Heavy Metal Poisoning
In chemistry heavy metals are those that have an atomic weight five times greater than that of water. The medical community uses the term a little more loosely and defines heavy metals as those that are toxic to humans. Heavy metals are pervasive in the environment. Years of leaded gasoline, fertilizers and pollution have left high levels of poisonous metals in our top soil, air and drinking water.
Some of these metals are present in the body in trace amounts. They're necessary for normal biological function, but when acute or prolonged exposure occurs toxic levels can develop. The older we are the more opportunities we've had to come into contact with these elements and the higher our toxicity levels. Age also hinders our body's natural cleansing methods resulting in heavy metal poisoning.
We can somewhat reduce our exposure to these toxins, but it is impossible to avoid them altogether. The most common types of heavy metal poisoning result from exposure to arsenic, lead, mercury cadmium, and aluminum. For adults exposure is usually an occupational hazard. Jobs related to woodworking, battery manufacture, and agriculture are all at high risk of heavy metal exposure. Children, on the other hand, generally come into contact with toxins at home by ingesting lead paint or lead paint dust.
Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning are often vague and worsen over time. They so closely resemble the symptoms of other common chronic illnesses that doctors fail to test for heavy metal toxicity. The strongest indication of this type of poisoning is a record of past exposure, but in the absence of this a doctor might spend valuable time testing for the wrong illnesses. Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning can include neurological symptoms like brain fog, memory loss, or lack of coordination. Sometimes behavioral changes are evident. A patient may be depressed, aggressive, or irritable. The immune system will be impaired resulting in a greater susceptibility to colds or viruses and in extreme cases an autoimmune disorder could be triggered. Finally, there may be higher incidences of allergies, particularly food allergies, and gastrointestinal problems. If you are suffering from some cluster of these symptoms with no known cause you might benefit from a heavy metal toxicity test.
There are several ways to test for heavy metals. A hair test is effective. It can indicate exposure as long as three months ago. Your doctor can do a blood, fecal, or urine test. Most of those tests involve introducing a provoking agent into the body. Your doctor can then test to see if your body is cleansing itself effectively. Finally there are some home test kits available. The only advantage of these tests is that some can be used to test food and water supplies as well as saliva.
If you test positive for heavy metals there are several treatments options available. Allopathic medicine uses a synthetic amino acid for chelation (pronounced keylaytion) therapy. Chelation therapy introduces a substance into the body, either orally or intravenously, that will bind with the heavy metals and carry them out of the body through urine or feces. This method is approved by the FDA and practiced by many physicians. Another school of thought believes that EDTA, the synthetic amino acid used in this therapy is equally dangerous. A holistic physician might choose to use more natural substances for chelation therapy. Chlorella, cilantro, and some plant based amino acids are all good choices for a heavy metal cleanse. These natural methods are more suited to long term maintenance and prevention plans.
Heavy metal toxicity left untreated can lead to other debilitating illnesses such as cirrhosis, diabetes, or chronic fatigue. It's definitely in you best interests to avoid exposure to whatever extent possible. Sometimes the only treatment necessary is to find the source and eliminate it from your diet. If you have even a small suspicion that you might be suffering from heavy metal toxicity you should seek help.