Heavy metals occur naturally in our environment, however, in modern times anthropogneic (man-made) pollution, has introduced high concentrations of heavy metals in our water, food and air supply causing toxic metal accumulation.
Read more about how heavy metals and plastics are biotransformed in the liver in Heavy Metal & Plastic Detox
Not all heavy metals are dangerous when taken in safe amounts. Iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc are healthful heavy metals. Excessive levels of these can be damaging however. Certain toxic heavy metals can even be beneficial in the right amount. Examples include vanadium and tungsten, vanadium may be used in conjunction to improve glucose control in Type II diabetes, tungsten is involved in oxidoreducatse enzymes which are used in electron transfer.
Other heavy metals such as mercury, aluminium and lead are "toxic metals". They are neurotoxins (kill brain cells) and carcinogenic (cause cancer) and have no beneficial effect and their accumulation over time contributes to serious illness and heavy metal poisoning. Heavy metal poisoning describes disorders caused by the existence of heavy metals in the body.
Toxic metals such as manganese, mercury, cadmium, copper, nickel, lead and arsenic damage the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, skin, bones and teeth. These are frankly, not "safe in small amounts", contrary to what government regulators would have us believe.
Diagnostic tests for heavy metal poisoning
Doctors diagnose, heavy metal poisoning by doing gas chromatography of a blood or tissue sample.
Alternative practitioners can determine exposure and tissue levels of toxic metals by testing hair and/or blood and/or urine. I personally prefer to not spend money on tests and assume that heavy metal toxicity exists if symptoms of heavy metal toxicity are present, in particular any disorder affecting the brain.
General symptoms of heavy metal toxicity
Chronic musculoskeletal pain, chronic malaise, brain fag, chronic infections such as Candida, gastrointestinal complaints, food allergies, dizziness, migraines and/or headaches, mood swings, depression, anxiety, nervous system disease – burning extremities, numbness, tingling, paralysis.
Specifically I apply heavy metal detoxification protocols in any chronic degenerative diseases including cancer, autoimmune diseases including, SLE, MS, autoimmune ecephalopathy, PANDAS (Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus) ect, neurodegenerative diseases including and Alzheimers and epilepsy ect and disorders of neural development, (brain cell) such as dyslexia and autism. ect.
Common examples of toxic metal poisoning
Lead is very common in the environment and easy to ingest. It is found in many compounds in industry and is used in car batteries. It is one of the most common employment related diseases. Prior to 1970, lead was commonly used in house paint and prior to 1989 used in lead pipes and solder.
Lead is toxic to the heart, blood, reproductive system, digestive tract, kidneys and nerves. Lead poisoning can present with abdominal pain, headache, anaemia, peripheral neuropathy and irritability. In severe cases, it can cause seizure, coma and death.
Because these tissues develop more quickly in children, lead poisoning is particularly severe in young patients. In children, lead impairs growth and brain development. It is a particular problem with children living in poverty because lead has a slightly sweet taste. Lead is readily found in drinking water. Diagnosis of lead poisoning is fairly easy as it shows up clearly in blood tests.
Cadmium does not occur naturally in the body and even very low doses are toxic. In addition cadmium it is not excreted in sweat, faeces or urine so accumulates. Solderers or electroplaters are prone to occupational cadmium poisoning. Cadmium can be found in the air and soil around industrial facilities. Cadmium is the main ingredient in rechargeable batteries and is used in coatings and plastics. Smokers have high cadmium levels as it is found in cigarettes.
Cadmium poisoning causes symptoms that look like influenza causing inflammation of the trachea and bronchial tubes, lungs, and pulmonary oedema. After the respiratory problems, the element damages the kidneys and liver. It then starts to affect bone density leading to soft bones and osteoporosis. It can lead to both gout and loss of the sense of smell.
Mercury is a metallic element that is liquid at room temperature and vaporises at a fairly low temperature. It also forms compounds with other elements rapidly. Although liquid mercury and solid mercury alloys (like dental amalgam) are not toxic and "safe in small amounts" and are readily passed through the digestive tract without harming human tissue, mercury vapors and mercury compounds are almost universally toxic to all life. I would say that mercury indeed is not safe in any amount and mercury amalgums may lead to chronic mercury poisoning.
As mercury is not excreted from the body once it enters the bloodstream, it accumulates in tissues. Mercury poisoning affects cognitive functions such as vision, hearing and speech, and can affect coordination. It's initial symptoms are peripheral neuropathy which manifests as burning, itching and oedema.
