Heavy Metal Detox
Each day our bodies are exposed to a large amount of toxins in our environment. These toxins include but aren’t limited to chemicals, exogenous hormones, plastics, pesticides, various food additives, and even heavy metals. While the human body does have mechanisms to combat a certain number of these toxins, repeated environmental exposure combined with a person’s ineffective removal of them has been found to have symptomatic relationships in certain disease conditions. Relationships between toxic chemicals and diseases are continuing to be studied and implicated in many underlying health conditions like: headaches, fatigue, body-wide pain, auto-immune conditions, mood disorders, and even cancer in some cases. Chronic symptoms that don’t resolve may persistent in patients and go undetected well before advanced stages of specific diseases are even realized. Chelation Therapy is a relatively new way of treating exposure to toxic chemicals. Chelation Therapy helps remove these toxic chemicals from the body safely. Below is a list of the more common heavy metals found present in the body and how we can be exposed to most of these on a daily basis.
Symptoms and Conditions associated with Mercury Toxicity
The most toxic form of mercury is methylmercury which is absorbed easily. It has been shown to be toxic to the nervous system, damaging brain cells. Mercury toxicity can cause psychological symptoms such as: irritability, excitability, temper outbursts, quarreling, fearfulness/anxiety, restlessness, depression and insomnia along with chronic fatigue and poor memory. Mercury chronically activates the immune system which can lead to autoimmune conditions. This heavy metal has been shown to have adverse neurodevelopmental effects on children as well.
Lead has physiological and pathological effects on body tissues that may be manifested from relatively low lead levels up to acutely toxic levels. In children, developmental disorders and behavior problems may occur at relatively low levels: loss of IQ, hearing loss, poor growth. In order of occurrence with increasing lead concentration, the following can occur: impaired vitamin D metabolism, headache, metallic taste, loss of appetite, constipation, colic, anemia, tremors, and neuropathy (damage to nerves with symptoms of tingling, numbness, muscle weakness). Lead can be destructive towards the kidneys and nerves and accumulate in the bones.
Cadmium can accumulate in the kidneys and is associated with kidney damage and can target the bones lowering bone density causing osteoporosis. Chronic manifestations associated with this degree of cadmium excess include: high blood pressure, weight loss, anemia, uterine fibroids, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis (if inhalation was a route of contamination), atherosclerosis, poor concentration and peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves with symptoms of tingling, numbness, muscle weakness). Some medical authorities consider cadmium to be a carcinogen for lung cancer and also may cause hypothyroidism.
Aluminum is considered toxic to the brain. Poor memory and concentration, chronic fatigue and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are symptoms of Aluminum toxicity. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer have also been linked to this heavy metal.
Other Heavy Metals
Arsenic, Antimony, Barium, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cesium, Gadolinium, Nickel, Palladium, Platinum, Tellurium, Thallium, Thorium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, and Uranium may also be playing a role in your overall health.
If you are interested in finding out how you can test to see if heavy metals are contributing to your underlying health issues please talk to your Environmentally trained Naturopathic Doctor.
Sources of exposure for common heavy metals
Dental amalgams (silver fillings) can leach into the body by way of chewing, brushing or grind our teeth causing the mercury to be vaporized and inhaled or swallowed.
Fish particularly larger fish like: shark, swordfish, tuna steaks, canned tuna, sea bass, tilefish, halibut, pike and king mackerel.
Vaccines containing thimerosal, a mercury-containing additive, have been used as a preservative in most vaccines.
Pregnant women who have been exposed to mercury can pass the heavy metal to their developing baby in the womb. Methylmercury is 5 to 10 times more toxic to developing embryos than to adults.
Household exposures can be from lead’s presence in mini blinds, metal wicked candles and dishes especially with colored glaze.
Cosmetics like red lipstick can contain significant levels of lead along with some hair dyes.
Food and supplements like muscle milk protein powder, tap water or unfiltered water due to lead pipes in older homes, children’s lunch boxes and various chinese and ayurvedic herbal formulas.
Cigarette smoking significantly increases the amount of cadmium in the body. Tobacco plants are one of the groups of crops that are efficient at absorbing cadmium from the soil, so exposure can be from first or second hand smoke.
Food such as leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, and shrimp absorb cadmium easily. Cadmium can also be present in non-filtered water based on its contamination in water ways.
Artists using paint pigments commonly containing cadmium
Cosmetics like mascara, eyeliner and concealers
Foods are a common source of aluminum. Sodium aluminum phosphate is a common raising agent in baked goods, salt and processed cheese. It can leach into food and beverages when cooked or stored in aluminum cookware, foil, cans, trays and wrappers.
Personal Care Products specifically deodorants and antiperspirants, contain aluminum -chloride or aluminum- zirconium compounds.
Medications both over the counter and prescriptions can contain aluminum as an active ingredient or an additive. Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, Ascriptin our examples of aluminum containing medications.