying to lose weight. But by far my worst symptom has been hair loss which is happening at an alarming rate. I’m exhausted all the time and I have horrible heavy periods with about 1 day a month for about 3 hours agonizing cramps that stop me in my tracks. To a lesser extent I also have started having a lot of anxiety and even the odd panic attack in the past year. I also have a lot of brain fog and memory loss. In short I feel like I’m much older than I am. I do a lot of reading and personal research and I’ve suspected hypothyroidism but copper overload/toxicity wasn’t even on my radar.

    So I finally decided to take matters into my own hands – I had planned on going to a functional doctor but I wanted to do as much as I could on my on prior to that (I have an extreme phobia of needles so that is my last resort). I did a HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis) and I just received the results yesterday – my copper levels are off the charts. In addition I have high magnesium levels, low potassium, high calcium/phosphorous ratio, high sodium/potassium ratio, high calcium/potassium ratio, low zinc/copper ratio, low sodium/magnesium ratio, low calcium/magnesium ratio, low iron/copper ratio. That’s quite a long list. I also have a slow metabolism which wasn’t all that shocking.

    I am so thankful I had this test because I realized I’ve really been heading down the wrong track for some time now and I’m feeling empowered now.

    My question would be what would be the most important change to make to start fixing these issues? I know it’s more complicated than that but I just need some place to start. Also, from the little reading I’ve done it seems quite odd that I have high copper levels and high magnesium levels – it seems usually low magnesium levels are more common with high copper levels so that might be an interesting clue. Thanks in advance.

  51. I am in my 30s and have been suffering with increasing issues the past 3 years. I have gained about 60 pounds and have had a horrible time trying to lose weight. But by far my worst symptom has been hair loss which is happening at an alarming rate. I’m exhausted all the time and I have horrible heavy periods with about 1 day a month for about 3 hours agonizing cramps that stop me in my tracks. To a lesser extent I also have started having a lot of anxiety and even the odd panic attack in the past year. I also have a lot of brain fog and memory loss. In short I feel like I’m much older than I am. I do a lot of reading and personal research and I’ve suspected hashimoto’s hypothyroidism but copper overload/toxicity wasn’t even on my radar.

    So I finally decided to take matters into my own hands – I had planned on going to a functional doctor but I wanted to do as much as I could on my on prior to that (I have an extreme phobia of needles so that is my last resort). I did a HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis) and I just received the results yesterday – my copper levels are off the charts. In addition I have high magnesium levels, low potassium, high calcium/phosphorous ratio, high sodium/potassium ratio, high calcium/potassium ratio, low zinc/copper ratio, low sodium/magnesium ratio, low calcium/magnesium ratio, low iron/copper ratio. That’s quite a long list. I also have a slow metabolism which wasn’t all that shocking.

    I am so thankful I had this test because I realized I’ve really been heading down the wrong track for some time now and I’m feeling empowered now.

    My question would be what would be the most important change to make to start fixing these issues? I know it’s more complicated than that but I just need some place to start. Also, from the little reading I’ve done it seems quite odd that I have high copper levels and high magnesium levels – it seems usually low magnesium levels are more common with high copper levels so that might be an interesting clue. Thanks in advance.

  52. I have 45% unbound copper, mthfr (overmethylator), sibo, and several mineral and vitamin deficiencies. I don’t know what to focus on, but it seems for the last two weeks my anxiety is through the roof and I have completely lost my appetite. I feel like im wasting away, and trying to force myself to eat as much as possible. Has anyone dealt with this? I don’t know what to do, as I’m already underweight from all the gut issues and food restrictions I have.

  53. Dear Beautiful Sami G!
    Thank-You for this Informative Topic and Great Website!
    I am a male and consider myself to be somewhat of a “sensitive”….yes, that does sound a bit funny, but let me explain! Ever since childhood, I have found myself interested in the world of frequency!….yes, frequency! I am able to sense/hear the 16 kHz frequency of the flyback CRT TV transformer on the other side of a block wall! I have also had an interest in the world of handcrafted and ethnic type jewelry. Not too long ago, I happened upon the artistic style of Sergio Lub:
    So what did I do? I ordered a copper bracelet to try out! Well, come to find out, I wore the copper bracelet a good bit!…I also acquired a hefty amount of tinnitus! What REALLY drove me crazy was fans! It seemed as if the high speed tips of the fan blades created a certain frequency which aggravated the tinnitus EVEN MORE!!! Needless to say, I don’t wear that copper bracelet any more!….it serves as a reminder to my copper sensitivity! An additional interesting observation, the “new” Lincoln One Cent Penny is a copper coated zinc blank…the majority of the coin being zinc!

