Have you heard of candida?
All of these are types of fungal overgrowths, and today we'll be getting into how they are all connected to a dysregulation of copper.
First off, let's understand why copper is so important. Copper is required for ATP production within the cell and plays a role in the electron transport chain. It also works synergistically with iron and supports hemoglobin synthesis and is responsible for making iron bioavailable in the first place. Without copper, we risk of becoming iron overloaded. Furthermore, copper supports neurotransmitter activity in both the gut and brain, our cardiovascular system, protects the myelin around our nerves, as well as is an essential step in synthesizing collagen. Lastly, and for today's topic, is needed for the immune system acting as an anti fungal, anti mold and anti bacterial. So clearly, copper is VIP.
However, this is the kicker. When copper isn't easily usable in the body, also known as "not bioavailable" or "copper dysregulation" we can run into problems. But let's back track, how does copper even become dysregulated in the first place?
Well, we have an entire article about it here, but in short, copper must be bound to a protein called ceruloplasmin in order to be utilized by the body. Without it, it can accumulate and reek havoc on our system. Ceruloplasmin is predominantly made in the adrenals and in the liver, hence if you have a congested liver or are stressed and your adrenals are over working/under working, you most likely will have some form of copper dysregulation. On top of that, we also have these proteins called metallothioneins, which are produced mostly in the liver and kidneys, and are responsible for increasing the resistance to copper exposure and other metals. Metallothioneins are usually made from zinc.
There is a lot to discuss between zinc and copper but we won't get into it much, you just need to know the basics.
Now, when then body can't utilize copper properly, it can't act like a anti fungal as it should. Instead, what happens is that it starts accumulating in circulation. A little note to make here is that copper, like estrogen, is removed from the body through bile. This is why copper on an hair test copper is synonymous to estrogen status in our tissues, for if there is an excess of copper, there is most likely an excess of estrogen. Both of these compounds (estrogen and copper) must be be bound to bile and detoxed through the liver to be removed out of the body so it doesn't recirculate and cause harm. Just like estrogen, if there is too much, it can lead to symptoms of estrogen dominance such as weight gain, growths of many sorts (cysts, tumors), blood sugar imbalances, low thyroid function, histamine issues and yes, even fungal infections.
The fungal and copper relationship is interesting because fungus is more common in women, which makes us presume that copper might fuel it due to its connection with estrogen. We all have yeast in our body, specifically candida, and it is required in healthy amounts. However, too much can cause issues.
As mentioned above, copper is needed for many different critical mechanisms in the body, specifically for enzyme synthetization that produce energy in the electron transport system of the mitochondria. This is particularly supportive to keeping the metabolism working and is done through oxygen based or aerobic metabolism. Fungal infections though have an anerobic metabolism which is a different type of metabolism in the mitochondria, and use sugar as fuel and less oxygen in comparison to what we normally will.
Copper, when bioavailable, is our body's natural defense mechanism to mold and yeast, which is why copper favors aerobic metabolism, tending to slow down yeast growth. Ever heard of the utilization of copper sulfate in farming? This is to kill yeast and mold on the food. Same thing with water, it prevents pipes from getting moldy.
Hence, without copper being in its bio available form, we are at risk of the fungus from taking over.
Now is the answer just take more copper? No. It's actually a lot more complex than that. One would have to support liver function, adrenals, over all stress, play with diet and balance out other minerals that are both antagonistic and synergistic to copper itself. What we suggest is always ordering an HTMA with us here and then following up with one of our nutritionists to offer you a more concrete set of guidelines to get you back on track!
So if you're struggling with fungal overgrowths or candida issues, definitely don't wait and reach out!
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach