Detoxifying heavy metals, from free to $$

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Detoxification supports healing chronic illness and Lyme disease

One thing I really love about Annie Hopper’s DNRS program is she considers those of us with chronic illness or chemical sensitivities canaries in the coal mine, in terms of toxicity. We all know heavy metals, fossil fuels and plastics are causing unprecedented levels of pollution worldwide. As that pollution seeps into our bodies, we become more susceptible to stealth infections like Lyme disease, mold, parasites, and chemical poisoning.

This is awful and terrifying. Hopper suggests empowerment, by taking on environmental pollution as a calling. Those of us affected by chronic illness can speak out, with a very personal perspective, and a personal stake in the outcome.

We can also clean up our own environment - choosing less plastic: making our own personal care products or buying from sustainable companies, feeding our families organic and local. People in the process of healing are doing this all over the world. Taking on this challenge, and speaking freely about why we have to, we become something larger than ourselves or our illness. We shift the conversation, moving Earth toward a more sustainable future, one badass Warrior at a time.

We also need to tackle the project of internal detoxification - leeching metals and contaminants out of our bodies and renewing our health. Here are some of my favorite tools, ranging from free to costly.

Visualize your liver, kidneys and skin detoxing

People, visualizing your organ systems healthy and thriving is powerful, and it’s free! Your liver, your kidneys and your skin want to do their job of cleansing your beautiful body. Those organs love to be noticed. They enliven when you visualize them, when you send them healing images and mojo. I feel this every time I put my hands on a client’s liver or kidneys, and ask them to tune in. It’s not a power most people know they have, but we all have it.

Try putting your hands over your liver, on the right side of your body under your ribcage. Look up a photo if that helps. Send your beautiful liver some love. Thank it for working so hard every day to keep your body clean, free of all toxins. Imagine that big organ like a sea creature living in your middle, floating gently, with its own intelligence. It never stops working for you. Breathe into it. Warm it. Imagine it scooping up all the crap that doesn’t serve your health and burning it away.

Bodyworkers specializing in organ systems can help you feel this. So can guided visualizations. The Detoxification meditation on this site enlivens your liver, kidneys and skin, building your awareness of those powerful systems and moving them toward healthy function.

Red clay, salt and infared sauna

This is a current personal favorite. There is a Korean spa in San Francisco, in a somewhat run-down part of town, looking like it should be a 7-11. Inside, however, they boast an infared sauna that is to die for. The walls are made of red clay, which emits infared rays when heated, and is supposed to aid in detoxing heavy metals. The floor is made of chunks of pink salt which emit vapor when heated, and are supposed to heal the respiratory system and strengthen immunity. What’s more, it’s big enough to do yoga in. I’ve been going once a week, doing yoga in the sauna until I’m dripping with sweat. Then I go jump into the cold plunge to finish the experience Wim Hof style.

I always feel amazing the day after the spa. Your skin is your largest and most effective detoxification organ, so just sweating it up for an hour is an amazingly effective way to clear toxins. It takes the load off your liver and kidneys, too. I know many of you Lyme disease Warriors have a sauna at home, and I’m jealous. If not, it’s worth checking to see if there’s a Korean spa nearby.

Chelation with foods, supplements, DMSA and EDTA

Many of us with chronic illness or Lyme disease have specific heavy metals hiding out in our systems, making it harder for us to heal. You can find out with a metals blood test through a Functional Medicine doctor. I had one done recently, and was happy to find that my mercury levels were super low (I had 8 amalgam fillings removed last year), and so were my levels of lead and arsenic. However, I had high levels of a few metals I had never heard of before, like cadmium and thallium. (I smoked in high school, and we lived next to a park with a contaminated lake I often swam in.) So, chelation.

Chelation means to grab or bind. Binding metals can be done with foods, charcoal and clay supplements, or with chelating agents at a doctor’s office. These chemical agents are powerful, and not cheap. After a horrible Herxheimer reaction to one myself, I recommend starting with foods and supplements first to build your strength.

The best foods I know of for chelating heavy metals are chlorella and cilantro, often used together. Chlorella is terrific for binding lead, mercury and other metals, but it upsets my stomach. I stick with cilantro, which I love. Cilantro is not a good binder, but it does move metals out of their hiding places in tissue and into the gut. The more you eat, the better chance you have of clearing poisons, so I try to eat one whole (organic) bunch a day. You can also juice it, or take tinctures.

My favorite way to eat cilantro lately is in a green smoothie: 1 cup of coconut water, half a bunch of cilantro, about an inch of fresh ginger root, lime juice and water. Throw in a blender and voila! A drinkable Thai salad.

If you don’t use chlorella, you need another binder, or you risk reabsorbing the metals set free by cilantro. There are a billion charcoal and clay supplements on the market, all of which bind metals. The one I use is by Byron White, called Detox 2, which is a mixture of clay and supportive herbs. Unlike chlorella, this product will bind everything, including drugs and vitamins. Take it at least an hour away from your other supplements. (Unless you are having a bad reaction to one - in this case Detox 2 may strip it from your body and speed your recovery. I used it when I had a reaction to the drug Alinia - it worked wonderfully.)

After you have been clearing metals naturally for a while, you may feel strong enough to consider the more powerful chemical chelating agents, in coordination with your doctor. Be aware, there are risks involved. Do your research! The two agents most commonly used are DMSA and EDTA.

DMSA is taken in pill form. According to my doctor, it is better at removing metals from within cells than EDTA. EDTA is administered through IV, so it is more expensive, and more of a pain in the arse. Each agent is more effective at removing different metals. Here is a comparison of DMSA and EDTA if you want to go deep. I haven’t used either yet, except for that one Herxy trial of DMSA. I will post updates if I use either in the future. For now, it’s DIY body butter and cilantro juice after the sauna, and a prayer for a clean, green Earth and vibrant health for us all.

Thank you so much for reading! Please pass this post along to anyone interested in clearing toxins.

Your body is a river, always moving and changing, sparkling with light.

Shona