Toxic Metals & Detoxification

By Lawrence Wilson, MD
© July 2014, The Center for Development

Toxic metals comprise a group of minerals that have no known function in the body and, in fact, are harmful. Today mankind is exposed to the highest levels of these metals in recorded history.
This is due to their industrial use, the unrestricted burning of coal, natural gas and petroleum, and incineration of waste materials worldwide. Toxic metals are now everywhere and affect everyone on planet earth. They have become a major cause of illness, aging and even genetic defects.
The study of toxic metals is part of nutrition and toxicology, areas not emphasized in medical schools. For this reason, these important causes of disease are accorded little attention in conventional mainstream medicine. This article focuses on the extent of toxic metal problems – sources of toxic metals, symptoms and how to remove them safely, quickly and deeply. This is not an easy task, I might add.
Many methods are used together. Most important, however, is that at the same time we use chelators, antagonists, sulfur amino acids and other methods, we balance the body chemistry very delicately using hair mineral analysis. This is the secret, really, to our success which is great.


Minerals are the building blocks of our bodies. They are required for body structure, fluid balance, protein structures and to produce hormones. They are a key for the health of every body system and function.
They act as cofactors, catalysts or inhibitors of all enzymes in the body. Copper and iron, for example, along with other minerals are required for the electron transport system, and thus needed for all cellular energy production.
Minerals are classified into four groups: The macrominerals, or those needed in large quantity, include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, copper and zinc.
Required trace minerals include manganese, chromium, selenium, boron, bromine, silicon, iodine, vanadium, lithium, molybdenum, cobalt, germanium and others.
Possibly required trace minerals include fluorine, arsenic, rubidium, tin, niobium, strontium, gold, silver and nickel.
Toxic metals include beryllium, mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum, antimony, bismuth, barium, uranium and others.
These categories overlap slightly because assessing minerals that are required by humans is problematic. Some may be needed in minuscule amounts. Clinical studies to prove this by depriving people of vital minerals would be cruel and possibly disastrous. Also, note that minerals needed in lesser quantities are usually toxic in greater amounts. Examples are copper, iron, manganese, selenium and vanadium. Even calcium and sodium are quite toxic in excess.


Today mankind is exposed to the highest levels in recorded history of lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, copper, nickel, tin, antimony, bromine, bismuth and vanadium. Levels are up to several thousand times higher than in primitive man. In my clinical experience, everyone has excessive amounts of some or all of the toxic metals.
Toxic metals are also persistent and cumulative. The late Dr. Henry Schroeder, MD, who was a world authority on trace elements, wrote:

“Most organic substances are degradable by natural processes. (However), no metal is degradable – they are here to stay for a long time”.

Toxic metals replace nutrient minerals in enzyme binding sites. When this occurs, the metals inhibit, overstimulate or otherwise alter thousands of enzymes.
An affected enzyme may operate at 5% of normal activity. This may contribute to many health conditions. Toxic metals may also replace other substances in other tissue structures. These tissues, such as the arteries, joints, bones and muscles, are weakened by the replacement process.
Toxic metals may also simply deposit in many sites, causing local irritation and other toxic effects. They may also support development of fungal, bacterial and viral infections that are difficult or impossible to eradicate until this cause is removed.
The mineral replacement process often involves the idea of preferred minerals. For example, the body prefers zinc for over 50 critical enzymes.. However, if zinc becomes deficient and our soil and food are very low in zinc today or exposure to cadmium, lead or mercury is sufficiently high, the body will use these in place of zinc.
Cadmium, in particular, is located just below zinc in the periodic table of the elements, so its outer atomic structure is very similar to that of zinc. As a result, cadmium “fits” well into zinc binding sites and can easily replace zinc in critical enzymes such as RNA transferase, carboxypeptidase, alcohol dehydrogenase and many others of great importance in the body.
The ability to replace a vital mineral means, however, that toxic metals are not completely harmful. Indeed, they can extend life. They keep bodies functioning when vital minerals are deficient.
An analogy is to imagine taking an automobile journey. If one is far away from a repair shop when a key part such as the fan belt breaks, if one had a spare piece of rope, one could tie it around the pulleys and continue the trip slowly.
The rope would not function nearly as well as the original part, but would allow one to keep going. This is how toxic metals can function positively in the body. Many people limp along on grossly deficient diets, and many today are born deficient and toxic.
They do not realize their fatigue and other symptoms are due to the presence of incorrect “replacement parts” in their biological engine compartments. Depending on where toxic metals accumulate, the resulting effects may be given names such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or cancer.


The danger of toxic metals is greatly aggravated today by the low mineral content of most of our food supply. An abundance of vital minerals protects against toxic metals. Vital minerals compete with toxic metals for absorption and utilization in enzymes and other tissue structures. However, when food is low in essential minerals, the body absorbs and makes use of more toxic metals. To continue the previous analogy, we are not stocking up sufficiently on factory parts, so we must use the greatly inferior replacement parts ­ toxic metals. Causes for the low mineral content of almost all agricultural products are primarily:

1. Hybrid crops are bred for production or disease resistance, rather than superior nutrition.

2. Superphosphate fertilizers produce higher yields by stimulating growth, but do not provide all the trace elements.

3. Monoculture, the growing of just one crop over and over on the same piece of land, eventually depletes the soil.

4. Toxic sprays damage soil microorganisms needed to help plants absorb minerals from the soil.

5. Food refining and processing almost always reduce the mineral content of our food. Whole wheat flour, when milled to make white flour, loses 40% of its chromium, 86% of its manganese, 89% of its cobalt, 78% of its zinc and 48% of its molybdenum. Refining cane into sugar causes even greater losses. EDTA may be added to frozen foods to retain their color. However, this chelating agent removes minerals that otherwise would cause the surface minerals to ‘tarnish’, discoloring the vegetables.

