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  Heavy Metal Toxicity  
 
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Heavy metal toxicity is a very general subject and people experience widely varying symptoms in response to heavy metal poisoning. There are many individual metals causing varying degrees of illness based on acute and chronic exposures. If a specific diagnosis cannot be made, a general approach to metal toxicity may be beneficial. The list of heavy metals includes mercury, lead, aluminum, antimony, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, silver, zinc and tin. Mercury poisoning will be dealt with separately as "Mercury Poisoning (Amalgam Illness)".

Symptoms of heavy metal toxicity include mental confusion, pain in muscles and joints, headaches, short-term memory loss, gastrointestinal upsets, food intolerances/allergies, vision problems, chronic fatigue, and others. The symptoms are so vague that it is difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone.

Symptoms will often begin to improve within weeks or even days of commencing treatment. Although complete cure is possible, many people suffer the effects of toxicity for extended periods. Some of the damage, for instance to the liver or brain, may not be fully reversible. Others find that their food intolerances will not be completely remedied. Only time will answer that question. Therapy may last from 6 months to 2 years.

The first step in treating any heavy metal toxicity is to identify the toxic elements and begin the removal process. The easiest screening process is a Hair Analysis. Additional testing involves the use of chelating drugs along with a 24-hour urine collection to determine levels of heavy metals. From here, treatment is based on the individual and will usually involve the use of metal chelating drugs or intravenous EDTA chelation. For many patients, intravenous Vitamin C and replacement mineral infusions are also recommended to support the body through the metal removal process.

Once laboratory tests indicate that the heavy metals are undetectable, treatment is considered complete. Often many, if not all symptoms previously experienced will have resolved, though some may linger, indicating residual damage to organ systems. Therapies can then be targeted to these systems and any specific problems remaining.

Arsenic
Causes of arsenic toxicity include ingestion of arsenic (found in insect poisons), skin contact (e.g. some linseed oils) and even drinking water.

Symptoms include nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, vertigo, fatigue, paresthesia, paralysis and mental impairment.

Signs include mottled brown skin, hyperkeratosis of palms and soles, cutis edema, transverse striate Leukonychia, perforation of nasal septum, eyelid edema, coryza, limb paralysis and reduced deep tendon reflexes.

Useful lab tests include Urinalysis (Oliguria, Hematuria, Hemoglobinuria); Complete Blood Count and Peripheral Smear (Macrocytic Anemia); Tissue Exam (reveals arsenic deposits - urine, nails, hair) and Serum Arsenic levels.

Beryllium
Beryllium can come from exposure to coal burning, manufacturing, household products and industrial dust.

It's effects can include disturbance of calcium and vitamin D metabolism, magnesium depletion and cause lung cancer, lung infection, rickets, vital organ dysfunction.

Mercury
This common heavy metal is discussed under a separate condition - Mercury Toxicity / Amalgam Illness

Cadmium
Cadmium may promote skeletal demineralization and increase bone fragility and fracture risk. It is also associated with alcoholism, alopecia, anemia, arthritis (osteo and rheumatoid), bone disease, bone pain in middle of bones, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cavities, cerebral hemorrhage, cirrhosis, diabetes, digestive disturbances, emphysema, enlarged heart, flu-like symptoms, growth impairment, headaches, high cholesterol, hyperkinetic behavior, hypertension, hypoglycemia, impotence, inflammation, infertility, kidney disease, learning disorders, liver damage, lung disease, migraines, nerve cell damage, osteoporosis, prostate dysfunction, reproductive disorders, schizophrenia, and stroke.

Cadmium can be found in airborne industrial contaminants, batteries, candy, ceramics, cigarette smoke, colas, congenital intoxication, copper refineries, copper alloys, dental alloys, drinking water, electroplating, fertilizers, food from contaminated soil, fungicides, incineration of tires / rubber / plastic, instant coffee, iron roofs, kidney, liver, marijuana, processed meat, evaporated milk, motor oil, oysters, paint, pesticides, galvanized pipes, processed foods, refined grains / flours cereals, rubber, rubber carpet backing, seafoods (cod, haddock, oyster, tuna), sewage, silver polish, smelters, soft water, solders (including in food cans), tobacco, vending machine soft drinks, tools, vapor lamps, water (city, softened, well), and in the welding of metal.

Copper
Copper can come from birth control pills, congenital intoxication, copper cookware, copper IUDs, copper pipes, dental alloys, fungicides, ice makers, industrial emissions, insecticides, swimming pools, water (city / well), welding, avocado, beer, bluefish, bone meal, chocolate, corn oil, crabs, gelatin, grains, lamb, liver, lobster, margarine, milk, mushrooms, nuts, organ meats, oysters, perch, seeds, shellfish, soybeans, tofu, wheat germ, and yeast.

