Detoxification is one of the most critical body functions of all living organisms. In most people, detoxification is sluggish thanks to eating too many processed, unhealthy foods, stress, fatigue, environmental chemicals and medications. An overactive sympathetic nervous system (aka: fight or flight response) also inhibits detoxification in many people. Most people’s skin is very toxic and congested thanks to bathing in fluoride and chlorine, the use of toxic soaps and skin lotions, and even from wearing synthetic clothing.
For these reasons and so many more, enhancing detoxification is a primary goal in nutritional balancing science.
What Are Toxins and Why Do They Matter?
Toxins refer to anything that doesn’t belong in the body. They may be naturally-occurring or man-made. They may come from outside the body or may be generated within. They include some minerals that are poisonous, millions of chemical compounds, living organisms such as bacteria, and some electromagnetic energies such as those used in cell phones. The concept that toxic substances cause disease is very ancient. Herbal medicine and natural healing methods have emphasized toxin removal for thousands of years.
The following heavy metal toxins are tested on a hair mineral analysis: Aluminum, Arsenic, Berrylium, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury and Uranium. It also tests Nickel, Strontium, Lithium, Vanadium and Rubidium.
Detoxification Ratios on A Hair Mineral Analysis
A hair mineral analysis does a good job showing how well the body is processing toxins – it’s called the detoxification rate. The two ratios that indicate the detoxification rate is the Calcium:Phosphorus (Ca/P) and Calcium:Potassium ratio (Ca/K). If one or the other, or both, are elevated, it indicates a slow detox rate. The higher the Ca/K ratio, the slower the metabolism, thyroid function and detoxification rate.
In terms of energy, the adrenal glands and thyroid are the major ways people generate energy. The higher the Ca/K ratio, the slower the metabolism and thyroid function. Specifically, less T3 is getting into the thyroid.
Uncovering Layers of Toxins
Most everyone has toxic metals in their bodies, and a hair mineral analysis can identify the amount of toxins actively being removed. However, when the body isn’t detoxifying effectively, it has a hard time removing toxins so many become buried deep within body organs, tissues and bones.
When toxins accumulate in the body it’s called the “tip of the iceberg vs. the whole iceberg” concept. This means the toxins that show up on the hair test are the tip, and others are buried within the body, unable to be detoxified. A personalize nutritional balancing program will slowly uncover and remove the buried layers of toxicity over a period of several years or more.
Accumulating Toxins with A Slow Detoxification Rate
A slow detoxification rate is why someone more easily accumulates toxins and why it’s more difficult to remove them. In fact, a person may not have a particular overexposure to a toxin, but the person is accumulating them more easily (ie: exposure to secondhand smoke, antiperspirant, etc.). It all adds up quickly when the body isn’t detoxifying effectively.
How Sensitive Is Your Body to Existing Toxins?
On a hair mineral analysis, there are indicators that show if your body is more reactive or sensitive to the toxins in the body. These indicators are minerals normally stored in the bones, and when they’re released it’s partly due to inflammation caused by the presence of toxins.
There are also other indicators on a hair mineral analysis that show toxins might be buried deeply, which will not show up on the test. For example, Strontium is a marker for Aluminum sensitivity. Also, when copper is above 4, it can be an indicator of a more significant Mercury presence, so Mercury is higher than the analysis shows. High Iron and Molybdenum are markers for reacting to Aluminum.
Copper and Detoxification on A Hair Mineral Analysis
When Copper is elevated, it means the detox rate is slower than ideal. Elevated copper doesn’t occur because a person is eating too much copper – bodies normally manage copper fairly well. Most of the Copper is stored in the bones, so when Copper goes up, it means two things: the detox rate is slower and there’s potentially a Mercury presence. Copper is a direct 1:1 marker for a more significant Mercury presence, so Mercury is higher than the hair mineral analysis is showing. Copper elevation is really a Mercury issue (tuna fish, mackerel, swordfish, farm raised salmon, anything from Lake Erie, dental fillings, vaccinations).
When copper is elevated, it can become toxic. It also indicates your body is more reactive to the toxics that are present. How to decrease copper? Zinc. It’s a natural antagonist to copper. When excess copper starts to be removed, it can cause a headache in the center of the forehead and can cause constipation (approx. 30% of people). It might last 3-7 days and will be gone. If it’s too bothersome, stop taking the zinc for a few days. It means you’re dumping it faster than your body can clear it. You can resume zinc every other day once the headache disappears.
Be Cautious of Detox Regimens
If someone is doing a “detox” and is a slow detoxifier, they must be cautious because it could cause the body to pull out toxins faster than the body can detoxify them. If the toxins are pulled out, they re-circulate and that can cause problems. It’s important to increase the detox rate before you start detoxifying. Take care of your liver because it's one of your main detoxifiers! Here are my top tips for taking care of your liver and supporting healthy detoxification. It's also important to understand the three phases of detoxification.
What Slows the Body’s Detoxification Rate?
- Stress. Stress is anything your body has to adapt to and can be any type – physical, mental, emotional, toxic, metabolic (ie: sensitive to sugar), and environmental. The Ca/P ratio on a hair mineral analysis represents the pituitary gland. When it goes up, it means the basic metabolism is slow. When the basic metabolism is slow, the amount of time it takes the body to physically recover from stress is longer than it should be.
- Walnuts, peanuts and peanut butter are legumes and interfere with thyroid function and detoxification rate.
Nutrients to Detoxify Heavy Metals
N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine detoxifies toxins such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and mercury. It binds to organipoisons too.
Suggested dose: 500-1000 mg/day
It helps detoxify mercury, lead and cadmium. It also helps speed up stress recovery. It will get the low sodium, low potassium levels on a hair test to increase.
Take after breakfast and after dinner, with food.
The malic acid part of Magnesium Malate detoxifies the Aluminum.
This detoxifies Mercury.
This is not a prescription strength. It improves and speeds up the detox rate. Four Potassium capsules are equal to the amount you get in a glass of orange juice but without the sugar. It will increase Potassium levels and improve the Ca/K ratio. Also helps Copper levels come down.
Suggested does: 1st week, take 1 per meal. 2nd week, take 2 per meal. 3rd week, take 3 per meal, etc. It’s slow acting so it trickles in slowly.
Thyrolift will help your thyroid work more efficiently and will improve the detoxification rate. If the person’s also taking Potassium, the Thyro-lift & Potassium work together.
If there are signs your thyroid is working too well, cut back (signs: fast heart rate, excessive perspiration, difficulty sleeping)
Sometimes the thyroid can get too good, too fast, so we want to watch for that.
Supports detoxification of environmental toxins and internal estrogens.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods