by Dr. Isabel Sharkar
How are our bodies supposed to keep up with this influx of toxins we are bombarded with each day? The concoction of air and water pollution, plastics, industrial cleaning agents, food additives and genetically modified food are making our bodies work overtime. Lucky for us all, environmental medicine is an emerging field that takes a close look at how toxins in our environment affect our bodies physiologically. Heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium have been linked to neurological, hormonal and immunological health problems.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), urine heavy metal testing provides the best estimates of the current body burden of chronic mercury poisoning. Elemental and inorganic mercury are mainly excreted in the urine. Urine heavy metal testing includes a pre-challenge (unprovoked) and post-challenge (provoked) urine collection. If levels are high on an unprovoked test, it means there is a current exposure to heavy metals. Whereas the provoked urine test reveals whether there are past or chronic exposures to heavy metals.
Chelation therapy is a good way to bind heavy metals and excrete them out of the body. The three most common chelators used in chelation therapy are calcium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (CaEDTA), dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), and 2,3-dimercapto-1-propane sulfonic acid (DMPS). Each binds to heavy metals and excretes them in the urine. A good chelator will have greater affinity for the metal to be bound, low toxicity, water solubility and rapid elimination from the body.
Toxic heavy metals are present in everyday things we come in contact with, like aluminum cans and foil, metal cookware, old paint and even pesticides and herbicides sprayed food. This immense burden on our immune system from toxic heavy metals leaves us vulnerable to dis-ease. Heavy metals are also neurotoxic and can lead to memory loss, brain fog, fatigue and depression. They cause overall inflammation in the body and serve a source of food for bacteria, viruses, parasites and other pathogens. As a result, the waste of these pathogens is also neurotoxic and can take its toll on the central nervous system, leading to autoimmune disorders and cognitive impairments.
What can you do? There are many ways to detox heavy metals out of the body, chelation being one of them. Detoxing has to be a default in your life, not something you reach for once in a blue moon. Other cultures incorporate detoxing into their lifestyle as second nature. Spirulina, chlorella, cilantro, barley grass juice extract powder, wild blueberries and Atlantic dulse are some natural foods that bind to heavy metals. Minimize your heavy metal exposure, fast, sweat through exercise and infrared sauna, replace your amalgams, remove all metal from your mouth, drink lots of spring water and flush toxins out.
Dr. Isabel Sharkar, ND is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic, in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit IndigoHealthClinic.com.