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Case Study: Copper Imbalance

This case study is being presented to you by a member of the Instant HTMA team, Amber MacDonald! She can be found and is happy to answer any questions you have!

Let's dive right in! ​

Background info: This is a 47 year old female with a history of hypothyroidism, Lyme, candida (you may see candida overgrowth in clients with low bioavailable copper ), body pain, bloating, fatigue, and hormonal imbalances. ​ This client is regularly exposed to toxic chemicals in her work environment. She also lives in a town that has polluted her well water with PFOS/PFAS from a factory dumping this into a nearby river. She has a stressful and busy lifestyle, and often is unable to put herself first. She struggles with making time for food prep, and feels stressed out and overly busy.

HTMA results:

-Slow 1 metabolic type, mild slow oxidizer

  • Slow oxidizers tend to retain copper.

  • Calcium is elevated at 109. You will want to pay close attention to other copper imbalance markers when you see elevated calcium. It can also reflect under active thyroid and adrenals. Elevated tissue calcium can cause pain in the body.

  • Copper is low, at 1.0. This can indicate hidden copper imbalance, but we will need to look at other markers. From the app, we know these test results are showing this client has 8 out of 21 copper imbalance indicators. Not only that, she has a history of hormonal issues and fatigue, which are red flags for copper imbalance.

  • Zinc is slightly higher than the ideal range at 18. This client does not eat red meat and does sometimes supplement with zinc. Zinc is antagonistic with copper. Copper relates to estrogen, and zinc relates to progesterone. Knowing this, it will be interesting to see what the Zn/Cu ratio is.

  • Low Phosphorus points to impaired protein digestion, lack of digestive enzymes, and low HCl.

  • High manganese, interesting to

  • Elevated mercury, a known copper antagonist.

  • Elevated Ca/K ratio,

  • elevated Zn/Cu, the hormonal ratio, indicates hidden copper and this can also point to estrogen dominance, which she does have symptoms of.

  • Low Na/Mg adrenal ratio points to lowered adrenal function. This is important, because healthy adrenals stimulate the liver to produce ceruloplasmin, a copper binding protein, to transport excess copper for excretion mainly via the liver and bile. With reduced adrenal and bile and sluggish liver, ceruloplasmin is not produced effectively and excess copper can build up in the liver, brain, and other tissues.

  • Cu/Mo ratio is 250

Conclusions:​ There is clearly some copper imbalance presenting with this client. This is never the first thing we address, as we need to have solid foundations in place before we start moving copper. This client has digestive issues that are a major pain point for her. There are so many changes I would love for her to incorporate, but I didn't want to overwhelm her. Making sure she was eating in a parasympathetic state and chewing well enough was a good first step. She also added digestive enzymes and HCl with meals and her bloating went away. She started on magnesium glycinate at bedtime, which will support ceruloplasmin. ​ -I encouraged her to food prep once or twice a week for her lunches, which was very helpful to her stress level and prevented her from under-eating. ​ -She added in pastured red meat to support zinc and retinol. I recommended beef liver which has a great combination of copper, zinc, retinol, b vitamins etc. I recommended adrenal cocktails to support her adrenal strength, too. ​ -Her digestion and thyroid symptoms also got better when she switched from raw salads daily to eating cooked vegetables. She is also making an effort to eat more food, and not skip meals when she's busy. Keeping her adrenals, liver, and bile function strong is important for managing copper imbalance. ​ -She has been adding more healthy fats in for bile support. She has added digestive bitters and dandelion tea. A huge priority is the quality of her water. It's apparent from her test she has high levels of toxic elements coming from contaminated water and the toxins she is exposed to at work. ​ -I encouraged her to have her water tested and make sure her water filter is working. She also is trying to reduce her exposure to chemicals at work. I had her start Biotoxin Binder. I recommended ionic foot detox baths to address the toxic heavy metals. ​ -She is doing her best to manage stress and making time for movement and joyful activity. We have not done a retest yet, but this client is continuing with her journey and knows her healing is going to take time.

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