Heavy Metal Toxicity


A Weighty Problem 

We live in an increasingly toxic world and heavy metals are a common source of toxicity.  They are ubiquitous in our environment ̶ stemming from a legacy of mining, industrial emissions, lead in paint and gasoline, chemicals in everyday products, amalgam dental fillings, contrasted MRIs, and the use of novel technologies such as nanomaterials.  

Although most of these metals play no essential biochemical roles in the human body, they adversely affect multiple organ systems, binding to tissues, creating oxidative stress, hindering hormonal function, and interfering with essential metals in the body like magnesium and zinc. Heavy metal toxicity can play a significant role in chronic fatigue1, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s)2, cardiovascular conditions (heart disease)3, endocrine dysfunction (hypothyroidism)4, cancer5, etc.   

There are some challenges and controversies regarding the diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity and the extent to which it affects an individual. Toxic metals tend to be sequestered in bone and soft tissue. Common blood and urine tests tend to only measure exposures occurring over days and are poor surrogates to measure metals accrued over a lifetime.  A potentially more accurate measure of lifetime exposure or “body burden”, is a provocative challenge.  This is the measurement of heavy metal excretion (typically in urine) after the administration of a pharmaceutical chelator (a substance that binds to and facilitates the excretion of metals from the body).  

What Can be Done? 

We can reduce our burden of toxins by choosing organic, eating fish with lower mercury burden (S.M.A.S.H.: Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovy, Salmon, Herring), asking for composite fillings from our dentists, having our toxic metal fillings removed safely6, drinking filtered water, avoiding contrasted imaging studies, and using aluminum-free deodorants.  

We can engage in activities that enhance the removal of heavy metals from our bodies: 

  • Drinking plenty of clean/filtered water 

  • Sweating regularly with exercise or sauna7 

  • Eating foods known to be natural chelators. These foods can also prevent the absorption of metals from our diet.  

  • Insoluble fiber 

  • Foods rich in sulfur (onions, garlic, broccoli) 

  • Cilantro  

  • Chlorella 

  • Taking supplements that support the production of glutathione (one of the main natural chelators/detoxifiers produced by the body).   

  • Collagen peptides (rich in glycine and glutamine) 

  • N-acetyl-cysteine 

  • Selenium 

  • Supplementing with glutathione (preferably the liposomal form) 


Taking It Up a Notch with Chelation Therapy

Frequently, diet, lifestyle modification, and supplementation aren’t enough to overcome the negative impact of toxic metals on our health.  Specific pharmaceutical chelators need to be employed to facilitate the clearance of heavy metals from the body.  They can be administered intravenously (IV), orally, or rectally.  The intravenous form tends to be the most effective and best tolerated. We currently offer IV chelation with EDTA, DMPS, and DTPA.   

During chelation (key-LAY-shun) therapy, you recline comfortably in a lounge chair for one to three hours while an intravenous solution slowly trickles into your bloodstream. In the meantime, you can nap, talk, or read. Any discomfort or pain is unlikely.

The intravenous solution includes a chelating agent — usually a synthetic amino acid called ethyl-enediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) — along with various vitamins and minerals. The EDTA  seeks out toxic metals within your body, such as lead, cadmium, aluminum, and mercury. It also finds certain minerals such as calcium, the “glue” in artery plaque. EDTA then wraps itself around these substances and pull them out of your body via your kidneys. Good minerals may also be wasted, so caution is needed.

Chelation therapy is not accepted by mainstream medical entities and disliked by the medical boards, etc. We make no claims as to the effectiveness and mainly give it to people who request it and have had prior possitive experience with it.

For more on EDTA chelation and its uses for both heavy metal burden and cardiovascular disease as a, read our post here.


  1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2012.06.007 

  1. Huat TJ, Camats-Perna J, Newcombe EA, Valmas N, Kitazawa M, Medeiros R. Metal Toxicity Links to Alzheimer’s Disease and Neuroinflammation. Journal of Molecular Biology. 2019;431(9):1843-1868. doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2019.01.018. 

  1. Lamas GA, Navas-Acien A, Mark DB, Lee KL. Heavy Metals, Cardiovascular Disease, and the Unexpected Benefits of Chelation Therapy. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2016;67(20):2411-2418. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2016.02.066. 

  1. Liu L, Zhang B, Lin K, Zhang Y, Xu X, Huo X. Thyroid disruption and reduced mental development in children from an informal e-waste recycling area: A mediation analysis. Chemosphere. 2018;193:498-505. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.11.059. 

  1. Jue Tao Lim, Yue Qian Tan, Linda Valeri, et al. Association between serum heavy metals and prostate cancer risk – A multiple metal analysis. Environment International. 2019. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2019.105109. 

  1. https://thesmartchoice.com/safe-mercury-amalgam-removal-recommendations/ 

  1. Patel H. Comparative Literature Review - Sauna Therapy for Cardiovascular Diseases Due to Heavy Metal Accumulation. Townsend Letter. 2019;(430):22-27. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.uthscsa.edu/login.aspx?direct=true…. Accessed April 6, 2020.