Heavy Metal Toxicity and the Infrared Sauna
Before I began my journey down Functional Medicine, I have known a little about heavy metals and the dangers to the body. Yet, I never quite knew the exact effects it has on our system. Once I began to study more heavily on the subject, I realized that a majority of our health issues from Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Mental Issues, Hormonal issues, Digestive issues, Skin issues, Allergies, Autoimmune diseases and Adrenal issues could be caused from these toxic chemicals that we are exposed to everyday. Today I want to explain to the everyday person:
- How Heavy Metals effect or bodily system
- Where do we get exposed to these metals?
- How do we test for them?
- What do we do to get them out of our body?
How Do Heavy Metals Affect Our Body
- I would like to explain where heavy metals are stored
Heavy metals can mimic certain minerals such as zinc and calcium in our body. Our body thinks they are important minerals needed to sustain the organ but in reality, it is the heavy metals. For this reason, these metals are so dangerous for our health it can cause many signs and symptoms. The most common places heavy metals reside are:
- Fat: This is where we store excess toxins, heavy metals, and excess hormones
- Bone: Lead and calcium look alike and function alike, so lead will replace calcium in our bones.
- Connective Tissue: joints, tissue, lymphatic system
- Blood: Heavy metals will travel through the blood and store in organs
- Brain: Because heavy metals store in our fat, and 80% of our brain is fat, toxins (especially aluminum) will deposit in the brain leading to dementia and other brain issues.
- Endocrine Glands: These heavy metals will rob important nutrients for glands to function, especially thyroid gland, and can disrupt gland communication (sex hormones, and stress hormones).
- How if affects our vascular system
Mercury is the number one heavy metal linked to hypertension. It damages our endothelial cells and the smooth muscles of our vascular system. It increases oxidative stress and inflammation leading to hypertension, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, cardiac arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, and renal dysfunction. Mercury increases homocysteine levels, increases cholesterol, causes red blood cells to rupture, weakens the walls of small blood vessels, and reduces blood supply to organs, tissues, and heart muscles preventing organs to work.
- How it affects our adrenal system
There is a direct correlation of heavy metal toxicity on steroid production in the adrenal glands. It effects the release of cortisol being released and the response to cortisol. Cortisol dysfunction has been linked with the inability to lose weight. We should look at heavy metal toxicity as the culprit first. This can lead to adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, hormone irregularities, and lowered immune system. If adrenal glands continued to be overworked due to these heavy metals, this will accelerate ageing process.
- How it affects our digestive system
It effects our digestive system by
- blocking digestive enzymes leading to poor digestion and food intolerances.
- increases yeast overgrowth
- reduces natural killer cells which can increase leads to chronic viral infections and allow tumors to grow
- How it affects our hormones
Heavy metal toxicity can impair neuroendocrine function. Therefore, normal thyroid function can be impaired from toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead and others. Impaired thyroid function, specifically the impairment of T4 to T3 conversion will act like an invisible force field around your body fat. No amount of diet or exercise will be of use for someone with sufficiently impaired thyroid. Autoimmune diseases such as: MS, Scleroderma, Hashimotos, and Thyroiditis have been linked to Mercury toxicity. Heavy metals affect the: Adrenal glands, Pituitary glands (master gland of hormone production), Thyroid gland, and Pancreas (linked to insulin resistance and diabetes).
- How it affects our brain.
Our brain is made up of fat, and nerves and glial cells. Heavy metals, such as mercury, can destroy the natural nerve function of the brain. These chemicals bind to the nerves and binds to the fat of the brain. It can stop proper communication from the brain to the Central Nervous System (Spine) and to the Autonomic Nervous System (organs and glands). Therefore, muscle nerves and organs do not work properly (diseases and disorders). Heavy metals prevent nerve regeneration and this will lead to strange numbness, tingling, twitches, burning sensations, loss of control, erratic thoughts and difficulty remembering. It attacks our myelin sheath in the brain, leading to misfiring of the nerves, causing dementia, Alzheimer’s, ADD, ADHD, and Bipolar Disorders. It damages the master endocrine glands at the base of the brain, which controls nervous and endocrine system. This can lead to mental, emotional, behavioral, and psychiatric changes.
