Health

Heavy Metal Poisoning & Detoxing Safely

Heavy metal poisoning is an issue that impacts everyone – including you. And you might not even know it. Want to know why heavy metal exposure is such a dangerous yet everyday occurrence? And what to do about it? Keep reading…

Heavy Metal Poisoning

Heavy metals can build up in the body to toxic levels. These metals include mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, nickel, uranium, and thallium. Even an overdose of essential minerals and metals that your body needs can be toxic [1].

How Heavy Metals Get In Your Body

There are many sources of heavy metals that can add up quickly. Among the most common are in utero from mom, food such as fish (especially farm raised), water, old buildings, silver tooth fillings, and environmental pollutants. Even saline solution from the 70s, 80s, and 90s contained mercury.

Amalgam Fillings

“Silver” tooth fillings are actually 50% mercury. This puts a heavy metal source directly in your mouth. And the mercury leaches out slowly over time. If you have silver and gold fillings, that actually causes an electric current to run between the two different metals. This causes the mercury to leach out much faster – up to 10x faster! This happens with any metal, not just gold [2].

Important note: You shouldn’t chelate (keep reading and I’ll cover this) until your amalgam fillings have been removed. Otherwise, the detoxing will start sucking the mercury out of your fillings and make you sicker [3].

Passing Heavy Metals Through Pregnancy

Let’s break this down. I really want to spotlight the whole “in utero” thing because this is scary to me. In fact, it’s exactly why I just bought an at-home test kit for heavy metals!

The number one source of lead is mom. Most lead is stored in bone. During pregnancy, the mother loses bone density and the lead leaches out.

One study found that the number of amalgam fillings is directly proportional to how much mercury is found in the brain, liver, and kidneys (and a whole slew of other organs). It vaporizes and goes straight to the brain [4]. The duress study found that the number of fillings a mother has is also proportional to how much mercury is found in a baby’s brain. Autopsy studies found 2-12x more mercury in body tissues of individuals with dental amalgam. Mercury in the brain has a half life of 17 years [5].

The toxins passed in utero can even cause problems later by activating certain genes.

Why This Matters

Hormone Disruption

Heavy metals directly affect hormone behavior. They affect the hypothalamus which affects the pituitary gland which affects the adrenals which affects the production of pregnenolone, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.

Here’s the deal. Each cell has hormone receptors. The hormone docks at the receptor and sends its message to the cell. Then you feel good and normal.

When toxins are present, they get around the cells and in the cell membranes. This blocks and blunts the hormone receptors and drives inflammation. The hormones can’t bind to the cell, and the message doesn’t get to your body.

Here’s an example with the thyroid.

Hormones need to be converted from inactive to active forms to bond to receptors. T4 is the inactive thyroid hormone. T3 is the active form. The conversion from T4 to T3 happens in the liver for the most part. The liver is the body’s toxin filter, so toxin build up directly affects the liver’s ability to convert hormones. When T4 isn’t converted to T3, the cell receptors aren’t getting hormone signals. The catch is blood work can still look normal.

Glyphosate

We’ve talked about glyphosate before. But it’s worth mentioning here that glyphosate allows heavy metals and toxins to penetrate deep into tissues. This means that metals get deeper into the brain in the presence of glyphosate. Some suggest links between heavy metal presence and autism in children [6].

Symptoms

Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning make up a long list: fatigue, autoimmune disorders, slow recovery from exercise or stress, skin problems, brain fog, mental disorders, poor memory, dementia, depression, anxiety, bipolar, sleep problems like insomnia, digestive issues, chronic pain, anemia, tremors, impaired motor skills, and heart problems [7].

Detoxing 101

There’s no way to avoid heavy metals. If you eat, breathe, or drink water, you will take in heavy metals. The goal is to detox such that the amount of heavy metals in your body doesn’t poison you.

Detoxing must be done safely. Detoxing too quickly can result in a massive release of toxins into your body all at once making you much sicker. Sometimes this is what is happening when you feel worse during a detox than before you started. The detoxing agent itself usually shouldn’t make you sick. Detoxing heavy metals requires grabbing them and flushing them out of your system.

Some detoxifying materials (like activated charcoal) do a great job of grabbing toxins in the body. However, without the correct combination of binding agents, the toxins can be reabsorbed by the colon. They aren’t flushed, so the heavy metals just get moved around in your body making you sicker. Leaky gut increases the chances that heavy metals like mercury get redistributed or reabsorbed by the body.

Common detoxes like herbal cleanses, colon cleanses, and juice fasts are all well and good when used in the right way. But these don’t truly detox you. To get well, you have to get to the cellular level.

How To Fix Your Cells

They key to fixing your cells is the membrane. This includes the outer cell membrane and the mitochondrial membrane. The mitochondria is the part of the cell that produces your energy.