Animals at the top of large food chains in mercury laden environments can have large amounts of mercury in their symptoms. This is particularly true of large fish, which are the main source of mercury in the human diet.
Humans can also be exposed to mercury in many industries, such as mining and smelting. In the 19th century, mercury was often used to treat the felt in hats. Hat makers often suffered from mercury exposure which caused brain damage. The phrase "As mad as a hatter" and The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland are two examples of this industrial illness having an effect on language well into the 21st century.
Sources of Heavy Metal Pollution
- Heavy metal pollution can arise from many sources but most commonly arises from the purification of metals, e.g., the smelting of copper and the preparation of nuclear fuels.
- Soldering and Electroplating industry causing occupation exposure to chromium and cadmium.
- Mining and smelting industry causing occupational exposure to mercury.
- In Europe, emissions from waste incinerators emit toxic metals including arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, tin, and thallium,
- Vaccinations contain aluminium and mercury (flu vax still contains thimerisol).
- Tattoos - Heavy metals used for colours include mercury (red); lead (yellow, green, white); cadmium (red, orange, yellow); nickel (black); zinc (yellow, white); chromium (green); cobalt (blue); aluminium (green, violet); titanium (white); copper (blue, green); iron (brown, red, black); and barium (white).
- Mercury amalgams. Mercury in amalgam fillings, fish, seafood, cosmetics, pesticides, paint, plastics, pesticides, fungicides, fabric softeners, adhesives, floor waxes/polishes, laxatives, suppositories, hair dyes, batteries and of course broken mercury thermometers all end up in ground water.
- Living in a home built prior to 1978 that has lead-based paint or built prior to 1989 that has lead pipes and solder.
- Smoking and/or inhaling second-hand smoke. Cigarette smoke contains heavy metals including cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel and arsenic.
- Eating foods (such as contaminated fish especially shark) that contain high levels of heavy metals.
- Living near a landfill (Toxic metals precipitate into soils and muds, and heavy metals do not break down).
"Drinking Water" is the Biggest Source of Toxic Heavy Metals
All tap water is full of contaminants however including toxic metals. These contaminants arise as livestock waste, fertilisers and pesticides from agriculture, chemical run-off from industry, heavy metals from mining, and city waste contaminants our water as it makes its way through the catchment and distribution system.
Read also Drinking Water & Public Health Risk
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Buy a Carahealth Eco Gravity Water Filter
Yes but the chemicals in our "drinking water" are "safe in small amounts"
There are guidelines for upper safe limits of contaminants. Municipal water is monitored for only 70 different contaminants, even though 1000s exist. Statistically however, the human race is getting sicker, and quite frankly we need to stop believing that all these contaminants are "safe in small amounts". It is not rocket science to understand that it all adds up and bioaccumulation of toxic metals in our systems is a stark reality. And in fact, when it comes to accumulation of toxins in our system, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts as when the body's detoxification pathways become blocked with one metal; it cannot adequately process the others. Children and pregnant women are more susceptible to problems arising from toxins in our environment.
Toxic heavy metals in water
Lead contaminates drinking water when lead building materials or paint leach into rainwater tanks, or when house pipes contain lead solder (legal in Australia until 1989). House pipes end up in landfill. Monitoring for lead in the municipal distribution system will not detect contamination in the home. At the same time, a test of home water may miss the problem, because the majority of the lead is suspended in the first flow of water in the morning, so running your tap for a few minutes is important but does not conserve water!
Mercury and cadmium
Mercury and cadmium enter the groundwater primarily from fossil fuel emissions, industrial smelting and mining operations. Mercury in amalgam fillings, fish, seafood, cosmetics, pesticides, paint, plastics, pesticides, fungicides, fabric softeners, adhesives, floor waxes/polishes, laxatives, suppositories, hair dyes, batteries and of course broken mercury thermometers all end up in ground water.
Fluoride contains the heavy metals mercury, arsenic and lead
Fluorosilicic acid is the most corrosive chemical agent known to man. It is derived from toxic gases produced in the manufacture of phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilisers. The fluorosilicic acid is recovered from chimney pollution scrubbers as a substance known as scrubber liquor. It contains lead, mercury, arsenic, and high concentrations of radionucleides, hence it is radioactive.
Manganese is in drinking water
According to results from a 2010 study, higher levels of exposure to manganese in drinking water are associated with increased intellectual impairment and reduced intelligence quotients in school-age children.
