Metals invade every aspect of our lives. Some metals do not harm us or help us. Other metals are essential for our health. Then, there are the toxic heavy metals. Depending on your source, there are about 30-40 heavy metals, but four of them are considered to be the most toxic to humans. These metals are lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. Other lists will also include chromium, but the majority of experts say the first four are most lethal to us. When too much of any toxic metals get into your body, numerous health problems and even death are potential results. So, what do we do? There is a range of metal detox options, from chelation therapy to alternative treatments like sauna therapy and detox baths. In this article, we look at how to detox metals.


What Is Heavy Metal Toxicity?


Most of the damage heavy metals cause only occurs once they are inside your body. What makes these toxic metals so damaging to you is that the body struggles to get rid of them. The body has a natural detoxification system. This system consists of the liver, kidneys, lymph nodes, GI tract, and bloodstream. These organs and transport systems work together to flush toxic elements out of our bodies. The problem with heavy metals is that they take time to flush out. Depending on the half-life of the metal, it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to several months to flush out a toxic metal.

Furthermore, if you keep exposing yourself to that metal, it will accumulate faster than your body can flush it. Once you accumulate too much, negative health problems start to occur. These problems can range from mild toxicity symptoms like tremors and headaches up to organ failure, cognitive problems, and diseases like cancer. If you need to see if you’ve been exposed to a toxic metal, you can go get a blood or saliva test from your doctor. There are also hair mineral tests online, but the doctor’s test will be more accurate.

Toxic Metals: An Environmental Issue

While not ALL heavy metal toxicity is our fault, MOST of it is. Heavy metal pollution has been an ever-increasing issue since the industrial revolution. Heavy metals are found in most business sectors and across many everyday use appliances and conveniences. You risk exposure to heavy metals every day thanks to the paint in your house, your smartphone, your car, the city you live in, etc. The biggest environmental factors pushing metal exposure are factory waste and mining ores. The quantity of these and the duration of exposure (how many years we have used both) makes them primary culprits.

Toxic Metals: A Diet Concern

While environmental contamination such as soil, air, and water are major factors of metal exposure for us all, you cannot rule out food supply contamination. I’m sure by now you’ve heard about mercury build-up in fish such as tuna and salmon. Certain crops grown in contaminated soil or grown with heavy pesticide use are also heavy sources of metal toxicity. Furthermore, water supply is an issue. Lead-contaminated drinking water is a documented issue, like what happened in Flint, Michigan.

The Most Toxic Heavy Metals

Remember that I said there are four heavy metals most toxic for us? These metals have no benefit for us and knowing how to detox these metals is essential. These toxic metals are lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.

1. Lead

Lead poisoning primarily occurs in older homes thanks to lead-based paints. Furthermore, drinking water gets contaminated with lead when soil near water supplies is contaminated or old plumbing pipes are not maintained/replaced properly. Once lead accumulates to high enough levels inside you, it can cause severe damage to your nerves and organs.

2. Mercury

Mercury naturally occurs in fossil fuels. It does its damage by making its way to our water supply via air vapors that settle into the water and/or contaminated soil near fossil fuel burning sites interacting with nearby water sources. It is here that mercury begins to work its way up the food chain to us. First, mercury gets eaten or absorbed by microorganisms. Next, those microorganisms get eaten by plankton. Then, the plankton gets eaten by small fish. After that, the small fish get eaten by bigger fish like tuna. Lastly, the tuna gets eaten by us. Mercury doesn’t go away; it just resides in the body of whatever eats it. Most of us get exposed to mercury through diet.

However, mercury exposure can happen through dental fillings and vaccinations, so be sure to ask about mercury-free alternatives at your next dentist visit and flu shot.

3. Arsenic

Exposure to arsenic, like mercury, primarily occurs through our diet. Arsenic shows up in grains like rice and barley, making rice dishes and beer pathways for arsenic exposure to happen. Arsenic poisoning causes symptoms like paralysis, loss of energy, and cell damage. Other possible ways to be contaminated by arsenic include tobacco use and close proximity to mining sites.

4. Cadmium

Last, but certainly not least, we have cadmium. Cadmium is used to make hardware tools. Because of this, people whose job requires tools every day are at the highest risk of exposure. Cadmium has a long half-life, so it takes the body longer to flush it once it starts to accumulate. Cadmium causes heavy cellular damage, so having it inside you is not doing you any favors.

How Do I Know If I’m Suffering From Heavy Metal Exposure?

Firstly, if you are concerned about immediate metal poisoning, call your local Poison Control. If you believe you might have chronic exposure causing health problems, here are some symptoms to watch out for:


  • Frequent headaches
  • Gut health problems-stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, and gas.
  • Arrhythmia-abnormal heartbeat. This could be faster or slower. Either way, call a doctor immediately.
  • Breathing problems-coughing, wheezing, or fluid buildup in the lungs.
  • Cognitive problems-difficulty remembering things and difficulty concentrating.
  • Behavioral changes-mood swings, irritability, depression, irrational anger, etc.
  • Energy problems-loss of energy, sleep issues, and chronic fatigue.

There are numerous other symptoms that can be contributed to metal poisoning. The problem is these symptoms can be other health problems and are easy to miss or misdiagnose. The only way to know for sure is to get lab tests done with your doctor so they can tell you for sure if heavy metal poisoning is to blame for your symptoms.

What Is A Heavy Metal Detox?

There are numerous methods how to detox from metals. Some you have probably heard of, and others will sound strange. There are medical procedures and home-based natural remedies to help your body rid itself of toxic metals. The big question is what methods are effective for a heavy metal detox?

Do Heavy Metal Detoxes Actually Work?

If you are suffering from toxic exposure that requires immediate treatment, a doctor can have you do chelation therapy, which is giving you a metal binding agent (injected or ingested) to extract the metals from your body. However, if less immediate action is required, there are natural changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle that will detox your body over time. These methods support your organs to help them function optimally.

So Which Methods Work The Best For How To Detox Metals?

As promised, we will look at common detox practices and see which ones are effective at removing toxic heavy metals from the body.

1. Chelation Therapy: A “How To Metal Detox” Effective Method

Chelation therapy involves an ingested or injected compound that binds to metals (chelates). This chelating agent then mobilized the bound metals and excretes them from the body using natural removal methods (bowel movements, urination, etc.). This is a medical procedure so should be done with a doctor. However, while this method is effective, it has a major drawback – chelation therapy will also remove the good metals your body needs to stay healthy. This is why you need a doctor to do this with. They can make sure you do not become deficient in the metals you need while removing the ones that are toxic.

2. Detox Foods: Another Effective “How To Metal Detox” Method

Yes, there are foods that will help you flush out toxic metals and reduce symptoms associated with toxic metal accumulation. Examples of foods that have research supporting their role in mitigating heavy metal poisoning include:


  • Cilantro-a natural chelating agent.
  • Spirulina-an alga that protects against arsenic.
  • Blueberries-all those antioxidants help fight the negative effects of metal toxicity like inflammation.
  • Leafy greens-the vegetables such as kale, spinach, and mustard greens contain vitamins and minerals that mitigate the effects of heavy metal exposure.

There are other foods you can look at here that help flush the body of heavy metals. Furthermore, it is advised to pick organic foods that are free of pesticides to make sure you are not exposing yourself to more metals with your detox foods.

3. Detox Nutrients: A “How To Metal Detox” Method Found In Supplements

There is research that supports the idea that there are specific plants and extracts that act as natural chelating agents, capable of offsetting heavy metal toxicity. Some of these plants and extracts contain well-documented nutrients and compounds that protect the body from harmful toxins. Examples of these plants include:


  • Garlic – the high sulfur content binds to heavy metals.
  • Alpha-lipoic-acid (ALA) – isan antioxidant that reduces inflammation and fights off free radicals.
  • Modified Citrus Pectin – a natural chelating agent that reduces heavy metal toxicity.

Final Thoughts

While there are plenty of other well-documented plants that are helpful for metal toxicity, this guide is a great starting point for methods that work for how to heavy metal detox. Always remember, it’s best to get tested before jumping to conclusions about the symptoms you are experiencing. If you do need to do a metal detox, investigate these methods above. For more information on heavy metal detoxes or healthy living tips, check out the rest of our blog here.