In the last post we discussed daily strategies for cleansing. Next we turn our attention to more targeted approaches to deep-clean stores of toxic metals.
When studying the concept of bioaccumulation, toxic metals and organic pollutants are the most commonly cited problems. Some of those toxic metals are categorized as heavy metals, such as mercury and lead, while others, such as aluminum, is not considered a heavy metal but can be toxic with a high enough exposure. Of the organic pollutants, herbicides and pesticides are among the most common, especially for those living in farming communities. Other forms of bioaccumulation include radiation from nuclear fallout or radon, which are less common but extremely dangerous when encountered. Of all these subcategories, toxic metals are the most insidious.
Diagnosing metal toxicity can be tricky; a comprehensive health and work history is the best starting place. For instance, those working in manufacturing are far more likely to have bioaccumulated toxic metals. Dental professionals and patients receiving silver dental amalgams are exposed to mercury. Plumbers and painters may come across lead in their work materials.
In all these cases, a toxic metal exposure can be diagnosed through a blood test which is the standard in conventional medicine. The only problem with serum tests is that they are typically only positive with an acute exposure. Due to their virulence, the body prioritizes removing metals from your bloodstream as fast as possible, often shunting them into non-vital areas of the body if the liver can’t keep up with the toxic load. After that time, serum analysis of one or more toxic metals may come back free and clear; meanwhile, unusual symptoms may arise that are very difficult to pin down to the toxic exposure if they develop incrementally. This is big obstacle to creating a database of adverse effects. If an individual gets one or more mercury amalgams in their teeth and then goes on to develop headaches months or years later, would the association ever be made?
If we can’t rely on serum tests for chronic metal toxicity, another method must be found to confirm suspicions that arise from a patient’s health history. Hair analysis is one such method, but if the body is not actively detoxifying but instead sequestering a toxicity, it won’t necessarily show up in the hair. The most comprehensive method of diagnosing a metal toxicity is a urine provocation test whereby a drug or supplemental chelating agent is taken to push the metal out of hiding. A sample of urine is taken prior to ingesting the chelating agent (to act as a control) and the two samples are compared. This gives a very accurate assessment of the type and extent to which a metal has reached toxic levels.
Once this accumulation has been properly diagnosed, it can take years to remove this build-up from the body with proper treatment. Any strategy that claims to quickly remove these toxic build ups in the body should be approached with extreme caution. Some of these therapies may work, but could create other unanticipated problems. One example of this is intravenous chelation which very strongly pulls toxic substances out of hiding. Although there are cases where it is appropriate, the drawback to pharmaceutical chelation is a general fatigue that accompanies nutrient loss. There have also been a handful of deaths attributed to chelation where strict protocols were not followed, so great care must be taken if you are researching a facility offering chelation for the removal of toxic metals.
On the other hand, there are natural and holistic forms of chelation that can safely detoxify the body over the course of months and years. There is excellent research into herbal forms of chelation that slowly detoxify the body of toxic metals. Some of the herbs include garlic, milk thistle, and cilantro. I use several of these herbs in a formula taken just prior to going to bed to gently remove toxic metals from the system while sleeping. This is the most sensible route for the vast majority of people. When it comes to the detoxification of toxic metals, slow and steady wins the race.
For a comprehensive list of sources of metal toxicity, please consult this resource by Pharmasan Labs.