As a result of the above, according to Dr. Weston Price, DDS, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, primitive man ate 5 to 11 times the amount of the essential minerals in his diet as modern man . The term ’empty calories’ aptly describes most of our food today, even most natural foods. Organically grown is better, but varies and most organic food is still hybridized varieties. Newer genetically modified crops could be better in some ways, but some are worse.


For a more complete list of sources for each of the major toxic metals organized by the metal, see the Reference Guide at the end of this article.

Food Sources. Food grown near highways or downwind of industrial plants may contain lead and other toxic amounts of metals. Even organic home gardens may be contaminated if, for example, old house paint containing lead leaches lead into the soil. Sprays and insecticides still often contain lead, arsenic, mercury and other toxic metals. Refining of food often contaminates the food with aluminum, as it is found in water supplies everywhere. Also, food refining removes the protective zinc, chromium and manganese from food and leaves the toxic metals in some cases, such as cadmium. This makes white flour even more toxic, as with white sugar, and is another reason to totally avoid these foods.

Arsenic. Arsenic I call the slow death mineral. Its symptoms are vague, and it was used to kill people because it is colorless and tasteless so it was added to food and slowly killed people. Today arsenic is still a common toxin. It may be added in up to 70% of chickens in their feed as Roxsarone and perhaps in other additives that are still permitted by the idiotic and corrupt FDA and USDA in America. Europe has banned arsenic in chicken feed, but I don’t know if some are still using it. It gets into commercial eggs, all pig products such as pork, ham, bacon and lard, and into most US drinking water supplies as it leaches into the soil from farming and livestock operations. Organic chicken and eggs should be better. Avoid all pig products for other reasons and this one, too. Arsenic is used in pesticides and, as a result, may be found in commercial wines, beers, fruits, vegetables, rice and other foods. Once again, organically grown should be better.

Lead is called the horror mineral because it is associated with violence, lowered IQ, ADD, ADHD and many neurological problems. another widely distributed toxic metal due to its many uses in industry. However, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and particularly aluminum are just as widespread if not more, but are less well studied. Pesticides used on fruits, vegetables and many other foods may contain arsenic, lead, copper, mercury and other toxic metals. Lead was added to gasoline until the 1970s when leadfree gas replaced it. The new gasoline has manganese in it instead of lead. Old house paint, current paint used on ships of all sizes, lubricants, medications, cosmetics such as lipstick and others, inks, and perhaps other products may contain lead. Entire books have been written about lead toxicity, which causes hundreds of symptoms from anemia to death.

Cadmium is called the pseudomacho or the violent element. Like lead, it is an older male mineral that is associated with macho behavior, violence and horror. People who have orgasms more than once a week tend to accumulate cadmium, probably because it replaces zinc in the male testicles and even in women’s ovaries. Male and female sexual fluids are rich in zinc, and when one loses too much of these, cadmium from the environment seems to replace the zinc in the body. Cadmium is widespread in the air, as it is used in brake linings of cars. It is also used in metal plating as it is a very hard substance. Cigarette smoke and marijuana smoking can contribute to cadmium toxicity. Cadmium toughens the tissues and hardens the arteries. Some women have cadmium in them that allows them to function in a male-oriented jobs and positions of authority. Cadmium helps them and others to act more tough and manly. Military and police often have more cadmium, as it helps them handle their very difficult jobs, at times, and take risks. Unfortunately, it is also a deadly toxic metal associated with heart disease, cancers of all kind, kidney disease, diabetes and other health problems.

Mercury and others from the sea. Mercury may be called the mad hatters mineral. People who made raccoon skin hats in the mid 1800s in America and Europe developed mercury toxicity after a few years from rubbing mercury on felt to soften it. They became mentally and emotionally deranged in many cases. Fish, especially those caught near the coast or in contaminated streams or lakes, are universally contaminated. Mercury is found today in ALL FISH, bar none. Even small fish, which used to be safe, are not any more. This is sad as fish is otherwise an excellent food.

As a result, the only fish I recommend are very small fish, and the best is sardines because of their content of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, along with calcium, selenium, RNA, DNA and many other vital nutrients. The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D are almost universally deficient in modern diets and are important for every one. Articles on this website detail this sad nutritional deficiency. Sardines in the can are fine. A can three or four times per week will supply an adult with adequate omega-3 fatty acids, and this is actually better at this time than using supplements of fish oil and vitamin D, although these are fine as well. All other fish should be avoided, except perhaps occasional small fish like sole, smelt, anchovies or herring. Large fish concentrate mercury a million times or more. The federal government recently issued a warning that pregnant and lactating women should avoid tuna, shark, king mackerel and other large fish. I recommend everyone avoid these fish!

Avoid shellfish. Shellfish and bottom feeders in particular contain excessive cadmium, mercury and other toxic metals. Please avoid all shellfish, forever, as the problem is just getting worse in most nations of the world. Once again, they are not bad foods if they are processed correctly, but the toxic metal levels are incredible at times. This is why many people are “allergic” to them. This is a mild term. They are really poisoned by them.

Aluminum. Aluminum is called the soft in the head mineral because it is associated with memory loss and dementias. All types of salt contain some aluminum. Table salt often has aluminum added as an anti-caking agent and should never be eaten. Sea salt is better but contains some aluminum as well. Beverages in aluminum cans or food cooked in aluminum may contain elevated levels of aluminum. Ceramic plates and cookware from other nations often contain leaded glazes that come off onto the food. Antiperspirants all contain aluminum compounds. Use an old-fashioned deodorant instead, or put some liquid soap like Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap under your arms instead.

