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Heavy Metal Toxicity: Sources, Symptoms, Testing and Treatment.


Heavy Metals in our Environment


It is of no surprise that many hard to treat conditions stem from heavy metal toxicity. Dependent on our environmental exposures over the years, we all have variable levels of heavy metals in our bodies.


Heavy metals bioaccumulate in plants and animals which we consume, and therefore accumulate in our bodies over the years. A common example is mercury in tuna fish. Heavy metals are taken in via ingestion, inhalation of polluted air and via absorption through the skin. Heavy metals destroy the balance of biochemical pathways, leading to degeneration and disease.


Representation of heavy metals building up in the ecosystem.
Bioaccumulation & Biomagnification


Heavy Metals: Sources, Symptoms and Chelators


Common Symptoms and Signs of heavy metal burden in our bodies:

  • Allergic reactions (beryllium, chromium)

  • Neurotoxicity (lead)

  • Nephrotoxicity (mercuric chloride, cadmium chloride)

  • Cancer (arsenic, hexavalent chromium)

Heavy Metals: Sources, Symptoms, Associated Diseases and Chelators

Aluminum

Sources:

  1. Cookware: Aluminum pots, pans, and cookware can release small amounts of aluminum into food during cooking. Anodized aluminum cookware is less likely to leach aluminum into food compared to regular aluminum cookware.

  2. Food and Beverages: Aluminum is naturally present in many foods and beverages, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and drinking water. Additionally, aluminum may be used in food additives, such as baking powder, anti-caking agents, and food colourings.

  3. Aluminum Foil: Aluminum foil is used for cooking and food storage. Some aluminum may leach into food when it comes into direct contact with aluminum foil during cooking or storage.

  4. Antacids: Some antacid medications, such as those containing aluminum hydroxide, are used to relieve heartburn and indigestion. These medications can contribute to aluminum exposure, especially with prolonged use.

  5. Cosmetics: Aluminum compounds, such as aluminum chlorohydrate, are commonly used in antiperspirants and deodorants to reduce sweat and odor. Some cosmetics may also contain aluminum-based pigments.

  6. Medications: Aluminum may be found in certain medications, including some over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-diarrheal drugs.

  7. Vaccines: Some vaccines may contain trace amounts of aluminum salts as adjuvants to enhance the body's immune response to the vaccine. The aluminum content in vaccines is carefully regulated and considered safe.

  8. Consumer Products: Aluminum is used in various consumer products, including baking pans, aluminum-based cleaning products, and household items like aluminum foil.

  9. Occupational Exposure: People working in certain industries, such as aluminum smelting and manufacturing, can be exposed to higher levels of aluminum through their work.

  10. Environmental Exposure: Aluminum is naturally present in the environment and can be found in air, soil, and water. People may be exposed to aluminum through these environmental sources, although the levels are generally low.

  11. Metal alloys: A variety of metal alloys are made to create a variety of metals for use in the industry.

Symptoms: These symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the exposure and individual factors. Here are some potential symptoms and health effects of aluminum toxicity:

  • Neurological Symptoms:

    • Memory problems

    • Confusion

    • Cognitive impairment

    • Muscle weakness and twitching

    • Speech and language difficulties

    • Seizures (in severe cases)

  • Bone and Skeletal Effects:

    • Osteoporosis (reduced bone density)

    • Brittle bones

    • Bone pain and fracture

  • Hematological (Blood) Symptoms:

    • Anemia (reduced red blood cell count)

    • Microcytosis (abnormally small red blood cells)

    • Hypochromia (pale red blood cells)

  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms:

    • Nausea and vomiting

    • Diarrhea or constipation

    • Abdominal pain

  • Respiratory Symptoms:

    • Coughing

    • Shortness of breath

    • Pulmonary fibrosis (in severe and chronic cases)

  • Dermatological Symptoms:

    • Skin rashes

    • Itching (pruritus)

  • Bone and Joint Pain: Some individuals with aluminum toxicity may experience bone and joint pain, which can mimic symptoms of arthritis.

  • Muscle Pain: Muscle pain and weakness may occur.

  • Aluminum-Related Dialysis Encephalopathy: This condition is seen in individuals with kidney failure undergoing dialysis using water contaminated with aluminum. It can lead to severe neurological symptoms and cognitive impairment.

It's important to note that the symptoms of aluminum toxicity can be subtle and may not always be recognized immediately. Moreover, the threshold for toxic effects can vary from person to person. Chronic exposure to aluminum is often associated with certain medical conditions, such as kidney dysfunction, which impairs the body's ability to excrete excess aluminum.


Aluminum toxicity can lead to the following health concerns:

  • Neurological Disorders:

    • Aluminum Encephalopathy: High levels of aluminum in the brain can contribute to encephalopathy, which is characterized by symptoms like memory loss, confusion, speech difficulties, and muscle weakness.