    1. How interesting Joel S!! I too, since childhood and right up to this day seem to pick up all electrical frequencies in fans, radios tv, that no one else can here but I can. I keep hearing music from fans all night long and all day! Music passing me that no one else can hear and music isn’t even being played in my flat??? It drives me crazy! It seems the whirring of the fans turn to music???? I can even relate a song to the sound of the music, sometimes never even hearing the song, also voices singing in the background? No, I don’t suffer with schizophenria, the voices aren’t “talking to me!” they are talking to each other and singing. How strange is that? I wonder if it’s some type of psychic phenomena? Or could it be linked with Copper overload??? And yes, I have forms of tinnitus at times after hearing the music, like continuous bells tinkling! You are not alone Joel, so I wouldn’t worry too much, and stop wearing that copper bracelet! lol Rosina Lock via facebook x

    2. how strange? I just sent Joel a message and it came up “you’ve already said that???” Not as far as I know, I never? Rosina Lock x

  54. What type of testing do you think is most accurate to determine copper levels? It’s so confusing because some people say the blood test is the best but then other people say that copper likes to hide out in the tissue so it won’t show up in the blood in the same thing can be said about the hair analysis. Which do you use?

  55. Hi Sami,

    I’m a male in my late twenties who has a strange reaction to copper making me believe I’m copper toxic. I’ve taken 15mg Zinc aday for over 2 years now (with magnesium at night). I was concerned that I might of had low copper levels because of the long term zinc supplementing, I was dealing with fatigue issues and also my skin resiliency had gone down and my acne of many years had started to leave significant scarring (when it never before). I read that copper is needed to make collagen and elastin and to help energy production so it made sense I might be low in copper, so I got tested and the results were:

    Copper Serum: 14.1 umol/L (range 11.0 – 22.0)

    Ceruloplasmin: 0.18 g/L (range 0.15 – 0.30)

    Zinc Serum 1000 (range 700-1200)

    Looking at the results I presumed I had low copper. So I quit taking the zinc supplements, started taking 2mg Chelated Copper aday. A few days in a started feeling bad: even lower energy, mood fluctuations, i became emotional etc. But I also started getting Flu-like symptoms in the evening (warth, mild sore throat, weakness, muscle aches). Another couple of days and the muscle pain was all day everyday! So I quit taking the Copper, ive started taking a low dose 15mg zinc again in the hopes of clearing out the additional copper from my system. I feel terrible!

    Could a person be copper toxic (storing too much copper) but show low(ish) serum copper and ceruloplasmin? I honestly felt better taking zinc alone.

  56. Hi Sami,

    When does copper toxicity become a secondary symptom of something else that is going on? Reason that I ask is because, I have had multiple blood tests with my doctor to treat my many symptoms. Blood tests show that I have iron overload, and high ferritin. If you look at articles online, the high iron is correlated to diabetes, fatigue, and all sorts of inflammatory symptoms. Someone can easily conclude that iron overload is the culprit of all my symptoms based on these articles. As a result, I should detox iron and donate blood. I’ve donated blood several times, and lowered my iron levels. And yet it returns. With that being said, my iron levels are not the culprit but a sign that something else is off.

    Here’s an interesting comment that Chris Kresser wrote on a article about copper toxicity and confusion. The article can be found here

    Chris Kresser states:

    “Serum copper values are just a starting point, and should never be used in isolation to make a diagnosis. If serum copper is elevated or decreased, other markers like ceruloplasmin, 24-hour urine copper, AST/ALT, and less commonly, liver biopsy, to further clarify the diagnostic picture.

    In the same way, it’s a mistake to assume that elevated ferritin is always caused by iron overload. Ferritin, like ceruloplasmin, is an acute-phase reactant which is increased in the inflammatory response. Unfortunately few practitioners understand this and will often diagnose iron overload solely on the basis of high ferritin.

    This can all be avoided by running a comprehensive blood panel instead of testing isolated markers. That’s exactly what we do for every patient that walks through our door. High serum copper masking iron deficiency? If there is iron deficiency, that will show up in UIBC, TIBC, serum iron, iron saturation, ferritin, and soluble transferrin receptor values, all of which we routinely test for.

    So, while serum copper is unreliable as an isolated marker (as is the case for ferritin, and in fact just about any marker), that doesn’t mean that it’s “worthless”, nor does it mean that high serum copper levels may indicate copper toxicity, nor does it mean that elevated copper in relation to zinc is not a clinical concern.

    It is well-established that the toxic effects of certain metals can be either synergistic or additive, depending on the metals. For example, this study showed that >20 years of occupational exposure to copper, copper-lead, and copper-iron was associated with higher risk of Parkinson’s disease (—but the odds ratio was significantly higher for the combos than it was for copper alone.

    This study suggests that pro-oxidant copper ions affect glutathione in several ways, which in turn potentiates the effects of mercury toxicity.

    This study reviewed the synergistic effects of multiple heavy metals and found that copper has a strongly synergistic toxic effect with other metals, especially cadmium.

    There are many studies indicating that the zinc-copper ratio is altered in various disease states, including autism spectrum disorders (, coronary heart disease (, rheumatoid arthritis (, and colorectal cancer ( to name a few.

    Of course these are all inflammatory conditions, so it’s difficult to know whether the observed copper elevations are cause, effect, or both. But this study found that copper was elevated *without concurrent iron deficiency or excess* in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (, and the authors speculated that alterations in zinc/copper levels may be implicated in the pathogenesis of AD.

    For these reasons I maintain that serum copper levels, and serum copper zinc ratio, is still a useful indicator—provided that practitioners understand the limitations and do not make erroneous assumptions about causality.

    The podcast of mine that you linked to was from 2012. I’ve learned a lot about metal toxicity since then, and if I could go back in time I would change the title to “Could copper-zinc imbalance be a sign that you’re sick”, or something along those lines, to make it clear that higher copper-zinc ratio is an indicator and doesn’t always suggest that high serum copper is the cause of the problem.”

    In other words, is copper-zinc imbalance the cause of your sickness or is it a sign that you are sick?

    1. Hi Frank,
      Yes, it’s true that serum copper, like iron, should never be looked at in isolation, as it’s only one part of the equation. Copper overload, deficiency, and normalcy should always be looked at in conjunction with other factors such as methylation status, to give one example. Methyl is required for every body system to function optimally. Lack thereof can have devastating effects. Keep in mind that ceruloplasmin plays a role in iron metabolism too.

  57. I am so sorry. This is the full picture, with the mcg, mg and dL info.

    Copper, Free: 1200 mcg/L (reporting limit 220 mcg/L)
    Copper, Serum: 194 ug/dL (range: 72-166)
    Ceruloplasmin: 48 mg/dL (range 19-39)

  58. Sorry – I just checked again. It says the following:

    Copper, Free: 1200 mcg/L (reporting limit 220 mcg/L)
    Copper, Serum: 194 (range: 72-166)
    Ceruloplasmin: 48 (range 19-39)

  59. I am 19 weeks pregnant and have crazy copper levels: My zinc is 66 (‘normal’), while my ceruloplasmin is 48, copper is 194, and my free copper is 2000. My doctors have no idea what to do. They’ve never even heard of zinc supplementation. What should I do now? I worry about my baby’s health. I live in New York City, if you know of any good doctors here.

    1. It’s normal for copper to increase during pregnancy because copper is needed to make blood vessels. Based on your numbers, your % of free copper is 25.77%, not 2000.

      1. Thanks for the quick response! My doctor just read the results to me and said I measured 2000 on free serum copper (and that the normal range went to 200). Huh. Is that impossible?

        Is 25.77% normal? I’m not sure if I should worry, panic.. 🙂 Just trying to protect my little one.

    2. Hello! I’m in the same boat, I’m pregnant and 27 weeks. My serum Copper is 268.4. Did everything turn out fine with your little one?

    1. Yes, they are similar, however, in males we often see more anger and violent behavior. Adolescent males that do not get treatment early on often wind up in prison.

      1. Hi Sami!

        I’m pregnant and worried for my baby because I found out that my serum copper was 268.4 and none of my doctors know what to do. I’m 27 weeks In the 2nd trimester is this too high? Thank you

        1. Hi Kingslee,
          Please note copper naturally rises with pregnancy because it is needed to create blood vessels. This is normal.

  60. I have had high copper levels and have had great results decreasing the stress of copper on my body by using bio resonance therapy with a BICOM machine. I highly recommend finding a practitioner of this modality to help clean up all kinds of oxidative stress

    1. I’ll have to read up on that. Never heard of it. After my blood tests etc I brought my copper down with zinc. Took a few months.

    1. I suspect high copper levels are a genetic problem in our family. What are the foods we should avoid and why
      Hate ske can we do?

  61. I discovered last year, at age 70, that I have pyroluria, and also high unbound copper. An estimated 90% of pyrolurics suffer from copper toxicity. An estimated 10% of the population have pyroluria, and it is familial. What are your thought on this?

  62. Hi Sami,

    My copper and homocysteine are finally coming down. I was 144 in copper and I am now at 118. My homo was 11.9 and now it is 9.5. I can really feel a difference and look forward to everything balancing out even more over time. I am an undermeth person and needed to use TMG (3g) to bring down my homo. L-serine made me moody and sick. My Walsh Dr did not know about TMG and I am glad I researched it and figured it out. I love reading your column. It got me thru some dark days. Glad you are out there for us!!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Jill! I am so glad you are feeling better! Keep up the great work! 🙂

  63. Dear Sami,
    What would be the typical higher copper foods you would suggest one eliminating?
    Would legumes and lentils in particular also fall into that category?
    Kind regards,

  64. How do you know if you were born with copper overload? I would like to know if that might possibly have been the case for me too. Thanks.

      1. Thanks. I don’t have close family so that’s not really an option. Is there anything in my own genetic reports or testing that could show it?

