Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for June 16, 2007

Another great article on zinc and some more things I didn’t know about. Apparently people with Type A blood, respond more slowly to treatment of a zinc deficiency than other types. They also suggest taking L-cysteine because it helps mobilize and excrete copper while enhancing zinc absorption.


by William J. Walsh


Most Americans receive all the zinc they need if they have a reasonably well-balanced diet involving the major food groups. However, many persons are born with a metal-metabolism disorder which results in zinc depletion regardless of diet.

Zinc is a component of more than 80 enzymes. High concentrations have been found in brain hippocampus, and many medical researchers believe that zinc is a neurotransmitter. Low zinc levels at these sites could reduce the inhibition of neuron activity, thus leading to abnormal behavior. The discovery of zinc “finger proteins” in the past decade has led to a vastly improved understanding of how cells replicate and divide. There role in behavior is not yet clear, but could be involved in the transport or availability of zinc. Recent research has shown zinc to be far more important than previously believed and low levels of zinc are associated with behavior disorders.

Many of the patients of the Carl Pfeiffer Treatment Center suffer from behavior disorders. The most common ones are attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and conduct disorder (CD). These patients typically have a history of extensive counseling and multiple medications and many have experienced residential care. They represent a narrow and rather uncharacteristic segment of the general population.

A high percentage of behavior disordered persons exhibit abnormal levels of copper, zinc, lead, cadmium, calcium, magnesium and manganese in blood, urine, and tissues, based on chemical analysis results from thousands of patients. With regard to zinc, this condition appears to involve a malfunction of the metal-binding protein metallothionein. Most of these patients have symptoms of zinc deficiency along with depressed levels of zinc in their blood plasma.

The high incidence of zinc deficiency in assaultive young males was illustrated in a recent study1 which found elevated serum copper and depressed plasma zinc concentration, compared to normal controls. This study confirmed our clinical observations of zinc depletion in more than 4,000 behavior disordered patients.

Our clinical observations and research have indicated that the copper/zinc ratio appears to be more decisively important than either of the individual metals alone. Zinc deficiency often results in elevated blood levels of copper, due to the dynamic competition of these metals in the body. Elevated blood copper has been associated with episodic violence, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and depression.


Zinc deficiency is difficult to diagnose since no single laboratory test or combination of tests is decisive in every case. For example, blood levels are sometimes normal in zinc deficient persons due to homeostasis. Urine and hair tissue levels are often elevated in zinc deficiency because of “short circuiting” of zinc through the body and high rates of excretion.

The two principal factors which lead our Center’s physicians to a diagnosis of zinc deficiency are: 1) depressed plasma zinc, and 2) presence of clinical symptoms of zinc depletion which are alleviated by zinc supplementation2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Since zinc tolerance tests show plasma levels to be affected for 6 hours following zinc supplementation8 and 9, zinc supplements are avoided for 24 hours prior to sampling of plasma.

A “working diagnosis” of zinc deficiency can be made if clinical symptoms of zinc deficiency are clearly evident from the initial physical examination and medical history. Usually more than one or the above symptoms are present in zinc deficiency. This initial diagnosis is later supported or negated by laboratory analysis for plasma zinc along with observed response (or non-response) to zinc supplementation.

The Carl Pfeiffer Treatment Center generally retests plasma zinc and evaluates symptoms after 4-6 months of treatment to determine if dosages need adjustment.


Zinc depletion is corrected by supplementation with zinc (picolinate or gluconate) along with augmenting nutrients including L-cysteine, pyridoxine, ascorbic acid, and vitamin E. Manganese is also useful in promoting proper metallothionein function. If copper levels are elevated, effective treatment must also enhance the release of copper from tissues and copper excretion. L-cysteine helps mobilize and excrete copper while enhancing zinc absorption. Correction of zinc deficiency is best accomplished under the care of a physician or nutritionist who is experienced in metal metabolism disorders. Indiscriminant dosages of zinc to persons who do not need it can cause anemia and imbalanced trace metals.

Treatment of mild or moderate zinc depletion can take months to complete. Some cases of severe zinc depletion require a year or more to resolve. Achievement of a proper zinc balance is slowed by growth spurts, injury, illness, or severe stress. In addition, persons with malabsorption or Type A blood respond to treatment more slowly.


June 16, 2007 - Posted by | Health | , ,

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