Identifying Toxic Heavy Metals in the Body

Environmental toxicity is a growing problem that threatens to undercut the amazing advances in lifespan and life quality created through public health and conventional medicine. Toxicity is becoming a hidden public health emergency.

While issues relating to population-wide mercury toxicity due to vaccines have largely been laid to rest, major concerns remain relating to very low exposures in vulnerable fetal and infant populations. These exposures have been attributed to maternal fish consumption and environmental toxins in air, food, water, and households. Exposures across the lifespan also contribute significantly to our body burden, especially if the individual is unable to adequately detoxify chemicals from the environment.

Identifying toxicity can be challenging. When dealing with heavy metals, there are several key testing methods that can be utilized.

Testing for heavy metal content within serum represents the steady state between exposure and body burden. High values indicate that there is recent exposure to significant amounts of the heavy metal. Values of heavy metals within red blood cells represent exposures that are two to three months old. In these cases the exposure must be identified and removed immediately. Remember, there is no good or acceptable level of heavy metals in our bodies. Heavy metals do no definable good for our system.

If these levels are measurable, and especially if they are high, then urine testing is done. An initial urine sample is taken to indicate the baseline “body burden” of the metals. On the next day an additional urine sample is collected under the influence of a chelating agent. The chelator attaches to the metal ion and captures it so that it can more easily be excreted and not re-absorbed in the gut. “Body burden” is not a discrete absolute number and it does not tell us the total amount of a metal that is in the body. Rather, it allows us to have a measure of how effective our removal strategy may be. If the post-chelator test is more highly positive than the pre-chelator test, oral chelation is appropriate and desirable.

Hair testing is also used by some practitioners, especially if they are using a more intense and potentially damaging chelating process to remove metals. Stool testing for heavy metals is also done to document that heavy metals are being effectively excreted through the gut.

As you can see, each of these methods gives us different types of information. We usually check red blood cell levels and urine levels. We find this prudent approach allows us to identify how severe the problem may be, how urgently removal must occur, and gives us the ability to track the effectiveness of our interventions.