  65. Hello, Sami
    Great information. Once your clients are properly diagnosed through testing do you focus solely on proper nutrition or do you offer supplemental advice/therapy as well? Thank you

  66. Thank you for the informative article. I have a question in regards to low copper. My 13 year old daughter has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and we are working with a Nathupathic doctor. We had the SpectraCell micronutrient testing done and her zinc is in the normal range at 44 but her copper is low at 41. She wants us to supplement with copper for one month. After reading this it makes me a little nervous to supplement with copper. Is this okay? We also know that her MTHFR is homozygous for c677. We are waiting for results from genetic testing to learn more about her methylation. All of this is a little overwhelming and confusing, to say the least!

    1. Hi Jody,
      Keep in mind that genetic testing has no way of determining methylation status and SpectraCell is not an accurate marker for zinc or copper levels. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation with me to see how I can help.

  67. Are you suggesting that a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system would not remove copper? My total dissolved solids are pretty close to zero.

    1. I didn’t mention water in this post so I’m a little confused by the question. RO is the best way to filter water, but it does require remineralization. I don’t recommend drinking it without remineralization.

      1. Thanks, I do remineralize, I was pretty sure cooper would be captured since nearly everything is but it was a response you gave a while ago to filtering copper out with water filtration.

        Sami G says
        April 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

        You are most welcome Suzie. No, unfortunately those filters are useless.

        1. I understand now, thanks for the clarification. The previous commenter was using a snap on faucet filter that does nothing to remove copper or other chemicals/metals. Same holds true for Britta pitchers, and alkaline water machines (Kangen, etc.). RO with remineralization is best.

            1. Because nothing is as effective as reverse osmosis and Berkey units do not provide the level of filtration needed for good health.

  68. “Copper lowers dopamine (a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers) and increases norepinephrine (another neurotransmitter that also functions as a stress hormone) in the brain. Imbalances in these important neurotransmitters are related to anxiety and panic disorders, depression (especially postpartum), bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, violence, and paranoid schizophrenia.2”

    I thought that dopamine is upstream from norephinephrine, and that they’re both based on the COMT enzymes, and that the quantity of norepinephrine (noradrenalin) is a product of the dopamine quantity (dopamine turns into adrenalin, which the COMT enzyme is supposed to degrade both, but if COMT isn’t working right, then you have too much dopamine/adrenalin sitting around).

    So, my question is please, how does copper decrease dopamine, but yet still increase adrenalin? I have COMT +/+ (V158M and H262), and everyone tells me that I have too much dopamine (because my adrenalin is always high and the slightest thing sets my shoulder/neck/arm muscles into locking up and I spend the whole day in pain), because of the COMT, but yet all I ever feel is the adrenalin being high (no stress tolerance), but I never get the good dopamine feelings.

    So my practitioners are focused on getting my dopamine down, but to me it doesn’t feel like dopamine is high in the first place, just the adrenalin. I have really high copper (18) and high unbound copper (50%, as CP is 0.20). zinc is 14 now I think. It was lower before.

    Thank you.

    1. Copper and vitamin C in combination are what cause dopamine to turn into norepinephrine (which is one step away from epinephrine, i.e. “adrenaline”
      High copper levels are the issue. (raising Vit C actually helps eliminate the excess copper, and Vit C can’t usually build up to toxic levels in the body, since it is quickly used, and quickly eliminated)
      (I have the some of same issues.)

  69. My husband is being treated and supplementing for Pyroluria with copper overload. His symptoms were OCD, Anxiety and Depression. I am happy to say that with consistent supplementation, he is a tremendous amount better.

    So happy to find your site and this article is excellent. I have hypothyroid and your article resonates with me too!

  70. Hi Sami,

    I am about to undergo testing for copper overload with a Walsh trained doctor. I suffered from postpartum psychosis 2 months postpartum with my first and only child after going back on birth control. I was put on an antipsychotic. 5 months later I came off of the antipsychotic and everything is fine except I have insomnia. I think my body is trying to eliminate the copper on its own as I have had several symptoms of copper elimination. I read in one book that the copper level will regulate on its own over several months providing full relief of symptoms for women who suffered from pp psychosis. I’ve read various studies that have different recovery timelines. In your experience on average how long does it take to regulate copper with a nutritional balancing program? Do symptoms like insomnia get better during the detox as the levels lower?


    1. Hi Darcie,
      Every individual responds differently and since you are already working with a Walsh trained practitioner, I encourage you to check in with him/her about this.

  71. Besides considering foods high in copper what beauty oils should we stay away from due to copper? Is aargon oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil & Shea butter safe to use?

  72. My daughter was diagnosed to have ADD when she was 8 years old. She was tested by Dr Mensah this summer and was diagnosed to have high copper; needs to stay away from copper and consume foods high in folate. What foods would you recommend? I have a list of some foods but unfortunately she has been consuming some high copper foods, thinking they are non-copper foods. She has been getting discouraged because of this. Please help!

