What Is Heavy Metal Toxicity?
Heavy metals derive their name from their atomic weight, five times heavier than water. Some heavy metals such as iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum or manganese are a normal and necessary component of human chemistry. In minute amounts they are referred to as trace elements, in large amounts they can be toxic. Other heavy metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and aluminum are found in the environment and are not part of the human constitution. After repeated exposure their accumulation in the body can cause serious damage to the nervous system, liver, kidneys and lungs. The term heavy metals generally refers to the toxic metals found in the environment resulting from pollution
Why are heavy metals detrimental to the body?
- Although small amounts of heavy metals are excreted in the urine, feces, sweating and exhalation, the body is not equipped to excrete the large amounts of heavy metals that we encounter daily. The excess heavy metals get stored in the body’s soft tissueswhere they create metabolic disturbances. Heavy metals can be found in our bones, kidneys, brain and fat cells.
- Heavy metals exert their toxic effect by competing or displacing our good metals from their binding sites, making us nutrient deficient. For instance,mercury displaces iron and copper in the mitochondria of the cell while lead displaces magnesium and cadmium depleting zinc. Excess aluminum gets stored in the brain and has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Heavy metals can be incorporated into our tissues. For instance, radium can be incorporated to bones replacing calcium.
- Heavy metals interfere with enzymes preventing the normal outcome of chemical reactions. For instance, mercury displaces an enzyme in the synthesis of glutathione, thus depleting the body of glutathione. Glutathione is the major anti-oxidant produced by the cells of the body to neutralize free radicals. A lower level of glutathione will impair the detoxifying capacity of the body.
Consequences of heavy metal poisoning on mental and physical health
Heavy metals enter the body by inhalation, ingestion and subdermal absorption and make they way to the blood stream. Heavy metal poisoning can be acute or chronic. In large amounts, or with repeated exposure, the body’s capacity for elimination is overwhelmed and heavy metals get stored in the soft tissues: bones, fat cells, and brain. Acute poisoning can be fatal if the detoxifying capacity of the kidneys is overwhelmed.
- Chronic Heavy metal poisoning is associated with a multitude of mental symptoms such as confusion, memory problems, personality changes, depression, bipolar disorder and headaches.
- Heavy metal poisoning causes many serious degenerative diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, neurologic deficits, obesity, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, endocrine disruptions, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disorders such as thyroiditis and cancer
- Heavy metal toxicity is associated with autism
What is the source of exposure to heavy metals?
Heavy metals are ubiquitous and associated with environmental pollution and toxicity. They are found in the air, water and food.
The most common source of lead exposure comes from the pipes in our homes but lead is also found in unexpected industrial items such as jewelry, lipstick, purses and vinyl blinds or ceramic dishes and Ayurvedic medicine products.
- The two most common forms of mercury exposure are elemental mercury and methyl mercury. Elemental mercury is found in thermometers and dental amalgams and organic or methyl mercury is found in fish. Candida Albicans forms a complex with mercury and candida overgrowth is associated with mercury toxicity.
- Cadmium is mostly found in cigarette smoke.
- Aluminum toxicity is mostly due to the use of aluminum pots for cooking.
- Arsenic is used to preserve lumbers and is a component of pesticides
Symptoms of chronic heavy metal toxicity are diffuse and involve multiple organ systems making it difficult to diagnose. Exposure may occur at home or in the workplace. (this sentence feels unrelated to the paragraph title and the previous sentence). The first step consists of taking a history and collecting nutritional and lifestyle data gathering information about:
- Possible source of exposure: amounts and types of fish consumed,
- Dental history: silver mercury amalgam
- Lifestyle: use of aluminum pots, cigarette smoking, type of house, profession and presence of industrial contaminants close the home or workplace.
The second step consists of testing for heavy metals. A blood test is performed for acute exposure and a urine pre and post provocative challenge test with a chelating agent is performed for chronic exposure. We use three different chelating agents: DMSA, DMPS and EDTA. These compounds are administered orally or intravenously and have specific effects on various metals.