The signs/symptoms and effects can include acne, adrenal insufficiency, allergies, alopecia, anemia, anorexia, anxiety, arthritis (osteo & rheumatoid), autism, cancer, chills, cystic fibrosis, depression, diabetes, digestive disorders, dry mouth, dysinsulinism, estrogen dominance, fatigue, fears, fractures, fungus, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Hodgkin's disease, hyperactivity, hypertension, hyperthyroid, low hydrochloric acid, hypoglycemia, infections, inflammation, insomnia, iron loss, jaundice, kidney disorders, libido decreased, lymphoma, mental illness, migraines, mood swings, multiple sclerosis, myocardial infarction, nausea, nervousness, osteoporosis, pancreatic dysfunction, panic attacks, paranoia, phobias, PMS, schizophrenia, senility, sexual dysfunction, spacey feeling, stuttering, stroke, tooth decay, toxemia of pregnancy, urinary tract infections, and yeast infections.

Iron
Excessive iron may be found in or with the use of drinking water, iron cookware, iron pipes, and with welding. Various foods contain iron including blackstrap molasses, bone meal, bran, chives, clams, heart, kidney, leafy vegetables, legumes, liver, meat, molasses, nuts, organ meats, oysters, parsley, red wine, refined foods, shellfish, soybeans, wheat germ, and whole grains

Consequences of excess iron include amenorrhea, anger, rheumatoid arthritis, birth defects, bleeding gums, cancer, constipation, diabetes, dizziness, emotional problems, fatigue, headache, heart damage, heart failure, hepatitis, high blood pressure, hostility, hyperactivity, infections, insomnia, irritability, joint pain, liver disease, loss of weight, mental problems, metallic taste in mouth, myasthenia gravis, nausea, pancreas damage, Parkinson's disease, premature aging, schizophrenia, scurvy, shortness of breath, and stubborness.

Lead
Signs and Symptoms include hypertension, fatigue, hemolytic anemia, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, weight loss, peripheral neuropathy, cognitive dysfunction, arthralgias, headache, weakness, irritability, impotence, loss of libido, depression, depression of thyroid and adrenal function, chronic renal failure, gout.

Sources include ash, auto exhaust, battery manufacturing, bone meal, canned fruit and juice, car batteries, cigarette smoke, coal combustion, colored inks, congenital intoxication, cosmetics, eating utensils, electroplating, household dust, glass production, hair dyes, industrial emissions, lead pipes, lead-glazed earthenware pottery, liver, mascara, metal polish, milk, newsprint, organ meats, paint, pencils, pesticides, produce grown near roads, putty, rain water, pvc containers, refineries, smelters, snow, tin cans with lead solder sealing (such as juices, vegetables), tobacco, toothpaste, toys, water (city / well), and wine. With the removal of lead from paints and gasoline, exposure is much reduced.

A patient with lead poisoning may have a combination of symptoms - or no symptoms at all until the condition has progressed.

Nickel
Sources include butter, fertilizers, food processing, fuel oil combustion, hydrogenated fats and oils, imitation whipped cream, industrial waste, kelp, margarine, nuclear device testing, oysters, stainless steel cookware, tea, tobacco smoke, unrefined grains and cereals, and vegetable shortening.

Consequences include anorexia, kidney dysfunction, apathy, disruption of hormone and lipid metabolism, fever, hemorrhages, headache, heart attack, intestinal cancer, low blood pressure, muscle tremors, nausea, oral cancer, skin problems, and vomiting.
 

 
 

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Heavy Metal Toxicity:
 
 
Lab Values - Cells  Microcytic red cells
 Lead poisoning can lead to the formation of small red blood cells.

Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular

  Vision disturbances

Symptoms - Nails

  Moving white lines across nails
 Mees' Lines (transverse white lines) are a sign of arsenic poisoning.

Symptoms - Nervous

  Numb/tingling/burning extremities

Symptoms - Skeletal

  Joint pain/swelling/stiffness

Symptoms - Sleep

  Drowsiness
 
 

Conditions that suggest Heavy Metal Toxicity:
 
 
Circulation  Hypertension
 In some individuals with hypertension, high levels of heavy metals were found. When treated for these heavy metals with chelation therapy, the hypertension improved or resolved.

Mental

  Depression

Metabolic

  Hypoglycemia
 Heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead and thallium poison the glucose metabolizing catalysts, thus reducing the flow of energy throughout the body. It is interesting to note that the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning are similar to symptoms associated with hypoglycemia i.e. hyperactivity, mood swings, manic depressive behavior, poor concentration and impulsive and unpredictable behavior.

Nervous System

  Neuritis/Neuropathy
 Arsenic and lead poisoning can cause neuritis.

Symptoms - Environment

Counter-indicators:
  Being free of heavy metal toxicity
 
 

Risk factors for Heavy Metal Toxicity:
 
 
Addictions  Current Smoker
 The principal determinants of human cadmium exposure today are smoking habits, diet, and, to a certain extent, occupational exposure.