  73. Hi Sami!
    Mi recently ordered my own blood work to check for copper, zinc, ceruloplasmin and histamine levels, oh and RBC mag. It showed that I have a pretty high level of unbound copper (about 42-43% if I’m remembering correctly) and I would like to find a good resource that shows exactly what problems are associated with that level of unbound copper. Also, how long to people usually take to get back to ‘normal’ copper levels? Thanks so much!

  74. Can high levels of copper (as seen in serum copper labs) cause your liver to not use B6 properly, dump it (B6) into the bloodstream (high levels in lab results) and cause numbness in your extremities? Confused as to why the B6 issue has been problematic for almost a year and now have confirmation of high copper levels. Wondering if there is a connection? Thanks!

  75. Hello Sami,
    I have been supplementing with 30 mg of zinc daily for the last 2 years because of Hashimoto’s. Then my doctor told me, that you should be careful, because long-term zinc might supress my copper levels. So I ordered a blood test, and voila: my zinc levels are in the normal range, while copper is elevated! I have never consciously taken a copper supplement in my life, ever. So now I am wondering, how do I get those copper levels down? And why is it too high in the first place?

    1. Hi Doris,
      Unfortunately, your doctor is misinformed about how copper works in the body. When zinc is within healthy functional ranges, if copper is high, the ratio is still imbalanced. Please don’t try zinc supplementation on your own, as caution must be taken with it. Most of us with copper overload have a genetic predisposition to it (and we are environmentally a copper toxic/estrogen dominate culture), so it’s something that requires proper lifetime nutrients. Bringing levels within healthy, functional ranges requires proper lab testing to determine biotype status with appropriate corresponding nutrients.

  76. I’ve just done a Dr wilson hair tissue mineral analysis test – which shows mineral levels and ratios. The in-depth reading indicates exactly what the body needs supplement wise to gently and gradually detox heavy metals and toxins. If you Google Dr Wilson hair analysis test you can find a trained practitioner to mail order a hair test and they will recommend a custom made diet and supplements for what your body needs to detox and regain Health. I’d had anxiety for so long I got adrenal burnout, simply exhausted all the time and following Dr Wilson’s protocol is helping so much.

    1. Hi Lucy,
      Thank you for your comment, I’m so happy you are feeling better. Keep in mind that HTMA alone will not give you the whole picture. I also use ARL for my HTMA tests and they are very helpful, but are just one piece. Additional functional testing is also important for proper treatment.

  77. Hello Sami – so happy to have found your page – great article!! So helpful!! I have my first appt with Mensah Medical today at an outreach clinic in my hometown. Am so hoping these tests and supplements will be the answers I’ve been looking for. Been waiting to have these specific tests done for a long time. I so fit the profile. Have tried the pyroluria protocol and have not gotten results. Have since had lots of functional medicine testing done (and put on lots of supps) which has helped with malabsorption issues. Maybe I’ll get help with the correct targeted compounded cocktail? Testing revealed deficiencies in Zinc, Vitamin K, D, C, and others, and elevated homocysteine, and MTHFR issues. Also discovered raging candida, which in hindsight, I’ve had for decades. Fascinating to read the connection you made between zinc to copper ratio and yeast / fungal overgrowth and parasitic issues. Was tested for possible parasites for chronic insomnia ( heard that parasites were very active at night) but to no avail. But I’ve heard they don’t always show up and that sometimes it may be helpful to treat “as if”? Thank you for the awesome work you are doing!! Praying I will finally get my answers to a lifetime struggle with pyroluria and insomnia.

    1. Hi Jane,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m happy you’ve found me too and that my articles have been helpful to you. I’m confident you are on the right track. Drs. Mensah and Bowman are amazing physicians. I’m blessed to have them as my doctors, and I believe we all have the ability to heal. Dysbiosis is very common with copper zinc imbalances that effect histamine, as well as pyroluria. My impression is that your previous protocol did not work because you didn’t have all the information you needed for successful treatment. I’ll be praying for you too. 🙂

  78. Hi Sami G, thanks so much for this info. I have been on NDT and ACE for about 2 years and finding my sensitivity, anxiety, depression and just generally feeling so overwhelmed, I am finding it too hard sometimes to keep going. I have had my copper/zinc bloods done and I can’t get to them at the moment to let you know the results. I am considering going back onto the Aropax just to give myself a break from all the negatives, even though after being on them for 16 years and off for 3 months, they didn’t do much for me. I take 50mg of zinc picolinate daily and if I reduce the amount I end up with watery pimples around my mouth and when I squeeze them they just bleed heaps. I have lost a lot of weight, muscle tone and my bladder is getting weaker by the day. My skin is so dry I’m a fire danger. I take olive oil, coconut oil and calamari oil along with heaps of moisturiser but still doesn’t help. After reading about the 5 elements, I’m sure I have a mix of all of them. I have crazy cravings for salt, sugar, fruit and meat. I suffered trichotilomania at a very young age and post natal depression and if any such thing…regular depression…..any advice would be greatly appreciated…..

