By Vanita Dahia
• What is it mean to have a heavy metal toxicity?
• What to heavy metals do to the body?
• Can we detect levels of heavy metal toxicity?
• What do you do about it?
There is a greater awareness of heavy metal toxicity, environmental pollutants, pesticide and herbicide poisons, and how it affects the physiology and more particularly the mind.
Chelation of metals is a very broad term used to sequester these metals and eliminate them from the body.
Unfortunately, the picture is not so simple
Toxic build up and fatigue are strongly related because excreting metal cannot be achieved without good adrenal function. If you need stimulants such as coffee to make you feel good, or if your energy wanes through the day, your adrenals may be compromised.
It is important to examine the stage of adrenal dysfunction through testing stress then manage adrenal function through nutrient support, lifestyle and exercise before consideration of toxic removal.
Metal is pervasive in the atmosphere, foods, and cosmetics. Aluminium is a common metal making up about 14% of the Earth’s crust, so may be found in the air. Aluminium is used routinely in antiperspirants. We use aluminium foil in baking.
The major metal offenders to the body are cadmium exposure through smoking, mercury and lead.
The copper problem
Copper is consumed each day. Copper is found in dark chocolate, avocado, some seafood, beans, nuts and soybeans. Copper is not a problem if the adrenals and liver are working effectively. Copper in the body is carried by a protein called ceruloplasmin which safely deposits the copper where it is needed in the body. In adrenal fatigue, ceruloplasmin production decreases allowing for more copper to be unbound and free to be oxidized. Oxidized copper is extremely dangerous to the body and may contribute towards severe mental health conditions.
Copper toxicity is often seen in asthma and in breathing problems including emphysema. Vegetarian diets tend to be high in copper because vegetables are the main source of copper. Excess copper interferes with production of energy or ATP in the mitochondria which contributes towards fatigue.
Copper is extremely stimulating to the brain which can activate certain brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and the adrenal hormones. People who copper toxic tend to have lower levels of ceruloplasmin and poor adrenal function, feel like they’re burnt out. As copper accumulates, the adrenals will fire up into a flight fright freeze response and may manifest as stress and anxiety.
Copper is usually excreted through the bile from the gallbladder and may play a role in gastrointestinal disturbances. If copper is high especially under stress it may affect gastrointestinal integrity manifesting as irritable bowel syndrome.
Copper is a divalent cation very similar to that of iron. They may compete at the receptor sites which could contribute towards iron deficiency.
High levels of copper pushes the sodium-potassium pump which drives up sodium levels and subsequently blood pressure. High copper therefore drives down the adrenals, pushes up sodium and contributes towards shortness of breath and high blood pressure.
Familiar with mood swings, poor concentration dizziness when sugar levels are low?
High copper levels and adrenal fatigue contributes to blood glucose or sugar swings.
Copper will continue to be stored in the body and overload the brain when the liver is toxic. Copper toxic people tend to be burnt out have a bipolar type behavior, may be schizophrenic. They would encounter methylation defects.
Dr Carl Pfeiffer has found in his studies that person at risk for copper toxicity will excrete a neurotoxin called pyrroles. An excess of pyrroles in the urine represented by a mauve tinge upon testing in the urine is called pyroluria, a condition which eats up essential nutrients such as vitamin B6 and zinc.
There seems to be a genetic predisposition or family tendencies with pyroluria patients. This condition wreaks havoc and manifests as cluster headaches, migraines, depression, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, anemia, or dream recall, suicidal ideation, blood sugar problems and aches and pains.
Dr Pfeiffer found that supplementation with essential nutrients such as vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium alleviated the copper toxic effects found in schizophrenics and mental health patients.
High copper slows down the adrenals and the thyroid which in turn slows down metabolism and oxidation. This leads to a sluggish, slow behavior and slow speech. Stress actually drives the body into oxidative stress or damage and eventually, drive down metabolism. These are people who need stimulants life coffee to keep them going.
Slow oxidizers or metabolizers tend to have low magnesium levels, high calcium and high sodium levels.
These are people who may have:
• muscle aches and pains due to low magnesium
• high blood pressure due to high sodium
• develop calcification as in kidney stones, gall stones or heel spurs due to high free calcium excess. Free calcium excess inhibits Calcium uptake into the bones leading to osteoporosis or osteoarthritis.
How to fix high copper
Heavy metal toxicity and copper overload are rather difficult to remove from the body. Chelation therapy is considered to be the gold standard in sequestering heavy metals in order for the body to eliminated naturally through its elimination channels.
Chelation means to grab or to bind onto a substance. Chelation therapy may involve prescriptive intravenous injection of EDTA, DMSA and DMPS together with specific antioxidants such as vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid and glutathione.
Natural agents used as powerful antioxidant support to mitigate the effects of toxic exposure may include glutamine, cysteine, glutathione and zinc. Herbs such as parsley, chlorella, alfalfa collectively aim at supporting the immune system and assist with its antioxidants defenses.
The magic button to drive copper down is an important mineral called zinc.
Zinc is an essential mineral that can be used to balance copper excess. Zinc is essential to the body
• in times of stress
• for protein synthesis
• wound healing
• sexual function
• acts as a sedative and a calming mineral for the mind as GABA is sink dependent
• for skin and nail growth. Zinc deficiency is often seen in stretch marks
• adrenal function
Drive down copper with supplementation of molybdenum, zinc, magnesium, manganese and vitamin C. Supplement with taurine, glutamine, histidine, threonine and cysteine.
Typically, high copper often correlates with low histamine or histapenia. If low histamine is seen in a high copper condition, supplement with vitamin B3 or niacin.
Copper, Zinc, ceruloplasmin and most importantly, free copper can be measured in a blood sample.
Glutamine, glutamate and GABA can be measured in a urine sample either together with other amino acids or with other neurotransmitters. The interrelationship of glutamine, glutamate and GABA with other amino acids and neurotransmitters will reveal the status of the mind and its physiological functions.
Assessing the body’s absorption and utilization of amino acids can be identifies by the measure of specific amino acids, leucine, valine and isoleucine with a simple DIY urine sample.
Check the gastric secretory activity with the measure of fasting serum gastrin testing.
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