Environment / Toxicity

  Cigarette Smoke Damage
 Tobacco smoking is the most important single source of cadmium exposure in the general population. It has been estimated that about 10% of the cadmium content of a cigarette is inhaled through smoking. The absorption of cadmium from the lungs is much more effective than that from the gut, and as much as 50% of the cadmium inhaled via cigarette smoke may be absorbed.

On average, smokers have 4-5 times higher blood cadmium concentrations and 2-3 times higher kidney cadmium concentrations than non-smokers. Despite the high cadmium content in cigarette smoke, there seems to be little exposure to cadmium from passive smoking. No significant effect on blood cadmium concentrations could be detected in children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.

Lab Values - Chemistries

  High serum iron
 Elevated serum iron can occur in lead poisoning.

Supplements and Medications

  Consuming kelp
 A study of herbal kelp supplements led by UC Davis public health expert Marc Schenker concludes that its medicinal use may cause inadvertent arsenic poisoning and health dangers for consumers, especially when overused. Schenker and two researchers evaluated nine over-the-counter herbal kelp products and found higher than acceptable arsenic levels in eight of them.

The new study, published in the April 2007 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (http://www.ehponline.org/) was prompted by the case of a 54-year-old woman who was seen at the UC Davis Occupational Medicine Clinic following a two-year history of worsening alopecia (hair loss), fatigue and memory loss.

The woman's symptoms had begun with minor memory loss and fatigue. Her primary care physician initially found nothing wrong with the woman and thought the symptoms were related to menopause. With no specific diagnosis or treatment recommendations, the patient started taking a variety of herbal therapies, including a kelp supplement, fish oil, ginkgo biloba and grape seed extract. The kelp supplement was the only herbal therapy she took regularly throughout the course of her illness.

Over a period of several months the woman's short- and long-term memory became so impaired that she could no longer remember her home address. She also reported having a rash, nausea and vomiting, which made it very difficult to work and forced her to leave a full-time job. The woman actually increased her dosage of kelp from two to four pills a day after her doctors still could not find a clear diagnosis.

Subsequent laboratory tests finally revealed arsenic in the patient's blood and urine. At her physician's suggestion, the patient discontinued the kelp supplement. Within weeks, her symptoms disappeared, and within several months arsenic was no longer detected in her urine and its levels had dropped significantly in her blood. She later was referred to the UC Davis Occupational Medicine Clinic as a follow-up to her primary care.

"It's unfortunate that a therapy that's advertised as contributing to 'vital living and well-being' would contain potentially unsafe levels of arsenic," said Schenker, who is a professor of Public Health Sciences and a leading authority on occupational and environmental diseases and respiratory illness. "Concentrations of materials contained in herbal supplements, including both the expected benefits and potential side effects, should be studied, standardized, monitored and accurately labeled."

To assess the concentration of arsenic present in commercially available kelp supplements, the UC Davis investigators purchased nine over-the-counter kelp samples from local health food stores. Included were samples from three different batches of the product consumed by the patient.

The researchers sent the samples to the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory in Davis, which operates in partnership with UC Davis, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and others to provide specialized testing that helps protect both human and animal health. Investigators found detectable levels of arsenic in eight of the nine kelp supplements by using a hydride vapor generation method with an inductively coupled argon plasma spectrometer. Seven of the supplements exceeded the tolerance levels for food products set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  (Past) aluminum-based antacid use
 Antacids that contain aluminum are potentially dangerous. They should not be freely used for a condition that will respond to an increase in water intake such as stomach ulcers.


Counter-indicators:
  Heavy metal detoxification use

Symptoms - Environment

  Exposure to old building materials
  Severe/significant/mild diesel exhaust exposure

Symptoms - Food - Intake

  High/daily fowl consumption
 Pets may not be the only organisms endangered by some food additives. An arsenic-based additive used in chicken feed may pose health risks to humans who eat meat from chickens that are raised on the feed, according to an article in the April 9, 2007 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society.

Roxarsone, the most common arsenic-based additive used in chicken feed, is used to promote growth, kill parasites and improve pigmentation of chicken meat. In its original form, roxarsone is relatively benign. But under certain anaerobic conditions, within live chickens and on farm land, the compound is converted into more toxic forms of inorganic arsenic. Arsenic has been linked to bladder, lung, skin, kidney and colon cancer, while low-level exposures can lead to partial paralysis and diabetes, the article notes.

Use of roxarsone has become a topic of increasing controversy. A growing number of food suppliers have stopped using the compound, including the nation's largest poultry producer, Tyson Foods, according to the article. Still, about 70 percent of the 9 billion broiler chickens produced annually in the U.S. are fed a diet containing roxarsone, the article points out.

