Toxic metals

 I have often asked myself how our parents (the generation born in the first twenty years of the last century) managed to have such a stable state of health, despite having lived through two wars with the obvious consequences: insufficient and poor quality food, lack of hygiene, extreme living conditions and almost inexistent medical prevention.

Yet they seem to have had a more robust constitution than that of the present population.

 Now I am beginning to understand that in the last 60-70 years a large number of people, above all in more industrialised countries, have been unknowingly living in conditions where they are being continually poisoned; conditions which are getting worse and worse.

This poisoning comes from the environment through the air we breathe and the food and water that we consume, but also from that which many of us have (or have had) permanently inside our mouths, that is dental amalgam fillings.

In this section I will only deal with chronic heavy metal poisoning, because I believe that this has received less attention from the medical press, even though it is a major cause of disease within the complex human body system.

 Heavy metals are trace elements whose density is at least five times greater than that of water. They are stable elements which cannot be metabolised by the body and give place to a phenomenon called bioaccumulation.

 In scientific literature the following elements are normally considered heavy metals: aluminium, iron, silver, barium, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, palladium, lead, copper, tin, titanium, thallium, vanadium, zinc, and certain metalloids having properties similar to those of heavy metals, such as arsenic, bismuth and selenium.

 Within the heavy metals there are those which are indispensable for living organisms and are potentially toxic, like iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc, which are to be distinguished from those considered predominantly toxic, like aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and lead.

 When talking about heavy metal pollution, however, four of these elements, the ones that are mainly responsible for environmental damage, are usually referred to: mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium.

 These are highly toxic for man as well as for all living species because they link into the cell structures in which they deposit, hindering the progress of certain vital functions. Furthermore, often organisms are incapable of eliminating them.

 The heavy metals which are dangerous to man are present in the air, in our drinking water, in our food and in an infinite number of man-made chemical products. These days there is chronic exposure via industrial and agricultural waste, dental amalgam fillings, paints and varnishes, cosmetics, drugs, water and food.

Also in many jobs there is further exposure to these poisonous metals.

 They penetrate the human organism by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption. If these metals penetrate the body tissue faster than the organism can detoxify itself, there will be a gradual accumulation of these toxins.

 The following pathologies can be linked with chronic metal poisoning:

  • changes in neurological behaviour and function caused by alterations in the production and use of neurotransmitters;

  • changes in numerous metabolic processes with alterations within the enzyme systems and the energy production chain;

  • imbalance and disfunction within the cardiovascular and blood systems, the eliminative organs, the gastrointestinal tract, the immune system, the reproductive system and the endocrine system;

  • increase in allergic reactions;

  • genetic mutations;

  • indiscriminate antibiotic-like action;

  • competition with minerals necessary for the functioning of the organism.

 Aluminium is to be found in the air, it is dissolved from the ground and from rocks by acid rain, it is widely used to make kitchen utensils, it is used in food packaging and it is in indigestion tablets and other common drugs, deodorants, processed cheese and drinking water.

It is deposited most easily in bones, the brain, the kidneys, the skin, the lungs and the stomach.

The main effect of an excessive amount of aluminium in biological tissue is the appearance of neurological illnesses, which in the most serious cases degenerate to Alzheimer’s Disease.

 Arsenic can be found in the air and in drinking water, as well as in industrial and agricultural manufacture. In the body it concentrates particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, the liver, the kidneys, the spleen, the lungs and the skin.

It can damage the blood cells and can cause malaise, tiredness, skin lesions, vascular problems, neuritides and cancer.

 Cadmium, whose presence in the environment is mainly due to the use of chemical fertilisers, factories producing batteries and semiconductors, cigarette smoke and incinerators burning plastic and rubber materials, is held responsible for kidney damage, illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract, the reproductive system and the immune system, certain types of arteriosclerosis and several kinds of tumour.

 Mercury is to be found in both its organic and inorganic forms; dumped at the docks, for example, it is often transformed by marine bacteria into the methylmercury ion [CH3Hg]+, which is particularly dangerous because it is easily assimilable by vegetation and plankton. In this way mercury is transmitted from the lowest links in the food chain to bigger and bigger fish, finally arriving at human beings. Along the food chain, the metal becomes more and more concentrated, because each organism is unable to get rid of it efficiently.

It is present in some vaccines and disinfectants, in dental amalgams, in certain cosmetics, in batteries and especially in large fish.

It mainly accumulates in the brain and the nervous system, in the kidneys, the lungs, the skin and in the foetus, causing serious damage.

 Nickel is to be found in the soil in abundant quantities, and is used in metal alloys to make jewellery and coins. It concentrates itself in the skin, in the respiratory system, in the blood, the stomach and the kidneys.

It can give rise to itching and skin eruptions, and above all respiratory system problems.

 Lead, which is poured into the environment mostly through industrial waste and the combustion of fuels such as common petrol, unites with dust in the air and produces negative effects on practically all the organs of the body: it takes the place of calcium and is incorporated into our bones and from the point of view of the biochemical processes of the human organism it is believed to be an inhibitor of the production of numerous enzymes. Furthermore, lead is believed to cause brain disease and various degrees of depression.

It must also be noted that all poisonous heavy metals are able to penetrate the placenta and cause serious malformations to the unborn child or unexpected spontaneous abortion.

 The above is only a basic outline of the consequences that heavy metals can have. For further information consult:

 One of the characteristics of heavy metals which I would like to underline is the immense difficulty that the organism has in eliminating them using the detoxification systems that it has at its disposal.

This is one of the reasons for which even small quantities, repeated in time, cause such devastating pathological build-up.

Without external intervention, the body can’t manage to free itself in time from these poisons.

It must also be noted that each individual reacts differently to the problem, depending on hereditary or other functional factors.

 Since, as we have seen, heavy metals are deposited permanently in body tissues, it is notably difficult to recognise and diagnose the presence of such metals.

The usual tests made by the family doctor are unable to reveal heavy metal poisoning. Specific tests are necessary, like hair analysis testing or heavy metals urine analysis, but only after having used a chemical substance (EDTA or other chelating agent) which is able to capture the metal, remove it from the tissues and bring it into circulation, thus allowing its elimination through the kidneys.

 I would now like to indicate the following questionnaire which may be useful in assessing the presence of an excessive quantity of heavy metals in your body.

Download Mercury/Toxic Metal Sensitivity Questionnaire

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