HEAVY METAL DETOX BASICS
I see heavy metal toxicity and mineral deficiencies as the most often ignored contributors to sub-fertility and infertility. Heavy metals can affect fertility significantly as well as contribute to everything from chronic illness and inflammation to Alzheimers. Moreover, heavy metals in the preconception period and in pregnancy can have a negative impact children’s health.
Therefore, it is imperative to plan at least 6 months before conceiving in order to give your body time to start detoxifying. Ideally, every parent would under go nutritional and heavy metal screening a year before conceiving in order to clear and strengthen the body before pregnancy.
1. Before you start: you cannot detox anything if you do not poop a decent amount at least once a day. If you do not have daily bowel movements, please do not attempt a detoxification program. Substances that are meant to be excreted will just be reabsorbed thereby defeating the purpose of detoxification.
Detox pathways (liver, kidneys, lymph) MUST be open and functioning or else you will feel horrendous when you start to detox. These organs pass on substances that the body no longer needs to the lungs, sweat gland, urine or feces to be excreted. That is why bowel movements and sweating – A LOT not just during a light walk but from a sauna or exercise – is necessary. You are literally sweating out or excreting what the body no longer needs.
Lymph: Dry brushing and using a trampoline are recommended as well as herbs to support the liver and kidneys to help the body detox substances out of the system.
You need to have a bowel moment, move, sweat and have decent functioning organs to detox properly. Makes sense, right? When heavy metals are released, they need to be able to move out of the body quickly and efficiently via lymph, urine, sweat, and stool. Women have the advantage of an additional detox pathway: menstruation.
2. Minerals: your body uses minerals as a chelator (natural binder). If you are low in certain minerals, your body will store metals as these metals are similar in structure to some minerals. An example of this is lead. If you are low in calcium, lead will be stored in the bones instead. Post menopausal women often test high in lead because it is being released from the bones (due to osteoporosis).
How do you know if you are low in minerals? Hair mineral analysis is an inexpensive test. Ideally, minerals are at optimal levels before starting a detoxification program. Blood tests are typically inaccurate as they only show what is circulating in your blood stream, not what has been stored in your organs and tissues (hair is considered a tissue.)
3. How long it takes: this actually depends on a few factors. It depends on the heavy metals present in your body, your mineral status, genetics, and your constitution. Some people can detox metals, parasites, etc more easily than others. There are 3 phases to detoxification. Each phase needs to be supported so that your body can get rid of metals slowly and safely. Many people just want a “hack” or “one supplement” that will work. Sorry but there are no hacks in this area of health.
There are many websites touting inaccurate information or overly simplistic advice. Some sites recommend just taking activated charcoal, for example. Activated charcoal leads to major constipation (see 1 above) and strips your body of metals as well as vital minerals. Activated charcoal takes everything in its path- this is great for food poisoning, emergency usage or diarrhea. AC is NOT meant for long-term detoxification.
You cannot detox heavy metals by using only one substance. Different metals and substances (pesticides, chemicals, etc) require different binders.
Working with a professional is the best way, but if that is not an option, there are ways of doing it yourself. In any case, please consult a physician or health care provider before starting a heavy metal detox.
4.Avoidance of toxins is the number one rule. If you are exposed to fewer heavy metals, the less your body has to deal with. Consider the water, air, soil, food, medications, pots/pans (aluminum pots and teflon pans are a big no no), supplements, cleaning supplies, beauty products and make up you use. They all contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals unless you consciously buy clean products. EWG.org has a fantastic database if you are not sure if your products are non-toxic.
5. Products: Please, please, please, use quality products. They will make all the difference to your body in this process. I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not buy from Amazon. Buy only from the companies directly, Fullscript, or iHerb. Many unscrupulous companies in the health sector sell on Amazon. My colleagues have many horrendous stories from their clients/patients.
6. A word about headaches and migraines: my training includes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM 80% of migraines are due to stagnant liver energy. It would make sense that an overburdened liver that is full of toxins would be contributing to your migraines (as well as to other issues). Even if you suffer from hormonal migraines (which appear at certain times of the month), a little liver support and detoxification can really make a difference.
This article and all information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Please consult your health care provider before starting a detoxification program.