- Dr. Jay
What is the Effect of Heavy Metals on Environmental and Human Health?
Our world is full of toxic substances and chemicals.
Although we have made significant progress in reducing the use of harmful substances, they are still a necessary evil for many industrial processes. As a result, there will always be a certain amount of heavy metals in the environment. Environmental exposure to these metals can lead to serious health problems.
Heavy metal chelation is one way to remove these harmful agents from your body, and it's available at Enhanced Wellness of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
To understand whether chelation may be the therapy for you, it is important to know more about how heavy metals affect the environment and your body.
What Are Heavy Metals?
Heavy metals are elements you'd find on the periodic table. They are dense, which is why they are classified as heavy metals.
What makes these elements particularly dangerous is that in very low quantities they can cause severe bodily harm. The most famous example of a dangerous heavy metal is lead. Once the dangers of lead poisoning were understood, the world pushed to remove lead from gasoline and common items like paint.
However, there are other heavy metals that haven't been given the same attention. Mercury, for example, has become ubiquitous in seafood. Cadmium is used as a coating for many products, which can leech into the environment. Arsenic, chromium, copper, and other metals like nickel or selenium can all cause harmful effects on the environment and your body.
But how do these metals get into our bodies in the first place? It starts with environmental exposure.
How Do Heavy Metals Enter the Environment?
Heavy metals are found naturally in the earth's crust. This means that there are trace amounts present in the soil which can be absorbed by plants. Once that happens, the metals enter the food chain.
If grass has accumulated metals, then the cows that feed on that grass will absorb them too. However, the levels of heavy metals present in the environment today are far greater than they should be through natural processes alone.
Industrial processes pollute the environment and are responsible for the majority of heavy metal concentrations. Even though governments regulate pollution from industrial companies, many of these facilities ignore government rules and cut corners.
There is far too little enforcement of environmental protection laws. A part of Louisiana is today referred to as “Cancer Alley” thanks to the abundance of petrochemical plants that pollute the area. And even when the rules are adhered to, accidents still happen.
What Effect Do Heavy Metals Have on Nature?
As heavy metals are released into the environment through the air and water, they are absorbed by plants and animals in the area. Wildlife suffers from exposure to these substances.
For instance, when fish are exposed to mercury, they tend to reproduce at lower rates and can experience neurotoxic effects that limit their survival.
Similar studies on mammals reveal adverse mental health effects and a negative impact on organ health; kidney failure is particularly common.
Although plants tend to be more resistant to heavy metals, they too suffer from overexposure. Reproduction is negatively affected, as seeds with metals in them are less likely to sprout. Plants also grow smaller when they are exposed to high levels of heavy metals.
Often these effects are not noticed right away because the damage from heavy metal exposure is cumulative. The higher the concentration and the longer the metal is present in the organism, the worse the damage.
How Do Heavy Metals Enter Your Body?
So, how do these metals end up in your body? By far, the most common source is your food. As you can see, plants and animals are often the first to be exposed to heavy metals. Therefore, when you eat those plants and animals, whatever heavy metal was in their bodies will end up in yours.
This is because heavy metals bioaccumulate. Metals end up stored in your cells instead of being flushed from your system. Most organisms have no way to naturally remove heavy metals from their bodies since they didn't evolve in an environment laden with these elements. The same is true for you.
There's no mechanism to break them down or remove them. So, little by little they build up in your body. Eventually you reach a point where you have enough metal in your body to cause damage. The effects of overexposure to heavy metals can be extremely serious.
What Damage Can Heavy Metals Cause in Humans?
Heavy metals harm your body at the cellular level. Since your body cannot remove these elements, it leaves them in your cells. As they accumulate, they begin to disrupt your cells' natural processes.
In particular, they are likely to damage your cells' DNA. When this happens, cells fail to reproduce properly. They may even die prematurely. In the worst cases, cells mutate and turn cancerous. When enough cells in an area are affected, entire organs can struggle.
Your kidneys are often the most affected organ since they filter out waste products. Metals make their way into the kidneys and often stay there.
Metals also find their way into nerve cells, including those in your brain. This can cause neurological disorders and can even reduce IQ when infants and children are exposed.
To avoid the worst effects of heavy metals, you need to reduce the concentration in your body. Heavy metal chelation is one way to accomplish that.
What Is Heavy Metal Chelation?
Chelation is a scientific term that refers to a type of bond that forms between metals and other substances. It's a well-understood process and it has several useful applications.
For example, doctors often inject chelating agents to help improve contrast during MRI scans. It's also widely used in water treatment facilities to help remove metals from water. The same principle can also be applied to your body to remove heavy metals.
The most common method is to use a synthetic amino acid called EDTA. EDTA binds very well to lead and calcium, two heavy metals that can have negative health consequences. The FDA has approved EDTA for lead poisoning treatments, and EDTA is widely recognized to be safe for human consumption. It's even used as a food additive, so you've likely already ingested some of it in without even realizing it.
Chelation for Heart Disease
Chelation therapy has also been used to help patients with heart disease.
Calcium deposits form in your cardiovascular system, which can lead to atherosclerotic plaque. Plaque hardens your arteries and also narrows them, which makes it more difficult for your blood to flow freely. As a result, your blood pressure can increase, and your risk for heart attack also rises.
Multiple light treatments of EDTA may help to remove this plaque. Chelation therapy can be administered intravenously or with a pill. The drug circulates through your body and latches onto metal molecules. From there, the bonded metals will be expelled from your body via urine. Blood tests can confirm the presence of heavy metals and can be used before and after to measure the efficacy of the treatment.
Reducing Your Exposure to Heavy Metals
At Enhanced Wellness of New Mexico, we provide recommendations to minimize your exposure to heavy metals.
Sadly, levels of industrial pollution have made it very difficult to avoid all contact with heavy metals. However, there are a few practical steps you can take to minimize your environmental exposure.
First, cut back on fish consumption. Saltwater fish are more likely to contain higher levels of mercury, so avoid those more if possible.
Second, learn more about your municipal water supply and consider installing filters or drinking more bottled water.
Unfortunately, you likely have already been exposed to significant quantities of these harmful substances. Chelation therapy is one of the only ways to remove them from your body.
If you would like to learn more about chelation therapy or determine if it's right for you, call Enhanced Wellness of New Mexico today to discuss your options or to schedule an appointment.