TOXIC METALS AND
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© May 2018, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Toxic Metal Concepts
Introduction To The Minerals
Toxic Metal Dangers
Modern Diets And Toxic Metals
Individual Minerals – Their Sources And Symptoms
General Food Sources
Congenital Toxic Metals
Ideal Human Hair Values For The Common Toxic Metals
Other Lifestyle-Related Toxic Metal Indicators
Aging And Toxic Metals
Genetics, Gene Expression And Toxic Metals
Definition. Toxic metals are a group of minerals that have no known function in the body. In addition, they are known to be very harmful to plant, animal and human bodies.
High exposure. Toxic metals have always been present on earth. However, mankind today is exposed to the highest levels of these metals in recorded history. This is mainly due to their industrial use for the past 300 years, the burning of fossil fuels without scrubbers, and improper incineration of waste materials worldwide.
Toxic metals are now everywhere, and affect everyone on planet earth. They have become a major cause of illness, aging and even genetic defects.
Not taught much. The study of toxic metals is often considered a part of the study of toxicology. This subject matter is not widely taught today in high schools, colleges or medical schools.
For this reason, this important cause of disease is given little attention in society or in conventional mainstream medicine. Fortunately, environmental science is beginning to pay more attention to toxic metals and their relationship to the health of all living things on planet earth.
This article focuses on the extent of toxic metal problems, sources of toxic metals, symptoms, and how to remove them safely and deeply.
TOXIC METAL CONCEPTS
This article presents the following principles or concepts about toxic metals. I will only mention them briefly here, because they are explained later in the article.
1. Congenital toxic metals. ALL babies born today anywhere in the world have too many toxic metals. This occurs because toxic metals are widely distributed in the air, drinking water, food and elsewhere.
Also, all the toxic metals pass easily across the placenta from pregnant mothers and deposit in the tissues of their unborn babies. This is a very serious problem that few talk about. However, it is obvious if one does hair mineral testing on newborns and young children.
2. Preferred minerals. The body takes the best minerals it can find from food, water and sometimes elsewhere. Even the highly toxic ones can sustain life, to a degree. However, our bodies definitely prefer the ideal or nutrient minerals in enzymes and elsewhere, if they can get them.
For example, the body prefers zinc for over 50 critical enzymes. However, if zinc becomes deficient, which it is in most soil and in most of our food today, or if exposure to cadmium, lead or mercury is sufficiently high, the body will use the toxic metals in place of zinc.
Cadmium, in particular, is located just below zinc in the periodic table of the elements, so its outer atomic structure is very similar to that of zinc. As a result, cadmium “fits” well into zinc binding sites and can easily replace zinc in critical enzymes such as RNA transferase, carboxypeptidase, alcohol dehydrogenase and many others of great importance in the body.
An analogy is to imagine taking an automobile journey. If one is far away from a repair shop when a key part such as the fan belt breaks, if one had a spare piece of rope, one could tie it around the pulleys and continue the trip slowly.
The rope would not function nearly as well as the original part, but would allow one to keep going. This is how toxic metals can function positively in the body, at times.
Many people limp along on grossly deficient diets, and many today are born deficient in the vital minerals and too high in toxic metals due to imbalances in their mothers.
Their fatigue and other symptoms are due to the presence of incorrect “replacement parts” in their biological engine compartments. Depending on where toxic metals accumulate, the resulting effects may be given names such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or cancer. The idea of preferred minerals is discussed in a theoretical context in the article on this website entitled The Theory of Nutritional Balancing Science.
This is critical to understand. It means that toxic metals can have an adaptive function to sustain life in the face of vital mineral deficiences.
Nutritional balancing programs replace less preferred minerals with more preferred minerals. This therapy concept is not well-known.
3. Stress and toxic metals. Stress depletes vital minerals faster. This leads to deficiencies of these minerals. This, in turn, causes the body to absorb more toxic metals.
In this way, stress is a direct cause of toxic metal excess, which in turn contributes or causes many health conditions, aging, disabilities and death.
4. Mineral antagonisms. Eating plenty of nutrient minerals actually antagonizes, or prevents the absorption of the toxic metals. Deficient diets, however, always result in toxic metal accumulation and poisoning because there are fewer vital minerals in refined food to compete with the toxic metals for absorption and utilization inside the body.
5. The anthropomorphic concept. All minerals, including the toxic metals, have very specific qualities that affect our bodies, and even our personalities, when we have a lot of the mineral inside us.
For example, cadmium is a very hard toxic metal. Inside the body, it hardens the arteries and other tissues, and it even hardens a person’s personality.
6. The poor eliminator concept. A key to solving toxic metal problems is understanding that many people cannot eliminate toxic metals very well. This fact is often overlooked when doctors try to correct toxic metal poisoning.
The worst problem is not necessarily the presence of a toxic metal, but rather an inability to eliminate toxic metals. Hair mineral testing has very specific individual mineral indicators for poor ability to eliminate these metals.
7. Toxic forms of vital minerals. A confusing fact is that nutrient minerals such as chromium, manganese, iron, copper, potassium and even calcium and others can be in a form that is highly toxic to the body. In other words, nutrient minerals can be in a form that makes them act like toxic metals for the body.
In most cases, the body cannot convert the toxic (oxide or other) form into a usable form. Instead, the body must eliminate the toxic forms of these minerals to restore health.
This can be very confusing for both practitioners and clients. For example, it may appear on a test as if one is eliminating a nutrient mineral. In reality, one is just eliminating a toxic form of a nutrient mineral that is damaging the body.