How to prevent and treat toxic metal accumulation
Heavy Metals Detoxification in the Body
Heavy metals are detoxified by our liver, kidneys and bowel. The liver plays several roles in detoxification, it filters the blood to remove large toxins, synthesises and secretes bile full of cholesterol and other fat-soluble toxins, and enzymatically disassembles chemicals through a process referred to as Phase I and Phase II detoxification. Phase I either directly neutralises a toxin, or modifies the toxic chemical to form activated intermediates which are then neutralised by one of more of the several Phase II enzyme systems.
Whilst there are many nutrients involved in Phase I and Phase II detox, Glutathione is the major player. Glutathione deficiency impairs the body's ability to get rid of toxins. Low blood levels of glutathione are associated with, heavy metal toxicity, neurodegenerative and autoimmune disease including Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, CFS and autism, epilepsy, cancer, HIV, diabetes to name a few
Detoxification processes naturally generate large amounts of free radicals which our body combats by making our own antioxidant enzymes, glutathione-S-transferase (GST), glutathione peroxidases (GPOX) and superoxide dismutase (SOD). These endogenous antioxidants (ie made by our own body) are glutathione and selenium dependent. It is known that where there is high levels of toxic metals in the environment, there are low blood levels of GST, GPOX and SOD.
How do we naturally increase GST, GPOX and SOD?
Glutathione and selenium in the diet are precursors to these anti-oxidant enzymes. The cofactors to methylation include B12, Vitamin B6 and Folic also aid in the production of glutathione. Glutathione is protein found in foods.
Foods rich in glutathione
- Raw goat milk
You can also supply the building blocks of Glutathione
Glutathione is composed of 3 sulphur containing amino acids linked together
Eating foods high in sulphur containing amino acids boosts levels of glutathione.
Foods containing high levels of sulphur-containing amino acids include;
- Raw eggs
Foods high in selenium
The selenium content in foods depends on the concentration of selenium in the soil where the crops were grown.
The following foods are generally considered good sources of selenium:
- Brazil Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
- Fish (tuna, halibut, sardines, flounder, salmon)
- Shellfish (oysters, mussels, shrimp, clams, scallops)
- Meat (Beef, liver, lamb, pork)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey)
- Mushrooms (button, crimini, shiitake)
- Grains (wheat germ, barley, brown rice, oats)
Nutritional Supplements to Detoxify Heavy Metals
Heavy Metal Chelation with Alpha Lipoic Acid
Chelation therapy is the administration of chelating agents to remove heavy metals from the body. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is used in nutritional therapy as a chelating agent. Alpha Lipoic Acid, once thought to be a vitamin, is actually an antioxidant that is both water and fat soluble and can scavenge free radicals both intra- and extra-cellularly. It can regenerate antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and glutathione.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is able to bind metallic and other substances, such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, iron, lead, and copper, neutralise them, and transport them for excrement from the body.
Food sources of Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Dark green leafy vegetables (Spinach, Kale, broccoli, Chinese veg, Sea veg)
- Animal foods such as beef
- Organ meats
Minerals in the Diet and Heavy Metal Chelation
Minerals in the diet prevent heavy metals from accumulating in the body. Increased absorption of lead has been associated with a calcium-deficient diet and with low iron stores. Other minerals that are antagonistic towards heavy metals are magnesium, selenium and zinc
Basically high heavy metals means low minerals.
Eat foods rich in iron, such as red meat, fish, liver, dried beans, dried figs, eggs and green leafy vegetables. To enhance iron absorption, include a good source of vitamin C, such as citrus fruit, berries, melon, or tomatoes with meals.
Foods high in calcium such as cheese, yoghurt, and tahini and seaweeds like dilsk, carageen nori, hajiki, kombu etc
Calf's liver, mushrooms and spinach are very good sources of zinc. Good sources of zinc include sea vegetables, basil, thyme, spinach, pumpkin seeds, yeast, beef and lamb, asparagus, venison, miso, shrimp, maple syrup, broccoli, peas, yoghurt, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and mustard greens.
Legumes including pinto beans, adzuki, mung, black, chickpeas etc. Seeds including sesame, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables. Oats and other wholegrains, spelt, brown rice,
Herbal Medicine to Detoxify Heavy Metals
Carahealth Heavy Metal Detox
- ADD/ ADHD
- Memory loss
- Increased allergic reactions
- Mood swings
- Poor concentration
- Aggressive behaviour
- Sleep disabilities
- Speech disorders
- Heavy Metal Chelation
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Vascular occlusion
- Autoimmune diseases
- Thyroid disorders
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
This tincture contains pant metallothones whihc are heavy metal chelators that grab heavy metals and remove them from the body in combinations with mineral rich herbs that oppose and eliminate heavy metals, in addition to liver herbs as the liver and the bowel are responsible for the elimination of the heavy metals.
Lifestyle advice to prevent toxic heavy metal accumulation
Eat breakfast, regular meals and healthy snacks
Eating breakfast, regular meals, and healthy snacks prevents lead poisoning as absorption of heavy metals is increased after fasting.
Among many highly poisonous and indeed questionable ingredients and "safe in small amounts", specifically in relation to toxic metals, vaccinations contain aluminium and the flu vaccine still contains mercury.
"Safe in small amounts"?
If the heavy metals and the environmental onslaught of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) toxins in everyday products are safe in small amounts, why do 1 in 5 of our Irish children have asthma, 1 in 10 have food allergy and 1 in 100 have autism (in Utah 1 in 46 children have autism).
Increase soluble fibre to grab heavy metals from the body
Fibre "grabs" heavy metals and helps eliminate them from the body. I recommend taking the herbs for at least one month and at least once a year in combination with a therapeutic fast. Soluble fibre is in pectin rich fruits such as apples and pears, herbs such as slippery elm and psyllium husk, oats and oat bran, brown rice, legume and grains such as chickpeas, lentil, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, etc.
Regular therapeutic juice fasting
Helps eliminate stores of heavy metals in fatty cells in kidney liver brain and other. Basically, one day rice and veg, one day juice (using slow masticating living enzyme juicer), one day water (gravity fed water filter), one day juice, one day rice and veg. Voila!
Gravity fed eco water filters remove heavy metals and other contaminants
The most cost effective and indeed healthy way to filter tap water. Plastic bottles are an environmental nightmare and each one contains thousands of pieces of microplastic! Even well and river water still needs filtering as microplastic contamination is ubiquitous.
Interesting development - Phytoremediation- plants that remove heavy metals
Phytoremediation is a term used to describe plants or microganisms that are used to remove some heavy metals. Phytoremediation is an effective and affordable technological solution used to extract or remove toxic metals from contaminated soil and water. This technology is environmental friendly and cost effective.
Plants with exceptional metal-accumulating capacity are known as hyperaccumulator plants. Plants which exhibit hyper accumulation can be used to remove heavy metals from soils by concentrating them in their bio matter. Some treatment of mining tailings has occurred where the vegetation is then incinerated to recover the heavy metals.
A Quick Look at Homeopathic Medicine in Relation to Metals
From a homeopathic perspective metals in the environment may create what is known as a "metal layer". This is presenting symptoms may indicate a metal remedy but this mightn't necessarily be the person’s true constitutional remedy. Metal remedies may be indicated due to metal toxicity and will help detox the particular heavy metal from the body or from a homeopathic perspective rather than detox, this is called "drainage". Of course there are true constitutional metal remedies.
The metal remedies in homoeopathy including remedies such as aurum/gold, mercurious/mercury, plumbum/ lead, cuprum/copper arsenicum/arsenic (metaloid) etc are a constitutional group with a similar threads or themes. In general they are all syphilitic remedies. By syphilitic I am referring to a syphilitic miasm. A miasm is a certain predisposition to particular disease because our ancestors treated a disease suppressively, in the case of syphilitic miasm the disease was syphilis treated suppressively with the drug of the day, mercury.
The Syphilitic Miasm
The syphilitic miams presents itself through destruction and disorder. Symptoms include ulceration, fissures and deformities. The mental/emotional picture is one of ignorance, suicidal tendencies, depression, diminished memory. The body and mind destroy itself.
Syphilitic patients have a strong, pessimistic view on life, cannot modify what is wrong, gives-up, believing there is no point in trying to adjust. There may be sudden impulsive violence directed at himself or others and distorted rigid ideas. Particularly there is mental paralysis. They are mentally dull, stupid, stubborn, and homicidal.
Their presenting condition is slow, progressive, deep seated and pathological, leading to incurability. The illness affects the vital organs of body i.e. CNS, Heart, Kidney, etc. Constitutionally they are emaciated, looking much more older than their age and suffer from a weakness, almost going to paralysis.
Constitutional Picture of a Metal Remedy Gold Aurum Metallicum
The ''remedy picture'' for aurum (gold), for example, can be for those prone to severe depression. The type may be quite acquisitive and powerful and need to be best at whatever they do (going for gold), but also have a low opinion of themselves. Such patients might be trading in the stock market, and the type to jump out of the window were share prices to plummet sharply. Aside from this, aurum can also be used for a whole range of symptoms, including mental exhaustion, digestive problems and heart and vascular disorders.
