(By Lily Whitehawk) Heavy metals are tricky little devils. They are experts when it comes to sneaking into our water and air. They bury themselves in shampoo, body products, cigarettes, make-up, disposable diapers, vaccinations, medications, tooth fillings, drink containers, and food. They hide in energy saving light bulbs, high fructose corn syrup, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. They can make a Trojan horse out of just about anything. With this strategy they are able to by-pass our common sense (who in their right mind would willingly open up and swallow cadmium or mercury or aluminum or lead?) and fool the guard into letting them through the gate that protects our health and well being.
Once inside our bodies they waste little to no time, moving rapidly through the bloodstream to reach their goal: bones, brain, liver, nerves, heart, muscle. Our bodies do what they can to shuttle these invaders into fat cells where their potential to do damage is lessened, but if the assault is large enough or of long enough duration this quickly becomes a losing strategy. Once those metal molecules that evade imprisonment-by-fat-cell reach their destination, they easily penetrate the cell walls of their target tissues. There they set up shop and begin creating inflammatory chaos and electromagnetic confusion, eventually disabling the body’s ability to function properly. This leads to all kinds of serious trouble, like eyesight and hearing loss, headaches and their evil twin migraines, blood diseases, mood changes, irritability, muscle spasms and weakness, numbness of the face or extremities, chronic fatigue, memory loss, tingling in the hands and feet, allergies, arthritis, skin rashes, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, ALS, heart disease, depression, kidney failure, elevated cholesterol levels, ADHD, Autism, anxiety and panic disorder, digestive and reproductive disorders, and cancer.
The really scary thing? At this point it is a rare person or life form who does not have some level of metal toxicity in their tissues. During one group study done in Canada a few years ago, every single person tested positive for heavy metals.
“Uh oh!” you are probably thinking. “This does not sound good AT ALL! I need to find out if these nasty molecules are inside of me. How the heck do I do that?”
Time to call on the three most commonly used heavy metal detectives: hair mineral analysis, blood panel, and urinalysis. Health practitioners use one or more of these methods to give them an idea of what metals at what levels the client is being exposed to, and how much of this is being retained by the body.
Hair mineral analysis is done by analyzing a hair sample for metal content and mineral levels. The sample is sent to a lab where it usually takes from a few days to three weeks to perform and record the tests and then get the results back. There they check for the presence and levels of heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, aluminum, arsenic… all the usual suspects. They also analyze the levels and ratios of vital minerals. A deficit or overabundance of certain minerals can indicate imbalances caused by the presence of metal toxicity. One drawback of hair analysis is possible contamination from metals in the air or in hair products (thus the preference of some labs for cleaning hair samples before testing). Another drawback is that the sample will only indicate the metals that have been excreted, because although hair is made up of dead cells extruded from the body, it does not indicate what metals at what levels remain in the living cells. It does show the presence of exposure, and the fact that the metals have been absorbed into the body tissues. The appeal of this type of testing is that it is relatively inexpensive and can be ordered without a physician.
A blood panel is more expensive, and has to be ordered by a physician or holistic health professional. A blood sample is drawn in the doctor’s office or the lab. It can take from two to three weeks to receive the results, which will be delivered to your health care professional for analysis. Some metals will not show up in a blood panel, and it will not reveal the exact levels of metals that are being held in body tissue, or heavy metal invaders from past exposures. It will show the presence of heavy metals that are circulating in the bloodstream from real time exposure. Examination of the condition of red blood cells in particular can indicate whether or not certain metals are present at toxic levels in the body as a whole.
Urinalysis is less expensive than a blood panel, but also must be ordered by a health professional. A urine sample is sent to a lab, where it can take up to two weeks to process and return to your care provider so he can analyze the results. This test is also not an accurate measure of the presence and levels of toxic metals hiding in body tissue, or any metal toxicity in the body from past exposures. It indicates the type and levels of metals that are circulating through the system at the time the test was taken. There can also be a problem determining an accurate evaluation of metal toxicity using urine specimens from those with kidney disease or compromised kidney function. Struggling kidneys can not efficiently remove offending metals from blood and eliminate them in the urine. This allows more metals to escape filtration and make it to their respective hiding places. In these cases, a client may test low for metal toxicity when in fact they are seriously toxic.
There is a type of urine test called a “provoked” urine test, where a strong chelating agent is administered intravenously, by pill, or by injection. This forces metals out of hiding and into the bloodstream where they are carried to the kidneys to be eliminated through the urine. This kind of test, while it will definitely show if metals are present in the tissues, has serious drawbacks. It can cause severe side effects because of the type of chelators used. There is also the danger of forcing heavy metals out of fat cells where they are less harmful, only to have them migrate and re-establish themselves in critical tissue, such as the brain or the heart. This method is especially dangerous for those with already compromised body systems, or those with impaired liver or kidney function.
Although all three of these heavy metal detectors can reveal some of the truth, short of a biopsy of organ tissue to determine how much of which metal is actually being stored in your body (a very expensive detective with quite painful methodology), there is really no way to know for certain how much heavy metal you are carrying around in your cells. So, absent definitive evidence, let’s look at the circumstantial evidence. You live on the planet. Check. I am assuming you do not live in a bubble. Check. The planet is growing more toxic every day. Check. You breathe the air. Check. You drink the water. Check. You eat. Check. You especially like to consume fish. Check. You have been vaccinated. Check. You have now or have in the past had one or more amalgam (silver) tooth fillings. Check. You have been suffering from more than one of the symptoms listed in the second paragraph of this article. Check.
Here’s the question you need to ask yourself. Am I going to sit around and wait until it gets really really bad and those muscle cramps and that occasional memory lapse become so pronounced that I can’t walk without hobbling and I don’t remember my own name? Or am I going to look clearly at the evidence, both that revealed in a test of my blood, hair, or urine, as well as the overwhelming circumstantial evidence before me, and DO SOMETHING?!
If you wisely decide to do something, the first step is to find a doctor or health practitioner you trust. Tell them you suspect you may have an issue with metal toxicity and request a test. Ask for help in removing toxic metals from your body. Make sure the detox protocol they offer includes ways to support you during the detox process as well as methods to restore you to optimum health once those pesky metals are gone for good. Then listen to what they recommend and follow their advice. To the letter. No wiggle room.
Wake up! Take your health back.