By: Rita Ellithorpe, MD and Robert Settineri, MS
Tustin Longevity Center
Human beings have been exposed to toxic heavy metals for thousands of years. Even the ancient Roman civilization wasn’t exempt. Today we are inundated with these insidious contaminants more than ever in history. Modern industrial and commercial practices pollute our drinking water, air and soil with toxic metal compounds. These harmful metals are involved in mining and the manufacture of consumer goods, as well as burning and refining processes. Toxic heavy metals are found in a vast array of sources: construction materials, cosmetics, medicines and fuels, to name just a few. They infiltrate your daily life through common everyday commodities such as baking powder, personal care products, pesticides, and antibiotics. It’s interesting to note that some of the diseases related to toxic metal poisoning have the same symptoms as the poisonings themselves. For instance, when comparing multiple sclerosis, autism and mercury poisoning, you will find some overlap in general neurological , cognitive and mental symptoms, specifically anxiety, depression, lack of coordination, memory loss and cognitive challenges to mention a few. Here we list several toxic heavy metals, symptoms of poisoning, and disease links.
Mined extensively in Missouri, Colorado, Idaho and Utah, lead is the fifth most utilized heavy metal in the United States. Lead is one of the most harmful elements on Earth and is absorbed into the body following inhalation or ingestion. Exposure to lead can come from a myriad of sources, including drinking water and air-borne lead particulates. Sources include batteries, cast iron products, canned foods, ceramics, vinyl products, black hair dyes, rinses and more. It is widely recognized as a neurotoxin and high concentrations can cause irreversible brain damage. Lead can kill brain cells, causing seizure, coma, and even death.
Symptoms of lead poisoning: Abdominal pain, anemia, anorexia, anxiety, bone pain, brain damage, confusion, constipation, convulsions, diminished motor reaction times, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, headaches, hypertension, inability to concentrate, seizures, learning disabilities, indigestion, irritability, appetite loss, muscle incoordination, memory problems, miscarriage, muscle pain, tremors, vomiting, weakness.
Disease links: Dementia, brain cancer, high blood pressure, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, liver impairment, myocardial infarction, stroke, birth defects.
Not only is arsenic famous in detective novels and screenplays as the secret poison of choice, arsenic is the most common environmental cause of heavy metal toxicity in humans. It enters the environment through volcanic gas and ash, and can also enter the environment when volcanic rocks are eroded by running water. It is an industrial byproduct of metal smelting processes, and can enter the atmosphere as arsine gas or enter the water supply in effluent. People can also be exposed to arsenic through common household products such as paints and wood preservatives. Perhaps the most prevalent sources are pesticides and fungicides used both around the house and in agriculture. Arsenic can cause damage to the peripheral nervous system, leading to numbness in the hands and feet, tingling, and feeling “pins and needles.” It can appear as a darkening of the skin (not due to exposure to sunlight). Excessive exposure can also appear as white bands in the fingernails a month or more after a critical dosing, as well as excessive growth of the skin on the palms and soles of the feet. It also blocks the production of glutathione which prevents oxidative cell damage.
Symptoms of arsenic poisoning: Acute symptoms include rawness of the throat from ingestion/breathing, red skin or rash at point of contact, severe abdominal pain and vomiting and diarrhea. Chronic exposure can lead to anorexia, fever, inflammation of the mucosal membranes, heart arrhythmia, liver damage and jaundice, and gangrene.
Disease links: Anorexia, multiple cancers, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes mellitus, heart attack, liver cirrhosis, stillbirths and postneonatal mortality, blackfoot disease.
Mercury is everywhere in today’s world: it not only degasses from the earth’s crust in volcanic emissions and evaporates from bodies of water; it also comes from commercial processes like burning fossil fuels (such as coal), incinerating waste, forest fires, fertilizers, and fungicides. It is found in thermometers, barometers, fluorescent light bulbs, vaccines (thimerosal is still in vaccines in thresholds considered un-reportable) and dental fillings. Mercury accumulates in the body and has been implicated in neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Occupations that chronically expose workers to mercury include dentistry, painting, electrical, pharmaceutical and laboratory, farming, factory production, mining, chemistry and beautician work.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning: Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, hemorrhage, chronic bronchitis, lung problems, kidney disorders, fatigue, insomnia, loss of memory, excitability, chest pains, reduction of sensory and motor nerve function, depression, visual and/or auditory hallucinations, muscular tremors, sleep disorders, impaired coordination, speech disorders, dementia, headaches, and diminished mental function.
Disease links: Multiple sclerosis, autism, cerebral palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, psychosis, chronic fatigue syndrome.
Since cadmium is found in zinc-, lead-, and copper-containing ores, industrial activities such as mining, smelting and refining metal ores discharge significant amounts of cadmium into the atmosphere. Fossil fuel burning, waste incineration and steel production also contribute their share, as do vented nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad) batteries used in aircraft, buses, and diesel locomotives. And smokers beware; about 40 to 60 percent of cadmium inhaled through cigarette smoke is absorbed by the body as opposed to the five to 10 percent taken up from food or water. From all combined sources, it is estimated that 4,000 to 13,000 tons of cadmium are released annually into the environment.
Symptoms of cadmium poisoning: Anemia, dry and scaly skin, emphysema, fatigue, hair loss, heart disease, depressed immune response, hypertension, joint pain, kidney stones, liver dysfunction, loss of appetite, diminished sense of smell, lung cancer, pain in the back and legs, yellow teeth.
Disease links: Immune system deficiencies, lung cancer, prostate problems, birth defects and miscarriage, behavioral and learning disabilities.
Even though it technically is not considered a “heavy” metal, aluminum is a toxic metal and the third most abundant element on earth. Besides a myriad of commercial sources, aluminum comes to us from out of the sky and land. Acid rain (originating from air pollution)comes into contact with soil and other sources, to dissolve aluminum compounds and spread them widely over the planet. Some scientists and health professionals believe that bioaccumulation of aluminum could be responsible for at least ten common neurological disorders—including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and senile and pre-senile dementia. Note: Beryllium, a metal in some ways similar to aluminum and used in exotic aircraft and spacecraft parts, as well as bicycle wheels, is also toxic.
Symptoms of aluminum poisoning: Excessive headaches, abnormal heart rhythm, depression, numbness in the hands and feet, blurred vision, muscle pain, psychosis, fatigue, long-term memory impairment, loss of balance, inability to pronounce words properly, even liver and kidney failure.
Disease links: Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, anemia, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), birth defects.
Nickel is a heavy metal used in the automobile industry, electronics, as a catalyst in chemical processes, in nickel-cadmium batteries, many household products and in cheap jewelry. Environmental nickel comes from surface runoff, industrial and municipal waste discharges, and natural erosion from soil and rocks. You can become allergic from contact with nickel jewelry. The nickel ions are transported through the sweat into the skin. Nickel can cause cancer of the upper respiratory tract and it is thought that its carcinogenic effects are due to its lipid-peroxidation properties that burn the cell’s fatty membrane, causing DNA-strand gaps and breaks and DNA-protein crosslinks. Foods like cocoa, soybeans, some dried legumes and nuts, and oatmeal contain high concentrations of nickel.
Symptoms of nickel poisoning: rhinitis, sinusitis, nasal septal perforation, asthma, dermatitis, kidney damage, headaches, vertigo, nausea, vomiting, insomnia.
Disease links: Lung and nasal cancers.
Other Toxic Heavy Metals
There are approximately 35 “heavy metals”, of which 23 are listed as being toxic to humans. A heavy metal is defined as having a density 5 times greater than water. Technology has introduced uses for heavy metals that have never before been present in our environment, and hence new avenues for humans to be exposed to those heavy metals.
Urine and feces samples offer the most accurate methods for diagnosing individual toxic heavy metal burden. It’s important that you take a test for heavy metals both before and after undergoing a chelation regimen. That way you can assess your levels and monitor your progress.
We have vast experience in our clinic and have conducted published clinical studies on chelation therapy utilizing Detoxamin (calcium disodium EDTA suppositories). We have performed extensive clinical studies with Detoxamin and I personally have over 4000 of my patients on the product. Some of the most important clinical outcomes I see in my patients are increased blood circulation, improved cognitive function (memory, concentration and mental focus), better sleep patterns, reduction multiple toxic metals, increased activity/energy levels, improved prostate conditions, reduced muscle and joint pain, improved blood marker values (LDL and HLD cholesterol) and more.
I urge all my patients and all health care professionals to become more informed about chelation therapy, and to consider Detoxamin as a foundational solution for the removal of toxic heavy metals to improve the quality of their lives. Detoxamin is safe, gentle, 80% less cost than intravenous EDTA therapy and works while you sleep.