The Constitutional Picture of a Metal Remedy - Quicksilver Mercurius Hydrargyrum
Mercurius solubilis means fluid mercury or quicksilver. There is a metal Mercury, a planet Mercury and a God Mercury, who of course all are interrelated and representaitve of the mercurious personality type.
The Metal Mercury
The strange thing about the metal is that it is liquid on room temperature. It forms drops who react on movement and temperature, dividing themselves into smaller drops and coming together again in bigger drops. Another characteristic is the ease by which the metal mercury merges with other metals and dissolves them, changes them, even gold can be transformed by it.
The Planet Mercury
The planet Mercury has the quickest rotation of all the planets in the solar system and it is the closest planet to the sun (the sun is related to the metal gold).
The God Mercury
The God Mercury is known as the messenger of the gods, since he travels quickly with his winged feet from one place to another. Mercury is astrologically associated with travel, communication, speaking and writing, connection, all kinds of flows, and therefore God of boths traders and thieves, alteration, flexibility, rational thinking and knowledge.
Mercuries can be characterised in three words
Mercury simply transmits whatever there is to transmit, he is the divine and playful child not hindered by any moral or emotional load. He simply brings you the message no matter what the content of that message is. Medical astrology states that Mercury rules all circulatory systems, the blood circulation, the breath and the transfers of the nervous system. Further Mercury rules the bodily flexibility, the lungs, the arms and hands and the senses as organs of communication.
The homoeopathic remedy Mercury suits people with a weak immune-system, together with instability and inefficiency of functions. That's why mercurious people absorb all incoming body messages without sorting; they simply react to anything. Most everything aggravates a mercurious. Just like a human thermometer they react on heat, cold, being outside, wet weather, change of weather, bed warmth, perspiration, exertion, and so on.
They are very unstable; for instance they want warmth, and next aggravate by that warmth. Also their emotions are unstable, laughing alternates with crying, etc.
Body functions work inefficiently. Perspiration for instance serves to cool down the body and therefore should ameliorate someone’s condition actually aggravates a mercury.
They are communicative when it comes to speaking about what they wish to talk about but can appear very closed (drops of mercury close themselves into round closed forms). They dislike to talk about meaningless things or to have superficial relationships. They prefer to stay apart or to dissolve into each other and there's nothing in between.
Because of their sensitivity they are restless and tensed; very sensitive to criticism and opposition, with possible fits of temper.
Key Note symptoms
- Slow in answering questions. Memory weakened, and loss of will-power. Weary of life. Mistrustful. Thinks he is losing his reason.
- A human "thermometer". Sensitive to heat and cold.
- Everything aggravates them.
- The lymphatic system is especially affected with all the membranes and glands, and internal organs, bones etc. Lesions produced by mercury very similar to those of syphilis.
- Parts are much swollen, with raw, sore feeling; the profuse,
- Breath, excretions and body smell foul.
- Great tendency to ulceration and pus formation, which is thin, greenish, putrid; streaked with thin blood. Ulcers and wounds that won't heal. Ulcerations of mouth and throat in particular.
- Easily sweating (oily perspiration) especially at night, but does not relieve.
- All Mercury symptoms are worse at night, from warmth of bed, from damp, cold, rainy weather, worse during perspiration.
- Complaints increase with the sweat and rest; all associated with a great deal of weariness, prostration, and trembling.
- Like bread and butter and cold drinks. Usually they dislike sweets.
- Love to travel
Mercury is a good remedy for children who learn slowly and lack concentration because they react on every impulse around them.
Famous Constitutional Mercurioses
Both brilliant messengers/poets/ extremely changeable but not in a chameleon way, instead setting the trends. Both were apparently shy in person. In private they were insecure and awkward and had a lot of nervous energy, however they became a different person onstage, confident and charismatic. Both had split personalities like the star sign Gemini ruled by Mercury. Quick to temper. Both were generous, Michael in particular a humanitarian.
Freddy Mercury was a Mercurious
He died of an immune deficiency disease
AIDs is destructive/syphilitic disease.
Immune disease allows for opportunistic infections
Primary central nervous system lymphoma also known as primary brain lymphoma
Classic syphilitic tendency for ulcerations seen in Karposis sarcoma
Michael Jackson was also a Mercurious
He suffered for the autoimmune disease called vitiligo. King of change.
Plastic surgery an drug addiction was very destructive/syphilitic
Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu.Cert IV TAE. MPH