Heavy metal poisoning treatment is a serious challenge in the world today. Metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium are all too prevalent in the environment. Flint, Michigan, a small city in the United States, has come under scrutiny for the inability of its politicians to come to grips with lead poisoning in the municipal water supply. We saw concerns about lead in our water here in Hong Kong a few years ago.
Even metals that we need in our diets such as iron, copper, and zinc can be overly present in the modern environment and can cause trouble in excessive quantities. Fortunately proven methods of heavy metal poisoning treatment exist today.
What Is Heavy Metal Poisoning?
When certain metals accumulate in the body, they can cause hazardous symptoms. Lead is one we hear of often because there is no safe level of lead accumulation. While our bodies use iron and zinc in small amounts, it has no use for lead. Heavy metals can come from industry, foods, water or air pollution, paint in older houses, cosmetics, and even medication.
An individual suffering acute heavy metal poisoning, where a great deal of metal enters the bloodstream in a short amount of time, can exhibit these heavy metal poisoning symptoms:
- Numbness in the extremities
- Memory loss
Since your liver is at the core of your body’s detoxification system, it should be no surprise that liver disease can be a result of exposure to heavy metals. I’ve written elsewhere about keeping your liver healthy as well as some specific tips for staying healthy in Hong Kong.
Diagnosing Heavy Metal Toxicity
Long-term exposure to metals can cause permanent damage to one’s organs, including nerve damage. So the first step in undergoing heavy metal poisoning treatment is to ensure this is what the victim actually has. Heavy metal poisoning tests are easy to access. There are relatively simple blood and urine tests that can reveal the presence of elevated quantities of heavy metals. Testing for heavy metals is often part of routine blood and urine tests. Hair testing can also be very effective in identifying metal toxicity (and vitamin deficiencies, too!).
If you suspect that you or a family member suffer from metal poisoning, inform your doctor of your suspicions and request appropriate tests. In Hong Kong, call our office at 2523-8044 to discuss your situation with myself or another doctor.
Heavy Metal Poisoning Treatment: The Chelation Process
If you test positive for heavy metals, there are viable treatments. The most common is chelation. Chelation is the process where a substance binds to a metal, allowing the body to flush the metal out through urine.
Succimer is a chelating agent specifically for treating lead poisoning. Another, Dimercaprol, targets arsenic and copper. These treatments for heavy metals all have serious side effects. Only professional medical personnel should administer them, and only in a medically controlled environment. Some side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.
One chelating agent that has become increasingly well known is zeolite, a naturally occurring volcanic compound which may remove toxic heavy metals without the side effects of other agents. Research suggests zeolite is safe as an oral detoxifier. While zeolite has been known in the west since at least the 1700s, it hasn’t been well researched as a detoxifier until recent years. Industry uses zeolite in industrial processes to remove heavy metals from water and other effluents. Zeolite comes in both powdered and liquid forms. Research suggests it remains in suspension in the blood and tissues, drawing metals to it, before being flushed naturally out through the urinary tract.
Zeolite can be taken as a supplement, without serious side effects. There’s also some evidence that it may improve gut health by supporting the integrity of the intestinal wall to help recovery from leaky gut. However, it’s always wise to consult your physician before embarking on any new supplement.