Heavy Metal Toxicity and Detoxification

pills and a thermometer

Heavy metals (from numerous chemicals and non-essential elements) are, unfortunately, present in the air, water and food supply. Almost everyone in America has been or is presently heavy metal toxic. The air is toxic with 80,000 metric tons of carcinogens released in the air annually in North America, the water is polluted with over 2,100 chemicals, and over 80 percent of our food is genetically modified. The sources of toxicity are everywhere and unless you know what to avoid, you probably subject yourself to dangerously high levels of heavy metals almost daily.

Many heavy metals are naturally-occurring elements that are present throughout the environment and in animals and plants. In excess, these metals can lead to potentially harmful effects. There is an increasing risk that heavy metals can accumulate in the human body, festering for years, and possibly causing severe health problems. Cases of acute cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury poisoning are rare, however, when they do occur an effective, non-toxic treatment is critical.

The effects of environmental toxins differ by substance, but the main concerns are effects on the immune system, on reproduction, the increased incidence of disease, most notably, cancer. The intensity and severity of the effects of most toxins depends on many factors — the quantity of the toxin someone has been exposed to, how long the exposure lasts, exposure frequency, and the stage of life at which it occurs.

What are Sources of Heavy Metals and Toxins? 

Environmental toxins include many different substances. Some of these are designed to be toxic such as herbicides and pesticides, while others are by-products from industry including dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

a school of fish

Environmental toxins make their way into air, water and soil and can be transported long distances. They are incorporated into the fat of animals in the food chain. Today, environmental toxins are mostly found in animal fats including fish, oils, chicken, and organ meats. Small amounts of toxins found in cow’s milk, fresh and salt-water fish, poultry, beef, pork, and other meats expose nearly everyone who consumes these foods (unless raised organically.)

Many people have silver fillings and amalgams with mercury. People with amalgam fillings have higher concentrations of mercury in their blood, urine, kidneys and brain than those without amalgams.

Since the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity are consistent with those of other illnesses, physicians often misdiagnose the real condition for something that allows for an easy answer. Very few doctors even think of checking the blood for heavy metals.

Organs of Elimination Can be Stimulated to Enhance Elimination of Toxins 

Often the reason why one person experiences a reaction while another can feel tired, malaise, and sick is because some people have sluggish elimination organs — the liver, kidneys, lungs, bowel, and skin. Other methods (other than supplementation) that can be used to enhance the elimination of toxins from these organs include castor oil packs, ionic foot detoxification, steam baths, saunas, massage, enemas, and deep breathing.

ACCEPTABLE LEVELS FOR HEAVY METALS:

Lead (Pb): Less than 0.1 mg/kg

Cadmium (Cd): Less than 0.1 mg/kg

Mercury (Hg): Less than 0.1 mg/kg

Arsenic (As): Less than 5 mg/kg

DIET

Although there is no particular “diet” when looking at a successful detoxification of the body, at the top of the list is to drink at least 64 ounces of bottled or filtered water daily.  It is also advisable to avoid refined flour, sugar, saturated fats, artificial sweeteners, saturated fats and highly processed foods. It is also advisable to avoid beef, pork, cold cut meats, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, shellfish, soy products, peanuts, margarine and shortening.  Limit consumption of alcohol and caffeine.

Nutritionists also advocate a raw food diet for at least half your diet.  Eating as much organic food as possible is helpful.

a variety of raw vegetables

MERCURY

Mercury is considered the most toxic substance in our environment. One of the first toxins a child is exposed to is mercury. Mercury affects the kidneys, the nervous system, and the immune system. Most people can be exposed to mercury primarily in two forms: mercury vapor and methyl mercury compounds. The mercurous vapor from dental amalgams and the methylmercury from fish have all been reported by the press. The binding and dissociation of mercury-thiol complexes are believed to control the movement of mercury and its toxic effects in the body. Mercury vapor makes its way into fresh and salt water by falling precipitation. Methylmercury compounds are created by bacterial conversion of inorganic mercury in soil and water, which subsequently concentrates in seafood and fish.

Mercury is known to affect the brain and has been associated with the causation or exacerbation of degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.  There is also ample evidence that mercury is associated with autism, the degenerative diseases of the brain mentioned above, neurodevelopmental diseases, vascular diseases, nephrotoxicity, and cancer.

