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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

35: The Scourge of Heavy Metal

I’ve never liked heavy metal. I’m more of a folk musician, where the lyrics are important and discernible and the mood is gentle and thoughtful. Heavy metal, on the other hand, is described by Wikipedia as “a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness.”

Extended exposure to heavy metal (for the musicians and the kids who listen to them) can cause some or all of the following symptoms in turn: excessive perspiration, leg twitching, headaches, spaciness, insomnia, hearing loss, mood swings, anger and other emotional disorders, dizziness, ADD, depression, hallucinations, and fatigue. It can cause anxiety, nervousness, migraines, and hostility — in people middle-aged and older, especially when their kids won’t turn down the music.

I have always avoided heavy metal. Therefore I was surprised when my naturopath brought up the subject. It was the second appointment following my adrenal burnout. The doctor was saying that he suspected I had an underlying issue that was compromising my adrenals. He thought the culprit might be heavy metals.

Okay, okay, so you didn’t really think I was talking about music.

He asked if I had any mercury-amalgam fillings.

“I’ve had dozens over the years, but I’ve had no new ones for a couple of decades; and as they’ve rotted out, I’ve had them replaced with porcelain. I’m pretty sure they’re all gone now.”

I had mentioned previously that I had been battling Candida for twenty years. Now he told me that if I had an accumulation of any kind of heavy metal, until I dealt with that, I would never get rid of the yeast problem. “It binds to metal,” he said, “and kind of hides there.”

He wanted to do a test for metal toxicity: clearly, he felt there must be a build-up stored deep in my body. So I paid the $150 and took home the kit. In the morning I took the four little pills, a “provocation agent”—I think it was DMSA—which would stir up any heavy metals stored in the soft tissues and cause these toxins to be expelled in the urine over the next 8 hours. I dutifully collected all the urine in that time-frame, filled in the forms, measured out the sample, and drove it all to Edmonton to FEDEX it off to the US of A.

While I waited for the results, I did a lot of reading online about the repercussions of carrying mercury around in your mouth. It gases off whenever you chew, slowly breaking down and releasing the mercury into the bloodstream and then mostly migrates to be stored in the brain where it will cause problems in the years to come. When these fillings are removed (hopefully to be replaced by something healthier), unless a strict protocol is in place (and there were certainly never any such precautions taken in my case), there is an awful lot of mercury sent airborne by the drill and it gets breathed straight into the lungs and then to the bloodstream again. I got pretty freaked out with it all and finally had to put the reading on mercury aside for the time being.

There are a number of dangerous metals in addition to mercury. The following information comes from

“Heavy metal poisoning has become an increasingly major health problem, especially since the industrial revolution. Heavy metals are in the water we drink, the foods we eat, the air we breathe, our daily household cleaners, our cookware and our other daily tools. A heavy metal ... cannot be metabolized ..., therefore accumulating in the body. Heavy metal toxicity can cause our mental functions, energy, nervous system, kidneys, lungs and other organ functions to decline. Learning where these metals can be found and decreasing one’s exposure is vital to staying healthy. For the person who wonders if they have heavy metal poisoning, testing is essential. If a person has heavy metal toxicity then interventional natural medicine procedures need to be performed.”

This might be a good time to re-read the list of symptoms I cited, tongue in cheek, above, as being caused by obnoxious (sorry, just my opinion) music. These signs, very seriously, are all part of an extensive list of possible effects of toxic metals in the body, and there are dozens more besides.

At this particular site, the following “heavy metals” are listed: aluminum, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, tin, and two surprises: copper and iron. Surprising, because both these elements are essential to good health. But either of them, in excess, become toxic.

And so I busied myself with more reading as I waited and wondered what the test results would be.

Addendum: Here is a list of other symptoms of heavy metal toxicity, in addition to those listed above:

Weak and aching muscles, spleen pain, stomach pain, liver dysfunction, kidney dysfunction, neuromuscular disorders, osteomalacia, colitis, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, hemolysis, leukocytosis, porphyria, heartburn, memory loss, numbness, paralysis, Parkinson's disease, tooth decay, colds, behavioral problems, constipation, flatulence, dry skin, enzymes inhibited, anorexia, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dermatitis, stomatitis, hair loss, vertigo, fever, stupor, herpes, jaundice, fluid loss, throat constriction, spasms, respiratory tract infection, garlicky odor to breath or stool, keritosis, pallor, goiter, disturbance of calcium and vitamin D metabolism, lung cancer or infections, rickets, magnesium depletion, cerebral hemorrhage, cirrhosis of the liver, enlarged heart, diabetes, emphysema, hypoglycemia, hypertension, impotence, infertility, kidney disease, learning disorders, inflammation, osteoporosis, schizophrenia, strokes, vascular disease, high cholesterol, impaired growth, cardiovascular disease, acne, PMS, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, vitamin deficiencies, paranoia, decreased libido, senility, stuttering, phobias, autism, estrogen dominance, high blood pressure, myasthenia gravis, pancreas damage, scurvy, shortness of breath, hepatitis, heart failure, allergies, anemia, blindness, cardiovascular disease, colic, convulsions, dyslexia, epilepsy, gout, hyperactivity, hypothyroidism, impotence, liver dysfunction, hyperkinesis, mental retardation, menstrual problems, muscular dystrophy, nephritis, nightmares, poor concentration, psychosis, restlessness, seizures, stillbirths, SIDS, vertigo, weight loss, adrenal gland dysfunction, birth defects, brain damage, dermatitis, hyperactivity, memory loss, pain in limbs, skin rashes, thyroid dysfunction, peripheral vision loss, hemorrhages, malaise, low blood pressure, vomiting, heart attack, oral cancer, intestinal cancer, vomiting, abdominal pain or cramping or bloating, fever, hyperglycemia, vision changes, liver pain, ataxia.

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