Mineral Toxins and Autoimmunity—What Can We Do?

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A recent article from the Journal of Environment International showed a significant connection between elevated blood mercury levels and autoimmune antibodies to parts of the thyroid gland, specifically thyroglobulin.1 Thyroglobulin is a protein made in the thyroid gland that is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. With mercury in the thyroid gland, antibodies develop and attach to thyroglobulin, producing complexed thyroglobulin-antibodies (TgAb), which prevent normal function—hypothyroidism is the result.

However, the story goes way beyond just the thyroid gland. Thyroglobulin autoantibody (TgAb) elevations in the blood have been associated with not only autoimmune thyroiditis, but also rheumatoid arthritis, pernicious anemia, fibromyalgia, and diabetes. Furthermore, one of the papers referenced in the article showed that removal of mercury-containing dental amalgams (silver fillings) resulted in a lowering of the thyroid autoantibody blood levels, and improvement of thyroid function. Other diseases implicated in elevated levels of toxic minerals (including mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, and more) include neurologic inflammatory conditions such as autism, multiple sclerosis, and most neurodegenerative conditions.  So what can we do about the problem of exposure to toxic minerals like mercury?

First, it is important to determine your exposure to these toxins. If you live near coal-burning power plants or industries that use mercury, if you eat large fish (especially tuna and swordfish) regularly, and if you have mercury-containing dental amalgams, most likely you will have elevated hair, blood, and tissue levels of mercury and other toxic minerals. Measurement of these toxins in hair and in packed red blood cells represents chronic exposure (3–4 months), and is more meaningful than serum and urine levels that generally represent exposure over a few days. If you wish to know about total-body storage of toxic minerals, chelating agents (such as DMSA, DMPS, and EDTA) can be used to bind the toxins and deliver them to the urine where they can be easily measured. It can be shocking to find out how much these agents can pull toxic minerals (like a magnet) from your tissues.

Second, it would be wise to find a physician trained in detoxification and chelation to help slowly remove these toxic minerals while monitoring your kidney and liver function, as well as your overall condition. Removing these toxins too fast can trigger many symptoms ranging from fatigue to rashes. Onset of symptoms does not mean you need to abandon the treatments, but to slow down, and do more things to support your liver, kidneys, and natural detoxification mechanisms. So what can you do before even testing or removing toxic minerals with the help of a doctor? It is simple—everything we have been discussing over the years, including:

Eat an 80 to 90 percent plant-based organic diet, with organic, free-range animal products.

  • Avoid most all simple carbs and sugars to give you optimum energy and metabolism needed for detoxification.
  • Keep hydrated: Drink 2 to 3 quarts or more of water daily. (Add lemon and stevia to make lemonade if water is unappealing.)
  • Good bowel elimination daily: If toxicity levels are high, you may need to supplement with magnesium and/or herbs to promote bowel elimination.
  • High quality sleep 7 to 8 hours per night: If needed, take sleeps aids like melatonin, GABA, or 5-HTP
  • Probiotics & cultured food: Our intestinal microbiome and high-fiber diet maybe our best detoxification mechanism.
  • Vitamin D3 and fish oil are needed to manage inflammation which can affect the body’s mineral balance and enzyme pathways needed for detoxification.
  • Take a multiple vitamin, mineral, antioxidant supplement.
  • Other supportive detoxification supplements include selenium, zinc, CoQ10, lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, glutamine, glycine, and milk thistle.
  • Regular use of infrared sauna increases your removal of toxins through the skin which is a major detox organ. Many people who do not sweat easily develop the ability to do so with sauna use. It’s good to exercise your sweat glands!
  • Exercise regularly: Aerobic, resistance training, and stretching are all needed for optimum circulation in and out of tissues, and minimizing fat (which majorly stores toxins).

There is more, but this would be a good start not only for natural removal of toxic minerals, but to optimize the quality of your life in general.

 References

  1. C.M. Gallagher and J.R. Meliker, “Mercury and thyroid autoantibodies in U.S. women, NHANES 2007-2008.” Environ Int. 2012 Apr;40:39-43.

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