    • Alzheimer's Disease: Some studies have suggested a potential link between aluminum exposure and an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, although the exact role of aluminum in the development of Alzheimer's is still under investigation and remains a topic of debate among researchers.

  • Bone Disorders:

    • Osteoporosis: Aluminum can interfere with calcium metabolism and bone formation, potentially leading to reduced bone density and an increased risk of fractures.

  • Hematological Effects:

    • Anemia: Aluminum exposure may contribute to anemia, a condition characterized by a decrease in the number of red blood cells or a decrease in hemoglobin levels.

  • Renal (Kidney) Dysfunction:

    • Aluminum Nephrotoxicity: High aluminum levels in the body can damage the kidneys, leading to renal dysfunction or failure. This condition can result in various symptoms, including changes in urine output and kidney function.

  • Respiratory Conditions:

    • Pulmonary Fibrosis: Chronic inhalation of aluminum dust or fumes has been associated with pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which lung tissue becomes scarred, leading to breathing difficulties.

  • Dermatological Effects:

    • Dermatitis: Some individuals may develop skin rashes or contact dermatitis upon direct contact with aluminum or aluminum-containing substances.


It's important to emphasize that acute aluminum toxicity is rare and typically occurs in occupational or accidental exposure scenarios. Chronic exposure to elevated levels of aluminum is a more common concern, particularly in individuals with impaired kidney function, as healthy kidneys help excrete excess aluminum from the body.

Aluminum is naturally present in the environment and is used in various consumer products and medications. For most people, exposure to aluminum occurs at low levels and is not associated with adverse health effects. However, individuals with specific medical conditions, such as kidney dysfunction, may be more susceptible to aluminum toxicity and should take precautions to minimize exposure.

Chelator(s): EDTA


Antimony

Sources: Summary: Smelters, Coal-fired plants, refuse incinerators, tobacco smoke, antihelminthic/antiprotozoal agents, automobile batteries, solder, sheet metal, pipes, bearings, castings, ammunition, cable sheathing, pewter, semiconductors, aluminum, gallium, infrared detectors, thermoelectric devices. Trioxide: flame retardants, plastics, textiles, rubber, adhesives, paper, pigments, paint, ceramics, pesticides, fireworks.

  1. Natural Occurrence: Antimony is found naturally in the Earth's crust, and it can be released into the environment through weathering of rocks and soil erosion. As a result, low levels of antimony are present in soil, water, and air in most regions.

  2. Mining and Smelting: Human activities related to the mining and smelting of antimony ores can release substantial amounts of antimony into the environment. This includes activities like extracting antimony from stibnite ore. Mining operations can lead to the contamination of nearby soil and water.

  3. Industrial Processes: Antimony is used in various industrial processes, including the production of flame retardants, batteries, ceramics, and glass. These industries can release antimony compounds into the air and water during manufacturing.

  4. Wastewater Discharges: Industries that use antimony or antimony-containing products may release antimony into wastewater. This can enter surface water and potentially contaminate drinking water sources.

  5. Consumer Products: Some consumer products, such as certain flame-retardant textiles and plastics, may contain antimony compounds. Over time, these products can release antimony into the environment through wear and tear.

  6. Fossil Fuel Combustion: Small amounts of antimony can be present in coal and other fossil fuels. When these fuels are burned for energy, antimony may be released into the atmosphere.

  7. Natural Water Sources: Antimony can be found in natural water sources, including rivers and lakes. In some regions, elevated levels of antimony in water sources may be attributed to geological factors.

  8. Food and Beverages: Antimony can be present in trace amounts in certain foods and beverages. The levels are generally low and not considered a significant source of exposure for most individuals. However, certain food packaging materials may contain antimony.

  9. Soil: Antimony can accumulate in soil, particularly in areas near industrial facilities or mining sites. This can affect the quality of soil and potentially impact crops grown in contaminated areas.

  10. Air: Antimony can be present in the air, primarily in the form of fine particulate matter. Emissions from industrial processes and natural sources contribute to the presence of antimony in the atmosphere.

It's important to note that while antimony is naturally occurring and widespread in the environment, excessive exposure to high levels of antimony can have adverse health effects. Occupational exposure in industries involving antimony and contamination of local water sources near mining or industrial sites are areas of concern. Regulations and guidelines are in place in many regions to limit human exposure to antimony to safe levels. Monitoring and environmental management practices are also used to mitigate the impact of antimony on ecosystems and human health.

Symptoms: Topica/Respiratory irritant, dizziness, headache, insomnia, anosmia, hypertension, spontaneous abortion, menstrual disturbances, ECG abnormalities.