Nickel. This is called the depression and suicide mineral, as it is associated with these feelings and symptoms. It is a particularly deadly toxic metal. It is found in large quantity, sadly, in some older metal or even ceramic dental fixtures such as crowns and some wires used in bridges and braces. Be very careful about this because nickel can contribute to cancer and other horrible problems. If you suspect you have nickelplated crowns or dental wires of some kind, talk to your dentist about the problem and try to find out the materials in your mouth. One way to save thousands of dollars, though not a perfect solution, would be to coat dental wires and even the sides of crowns with clear nail polish to keep the nickel from rubbing off into the body. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, however. Go to a dental office where they have a suction machine and do it there, or have the hygienist do it for you. Nail polish gives off very toxic fumes and these should never be breathed, ever. Nickel in much smaller quantity in hydrogenated oils found in commercial peanut butter, margarines including soy margarine and vegetable shortening. Cadmium used as catalysts.

Toxic drinking water. This is the most important source of toxic metals for most people. Aluminum, copper, toxic chlorides and fluorides are added to many municipal water supplies. Aluminum allows dirt to settle out of the water, while copper kills algae that grows in reservoirs. Chlorine is used to disinfect water, although ozone works very well and is a far more healthful treatment. Wells and even municipal water may also contain some lead, arsenic and other undesirable metals. Galvanized and black plastic pipes can be an important source of cadmium. Leadsoldered pipes and copper pipes may increase these metals in the drinking water if the water is soft. It is an uncommon problem in hard water areas.

Fluoride is sometimes called a cancer mineral. Adding fluoride to drinking water not only does not stop cavities in the teeth. It is totally insane, because fluoride compounds added to drinking water are extremely toxic. The entire world has stopped this practice except for parts of America and Great Britain. Fluorides have found their way into ground water supplies, and thus into the food chain. Fluoride levels in foods processed with water may be very high, especially baby foods and reconstituted fruit juices. Health authorities who recommend fluoridating the water are extremely ignorant, in my experience. I have debated dentists and public health officials and their level of knowledge of the medical literature on fluorides is horrendous. They rarely if ever take into account the toxic effect of fluorides already found in natural foods, foods processed with fluoridated water and fluoridated toothpaste. The combination adds up to overload in all cases. Hydrofluosilicic acid, the chemical often used to fluoridate drinking water, is a smokestack waste that contains lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum, benzene and radioactive waste material. Note that carbon and carbon block filters do not remove most toxic metals from water. Only distillation and reverse osmosis remove most toxic metals. Good quality spring water is probably best way to avoid the most common source of toxic metals and at the same time obtain vital minerals.

Airborne Sources of Toxic Metals. Most toxic metals are effectively absorbed by inhalation. Auto and particularly aircraft exhaust, industrial smoke and products from incinerators are among the airborne sources of toxic metals and other chemicals. Mercury and coalfired power plants. Burned high in the atmosphere, aircraft fuel deposits everywhere and affects everyone on earth. Burning coal can release mercury, lead and cadmium among other metals . Iranian and Venezuelan oil are high in vanadium. Coal plants should have scrubbers, as they do in the United States. However, they do not in some nations such as China, that are in a great hurry to industrialize and do not realize the damage their plants are causing in the entire world thanks to their pollution of the air, water and food supplies. Other oil is excessive in toxic sulfur compounds. Tetraethyl lead was added to gasoline for many years. Residues are present on pavement and may settle on buildings, cropland and elsewhere. Today, manganese is added to gasoline. Uranium exposure is largely from airborne sources such as nuclear tests and accidental nuclear releases.

Incineration can be clean. Older methods of incineration of electronic parts, plastics, treated fabrics, batteries and even diapers release all the toxic metals into the air. The use of scrubbers and newer methods of very high temperature incineration are much better.

Cadmium and mercury in papers. Cigarette and marijuana smoke are high in cadmium, found in cigarette paper. Pesticides used on these crops may contain lead, arsenic and other toxic metals.

Medications and toxic metals. Many patented prescription and overthecounter drugs contain toxic metals. Cipro (fluoquinolones) and Prozac (fluoxetine) are fluoride containing chemicals, for example. Thimerisol, a mercurycontaining preservative, is still used in many vaccines, including all flu shots, even when doctors deny it, I am told. Independent evaluation of a large study that is part of the Centers For Disease Control Vaccine Safety Datalink concluded that:

“Children are 27 times as likely to develop autism after exposure to three thimerisolcontaining vaccines than those who receive thimerisolfree versions” .

Thiazide diuretics contain mercury. These include Maxzide, Diazide and many others. Antacids such as Ryopan, Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta and many others are very high in aluminum. Antibiotics may also contain toxic substances including metals.

Direct Skin Contact As A Source Of Toxic Metals. Almost all antiperspirants and many cosmetics contain aluminum. Dental amalgams contain mercury, copper and other metals. Dental bridges and other appliances often contain nickel. Prostheses and pins used to hold bones together may contain nickel and other toxic metals, although most are titanium, which is much better. Copper intrauterine devices, if left in place for years, release a tremendous amount of copper into the body. Soaps, body lotions and creams often contain toxic compounds. A few hair dyes and commercial highend lipsticks contain lead. Selsun Blue shampoo contains selenium that is quite toxic in high doses. Household lawn and garden chemicals may contain lead, arsenic and other compounds. Mercury treated seeds and arsenictreated wood are other common sources of toxic metals.

