We frequently see articles in the newspaper about the presence of mercury in the environment and its potential impact on health and disease. Women of childbearing age are being advised to eat no more than six ounces of tuna fish monthly and to avoid albacore, ahi, tuna steaks and swordfish, as these are especially high in mercury. Smaller fish caught in local Sierra Nevada streams have been found to be high in mercury due to its use during the Gold Rush over 150 years ago. Meanwhile, the federal government is seeking ways to relax standards for industries that pollute our environment with mercury.
Dangers of Mercury
Effects of low-level chronic exposures to mercury have been linked to a number of adverse health effects including kidney damage, behavioral and mental changes, liver damage, immune system abnormalities, neurological problems and male infertility. Identifying mercury toxicity and successful removal of mercury from the body has shown corresponding improvement in health in those affected by mercury poisoning.
Other Toxic Metals
While mercury is perhaps the most publicized of the heavy metal toxicities, there are other toxic metals present in our environment that may lead to adverse health effects. Lead has been shown to cause fatigue, constipation, insomnia, emotional disturbances, hyperactivity and learning disabilities in children. Arsenic, a common ingredient in lumber products, may cause fatigue, skin problems and tingling in the extremities. Aluminum, cadmium, germanium and other metals all have been shown to cause disease with both acute and chronic exposures.
How to Find Out if You Have Been Exposed
So, how do you know if you've had chronic exposure to toxic metals, and how can you detoxify your system to remove these metals? Fortunately, there are useful tests to determine the body burden of heavy metals and proven clinical protocols to remove these elements from your body.
Hair analysis is generally regarded to be the best screening test for both heavy metal and long-term nutrient element status. It is inexpensive, noninvasive, and can pick up abnormalities not seen in other types of testing. This is because teeth, hair and nails in particular concentrate heavy metals, and thus are useful indicators of element status. The lab we use at SOMA Acupuncture measures the levels of 20 of the most commonly encountered toxic elements.
If the hair analysis shows high levels of toxic elements, provocative urine testing is a more specific test to measure the body's burden and the ability of therapeutic agents to remove the metal from the body. A 24-hour urine sample is collected and analyzed for the presence of toxic metals, as well as a kidney function test to ensure adequate kidney function because elimination of these metals can stress the kidneys. At this point, a chelating agent is given orally for three days, and a second urine test is done. If the presence of heavy metals in the urine rises, it indicates that oral chelation is effective in helping detoxify the body of these substances.
Treatment for Toxic Metal Exposure
At this point, we develop an individualized plan to continue to remove these toxic elements, support the organs of elimination specific to the elements we are removing (for example, mercury is largely eliminated through the bowels), and replenish nutrient minerals which may be removed as a side-effect of detoxification therapy. We also review strategies for avoidance of toxic metals as well as support for healing tissues and organs affected by toxic exposure.
At SOMA Acupuncture, we offer state-of-the-art testing and treatment for heavy metal toxicity using the latest and most researched clinical protocols. If you suspect that heavy metal toxicity may be a cause of chronic health issues, contact us and we will help you determine if this is so and guide you in effective treatment.
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