      1. Hi Debra. One thing that had helped me greatly is eating a low carbohydrate diet. I’ve suffered from major depression for decades and although copper toxic (working on it) I am much much better. I’m off SNRI and lots of auto immune issues have almost gone. If you’re interested, look up these people on youtube: Gary Taubes, Professor Tim Noakes, Dr Stephen Phinney, Dr Zoe Harcombe, Nina Teicholz … just to get you started. There is a way out. X

    1. I also get watery tiny pimples on face (like perioral dermatitis) have extremely dehydrated skin, extreme fatigue, vaginal issues, anxiety etc etc.. I’m not on NDT but has borderline low Thyroid because of only having half of my Thyroid left.
      Do you experience any sideeffects of the zinc? Or does it only help you?

  79. Currently trying to raise my ceruloplasmin by eating carrots for Vit A. Is beta carotene a good form of Vit A? I’ve read that retinol is better. Will Vit A help with ceruloplasmin?

    Thank you!

  80. Hi SamiG,

    As someone who has been HTMA testing for a while now under the Nutritional Balancing program, I was wondering how the serum copper test works when most copper is stored in the tissues and organs? Can it not look normal in the blood, and yet you still have hidden copper? The part of your protocol that really intrigues me is the undermethylation/overmethylation. How are the treatments different for each?


    1. Hi Cheri,
      It’s the relationship of serum copper to ceruloplasmin and zinc. HTMA is a great tool, but it must be used in conjunction with other testing methods. Over and undermethylators are polar opposites in that overmethylators thrive on folates, and undermethylators get worse on them (from food and supplements). Keep in mind that every under and overmethylator is different due to a wide variety of other variables, so treatments plans will always be custom tailored to the individual.

    2. I would also like to know what effects it has on blood results if once has the copper in the tissues. I do not know if I have a copper overload but could imagine it. I always feel much worse when loosing weight. I feel kind of toxic. My copper in blood was almost normal. Not a good copper/zinc ratio but the copper in the serum was still in the normal range. But I am overweight and I think I could have stored a lot of copper there.

  81. Hi Sami G,

    I live in Canada, and I am finding that most MD’s don’t seem to know anything about copper overload, they are only tipped off by conditions with more extreme presentation, like Wilson’s disease or copper poisoning.

    I recently discovered through hair element testing that I may have a copper overload (levels were off the chart). I am trying to find other methods of testing that might back up what was found on the hair test. My ceruloplasm and serum copper were checked through a standard lab, and appear to be within the normal range (but in the low end). Zinc is at the low end of normal.

    I understand from a number of other sources that copper tends to store in the tissues, so it may not necessarily be reflected in the bloodwork. Is this true? Do you think that hair mineral analysis is a reliable way to measure copper levels?

    Also, I am very curious about the connection between elevated copper and rheumatoid arthritis. I found a good number of studies on PubMed which describe the elevated levels of copper and low zinc in rheumatoid patients. I wonder if this is why D-Penicillamine seems to be and effective treatment for some people, because it chelates out the excess copper?? (It is classed as a Disease Modifying Anti-rheumatic drug, but used less frequently because of toxic side effects)

    Do you know of any good sources for further reading which discuss the RA – copper connection? Have you ever heard of anyone experiencing long term remission of their RA or other chronic conditions (like CFS or fibromyalgia) after treating copper imbalance?

    I have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, so I am trying to find answers for myself that conventional medicine does not seem to provide.

    Thanks for publishing all of these helpful articles Sami G!

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      Unfortunately, most doctors don’t know about copper overload, even those that specialize in women’s health. It’s a phenomenon that really shocks me and one of the reasons I do what I do. HTMA is a great tool, but must be used in conjunction with other lab work. Copper definitely is connected to RA and many other autoimmune disorders, especially CFS and Fibromyalgia. Yes, I have seen remission of these conditions with proper treatment. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any resources that make the copper/RA connection.

      1. Hi this interests me
        I have had ‘low copper ‘ according to blood tests between 5 and 8
        Reference range is 10 to 30 (Australia)
        I have consistently taken copper supplements and I am still below reference range . However recently at night I have started getting numb in hands and feet and a recent hair analysis says I have too much copper
        People are giving me apposing opinions and I wonder if it is connected to the numbness ?

        1. I watched an excellent video by Dr Purser today and he says we store copper predominately in our tissue, muscles etc, so serum copper won’t necessarily show an accurate level and often is low in comparison to the real picture of someone who is toxic. Sounds like you need to get off those copper tablets…we live in a copper rich world and more are toxic than deficient.

          1. Actually, it’s important to look at both serum and unbound copper (copper that is not bound to proteins), something we’ve known for almost 3 decades now.

  82. My step daughter has copper and manganese toxicity. Do SS RIs contribute to tha? Can’t find anyone to help treat her. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Nancy,
      SSRI’s don’t contribute to it, but they are not effective either unless she is also undermethylated. I’m happy to offer you a complimentary consultation to see how I can help. You can email my assistant here and she’ll get you scheduled.

  83. Are you looking for high copper serum levels, bad copper to zinc ratio? Could you share how we can know if there is an issue? For example, I have a serum copper at 1134 mcg/L and a serum zinc at 93 ug/dL. Thank you!

      1. Hi Shelley,
        I’m sorry, but this is impossible to answer without a thorough assessment because every individual with copper overload is different. There are many other factors to take into consideration, especially methylation and pyrrole status.

        1. Hi Sami,

          I have just seen your reply to this lady and you have mentioned 2 issues my daughter has and I believe copper toxicity is starting. Do you work with people in Australia? And are you able to help us? She is suffers anxiety and has constant panic attacks. I would appreciate if you could send a reply to my email so I don’t loose contact. 🙂 Thank you

  84. Can a copper IUD contribute to copper overload? I have been feeling extremely fatigued since having one put in 7 mos. ago.

  85. Quick testimonial here: I did Sami’s testing for copper (and other things), and it’s been life-altering. Before, I was having tremendous anxiety around work. It was so bad that I couldn’t think, which meant I wasn’t doing great work, which created more anxiety. 🙁 I have been blown away by the difference it has made to reduce the copper in my diet, and take the supplements that Sami recommended. If you have mood issues that haven’t been resolved, it’s really worth the investment to work with her.

      1. what type of test should i as for? can my ob/gyn do it? i started with horrible anxiety panic attacks insomnia. And i had the Copper iud, i just had it removed.

  86. Thank you for this!! I think I am finally getting to the bottom of my issues!!! What is the best functional test for copper and zinc? Can it just be a normal blood test or does it have to be something like SpectraCell?

    Thank you again!

  87. I have noticed many of my supplements contain
    papain and bromelain. Are those forms okay for
    a person who has high copper?
    Also, many of my doctors recommend Dim for
    hormone balancing. I just realized the source is
    a concentration of broccoli. Not a good choice for
    someone with copper overload, right?
    Thank you!

  88. Hi Sami,
    Thank you so much for all the information.
    Last night, I poured over your website for hours.
    I learned so much!

    I am suspicious I have a copper load issue.
    I have so many mystery health issues at
    a fairly young age.

    What do you advise people to do that have
    copper water pipes?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Suzie,
      I’m glad you are enjoying my articles. If you have copper pipes, do not drink the water from them and get a shower filter that removes copper. Get home delivery of spring drinking water from a reliable source. Tap and well water are high in copper.

      1. Thank you for the information. We do have copper pipes. We have
        a water purifier on our kitchen facet. Do you feel they do
        a sufficient job filtering copper out of tap water?

  89. Hi, a question… Foods high in copper are also high in zinc- which supposedly counteracts the copper. Oysters, cashews, etc. Do you know the answer as to why they would not “cancel the problem out” – if you know what I mean? Thanks!

    1. Hi Janet,
      That’s a great question. While it’s true some foods contain both copper and zinc, this does not automatically cancel the problem out because the ratio is often imbalanced. We are currently living in a high copper world with rampant zinc deficiency so if copper overload is present, it’s best to steer clear of high copper foods in the beginning stages of treatment. These foods also tend to be problematic in other areas – high histamine/histamine liberation, salicylates, fungi and mold infestations, rancidity, etc.

      1. Thanks for your reply! My mother has had horrible skin rashes, and I started her on zinc as well… after 10 years and many doctors/medicines/attempts to isolate the offender, I think the zinc is making a difference! Thanks again. Will get your book and tell others.

        1. You are most welcome Janet! Glad to know the zinc is making a difference in the condition of your mother’s skin! 🙂

      2. Hello!
        What kind of dr is best to see if you think you have a copper-zinc imbalance (wholistic? Primary? Endocrinologist?) and what kind of test – would it be bloodwork?

        Also – would a symptom of pink/blue/purple like “stretch” marks on the back of calves and back of thighs In a non-overweight teenager indicate high cortisol and be linked to a copper-zinc imbalance?


  90. I have been to more than a dozen doctors in the past 3 years. I lost half my hair, fatigued, always tired. Trouble sleeping all night, can’t lose weight, chin broke out, no energy or stamina. No one can figure it out. All my tests come back normal, so frustrating.

    1. Hi Augusta,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I experienced the same thing with regard to my labs. It wasn’t until I tested my copper and zinc levels that I really got clear cut answers.

      1. What are the desired levels/ratio? I head this done I think years ago by great plains lab -and it was ok at the time. Can regular labs i.e quest do these tests/payed for by insurance ?