Occupational exposure to toxic metals is important for many occupations today. Among the worst are plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, printers, ironworkers, office workers, other building trades and many other occupations. Workers need to wear gloves, masks and take other precautions when handling inks, metals and other toxic materials. Unfortunately, most occupational exposure occurs without the knowledge of either the worker or the employer today.

Congenital Toxic Metals An Extremely Important And Preventable Tragedy. This is a vital topic that deserves a separate article, so important is it. Here I will just briefly introduce the subject.
Today, all children are born with some toxic metals acquired in utero. All the toxic metals pass through the placenta from mother to child. This is seen clearly when reviewing mineral analyses of infants. These are babies who have never been exposed to food, yet their bodies are high in many toxic metals.
The only explanation is that these infants receive exposures in utero during gestation. This is a very sad situation, as these children are born with two strikes against them, so to speak. They are far more prone to autism, ADD, ADHD, infections, developmental delays and more. For more information about this critical topic, see the articles on this website about children’s health.
This tragedy can be prevented if all young women would go on a nutritional balancing program before they become pregnant to reduce their load of toxic metals. It would take a year or so to do this, and I am always pleased when young women want to improve their health before becoming pregnant.


Toxic metals are not always easy to detect. They lodge deep within tissues and organs. The most common methods of detection include hair, urine, blood, feces and liver biopsy tests.
Blood tests are only helpful for an acute exposure, such as eating a food contaminated with lead and doing a test soon after. The problem is that toxic metals are removed quickly from the blood and stored in the tissues where they do less damage. So blood tests must be done soon after an exposure, usually within days or weeks at the most, or they are practically useless.

Urine and feces challenge tests. These are used widely by holistic physicians, but they are very poor tests. These are done by first administering a chelation drug that binds to and removes toxic metals. Examples are EDTA, DMPS or another. Then one collects a 24-hour urine or a feces sample to see what comes out of the body. This test is poor and will miss most toxic metals. The reason is that none of the chelating drugs can remove deeply hidden toxic metals. Most chelating agents only circulate in the blood, so they miss most of one’s toxic metals that are bound to the tissues or incorporated into enzymes in the brain, heart, liver and elsewhere.

Electrical machines. Electroacupuncture devices, radionic machines and others can detect toxic metals. However, I have not found them too reliable. They are somewhat dependent upon the skill of the operator, which also decreases their reliability and accuracy.

Applied kinesiology. This method, also called muscle testing, is also variable in its reliability and extremely dependent upon the operator or practitioner. For these reasons, it is not very accurate and not easy to quantify the metals.

Liver or other biopsies. This definitely is more accurate and is used, at times, to detect iron poisoning and copper poisoning, for example. However, liver biopsies are costly, invasive and somewhat dangerous. For this reason, liver biopsies are not used often.

Hair tissue biopsy. This is by far the best method, provided that:

1) hair is clean at the time of sampling,

2) the test is run properly, and

3) the test is interpreted properly. This type of biopsy is not invasive, dangerous or costly. The section below gives the protocol I use for interpreting the hair mineral biopsy test for toxic metals.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reviewed over 400 studies of the use of hair for toxic metal detection and concluded that:
“Hair is a meaningful and representative tissue for (biological monitoring for) antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium and perhaps selenium and tin.”
The author of a study of lead toxicity in Massachusetts school children, Dr. R. Tuthill, concluded:
“Scalp hair should be considered a useful clinical and epidemiological approach for the measurement of chronic lowlevel lead exposure in children.”

How to interpret a hair mineral analysis to test for toxic metals: 

1. The hair must be washed at home, before sampling, within 48 hours or less before sampling. Any ordinary shampoo may be used. If one has a water softener, then it is best to wash the hair twice before sampling it, using unsoftened tap water, reverse osmosis water, distilled or spring water. 

2. The hair sample must not be washed at the laboratory at all. The reason is that washing the hair always and erratically removes some of its minerals. For this reason, I only suggest using Analytical Research Laboratories for hair testing.


4. The amigos. These are iron, manganese and aluminum. The interpretation rule is that if any one of these are elevated, the other two are elevated in the body as well. The most commonly elevated is aluminum, and elevated means anything above about 0.02 mg% or 0.2 ppm. Elevated iron is any reading above 1.9 mg% or 19 ppm. Elevated manganese is any reading above 0.04 mg% or 0.4 ppm.

5. Poor eliminator patterns. This complicates interpretation, but is a very sound method in my experience. If any of the toxic metal levels are extremely low, it indicates they are present in excess and simply cannot be eliminated at this time. This may sound outrageous, but it is holding true. This means that if a person embarks on a nutritional balancing program, eventually the metal that was very low begins to rise on retests and comes out of the body. When it does, the person generally feels much better.

6. Hidden copper toxicity. The hair copper level is a very poor indicator of copper toxicity, which is very common. Instead, look for hidden copper indicators, which include:

Copper greater than 2.5 mg% or 25 ppm.
Copper less than 1.5 mg% or 15 ppm.
Calcium greater than about 65 mg% or 650 ppm.
Potassium less than about 5 mg% or 50 ppm.
Mercury greater than about 0.03 mg% or 0.3 ppm.
Zinc less than 13 mg% or 130 ppm.
Na/K ratio less than 2.5.
Four lows pattern.
Zinc greater than 17 mg% or 170 ppm in most cases.
Phosphorus less than 12 mg% or 120 ppm in most cases.

