In-Depth Guide to Heavy Metal Poisoning and Detoxification Part 3

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Read Part 1 | Part 2

Adrenal Fatigue, Heavy Metal Poisoning and Detoxification

For those with adrenal fatigue, detoxifying the body from heavy metal poisoning should be done carefullyHealthy adrenal function is critical to supporting a strong detoxification system and removing toxins from the body. When the adrenals are not functioning well, toxic metals can build up in the tissue. As toxic metals build up, they become an additional stressor on the adrenals, impairing their function further.

For those with adrenal fatigue, detoxification, especially removing toxic metals, should be done very carefully to avoid reactive metabolite overload, retoxification reaction, liver congestion, and extracellular matrix pollution.

Chelation is a two stage process. First, the toxic metals must be released from the organs and tissue. Once the toxic metals have been released from the tissue, they must then be eliminated. People who suffer from adrenal fatigue have a greater load of toxins to eliminate, and less ability to effectively do so. Releasing this concentrated load of toxins, when they cannot be effectively eliminated, simply mobilizes the toxins to circulate through the body. This can lead to a sort of healing crisis in which symptoms of adrenal fatigue may become significantly worse, potentially leading to full adrenal crash.

By supporting the adrenal glands and other organs of detoxification with the right elimination pathways and correcting the nutrient balance gradually and carefully, these side effects of the chelation process can be minimized and managed.

Supporting the Body During Detox

The easiest way to support your body during detox is by getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of clean water, and eating high quality, nutritious food. Your diet should consist primarily of foods that are natural, unprocessed or minimally processed, locally grown, seasonal, organic, and unpasteurized. Work toward eliminating sugar and sweeten with honey or maple syrup when needed. Be sure to get plenty of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but be careful of seafood that may contain mercury.

Cilantro and chlorella have both been shown to be especially effective in binding with toxic metals and mobilizing them so they can be removed from the body. Milk thistle and dandelion root are also great herbs to help strengthen the liver and detoxify.

Preventing and Detoxifying Heavy Metals

Heavy metal poisoning detox can be aided by CilantroWhile the body has several routes of detoxification, heavy metals can only be removed via the liver, kidneys, and bowels. The liver is the primary organ of detoxification and works in several ways. The liver filters large toxin particles from the blood, produces and releases bile (full of cholesterol and fat-soluble toxins), and denatures chemicals through a two phase detoxification process. In Phase I, toxins are either neutralized or they are converted into a form that can be neutralized in Phase II by a variety of enzymes.

Both Phase I and Phase II detox require several different nutrients, but the most important nutrient is glutathione, a major antioxidant. Getting enough glutathione is critical to the detoxification process and a deficiency in the nutrient has been linked to not just heavy metal poisoning, but also to various neurological and autoimmune conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, cancer, diabetes, HIV, autism, and epilepsy.

The process of detoxification produces a great deal of free radicals, which pose their own problems. The body then neutralizes these free radicals with antioxidant enzymes, primarily GST (glutathione-S-transferase), GPOX (glutathione peroxidase), and SOD (superoxide dismutase). These antioxidants are endogenous, that is, they are produced in the body, and made from glutathione and selenium. In locations with high levels of environmental toxic metals, the average person has lower than normal blood levels of these enzymes.

Producing these antioxidant enzymes begins with getting the right nutrients in the diet, specifically glutathione and selenium. Glutathione is a protein that can be found in several foods, especially asparagus, avocado, walnuts, and raw goat milk. Getting enough selenium can be tricky, as it depends on the quality of the soil in which food is grown. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium. Other sources of selenium include: fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, eggs, grains, sunflower seeds, grains, mushrooms, and onions.

It’s also possible to produce glutathione in the body, provided the right precursors are present. Compounds that can be used to produce glutathione in the body include folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. It is however, far easier to simply take glutathione supplementation if the body can tolerate.

Glutathione is comprised of three sulphur-based amino acids, specifically glutamate, cysteine, and glycine. Eating foods high in sulphur, such as raw eggs and alliums (onions, garlic, and related vegetables), can also help boost glutathione levels.

Detoxifying Heavy Metals with Nutrition

Heavy metal poisoning removal can be aided with Chelation therapyChelation therapy calls for the use of chelating agents to bind with heavy metals so they can be more easily removed. One of the best nutritional chelating agents is Alpha Lipoic Acid, more commonly known as ALA. ALA is highly effective at binding with toxic metals, including mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic, copper, and iron. Once ALA binds with these toxic metals, it neutralizes them so they can then be excreted from the body.