Where Do We Get Exposed to Heavy Metals?
We can be exposed to heavy metals through our:
- Water supplies: fluoridated water, chlorine water, public water
- Foods: fish, baking powders, peanut butter, hydrogenated vegetable oils, bleached flour, wine, cheese, processed meat, soft drinks, non-organic meats.
- Work environment: paint, adhesives, batteries, machine parts, exhaust fumes, motor oil, rubber tires, plastics
- Clothing and Furniture Fabrics: polyester fabrics, fire retardant fabrics
- Air Pollution: cigarette smoke
- Drugs and Medication: Vaccines, diuretics, contact lens solution, hemorrhoid suppositories, antacids, hormones replacements,
- Cleaning supplies: floor waxes, fabric softeners
- Hygiene products: antiperspirants
- Others: Dental Amalgams, Pesticides, herbicides, Insecticides, fertilizers, rat poison, nickel plated jewelry, aluminum cans, aluminum foil, cookware (non-stick pans/ aluminum pans)
How Do We Test For Them?
I have three favorite forms to test for heavy metals:
- Hair Analysis
- Urine Analysis
- Saliva Testing
All three test are safe, simple and effective, yet each test will have different metals. If someone works in a chemically toxic environment, I may combine two tests, to cover all areas. Hair analysis will test anything within the last three months that you have been exposed to, as well as, any mineral deficiencies to show what these heavy metals are depleting.
How Do We Get Rid of Heavy Metals From the Body?
There are several ways to get rid of heavy metals from the body, depending on what metal is worse, you may have to combine multiple methods. I remember once an article concerning the firefighters that worked the 9/11 towers had to be treated with several protocols for years to clear out all the heavy metal toxins they were exposed to from the fires and debris.
First, we like to do a Liver cleanse. Since the liver is the main organ that filters our toxins from our body, we need to make sure it is in tip top shape. The best way is to change our diet and consume more cruciferous vegetables, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and medications (NSAIDS). The other way we release toxins out of our body is through our bowel and urinary system. It is vastly important that you have at LEAST one bowel movement a day. Three should be normal. If you are not removing these toxins everyday through the bowel then you are restoring them in your fat and organs in the body. This is a must.
There are so many herbs and foods that help pick up heavy metals and expel them, but it is very important to understand: not all herbs do the same thing. Some just pick up the heavy metals but don’t quite know what to do with them once they have them. The other herbs pull these heavy metals out of the body. This is chelation. Some of our favorite herbs are: Garlic, Spirulina, Zinc, Spanish Black Radish. Yet different foods and different herbs are effective on certain heavy metals. Therefore, we prefer to test for heavy metals to determine the correct protocol.
We must also remember to supplement with certain vitamins and minerals. Heavy metals love to steal and stop absorption of some of these necessary minerals to keep the cells alive.
- INFRARED SAUNA:
Most of our toxins are stored in our fat cells. The best way to release toxins from the fat cells is in a Sauna. Saunas have been used for centuries but now Infrared Saunas are the popular choice. These saunas have higher heat penetration into the skin with the shortest time required. It has been noted that Infrared Saunas penetrate deeper into the tissue therefore getting a better result. Studies are still being performed to test these results. Yet, tried and true is good old fashion sweating. Sweating is the best thing to detox our body and therefore, we recommend sauna for the weak individuals.
Some clinics like to do intravenous chelation therapy but there has been some debate on the side effects and the effectiveness of treatment. I personally find it is better to let the body naturally release chemicals at its own pace. It may take 3 months to several years depending on the exposure, but the results are amazing and long lasting.
Contact our office to learn more about the Infrared Sauna and schedule a session today!