- DMSA is an oral agent and successfully chelates Hg and Pb.
- DMPS is administered orally or intravenously and is better at chelating Hg than Pb
- EDTA is administered intravenously. It is better for Cd, Pb and will mobilize Al, but is poor at chelating Hg.
Elimination of heavy metals is hard on the kidneys and a creatinine clearance test is performed prior to the administration to the challenge test.
Toxic Element Chart
The following chart has been composed by Doctors Data Lab
|Aluminum(Al)||Beverage cans; pots and pans; foil; metal alloys; water treatment;
furnace linings; antacids; antiperspirant; astringents; buffered
aspirin; food additives; injectables; dialysis; cosmetics; colloidal
|Pulmonary Disease; Osteomalacia; Neurotoxicity; Suspected cause of
|Antimony(Sb)||Smelters; coal-fired plants; refuse
incinerators; tobacco smoke;
Automobile batteries; solder; sheet metal; pipes; bearings; castings;
ammunition; cable sheathing;
pewter; semiconductors; aluminum;
gallium; infrared detectors;
thermoelectric devices; Trioxide:
flame retardants; plastics; textiles;
rubber, adhesives; paper;
pigments; paint; ceramics;
Dizziness; HA; Insomnia;
Anosmia; HTN; Spontaneous Abortion; Menstrual Disturbances;
|1. DMPS/ DMSA
|Arsenic(As)||Lime manufacturing; automobile
batteries; asphalt; asphalt felts and
coatings; lead and copper refining
(smelters); wood preservative;
pesticides(primarily cotton) ;
insecticides; herbicides; algicides;
growth stimulants for plants and
animals; lead oxide; glass; Keratosis;
electronics; semiconductors; PVC’s;
electroplating; well water; seafood
and shellfish; smog; rodenticides;
Lyphocytopenia; Anemia; Birth Defects; Anxiety; Carcinogenic
(skin, lung…); Cardiac
Depression; Garlic Breath; HA;
Hyperpigmentation of Skin;
Keratosis; Neuralgia/ Neuropathy; PVC’s; Spontanous Abortion;
|Bromine(Br)||Kelp/seaweed, nuts, citrus flavored
soft drinks; water purification;
pesticides; fumigants; photographic
film; dyes; leaded fuel additive;
brominated flame retardants:
Carpet, upholstery, electronics,
|GI Inflammation; Asthma; Thyroid
Dysfunction; Goiter; HA; Nephritis;
|Cadmium(Cd)||Asphalt; asphalt felts and coatings;
lime manufacturing; batteries; metal
plating; pigments; plastics; paints;
metal soldering and welding; ;
metallurgy; photography; printing;
textiles; food-shellfish, liver and
kidney meat; cigarette smoke;
fertilizer; drinking water; fungicides;
Nephrotoxicity; Anemia; Behavioral Changes; Cancer (lung, prostate…); Emphysema; HA
HTN; Osteomalacia; Autoimmune Disorders; Immunosuppression;
Neurotoxicity; Birth Defects;
(may dissociate at kidney if urine not alkalized)
|Flourine(F)||Toothpaste; fluoridated drinking water; infant formula; processed
cereals; non-organic grape juices;wine; beer; soda; tea (higher in
decaf); glass etching;refrigerants; cockroach insecticide
fluoridated salt; non-stick coatingsRx: Anesthetics: (Enflurane,
Isoflurane & Sevoflurane);fluconazole; fluoroquinolone
antibiotics, and linezolid antibiotics,Prozac/fluoxetine, efavirenz,
fluorouracil, flurbiprofen,fenfluramine, cerivastatin, paxil,
fluvoxamine, astemizole (allergy),cisapride, fluvastatin, fluocinonide
& fluocinolone (topical corticosteroids); fluticasone &
flunisolide; fluocinolone acetonide(intravitreal implant); fludarabine
(antiviral); fludrocortisone;antimalarial drugs