Antimony toxicity can lead to the following health concerns:

  1. Gastrointestinal Disorders: Acute antimony poisoning can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Chronic exposure to antimony may lead to gastritis and other gastrointestinal problems.

  2. Cardiovascular Effects: Antimony toxicity can result in cardiovascular issues, including an elevated or irregular heart rate (tachycardia), low blood pressure (hypotension), and cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms).

  3. Respiratory Problems: Inhaling or ingesting antimony compounds can irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and potentially more severe respiratory conditions, such as pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs).

  4. Neurological Symptoms: Antimony exposure may lead to neurological symptoms, including headache, dizziness, confusion, memory problems, muscle weakness, tremors, and, in severe cases, seizures.

  5. Dermatological Issues: Skin contact with antimony compounds can result in skin rashes, itching (pruritus), and swelling of the face and lips. Prolonged exposure may lead to more severe skin reactions.

  6. Kidney Damage: In cases of severe antimony toxicity, kidney damage can occur, potentially leading to kidney dysfunction or failure. Symptoms may include decreased urine output and changes in kidney function.

  7. Anemia: Chronic exposure to antimony may lead to anemia, which is a condition characterized by a reduced number of red blood cells or a decrease in hemoglobin levels in the blood. This can result in fatigue, weakness, and other anemia-related symptoms.

  8. Bone and Joint Issues: Antimony toxicity can affect bone health, potentially leading to osteoporosis (reduced bone density), brittle bones, bone pain, and fractures.

  9. Reproductive and Developmental Effects: Some studies suggest that high levels of antimony exposure may have adverse effects on reproduction and fetal development, although more research is needed in this area.

Chelator(s): DMPS/DMSA, EDTA

Arsenic

Sources Summary: ​Lime manufacturing, automobile batteries, asphalt, asphalt felts and coatings, lead and copper refining (smelters), wood preservative, pesticides(primarily cotton), insecticides, herbicides, algicides, growth stimulants for plants and animals, lead oxide, glass, electronics, semiconductors, metallurgy, pigments, electroplating, well water, seafood and shellfish, smog, rodenticides, fungicides.

Symptoms: Respiratory/GI Irritant, Lyphocytopenia, Anemia, Birth Defects, Anxiety, Carcinogenic (skin, lung), Cardiac arrhythmias, neurotoxicity, depression, garlic breath, headaches, Hyperpigmentation of Skin, Keratosis, Neuralgia/ Neuropathy, PVC’s, Spontaneous Abortion, Nephritis.


Arsenic toxicity leads to the following health concerns:

  • Skin Disorders:

    • Hyperpigmentation: Prolonged exposure to arsenic can cause skin discoloration and darkening, known as hyperpigmentation.

    • Hyperkeratosis: Arsenic exposure may lead to the thickening of the skin, particularly on the palms and soles of the feet.

  • Cancers:

    • Skin Cancer: Arsenic exposure is a known risk factor for skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

    • Lung Cancer: Inhaling arsenic-contaminated air, such as through occupational exposure, can increase the risk of lung cancer.

    • Bladder Cancer: Long-term ingestion of arsenic-contaminated water is associated with an elevated risk of bladder cancer.

    • Kidney Cancer: Some studies suggest a possible link between arsenic exposure and kidney cancer.

  • Cardiovascular Disorders:

    • Hypertension: Chronic arsenic exposure has been linked to high blood pressure (hypertension), which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

  • Neurological Effects:

    • Neuropathy: Prolonged arsenic exposure can lead to peripheral neuropathy, characterized by tingling, numbness, and weakness in the extremities.

  • Respiratory Conditions:

    • Respiratory Symptoms: Inhalation of arsenic dust or fumes can irritate the respiratory system, leading to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

  • Gastrointestinal Disorders:

    • Nausea and Vomiting: Acute arsenic exposure can cause nausea and vomiting.

    • Abdominal Pain and Diarrhea: Ingesting arsenic-contaminated food or water can result in gastrointestinal distress, including abdominal pain and diarrhea.

  • Circulatory Problems:

    • Peripheral Vascular Disease: Arsenic exposure has been associated with peripheral vascular disease, which can lead to reduced blood flow to the limbs.

  • Reproductive and Developmental Effects:

    • Infertility: Arsenic exposure may affect reproductive health and fertility in both men and women.

    • Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes: High levels of arsenic exposure during pregnancy have been linked to adverse outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and developmental issues in infants.

It's important to note that the severity of arsenic toxicity and its associated health effects can vary based on factors such as the level and duration of exposure, the source of exposure (e.g., drinking water, occupational exposure), and individual susceptibility.