Women who eat fish more than twice a week have blood levels of mercury three times higher than women who eat no fish. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which overseas sports fishing, has recommended severe restrictions on fish caught in fresh waters for years. Mercury, like lead, is a terrible saboteur of fetal brain growth. The placenta, which works well to block pathogens from entering the womb, does a poor job of keeping out methyl mercury. Inside the fetal blood mercury is carried to the fetal brain, where it interferes with brain cell migration. 

The EPA and the FDA released in 2006 a new joint consumer advisory on mercury in fish. Previous warnings have cautioned pregnant women, nursing mothers, and small children to avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna, tuna steaks and tilefish.  It has recently specified which fish are safe to eat, which includes canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish, which all have low mercury levels.

“Silver” amalgam dental fillings are the main source of inorganic mercury exposure. The typical amalgam filling contains approximately 50 percent liquid metallic mercury, 35 percent silver, 9 percent tin, and 6 percent copper. Mercury release is found to be greater in corroded amalgams compared to new, polished fillings. Mercury vapor enters the bloodstream after being inhaled into the lungs. In humans, 90 percent of mercury elimination is via the feces, and only 10 percent is excreted in the urine.

Main Sources

ELEMENTAL MERCURY (Mercury vapor) – thermometers, dental amalgams, fossil fuels (25%), thermostats, environmental pollution and mercury added to latex paints.

Symptoms: excitability, irritability, tremors, gingivitis, and fine tumors

INORGANIC MERCURY (Mercury salts) – cosmetic powders, laxatives, teething powders, diuretics, and antiseptics.

Symptoms: renal failure, proteinurea, GI symptoms, hematuria.

ORGANIC MERCURY (considered the most toxic form of exposure) – in fish, poultry that has been fed fishmeal, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, and thimerosal-containing vaccines (currently mixed in DTaP, HIB, and hepatitis B vaccines).

Symptoms: nervous conditions, abnormal neuron function, memory loss, dementia and increased cardiovascular problems.

Effects in Humans

Elemental mercury and its metabolites have a toxic effect on denaturing biological proteins, inhibiting enzymes, and interrupting membrane transport and the uptake and release of neurotransmitters.

Chronic mercury exposure most commonly manifests as a triad of increased excitability and irritability, tremors, and gingivitis. Less commonly, chronic exposure causes central and peripheral nervous system damage, manifesting as fine tremors of the facial muscles and the extremities, insomnia, restlessness, depression and irritability. Rarely, it causes a “pinkish” rash, pain and itching on the extremities.

Mercury enters the blood stream and attaches to oxygen-carrying ports on blood hemoglobin causing fatigue, insomnia, rash, and fever. Mercury inhibits glucose transport in cells, thus inducing lower energy, thirst, coppery taste, salivation, swollen and blue gums, loose teeth, bad breath, and redness in the face. Mercury damages the immune and the nervous systems by contact with white blood cells. Kidney damage is most acute.

TESTS

  1. HAIR ANALYSIS – is an inexpensive and valuable tool for evaluating prior mercury exposure. 
  2. URINE TEST – an effective way to evaluate mercury excreted in the urine after a 24-hour challenge dose of DMSA. 
  3. REMOVAL FROM AMALGAMS – may reverse emotional problems, fatigue, migraines, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, tremors, and autoimmune diseases, lupus, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, kidney disease, and colitis. 

SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOL FOR MERCURY

  1. DIMERCAPTOSUCCINIC ACID (DMSA) – is a non-toxic, water-soluble treatment for most heavy metal toxicity. DMSA is an effective chelator of metals stored in the gut, and may decrease the absorption and whole body retention of the metal. Dosage: a therapeutic dosage of DMSA for mercury toxicity is not well defined. Doses as high as 30 mg/kg per day have been used, with no serious ill effects. Another protocol suggests 500 mg per day on an empty stomach, every other day for a minimum of 5 weeks. (Be aware that sulfhydryl compounds in DMSA will make urine smells very sulfurous). NOTE: DMPS may be the most effective chelator removing 86% of mercury from the body in 3 hours. See a qualified health practitioner before using this agent. 
  2. GLUTATHIONE – a decrease in hepatic glutathione secondary to excretion of mercury can decrease hepatic cell viability. Glutathione binds specifically with methylmercury and forms a complex that prevents mercury from binding to cellular proteins causing damage to both tissues and enzymes. As an antioxidant, glutathione appears to protect against renal damage resulting from inorganic mercury toxicity and provides a defense against hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals and lipid peroxides produced by mercury. 50% as effective as DMSA. 
  3. ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID – an ideal heavy metal chelator increasing the excretion of mercury without its redistribution to other organs or tissues. ALA binds with manganese, zinc, cadmium, lead, cobalt, nickel and iron. Dosage: 300-600 mg 1-3 times a day. Very safe, some reported nausea and vomiting at high doses. Doses of 150 mg for eight weeks significantly increased glutathione levels in the blood and liver. ALA is 35% as effective as DMSA. 
  4. SELENIUM – mercury is bound by selenium in the body, which can actually counteract mercuric chloride and methylmercury toxicity. This appears to result in a reduced amount of available selenium, which compounds the oxidation burden on the body. There is clearly an increased need for selenium, glutathione, and vitamin E in methylmercury toxicity. Dosage: 200-400 mcg daily, as directed by a practitioner.
  5. WHEY PROTEIN – a necessary adjunctive therapy that contains cysteine and cysteine residues which can of benefit when using DMSA. Whey also contains amino acids, which effectively keep bound metals from re-depositing in the brain. Dosage:1-2 servings daily.
  6. N-ACETYL CYSTEINE – a helpful adjunctive supplement to protect the liver and add antioxidant protection. Dosage: 500 mg 3 times a day. 
  7. VITAMIN C and VITAMIN E – mercury will deplete both of these vitamins necessary to the body for their antioxidant activity to destroy free radicals. Mercury elimination is aided by vitamin C is higher doses. Dosage: 1,000-5,000 mg daily, or to bowel tolerance. 
  8. CHLORELLA – is a whole super food that has amazing detoxification properties, particularly with mercury.  Dosage: 6-7 capsules per day or as directed.
  9. EDTA CHELATION – about 20% as effective as DMSA or DMPS. 
  10. GLUCOSINOLATES – found in natural food sources (commonly in cruciferous vegetables) are converted to endogenous enzymes that display a natural defense associated with eliminating toxins from the body. 

LEAD

Lead exposure is still a major public health product in the United States even though lead has been taken out of paint and gasoline for decades. Lead pipes are still in many American homes that pre-date 1940. 

The central nervous system can be severely affected by lead toxicity, but lead also accumulates in the bones. Children and pregnant women are especially susceptible to its devastating effects on mental development, behavioral problems, headaches, metallic taste, eye spots and poor memory and slow intelligent development. Lead competes in the body with calcium, causing numerous malfunctions in calcium-facilitated cellular metabolism and calcium uptake. Poor nutrition, including deficiencies of iron and calcium, are known to exacerbate the manifestations of lead exposure, including its central nervous effects: renal dysfunction, hypertension, hyperuricemia, gout, cancer, cardiovascular events, peripheral artery disease and chronic renal failure.  Blood lead level is positively associated with both systolic and diastolic hypertension.

Lead stored in the bones may have a half-life of 25 years, although lead can be mobilized into the blood, and subsequently to other tissues.

Lead is mainly found in paint, industrial waste water, pesticides, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, industrial incinerators, mine and lead smelters, battery works, pottery works, lead water pipes, hair dyes, and colored paint manufacturing.

SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOL FOR LEAD

  1. DIMERCAPTOSUCCINIC ACID (DMSA) – is a non-toxic, water-soluble treatment for most heavy metal toxicity. DMSA is an effective chelator of metals stored in the gut, and may decrease the absorption and whole body retention of the metal. DMSA has been used since the 1950s as an antidote for lead poisoning. DMSA is more effective when given in combination with ALA, melatonin, vitamin E, and NAC. Dosage: 10 mg/kg for 5 days in adult males. This dose will lower blood lead levels 36 percent. An aggressive dose of 30 mg/kg can lower blood lead by 72 percent. May be used in children under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. DMSA will excrete zinc from the system.
  2. GLUTATHIONE – hepatic glutathione attaches to lead and enhances its excretion in feces. High lead will decrease erythrocyte glutathione levels by 99 percent, leaving poor liver function and a reduced amount of glutathione available to conjugate other toxic substances. Dosage: As directed. 
  3. METHIONINE and N-ACETYL CYSTEINE (Sulfhydryl chelates) – two sulfurous amino acids that removes lead from the body. In studies with rats, methionine given with thiamine and zinc aided in urinary excretion of lead. NAC was found to normalize reduced glutathione ratios, thereby reducing lead toxicity. Use NAC in combination with DMSA. Dosage: See a qualified practitioner. 
  4. VITAMIN C – this potent antioxidant may assist in the elimination of lead from the body. Dosage: 1,000-5,000 mg daily to bowel tolerance. 
  5. ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID – is an antioxidant that functions to replenish glutathione and vitamins C and E, and chelate heavy metals. Give with additional ZINC and SELENIUM. Dosage: As directed.
  6. POTASSIUM IODIDE – in doses of 5-10 grains given 3-4 times a day can rid the body of lead. 
  7. EDTA CHELATION – see a qualified practitioner for this process a chelation therapy. When combining EDTA with zinc (50 mg) there was improved mobilization of lead from tissues. May be safely used in children.
  8. GLUCOSINOLATES – found in natural food sources (commonly in cruciferous vegetables) are converted to endogenous enzymes that display a natural defense associated with eliminating toxins from the body. 
  9. MUSTARD POULTICES, CHLORELLA, ACTIVATED CHARCOAL, GARLIC, APPLE PECTIN, WINTERGREEN OIL, CALCIUM, and COPPER 