7. Mercury indicators. Mercury is so widespread that almost everyone has a lot. Anyone who eats large or mediumsized fish has a lot. Anyone with amalgam dental fillings has a lot. Anyone who eats seafood or sushi has plenty. Most babies today are born with it thanks to toxicity in their mothers. The hair or other mineral tests results are often not as important as these environmental factors.

8. Other general indicators. These include a slow oxidation rate, fast oxidation in an adult, three highs or four highs pattern, zinc greater than 16 mg% or 160 ppm, phosphorus less than 13 mg% or 130 ppm, three lows pattern, four lows pattern, sympathetic dominance pattern, and a sodium/potassium ratio less than 2.5:1. I realize this includes almost everyone except children with a healthy fast oxidation rate. Even most of them have plenty of toxic metals, but less than the rest of the population in most cases.

Other types of fairly reliable indicators:

1. Sex with orgasm more than once a week causes cadmium accumulation. While this is not a hair mineral analysis finding, I include it here because it is an interesting correlation that is new and still being researched. Having orgasms, including masturbation, depletes zinc in both men and women. It appears that one cannot easily replace this zinc and so excessive sex leads to cadmium replacing zinc in the tissues. The cadmium may only show up on tests much later as the quantity in the body increases.

2. Eating any amount of tuna fish, salmon or other larger fish, or eating any shellfish, seafood or seaweed except for kelp causes mercury toxicity. This is also not a hair indicator, but it seems to hold true today in every case. I allow up to about 4 cans of sardines weekly for adults. These are lower in mercury, though they still contain some. Please do not eat more than 4 cans of sardines weekly.

3. Smoking anything, including the use of marijuana even once a week, adds very toxic metals, especially cadmium. Use of a water pipe if you must smoke is better, but still not recommended at all.

4. Miners, electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics and other mechanics such as diesel engine repair, tool repair and others are always very toxic. 

Even using the hair mineral biopsy, no test I am aware of can detect anywhere near all the toxic metals in the body. Often they are hidden in hardtoreach places such as the brain or bones, or places with poor circulation such as the fatty tissues. The best we can do is to know the metals will be revealed as they are excreted through the hair. This requires having repeated hair mineral tests while a person is on a nutritional balancing program. As a clinician, I find the best approach is to assume everyone has toxic metals. This has proven totally true in over 33 years of clinical experience. Any sound health program needs to be designed to remove all of the toxic metals, not just a few. I do not use the hair test to detect toxic metals, in most cases. I use the test primarily to help design the corrective program.


This is an important topic because if one checks the various laboratories, the acceptable levels of toxic metals vary somewhat. We use very tight normal values because I know we can lower the toxic metal values to these low levels with our methods. These methods are described later in this article.
Poor eliminators. Note that for each toxic metal, there is a small range of the ideal values. If a toxic metal reading is too low, it is not healthful, and it is called a poor eliminator pattern. It means the metal is accumulating because the person cannot eliminate it. This was a fascinating discovery that, so far, is proving to be very accurate.


For a complete list of symptoms for each toxic metal, see the Reference Guide at the end of this article.

Toxic metals can contribute to any imaginable illness. For example, lead that replaces calcium in the bones can contribute to weakened bones and osteoporosis.
Cadmium that replaces zinc in the arteries causes inflammation and hardening of the arteries. Iron that replaces zinc and other minerals in the pancreas, adrenals and elsewhere can contribute to impaired blood sugar tolerance and diabetes. Copper that replaces zinc in the brain is associated with migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and much more. Mercury and copper that replace selenium in various tissues impairs the conversion of T4 to T3, contributing to thyroid imbalances.

Toxic Metals and Aging. The slow, or not so slow, replacement of vital minerals with toxic metals is an important and neglected cause of aging due to deactivation of enzyme systems and the loss of organ and tissue integrity. Toxic metal accumulation also feeds on itself. As one’s energy production decreases with age, the body is less able to eliminate toxic metals, causing more metal accumulation.

Toxic Metals and Gene Expression. Genetic birth defects may be caused by faulty DNA or by faulty gene expression. Even if one’s DNA is perfect, the synthesis of proteins from that DNA can be faulty. For example, zinc is required for a key enzyme in gene expression, RNA transferase. Not surprisingly, zinc deficiency is associated with conditions such as neural tube defects. A recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discussed this hidden cause of genetic defects.

“An alternate form of a gene present in greater than 1% of the population is called a polymorphism”.

While the article mainly discusses vitamin deficiencies as a cause for genetic defects, it gives the example that “mutations in Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase cause 25% of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.”


One should not fear toxic metals. They cannot be completely avoided, but one can minimize exposure with careful eating and a healthful lifestyle. Also, our bodies have a lot of evolutionary experience with them and effective mechanisms to eliminate them. These can be supported and enhanced with a nutritional balancing program.
This method, which does not involve chelation much at all, uses at least 35 methods together, at once, to remove ALL the toxic metals safely and deeply. In most instances, it is faster and more thorough than either intravenous or any other type of chelation therapy, synthetic or natural. It is also safer and goes deeper to remove more metals than chelation of any kind. Also, all chelating agents remove some beneficial minerals along with the toxic ones.


Many toxic metals accumulate in these organs. In most Americans, in particular, who have used pharmaceuticals and over the counter remedies, this step takes years. No other program we have observed can speed it up much faster than we are elaborating here.
Fortunately, the liver has great regenerative ability, especially when one is less than about 65 years old. We use every method possible to enhance liver functioning. This includes:

a) A clean, healthy diet and pure water to drink, as explained above.
b) A healthful lifestyle, especially going to bed by 9 Pm and lots of rest and sleep. The liver does its main work during rest and sleep. Missing this single factor is often a key as to why some do not succeed in restoring the liver.
c) Nutritional support for the liver includes milk thistle, dandelion root and perhaps other herbal products that are superb. Be careful with some herbs, however, such as burdock root and others, as they are somewhat toxic. They may be used for a short time, but are not for ongoing use as milk thistle and dandelion can be used.
d) Other procedures for the liver are a daily coffee enema, or even two per day for very toxic conditions, colonic irrigation to reduce debris and fermentation and putrefaction in the colon, castor oil packs over the liver and the use of a near infrared lamp sauna. Using a near infrared sauna on a daily basis, or better twice daily, is also very helpful for liver detoxification. Traditional saunas and far infrared saunas may be okay, but do not seem to work as well. Far infrared types may emit harmful electromagnetic frequencies.
e) Attitude change is critical for the liver in some cases. The liver is associated with a “bilous personality”. In modern language, this means anger, resentment, hatred and other harmful emotions. For some people, this is the key to their liver regeneration. Meditation, relaxation and forgiveness are thus important for the liver.
f) Other healing modalities may help, especially body work such as Rolfing, acupuncture and acupressure. For instance, we recommend everyone to rub their feet each day. This seems simple and maybe silly, but can have beneficial effects, particularly if one is skilled at it. The technique is easy to learn and to practice.

The kidneys. To restore the kidneys, many of the same items are critical. These include an excellent diet that is balanced for the oxidation type, along with a very healthful lifestyle and a life free of toxic pollutants. Other items include:

a) Herbs for the kidneys. Uva ursi, parsley and other herbs are helpful to a degree. We also use kidney glandular substance with excellent results.
b) Drinking plenty of spring or distilled water is critical for the kidneys. Be sure to drink enough pure water (3 quarts or more daily for most everyone). No other type of water is recommended except spring or steam distilled water. However, drink distilled water for only about three months and no more. After this, it will begin to remove some beneficial minerals. Strictly avoid reverse osmosis water, “drinking waters”, most “purified water” and alkaline waters. Carbon only filtered tap water is okay and second best, but not as good in most cases as a good spring water. Preferably drink an hour after meals or up to 15 minutes before meals, rather than with meals.
c) Rest is also critical for the kidneys, which are close to and associated with the adrenal glands. This, in Chinese terminology, is related to the kidney meridian, a meridian that is very weak on most people. Rest cannot be overestimated to restore the kidneys and the adrenal glands.

The skin. This is the third most important eliminative organ, and most doctors pay no attention to it whatsoever! In most people, today, including most children, it is toxic or congested and for these reasons quite underactive in its job of eliminating many toxins from the body. This even applies to newborns today. Vaccines affect the skin and can cause it to become less active, as can overdressing infants. Bathing in toxic bath water harms the skin, as can tight clothing and some synthetic clothing. The use of toxic lotions, skin creams, and body care products also harms the skin of many people.

Sauna therapy. Improving the skin requires a lot of work in most cases. Even with two saunas daily, plus all our other efforts, just restoring the skin will take six to twelve months in most adults. Children require less, as their skin is usually in far better condition due to more sweating and fewer toxic exposures. Saunas draw blood to the surface, powerfully stimulate circulation and decongest the internal organs. Infrared saunas penetrate more deeply and are often more comfortable as they work at lower temperatures. I find the best saunas are those powered by infrared heat lamps. Far infrared saunas are okay, in most cases, but are not as good as a near infrared lamp sauna. Almost all far infrared saunas emit stray electromagnetic fields that affect some people. Steam baths and other procedures such as skin brushing, sitting in hot tubs or others may be used, but are not nearly as good. Sweating during exercise is also not nearly as good, but better than nothing. As an example of what saunas can do, The New York Times recently reported on the success of sauna therapy to help hundreds of New York firemen. They had became ill from the World Trade Tower disaster. No other medical or alternative therapy was able to help these brave men and women to recover their health.
The large intestine. This is also an important organ of elimination and one that is in terrible condition in the vast majority of people. Fortunately, it is easier to correct than the skin, liver or kidneys. Diet, of course, plays a critical role in rehabilitating the intestines. Eliminating sugar is most important, even the sugar found in too much fruit or juices. Fiber is critical, as is enough protein for the intestine to rebuild itself. In addition, lifestyle is important and coffee enemas can greatly speed the elimination of toxins from the large intestine and liver that often lead to bowel problems. I recommend for most people a digestive aid, usually GB-3 by Endomet Laboratories in Phoenix. This not only assists digestion. It also kills many parasites in the intestines over time and helps eliminate poisons from the liver as well. Other aids for digestion are other digestive aids such as Betaine Hclpepsin, bromelain and others. However, they are not as good. Deep breathing, some exercise and adequate rest and sleep are important for digestive strength as well. Staying warm in winter is important as well.