8. Developmental versus toxic minerals. Toxic metals slow or stop what is called on this website development. This is a very special type of healing of the body.
It is critical to replace the toxic metals with what we call the spiritual minerals such as zinc and selenium, in order to promote development. We call the latter spiritual minerals because they are needed for advanced brain activity. This topic is discussed in a separate article entitled Introduction To Development on this website.
9. All neurotoxic. All of the toxic metals affect the nervous system of a human being or animal. This is important to recall.
Before discussing toxic metals, let us briefly discuss minerals, in general.
INTRODUCTION TO THE MINERALS
Minerals are the building blocks of our bodies. They are required for body structure, fluid balance, protein structures and to produce hormones. Minerals also act as co-factors, catalysts and inhibitors of all our body’s enzymes. Everything in our bodies are made of about 50 minerals, also called chemical elements.
Having the right minerals is a great a key to the health of every body system and function.
Mineral classification. Minerals are classified into four groups:
1. Macrominerals. These are found in large quantity in our bodies. They include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur. The first four are sometimes called the electrolytes, because they are common in the blood.
2. Required trace minerals. These include iron, copper, zinc, manganese, chromium, selenium, boron, silicon, iodine, vanadium, lithium, molybdenum, cobalt, germanium and perhaps a few others.
3. Possibly required trace minerals. Less is known about these. They may include rubidium, tin, niobium, gold, silver and others.
4. Toxic metals. The most well-studied include aluminum, antimony, barium, beryllium, bismuth, bromine, cadmium, chlorine, fluoride, lead, mercury nickel, and uranium. However, there are a dozen or more others.
This article will only discuss the more common toxic metals. However, a complete nutritional balancing program will remove many others such as germanium, gadolinium (used in MRI scans as a contrast medium), thallium, and others. This is a distinct advantage of this program over others that target only one or two toxic metals.
The categories of minerals above sometimes overlap slightly because assessing minerals that are required by humans is not a clear cut science. Some of them may be needed in minuscule amounts, for example.
Also, some forms of the required minerals can be highly toxic. Examples are some forms of copper, iron, manganese, hexavalent chromium, selenium and others. Too much of even the most needed minerals can also become toxic.
TOXIC METAL DANGERS
Easy exposure. Today mankind is exposed to the highest levels in recorded history of lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, copper, nickel, tin, antimony, bromine, bismuth and vanadium, among others. The levels are up to several thousand times higher than in primitive man. In my clinical experience, for this reason everyone has excessive amounts of some or all of the toxic metals.
Persistent in the environment. Toxic metals are also persistent . The late Henry Schroeder, MD, who was a world authority on minerals, wrote:
“Most organic substances are degradable by natural processes. (However), no metal is degradable…they are here to stay for a long time”.
Persistent and cumulative in the body. Toxic metals also tend to persist or remain in our bodies for years. We can remove some of them if we are healthy, but many also accumulate.
This is the reason why nutritional balancing program include what some consider “drastic” measures to help eliminate them such as coffee enemas, sauna therapy and certain supplements.
Specific types of damage:
Depositing in tissues. Toxic metals may also simply deposit in many sites, causing local irritation and other toxic effects.
Causing infection. Some toxic metals support development of fungal, bacterial and viral infections that are difficult or impossible to eradicate until this cause is removed.
Damaging biosynthesis. Minerals are very involved in the production of all chemicals in our bodies from DNA and RNA. They are needed as raw materials for body chemicals, for enzymes that participate in the synthesis of all of our chemicals, and for more. Toxic metals interfere, block, replace, and poison many aspects of biosynthesis.
Weakening body structures. For example, lead, fluoride, aluminum and other toxic metals that find their way into the bones weaken the bones.
General enzyme damage. Toxic metals replace nutrient minerals in enzyme binding sites. When this occurs, the metals inhibit, overstimulate or otherwise alter thousands of enzymes.
An affected enzyme may operate at 5% of normal activity. This may contribute to many health conditions. Toxic metals may also replace other substances in other tissue structures. These tissues, such as the arteries, joints, bones and muscles, are weakened by the replacement process.
Other. Toxic metals upset digestion, alter gland activity, change the metabolic rate, and damage organs such as the kidneys and liver. In addition, all are neurotoxic. This means they damage the brain and nervous system.
In fact, we find that many mental and emotional health disorders involve excess toxic metals in the body and brain. I hope that someday this fact will be recognized in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. There is a small group of doctors known as orthomolecular psychiatrists who are aware of this, but they are yet very few in number.
MODERN DIETS AND TOXIC METALS
The danger of toxic metals is greatly aggravated today by the low mineral content of most of our food supply. An abundance of vital minerals protects against toxic metals. Vital minerals compete with toxic metals for absorption and utilization in enzymes and other tissue structures.
However, when food is low in essential minerals, the body absorbs and makes use of more toxic metals. To continue the analogy from the previous section of this article, we are not stocking up sufficiently on factory parts, so we must use the greatly inferior replacement parts – toxic metals. Causes for the low mineral content of almost all agricultural products are primarily:
1. Hybrid crops are bred for production or disease resistance, rather than superior nutrition.
2. Superphosphate fertilizers produce higher yields by stimulating growth, but the crops grown this way do not provide nearly as many trace elements. They are used on both commercial and organic crops.
We do not replace all the trace minerals on our agricultural fields today. Instead, human and animal manures are often flushed into the rivers and oceans, where they do not belong and are often pollutants.
4. Toxic pesticides used on commercial farms damage soil microorganisms needed to help plants absorb minerals from the soil.