Chelator(s): DMPS, DMSA

Cadmium

Sources: Asphalt, asphalt felts and coatings, lime manufacturing; batteries; metal plating; pigments; plastics; paints; metal soldering and welding; electroplating; semiconductors; metallurgy; photography; printing; textiles; food-shellfish, liver and kidney meat; cigarette smoke; fertilizer; drinking water; fungicides; rubber; photoconductors. Symptoms:​ Respiratory/GI Irritant; Nephrotoxicity; Anemia; Bhavioral Changes; Cancer (lung, prostate ); Emphysema; HA; HTN; Osteomalacia; Autoimmune Disorders; Immunosuppression; Neurotoxicity; Birth Defects; Infertility.


Cadmium toxicity leads to the following health concerns:

  • Renal (Kidney) Damage:

    • Cadmium Nephrotoxicity: Cadmium has a strong affinity for the kidneys and can accumulate there over time, leading to kidney damage. This condition can result in impaired kidney function, proteinuria (the presence of excess protein in the urine), and ultimately chronic kidney disease (CKD).

  • Bone Disorders:

    • Itai-Itai Disease: This condition, primarily seen in Japan, is characterized by severe bone pain and osteomalacia (softening of the bones) due to chronic cadmium exposure. It is associated with a condition called "cadmium-induced osteomalacia."

  • Respiratory Issues:

    • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Long-term inhalation of cadmium-containing fumes or dust, often in occupational settings, can contribute to the development of COPD, a group of lung diseases that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

  • Cardiovascular Effects:

    • Hypertension: Chronic cadmium exposure has been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

  • Cancer:

    • Lung Cancer: Inhalation of cadmium particles, particularly in industrial or occupational settings, is a well-established risk factor for lung cancer.

    • Prostate Cancer: Some studies have suggested a possible link between cadmium exposure and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

    • Pancreatic Cancer: There is evidence to suggest that long-term cadmium exposure may be associated with an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer.

  • Gastrointestinal Disorders:

    • Nausea and Vomiting: Acute cadmium exposure can cause nausea and vomiting.

    • Abdominal Pain and Diarrhea: Ingesting cadmium-contaminated food or water can result in gastrointestinal distress, including abdominal pain and diarrhea.

  • Reproductive and Developmental Effects:

    • Fertility Issues: Cadmium exposure may affect reproductive health and fertility in both men and women.

    • Developmental Effects: Exposure to cadmium during pregnancy may have adverse effects on fetal development, potentially leading to low birth weight and developmental issues in infants.

It's important to note that the severity of cadmium toxicity and its associated health effects can vary based on factors such as the level and duration of exposure, the source of exposure (e.g., occupational exposure, contaminated food), and individual susceptibility. Chelator(s): EDTA, DMPS (may dissociate at kidney if urine not alkalized)

Lead

Sources: Lead crystal; pesticides; batteries; sheet lead; solder; pipes; roofing materials; caulking; buckles; petroleum refining; radiation protection; pigments; paints; plastics; ceramics; electrical devices; ballast; tv glass; brass; bronze; gasoline; ammunition; mining; electrical wire insulation; drinking water; fertilizer; candle wicks.

Symptoms​: GI Symptoms; Colic; Anemia;Neurotoxicity; Neuropathy; Hepatotoxicity, P-450 Enzyme Inh; ECG Abnormalities; Infertility; Gingival Lead Lines; Ototoxicity; Growth Retardation; Developmental Delay; Psychomotor impairment; Fatigue; Anxiety; HA; Immunotoxicity; Cancer.


Lead toxicity leads to the following health concerns:

  • Neurological Disorders:

    • Lead Encephalopathy: Acute exposure to high levels of lead can lead to lead encephalopathy, a condition characterized by symptoms such as confusion, irritability, headache, seizures, and coma.

    • Cognitive and Behavioral Problems: Chronic lead exposure in children can result in cognitive and behavioral issues, including lower IQ scores, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and reduced academic achievement.

  • Hematological Effects:

    • Anemia: Lead interferes with the body's ability to produce hemoglobin, leading to anemia, which is characterized by a reduced number of red blood cells or a decrease in hemoglobin levels in the blood.

  • Renal (Kidney) Effects:

    • Lead Nephrotoxicity: High levels of lead can damage the kidneys, potentially leading to renal dysfunction.

  • Cardiovascular Effects:

    • Hypertension: Chronic lead exposure has been linked to high blood pressure (hypertension), a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

  • Gastrointestinal Distress:

    • Abdominal Pain and Cramps: Lead exposure can result in abdominal discomfort, including pain and cramps.

    • Nausea and Vomiting: Acute lead poisoning can lead to nausea and vomiting.

  • Reproductive and Developmental Effects:

    • Fertility Issues: Lead exposure may affect reproductive health and fertility in both men and women.