ALA neutralizes free radicals inside and outside the cells and is soluble in both fat and water. ALA can also be used to produce other antioxidants, including glutathione and vitamin C and E. Good sources of ALA include dark leafy greens and animal foods, particularly organ meats.

Preventing Metal Toxicity with Dietary Minerals

Good nutrition, especially adequate mineral intake, can help prevent the accumulation of heavy metals in the body. A diet deficient in calcium, for example, is associated with both increased lead absorption and decreased iron absorption. Other minerals that can protect against toxic metal absorption include magnesium, zinc, and selenium. To put it simply, there is an inverse relationship between toxic metals and essential minerals in the body. Eating a diet high in iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium can help prevent absorption of toxic metals.


One of the best sources of iron is liver. Other good sources include red meat, fish, beans, figs, eggs, and leafy greens. Vitamin C improves iron absorption, so be sure to eat iron rich foods with foods high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, and melons. Cooking in cast iron cookware, especially with acidic foods like tomato sauces, is a great way to get more iron.


Dairy foods like cheese and yogurt are good sources of calcium, as are tahini and seaweeds.


Some of the best sources of zinc include spinach, mushrooms, and calf liver. Other good sources include sea veggies, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, meats like beef and lamb, veggies like asparagus, broccoli, and peas, shrimp, maple syrup, and several herbs, including basil, thyme, and mustard greens.


The best sources of magnesium include legumes, seeds, leafy greens and whole grains. Magnesium can also be obtained through the skin by rubbing with magnesium oil or other topical products.

Lifestyle Changes to Protect against Toxic Metal Accumulation

In addition to ensuring you get enough of the proper nutrients in your diet, there are also certain key lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your chances of heavy metal poisoning, and help keep heavy metals from your environment and body.

Eat regular meals, breakfast, and healthy snacks

Fasting increases absorption of toxic metals. Eating regular, nutritious meals, especially breakfast, can lessen absorption and reduce the risk of heavy metal poisoning.

Avoid vaccines

While mercury-based thimerosal has been removed from many vaccines, and exists only in trace amounts in others, this does not make them safe. Even trace amounts of mercury are toxic, and where mercury has been removed, it’s been replaced by aluminum, which is also toxic. To make matters worse, by being injected directly into the muscle, the toxic ingredients in vaccines bypass the protective digestive tract. The minute amounts of metals are said to be “safe in small amounts”. However, many chronic health conditions, including allergies, asthma, and autism are on the rise. Rates of these conditions are highest in locations where environmental toxic metals are most concentrated.

Soluble fiber

Fiber binds with heavy metals and improves bowel function to remove these toxins from the body. Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that is especially effective and can be found in apples, pears, psyllium husk, slippery elm, legumes, and grains.

Therapeutic fasting

Skipping meals can increase absorption of heavy metals, but therapeutic fasting utilizing enzyme-rich juice can help the body release and excrete accumulated toxic metals.

Water filters

Bottled water is a disaster, both for the environment and for your health. A good gravity fed water filter can remove most toxins, including heavy metals.


Heavy metal poisoning is one of the most common health conditions, simply because we seem to be surrounded by toxic metals in just about everything we do, and because they are so difficult to remove once they are in the body. Certain precautions can help, such as avoiding products that may contain toxic metals, and using water and air filters.

Good nutrition is especially vital, both in preventing metal toxicity and removing toxic metals from the body. Avoiding nutrient deficiencies will stop the body from using toxic metals in place of necessary vitamins and minerals. This will also support the body’s efforts to remove toxic metals that have built up.

Heavy metal poisoning detox can be aided by fibersGradually removing toxic metals from the body will help ease symptoms of adrenal fatigue by reducing toxic load on the glands and promoting the detoxification pathway in the NEM stress response system. However, caution is advised, as removing toxins too rapidly can overload the systems of elimination, leading to worsening of symptoms and potentially adrenal crash. It is therefore important to find an experienced doctor who will not jump into a detoxification program without evaluating the whole body and the root cause of your symptoms.

Self-navigation is highly discouraged for those with AFS. Improper detoxification is one of the most common causes of recovery failure, relapses, and adrenal crashes. Doing the right thing at the wrong time can weaken the body. Many are so carried away with the benefits that they do not carefully examine the body’s state each step along the way. Those with AFS and those suffering from serious heavy metal poisoning already have significantly weakened systems, and success is not guaranteed. In this case it’s important to consult with a qualified professional.

However, by taking steps towards better nutrition, cleaner air and water, and reducing or eliminating heavy-metal-containing products in the home, you can improve your chances of avoiding and detoxing from heavy metal poisoning.

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© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

For those with adrenal fatigue, detoxifying the body from heavy metal poisoning should be done carefully