Complicating the issue is the fact that no one knows the exact amount of arsenic found in chicken meat or ingested by consumers who frequently eat chicken. "Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Department of Agriculture has actually measured the level of arsenic in the poultry meat that most people consume," according to the article.
 
 

Heavy Metal Toxicity can lead to:
 
 
Environment / Toxicity  General Detoxification Requirement

Mental

  Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD / ADHD)
 In a 1996 study from the Archives of Environmental Health, the relationship between hair lead levels of children and their attention-deficit behaviors in the classroom was investigated. Scalp hair specimens were obtained from 277 first-grade pupils, while teachers completed the abbreviated Boston Teacher’s Rating Scale for rating classroom attention-deficit behavior, and parents completed a short questionnaire. “The striking dose response relationship between levels of lead and negative teacher ratings remained significant after controlling for age, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status,” the report noted. “An even stronger relationship existed between physician-diagnosed attention- deficit hyperactivity disorder and
hair lead in the same children.” Once again, “no apparent ‘safe’ threshold for lead” could be found with even the lowest exposures.

  Schizophrenia
 Lead toxicity mental symptoms include restlessness, insomnia, irritability, confusion, excitement, anxiety, delusions, and disturbing dreams. Arsenic mental symptoms include apathy, dementia, and anorexia.

Risks

  Increased Risk of Kidney Cancer
 Studies have shown that exposure to certain substances increases the risk of RCC. Cadmium, formerly an ingredient in certain colored inks and paints, has been linked to kidney cancer.
 
 

Recommendations for Heavy Metal Toxicity:
 
 
Amino Acid / Protein  Glutathione
 One of the body's normal mechanisms for dealing with heavy metals involves glutathione and normal levels of this protein should thus be ensured. The rate-limiting precursors are the amino acids cysteine (or N-acetyl-cysteine) and glutamine.

Botanical

  Horsetail Grass (Equisetum arvense)
 A high concentration of aluminum in drinking water may be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. It is likely that certain environmental factors play a role in this disease. Because of its proven neurotoxicity, aluminum may be one such factor.

Hoping to the help patients with aluminum induced dementia, researchersd assessed silica intake for its ability to reduce dementia. What they discovered was that when participants increased their silica intake by 10 mg/day, incidences of dementia subsided. The change was drastic. [Am J Epidemiol. 2001 August; 154(3): 288–290]

This discovery coincides with the expert analysis of Dr. Chris Exley, PhD. [Exley C, Pinnegar JK, Taylor H. Hydroxyaluminosilicates and acute aluminium toxicity in fish. J Theor Biol 1997;189:133–9.]

At a January 2011 vaccine safety conference in Jamaica, Dr. Exley talked about ways to reduce the toxic effects of aluminum in the body. He talked about the importance of silica and mentioned two brands of silica-enhanced water, Volvic and Spritzer. After conducting several urine tests, Exley and his team of researchers proved that high-silica mineral waters help remove aluminum from the body. In a presentation involving victims of Gardasil's adverse reactions, Exley showed how silica improved the damages caused by aluminum-laced vaccines. Based off 20 years of study, Dr. Exley recommends drinking a liter of silica-rich water daily to reduce the burden of accumulated aluminum in the body.

Thankfully, silica mineral water isn't the only place to obtain this important mineral. According to the 1993 book Silica: The Forgotten Nutrient, by Klaus Kaufmann, silica can be found primarily in the following foods (Silica content is measured in mg.):

Oats: 595
Millet: 500
Barley: 233
Potatoes: 200
Whole wheat grain: 158
Jersusalem artichoke: 36
Red beets: 21
Corn: 19
Asparagus: 18
Rye: 17

One of the sources of silica not mentioned above is horsetail. Respected as a strong diuretic and astringent herb, horsetail is a fern-like, nonflowering weed that is loaded with silica. [Natural News January 21, 2014 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer]

  Chlorella / Algae Products
 Spirulina, a green-blue algae has been found to have "very good effects" on people suffering from arsenic poisoning caused by the recently-discovered contamination of much of the groundwater in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi researchers conducted a three-month hospital-based study in which 33 patients were given spirulina and 17 were given placebo doses. 82% of those taking Spirulina showed tremendous improvement.


Not recommended:
  Kelp / Seaweed
 Some kelps concentrate arsenic. There have been cases where kelp supplemention resulted in blood cell abnormalities.

Detoxification

  Heavy Metal Detoxification / Avoidance

Diet

  High/Increased Fiber Diet
 Sodium alginate as well as other gel-forming fibers have been shown to inhibit heavy metal uptake in the gut.

  High/Increased Protein Diet
 In heavy metals poisoning there is a dramatic elevation in Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) activity. Increases in PLA2 activity result in premature uncoupling of the essential fatty acids (EFAs) from phospholipids in the cell membrane. Accelerated loss of EFA promotes inflammation which results from the promiscuous release of AA in the presence of an overexpression of PLA2. Carbohydrate consumption, as one of the most profound stimulators of PLA2, must be restricted to control the insulin response and the subsequent loss of EFAs.