Osteomalacia; Arrhythmias; HA; Neuropathy; Vertigo; Anemia; Freon/ Respiratory Irritant; Male Reproductive Toxin
|Lead(Pb)||Lead crystal; pesticides; batteries;
sheet lead; solder; pipes; roofing
materials; caulking; buckles;
petroleum refining; radiation
protection; pigments; paints;
plastics; ceramics; electrical
devices; ballast; tv glass; brass;
bronze; gasoline; ammunition;
mining; electrical wire insulation;
drinking water; fertilizer; candle
|GI Symptoms; Colic; Anemia; Neurotoxicity; Neuropathy; Hepatotoxicity, P-450 Enzyme Inh; ECG Abnormalities; Infertility;
Gingival Lead Lines; Ototoxicity; Growth Retardation; Developmental Delay; Psychomotor impairment; Fatigue;
Anxiety; HA; Immunotoxicity; Cancer
|1. EDTA/ DMSA
|Mercury (Hg)||Thermometers; batteries; fish;
Pigments; bactericides; antiseptic
creams; skin lightening creams;
fireworks; dental amalgams;
pesticides; asphalt; agricultural
chemical; photography; taxidermy;
electrical equipment; electroplating;
felt making; textiles; interior paint
before 1990; hemorrhoidal
preparations; hospital wastes;
waste incineration; paper industry;
|Fatigue; Neurotoxicity; Emotional Disturbances; Neuropathy; Altered Libido; Birth Defects; Spontaneous Abortion; Excessive Salivation; Tremors; Irritability; Menstrual Disorders; Autoimmune Disease; Nephritis||1. DMPS/DMSA|
|Nickel(Ni)||Jewelry; coins; stainless-steel;
ceramics; pigments; cast iron;
batteries; electroplating; metal
alloys; electrical circuits; dyes;
pesticides; lime manufacturing,
asphalt; tobacco smoke; volcanoes;
power plants; waste incinerators;
diesel exhaust; cocoa;
|Dermatitis; Respiratory Irritation Cancer; Emphysema; Colic;
Excessive Salivation; Fatigue; HA; Muscle Pain; Vertigo; Hepato/ Nephrotoxicity; Male Infertility
|Tin(Sn)||Antihelminthic drugs, bactericides;
brass; bronze; coated wire; colored glass; dental materials; dyes;
electronics; fabrics; fencing;
fingernail polish; flooring; food
canning; fungicide; glass; leather;
mining; nuclear reactors; paints;
paper; perfumes; pesticides;
pewter; pharmaceuticals; pipes;
polyurethane foams; rodent
repellants; ropes; silicone;
silverware; soaps; soft plastics;
soldering material; wood
preservative; food additives;
toothpaste (past); plastics; paints;
flame retardants; cosmetics;
bleaching agents; rodenticides
|Topical/Respiratory/GI Irritant; Pneumoconiosis; Neurotoxicity; Immunosuppression; Photophobia; HA; Impaired
Memory; Hepato/ Nephrotoxicity; Behavioral Changes; Vertigo; Anemia; Birth Defects
|1. DMPS/ DMSA
|Tungsten(W)||Light bulbs; carbide tools; ammunition; fishing sinkers; golf
clubs; ceramic pigments; textile
Pneumoconiosis; Lung Cancer; Antagonism of Molybdenum
|1. DMPS/ DMSA|
Now is the Time to Mind Your Body & Mend Your Mind
HAWAII DETOXIFICATION & LIFESTYLE CHANGE SPECIALISTS
Holistic Natural Lifestyle Change Program for medical conditions. The Fibromyalgia Recovery program is a Lifestyle Change program. The Lifestyle Change program draws from Naturopathic and Detoxification medicine, Behavioral and Psychodynamic Therapy approaches, Stress Reduction Techniques, Meditation, Yoga and Spiritual Practices. We take only a small amount of clients, and our programs are individually designed. Our use of the ocean, the recreational activities & natural approaches facilitate recovery.
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