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Heavy Metal Toxicity

Heavy metal toxicity occurs when microscopic molecules of metals accumulate within your body after exposure. These heavy metals attach to your cells and prevent them from functioning properly, which can result in a wide variety of symptoms in the short term, and can have serious health consequences in the long term.

There are at least 23 different types of environmental metals, which are referred to as “heavy metals” and can contribute to acute or chronic toxicity. They are called “heavy metals” because they tend to stick around in the body, particularly being stored in adipose cells or fat tissue. They are difficult to get rid of and body fat tries to protect the organs by trapping them inside. We often see the side effects of heavy metal detoxing when people lose weight; as fat cells shrink, dormant toxins are released into the bloodstream. 

The most common heavy metals include:

  • Mercury

  • Lead

  • Arsenic

  • Cadmium

  • Cadmium

  • Aluminum

  • Nickel

  • Uranium

  • Thallium

How are we exposed to heavy metals?

There is virtually no way to entirely avoid heavy metal exposure. Many things we come into contact with on a day-to-day basis contain a wide variety of toxins, including heavy metals. Generally, our body is able to effectively clear many of these toxins, safely eliminating them from our body without any health consequences. The issue arises when our exposure outweighs our ability to eliminate them.

Common Sources of Heavy Metals:

  • Eating a lot of food that contains metals, namely large fish which contain high levels of mercury and processed foods which may contain metals and other contaminants.

  • Drinking water from older water supply systems.

  • Exposure to environmental pollutants, such as traffic fumes, air pollution, food contaminants, cigarette smoke or radiation.

  • Having metal amalgam dental fillings (silver fillings slowly release mercury into the body).

  • Working with metals at work.

  • Taking medications or supplements with high amounts of metallic elements.

  • Exposure or use of household substances that carry mercury, such as adhesives, air conditioning filters, cosmetics, fabric softeners, felt, floor waxes and polishes, and talcum powder.

  • Exposure to substances that carry lead, such as some chocolates, canned foods, toothpastes, old paints, insecticides, ceramic and some pottery, and soldered pipes.

  • Possibly receiving certain vaccinations.

Most metals that cause poisoning are in a microscopic form when they enter your body, meaning they are so small, you won’t be able to see them.

Heavy metals can enter your body several ways:

  • Absorbing into your skin.

  • Breathing in or inhaling tiny metal molecules.

  • Eating or drinking (ingesting) the metal from food or water.

Finding ways to reduce or eliminate exposure as much as possible is key to maintaining your health. Heavy metal toxicity can result in damaged or reduced mental and central nervous function, plus damage to the vital organs — such as the liver, heart, endocrine glands, and kidneys, particularly if left untreated.

What are the most common symptoms of heavy metal toxicity?

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Cognitive impairment like brain fog, memory issues, confusion, lack of concentration

  • Skin irritations and rashes

  • Unexplained headaches

  • Depression, anxiety, or other mood changes

  • Insomnia

  • GI dysfunction including food intolerances, nausea, vomiting, cramping.

  • Muscle aches and joint pain

  • Muscle weakness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Unexplained tremors

  • Other neurological symptoms like impaired speech, blurred vision, change in gait.

  • Dizziness and fainting

  • Poor recovery of exercise, lack of stamina or endurance

Treatment Approach:

Heavy metal exposure is usually assessed via blood or urine samples. Once it is determined whether you have been exposed to heavy metals, the appropriate treatment approach will be decided, depending in part on which types of metals you have been exposed to.


Treatment options may include a combination of the following:

  • Chelation Therapy: Therapeutic agents expel metals from various tissues, so they can be safely eliminated from the body. The agent is delivered via IV, which promotes the toxins being expelled from the tissue, to be bound to the therapeutic agent for elimination primarily via urine. 

  • Supplements Which Help to Bind and Eliminate Toxins: Supplements such as chlorella, activated charcoal and bentonite clay may be used to further augment the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. Natural compounds such as glutathione, lipoic acid, magnesium via IV therapy can aid the detoxification process.  Other oral compounds such as cilantro, milk thistle, N-acetylcysteine aid with both detox processes, as well as are supportive of liver function.

  • Nutritional Support: There are a wide variety of foods which naturally support the detoxification processes in the body such as:

    • Leafy greens

    • Naturally anti-inflammatory herbs and spices: turmeric, parsley, cilantro, basil, ginger, thyme

    • Foods rich in sulfur like onions and garlic, both support a healthy gut microbiome while also being rich in sulfur, which naturally supports the liver in detoxifying itself from heavy metals. 

  • Other IV Therapies: may be used to reduce inflammation, boost energy, and enhance brain function. 

Heavy metal toxicity can lead to significant health effects and the detoxification process for removing them can cause its own unintended side effects. It is highly recommended that you work with a knowledgeable and experienced health practitioner like Dr. Kellman to ensure this process is done safely and effectively. 

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