Even with an excellent quality diet, healthful lifestyle, and consistent daily use of near infrared sauna therapy, coffee enemas and shortterm use of distilled water for about 6 months, but usually not longer, toxic metal removal at the deepest levels takes a number of years in almost everyone we have encountered. This means that repeated hair mineral analyses keep revealing more and more of the metals coming out of the body through the hair and skin, often for 5 to 10 years. NOTE: This is not because nutritional balancing science is slow to remove the toxic metals. I believe it does it faster than any other method of removing toxins from the body such as chelation therapy, herbs, clay baths and other methods. It also does it in a much safer manner. The reason it takes so long is that nutritional balancing removes many more of the toxic metals, and this is a slow process for the following reasons:
Toxicity of the metals. They are extremely toxic substances. If they were removed too quickly, they could poison or even kill a person. The body seems to know how to remove them at a pace that is safe, providing we keep balancing the body chemistry and supporting a person the entire time. Otherwise, it just takes longer. Rarely, a person will have a powerful toxic reaction as a heavy metal is released from a storage site, but this is not common.
Location of the metals, in some instances. Some storage sites of the body are much harder to reach than others due to impaired circulation, or other difficulties such as the blood brain barrier and others. Toxic metals in the bones, for example, usually take longer to reach as well due to reduced circulation and just the depth or layer of the tissue where they are stored. Sites that have suffered damage and some scarring such as often the ear canals, bronchials, lungs and other tissues may also be harder to regenerate and thus take longer.
Incorporated into enzymes. Toxic metals are often not just in deposits or floating free in the tissues, although this is true of some of them. These are the easiest to remove. Unfortunately, millions of molecules are replacing essential minerals in enzymes throughout the body. They cannot simply be pulled out with a chelator or anything. The body must very carefully and slowly replace them with enzymes that contain essential minerals. This is a much slower process, but a vital one that slowly increases a person’s energy level and restores functioning of all the body organs as well.
Low vitality. Energy is required to synthesize new enzymes, carry away toxic metals and activate the eliminative organs to remove them completely. Most people, especially when they begin a program, have low cellular energy production that make this process much slower.
Impaired eliminative channels. All toxic metals must be flushed or removed from the body through the socalled eliminative channels or organs such as the liver, kidneys, bowel and skin. Some can be removed through the lungs and elsewhere but these are the main routes. Most people have very damaged livers, colons and skin, so this slows the process of metal elimination drastically, often for a few years until these organs can be rebuilt and function at their optimum levels.
Impaired general nutrition. As explained above, toxic metals must often be replaced by vital minerals in enzymes. One may think that just swallowing some kelp capsules or other supplements and eating well will provide these replacements. However, the body has complex buffering systems, and it will only accept a certain amount of these essential minerals at one time. This is even true if one decides to take mineral in intravenously or intramuscularly. Each mineral must be bound to a mineral transporter to be properly utilized in many instances and the process of remineralizing and renourishing a body thus is a time consuming process no matter what. If I felt that IV or IM minerals and other nutrients were better, I would suggest it but so far I have seen the opposite. Other than very gross remineralizing of the body, these routes of administering nutrients seem to do more damage by unbalancing the delicate mineral balance of the body and bypassing the normal buffering systems of the body having to do with food absorption. Exceptions to this principle may exist, but they are not many.


This topic must not be forgotten in any article about toxic metals. The elimination of heavy metals, as well as the removal of toxic chemicals and chronic infections, almost always will cause symptoms from time to time. These symptoms are called healing reactions flareups, exacerbations, aggravations, crises of Herxheimer reactions in different natural healing arts. They may include energy fluctuations, headaches, skin rashes and other symptoms as well. Emotional and mental symptoms often occur as well. These include feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia or mood swings. All purification symptoms tend to be very temporary. The best way to handle them is to rest more, reduce your nutrition program if you wish and do supportive therapies. These include extra coffee enemas, drinking distilled water in larger quantities, short, rather than longer sauna therapy sessions, colonic irrigation, Epsom salt baths and others. In almost all cases, this will suffice to move the toxic metals out of the body a little faster and the symptom will disappear. At times, more vigorous or severe healing reactions occur. Almost any symptom can arise, from a cold or flu to various aches and pains or other types of symptoms. Usually only supportive, natural methods of care are needed to see a reaction through to completion. However, if you are not sure, always contact a person knowledgeable in healing and purification reactions.
1. Schroeder, H., Trace elements and Man, The Devin Adair Company, CT, 1975.

2. Ibid, p. 154

3. Braunwald, E. et al, editors, Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, McGraw Hill, Professional, 15th edition, 2001.

4. Pfeiffer, C., Zinc and Other Micronutrients, Keats Publishing, CT, 1978.

5. Kutsky, R., Handbook of Vitamins, Minerals and Hormones, 2nd edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, NY, 1981.

6. Ibid., Schroeder, H., Trace Elements and Man.

7. Hall, R.H., Food For Naught, The Decline in Nutrition, Vintage Books, NY, 1974.

8. Anderson, M. and Jensen, B. Empty Harvest; Understanding the Link Between Our Food, Our Immunity and Our Planet, Avery Penguin Putnam, 1993.

9. Price, W., Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, CA, 1949.

10. Stannard, J., Shim, Y.S., Kritsineli, M., Labropoulo, P.,Tsamtsouris, A., Fluoride levels and fluoride contamination of fruit juices, J Clin Ped Dentistry, 1991;16(1).

11. From the warning label on hydrofluosilicic acid, Cargill Corporation, FL.

12. Casdorph, H.R. and Walker, M., Toxic Metal Syndrome, Avery Publishing, NY, 1995.

13. National Autism Association, Press Release, Feb. 9, 2004.

14. Eck, P. and Wilson, L., Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease, Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd., AZ, 1989, p. xiv.

15. Shamberger, R.J., Validity of hair mineral testing, Bio Trace Element Res, 2002, 87:1-28.

16. Muir, M., Current controversies in the diagnosis and treatment of heavy metal toxicity, Alternative and Comp Ther., June 1997:170-178.

17. Environmental Protection Agency, Research and Development, Toxic Trace Metals in Human and Mammalian Hair, EPA-600, 4.79-049, August 1979, p. 3.