    • Developmental Effects: Prenatal exposure to lead can have serious consequences for fetal development, potentially leading to low birth weight, developmental delays, and intellectual disabilities in children.

  • Skeletal Effects:

    • Lead Lines: Chronic lead exposure can lead to lead lines in the bones, visible on X-rays.

    • Reduced Bone Density: Lead exposure may result in reduced bone density, contributing to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.

  • Immune System Effects:

    • Weakened Immune Response: Some studies suggest that lead exposure may weaken the immune system's ability to fight infections.

  • Cancer: Although the evidence is less conclusive than for some other health effects, lead exposure has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, such as kidney cancer.

Chelators: EDTA/DMSA, DMPS

Mercury (organic and inorganic)

There are three primary forms of mercury that can lead to toxicity: elemental mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds (such as methylmercury).


Sources: ​Thermometers; batteries; fish; Pigments; bactericides; antiseptic creams; skin lightening creams; fireworks; dental amalgams; pesticides; asphalt; agricultural chemical; photography; taxidermy; electrical equipment; electroplating; felt making; textiles; interior paint before 1990; hemorrhoidal preparations; hospital wastes; waste incineration; paper industry; explosives; fungicides.

Symptoms: Fatigue; Neurotoxicity; Emotional; Disturbances; Neuropathy; Altered Libido; Birth Defects; Spontaneous Abortion; Excessive Salivation; Tremors; Irritability; Menstrual Disorders; Autoimmune Disease; Nephritis.


Mercury toxicity leads to the following health concerns:

Here are some of the health concerns associated with mercury toxicity:

  • Neurological Effects:

    • Minamata Disease: Prolonged exposure to methylmercury, often through contaminated seafood, can result in Minamata disease, characterized by severe neurological symptoms, including muscle weakness, ataxia (loss of coordination), speech and vision disturbances, and cognitive impairment.

    • Peripheral Neuropathy: Mercury exposure can lead to peripheral neuropathy, a condition characterized by tingling, numbness, and weakness in the extremities.

    • Cognitive and Behavioral Issues: Chronic exposure to mercury, especially in children, can result in cognitive and behavioral problems, including learning disabilities, memory issues, and mood disturbances.

  • Renal (Kidney) Effects:

    • Mercury Nephrotoxicity: High levels of mercury can damage the kidneys, potentially leading to renal dysfunction.

  • Gastrointestinal Distress:

    • Nausea and Vomiting: Acute mercury poisoning can lead to nausea and vomiting.

    • Abdominal Pain: Mercury exposure can result in abdominal discomfort, including pain and cramps.

  • Respiratory Symptoms:

    • Mercury Vapor Inhalation: Inhalation of mercury vapor (as in certain industrial settings) can lead to respiratory symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

  • Dermatological Effects:

    • Allergic Dermatitis: Some individuals may develop allergic dermatitis upon contact with certain mercury compounds.

  • Cardiovascular Effects:

    • Hypertension: Chronic exposure to mercury, particularly methylmercury, has been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

  • Gastrointestinal and Cardiovascular Effects:

    • Mercury-Containing Amalgam Fillings: Dental amalgam fillings, which contain elemental mercury, have been a topic of concern regarding potential mercury exposure. However, extensive research has shown that the levels of mercury released from amalgam fillings are generally considered safe for most people.

  • Developmental and Reproductive Effects:

    • Prenatal Exposure: Mercury exposure during pregnancy can have adverse effects on fetal development, potentially leading to developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, and birth defects.

    • Fertility Issues: Mercury exposure may affect reproductive health and fertility in both men and women.

  • Skeletal Effects:

    • **High levels of inorganic mercury exposure can affect bone health, potentially leading to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk.

  • Immune System Effects:

    • Weakened Immune Response: Some studies suggest that mercury exposure may weaken the immune system's ability to fight infections.

Chelators: DMPS/DMSA

Nickel

Sources: Jewelry; coins; stainless-steel; ceramics; pigments; cast iron; batteries; electroplating; metal alloys; electrical circuits; dyes; pesticides; lime manufacturing, asphalt; tobacco smoke; volcanoes; power plants; waste incinerators; diesel exhaust; cocoa; hydrogenated oils. Symptoms: Dermatitis; Respiratory Irritation/Cancer; Emphysema; Colic; Excessive Salivation; Fatigue; HA; Muscle Pain; Vertigo; Hepato/ Nephrotoxicity; Male Infertility

Nickel toxicity can lead to the following health concerns:

  • Dermatological Effects:

    • Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Nickel is a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis, a skin condition characterized by redness, itching, rash, and blisters. This condition occurs in individuals who are hypersensitive or allergic to nickel.