5. After harvesting crops, food refining and processing almost always reduce the mineral content of our food. Whole wheat flour, when milled to make white flour, loses 40% of its chromium, 86% of its manganese, 89% of its cobalt, 78% of its zinc and 48% of its molybdenum.
Refining cane into sugar causes even greater losses. EDTA may be added to frozen foods to retain their color. However, this chelating agent removes minerals that otherwise would cause the surface minerals to ‘tarnish’, discoloring the vegetables.
As a result of the above, the term 'empty calories' aptly describes most of our food today, even some natural foods. Newer genetically-modified crops are even worse.
Please eat only whole, natural foods. Organically grown is almost always better. However, it can vary and many organic foods are still hybridized varieties.
For a more complete list of sources for each of the major toxic metals organized by the metal, see the Reference Guide at the end of this article.
Aluminum is called the soft in the head mineral because it is associated with memory loss and dementia. Aluminum is a soft metal and a dangerous one. It is very common in the environment, and almost everyone shows some aluminum toxicity on their hair tests.
Among the most important sources are:
1. Anti-perspirants. Modern anti-perspirants all contain toxic aluminum compounds. The deodorant stones and deodorant crystals are no better, even though they are “natural”. Use an old-fashioned deodorant instead, or spray some dilute hydrogen peroxide or some liquid soap like Dr. Bronner’s soap under your arms instead.
2. Tap water. Towns and cities in many nations routinely add aluminum to their tap water as a flocculating agent (to remove dirt particles). This is a horrible practice.
3. Table salt. A lot of table salt contains added aluminum as an anti-caking agent and should never be eaten! Natural sea salt is much better.
4. Food cans, cookware or aluminum foil. Beverages in aluminum cans or food cooked in aluminum may contain elevated levels of aluminum. Some cans are coated on the inside, and this is better.
5. Other. Aluminum is also found in some baking powders, and some cosmetics such as blush. Peppermint, spearmint and wintergreen teas are naturally high in aluminum. For more details about aluminum, read Aluminum and Aluminum, Iron and Manganese – The Amigos on this website.
I call arsenic the slow death mineral. Its symptoms are vague, and it was used to kill people because it is colorless and tasteless, so it was added to food and slowly killed people.
Today, arsenic is still a common toxin. It may legally be added to chicken feed (Roxsarone) according to the corrupt US Food And Drug Administration (the FDA) and the somewhat corrupt US Department of Agriculture (USDA). I believe Europe has banned arsenic in chicken feed.
Arsenic can get into commercial eggs, all pig products such as pork, ham, bacon and lard, and into most US drinking water supplies as it leaches into the soil from farming and livestock operations.
Organic chicken and eggs should be better. Avoid all pig products due to parasite problems, even if well-cooked, and to avoid the arsenic.
Arsenic is used in pesticides and, as a result, may be found in commercial wines, beers, fruits, vegetables, rice and other foods. Once again, organically grown should be better. Recently, rice grown in China has been found to be quite contaminated with arsenic. For much more on this topic, read Arsenic Toxicity And The USDA/FDA Cover-up and Arsenic on this website.
Among the many food sources of bromine are breads and clear-colored soda pop. These include Mountain Dew, Crystal Light, Sprite and others. A long list is found in the article mentioned in the next paragraph.
Bromine can damage the thyroid gland and replace iodine in all body tissues. This is quite serious. It should not be allowed to be added to our foods. Read Bromine for more details.
We call cadmium the macho mineral, and it is one of the violent elements. Cadmium toughens the tissues and hardens the arteries.
It also hardens the personality. Like lead, it is an older male mineral that is associated with macho behavior, violence and horror. The concept that when we ingest or are exposed to a toxic metal, our bodies and our minds take on the qualities of the mineral is called the anthropomorphic quality of minerals. It means that each mineral – both the vital minerals and the toxic metals – have human-like qualities such as hardness, softness, or malleability, and they influence us.
Interestingly, cadmium helps people to “be tough” and take risks. For example, many modern city women have high cadmium that allows them to function in male-oriented jobs such as being company executives. Cadmium helps them and others, such as prostitutes, to act more tough and to handle lots of stress.
Military men and women, and police often have more cadmium, as it helps them handle their very difficult jobs, at times, and take risks. Unfortunately, it is also a deadly toxic metal associated with heart disease, cancers of all kind, kidney disease, diabetes and other serious health problems.
People who have orgasms more than once a week tend to accumulate more cadmium, probably because cadmium replaces zinc in the male testicles, and even in women’s ovaries. Male and female sexual fluids are rich in zinc and some cadmium.
Cadmium is widespread in the air, as it is used in brake linings of cars. It is also used in metal plating as it is a very hard substance.
Tobacco cigarette, marijuana and CBD oil or cannabis oil contain cadmium. This is one reason people like marijuana, as cadmium boosts the sodium level. They don’t realize they are poisoning themselves – usually permanently – by using it. Cadmium is also used as a catalyst in some hydrogenated products such as commercial peanut butter and margarine. Please avoid these horrible food items. For much more about cadmium, read Cadmium on this website.
Lead is called the horror mineral because it is associated with violence, lowered IQ, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, and many other neurological problems. Lead is a widely distributed toxic metal due to its many uses in industry.
Pesticides used on fruits, vegetables and many other foods may contain lead, among other toxic metals. Lead was added to gasoline until the 1970s in the USA and elsewhere. Now gasoline contains a highly toxic form of manganese, instead.
Old house paint, current paint used on ships of all sizes, a few hair dyes, lubricants, medications, cosmetics such as lipstick and others, inks, and perhaps other products may contain lead. Glazes used on cookware in some nations still contains lead that can come off onto the food.
