The Role of Toxic Metals in Illness

toxicity signToxic metals play a key role in all fatigue syndromes such as chronic fatigue, M.E., fibromyalgia and autoimmune disease and probably in all chronic, serious and degenerative illness. The reason for this is that man evolved for millions of years without exposure to metals and is poorly equipped to detoxify and excrete refined metals.

Toxic metals undermine the immune system and cause a multitude of other physical, mental, emotional and behavioural symptoms which have been recognised for many years.

In order to understand some of the impact of toxic metals on the body, you may need to understand some basic chemistry. So here is a little background for the uninitiated.


an atomEverything in the known universe is made of atoms which contain a dense nucleus which contains protons (which have a positive charge and some mass/weight) and neutrons (which have no charge) with electrons (which carry a negative charge and practically no mass) orbiting around in ‘shells’.

Atoms are most stable when these shells are full and if, for instance, they have one electron surplus to a full shell they will readily part with that electron thus carrying a net positive charge (+). Conversely, if they have one electron short of a full shell they will seek to acquire that electron from another substance thus carrying a negative charge (-). Such charged atoms can join together to form ionic compounds or can form molecules by sharing electrons and this is known as covalency.

Free radicals

Free radicals are atoms or molecules that have lost one of a pair of orbiting electrons and so are disposed to snatch electrons from other molecules or atoms they encounter causing damage. This can start a cascade of damage within the body and antioxidants are atoms or molecules which can quench this reaction by donating an electron without becoming unstable.

The periodic table

Each element has a number of protons and neutrons that makes that substance unique. In the periodic table, elements are arranged in order of increasing atomic weight and are grouped according to similar properties. A row is known as a period and a column is known as a group. The body can often mistake an element for one adjacent to it on the periodic table. Many of the damaging elements substitute for essential elements such as mercury (Hg, atomic weight 80) and cadmium (Cd, atomic weight 48) which replace the essential zinc (Zn, atomic weight 30) in many substances as indicated by the arrow in the diagram below.

Periodic table

Toxic metals

We need some metals in biologically available forms for many different body functions and these are known as minerals, but too large a quantity, the ‘wrong’ form and certain metals can have a very detrimental effect.

We are exposed to toxic metals every day in our modern world, for example: aluminium from foil packaging and deodorants; mercury in vaccinations and amalgam fillings; copper from water piping; fluoride in toothpaste; lead in petrol and nickel in hydrogenated fats. Some people also have, or have had, occupational exposure to toxic metals also.

Toxic metals are recognised as being a major cause of many illnesses and are the hidden reason behind chronic and frequent infections (especially Candida albicans overgrowth and parasitic infections) and chronic fatigue syndrome, M.E., fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. Metal toxicity also plays a large role in many psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety because metals, and in particular mercury, are highly attracted to, and have a very deleterious and persistent effect on the central nervous system.

Toxic metals primarily cause damage by blocking receptor sites on cells and by poisoning enzyme systems and thus generally reduce the biochemical function of the individual and the ability to detoxify. Toxic metals can and do affect any body system, but are particularly damaging to the:

Endocrine system Effectively poisons the processes of the gland, most notably causing under-functioning or poor regulation of the thyroid, adrenal glands, pancreas and controlling glands in the brain.

Nervous system Metals are absorbed into the autonomic nerves (the nerves that govern ‘automatic’ functions) supplying the organs and track up to the brain and central nervous system disrupting function of the organs supplied in the process.

Lymphatic system Impairs the proper circulation of lymph causing it to become sluggish and toxic.

Immune system Impairs the delicate and complex immune response giving rise to the secondary viral, candidal, bacterial or parasitic infections that are responsible for many of the sufferer’s symptoms.

Chronic mercury poisoning

Mercury is the most biologically toxic metal and the one to which most people have the greatest exposure through their dental amalgam fillings and vaccinations. Mercury also has a synergistic and amplifying effect on all other metals and neurotoxins. If you assist the body to remove mercury it will be able to correct many of the other secondary problems such as infective organisms.

For most people their greatest exposure to mercury comes through their dental amalgam fillings which are a 50:50 mix of liquid mercury and powdered silver, copper, zinc and tin. Within 7 years of placement, amalgam fillings have released half their mercury content into their unfortunate owner’s body. The mechanism behind release of the mercury from dental amalgam is believed to be that once the dental amalgam fillings are inserted they form a ‘battery‘ developing poles, and becoming electrically active with saliva acting as the conductor. In this way, the most electrically active amalgam fillings give off the most mercury vapour.

Galvanic currents are also thought to occur between the different metals that are used in the mouth in fillings, crowns and posts – again with saliva acting as a conductor. Most (80%) of the mercury is thought to be given off as vapour in this way and inhaled and absorbed through the lungs.

Mercury can exist in its elemental form as a gas or liquid and in both a Hg  and Hg(II) form as an inorganic substance combined with sulphate or chlorine, for instance. In its Hg(II) form it can also form organic complexes with carbon-containing molecules and whilst all forms are harmful it is this form that is the most toxic and persistent to biological systems. Unfortunately, when the body attempts to detoxify inorganic mercury it unwittingly transforms it into this more potent organic form and the ‘friendly’ bacteria too can convert inorganic mercury into organic mercury which is between 100 and 1,000 times more deadly.

Relevant links:

blue-bulletVideo: Symptoms of mercury poisoning

blue-bulletMetal toxicity

blue-bulletAudio: Is heavy metal toxicity killing you slowly?

blue-bulletThe Natural Recovery Plan book

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