In January, I wrote an alarming post about high lead and thallium results in my stool. Read Where is the Lead Coming From? Surprised and concerned, I was determined to discover the source for my heavy metal exposure, as well as appropriate methods to detox. This post sums up my past month of research.
First, I must share the good news!
My latest lab results are encouraging. My blood lead count (the amount that is circulating in my blood) is 2 mcg/dL. While I would a prefer 1 or zero, a number of 2 is fairly low. According to the CDC, anything over 10 mcg/dL in adults and over 5 mcg/dL in children is cause for concern. Above these thresholds, doctors and patients need to examine possible acute exposure and consider treatment. Immediate chelation therapy is administered in marks over 45 mcg/dL. My results indicate I don’t have to be worried. Thank goodness! This means my body is eliminating most of what I have been exposed to.
Now, the bad news.
I cannot find exact sources for the lead and thallium pollution. We have researched everything from water from contaminated pipes, to food from poor soil, to bone broth from tainted animals, to crock pots containing lead, to past Terminix ant treatment sprayed around our house. Not one of these potential sources has come forward as the culprit. We haven’t been able to say, “This is it! This is the source!”
I have come to the conclusion that these heavy metals have been accumulating in my body in small amounts for months, and probably years.
Why? Two reasons.
1) We live in a toxic world and it’s difficult for our bodies to keep up with so many toxins.
2) I have both MTHFR gene mutations, C677T and A1298C. (Read more in this helpful post from Wellness Mama, What is an MTHFR gene mutation?) In simple terms, my body is handicapped when trying to eliminate toxins. Since my detox pathways are impaired, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins do not leave my body as quickly as they should.
In August, I began supplementing with methylated B vitamins (the natural form your body can absorb, for example – folic acid is synthetic and folate is methylated), which is excellent treatment for those with MTHFR mutations. I believe that’s when my detox system got a kick start! I also believe that’s why my heavy metals stool test showed high levels of lead and thallium in December. My body started dumping toxins. At least, that’s my theory. There’s no way to really know this now, since I can’t go back in time.
What does this mean in practical everyday terms?
My liver, kidneys, and lymph system need extra TLC. Since I still have some lead (and mostly likely, thallium) in my blood, my goal is to reduce all potential exposures and help support my detox system.
Now, to the nitty-gritty. (Does anyone say that anymore? ) Here is exactly what we have done in the last month. I hope this comprehensive list will help reduce your toxic load as well.
What am I doing to avoid lead?
- We installed a new Multipure water filter, to clean up our drinking water. We actually had our water tested by a local company, Alexin Analytical Laboratories. The result: no lead in our water. I was amazed. I thought there would be even trace amounts of lead, since we have original 1970s galvanized pipes with lead solder in our home. I’m still concerned that lead could leach into our water during the summer months when the pipes get hot. In addition, our local water supply has had higher levels of lead (close to the EPA limit) in the past. The bottom line: we could have been drinking lead in our water, even in small amounts. The Multipure filters out chlorine, heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides.
- We switched to a Hamilton Beach slow cooker. Before, we used two Crock Pot brand slow cookers. If you do an online search for “lead in slow cookers”, you will get articles across the spectrum. Some say that it’s a major problem; some say that the ceramic glaze protects your food from contamination, even if the actual pot contains lead. The more I read, the more I was convinced that some slow cookers really do leach lead. The safest option is buy a pot without any lead whatsoever, as with the VitaClay Slow Cooker. The next best option is to purchase a Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, which almost every article I read said that it had little to no lead every time it was tested. The pot that seemed to have lead most often, if any, was the Crock Pot brand. I encourage you to do your own research on this topic, since there is conflicting advice.
- We are using bones from organic animals exclusively for our bone broth and soups. With the rising popularity of bone broth, there is some concern that animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) and fed GMO grains store lead in their bones. When the bones are cooked for bone broth, lead leaches into the water. For several years, I’ve been conscientiously following the GAPS diet, which incorporates a lot of broth. We have always purchased beef bones from animals raised on 100% grass pasture. However, to save money, we compromised and used conventional chicken meat and bones for chicken broth and soup for several years. Now, we only buy organic chicken when it’s on sale and the more expensive pasture-raised chicken on occasion. I still believe in the healing properties of bone broth, but we are drinking less of it now that we’ve moved to using only one slow cooker. We used to have two going all the time.