Here’s a great metaphor from Dave Asprey. Fixing the membrane is like wiping the snow of your windshield. Then you can see and react to the environment with less energy [8]. And guess what? You get to use the extra energy that your cells to do what you want to do!

Good fats are critical to healing your cells. Hormone receptors ride on rafts made of fat called lipids. This raft needs cholesterol and saturated fats to be stable.

All cell functions that are critical to detox are either directly or indirectly affected by fat.

So how do cells detox? It’s a process called methylation. When you get high levels of heavy metals in your system, your cells don’t methylate well. Some people are naturally good methylators. Most of us have to re-establish good methylation when dealing with heavy metal poisoning.

Fat Fixes Membranes

Omega-6 fats are what your cell membranes need to repair. The problem is these fats are super delicate and can easily be damaged. Most of the omega-6s you get in your diet come from vegetable oils, canola oil, corn oils, etc. which are bad to begin with. Deep frying, searing, charing, barbecuing, and overcooking fat damages both omega-3s and 6s. Even roasting nuts can damage the fats.

Your body needs the right ratio of omega-6s to 3s. This ranges from 4:1 to 11:1 and depends on the part of the body. For example, your skin doesn’t have DHA receptors. If you overdose on omega-3 fish oil, it can cause skin problems. Not only fish oils but also nootropics (a type of supplement that’s a super brain boost) can damage cell membranes with overdose.

Keep in mind that it takes a long time to refresh fat in cell membranes – 2 years is just the half life! That means that once you cut out the crappy oils and start eating undamaged, healthy fats, it will take 2 years to see a shift in your cells.

Vegetable oils integrate into cell membranes. It takes about 4.5 months for membranes to not be damaged – better known as 132 days of dysfunction by Dr. Pompa. Some even suggest that eating vegetable oils is more damaging than smoking cigarettes.

Let me put it to you this way. The fried food at restaurants is worse than cigarettes. It doesn’t matter if it’s french fries or fried calamari or fancy foods like chicken parm. Don’t eat it.

Supplement Support

Chelation is a hard-core and aggressive metal binding method used to detox. The military uses it for uranium and cadmium poisoning. Many doctors will tell you that chelation is a hoax. They’re wrong. There is plenty of evidence that chelation works for heavy metal detoxing [9].

Some binders used for chelation detoxing include EDTA, DMPS, and DMSA. Dr. Pompa (mentioned and in the conversation with Dave Asprey linked above) gave some quick and dirty guidelines for using chelation in the podcast with Dave. Like I said before, if you don’t detox right, you can actually make yourself more sick. He says that you should take the binders under their half life in the body. For example, DMPS should be taken every 8 hours for at least 3 days and DMS every 4 hours.

Some binders are weaker than others. Chlorella and cilantro are a common weak binders that when used incorrectly can cause redistribution. Usually you will need more than one type of binder because some toxins are organic (contain carbon) and some are inorganic. These toxins attach to different binders. You also can use binders that don’t leave the gut. That way when the liver flushes them into your colon, they don’t get reabsorbed.

Some people (and I was counted among them at one time) think that you shouldn’t take supplements because you should get all of your nutrients from your food. To that I say,

If you’re only getting your nutrients from your food, you should also only be getting your toxins from mother nature. And that’s not the case. We get most of our toxins from the environment.

Dr. Pompa suggests a binder product called CytoDetox which is microparticles of zeolite clay. I haven’t tried it, but depending on how my heavy metal toxicity test comes back, I will definitely be looking into it as an option for detoxing. I’m also looking into sourcing of high quality DMSA. I’ll keep you updated.

For more on the danger of improper detoxing, read this article written by a certified doctor.

Other Factors

Studies have shown that the level of mercury excreted by someone detoxing was 5x higher after letting go of a childhood trauma. Psychology can directly impact detoxing success.

Women are also more sensitive than men when it comes to toxins and hormones. I’ll get into this more in a later post. It’s actually amazing that there are direct connections to a woman’s hormone cycle and exercise recovery, food, and toxicity. Spoiler alert: there’s a reason you crave carbs during PMS and it’s your body saying “I need more insulin!” And you should up your healthy carb intake!

Once you start paying attention, your intuition can tell you what your body wants and doesn’t want. Kids have this intuition naturally. You can actually learn what it feels like to be toxic and more quickly clean up your system once you know.

First Steps

Detoxing doesn’t help if you’re still pumping heavy metal toxins into your system. Make a list of the top 10 toxins in your life and cut them out of your life ASAP.

There are dentists certified by the IAOMT to remove silver amalgam fillings and provide healthy alternatives. You shouldn’t start detoxing until all of your fillings have been removed, but be prepared to do a detox relatively soon after you get your fillings taken out.

There’s a ton of information here, and I’m still in the process of digging for the best way to do a heavy metal detox. I’m waiting to get my results back about my heavy metal toxicity (which I suspect will be above an acceptable level) to take any action. Like I said, you’ll be the first to know when I have more information!

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Much love,

Kate

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