This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*
Millions of people around the world suffer from chronic illnesses, all of which stem from different ailments. One commonly related symptom that often goes undiagnosed in chronic disease is heavy metal contamination.
The presence of metals in the form of trace elements such as zinc, iron and copper in the body is necessary for numerous processes and biochemical pathways. These are important in the proper functioning of the body, and depletion of those trace elements can even cause severe symptoms. But too much of a good thing can lead to a host of different problems, such as low energy, cognitive issues and mood disorders.
Heavy metals, on the other hand, are ingested via contaminated foods or water or inhaled with air, and may accumulate in the body. While acute intoxication leads to severe reactions and is potentially life-threatening, chronically elevated levels are clinically manifest in several symptoms like fatigue, diarrhoea, pain, sleep issues and more.
Often, high levels of heavy metal stay under the radar, as the symptoms they cause are sometimes attributed to different illnesses such as the flu, anxiety and depression; other liver complications; or acute cases of IBS. Hence, heavy metal intoxication often goes undiagnosed because of the non-specific symptoms that are present in sufferers. But since it can lead to serious complications, the process of detoxification of heavy metals should become common knowledge.
What is heavy metal poisoning?
When metals that are required in the form of trace elements are ingested, the body absorbs them into the bloodstream, where they are spread through soft tissue. The body then uses these metals in relation to different functions of the body. Iron, for example, is used in correlation with haemoglobin, the substance that helps oxygen travel throughout the body. Being low in iron can be dangerous, but being having too much can also become a problem.
When it comes to heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury or lead, the dangers of having too much are greatly elevated. Toxic metal in the tissues and bloodstream can create chemical reactions in the body that can lead to the damage of organs and inhibit enzymatic reactions by blocking the enzyme’s active centre. These reactions can be fatal.
What are the symptoms of heavy metals in the body?
Signs and symptoms of heavy metal poisoning differ greatly by metal and how the body ingested it. There are a number of ways heavy metals can enter the body, but the most common include pollution in the air or water supply, food, medications, exposure in industrial settings, and sometimes even the coating on dishes. All these can lead to unsafe levels of heavy metals in the body.
In acute metal toxicity, the symptoms will be sudden and more severe. Nausea, vomiting, brain confusion and coma can all be symptoms of toxicity when exposed to large amounts in a short span of time. Chronic metal exposure happens when the body is subjected to smaller amounts over a longer period and time and can cause serious problems such as nervous system complications, liver or kidney damage, oedema, heart problems and anaemia.
Other effects of metal toxicity in the body can be neurological disorders, skin irritation, mood disorders, digestive issues, chronic pain and dementia.
How do you test for heavy metals in your body?
Testing for heavy metals in the body can be a long and arduous process solely because it often goes undetected or the symptoms it presents are attributed to other things. If heavy metal poisoning is suspected, a simple blood or hair sample test can be used to determine how serious the problem is, and what metal is wreaking havoc in the body’s systems.
Doctors may also want to do renal function tests, a urine test, imaging such as an ultrasound, or even an electrocardiogram to determine whether or not heavy metal toxicity is to blame for the person’s symptoms. Often these tests have to be approved and requested by the doctor and patient, respectively, for them to be done.
What is heavy metal detoxification?
Heavy metal detoxification is the process of detoxing the body of any unnecessary heavy metals. If you suspect that you may have heavy metal poisoning, doing the detox isn’t complicated and can be done with just a few simple changes to lifestyle and diet. The aim of the detox is to clear out the build-up of heavy metals in the body, nervous system and brain to help restore liver function, immune response and the lymphatic system.
So how do you detox from heavy metals? Introducing leafy green vegetables, foods rich in vitamin C, herbs and spices such as basil, parsley, ginger, turmeric and cilantro, and flax and chia seeds can help detox the body of metal toxicity.
As a consumer it is important to be aware of the origin of the products you buy. Many products from Asian markets contain high levels of cadmium or mercury due to contaminated soil or the use of pesticides or fertilizers that are restricted in Europe. Further, certain foods such as rice have a generally higher risk for contamination with heavy metals, in this case arsenic.
Focusing on foods with local, seasonal and organic production is the best way to prevent high heavy metal intake. Further, avoiding foods full of additives, heavily processed foods and alcohol can also help. Introducing vitamin C, probiotic and milk thistle supplements may speed up the process of detoxification.
In acute cases with high exposure to heavy metals, a therapy with EDTA may help. EDTA is a compound that may be used intravenously and forms chelates with heavy metals in order to remove them from the body. However, this therapy is only recommended in strong indications of acute toxicity and not for chronic low-grade elevated heavy metal levels.