18. Tuthill, R., Hair lead levels related to children’s classroom attention deficit behavior, Arch Env Health, 1996, 51(3)214-220.

19. Ames, BN, Elson-Schwab, I., Silver, EA, High dose vitamin therapy stimulates variant enzymes with decreased coenzyme binding affinity: relevance to genetic disease and polymorphisms, Am J Clin Nut. April 2002;75(4):616-658.

20. 1993, J Applied Nut, 45(1). (article on trace mineral content of organic foods versus commercial foods)

21. Mortensen, M.E. and Watson, P., Chelation therapy for childhood lead poisoning: The changing scene in the 1990s, Clin Ped., 1993;32:284-291. 21. Committee on Drugs, American Academy of Pediatrics Treatment guidelines for lead exposure in children, Pediatrics, 1995, 96:155-159.


SOURCES Aluminum – cookware, beverages in aluminum cans, tap water, table salt, baking powders, antacids, processed cheese, antiperspirants, bleached flour, vaccines and perhaps other medications, and occupational exposure. Virtually everyone has too much aluminum in their bodies.
Arsenic – pesticides, beer, table salt, tap water, paints, pigments, cosmetics, glass and mirror manufacture, fungicides, insecticides, treated wood and contaminated food.
Beryllium – air pollution (burning fossil fuels), manufacture of plastics, electronics, steel alloys and volcanic ash.
Cadmium – cigarettes, (tobacco and marijuana), processed and refined foods, large fish, shellfish, tap water, auto exhaust, plated containers, gal-vanized pipes, air pollution from incineration and occupational exposure.
Copper – copper water pipes, copper added to tap water, pesticides, swimming in pools, intrauterine devices, vegetarian diets, dental amalgams, nutritional supplements – especially prenatal vitamins, birth control pills, weak adrenal glands and occupational exposure.
Lead – tap water, cigarette smoke, hair dyes, paints, inks, glazes, pesticide residues and occupational exposure in battery manufacture and other industries.
Mercury – dental amalgams, ALL fish (tiny fish are better), ALL shellfish, sea vegetables, some medications such as thiazide diuretics, air pollution, gold mining, and the manufacture of paper, chlorine, adhesives, fabric softeners and waxes. Most everyone has too much mercury in their body today.
Nickel – hydrogenated oils (margarine, commercial peanut butter and shortening), shellfish, air pollution, cigarette smoke, plating and occupational exposure.

SYMPTOMS Aluminum – Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, anemia and other blood disorders, colic, fatigue, dental caries, dementia dialactica, hypoparathyroidism, kidney and liver dysfunctions, neuromuscular disorders, osteomalacia and Parkinson’s disease.
Arsenic – abdominal pain, abnormal ECG, anorexia, dermatitis, diarrhea, edema, enzyme inhibitor, fever, fluid loss, goiter, hair loss, headache, herpes, impaired healing, interferes with the uptake of folic acid, inhibition of sulfhydryl enzyme systems, jaundice, keratosis, kidney and liver damage, muscle spasms, pallor, peripheral neuritis, sore throat, stomatitis, stupor, vasodilation, vertigo, vitiligo and weakness.
Beryllium – adrenal insufficiency, arthritis, bone spurs, bursitis, depression, fatigue, osteoporosis and symptoms of slow metabolism.
Cadmium – hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, arteriosclerosis, impaired bone healing, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, reduced fertility, hyperlipidemia, hypoglycemia, headaches, osteoporosis, kidney disease, schizophrenia and strokes.
Copper – acne, adrenal hyperactivity and/or insufficiency, agoraphobia, allergies, hair loss, anemia, anxiety, arthritis, autism, cancer, chronic candida albicans infection, depression, elevated cholesterol, cystic fibrosis, depression, diabetes, dyslexia, elevated estrogen, failure to thrive, fatigue, fears, fractures of the bones, headaches, heart attacks, hyperactivity, hypertension, hypothyroidism, infections, inflammation, insomnia, iron storage diseases, kidney and liver dysfunctions, decreased libido, multiple sclerosis, nervousness, osteoporosis, panic attacks, premenstrual syndrome, schizophrenia, strokes, tooth decay and vitamin C and other vitamin deficiencies.
Lead – abdominal pain, adrenal insufficiency, anemia, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, attention deficit, back problems, blindness, cancer, constipation, convulsions, deafness, depression, diabetes, dyslexia, epilepsy, fatigue, gout, impaired glycogen storage, hallucinations, hyperactivity, impotency, infertility, inflammation, kidney dysfunction, learning disabilities, diminished libido, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, psychosis, thyroid imbalances and tooth decay.
Mercury – adrenal gland dysfunction, alopecia, anorexia, ataxia, bipolar disorder, birth defects, blushing, depression, dermatitis, discouragement, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, hearing loss, hyperactivity, immune system dysfunction, insomnia, kidney damage, loss of selfcontrol, memory loss, mood swings, nervousness, numbness and tingling, pain in limbs, rashes, excessive salivation, schizophrenia, thyroid dysfunction, timidity, tremors, peripheral vision loss and muscle weakness.
Nickel – cancer (oral and intestinal), depression, heart attacks, hemorrhages, kidney dysfunction, low blood pressure, malaise, muscle tremors and paralysis, nausea, skin problems, tetany and vomiting.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

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Disclaimer and disclosure: Nutritional Balancing Science and Hair Mineral Analysis do not diagnose, treat or cure any diseases, and are not substitutes for standard medical care. Susan Cachay is not a medical doctor. Nothing on this site is intended to discourage anyone from seeking or following the advice of a medical doctor. Cachay Lifestyle Consulting Inc. 

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