  • Respiratory Symptoms:

    • Occupational Exposure: Occupational exposure to airborne nickel particles or fumes, such as in industries involving nickel production or welding, can lead to respiratory symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

  • Gastrointestinal Distress:

    • Ingestion of Soluble Nickel Compounds: Ingesting soluble forms of nickel compounds, often through contaminated food or water, can result in gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

  • Cardiovascular Effects:

    • Hypertension: Chronic nickel exposure, particularly in occupational settings, has been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

  • Neurological Effects:

    • Neurotoxic Effects: Some studies have suggested that high levels of nickel exposure may have neurotoxic effects, potentially leading to symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and cognitive impairment.

  • Carcinogenicity:

    • Cancer Risk: Prolonged exposure to certain forms of nickel, such as nickel compounds like nickel subsulfide and nickel oxide, has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This means there is sufficient evidence to support that these forms of nickel are carcinogenic to humans, particularly associated with lung cancer.

Chelators: DMPS/EDTA

Tin

Sources: Anthelminthic drugs, bactericides; brass; bronze; coated wire; colored glass; dental materials; dyes; electronics; fabrics; fencing; fingernail polish; flooring; food​canning; fungicide; glass; leather; mining; nuclear reactors; paints; ​paper; perfumes; pesticides; pewter; pharmaceuticals; pipes; ​polyurethane foams; rodent repellants; ropes; silicone; silverware; soaps; soft plastics; soldering material; wood preservative; food additives; toothpaste (past); plastics; paints; ​flame retardants; cosmetics; ​bleaching agents; rodenticides. Symptoms: Topical/Respiratory/GI Irritant; Pneumoconiosis; Neurotoxicity; Immunosuppression; Photophobia; HA; Impaired Memory; Hepato/ Nephrotoxicity; Behavioural Changes; Vertigo; Anemia; Birth Defects.


Tin toxicity can lead to the following health concerns:

  • Gastrointestinal Distress:

    • Nausea and Vomiting: Ingesting large amounts of soluble tin compounds, such as certain tin salts, may lead to nausea and vomiting.

  • Respiratory Irritation:

    • Inhalation Exposure: Inhalation of tin dust or fumes, typically in industrial or occupational settings like tin mining or metalworking, can lead to respiratory irritation, coughing, and shortness of breath.

  • Dermatological Effects:

    • Skin Irritation: Direct contact with certain tin compounds can cause skin irritation, including redness and itching.

  • Gastrointestinal Disorders:

    • Abdominal Pain and Diarrhea: Ingesting large quantities of tin compounds can result in gastrointestinal distress, including abdominal pain and diarrhea.

  • Potential Neurological Effects:

    • Limited Evidence: There is limited evidence to suggest that chronic exposure to high levels of tin may have neurotoxic effects, potentially leading to neurological symptoms. However, more research is needed to establish a clear link.

Chelators: DMPS/DMSA, EDTA

Tungsten

Sources: light bulbs; carbide tools; ammunition; fishing sinkers; golf clubs; ceramic pigments; textile dyes/waterproofing/flame retardants. Symptoms: Topical/Respiratory Irritant, Pneumoconiosis; Lung Cancer; Antagonism of Molybdenum.

Tungsten toxicity leads to the following health concerns:

  • Pulmonary Effects:

    • Tungsten Inhalation: Inhalation of tungsten dust or fumes, typically in occupational settings such as tungsten mining or metalworking, can lead to respiratory irritation, coughing, and shortness of breath. Tungsten exposure has been associated with lung function changes.

  • Dermatological Effects:

    • Skin Irritation: Direct contact with certain tungsten compounds may cause skin irritation, including redness and itching.

  • Reproductive and Developmental Effects:

    • Limited Evidence: Some animal studies have suggested potential reproductive and developmental effects from high-level tungsten exposure. However, the evidence in humans is limited, and more research is needed to establish a clear link.

  • Potential Carcinogenicity:

    • Limited Evidence: There is limited evidence to suggest a possible link between tungsten exposure and certain cancers, particularly lung cancer. However, further research is required to establish a definitive link and determine the extent of the risk.

  • Gastrointestinal Disorders:

    • Ingestion of Soluble Tungsten Compounds: Ingesting large amounts of soluble tungsten compounds may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain and diarrhea.


Chelators: DMPS/DMSA


Where are heavy metals stored in your body?

  • Fat

  • Bone

  • Nervous system tissues

  • Organs

Common Exposures of Heavy Metals for Women


  1. Lead: Historically, lead has been found in some lipsticks, hair dyes, and kohl eyeliners. Regulatory agencies have taken steps to limit lead in cosmetics due to its potential health risks, especially for products that may be ingested or applied near the mouth.

  2. Mercury: Some cosmetics, particularly skin-lightening creams and mascaras, have been found to contain mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin and can be absorbed through the skin.