Entire books have been written about lead toxicity, which causes hundreds of symptoms from anemia to death. For much more detail about lead, read Lead on this website.
Mercury may be called the mad hatters mineral. People who made raccoon skin hats in the mid 1800s in America and Europe developed mercury toxicity after a few years from rubbing mercury on felt to soften it. Many became mentally and emotionally deranged after a few years of working in the hat factories.
Dental fillings. “Silver” dental amalgam fillings are usually about half mercury. I would have them replaced if you have them, as the mercury will slowly leach out of them and into your body.
Fish and seafood. These are universally contaminated with mercury on planet earth. It is really a tragedy, since otherwise it is a great food. Mercury is found today in ALL FISH, bar none. Even small fish, which used to be safe, are not any more.
As a result, the only fish I suggest eating are sardines and occasionally other tiny fish such as anchovies or smelt. Skinless and boneless sardines have the least mercury. For details of why, read Sardines on this site.
We strongly suggest avoiding all other fish. Anyone who eats fish other than sardines and perhaps other tiny fish, even once a week, demonstrates high mercury on a hair mineral test.
Large fish concentrate mercury a million times or more. The federal government recently issued a warning that pregnant and lactating women should avoid tuna, shark, king mackerel, halibut, ahi, mahi mahi, and other large fish.
Avoid all shellfish. Shellfish are often even more toxic than other fish. For some reason, their bodies often accumulate cadmium and lead, in addition to mercury. Most shellfish are caught in coastal waters, which are the most contaminated. Please avoid all shellfish, forever, as the problem is just getting worse in most nations of the world.
Once again, this is sad to have to say, but mineral tests reveal the problem to anyone willing to check my assertion. This is why many people are “allergic” to them. This is a mild term. They are really poisoned by them.
Seaweed. Another food that is often contaminated with mercury is seaweed. This includes all types of sea vegetables. Sushi, for example, is quite toxic due to the seaweed and often the fish, which are large fish. Today, eating sushi can land you in the hospital.
The only sea vegetable we recommend is kelp. It contains some mercury, but is high in alginates that bind to the mercury and prevent most mercury absorption.
Salt. Some doctors don’t advise eating salt because it comes from the sea and may contain some mercury. However, we find that natural sea salt is needed and not that high in mercury.
NOTE: A recent finding is that Mellow White Miso by Cold Mountain can help detoxify mercury. For more detail about mercury, read Mercury.
This is called the depression and suicide mineral, as it is associated with these feelings and symptoms. Nickel is another hardener, used to plate inexpensive jewelry, in coins, and as a plating material for bathroom fixtures and many other metallic items.
Most orthodontic braces sadly contain nickel today. It is also found in some metal crowns and dental wires used in bridges and elsewhere in dentistry. Be very careful about this because nickel can contribute to cancer and other health problems.
Nickel is found in rooibos tea or red tea. It is also used as a catalyst to make ALL hydrogenated oil products such as commercial peanut butter, ALL margarines, and vegetable shortening. For much more detail about nickel, read Nickel on this website.
Fluoride is sometimes called a cancer mineral. It is highly toxic. In fact, it is sold as rat poison. The research about its toxicity and horror for the human body is very clear scientifically, but this is suppressed by most public health authorities in the USA and Great Britain.
The biggest source is fluoride added to drinking water supplies. Adding fluoride to drinking water not only does not stop cavities in the teeth. It is totally insane, because fluoride compounds added to drinking water are extremely toxic.
Most of the world has stopped this awful practice except for parts of America and Great Britain. More and more American cities and towns are voting it out. If your town still has it, organize to get rid of it. Several excellent websites and organizations are there to help.
Fluorides have found their way into ground water supplies, and thus into the food chain. For this reason, fluoride levels in foods processed with water may be very high, especially baby foods and reconstituted vegetable and fruit juices. Please never consume these, and never feed them to your children. Also, do not give babies and children fluoride tablets or fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office.
Health authorities who recommend fluoridating the water, or any fluorides, are extremely ignorant, in my experience. I have debated dentists and public health officials on this issue. Their real level of knowledge of the medical literature on fluorides is lacking.
Recommendation for fluoride also rarely, if ever, take into account the already toxic amount of fluorides people are already getting in natural foods, foods processed with fluoridated water, and fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwashes. The combination adds up to overload, in all cases.
Hydrofluosilicic acid, the chemical often used to fluoridate drinking water, is a smokestack waste that contains lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum, benzene and radioactive waste material. For much more on this horror, please read Fluoridation Of The Water on this site.
Everyone assumes chlorine is safe, since it is used to purify most all drinking water around the world. It is not safe, however. It is a very toxic mineral associated with heart disease and dementia, among other health conditions.
Purification of water supplies with ozone is much better. I strongly suggest that everyone drink either spring water, which has little to no chlorine in it, or drink carbon-only filtered tap or other water.
Carbon will remove most chlorine from water. A carbon block filter is best. Just remember to change the filter every few months so it will keep working.
Note that carbon and carbon block filters do not remove most toxic metals from water. Only distillation and reverse osmosis remove most toxic metals. However, these produce a mineral-free water that is not good to drink for this reason, and for other reasons, as well.
Another important source of toxic chlorine is the residue found in bleached flour and any products such as bread, pastry, cookies and more made with bleached white flour. Chlorine is used to bleach the flour.
Copper is not a toxic metal. However, it often accumulates in toxic forms in the body, and causes many health problems. This problem is extremely common today.
Copper mainly accumulates in the nervous system and in the female organs. For example, copper toxicity is associated with migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, some schizophrenias and seizures.
