Your body has a natural ability to rid itself of toxins. But once you're overexposed, toxins can migrate into your fat cells and brain tissue, severely compromising this natural ability. Even if you take every precaution to minimize exposure, some heavy metal toxins will still seep in.
How do these toxins affect you? That depends on your age, genetics, nutrition, stress levels, exercise regimen, and medical history. Because each case is unique, treating toxicity takes medical skill, compassionate patience, and intellectual curiosity.
At the Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine, we don't rely on one-size-fits-all, drive-through solutions. Dr. Ruan approaches you as a unique ecosystem, addressing your specific toxicity issues with integrative medicine expertise.
Our highly skilled, compassionate integrative medicine specialists will craft a custom toxicity treatment to meet your needs and revitalize your health. Call us today at (713) 690-1991 or contact us here.
International media coverage of the Flint, MI water crisis has cast lead toxicity into the spotlight. But drinking water is not our only heavy metal toxicity threat. Heavy metal toxins are lurking in our air, our house paint, the soil that grows our food, the amalgams that fill our cavities, and even the cosmetics we apply to our skin1.
According to reports by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Americans, on average, now have 212 environmental chemicals in their blood. Chemicals like mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum, and arsenic.
Heavy metals are stealthy toxins. They're able to “mimic” nutritionally essential trace elements in our bodies. They can race an essential vitamin or nutrient into our cells and snag its place inside our enzymes.2
For example: cadmium can push valuable zinc out of our proteins and enzymes; lead is chemically similar to calcium; and thallium mimics potassium in our nervous and cardiovascular systems.3,4
Allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer's, and many other inflammatory and degenerative diseases can be traced back to toxin and pathogen build up in our nervous, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal (GI) systems.2,5
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified several metals as potential carcinogens for our lungs, kidneys, liver, endocrine glands, or bones. Some can even damage DNA by disrupting our gene expression and deregulating cell growth and development.6
It is possible to reduce metal toxicity risk through lifestyle choices that may cut your toxin uptake. Certain diets may promote the safe metabolism or excretion of ingested heavy metals.7
The three metals that present the highest exposure risk for acute toxicities are lead, mercury, cadmium, and the toxic metalloid arsenic.
What are acceptable levels? As the CDC points out, that's impossible to pinpoint because severity of symptoms varies depending on the toxin type, duration of exposure, route of exposure (oral, inhaled, topical, ocular) and each person's genetic susceptibility.
Everybody is affected by toxins differently. That's why Dr. Ruan's strategy for minimizing toxicity is customized for your specific medical history and immune system.
Dr. Ruan has treated a spectrum of symptoms that vary from patient to patient. Often these symptoms are similar to those of other health conditions and may not be immediately recognized as heavy metal toxicity symptoms:
Diagnosing metal toxicities is not easy because chronic toxicity symptoms can resemble those of other diseases. Also, since most heavy metals are deposited in tissue, blood levels are not accurate for most metals. Furthermore, urinary levels also are not a great measurement. Hair follicle testing can be misleading as well.
We utilize the combination of these tests to not only look at heavy metal burden, but also as a calculation of how your body clears these metals. We embrace this challenge with determination, utilizing specialty labs such as Great Plains Laboratories, Genova Labs, and Quicksilver Laboratories to determine toxic load. Our numerous happy, healthy patients are the measure of our success.
After an in-depth analysis of your dietary, environmental, and occupational exposure history, Dr. Ruan will confirm or rule out a diagnosis using one or more of these tests:
After studying hundreds of clinical trials and case studies, Dr. Ruan knows the specific ways that toxins exit your body. He also understands that people respond differently to toxin contamination and treatments. While Dr. Ruan strives to relieve your pharmaceutical burden, he realizes that some circumstances require pharmaceutical interventions, which are integrated as needed.
Although traditionally chelation therapies are used, recently there has been exciting development from Quicksilver Scientific to safely reduce toxic load of metals. We utilize specific strategies tailored to our patients to come up with a specific plan of decreasing toxic load.
It takes time and patience to craft a custom treatment that improves your long-term health. Dr. Ruan will recommend one or more of the following treatments depending on the type of toxin and how it entered your body:
Our team at Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine will educate you about all sources of metal exposure so you can proactively minimize your contact with potentially hazardous products. You'll learn how to read product labels, recognize symptoms of toxicity, and apply first aid after toxic substance ingestion.
We'll also help you find an experienced dentist who can safely remove and replace existing dental fillings with mercury-free composite material.
Since many toxic metals mimic nutritionally essential metals, they compete for the same absorption routes. But if you ingest enough of these essential trace minerals, they can beat the imposters to the punch:
Because most toxicology studies recommend limiting consumption of high-mercury fish (tuna, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish) to no more than one 7oz serving per week, high-quality fish oil supplements are a good alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
The International Fish Oil Standards Program (IFOS) separates high-quality fish oil products from those of lesser quality. Always check the label to ensure your fish oil has the IFOS 5-star rating (IFOS 2013).
MCP mobilizes metals from body stores and increases urinary excretion of arsenic, mercury, and cadmium while decreasing lead levels in the blood.
Data from preliminary human studies reveal that naturally-occurring dissolved silicon from mineral waters appears to decrease aluminum absorption, potentially reducing Alzheimer's risk and supporting cognitive function.8
Vitamin C is a free-radical scavenger that can protect against oxidative damage caused by lead, mercury, and cadmium. It may also prevent absorption of lead by inhibiting its cellular uptake and decreasing its cellular toxicity.
Through its antioxidant action, vitamin E mitigates some of the toxic oxidative damage caused by lead, which are strong inducers of oxidative stress in tissues.
Folic acid helps activate amino acid metabolism (energy production). Sulfur-containing amino acids (cysteine and methionine) are precursors to known heavy metal chelators (alpha-lipoic acid and glutathione). Studies have shown higher blood folate levels are associated with lower blood mercury levels.
Garlic contains many active sulfur compounds derived from cysteine with potential metal-chelating properties. These garlic constituents may also protect from metal-catalyzed oxidative cell damage.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) has been shown to bind and immobilize mercury and methylmercury.
Among their myriad functions, certain strains of probiotic bacteria may minimize toxin exposure by trapping and metabolizing xenobiotics or heavy metals. The probiotic bacterial strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Bifidobacterium breve were all shown to bind both cadmium and lead.
Glycine is a conditionally essential amino acid found in plant and animal proteins. Chemically, glycine is the simplest of all amino acids. It combines with many toxic substances and converts them to less harmful forms, which are then excreted from the body.
Sulfur-containing compounds can compete aggressively with heavy metals during the race into our cells. The sulfur antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has been known to chelate cadmium, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel, iron, and copper. Glutathione have been demonstrated to chelate mercury.
NAC provides a source of sulfur for glutathione production and can reduce oxidative stress due to heavy metal toxicity. As a sulfur-containing amino acid, it is capable of binding and sequestering divalent copper (II), trivalent iron (III), lead, mercury, and cadmium ions.
Chlorella, unicellular green algae with the ability to bind cadmium excretion of methylmercury as well as cadmium.
Bowel irrigation (introduction of water into the bowel to wash out its contents) may be useful for macroscopic particles of some metals like lead that can easily transit through the intestines. Activated charcoal may bind some ingested metals like arsenic and thallium, but not others like iron and mercury. Very large particles may even require surgical removal.
Successfully treating heavy metal toxicity requires the skill, compassion, and experience that Dr. Ruan's team offers at the Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine. We're prepared to battle your toxicity with the strategy that's right for you, so you can start enjoying life again.
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1. Chan TY. Inorganic mercury poisoning associated with skin-lightening cosmetic products. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2011 Dec;49(10):886-91. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2011.626425. Epub 2011 Nov 9
2. Jang, D. H., and Hoffman, R. S. Heavy metal chelation in neurotoxic exposures. Neurol Clin. 2011;29(3):607–22
3. Buchko GW, Hess NJ, Kennedy MA. Cadmium mutagenicity and human nucleotide excision repair protein XPA: CD, EXAFS and (1)H/(15)N-NMR spectroscopic studies on the zinc(II)- and cadmium(II)-associated minimal DNA-binding domain (M98-F219). Carcinogenesis. 2000 May;21(5):1051-7
4. Thévenod, F., and Lee, W.-K. Toxicology of cadmium and its damage to mammalian organs. Met Ions Life Sci. 2013;11:415–90
5. Adal A, Wiener SW (2013). Medscape. Heavy Metal Toxicity. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/814960-overview. Accessed 10/8/2013.
6. Galanis, A., Karapetsas, A., and Sandaltzopoulos, R. Metal-induced carcinogenesis, oxidative stress and hypoxia signalling. Mutat Res. 2009;674(1-2):31–5
7. Peraza MA, Ayala-Fierro F, Barber DS, Casarez E, Rael LT. Effects of micronutrients on metal toxicity. Environ Health Perspect. 1998 Feb;106 Suppl 1:203-16
8. Gillette Guyonnet, S., Andrieu, S., and Vellas, B. The potential influence of silica present in drinking water on Alzheimer's disease and associated disorders. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007;11(2):119–24