“Detoxification” is a naturally occurring process that the body is designed to perform in order to rid the body of waste products that occur as part of normal metabolism. In addition, it works to rid the body of toxic elements that are inhaled or consumed from the foods we eat and the environment around us.
So what causes the buildup of toxins? Most people are familiar with pesticides in food, contaminated water, chemicals we use in household and garden products, the air we breathe, and the myriad of junk and processed foods most people consume on a daily basis. These are the common environmental contaminants that will cross the mind of most people.
We are living in the most toxic age ever encountered by mankind. With considerable increases in autoimmune disease, obesity, allergies, infertility, and the ever increasing autism epidemic, many individuals are starting to realize that environmental toxins may be playing more of a detrimental role in our health than previously thought. It seems impossible to remove every harmful chemical from the body and there is no “perfectly clean” place on earth to live. The human body is designed to handle a certain amount of toxicity, but health problems start to occur in the case of toxic overload, poor nutritional status, and with an individual’s inability to excrete the toxic elements.
It’s well established that environmental chemicals, pesticides and carcinogens are linked to increased risks of several types of cancers, cause endocrine and immune system dysfunction as well as a range of cognitive disorders (such as learning disabilities, memory problems, and poor concentration). We typically associate exposure to carcinogens with our polluted environment, but you may be surprised by one common source – heavy metals.
Arsenic, for example, can be found in well water, rice, some fruit juices, baby foods, wines, pesticides, herbicides, and tobacco. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Chronic inorganic arsenic exposure is known to be associated with adverse health effects on several systems of the body, including the gastrointestinal system, but is most known for causing fatigue and specific types of skin lesions (sores, hyperpigmentation, and dermatitis), and increased risk of cancer of the lung and skin. Chronic arsenic exposure can also increase the risk of diabetes, neurological and/or reproductive problems.
Mercury, the most toxic non-radioactive heavy metal, is very commonly found in people with chronic illness and even in people who would never suspect a problem. Symptoms of mercury accumulation can include one or more of the following symptoms: Fatigue, brain fog, blurred vision, memory loss, depression, paresthesia, trembling of limbs, muscle weakness, irritability, moodiness, insomnia, kidney inflammation, and general cognitive decline (including psychological disorders).
The scientific literature suggests that silver amalgam fillings (which are about 50% mercury) have been associated with Alzheimers’s disease, infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid problems, kidney problems, autoimmunity, and an impaired immune system. Mercury has recently been documented to be associated with arrhythmias of the heart and cardiomyopathies, as hair analysis showed mercury levels to be significantly higher in those with heart abnormalities.
Mercury can accumulate in the unborn fetus substantially more, even up to 30 times more, than the mother because it becomes concentrated in the placenta. Toxicity is commonly found in autistic children and many symptoms of mercury toxicity express themselves on the autistic spectrum. Mercury is a cellular poison in very small doses and it creates a situation in which autoimmune disease is far more prevalent. It is also known to destroy nerve cells and neurons in the brain. It can be found in silver amalgam fillings, vaccines, fish and seafood, coal burning power plants, fluorescent light bulbs, old thermometers, and even high fructose corn syrup has been found to contain small amounts of mercury.
Lead is a well- known heavy metal that was commonly found in house paint before the late 1970s, however common exposure can still be found in batteries, cosmetics, pottery, and lead water pipes. Children living in old homes and even old toys may also be a source of exposure. Children who are exposed tend to have behavior problems, poor grades and learning difficulties. Chronic exposure can produce headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, memory loss, aggressive behavior, insomnia, fatigue, stomach cramps, kidney dysfunction, and many other symptoms.
Children with behavior problems, seizures or mental illness are likely to have chronic heavy metal poisoning as well as adults. It’s unusual if a child growing up today doesn’t have some sort of heavy metal or toxic metal exposure, especially if the Mom has silver fillings. Symptoms can be inconspicuous and slowly develop over time, leading to different health problems in the future.
There are some tests you can do to help you become more aware of these toxic elements in your environment and evaluate your ability to excrete them efficiently. This can be an important factor for your long term health.
Signs and symptoms of toxic overload will differ from one person to the next, but here are a few signs that your body may be warning you:
*Feeling tired, sluggish, lethargic
*Trouble with memory, concentration and staying focused
*Frequent colds/flu’s or infections
Proper testing can help determine if heavy metal toxicity is the cause of the above symptoms. This is why it’s vitally important to scientifically validate the cause of your symptoms.
Toxic Element Testing
As a screening tool for toxins, no one laboratory test exists that is absolutely definitive. It is critical that any test result be looked at in careful consideration of other test results, symptoms, and environmental exposures. Toxic elements can be assessed via blood, urine, and hair sampling. Blood testing can be used to evaluate metabolic and nutritional status, but using blood to measure toxic elements alone is unreliable unless one has had an acute “poisoning” very recently prior to taking the blood sample. It is not a reliable means of assessing long-term body burden of toxic elements. Urine and hair samples, in combination with blood testing, give a more accurate assessment of toxic body burden, as well as the body’s ability to excrete toxic elements.
The hair root is in constant contact with blood vessels, allowing both essential and toxic elements to enter the hair shaft continuously as hair grows. Since hair typically only grows at a rate of ½ inch per month, hair analysis reflects long-term excretion rates of various elements. One must understand that hair is an excretory tissue so any results that are “high” in the hair tissue are being excreted. In a way, this is a good thing! When it comes to toxic elements, if one is getting exposed, we want to see them coming out.
Most alarmingly and even more importantly is what is NOT being excreted. Just because a toxic element is not coming out via hair or urine does not mean you have not been exposed to that toxic element. Many times the clients that show no toxic element elimination in the hair or urine will be the sickest clients! It can indicate one has an inability to excrete the toxic element which can lead to many of the symptoms discussed earlier.
The Urine Toxic Element Challenge test is especially useful when you find there is very little excretion of toxic elements in the hair elements test. This test allows us to see what you excrete on your own via urine and what we’re able to “purge” or “chelate” using a provoking agent. A “provoking agent” is a product known to “purge” toxic elements. Some provoking agents are metal specific. For example, EDTA is well known for ability to provoke or purge lead from the body. To perform the test, there are two days’ worth of urine collection. The first day, one typically collects the urine for 6 hours to determine what the individual is excreting in the urine on their own ability. The second day of testing, a provoking agent is administered and another 6 hour urine collection is performed. This information reveals the body burden of stored toxic elements that the provoking agent is able to help the body purge.
If you’re considering “detoxing,” do it the safe way. Get tested to determine your overall health and ability to handle a detox program and to monitor the effectiveness of the therapy. Detoxing is unsafe for pregnant or nursing women. People with certain health conditions such as anemia, diabetes, thyroid, liver and kidney disease should only consider detox protocols under the supervision a health care provider who is testing to determine progress and safety. Keep in mind, the body does not always give a lot of warning signs. You can have only 20% kidney or liver function and have virtually NO SYMPTOMS. You may be simply a little fatigued.
What does one test tell you? ….nothing definitively. This is why combining the blood work with the toxic element testing gives you the best overall picture and plan of action for your health. Schedule your appointment today to determine if a detox program is right for you.