Identifying & Treating Heavy Metal Toxicities

Written by Dr. David Brownstein

Heavy metal toxicity is, unfortunately, alive and well in our modern world.

An article in the Tribune News Service (July 6, 2015) reported that any exposure to lead, even as a toddler or in the womb, could lead to a host of permanent neurological problems. These problems include headaches, a lowered IQ, propensity for violence, brain fog, dementia Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In our toxic world, high levels of heavy metals is the norm.

For nearly 20 years, I have been checking my patients for heavy metal levels. Unfortunately, lead and mercury toxicities occur in the vast majority of my patients—over 80%. Once a heavy metal toxicity is identified, a detoxification program can be initiated.

The human body does not like heavy metals ‘floating’ around in the serum. Therefore, it tightly binds them up primarily in fat tissue. However, if a person with high heavy metal levels loses a significant amount of weight, especially in the fatty areas of the body, they can release a toxic load of heavy metals into the serum. Neurological tissue can also bind heavy metals, which is a particular concern. If the fat tissues are saturated or there is not enough fat to bind heavy metals, neurologic tissue will store the metals. Studies have shown that even small amounts of mercury can destroy nerve fibers.

I routinely test my patients for heavy metal toxicities using hair, urine and serum testing. Furthermore, I find chelation challenge tests invaluable to identifying a heavy metal excess. A simple blood test will not suffice, as I mentioned previously that the body does not like heavy metals ‘floating’ around in the blood stream.

A chelation challenge test is performed by injecting or ingesting a chelating substance such as EDTA, DMPS, or DMSA, and then collecting urine for a few hours afterwards. The chelating substances will bind metals in the body and deposit them in the urine.

Genova Diagnostics, which seamlessly integrates with Power2Practice, offers a Comprehensive Urine Element Profile. It is a toxic exposure test which measures urinary excretion of 15 nutrient elements and 20 toxic metals.

Once you identify which heavy metal is present, you can institute a targeted detoxification plan. Ensuring that the liver detoxification pathways are optimally functioning can aid any detoxification plan. There are specialty supplements which help supply the body with the correct raw materials to enhance the detoxification pathways. Also, the supplemental vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid helps any detoxification plan.

Also important is reminding patients to drink enough water in order to help the body flush out toxins.   It is also important to eat healthy food free of toxic pesticides, insecticides and synthetic hormones.

Original blog post by Dr. Brownstein can be found here.



Dr. David Brownstein is a Board-Certified family physician and is one of the foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. He is the Medical Director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, MI. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success in using natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Brownstein is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College for the Advancement in Medicine. He is the father of two beautiful girls, Hailey and Jessica, and is a retired soccer coach.

Dr. Brownstein has received two prestigious awards by his colleagues. The first was given by the American College for the Advancement in Medicine at the 2005 annual meeting. The award was the Norman E. Clarke Sr. Award for Science and Practice. The second award was given by the American Academy of Integrative Medicine at their 2005 annual meeting in Florida. This was titled, 2005 ARC Excellence Award for Distinguished Clinician for his “Advancement in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Diseases.”


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