  3. Cadmium: Cadmium may be found in certain pigments used in makeup, such as yellow and orange shades. Cadmium is known to be toxic and can accumulate in the body.

  4. Arsenic: Trace amounts of arsenic can be present in some cosmetics, especially those with mineral-based ingredients. Arsenic is a toxic element.

  5. Chromium: Certain pigments containing chromium compounds may be used in cosmetics. While some forms of chromium are not harmful, others can pose health risks.

  6. Nickel: Nickel is commonly used in metal-based cosmetics, such as eyeshadows or nail polishes. Some individuals may be allergic to nickel.

Regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Commission, set limits on the acceptable levels of heavy metals in cosmetics. However, the presence of heavy metals in cosmetics can vary based on manufacturing processes, raw materials, and quality control practices.



Remember, heavy metal load in the body is a bioaccumulation process. If your systems have trouble detoxifying on top of your environmental burden, this is where heavy metals pose a health risk.

What are the supplements used for chelation?

  • There is a protocol consisting of binders and chelator supplements as well as a diet and lifestyle approach that all need to be done as best as possible during the chelation therapy. The protocol for the supplement portion can be found by making an account on my Fullscript Dispensary page and choosing the Heavy Metal Detox Protocol. (Note this alone will not get you the results you are looking for, a visit and plan is necessary as well as the oral and IV chelations to be administered).



What Does the Research Show?


TACT & TACT2 Trials


The TACT trial investigated EDTA chelation therapy for coronary artery disease (CAD). Despite controversy, its 2012 findings reported modest reduction in cardiovascular events in post-heart attack patients. Methodological concerns and unexpected results prompted skepticism and debate within the medical community. The trial's limitations and lack of mechanistic explanation raised questions about its validity. While it sparked interest, chelation therapy's role in CAD treatment remains uncertain. Further research is needed to better understand its potential benefits and risks. Patients and healthcare professionals should carefully assess available evidence before considering chelation therapy for CAD.


HEAVY METAL TOXICITY, ITS EFFECTS ON THE PHYSIOLOGY OF THE HUMAN BODY, & CHELATION THERAPIES.


The following was written by Dr. Virginia Osborne, ND and Dr. Paul Anderson, ND in Volume 3 issue 1 of the "Naturopathic Doctor News & Review" on January 2007.



Heavy metal build up initiates injury to the cell structure of the vascular, endothelial lining, leading to free radical formation (inactivate selenium and glutathione). This creates oxidative stress, resulting in a suppression of ATP, enzymes, decreased nitric oxide (NO) and series 3 prostaglandins. The reduction of series 3 prostaglandins in turn creates an imbalances series 2 thromboxane to series 3 prostaglandin ratio. In the presence of free radicals generated by the metals, thromboxane-II and serotonin are released from platelets, generating arterial spasm. This combination of endothelial damage and inflammatory cytokine release creates an area of inflammatory damage and hyperactivity in the vessel wall. This begins a cycle of increased free radical activity, inflammation and propensity for heavy metals (and a few essential minerals) to build up. Ultimately, the areas of inflammatory reaction attract lipid (cholesterol) deposits, which the body solidifies with calcium in an atherosclerotic plaque. (Murungi, 2004)


The NO cascade appears to be in the centre of vascular and cardiocyte function (and dysfunction). In addition to the seemingly simple idea that low NO leads to hyperirritable smooth muscle (vasospasm, angina, hypertension), it is known that the NO synthase enzyme system (catalyzing the conversion of L-arginine to L-citrulline, creating NO) can be inhibited by multiple heavy metals (Mittal, 1995; Weaver, 2004).


Also, this important system appears to be in the middle of a vascular dysfunction cascade involving microparticles (MPs). These MPs are small vesicles released from the membrane surface during cell division and apoptosis in normal vascular tissues. Their release attracts (via phosphatidylserine ligand reaction) additional inflammatory mediators to the injured endothelium. This causes an accelerated inflammatory response at the already injured endothelial site (Tesse, 2006).


Chelation with EDTA has a number of postulated benefits, with the removal of toxic heavy metals and movement of plasma and tissue calcium being paramount. EDTA treatment lowers ionized plasma calcium and concomitantly causes the production of parathormone (PTH). With intermittent treatments of EDTA, calcium is mobilized and the PTH is pulsed, leading to bone and soft tissue calcium metabolism. The best theoretical explanation of a benefit from this is that the calcium is picked up from the soft tissue or plaque deposit and redistributed to areas needing calcium (such as remodelling bone).


