The heartbreak of heavy metal
Q: A friend recently mentioned “heavy metal toxicity.” What is that, and what does it do?
Dr. Wright: For one thing, heavy metal toxicity is an often-overlooked cause of essential hypertension. Right now even the penguins in Antarctica have higher than “natural background” amounts of toxic metals in their bodies. So the question isn’t whether or not you have these toxic metals in your body. The question is: How much?
But even if your doctor does test you for heavy metal toxicity, chances are the results won’t be accurate. That’s because blood tests for heavy metals are virtually useless. Since these toxic substances are damaging to so many different cell structures, your body clears them from your bloodstream as rapidly as possible.
If there’s too much toxic metal to be immediately excreted through your liver and kidneys (and there usually is), it gets tucked away in your bones or other less metabolically active tissue, where it causes less immediate damage. So a blood test won’t necessarily pick up any toxicity, even if there’s a ton of it stored in you. Unfortunately, wherever the un-excreted toxic metal is stored, it still does some damage, and if and when it’s finally released from storage, it can do further damage.
Hair testing for toxic minerals isn’t much better than blood tests. If one or more metals are found to be high based on a hair test, there’s definitely a toxic mineral problem. But if the hair test comes back negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re free from heavy metal toxicity.
The best test for the presence of heavy metals is a chelation test. In my experience, more than 50 percent of individuals with blood pressure higher than 140/90 have significant excretion of toxic metals found by a chelation test. If you do have heavy metal toxicity, chelation therapy will usually help lower your blood pressure. (Chelation therapy is an intravenous process that binds to the heavy metals and removes them from the body.)
Oral chelation can also be effective, but it takes considerably longer and doesn’t necessarily remove as much toxic metal. For more information or advice about both chelation testing and treatment for toxic metals, consult a physician from the American College of Advancement in Medicine or the International College of Integrative Medicine.