        1. I was told the accepted scale for Copper is between 50 and 150. I am now starting tests, as I came back 165.

          1. Copper becomes toxic when other
            Minerals are low and the body can’t use copper. One of the missing minerals can be sulfur. I took that and within 2 weeks my high copper became normal. Now I can both of the together and it working for the many years now. Thanks

        2. A doctor friend and my dietician both say that the ratio is what is important. Your levels may be ‘within the desired range’, as mine were, but not in the correct ratio. They should be roughly equal levels. If your copper is higher than your zinc then there is an imbalance, which could be problematic.

    2. Hi there, I will try and make my story short; found these little red spots coming from under my skin (found out I have Petechia); I went to the dermatologist to make sure (confirmed); went to my primary care physician and ran all the normal tests (urinalysis, blood, etc). The doctor found an infection based on my urinalysis (normal scale is 1-5; I was at 6), but couldn’t tell me where it was stemming from. I had an autoimmune test taken (slightly over the normal range count). I don’t feel like I have lupus, etc. Since my doctor couldn’t tell me what was wrong, I decided to have a hair analysis done! Tadah! My results came back – I have high levels of copper in my system. It explains the fatigue, the taste for sweet/salty things; Calcium is high; my thyroid is on the verge of a burnout; adrenal is 18% functioning. Based on everything I found out, the infection is stemming from the copper and all the other imbalances in my body. I lost 9 pounds in the last 2 months (needed to, but not this way). The person who did my hair analysis suggested supplements that I need to purchase in order to bring my body back to it’s normal range.

      1. Look Dr Dan Pursed on the web and youtube. Big researcher in high copper. I am taking his supplements and am starting to feel better. I have copper and hair test came back allergic to a lot of high copper foods. Fibromyalgia, hasimotes, hypothryoid, psoriatic arthritis, high cortisol, the list is endless. Starting on low copper diet

      2. Hi Jackie, I also do hair analyses and have been told that I am eliminating copper at this point. I have had the petechiae that you mentioned as well. However, they appear to go away after a little while, much like any lesion would heal. At the same time, I’ve experienced headache with visual disturbance (first time ever), as well as heart palpitations that appear to be benign. The elimination of copper can apparently cause a myriad of symptoms. Just my 2 cents worth!

    3. I feel your stress and pain. In order to get to the root of my issues with severe allergies (food and environmental) stress, fatigue, anaphylaxis shock (when I knew I had not been around or ingested anything on my allergy list), you name it…I had it….after 7 years of general doctors and a few specialist in their data base…just regurgitating the same information and taking the same tests…I finally researched and found someone that specialized in a more natural approach and that would take in depth testing of my blood, urine, and stools. Come to find out I have a severe deficiency in several of my chemicals, high levels of inflammation, mold, tick bite issues, vitamin deficiencies and more (grant you all of my now detected issues could have caused death or severe organs issues beyond repair if not treated), all was contributing to every symptom that I had been dealing with as my health continued to decline through those 5 years. The general doctors did drastically improve my asthma and get my food and environmental allergies under control; however, I had another host of major issues that also was mimicking some of those same symptoms that I was still having a problem and more health issues started climbing. Sad to say that after 4 near death and actually died twice and went into cardiac arrest several times, my general doctors were confused but wouldn’t get out of their box to dig deeper with testing. With my Natural Specialist in allergies and vitamin/chemical deficiencies, I am finally on my way to recovery, however, I will never be completely cured due to undetection for so long and lack of treatment. It is a trial and error cause my system is so touchy but at least I am getting some answers and help. If I continued as I was with my general physicians, my health would be in a grave situation for the unresolved issues were on their way to shut down organs etc. Doctors are needed but sometimes you must research (online) how you feel, what the doctors are saying and wanting to prescribe to you. affects, and constantly ask questions and you will find out more of your problems than the doctors are telling you. I am now on my way to better health. If you would like to talk text 910-459-3648 (give me heads up that you are not a telemarketer and what your topic is), DO NOT EMAIL. I will then call you or continue to text. I can give you more of my story in hopes to help you. I am not a doctor but I am a strong individual that feels that you can have a better health if you take more control of your body by listening, searching, disagreeing, and combinding pharmaceuticals with natural supplements and finding out what foods you need to put in your diet or take out of your diet that best works with your individual health issues and yes change the environment (not saying locations) and people that is not contributing to your health. . Good luck.

    4. You need to get a Consult or two:
      #1) Rheumatologist,
      #2)) Endocrinologist.
      No other doctor will diagnose you with what these docs trreat, Especially Rrheumy. It took me nearly 20 years too get diagnosed with my Autoimmune disease, until I learned that.

      1. I went to specialists for 13 years. I was diagnosed in 30 minutes of seeing a functional medicine dr, which was confirmed by bloodwork as copper toxicity. I can’t say I would ever trust a “specialist” again.

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