There are many aspects of lifestyle that can impact your health including a healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep, social connectedness and stress reduction. Preventing excessive exposure to heavy metals isn’t necessarily at the top of the list when it comes to being proactive about our health, however, it can make a significant impact when it is identified as a contributing factor to your symptoms.
Toxins are ubiquitous in our environment and as I often say to my patients, “you can’t live in a bubble”. You can however deepen your awareness of how the environment affects your health and with that information make more informed decisions. Heavy metals are commonly found in the environment and our diet. In small amounts they are required for maintaining good health however, in larger amounts they can become toxic or dangerous. Heavy metal toxicity can affect your brain, lungs, kidney, liver, blood composition and other important organs, as well as your energy levels. If exposure is chronic, it can contribute to a serious decline in physical health often resembling diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Muscular Dystrophy. Heavy metals are also considered carcinogenic due to the impact they have on oxidative stress and DNA damage.
That all sounds rather discouraging, however, the good news is that there are tests we use at CentreSpring MD to evaluate whether or not heavy metals are affecting your health. Testing whole blood for many of the heavy metals can identify potentially toxic exposure to metals or imbalances of nutrient metals. The effects of mercury are best evaluated with samples or urine, blood and hair. The reason for this is that there are two different types of mercury, inorganic mercury and methylmercury. The ratios of these levels in hair, urine and blood will determine if mercury could be a contributing factor to your decline in health. In addition, imbalanced mineral pairs, especially copper to zinc ratios, can often present clinically as heavy metal toxicity. Elevated copper can worsen the damaging effects or elevated body burden of mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead.
If it is determined that heavy metals are playing a role in your symptoms, a successful, well rounded treatment plan can be implemented. The first step is optimizing your gastrointestinal system. If metals are not cleared out of the GI tract first, the liver and small intestine are unable to effectively clear metals from the body. This places more strain on the kidneys, overloading them with toxins and causing kidney damage. Binders containing purified silica, chlorella, charcoal and clay can remove metals from the gut preparing for further elimination. Supportive herbs like milk thistle, dandelion, bitters, and goldenrod and burdock will enhance the detoxification process.
Once the GI tract has been addressed, the next step is optimizing liver detoxification. There are many enzymes and specific cofactors necessary for optimizing liver detoxification. Optimizing glutathione levels with precursors such as NAC (N- acetyl cysteine) and /or IV glutathione or liposomal preparations is critical. Addressing Nrf2 (nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor) expression in cells using R -lipoic acid, broccoli seed extract, turmeric, green tea extract and garlic is also necessary. The Nrf2 pathway has been referred to as the “master regulator of antioxidant, detoxification and cell defense gene expression…”
If toxic metals are your medical issue and the root of inflammation and chronic disease, the next step is to develop a comprehensive treatment plan to address metal toxicity. This involves addressing diet, body fat levels where toxins are often stored, supplements for detoxification and the role of infrared saunas, sweat and exercise. Common supplements used include activated charcoal, calcium d glucarate and liposomal glutathione or NAC. In severe cases, IV glutathione is used along with DMSA chelation.
If you are interested in assessing the potential impact of heavy metals on your health and improving your body’s ability to clear toxins, our providers at CentreSpring MD would love to partner with you. Remember, improving your health and wellness is a journey. We look forward to serving you and your families in enjoying optimal health and wellness.
|Dr. Tanya Lehine is a board certified physician specializing in family medicine and functional medicine with expertise in women’s health and the mind-body connection to health and wellness.|
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a visit with Dr. Tanya Lehine D.O..