Copper also can replace selenium in various tissues. This can impair the conversion of T4 to T3, contributing to thyroid imbalances that are very common. For much more about copper, please read Copper Toxicity Syndrome on this website.
Iron is a vital mineral. However, acquired iron toxicity is extremely common. This is what we find on hair mineral tests.
This is not the same as the genetic disease hemochromatosis. The toxicity has a different cause. The iron is in a toxic form, often in an oxide form that is very irritating and pro-inflammatory.
Sources include eating red meat more than about twice or three times weekly or eating more than 4-5 ounce portions of it. Other sources are taking iron pills or mineral supplements containing iron.
Another important source is “iron-enriched” foods such as breads and most other products made with white flour. Some herbs such as black cohosh are high in iron, as is some drinking water. Iron can give drinking water a slight yellowish color. Holding on to anger can increase iron in the body. Many babies today are born with too much toxic iron, just as they are born with too much of many toxic substances.
Holistic doctors often give anti-oxidants to help reduce the inflammation.
However, a much better solution is to remove the toxic iron. Nutritional balancing programs do this, in all cases. However, other nutritional, herbal or medical programs cannot do this very well, in my experience. For much more about iron, please read Iron, Iron, Manganese and Aluminum, Iron, and Iron Personality Types on this website.
The main sources of uranium are air polluted with radioactive particles from A-bomb tests, nuclear power plant emissions, nuclear plant accidents such as the Fukishima disaster recently in Japan, and perhaps some foods contaminated with uranium from the same sources.
Uranium is radioactive, as is radon gas found in some homes. It can damage the lungs and other organs, it damages DNA, and is associated with higher levels of cancer and other diseases.
General Food Sources. Food grown near highways or downwind of industrial plants may contain lead and other toxic amounts of metals. Even organic home gardens may be contaminated if, for example, old house paint containing lead leaches lead into the soil.
Sprays and insecticides still often contain lead, arsenic, mercury and other toxic metals. Refining of food often contaminates the food with aluminum, as it is found in water supplies everywhere and it may be used in some food refining processes.
Also, some food refining removes the protective zinc, chromium and manganese from food and leaves the toxic metals in some cases, such as cadmium. This makes white flour even more toxic, as with white sugar, and is another reason to totally avoid these foods.
Airborne Sources of Toxic Metals. Most toxic metals are effectively absorbed by inhalation. Auto, ship and aircraft exhaust, industrial smoke and products from incinerators are among the airborne sources of toxic metals and other chemicals.
Mercury and coal-fired power plants. Burning coal can release mercury, lead and cadmium among other metals. Iranian and Venezuelan oil are high in vanadium. Coal plants should have scrubbers, as they do in the United States. However, India and China, in particular, often do not have scrubbers on their power plants. They may not realize the damage their plants are causing to the entire world due to pollution of the air, water and food supplies.
Uranium exposure is largely from airborne sources such as nuclear bomb tests and accidents at nuclear power plants. All nuclear power plants also emit some low-level radiation, as does uranium refining and medical use of nuclear material. X-rays, CT scans, PET scans and dental x-rays also add to our burden of ionizing radiation today. Fortunately, some of this can be removed with a nutritional balancing program.
Incineration can be clean. Older methods of incineration of electronic parts, plastics, treated fabrics, batteries and even diapers release all the toxic metals into the air. The use of scrubbers and newer methods of very high temperature incineration are much better.
Cadmium and mercury in papers. Cigarette and marijuana smoke are high in cadmium, and cadmium is found in cigarette and joint rolling paper. It helps keep the drugs burning. Pesticides used on these crops may contain lead, arsenic and other toxic metals.
Medications and toxic metals. Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs contain toxic metals. Cipro (fluoquinolone antibiotics) and anti-depressants such as Prozac (fluoxetine) are fluoride-containing drugs, for example.
Thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative, is still used in many vaccines, including most flu shots, even when doctors deny it, I am told. Independent evaluation of a large study that is part of the Centers For Disease Control Vaccine Safety Datalink concluded that:
“Children are 27 times as likely to develop autism after exposure to three thimerisol-containing vaccines than those who receive thimerisol-free versions” .
Thiazide diuretics contain mercury. These include Maxzide, Diazide and many others. Antacids such as Ryopan, Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta and many others are very high in aluminum.
Direct Skin Contact As A Source Of Toxic Metals. Almost all anti-perspirants and many cosmetics contain aluminum. Dental amalgams contain mercury, copper and other metals. Dental bridges and other appliances often contain nickel.
Prostheses and pins used to hold bones together may contain nickel and other toxic metals, although most are titanium and stainless steel, which are much better.
Copper intra-uterine devices (IUDs) release lots of copper into the body. This can cause depression, and other problems for some women.
Soaps, body lotions and creams often contain toxic compounds. A few hair dyes and commercial high-end lipsticks contain lead. Selsun Blue shampoo contains selenium that is quite toxic. Head N Shoulders shampoo is much safer and contains zinc, but not selenium.
Household lawn and garden chemicals may contain lead, arsenic and other compounds. Mercury treated seeds and arsenic-treated wood are other common sources of toxic metals.
Occupational exposure to toxic metals is important for many occupations today. Among the worst are plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, printers, ironworkers, and other metal workers.
Workers need to wear gloves, masks and take other precautions when handling inks, metals and other toxic materials.
CONGENITAL TOXIC METALS
This is an extremely important and preventable tragedy. It is a vital topic that deserves a separate article. I will just briefly introduce the subject.
Today, all children are born with some toxic metals acquired in utero. All the toxic metals pass through the placenta from mother to child. This is seen clearly when reviewing mineral analyses of infants. These are babies who have never been exposed to food, yet their bodies are high in many toxic metals.
The only explanation is that these infants receive exposures in utero during gestation. This is a very sad situation, as many children are born with two strikes against them, so to speak. They are far more prone to autism, ADD, ADHD, infections, developmental delays and more. For more information about this critical topic, see the articles on this website about children’s health.
This tragedy can be largely prevented if all young women would go on a nutritional balancing program before they become pregnant to reduce their load of toxic metals. It does not matter how healthy a woman appears to be. Most all young women today have too many toxic metals in the body that are passed on to their children.
I am always pleased when a teenage girl or young woman decides to improve her health before becoming pregnant. It makes an amazing difference for her and her baby. One can clean up the metals to a degree during pregnancy, but it is best to begin now!
The problem of congenital toxic metals is especially important because standard prenatal care is horribly lacking in Western nations. For more details, please read How To Have Healthy Children on this site.
Toxic metals are not easy to detect. In fact, detecting all the toxic metals is impossible, as far as I know, because they accumulate deep within body tissues and organs. Here are comments on the various methods of detection, including tests of the blood, urine, hair, feces, liver biopsy tests, and other methods such as electrical machines and applied kinesiology.
Blood tests. The problem with blood tests is that the body quickly removes toxic metals from the blood and moves them into the tissues. So blood tests must be done soon after an exposure, usually within days or weeks at the most, or they are practically useless.
Blood tests are helpful for an acute exposure, such as eating a food contaminated with lead and doing a test soon after. However, this entire article is mainly about chronic toxic metal poisoning.
Urine and feces challenge tests. These are done by first administering a chelation drug that binds to and removes toxic metals. Examples are EDTA or DMPS, for example. Then one collects a 24-hour urine, or a feces sample to see what comes out of the body.
This test does not detect most toxic metals. The reason is that the chelating drugs mainly circulate in the blood. So they tend to miss most toxic metals that are stored in the tissues or incorporated into enzymes in the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and elsewhere.
Liver or other biopsies. This method is more accurate and is used, at times, to detect iron poisoning and copper poisoning, for example. However, liver biopsies are costly, invasive and somewhat dangerous. For this reason, liver biopsies are not used often.
Electrical machines. Electroacupuncture devices, radionic machines and other machines can detect some toxic metals. However, I have not found them accurate or reliable. They are also sometimes dependent upon the skill of the operator, which further decreases their reliability and accuracy.
Applied kinesiology. This method, also called muscle testing, is variable in its reliability and extremely dependent upon the operator or practitioner. It also does not quantify the amount of metals present. I would not depend upon it.
HAIR MINERAL ANALYSIS FOR TOXIC METAL DETECTION
I specialize in the use of the this test. For this reason, this is a longer section of the article.
The hair test measures toxic metals deposited in the hair and skin. It is better than some other methods, but I do not use the test primarily to detect toxic metals.
I find that no test is that accurate. Fortunately, if a person follow a complete nutritional balancing program, all the toxic metals come out of the body, so figuring out which are present is not too important.
Why hair? Hair accumulates toxic metals because hair is an excretory tissue. This means that anything that goes into the hair will be removed from the body. So the body often unloads poisons by shunting them into the hair and skin.
The hair mineral test is also unique in that it is a biopsy type of test that gives a snapshot of the inside of the body cells. None of the other methods do this so directly.
Government opinion on hair testing. The United States Environmental Protection Agency or EPA reviewed over 400 studies of the use of hair for toxic metal detection and concluded that:
“Hair is a meaningful and representative tissue for (biological monitoring for) antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium and perhaps selenium and tin.“
The author of a study of lead toxicity in Massachusetts school children, Dr. R. Tuthill, concluded:
“Scalp hair should be considered a useful clinical and epidemiological approach for the measurement of chronic low-level lead exposure in children.”
Reading the levels of the toxic metals on a hair analysis report is not sufficient to glean all the information from the test. Here is how to do it better:
1. The hair must be washed at home within 48 hours or less before sampling. Any ordinary shampoo may be used. If one has a water softener, then it is best to wash the hair twice before sampling it, using unsoftened tap water, reverse osmosis water, distilled or spring water.
2. The hair sample must not be washed at the laboratory at all. The reason is that washing the hair always erratically removes some of its minerals. For this reason, I only suggest using Analytical Research Laboratories for hair testing. Most other labs wash the hair.
3. Look for elevated levels of toxic metals. However, MOST LABORATORIES HAVE THEIR ACCEPTABLE LEVELS OF TOXIC METALS SET TOO HIGH. One must use the acceptable levels that are listed in the section below.
4. The amigos. These are toxic forms of iron, manganese and aluminum. The interpretation rule is that if any one of these are elevated, the other two are elevated in the body as well.
Elevated aluminum is any reading above 0.04 mg% or 0.4 ppm. Elevated iron is any reading above 2 mg% or 20 ppm. Elevated manganese is any reading above 0.04 mg% or 0.4 ppm. Read more about this interesting situation in The Amigos Or Oxidants– Iron, Manganese and Aluminum.
5. Poor eliminator patterns. An excellent indicator of hidden toxic metals in the body is the presence of a poor eliminator pattern. For the exact criteria for these patterns, read Poor Eliminator Pattern.
6. Hidden copper toxicity. The hair copper level is a very poor indicator of copper toxicity. Instead, look for hidden copper indicators, which include:
- Copper greater than 2.5 mg% or 25 ppm.
- Copper less than 1.5 mg% or 15 ppm.
- Calcium greater than about 65 mg% or 650 ppm.
- Potassium less than about 5 mg% or 50 ppm.
- Mercury greater than about 0.035 mg% or 0.35 ppm.
- Zinc less than 13 mg% or 130 ppm.
- Na/K ratio less than 2.0
- Four lows pattern.
- Zinc greater than 17 mg% or 170 ppm, in many cases.
- Phosphorus less than 12 mg% or 120 ppm, in most cases.
7. Mercury indicators. Mercury is so widespread that almost everyone has too much. I do not pay too much attention to any test for mercury because I know that:
a) Anyone who eats large or medium-sized fish has a lot.
b) Anyone with amalgam dental fillings has a lot.
c) Anyone who eats seafood or sushi has plenty.
d) Most, if not all babies today are born with it thanks to toxicity in their mothers.
The hair or other test results are often not as important as these dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors.
8. Other general indicators of high toxic metals on a hair mineral analysis. These include a very slow oxidation rate, fast oxidation in an adult, three highs or four highs pattern, and sympathetic dominance pattern.
I realize this includes almost everyone, and that is the truth. We know this because even those who show few toxic metals on their initial hair mineral test often eliminate large quantities of toxic metals during nutritional balancing programs. This shows itself on repeat hair mineral tests, and often takes a number of years to be revealed.
In my own case, it took eight years before cadmium showed up on my hair test, and about 20 years before nickel showed up.
HIGH, LOW AND NORMAL HAIR LEVELS FOR THE TOXIC METALS
To find the most recent normal and high levels of toxic metals that I use, please go to: High, Ideal and Low Mineral Values on this site.
AGING AND TOXIC METALS
The slow, or not so slow, replacement of vital minerals with toxic metals is an important and neglected cause of aging. It causes deactivation of enzyme systems and the loss of organ and tissue integrity. One could say it is the essence of aging, from a purely mineral perspective.
Toxic metal accumulation also feeds on itself. As one’s energy production decreases with age, the body is less able to eliminate toxic metals. This, in turn, causes more metal accumulation. Much could be said about this topic, and I refer the reader to the article entitled Life Extension.
GENETICS, GENE EXPRESSION AND TOXIC METALS
Many birth defects are due to faulty gene expression, and not DNA problems. Toxic metals are one cause.
For example, zinc is required for several key enzymes in gene expression, such as RNA transferase and RNA polymerase. Not surprisingly, zinc deficiency is associated with conditions such as neural tube defects. Many toxic metals interfere with zinc metabolism.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs are a fancy name for defective gene expression, even though the DNA is fine. Toxic metals at the cellular level can cause these.
One should not fear toxic metals. They cannot be completely avoided, but one can minimize exposure with careful eating and a healthful lifestyle.
Also, our bodies have a lot of evolutionary experience with them and effective mechanisms to eliminate them. These can be supported and enhanced with a development program.
This method, which does not involve chelation at all, uses at least 28 methods together, at once, to remove ALL toxic metals safely and deeply. In my experience, it is more thorough, safer and removes metals better than intravenous or any other type of chelation therapy. Also, all chelating agents remove some beneficial minerals along with the toxic ones. For more on why I do not like chelation therapy, read Chelation Therapy.
For details about the 28 methods of detoxification used with development programs, read Detoxification.
SYMPTOMS OF SOME COMMON TOXIC METALS
Aluminum - cookware, beverages in aluminum cans, tap water, table salt, baking powders, antacids, processed cheese, anti-perspirants, bleached flour, vaccines and perhaps other medications, and occupational exposure. Virtually everyone has too much aluminum in their bodies.
Antimony – found in Flovent, an inhaler used for asthma! Also used in lead-acid batteries, “lead-free” solder, bullets, motor bearings, pewter, some paints and glass, and some microelectronic circuits. It was formerly used in some anti-parasitic drugs.
Antimony is also used in most fire retardants that are required on most furniture, mattresses, cribs and other products. This is severely increasing the prevalence of antimony toxicity in homes and offices.
Arsenic - pesticides, beer, table salt, tap water, paints, pigments, cosmetics, glass and mirror manufacture, fungicides, insecticides, treated wood and contaminated food.
Beryllium - air pollution (burning fossil fuels), manufacture of plastics, electronics, steel alloys and volcanic ash.
Cadmium - cigarettes, (tobacco and marijuana), processed and refined foods, large fish, shellfish, tap water, auto exhaust, plated containers, galvanized pipes, air pollution from incineration and occupational exposure.
Copper - copper water pipes, copper added to tap water, pesticides, swimming in pools, intra-uterine devices, vegetarian diets, dental amalgams, nutritional supplements - especially prenatal vitamins, birth control pills, weak adrenal glands and occupational exposure.
Lead - tap water, cigarette smoke, hair dyes, paints, inks, glazes, pesticide residues and occupational exposure in battery manufacture and other industries.
Mercury - dental amalgams, ALL fish (tiny fish are better), ALL shellfish, sea vegetables, some medications such as thiazide diuretics, air pollution, gold mining, and the manufacture of paper, chlorine, adhesives, fabric softeners and waxes. Most everyone has too much mercury in their body today.
Nickel - hydrogenated oils (margarine, commercial peanut butter and shortening), shellfish, air pollution, cigarette smoke, plating and occupational exposure.
Aluminum – Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, anemia and other blood disorders, colic, fatigue, dental caries, dementia dialactica, hypoparathyroidism, kidney and liver dysfunctions, neuromuscular disorders, osteomalacia and Parkinson’s disease.
