Copper Chlorophyllin and Activated Charcoal vs. TMAU
Updated: Apr 15
Trimethylaminuria (TMAU), sometimes called fish odor syndrome, is a rare metabolic disorder that occurs when the body cannot breakdown and convert trimethylamine (TMA) to its odorless metabolite, trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). Trimethylaminuria is either caused by mutations in the FMO3 gene or inherited in an autosomal, recessive manner. Trimethylamine forms in the intestines when certain types of foods are digested. Some of the foods include eggs, liver, legumes, fish, and certain vegetables. For individuals with TMAU, too much trimethylamine accumulates in the body and is released in the sweat, urine, reproductive fluids, and breath, producing a fishy odor (GARD Information Center, 2020).
Data suggests there are less than 200,000 in the United States living with the disease, however the actual number could be higher as the disease has historically gone undiagnosed (ScienceDaily). Although TMAU is a rare disease, it can feel debilitating for those diagnosed. Many people find living with trimethylaminuria difficult and often have feelings of isolation, embarrassment, and depression (NHS).
According to researchers in this study, TMAU has been documented in Europe, Australia, North America, but not Japan. There have also been cases reported in both Thailand and China. The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of activated charcoal and copper chlorophyllin dietary supplements on Japanese trimethylaminuria patients (Yamazaki, et al., 2004).
Study researchers identified seven Japanese individuals that showed a low metabolic capacity to convert TMA (trimethylamine) to TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide). These individuals had a metabolic capacity between 70-90%. For healthy individuals, “the metabolic capacity of the FMO3 enzyme converts over 95% of TMA to TMAO. Individuals showing FMO3 metabolic capacity lower than 90% conversion of TMA to TMAO are considered to be suffering from TMAU” (Yamazaki, et al., 2004).
Patients involved in the study were either given dietary charcoal (1.5 g/per day for 10 days) or copper chlorophyllin (180 mg/day for 3 weeks). Results from the study showed that dietary charcoal reduced the urinary free TMA concentration and increased the concentration of TMAO to normal values during charcoal administration.
Copper chlorophyllin was also effective at reducing free urinary TMA concentration and increasing TMAO to those of concentrations present in normal individuals. Additionally, the effects of copper chlorophyllin appeared to last longer than those observed for activated charcoal. For some, several weeks longer, suggesting that the daily intake of charcoal and/or copper chlorophyllin may greatly improve the quality of life of individuals suffering from TMAU (Yamazaki, et al., 2004).
Read the abstract here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0024320504001146?via%3Dihub
Monell Chemical Senses Center. (2017, February 15). Potential new causes for the odor-producing disorder TMAU. ScienceDaily. Accessed 22 July 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170215084717.htm
“Trimethylaminuria (‘fish odour syndrome’).” NHS. Accessed 22 July 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/trimethylaminuria/
“Trimethylaminuria.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center. Accessed 21 July 2020. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6447/trimethylaminuria.
Yamazaki, H., Fujieda, M., Togashi, M., Saito, T., Preti, G., Cashman, J. R., & Kamataki, T. (2004). Effects of the dietary supplements, activated charcoal and copper chlorophyllin, on urinary excretion of trimethylamine in Japanese trimethylaminuria patients. Life sciences, 74(22), 2739–2747. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2003.10.022