Disodium EDTA (NaEDTA) and Calcium disodium EDTA (CaEDTA) are the most common forms of IV EDTA chelators used. When considering the two, NaEDTA has the greatest affinity for lead and calcium, and CaEDTA has affinity for both lead and mercury. Both forms have high affinities for many other toxic and nutrient ions. The choice of treatment protocol and form of EDTA should be made to assure maximum clinical efficacy and patient safety in the comprehensive therapeutic approach to cardiovascular disease. Both require supplemental support and detoxification programs for maximal effect and patient benefit. In the words of Gary Gordon, MD: "The art and skill of a good chelation protocol involves replacing these good and necessary nutrients while the patient is eliminating the toxic ones" (Gordon Research Institute, online posting) It is always important to have lab analysis performed prior to initiating any IV chelation therapy. This includes (at minimum) a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, Lipid Profile and CBC to determine starting function of the kidneys, liver and heart and to determine baseline calcium and other electrolyte levels. This will also aid in calculating the Cockcroft-Gault equation for kidney function relative to EDTA dosing.


IV chelation therapy with the various forms of EDTA has the potential to affect many parameters relating to cardiovascular function and health. While there are certainly as many questions yet to answer as there are answered regarding EDTA and cardiovascular treatment, rational scientific conclusions can be drawn regarding its potential for benefit.

In addition to chelation therapy, IV infusion of micro and macro nutrients offers a direct access route to sensitive cardiovascular tissues. Few direct interventional studies pertain to specific IV nutrients and cardiovascular disease response. In most cases, this is because single interventions with single nutrients are not as potentially efficacious as multi-nutrient therapies. In spite of this, and until such studies do exist, a survey of available research (as well as studies of oral supplementation) can provide a safe and reasonable rationale for IV nutrient therapy. (Osborne, Anderson, 2007)



FAQS


What do I need to know before testing and initiating therapy?

Your gut health should be addressed. You cannot get an accurate reading of true heavy metals in your system or remove metals safely if you have a poorly functioning gut that is suffering from bacterial toxins that are overloading the liver. This process relies heavily on being able to sweat, have daily healthy bowel movements, urination and liver detoxification. Your gut health and your ability to digest food and absorb nutrients and minerals will also be important to make sure you can replenish minerals during heavy metal detox which pulls out all minerals.


How are Heavy Metals Tested?

Heavy metals are checked via a urine sample, where we look at heavy metal concentrations consistent with your current and chronic exposure. The higher the storage, the higher the amount we see in urine filtered by your kidneys.


We use Doctors Data to run a morning urine collection. Ideally patients take oral DMSA and do an IV of DMPS and EDTA on the same day then collect their urine for the rest of the day after this provocation. There are also dietary restrictions before and on this day.


What are the types of chelators?

Heavy metals are removed or "chelated" out of the body slowly and consistently over time to prevent harm. The oral and IV chelators are: DMPS, Na-EDTA and DMSA. At the same time you will be places on mineral supplementation as well as other natural chelators to support the detox process. Dependent on what heavy metals show up elevated on you test, you will need do IV or oral chelation treatments or both at the same time.


What is the treatment timeline and frequency?

In office IV Chelation is done once per month for 6 months. During which time you will also be on an oral agent with instructions if you are a candidate for it. Each IV chelation takes about 3.5 hours. You can eat on the day of the treatment. At the 6 month mark, you will have blood work done as well as another urine test to see how far you have chelated your heavy metals. You may continue on this treatment for 3 years depending on your heavy metal burden.


Is IV and oral chelation treatment safe? The chelation medications used are the same as would be used by medical doctors if your levels are high. When the right nutrient supportive measures are in place and your kidney health is being monitored, and your are receiving the chelation slowly and doing it over time, it is safe. What are some risks and side effects of chelation treatment? Headaches, rash, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The treatment aims to remove vital minerals from the body along with the toxic metals. Typically you would be on mineral supplementation as well as other natural supplements at the same time. Who is not a good candidate for heavy metal chelation? Already pregnant or breastfeeding women, children and individuals on dialysis, individuals with hepatitis/ other liver issues.


What are the costs and timeline associated with Heavy Metal chelation?

It is important to note that the cost of heavy metal testing, chelation with supplements, medications and IV as well as the repetitive nature of this treatment will cost about $2000-$4000 over 1-3 years depending on the type of heavy metals, the quantity and your age.

Why is heavy metal testing and chelation not routinely addressed in conventional healthcare?

Conventional medicine may catch extreme heavy metal toxicity based on symptoms and this would be addressed. However, conventional medicine has not yet adopted the notion that heavy metal toxins can affect our health and over time cause chronic diseases.

References:

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  2. Jaishankar, Monisha, et al. Toxicity, Mechanism and Health Effects of Some Heavy Metals. Environmental Chemistry Letters, vol. 12, no. 1, 2014, pp. 199-216. DOI: 10.1007/s10311-014-0480-0. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4427717/

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