ALUMINUM

In daily life we are more likely to absorb aluminum than any other heavy metal. Even though aluminum may be easier to excrete from the body than others, it is still pervasive in our society and can be a serious heavy metal in our system. Frequently, aluminum and iron are often eliminated from the body at the same time.

We are most likely to absorb aluminum from ingestion of aluminum-containing antacids, baking powders, processed cheese and drinking beverages from aluminum cans (soda pop and beer). Other common sources are anti-perspirants, bleached flour, metalwork, jewelry, and drinking water (flu0ride in the water increases the leaching of aluminum from pots and pans).

Aluminum has been found to affect the central nervous system and compromise digestion because it can neutralize the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin in the stomach. In addition, it interferes with the body’s ability to utilize magnesium, calcium and phosphorus, increasing the risk for osteoporosis.

Other disease states linked to aluminum toxicity includes Alzheimer’s disease which reveals aluminum in the distinctive nerve cell plaques of the cerebral cortex. There can also be dementia resulting from kidney dialysis related to aluminum toxicity causing memory loss, loss of coordination and confusion. Dry skin, heartburn, colic, headaches, flatulence and lower immunity can be the result of acute exposure to aluminum. Long-term exposure may lead to ALA (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, liver and kidney dysfunction, peptic ulcer, anemia, dental cavities, colitis and memory loss.

SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOL FOR ALUMINUM

  1. MAGNESIUM and CALCIUM – these are minerals that bind with aluminum (called agonists) and eliminate it from the body. Dosage: magnesium 600-1,000 mg daily; calcium 1,500 mg daily during detoxification 
  2. APPLE PECTIN – efficiently binds toxic metals and removes them from the body. Dosage: 2 tbsp. twice daily. 
  3. VITAMIN B COMPLEX – the B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, are important in ridding the intestinal tract of excess metals and in removing them from the body. Dosage: 50-100 mg daily. 
  4. VITAMIN C – in high doses vitamin C can assist in eliminating aluminum from the body. Vitamin C also has potent anti-oxidant affects and helps to stabilize the adrenal glands during detoxification. Dosage: 1,000-5,000 mg daily, as tolerated by bowel. 
  5. GARLIC – this herb acts as a detoxifier. Dosage: As directed. 
  6. L-GLUTATHIONE – aids in detoxifying the liver and blocking damage from toxic metals and radiation. Dosage: on label. 
  7. LECITHIN – aids in healing of the brain and cell membrane. Dosage: 1,200 mg 3 times a day. 

CADMIUM

Cadmium (Cd+) is fifty times more toxic than lead. Cadmium toxicity effects the brain center blood vessels, the brain smell and appetite centers, the heart, kidney cortex, and in every known process of cancer. The kidneys and the surface of the bones is the most common part of the body where cadmium accumulates. Cadmium toxicity comes from contaminated soil, but its greatest exposure is via tobacco and edible plants. Cadmium can be found in large ocean fish like tuna, cod and haddock that ingest it in the food chain. Traces are also found in tap water, white flour, white sugar, instant coffee, processed foods, cola drinks, processed meats, cigarettes, pottery glaze, artist paints, jewelry, motor oil and gasoline, industrial contaminants, plastics, rubber burning, fertilizers, sewage sludge, dental material, and batteries.

Cadmium has no biological function in humans. Cadmium excess inflicts a metal taste in the mouth, shortness of breath, emphysema, chest and leg pains, loss of smell, cough, irritability and yellow teeth stain. It effects the liver and kidneys and can induce hypertension, kidney disease, cancer, and related coronary heart disorders. Cadmium replaces zinc in the body. It alters zinc-dependent insulin release and growth, zinc for digestive enzymes, and zinc needed for prostate health. Cadmium also alters calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus metabolisms causing cavities, deformed teeth, arthritis, osteoporosis, and neuromuscular diseases.

Iron deficiency creates a significant risk for increased cadmium exposure by increasing gastrointestinal absorption. Iron deficiency is a national and international health problem. Vitamin C has been shown to significantly increase iron uptake. Those taking vitamin C supplements had half the risk of low iron stores.

Since a high concentration is found in the liver and the renal cortex, renal damage from cadmium toxicity is of extreme concern. Smokers have a higher risk of kidney disease from cadmium toxicity. Cadmium is classified as a Group 1 human carcinogen and will increase the risk of lung cancer. Other studies show cadmium exposure had a role in prostate cancer, testicular and bladder cancer. Increased risk for heart disease and hypertension are not conclusive, but highly suspected in cadmium toxicity.

SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOL FOR CADMIUM

  1. ZINC – since cadmium destroys zinc stores in the body and causes many reactions that may be caused by zinc deficiency, supplementation is recommended. Zinc supplementation is crucial in copper-dominant diseases like Wilson’s disease. Dosage: 50-100 mg daily. 
  2. ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID – the efficacy of ALA as an anti-oxidant and heavy metal-complexing agent with cadmium has been documented. ALA may protect the body from cadmium toxicity by preventing decreases in total glutathione and protecting the normal cells. Dosage: 200-600 mg daily. 
  3. VITAMIN C – has a binding effect on cadmium and helps eliminate this toxin from the body. Vitamin C is also an efficient anti-oxidant. Dosage: Up to 3,000 mg daily. 
  4. SELENIUM – selenium and cadmium can form complexes that can decrease the toxic burden of cadmium in the body. Selenium supplementation has known antioxidant activity in cadmium toxicity. Dosage: 200 mcg daily. 
  5. EDTA CHELATION – see a qualified practitioner for this therapy. 
  6. CHLORELLA – a green food that binds cadmium in the body and promotes its excretion. Dosage: As directed. 
  7. LICORICE – this herb is known to act in liver tissues as an antioxidant to help reverse the 30-90 percent decrease in hepatic glutathione caused by cadmium toxicity. Dosage: As directed. 
  8. GLUCOSINOLATES – found in natural food sources (commonly in cruciferous vegetables) are converted to endogenous enzymes that display a natural defense associated with eliminating toxins from the body. 

NOTE: While DMSA is effective for both mercury and lead toxicity, it is not an intracellular chelator and has limited effect on cadmium toxicity.

ARSENIC

A metallic gray-white powder or dense crystals that has no taste or odor. Arsenic is soluble in water and alcohol and is faintly sweet. Arsenic is a deadly poison that stops cellular metabolism. In the United States, and worldwide, groundwater contamination continues to be the leading cause of arsenic exposure. The current EPA water standard is 50 ppb. (50ug/L), an amount that the National Academy of Sciences deems as ‘too high.’ Inorganic arsenic, the form found in soil, water and crops, is classified by the EPA as a Group A carcinogen, meaning that there is enough evidence to substantiate its link to cancer in humans. Of growing concern is the presence of high levels of heavy metals in industrial waste processed for use as fertilizer. It is used in many commercial medicines (some homeopathics) and painkillers. Also used in painkillers, ant poisons, insecticides, weed killers, wall paper, and ceramics.

Excess arsenic severely affects the Central Nervous System (CNS) causing headaches, polyneuritis, optic neuritis, restlessness, muscle weakness, nausea, intestinal binding, pain and heat in the stomach, acrid vomiting, weight loss, anemia, burning throat, prostration and death. Arsenic exposure has been linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Chronic exposure is associated with anemia, peripheral neuropathy, liver and kidney damage, and severe skin irritations. 

Arsenic exists in both organic and non-organic forms. The organic form that accumulates in fish and shellfish, is essential non-toxic. The inorganic forms in groundwater, soil, and in the sir, is very toxic and can be stored in all tissues of the body.

SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOL FOR ARSENIC

  1. GLUTATHIONE – has been shown to form complexes with arsenic and mediate the reduction of arsenate to arsenite. The glutathione complexes can be eliminated via the bile. Dosage: See a qualified practitioner. 
  2. SELENIUM – this essential mineral may reduce arsenic poisoning by joining with the glutathione complexes to excrete arsenic through the bile. Animal research has established a bio-directional effect of selenium on arsenic with each metal preventing a toxic effect of each other. Selenium deficiency makes individuals more susceptible to toxicities. Dosage: 200 mcg daily. 
  3. ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID – the efficacy of ALA as an anti-oxidant and heavy metal-complexing agent with arsenic has been documented. ALA may protect the body from arsenic toxicity by preventing decreases in total glutathione (a nutrient that protects the liver). Dosage: 200-600 mg daily. 
  4. SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) – in a secondary step to remove arsenic from the bile, SAMe is required in the liver to require the methylation of arsenic, which is a detoxification mechanism. Dosage: As directed. 
  5. DMSA with N-ACETYL CYSTEINE – used in combination for chronic arsenic intoxication. The combination treatment significantly elevates reduced glutathione levels in the liver and decreased levels of oxidized glutathione. Dosage; As directed by a qualified practitioner. 
  6. ZINC and SPIRULINA EXTRACT – in a randomized controlled study results showed that supplementation with spirulina extract (250 mg) plus zinc (2 mg) twice daily for 16 weeks may be useful for the treatment of chronic arsenic poisoning.  
  7. VITAMIN C and VITAMIN E – when these antioxidants are added to a DMSA protocol, significant improvement occurs in the levels of glutathione content. 
  8. SUPEROXIDE DISMUTASE (SOD) – a powerful detoxification agent. Dosage: As directed. 
  9. GARLIC – this common herb acts as a detoxifier and also aids in removing harmful metals from the body. Dosage: 1-3 tablets daily. 
  10. APPLE PECTIN – aids in removing arsenic from the body. Eat plenty of fiber. Dosage: As directed. 
  11. IRON SESQUIOXIDE, IODINE, CALCIUM. 

NICKEL

Nickel is a silver-white metal used to produce steel, nickel-cadmium batteries, nickel-plating, heating fuel and ceramics. Nickel is a trace mineral that is present within many cells of the body and small amounts seem to be useful for certain bodily functions. Small amounts of nickel are important in RNA and DNA synthesis, and small amounts play a role in glucose metabolism and hormone utilization. A nickel deficiency may affect zinc and iron metabolism.

Excessive amounts of nickel can be toxic. Nickel accumulates most commonly in the kidneys and lungs. Nickel carbonyl is the most toxic form of the metal. Exposure to high levels of nickel can cause unwarranted effects on the body including nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting, chest pain and coughing. Contact with the vapor can cause brain and liver swelling, irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and possibly cancer. High levels can also lead to skin irritations and dermatitis. Skin absorption can occur from coins, hairpins, jewelry, heart valves and nickel plating.

Certain foods contain nickel naturally. These include bananas, barley, beans, buckwheat, lentils, oats, soybeans and walnuts. Nickel can also be present in hydrogenated fats and oils, refined and processed foods, baking and cocoa powders, fertilizers, tobacco smoke, and cooking utensils. 

To be more cautious of possible nickel toxicity, ask your dentist about the metal content of the materials he or she uses. Nickel toxicity can result from nickel alloys used in dental surgery and appliances. Getting a hair analysis is an excellent way to detect toxic levels of nickel in the body.

SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOL FOR NICKEL

  1. APPLE PECTIN – efficiently binds toxic metals and removes them from the body. 
  2. SELENIUM – this essential mineral has anti-oxidant activity and is a powerful free-radical destroyer. Dosage: 200 mcg daily. 
  3. GARLIC – this common herb acts as a detoxifier and aids in removing harmful metals from the body. Dosage: 1-3 tablets daily. 
  4. VITAMIN C, VITAMIN A and VITAMIN E – major anti-oxidant vitamins that destroy free radicals, strengthen immunity, and help to remove metals from the body. Dosage: As directed. 
  5. L-CYSTEINE and L-METHIONINE – these two amino acids are effective in detoxifying the body of harmful toxins, especially the liver. Take these amino acids in combination with vitamin C and vitamin B6 for better absorption. Dosage: See a qualified practitioner. 
  6. KELP – supplies minerals and iodine to aid in removing toxic metals. 

GENERAL DETOXIFICATION

There are many reasons to detoxify the body, but the main one would be to rid the body of unwanted toxins, so prevalent in our environment today. Here is a list of suggestions when detoxifying:

  1. Avoid unnecessary use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.  Many common drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) may harm the liver over time.  Take either N-acetyl cysteine, glutathione or milk thistle.
  2. Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day.
  3. Eat foods rich in antioxidants.  Eat as many organic green, red, and yellow vegetables as you can (raw is even better).  Juicing with fruits and vegetables can be mixed with green foods. Eat more cruciferous vegetables (cabbage family).  You may want to supplement with Indole-3-carbonol, made from cruciferous vegetables.
  4. Spice your foods with tumeric (curcumin), ginger, and garlic.
  5. Keep your bowels moving.  Eating a high fiber diet can help, especially extra psyllium and ground flaxseed.  Supplementing with probiotics (for good bacteria) is highly advisable.
  6. Exercise every day, and participate in stress management (i.e. yoga, meditation, hot baths, walking in nature, and prayer).
  7. Try Hyperthermic therapy.  The use of a sauna, steam bath, or whirlpool bath can raise the core temperature of the body and induce intensive sweating.  Take a cold shower after hyperthermic therapy. Also getting a good massage once or twice a month is a good way to get toxins out of the skin.
  8. Take specific Medical foods or detoxification formulas.  
  9. Eat more quality protein in your diet.  Try eating soy, cold water fish, beans, free-range chicken, nuts, or a protein-based soy, whey or rice shake.
  10. Take supplements that help the body detoxify. These include antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, selenium and alpha-lipoic acid.  Supplement with CoEnzyne Q10 (100-300 mg daily), and Taurine (500-1,500 mg daily).  For detoxifying the liver take Milk Thistle (100-300 mg daily), N-acetyl Cysteine (300-200 mg daily), and Reduced glutathione (150-450 mg daily).  Also, everyone should take a potent multi-vitamin/mineral formula (preferably with extra whole green foods) as an insurance policy for good health.

Balch, JF, Balch PA. Prescription for Nutritional Healing- 3rd edition. Penguin Putman Inc. New York, NY. 2000.

Brown, B. Heavy Metal Detoxification. Texas Institute of Functional Medicines, Jan-Feb 2004

Bubny, P. Getting the Lead Out.  Vitamin Retailer, August 2006. 12(8): 26-30.

Colbert, DE. Curbing the Toxic Onslaught. Nutri-News, Autumn 2005. Douglas Labs. Pp. 1-5.

Crinnion, WJ. Environmental Medicine, Part Three. Alternative Medicine Review, June 2000. 5(3): 209-219.

Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Toxic Metal Elimination. Phoenix, AZ. 1991.

Marion, JB. Anti Aging Manual. Information Pioneers. S. Woodstock, CT., 1996

Miller, A. DMSA, A non-toxic, Water-soluble Treatment for Heavy Metal Toxicity, Alternative Medicine Review, Aug 1998. 3(3): 199-205.

Misbahuddin, M, Islam, AZ. Efficacy of Spirulina Extract Plus Zinc in Patients with Chronic Arsenic Poisoning. Alternative Medicine Review, June 2006. 11(2): P. 173.

Nash, RA. Metals in Medicine. Integrative Medicine, Aug/Sept 2005. 4(4): 38-45.

New Warnings Alert High Mercury Amounts in Tuna. Healthkeepers Magazine. 8(2): 5.

Nick, G. Detoxification Properties of Low-Dose Phytochemical Complexes Found in Select Vegetables, JANA, Fall 2002. 5(4): 34-42.

Patrick, L. Mercury Toxicity and Antioxidants: Part I: Role of Glutathione and alpha-Lipoic acid in the Treatment of Mercury Toxicity. Alternative Medicine Review, Dec 2002. 7(6): 456-467.

Patrick, L. Toxic Metals and Antioxidants: Part Two. Alternative Medicine Review, May 2003. 8(2): 106-127.

Patrick, L. Lead Toxicity Part II. Alternative Medicine Review, June 2006. 11(2): 114-125.

Selenium (Monograph). Alternative Medicine Review, February 2003. 8(1): 63-66.

Steingarber, S. Mercury Poisoning. In These Times, January 17, 2005. Pp 17-20

Up Next: Psoriasis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *