OK, what if testing shows that I’m carrying around more
than my share of a toxic heavy metal like mercury, lead, aluminum, tin, thallium, or arsenic? Let’s talk about the Pre-tox (or Pre-Detoxification protocol) we use to prepare for a successful detox avoiding side-effects like excess fatigue and undue stress on kidneys and liver.
Cellular Detoxification vs. Drainage
Looking at the big picture, there are two main parts of successful detoxification – one is cellular detox – conjugating the metal or toxin onto something like glutathione and moving this out of the cell, and getting it out into the lymph and the blood. And the other part is drainage or filtration – which involves the kidneys, liver, the skin, and the GI (gastro-intestinal tract) to get the junk out of your body. We need to keep both of these aspects of detox rolling smoothly in order to coax the bad stuff out of our bodies as quickly and safely as possible.
The Journey of a Toxin from Cell to Extracellular Matrix to Filter Organs
After a metal or other toxin is transported across a cell membrane, it ends up in the Extracellular Matrix (ECM for short). See this piece I wrote for some basic info about the ECM. The ECM is linked into lymphatic flow, and eventually the toxin makes it’s way into the blood circulation. Once in the blood, a toxin will encounter the liver, then get transported via the bile flow into the small intestine. The blood is also drained out through the kidneys by way of the proximal tubules. The kidneys are also doing something called glomerular filtration, which handles much of the toxin load.
Optimizing Drainage & Turning the Wheels of the Filters in Pre-Tox
Optimizing drainage, also known as “Lavage” in France, will be our major goal in pre-tox or preparing the filter organs for a full detoxification protocol. Lavage is best thought of as “turning the wheels of the filters,” which includes the liver, kidneys, GI tract, and lymph. We want to get all these systems moving and “warmed-up” so to speak. Often there is stagnation or accumulation of metals/toxins in the cells and tissues of these filters, and our goal at this stage is to start moving that out of the body and restore healthy movement/function in each component. It’s kind of like the adage, “a rolling stone gathers no moss!”
Clearing the Blood, Using Bitters, Balancing Hormones & Brain Function
Many of us have a substantial burden of toxins flowing through our bloodstream, and if we start by clearing out the blood before we trigger the release of more junk/toxins from cellular storage, then our detox is going to go much more smoothly! To accomplish this, we can use diuretics to “move” the kidneys, and bitters (literally bitter herbs) to “move” the liver and prompt the bile to drain. People just feel better when we “move” the bile and liver, particularly if they’ve been exposed to toxins, pollution, etc. Bitters were widely used historically to great effect for people suffering from the effects of pollution and environmental toxins during the industrial revolution, etc. Other systems in the body that respond positively to drainage detox include our balance of hormone levels and endocrine system, brain function, and really all sorts of things get better when our blood is cleaner.
Gentle Binders for Moving the GI Tract
To “move” the GI tract, we look to laxatives and fibers – once you flush things out and “move” the filters, we need to clean out the GI tract – later in the detox protocol when we start moving toxins out of the cells into the circulation, we’ll incorporate what are called binders, which attach to these circulating toxins and then get expelled through the stool. If we don’t do this, toxins can get reabsorbed and continue circulating throughout the body over and over again, exacerbating symptoms of toxicity and weakening our body further. Some traditionally used gentle binders great for the pre-tox stage include activated charcoal and clay; we have options now such as certain forms of silica such as IMD (a stronger binder more appropriate for the actual detox stage rather than pre-tox) from Quicksilver Scientific, and Biosil (helpful for moving the kidneys in pre-tox) as well.
During the actual detox stage, as the IMD takes away the mercury, it signals the glutathione system to release more mercury to come down into the GI tract – pull away, release, then pull away again, and release, etc. Chlorella binds toxins at a much slower, more gentle rate than things like IMD, which makes it useful for the pre-tox phase. It has some cation and anion exchange; the anion exchange is important for bio-toxins – so chlorella helps with both metals and bio-toxins.
Activated charcoal binds a little bit of everything, but is especially good for large organic molecules such as volatile organic compounds, persistent organic pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, lipopolysachharides (a toxic byproduct produced in our own bodies, AKA, endotoxins), and is excellent for mold toxins as well. Most mold toxins stick to charcoal, with the exception of aflatoxin, which is a food-based mold. Aflatoxin sticks to clays and zeolites. Clays are also bacteriostatic and very normalizing to the GI tract. So during
pre-tox, I have clients try a little clay and charcoal at night, as well as possibly some chlorella, acacia gum, pectins, or alginates. Chytosan can be mixed with a bit of acacia gum and clay for an excellent night-time binder that will mop up many of these other toxins besides the metals.
Pre-Tox with Herbals, Bitters, Fibers, Pectins, and Infrared Saunas – Normalize the GI Tract and Lower Inflammation
To turn these wheels and stimulate drainage, we can use herbals, both single herb or combinations like bitters. Gentian and dandelion are bitters that benefit liver drainage. For targeting the lymph and blood, things like echinacea and burdock are useful ingredients to include. In the GI tract, laxatives and fibers are the main tools. Fibers actually serve a dual role – they act as binders to some degree, but also help to modulate the immune system and harmonize any immune reactions that are occurring. Acacia gum is an excellent example of a fiber used for this purpose. Modified citrus pectin is also useful, more for it’s normalizing effect on the GI tract than any binding properties. By lowering inflammation, we turn up the activity of the transport proteins that are moving toxins into the GI tract. Alginates also have a normalizing effect on the GI tract. Finally, the skin is targeted by the use of infrared saunas – these are especially helpful later on too, when we are deep in the midst of a detox. Going in for a sweat 15 minutes twice a day can make you feel much, much better, especially for things like residual cadmium and lead in the body!
Nutritional Minerals & a Balanced pH for Extracellular Matrix Health
Nutritional minerals have a normalizing effect on the ECM or Extracellular Matrix. This is important since blood does not have a direct line into the cell. Rather, the nutrients carried by the blood have to move through the ECM to reach the cells. When the body, or essentially the ECM, becomes too acidic, the transport of nutrients and waste through the ECM is negatively affected. Accumulation of metals also impairs ECM function by the congealing effect on the ECM material – it’s kind of like what happens when you cook an egg. Nutritional minerals and trace minerals are extremely useful for keeping the ECM open and moving. The ECM makes up a huge part of the structure of our bodies. Our bodies are thought to be designed to best absorb minerals sourced from the ocean; this is why mineral sources such as Quinton work so effectively.
Testing for Toxic Heavy Metals
If blood levels of mercury or other metals are high while urinary excretion of the same metal tests low, we need to get the kidneys functioning better – this is part of pretox. So we use things mentioned above, such as kidney drainage remedies, rentone (from Ayush Herbs), bitters, etc. This scenario calls for focusing on kidney drainage before getting too deep into detox. I typically use
a Hair Mineral Test as an excellent initial screening for clients, and follow that up as appropriate with the Mercury Tri-Test or Blood Metals Panel from Quicksilver Scientific.
Focusing on the Liver
For focusing on the liver, we want things like liposomal glutathione, and Clear Way Cofactors (a Quicksilver supplement that contains a lot of dandelion along with polyphenols that help different aspects of the liver). Bitters are a phenomenal liver remedy. Vitamin C with R-Lipoic Acid is excellent for the liver, but will start to stimulate cellular detoxification, so best to wait until actual detox protocol phase to use it. You don’t need to cycle on and off these supplements during pre-tox like we typically do in the detox period. If during the detox you start to feel fatigued from the process of moving these metals and pollutants out of your body, taking a teaspoon of sea salt or himalayan salt in warm water and drinking it will often do the trick; take this with some multi-minerals to boost your results.
Should I Remove my Dental Fillings Before I Detox from Mercury?
Especially for detox of inorganic mercury from silver dental fillings, it’s best to do a pre-tox to prepare your liver and kidneys to properly handle the mercury and other metals that will be flooding out of the cells and into the circulation. Not this kind of mercury though…
More like this 🙂
Then I have people follow this by beginning the detox protocol for a month or so. After removing the amalgam dental fillings, then resume the detoxification protocol. If we don’t prepare the drainage or filter organs first, you could actually cause unnecessarily unpleasant detox reactions, and even damage to the kidneys, etc.
Troubleshooting Detox Reactions
As far as detox reactions commonly experienced during excretion of toxic metals, there are several symptoms seen. Lots of itching usually indicates gallbladder blockage and the best solution is to take bitters to drain the bile. You may need to do intensive liver flushes incorporating olive oil, but I wouldn’t recommend doing these right off the bat. But if you are getting a lot of itching, especially after eating a fatty meal, you should definitely do a lot of liver drainage.
If you are feeling heavy, often in the area of the eyes, after consuming garlic, it’s probably sulfide toxicity. Take some molybdenum and lay off the sulphur-rich foods like garlic, onions, cabbage, and other cruciferous veggies for a couple of weeks. Ready to get your pre-tox on? Give me a call and I can work with you to tailor a detoxification protocol to your body’s exact needs and oversee your progress along the way!