- We stopped using Earthpaste, a more natural clay toothpaste. Unfortunately, even “all-natural” ingredients from the earth can contain small amounts of lead. For a couple of years, we had been using Earthpaste. I dismissed the warning on the label, believing the company’s line that this particular composition of lead could not be absorbed by the body. But further research by the Lead Safe America foundation shows that it could be a problem, especially if swallowed. Even though this may be more of an issue for children, I’m not taking any chances. For now, we’ve switched to a fluoride-free version from Trader Joe’s, containing similar ingredients to Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Toothpaste.
- We may test our soil before planting a summer garden. We eat a lot of vegetables, especially root vegetables such as turnips, rutabagas, and carrots from our garden. They are easy to grow and healthy. However, they also more readily absorb heavy metals from the soil! We want to know if our beautiful garden veggies are being contaminated by tainted soil. We have only lived in our home for three years, and we have no idea what the previous owners did to the place. We do know he was an alcoholic. Not so encouraging. A & L Western Laboratories does soil testing here locally in the Portland area.
What am I doing to detox?
- I’m continuing my methylated B vitamin supplementation. (I take Thorne Research Methyl-Guard Plus.) As I mentioned, my body needs extra support in the detox department. I also notice increased energy when taking methylated B vitamins. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, I highly recommend you take folate instead of folic acid. Folic acid can become toxic to the mother with MTHFR mutations, since the body cannot absorb it.
- I’m taking activated charcoal, two to three times a week away from meals. (I take Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal.) Activated charcoal binds to metals and other toxins in the GI tract and pulls them out of the body. I take my charcoal in the middle of the night when I wake up. That way, I know that I’m not interfering with absorption of any vitamins or my thyroid medication.
- I’m taking detox baths regularly, three to four times a week. Yes, baths take more time, but they are relaxing and healing, especially if combined with a detox agent, like Epsom salts, Himilayan salt, baking soda, or clean bentonite clay. Here are some ideas for detox bath recipes. I’ve also noticed that baths do wonders for my skin.
- I’m trying to sweat more often. That means a good cardio workout at the gym or a fast stepping dance DVD at home. Sweating is a great way to release toxins through the pores of your skin. Last night, I participated in a Zumba class with my sister. We were tired, sweating, and smiling by the end of the hour. Detoxing can be fun too.
- I’m starting a weekly intravenous (IV) glutathione treatment at my naturopath’s office. (Not the same as chelation therapy.) Glutathione is known as the body’s master anti-oxidant. Not only is it essential for eliminating free radicals, it also supports detox processes. Boosting glutathione levels is also beneficial for people with auto-immune conditions, like me. I have auto-immune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s).
- I’ve also been encouraged to eat more detoxifying foods, like cilantro, sea algae, and sulfur-rich foods, such as garlic, eggs, cauliflower, and broccoli. These compounds in these foods have detoxifying effects by binding themselves to metals.
More detox ideas that I’ve already integrated into my life:
- Do not use non-stick pans for cooking
- Do not drink from plastic water bottles
- Use non-toxic cleaning products
- Avoid toxic hair and make-up products (that includes most popular brands!)
- Switch to an aluminum-free deodorant (or don’t wear any at all – you won’t stink if you eat a clean diet, I promise 😉 )
- Have your mercury dental fillings removed by a qualified holistic dentist (Dr. Larry Bowden of Aesthetic Dentistry did an excellent job of removing my amalgams.)
Six months from now, I’d like to test my whole blood lead levels again and see if they have dropped. I’m aiming for 1 or zero! In the meantime, I will keep on keeping on. It seems that I’m doing the right things. And now that I’ve incorporated more detox protocols, I hope that my body will have a chance to catch up. I pray that my liver will become less congested with toxins and more full of healthy cells that flourish. I’m getting the lead out, both figuratively and literally!
Do you have experience detoxifying from heavy metals?
What methods, foods, or supplements did you find effective?