Heavy Metals and Your Health
What are heavy metals and how do they affect your health?
Heavy metals are naturally occurring in the environment. They consist of such elements as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and antimony, to name a few. In your body, there are naturally occurring metalothionine enzymes whose function it is to remove these metals. However, if your body has a heavy burden of metals, or if you are genetically challenged, these enzymes may become sluggish and therefore not process the metals adequately. After your body accumulates this burden of heavy metals, they generally are deposited in your tissues and stay indeterminably. At this stage, you are susceptible to many health problems associated with chronic heavy metal toxicity.
In your body, there are at least five main pillars of ill-health: heavy metals, bacteria, molds, viruses, and parasites. After the heavy metal burden is removed, your body is free to combat the other offenders, especially viruses. Viruses are particularly troublesome with regard to their ability to initiate cancer.
Heavy metals promote free radical formation, which disrupts cell and cell membrane function. They take the place of necessary nutrient minerals, thus preventing these minerals from being utilized. This can lead to a plethora of health problems. For example, un-utilized calcium leads to osteoporosis, un-utilized iron leads to anemia, un-utilized chromium leads to hypoglycemia and diabetes, and un-utilized zinc leads to immune dysfunction, resulting in problems such as allergies.
The effects of heavy metal toxicity have been well documented in cardiovascular and neurological impairment, with such diseases as atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure in the cardiovascular realm, and Alzheimer’s, autism, ADD/ADHD, and memory loss in the neurological realm.
As well, the lack of nutrient mineral binding in the body alters the pH of the tissues making the body more acidic. The acidic environment causes immune dysfunction. This is at the crux of most chronic disease. Heavy metal toxicity has been shown to cause immune dysfunction to the point of cancer.
How do you get heavy metal toxicity and who needs to be treated?
Everyone is exposed to heavy metals to some degree. However, there are two types of heavy metal toxicity: chronic and acute. Acute toxicity is severe exposure, well over the standard safety limits. For example, eating lead paint would constitute acute exposure. Chronic toxicity, however, is prolonged low-level exposure. The source of chronic exposure is difficult to identity because there are many possibilities and more than one probably applies to any given person. Many older houses may have lead pipes or lead paint, and even removal of lead paint will introduce lead into the air. Lead, formerly in gasoline, is also trapped in the soil of high traffic areas. Mercury is found in fish, especially larger, fatty fish in warmer climates. Mercury, along with tin, is also found in amalgam fillings, which is a problem that affects many of us continuously and over a long time. Another significant source of mercury is the preservative thimerosol in immunizations that have been given from a very early age. The flu vaccine still contains thimerosol. Many fertilizers contain arsenic, while manganese can be found in the water supply, particularly around Bay St. Louis and Slidell. Cadmium as well as arsenic is found in cigarette smoke. The list of heavy metals and their sources goes on, but these are some of the prime examples. The bottom line is that everyone is exposed to heavy metals and therefore everyone should be tested and treated. Treatment plans are formulated around test results.
What is the process for testing?
There are two methods of testing: provoked and non-provoked. A non-provoked test, for example hair analysis, uses no binding agent to draw metals out of your tissues. A provoked test, however, uses a binding agent (chelator) to draw the metals out of your tissue. The most common types of provoked tests are urine or fecal tests.
What is the process for treatment?
The most important part of heavy metal treatment is to remove yourself from as much exposure to heavy metals as you can identify. If mercury is elevated, it is important to get all amalgam fillings replaced with composite fillings and reduce consumption of warm water fish. Also, if you have any other type of ongoing exposure, for example lead pipes or a bad water supply, it is important to do what needs to be done to stop your exposure.
We offer many products that help your body remove heavy metals:
- Intestinal Metal Detox (IMD), a patented large silica molecule with 200 attached sulfhydryl molecules, forms electrostatic bonds with metals primarily in the upper intestine. As it moves along the gastrointestinal tract binding metals, especially mercury and excepting iron, it allows proper signaling to the liver so the liver can continue its necessary detoxification pathways and subsequently dump metals into the GI tract for elimination.
- ChelaCo (a product from Standard Process), is comprised of three herbs: hawthorn, milk thistle, and garlic. It removes lead, iron, nickel, cadmium, and antimony well and mercury to some degree. It is particularly useful to help increase blood flow.
- ALAMax (a product from Xymogen), is a long lasting formulation of lipoic acid. Lipoic acid is a mild but effective chelating agent.
- Detoxamin, an EDTA suppository, is particularly useful in removing lead, iron, nickel, cadmium, and antimony and removing some mercury as well. Some research shows it to be useful in reducing elevated psa levels.