Antimony – Symptoms are usually chronic. Skin exposure can cause dermatitis. Lung exposure causes irritation and inflammation. Chronic use of Flovent (a drug) appears to keep the hair phosphorus level low. This may indicate impairment of protein biosynthesis.
Arsenic - abdominal pain, abnormal ECG, anorexia, dermatitis, diarrhea, edema, enzyme inhibitor, fever, fluid loss, goiter, hair loss, headache, herpes, impaired healing, interferes with the uptake of folic acid, inhibition of sulfhydryl enzyme systems, jaundice, keratosis, kidney and liver damage, muscle spasms, pallor, peripheral neuritis, sore throat, stomatitis, stupor, vasodilation, vertigo, vitiligo and weakness.
Beryllium - adrenal insufficiency, arthritis, bone spurs, bursitis, depression, fatigue, osteoporosis and symptoms of slow metabolism.
Cadmium - hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, arteriosclerosis, impaired bone healing, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, reduced fertility, hyperlipidemia, hypoglycemia, headaches, osteoporosis, kidney disease, schizophrenia and strokes.
Copper - acne, adrenal hyperactivity and/or insufficiency, agoraphobia, allergies, hair loss, anemia, anxiety, arthritis, autism, cancer, chronic candida albicans infection, depression, elevated cholesterol, cystic fibrosis, depression, diabetes, dyslexia, elevated estrogen, failure to thrive, fatigue, fears, fractures of the bones, headaches, heart attacks, hyperactivity, hypertension, hypothyroidism, infections, inflammation, insomnia, iron storage diseases, kidney and liver dysfunctions, decreased libido, multiple sclerosis, nervousness, osteoporosis, panic attacks, premenstrual syndrome, schizophrenia, strokes, tooth decay and vitamin C and other vitamin deficiencies.
Lead - abdominal pain, adrenal insufficiency, anemia, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, attention deficit, back problems, blindness, cancer, constipation, convulsions, deafness, depression, diabetes, dyslexia, epilepsy, fatigue, gout, impaired glycogen storage, hallucinations, hyperactivity, impotency, infertility, inflammation, kidney dysfunction, learning disabilities, diminished libido, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, psychosis, thyroid imbalances and tooth decay.
Mercury - adrenal gland dysfunction, alopecia, anorexia, ataxia, bipolar disorder, birth defects, blushing, depression, dermatitis, discouragement, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, hearing loss, hyperactivity, immune system dysfunction, insomnia, kidney damage, loss of self-control, memory loss, mood swings, nervousness, numbness and tingling, pain in limbs, rashes, excessive salivation, schizophrenia, thyroid dysfunction, timidity, tremors, peripheral vision loss and muscle weakness.
Nickel - cancer (oral and intestinal), depression, heart attacks, hemorrhages, kidney dysfunction, low blood pressure, malaise, muscle tremors and paralysis, nausea, skin problems, tetany and vomiting.
1. Schroeder, H., Trace elements and Man, The Devin-Adair Company, CT, 1975.
2. Ibid, p. 154
3. Braunwald, E. et al, editors, Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, McGraw-Hill, Professional, 15th edition, 2001.
4. Pfeiffer, C., Zinc and Other Micronutrients, Keats Publishing, CT, 1978.
5. Kutsky, R., Handbook of Vitamins, Minerals and Hormones, 2nd edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, NY, 1981.
6. Ibid., Schroeder, H., Trace Elements and Man.
7. Hall, R.H., Food For Naught, The Decline in Nutrition, Vintage Books, NY, 1974.
8. Anderson, M. and Jensen, B. Empty Harvest; Understanding the Link Between Our Food, Our Immunity and Our Planet, Avery Penguin Putnam, 1993.
9. Price, W., Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, CA, 1949.
10. Stannard, J., Shim, Y.S., Kritsineli, M., Labropoulo, P.,Tsamtsouris, A., Fluoride levels and fluoride contamination of fruit juices, J Clin Ped Dentistry, 1991;16(1).
11. From the warning label on hydrofluosilicic acid, Cargill Corporation, FL.
12. Casdorph, H.R. and Walker, M., Toxic Metal Syndrome, Avery Publishing, NY, 1995.
13. National Autism Association, Press Release, Feb. 9, 2004.
14. Eck, P. and Wilson, L., Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease, Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd., AZ, 1989, p. xiv.
15. Shamberger, R.J., Validity of hair mineral testing, Bio Trace Element Res, 2002, 87:1-28.
16. Muir, M., Current controversies in the diagnosis and treatment of heavy metal toxicity, Alternative and Comp Ther., June 1997:170-178.
17. Environmental Protection Agency, Research and Development, Toxic Trace Metals in Human and Mammalian Hair, EPA-600, 4.79-049, August 1979, p. 3.
18. Tuthill, R., Hair lead levels related to children’s classroom attention-deficit behavior, Arch Env Health, 1996, 51(3)214-220.
19. Ames, BN, Elson-Schwab, I., Silver, EA, High-dose vitamin therapy stimulates variant enzymes with decreased coenzyme binding affinity: relevance to genetic disease and polymorphisms, Am J Clin Nut. April 2002;75(4):616-658.
20. 1993, J Applied Nut, 45(1). (article on trace mineral content of organic foods versus commercial foods)
21. Mortensen, M.E. and Watson, P., Chelation therapy for childhood lead poisoning: The changing scene in the 1990s, Clin Ped., 1993;32:284-291.
21. Committee on Drugs, American Academy of Pediatrics Treatment guidelines for lead exposure in children, Pediatrics, 1995, 96:155-159.