We all remember sitting in Chemistry class staring down at a periodic table trying to remember every element's name and symbol. Yes, we were taught about the potential dangers of some of those elements, but never of how they truly affect our health, environment and well-being and how one should remedy the toxicity of heavy metals. If people realized the importance of gathering this knowledge, heavy metals would be included in a standard blood panel regularly. Unfortunately the reality is only holistic doctors seem to have the knowledge. Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium and the less commonly tested copper, zinc, aluminum, and thallium require far more attention then they are being given in the medical community.
Heavy metals are found naturally in the environment, soil, oceans, pesticides, herbicides, seafood, home applications, pharmaceutical drugs, mercury dental fillings, IUD's, processed foods, animal products, vaccines, pollution in the the air and water (yes, bath and drinking water), etc.
Heavy metals enter the system in different ways. You breathe them, eat them, or absorb them through skin. Often symptoms of heavy metal toxicity are mistaken for things like autoimmune, thyroid dysfunction, gut problems such as IBS and mental disorders, depression, fatigue, nerve pain, insomnia, dementia, Alzheimer's, headaches, heavy periods, endometriosis, adenomyosis and imbalanced hormones. Heavy metal poisoning can include organ damage, behavioral changes and cognitive function difficulties. The specific symptoms and how it affects someone depends on the type of metal and how much of it is in the system. The only sure fire way to know and remedy is to maintain a healthy panel surveillance and safe chelation therapy, a treatment that uses medicine, food and herbs to remove these metals so they don't make you sick.
Here is a list of some of the heavy metals in our environment and the symptoms they cause:
Mercury Toxicity: Depletes glutathione (an incredible antioxidant that regenerates itself in the liver. It’s one of the important molecules you need to stay healthy and prevent disease.) vitamin C, inhibits thiamine, B1 and B6. Elemental mercury is found in dental amalgams, fish, soil (the reason so many vegans are now testing positive), electrical switches, thermometers, fossil fuel plants, and latex paints prior to 1992. It finds its way into the brain, where it will stay in the blood for 45 days and in the brain for up to 22 years. It is excreted in bile, although urinary excretion will increase as the toxic burden increases. Organic mercury is extremely toxic and stays 50 to 80 days in the blood and 20 years in the brain. mercury in organic form is absorbed 90% from the gut. Studies now show that mercury lowers T-Cell counts. Mercury cuts the oxygen carrying capacity of blood by half. When blood is deprived of oxygen, it contributes to disease. Mercury poisoning can cause muscle twitching, insomnia, imbalanced hormones, muscle atrophy and a metallic taste in the mouth.
Lead Toxicity: Children and unborn children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning. It can cause developmental and neurological issues, reduced brain volume, blue tinge around the gums, hearing loss, anemia, constipation, nausea, pain in abdomen and joints, headache, memory loss, irritability, fatigue, kidney damage, central nervous system problems, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel and autoimmune and thyroid symptoms. Lead heavily impairs kidney and liver detoxification. The typical amount of time Lead stays in the blood for several months and is stored in the bones for up to 30 years, usually released at 60 years old when bones are brittle. Other conditions that cause early release of stored lead is pregnancy, stress, hormonal and thyroid issues. Lead is found in water, (California's tap water has higher lead content than Flint, Michigan https://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-essential-education-updates-southern-over-300-l-a-neighborhoods-had-higher-1492797611-htmlstory.html), burning fossil fuel, mining, batteries, pipes, solder, jewelry, soil containing lead from lead-based gasoline or paint, toys that might have been colored with lead-based paint (although this is illegal in the US, toys from other countries may still use lead-based paints), cosmetics (kohl, used as an eyeliner, has been found to contain high levels of lead), stained glass (making stained glass involves using lead solder), pottery (some ceramic glazes contain lead), tobacco smoking (active, second and third hand smoking is linked to higher lead levels in the blood.)
Aluminum Toxicity: Paramount to protecting yourself from the toxic effects of aluminum poisoning is taking care to avoid ingesting it to not increase your risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Fortunately, researchers are discovering a host of natural substances that can prevent and/or treat aluminum’s toxic effects. Observational studies show that people who ingest more aluminum from drinking water or have a higher geographical exposure to aluminum show greater cognitive decline with time and are at a significantly increased risk of dementia. An increase in silica intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Silica helps aluminum to be excreted via urine but allows essential metals to stay in the body. Avoid the following:
Commercial deodorant: Switch to a natural deodorant.
Commercial baking powder: Switch to a brand that says “aluminum free.”
Aluminum foil and aluminum cookware: Replace all aluminum-based and Teflon cookware with glass, iron, or safe ceramic. Lightly roast veggies and fish in a glass container instead of putting them on the grill wrapped in aluminum foil. Store leftovers in glass containers as well.
Arsenic Toxicity: According to Australian Medical Journal, arsenic exerts its toxicity by deactivating up to 200 enzymes, especially those involved in cellular energy pathways and DNA synthesis and repair. More symptoms include abnormal heart rhythm, skin issues, muscle cramps, tingling fingers and toes, consistent sore throat. 90% of all arsenic produced today is used as a preservative for wood. It is also found in alloys, car batteries, pesticides, cigarettes, herbicides and seafood. A single meal consisting of fish can increase the arsenic level in urine up to a hundred times. Anemia is one of the biggest side effects of arsenic exposure. Pesticide and herbicide exposure increase arsenic tremendously. It was recently banned from conventional chicken feed.
Cadmium Toxicity: Targets the body's cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems. It is found in tap water, tobacco products, non-organic leafy greens, potatoes, grains, fruits and vegetables which are contaminated through fertilizers made of sewage sludge and zinc tailings. Non-organic organ meats (e.g., kidneys, livers, hearts) and shellfish have very high concentrations of cadmium. Cadmium is absorbed in bone, pancreas, adrenal, placenta, liver and kidneys.
Of course metals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, chromium and iron in small amounts exist and are necessary in our bodies, Chelation and detoxing heavy metals may also deplete these metals we need. Monitoring the levels of the metals needed is also an important part of detoxing correctly as the process is a delicate one.
The first form of attack to detoxing and chelating heavy metals should always start with diet changes and restrictions:
Foods and herbs to add that aid in removal:
• Cilantro (can bind and immobilize mercury and methylmercury from water and body)
• Garlic (contains many active sulfur compounds derived from cysteine with metal chelating power)
• Wild blueberries from Maine
• Lemon or lime water
• Chlorella/broken cell wall (binds fo cadmium, zinc, copper, and lead).
• Barley grass juice powder
• Atlantic dulse
• Probiotics (certain strains of probiotic bacteria may minimize toxin exposure by trapping & metabolizing heavy metals)
• Milk Thistle
• Dandelion root (cleanses the blood)
• Green tea
• Herbal teas
• Healthy fibers
• Sulfuric veggies
• Pectin rich fruits
• Raw fruit and veggie juices
• Medical Medium's Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie recipe
• Celery Juice on an empty stomach
• Clean water (natural spring water)
Foods and products to eliminate:
• Dairy (high in lead).
• Processed foods
• Non-organic animal products
• Calcium fortified food (high in lead).
• Seafood (shrimp, clams, mussels, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna or tilefish)
• Oils such as canola, veggie, soy and corn, sunflower, cottonseed (high In cadmium).
• High fructose corn syrup (high in mercury)
• Non organic foods
• Cleaning products such as Ajax and Comet.
• Bath and body products
• Fluoridated water and products (toothpaste etc.)
• Antiperspirants and beauty products (lipstick highest in lead) containing aluminum, lead and other toxic ingredients).
Detox and chelation is a delicate process that requires the body to focus mostly on the removal of heavy metals, focus on reduction of daily toxins is a crucial part in detox. Metals leave the body via stool, urine, breast milk and sweat. Avoid heavy metal detox or chelation during pregnancy and breast feeding. Intake of foods high in fat, sugar and carbs may hinder the systems detoxing process. Chelation also helps target inflammation which is found to be the root cause of most diseases.
Vitamins and minerals to help assist in removal of heavy metals:
• Liquid zinc
• Selenium (inhibits absorption of mercury and lead)
• Alpha Lipoic Acid (must be used correctly in order not to redistribute metals as it crosses blood brain barrier)
• Melatonin (promotes the synthesis of glutathione)
• Glutathione (antioxidant that is depleted by heavy metals. Works on a cellular level when detoxing).
• B complex
• Vitamin C (Free-radical scavenger protects against oxidative damage from heavy metals).
• Vitamin D
• Bentonite clay
• Fulvic acid
• Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP increases in urinary excretion of arsenic, Mercury, Cadmium, Lead).
• Activated Charcoal
• Non-GMO Vitamin E (ability to support detoxification and scavenge tissue-damaging free radicals)
Chelation therapy can also be done by intravenous (IV) liquid EDTA and oral EDTA, DMPS, DMSA. These must be administered under professional medical care and strict guidelines in a course of weeks or months. These therapies are always administered with other forms of vitamin therapy, electrolyte replacement and monitored replacement of lost nutrients and good metals. You should only receive this type of chelation therapy from a trained doctor/holistic MD/practitioner. Some of these therapies can redistribute heavy metals to different organs and parts of the brain, this delicate process should always be monitored to make sure removal is successful and safe.
Relaxation and stress control is also encouraged during Heavy Metal detoxing. Things such as meditation, journaling, positive affirmations, infrared sauna sweating encouragement, exercise, epsom salt baths, cryotherapy, and essential oils have all proven to positively assist in ridding the body of these metals. Stress reduction helps reduce inflammation, which is a link to heavy metal toxicity and disease.
Studies all over the world have shown a significant reduction in many diseases and symptoms linked to heavy metal toxicity.
• A study done in 2003 at The New England Journal reported that chelation therapy reduced health costs by 95% in the treated group in improved kidney function.
• A study completed in 2014 by TACT showed EDTA chelation therapy alone reduced cardiac and diabetic events.
• A 1955 report in Alternative Medicine review showed that patients with Ischemic Heart Disease had improvement in angina and cardiovascular symptoms while undergoing EDTA chelation therapy for lead poisoning.
• A study done in 2008 by Eliaz on MCP (Modified Citrus Pectin) showed a 74% average decrease in toxic heavy metals after treatment.
• A study done by Nwokocha in 2012 showed garlic treatment reduced the frequency of metal-related lesions in the livers of rats. Garlic may also increase the bioaccessibility of iron and zinc (both antagonists of cadmium and lead absorption).
• According to Dr Mercola, if thyroid test results are high T4 but a low T3, then mercury, cadmium, or arsenic levels should be checked to remedy.
As science and nature merge now more than ever, people are beginning to notice that there is a correlation between heavy metals and general health. Because our bodies are equipped with such a multifaceted immune system, different approaches and techniques are encouraged. There is no right or wrong way, everyone’s exposure and levels are different and may require multiple approaches. The key is finding what is the safest way to successfully help rid yourself of these harmful heavy metals and begin your journey to better health.
By Jena and Natasha M
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST