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As someone who has a long history of nosebleeds, starting in early adolescence, I now have zero doubt that the mineral copper can stop nosebleeds. It definitely stopped mine. And, now, I understand how.
How Copper Stops Nosebleeds
Copper stops nosebleeds by strengthening the blood vessels and arteries. Copper is needed for normal growth and health. Without it, we cannot grow healthy connective tissues and prevent debilitating (and potentially deadly) diseases of the heart and bones.
The process of growing new blood vessels from existing ones – angiogenesis – is important in growth, development, and wound healing. And copper intake is vital to angiogenesis. In fact, the inhibition of blood vessel growth can be induced by administering compounds that reduce copper in the body. Yet the biological basis for this particular sensitivity of angiogenesis to copper remains an enigma.
What scientists do know is that copper is needed to absorb and utilize iron.
“Copper helps the body absorb iron. Your body also needs copper to make energy. … Taking copper supplements may help people who have anemia because of copper deficiency. Copper works together with iron to form red blood cells.”1
The mineral is also part of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Copper is needed to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy the body runs on. Synthesis of some hormones requires copper, as does collagen (the “glue” that holds muscle tissue together) and tyrosinase (the enzyme that puts pigment into the skin).
Note the bold portion above. I believe it is this facet of copper that put a stop to my nosebleeds. This is also why certain skincare companies want to convince you that copper can be absorbed efficiently through the skin from their creams.
Copper deficiency is fairly uncommon, but when it happens, it is usually the result of poor nutrition, disease and improper use of nutritional supplements.
Children with Menke’s syndrome are unable to absorb copper normally and become severely deficient unless medically treated early in life. Deficiency also occurs in people who supplement with zinc without also increasing copper intake. Zinc interferes with copper absorption and vice versa. Health consequences of zinc-induced copper deficiency can be quite serious. In the absence of copper supplements, vitamin C supplements have also been reported to mildly impair copper metabolism.
In addition, copper deficiency can cause a drop in HDL (the “good”) cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases, and even anemia – as copper is crucial for the absorption and utilization of iron.
The mineral manganese also plays an important role in keeping the arteries strong. Manganese does not affect copper absorption but, without it, copper cannot strengthen the arteries.
“Like vitamin C, manganese promotes healthy collagen production – it activates an enzyme needed to make proline, a key component of collagen fibers. Copper activates an enzyme that cross-links collagen fibers with other supportive fibers to keep your artery walls strong.”2
Although manganese deficiency is rarer and is usually the result of chronic digestive disorders and liver disease, if your diet consists mostly of processed foods with very few fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, you may also be manganese deficient.
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for copper is 900 mcg to 1.3mg, for adults. Keep in mind, these are adequate amounts for adults of both genders, pregnant and breastfeeding women; the baseline of what you should intake each day.
In my experience, taking one 2mg copper capsule every day (in tandem with a 50 mg zinc tablet) put a stop to my nosebleeds in a matter of days. I should emphasize that this was my experience, your own experience with copper may vary greatly. I was most definitely copper-deficient and ate quite poorly for a very long time, before changing my ways.
The best dietary sources of copper are…
- sesame seeds
- sunflower seeds
- Lima beans
- shiitake mushrooms
- garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Side Effects and Interactions
The level at which copper can cause problems is unclear. But in combination with zinc, up to 3 mg per day is considered safe. People drinking tap water from new copper pipes should consult a nutritionally oriented doctor before supplementing since they may be getting enough (or even too much) copper from their water. People with Wilson’s disease should never take copper!
Copper can stop nosebleeds… IF your nosebleeds are the result of a copper deficiency. And even if your blood work shows that your copper levels are “normal”, they may not be normal for you. You may need more copper than the average person. Remember, baseline nutritional needs vary among individuals, even in the same family. But supplementing with copper is not the correct solution for everyone, people with Wilson’s disease are just one example.
Whether you choose to supplement or not, it is extremely important to eat a diet rich in whole foods – produce, nuts, seeds, and whole grains – to ensure that you’re getting enough basic nutrients (in balance). Nutrition is synergistic. Each nutrient supports the function of one or more other nutrients. Supplements are not complete nutrients; so, supplements alone cannot replace a healthy diet. You cannot reverse problems caused by nutritional deficiency without eating a balanced, high-nutrient diet.
It’s entirely possible that your nosebleeds are not a result of copper, or any other nutrient, deficiency. But if you begin your treatment with a high-nutrient diet it will be that much easier to discover and reverse any other cause for your nosebleeds.
Other Causes of Nosebleeds
- Trauma (especially nose picking)
- Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Blood-thinning medications
- Alcohol abuse
- Hormonal changes (during pregnancy)
If you have any questions or comments about copper and/or nosebleeds, or wish to share your own experiences, comment below or tweet me on Twitter.
1 Ehrlich, Steven D. “Copper”. University of Maryland Medical Center, January 2, 2015. Web. June 2017
2 “Minerals or Vitamins That maintain the Strength of the Artery Walls”. SFGate, n.d. Web. June 2017
Weil, Andrew, MD. “Copper”. Dr. Weil, n.d. Web. June 2017
“Copper”. The World’s Healthiest Foods, n.d. Web. June 2017
Axe, Josh, MD. “Manganese Helps Prevent Osteoporosis & Inflammation”. Dr. Axe, n.d. Web. June 2017
Cunha, John P., DO, FACOEP. “Nosebleed (Epistaxis, Nose Bleed, Bloody Nose)”. Medicine Net, n.d. Web. June 2017