  Grain-free / Low Starch Diet
 See the link between Heavy Metal Toxicity and Increased / High Protein Diet.

  Cilantro
 Cilantro may help mobilize heavy metals from the brain and central nervous system.


Not recommended:
  Low Fat Diet
 Restriction of dietary fat may impair biliary flow which would be contraindicated in attempting to clear toxicity as bile is important to cleansing the body and getting biotoxins and heavy metals excreted into the fecal matter from the liver.

Hormone

  Melatonin

Lab Tests/Rule-Outs

  Test Hair Analysis
 Hair analysis is a reasonable and inexpensive first step toward diagnosing heavy metal toxicity.

Mineral

  Magnesium Malate
 Magnesium malate may be one of the few compounds capable of pulling aluminum from the body over time.

  Selenium
 Selenium is able to combine with metals such as cadmium and mercury to reduce their toxicity.

  Zinc
 Zinc inhibits the uptake of cadmium and lead by various tissues in the body. Zinc is a well known antagonist to copper. It has been used to treat Wilson's Disease (in which there is an excess of copper).

Nutrient

  Alpha Lipoic Acid
 Sources of sulfur such as alpha lipoic acid (ALA), MSM and garlic are helpful for protection against heavy metals in general and specifically useful in mercury toxicity. Alpha lipoic acid should not be used alone, as it only mobilizes mercury with a weak bond. Without additional chelators present, such as DMPS or DMSA, the mercury may just redistribute elsewhere in the body instead of being removed.

In animal studies, ALA has been found to protect from arsenic poisoning. [Arch Biochem Biophys 1960;86: pp.190-194 ]
 
 


KEY
Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Strongly counter-indicative
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
May have adverse consequences







GLOSSARY

Acne:  A chronic skin disorder due to inflammation of hair follicles and sebaceous glands (secretion glands in the skin).

Acute:  An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.

Adrenal Insufficiency:  Also known as Adrenal Exhaustion or Low Adrenal Function, this is a condition where the adrenal gland is compromised in its production of epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, corticosterone or aldosterone. Symptoms include primarily fatigue, weakness, decreased appetite with ensuing weight loss, as well as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, or increased pigmentation of the skin. Cortical insufficiency (low or no corticosteroids) produces a more serious condition called Addison’s Disease, characterized by extreme weakness, low blood pressure, pigmentation of the skin, shock or even death.

Allergy:  Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.

Alopecia:  Loss of hair.

Anaerobic:  Of, relating to, or being activity in which the body incurs an oxygen debt (for example weight training or resistive exercises) and does not immediately burn off a lot of calories and fat.

Anemia:  A condition resulting from an unusually low number of red blood cells or too little hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The most common type is iron-deficiency anemia in which the red blood cells are reduced in size and number, and hemoglobin levels are low. Clinical symptoms include shortness of breath, lethargy and heart palpitations.

Anorexia Nervosa:  An eating disorder characterized by excess control - a morbid fear of obesity leads the sufferer to try and limit or reduce their weight by excessive dieting, exercising, vomiting, purging and use of diuretics. Sufferers are typically more than 15% below the average weight for their height/sex/age and typically have amenorrhea (if female) or low libido (if male). 1-2% of female teenagers are anorexic.

Anxiety:  Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.

Arthritis:  Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage and often an overgrowth of bone at the joints.

Benign:  Literally: innocent; not malignant. Often used to refer to cells that are not cancerous.

Calcium:  The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.

Cancer:  Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Cardiovascular:  Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.

Chelation:  Chelation therapy uses EDTA or other supplements that carry heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic, as well as other foreign substances, from the body. In the process of chelation, a larger protein molecule surrounds or encloses a mineral atom. The purpose of chelation is to increase the flow of blood to the vital organs and tissues of the body by reducing calcium deposits in the arteries and blood vessels.

Cholesterol:  A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

Chromium:  Chromium is a mineral that becomes a part of the glucose tolerance factor (GTF). Chromium aids in insulin utilization and blood sugar control. By controlling blood sugar, chromium helps prevent the damage caused by glucose, which is called glycation. Chromium helps maintain normal cholesterol levels and improves high-density lipoprotein levels. Chromium is also important in building muscle and reducing obesity.

Chronic:  Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:  CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is a disorder of unknown cause that lasts for prolonged periods and causes extreme and debilitating exhaustion as well as a wide range of other symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache and joint pain, often resembling flu and other viral infections. Also known as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus (CEBV), Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), "Yuppy Flu" and other names, it is frequently misdiagnosed as hypochondria, psychosomatic illness, or depression, because routine medical tests do not detect any problems.

Chronic Renal Failure:  (CRF) Irreversible, progressive impaired kidney function. The early stage, when the kidneys no longer function properly but do not yet require dialysis, is known as Chronic Renal Insufficiency (CRI). CRI can be difficult to diagnose, as symptoms are not usually apparent until kidney disease has progressed significantly. Common symptoms include a frequent need to urinate and swelling, as well as possible anemia, fatigue, weakness, headaches and loss of appetite. As the disease progresses, other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bad breath and itchy skin may develop as toxic metabolites, normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys, build up to harmful levels. Over time (up to 10 or 20 years), CRF generally progresses from CRI to End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD, also known as Kidney Failure). Patients with ESRD no longer have kidney function adequate to sustain life and require dialysis or kidney transplantation. Without proper treatment, ESRD is fatal.

Cirrhosis:  A long-term disease in which the liver becomes covered with fiber-like tissue. This causes the liver tissue to break down and become filled with fat. All functions of the liver then decrease, including the production of glucose, processing drugs and alcohol, and vitamin absorption. Stomach and bowel function, and the making of hormones are also affected.

Colon:  The part of the large intestine that extends to the rectum. The colon takes the contents of the small intestine, moving them to the rectum by contracting.

Constipation:  Difficult, incomplete, or infrequent evacuation of dry, hardened feces from the bowels.

Copper:  An essential mineral that is a component of several important enzymes in the body and is essential to good health. Copper is found in all body tissues. Copper deficiency leads to a variety of abnormalities, including anemia, skeletal defects, degeneration of the nervous system, reproductive failure, pronounced cardiovascular lesions, elevated blood cholesterol, impaired immunity and defects in the pigmentation and structure of hair. Copper is involved in iron incorporation into hemoglobin. It is also involved with vitamin C in the formation of collagen and the proper functioning in central nervous system. More than a dozen enzymes have been found to contain copper. The best studied are superoxide dismutase (SOD), cytochrome C oxidase, catalase, dopamine hydroxylase, uricase, tryptophan dioxygenase, lecithinase and other monoamine and diamine oxidases.

Cystic Fibrosis:  (CF) An incurable genetic disease involving a sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs (which makes breathing difficult and leads to infections), as well as pancreatic insufficiency (which leads to digestive problems). Symptoms include chronic cough producing thick mucus, excessive appetite combined with weight loss, intestinal disorders, salty sweat/skin and pneumonia. Lung-related problems are the most frequent cause of death. CF is a recessive disease, occurring only when a person inherits two mutated copies of the CF gene - one from each parent. Individuals with CF generally have a life expectancy of about 30 years.

Dementia:  An acquired progressive impairment of intellectual function. Marked compromise exists in at least three of the following mental activity spheres: memory, language, personality, visuospatial skills, and cognition (i.e., abstraction and calculation).

Diabetes Mellitus:  A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.

Diarrhea:  Excessive discharge of contents of bowel.

Edema:  Abnormal accumulation of fluids within tissues resulting in swelling.

EDTA:  (Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic Acid): An organic molecule used in chelation therapy.

Estrogen:  One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.

FDA:  The (American) Food and Drug Administration. It is the official government agency that is responsible for ensuring that what we put into our bodies - particularly food and drugs - is safe and effective.

Gastrointestinal:  Pertaining to the stomach, small and large intestines, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.

Glucose:  A sugar that is the simplest form of carbohydrate. It is commonly referred to as blood sugar. The body breaks down carbohydrates in foods into glucose, which serves as the primary fuel for the muscles and the brain.

Gout:  A disease characterized by an increased blood uric acid level and sudden onset of episodes of acute arthritis.

Hair Analysis:  A painless and easy way to test for levels of toxic and essential minerals. A small amount of hair is taken from the nape of the neck and the mineral content of the hair is determined. A computerized analysis reveals the person's condition for the last three months.

Hematuria:  Blood in the urine.

Hemolytic Anemia:  Anemia caused by excessive destruction of red blood cells.

Hemorrhage:  Profuse blood flow.

Hepatitis:  Inflammation of the liver usually resulting in jaundice (yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, abnormal liver function, clay-colored stools, and dark urine. May be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, parasitic infestation, alcohol, drugs, toxins or transfusion of incompatible blood. Can be life-threatening. Severe hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis and chronic liver dysfunction.

Herbs:  Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with one teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. The high doses of single herbs suggested may be best taken as dried extracts (in capsules), although tinctures (60 drops four times per day) and teas (4 to 6 cups per day) may also be used.

Hodgkin's Disease:  Cancer of the lymphatic system and lymph nodes.

Hormones:  Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.

Hydrochloric Acid:  (HCl): An inorganic acidic compound, excreted by the stomach, that aids in digestion.

Hydrogenated Fat:  Usually containing trans-fatty acids (or simply "trans" fats), hydrogenated fats show up mostly in margarine, shortening and many prepared and processed foods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, potato chips and other deep-fried foods. The best way to spot hydrogenated fats is to read the ingredient lists on foods and identify those listing hydrogenated or "partially" hydrogenated fats.

Hypertension:  High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and, over time, to weaken; in addition, it may damage the walls of the arteries.

Hypoglycemia:  A condition characterized by an abnormally low blood glucose level. Severe hypoglycemia is rare and dangerous. It can be caused by medications such as insulin (diabetics are prone to hypoglycemia), severe physical exhaustion, and some illnesses.

Iron:  An essential mineral. Prevents anemia: as a constituent of hemoglobin, transports oxygen throughout the body. Virtually all of the oxygen used by cells in the life process are brought to the cells by the hemoglobin of red blood cells. Iron is a small but most vital, component of the hemoglobin in 20,000 billion red blood cells, of which 115 million are formed every minute. Heme iron (from meat) is absorbed 10 times more readily than the ferrous or ferric form.

Jaundice:  Yellow discoloration of the skin, whites of the eyes and excreta as a result of an excess of the pigment bilirubin in the bloodstream.

Lipid:  Fat-soluble substances derived from animal or vegetable cells by nonpolar solvents (e.g. ether); the term can include the following types of materials: fatty acids, glycerides, phospholipids, alcohols and waxes.

Long-Term Memory:  The final phase of memory in which information storage may last from hours to a lifetime.

Lymphoma:  Any tumor of the lymphatic tissues.

Magnesium:  An essential mineral. The chief function of magnesium is to activate certain enzymes, especially those related to carbohydrate metabolism. Another role is to maintain the electrical potential across nerve and muscle membranes. It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Magnesium controls many cellular functions. It is involved in protein formation, DNA production and function and in the storage and release of energy in ATP. Magnesium is closely related to calcium and phosphorus in body function. The average adult body contains approximately one ounce of magnesium. It is the fifth mineral in abundance within the body--behind calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Although about 70 percent of the body's magnesium is contained in the teeth and bones, its most important functions are carried out by the remainder which is present in the cells of the soft tissues and in the fluid surrounding those cells.

Menopause:  The cessation of menstruation (usually not official until 12 months have passed without periods), occurring at the average age of 52. As commonly used, the word denotes the time of a woman's life, usually between the ages of 45 and 54, when periods cease and any symptoms of low estrogen levels persist, including hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. When these early menopausal symptoms subside, a woman becomes postmenopausal.

Metabolism:  The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.

Migraine:  Not just a headache, but a disorder affecting the whole body, characterized by clearly defined attacks lasting from about 4 to 72 hours, separated by headache-free periods; progresses through five distinct phases. Prodrome: experienced by about 50% of migraineurs and starting up to 24 hours before the headache - changes in mood, sensory perception, food craving, excessive yawning, or speech or memory problems. Aura: experienced by about 15% and starting within an hour before the headache - disruption of vision (flashing lights, shimmering zigzag lines, blind spot) or sensation (numbness or 'pins and needles' around the lips or hand), or difficulty speaking. Headache: usually pulsating and occurring on one side of the head, it may occur on both sides of the head and alternate from side to side. Muscles in the neck and scalp may be tender; there may be nausea and the desire not to eat, move, see or hear. Resolution: the headache disappears and the body returns to normal. Resolution may occur over several hours during sleep or rest; an intense emotional experience or vomiting may also end the headache. Postdrome: After the headache stops, the sufferer feels drained, fatigued and tired. Muscles ache, emotions are volatile and thinking is slow.

Mineral:  Plays a vital role in regulating many body functions. They act as catalysts in nerve response, muscle contraction and the metabolism of nutrients in foods. They regulate electrolyte balance and hormonal production, and they strengthen skeletal structures.

Multiple Sclerosis:  Demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system, causing patches of sclerosis (plaques) in the brain and spinal cord, manifested by loss of normal neurological functions, e.g., muscle weakness, loss of vision, and mood alterations.

Nausea:  Symptoms resulting from an inclination to vomit.

Neuritis:  Nerve inflammation, commonly accompanying other conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis or arthritis. Neuritis is usually accompanied by neuralgia (nerve pain).

Neuropathy:  A group of symptoms caused by abnormalities in motor or sensory nerves. Symptoms include tingling or numbness in hands or feet followed by gradual, progressive muscular weakness.

Oliguria:  The condition of passing small amounts (under 500ml) of urine per day.

Osteoporosis:  A disease in which bone tissue becomes porous and brittle. The disease primarily affects postmenopausal women.

Over-The-Counter:  A drug or medication that can legally be bought without a doctor's prescription being required.

Panic Attack:  A brief, irrational episode of fear that is perceived as so real that an individual may be driven to escape from the place or situation where it occurs. The attack is sudden and increases in severity until it leaves, usually within ten minutes. Panic attack symptoms are numerous and involve both mental and physical signs and symptoms. A panic attack can occur in other anxiety states such as agoraphobia and with certain activities and places. It may occur spontaneously without an apparent cause.

Parasite:  An organism living in or on another organism.

Paresthesia:  A skin sensation, such as burning, prickling, itching, or tingling, with no apparent physical cause.

Parkinson's Disease:  A chronic, slowly-progressing disease of the nervous system characterized clinically by the combination of tremor, rigidity, extreme slowness of movement, and stooped posture. It is characterized pathologically by loss of dopamine in the substantia nigra.

Premenstrual Syndrome:  PMS consists of various physical and/or emotional symptoms that occur in the second half of the menstrual cycle, after ovulation. The symptoms begin about midcycle, are generally the most intense during the last seven days before menstruation and include: acne; backache; bloating; fatigue; headache; sore breasts; changes in sexual desire; depression; difficulty concentrating; difficulty handling stress; irritability; tearfulness.

Prostate:  The prostate gland in men that surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra and produces a secretion that liquefies coagulated semen.

Red Blood Cell:  Any of the hemoglobin-containing cells that carry oxygen to the tissues and are responsible for the red color of blood.

Rheumatism:  General term applied to conditions of pain, or inability to articulate, various elements of the musculoskeletal system.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:  A long-term, destructive connective tissue disease that results from the body rejecting its own tissue cells (autoimmune reaction).

Rickets:  Vitamin-D deficiency characterized by abnormal calcification of bone tissues.

Schizophrenia:  Any of a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances. Schizophrenia is associated with dopamine imbalances in the brain and defects of the frontal lobe and is caused by genetic, other biological, and psychosocial factors.

Scurvy:  A disease that is caused by a lack of vitamin C in the diet. It is marked by weakness, anemia, edema, spongy gums, often with open sores in the mouth and loosening of the teeth, bleeding in the mucous membranes, and hard bumps of the muscles of the legs.

Serum:  The cell-free fluid of the bloodstream. It appears in a test tube after the blood clots and is often used in expressions relating to the levels of certain compounds in the blood stream.

Short-Term Memory:  Also known as immediate memory or working memory, this is a phase of memory in which a limited amount of information may be held for several seconds to minutes. In general, up to 7 'chunks' of information are stored for about 20 seconds.

Stomach:  A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.

Stroke:  A sudden loss of brain function caused by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel that supplies the brain, characterized by loss of muscular control, complete or partial loss of sensation or consciousness, dizziness, slurred speech, or other symptoms that vary with the extent and severity of the damage to the brain. The most common manifestation is some degree of paralysis, but small strokes may occur without symptoms. Usually caused by arteriosclerosis, it often results in brain damage.

Thyroid:  Thyroid Gland: An organ with many veins. It is at the front of the neck. It is essential to normal body growth in infancy and childhood. It releases thyroid hormones - iodine-containing compounds that increase the rate of metabolism, affect body temperature, regulate protein, fat, and carbohydrate catabolism in all cells. They keep up growth hormone release, skeletal maturation, and heart rate, force, and output. They promote central nervous system growth, stimulate the making of many enzymes, and are necessary for muscle tone and vigor.

Ulcer:  Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane.

Vertigo:  The sensation of spinning or whirling; a state in which you or your surroundings seem to whirl dizzily.

Vitamin C:  Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant vitamin essential to the body's health. When bound to other nutrients, for example calcium, it would be referred to as "calcium ascorbate". As an antioxidant, it inhibits the formation of nitrosamines (a suspected carcinogen). Vitamin C is important for maintenance of bones, teeth, collagen and blood vessels (capillaries), enhances iron absorption and red blood cell formation, helps in the utilization of carbohydrates and synthesis of fats and proteins, aids in fighting bacterial infections, and interacts with other nutrients. It is present in citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, potatoes and fresh, green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin D:  A fat-soluble vitamin essential to one's health. Regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood by improving their absorption and utilization. Necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. For Vitamin D only, 1mcg translates to 40 IU.

Yeast:  A single-cell organism that may cause infection in the mouth, vagina, gastrointestinal tract, and any or all bodily parts. Common yeast infections include candidiasis and thrush.

Zinc:  An essential trace mineral. The functions of zinc are enzymatic. There are over 70 metalloenzymes known to require zinc for their functions. The main biochemicals in which zinc has been found to be necessary include: enzymes and enzymatic function, protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Zinc is a constituent of insulin and male reproductive fluid. Zinc is necessary for the proper metabolism of alcohol, to get rid of the lactic acid that builds up in working muscles and to transfer it to the lungs. Zinc is involved in the health of the immune system, assists vitamin A utilization and is involved in the formation of bone and teeth.