Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and aluminum have been associated with immune dysfunction (another potential reason for the rise in cancer and autoimmune disease), endocrine disruption (have you been aware of the apparent rise in thyroid dysfunction?), cardiac disease, chronic fatigue, inflammatory conditions, brain dysfunction, and many other medical problems. Yet, recently, when a prominent actor had to leave a play due to symptoms of mercury toxicity, the mainstream medical community and some in the press, treated it as a joke, rather than the tragedy that it is. The problem of mercury toxicity is so widespread, that a recent article in the New York Times, estimated that more than 25% of the population of New York City is affected. It seems more convenient for physicians to treat the anxiety with sedatives, the depression, fatigue and confusion with antidepressants, the cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure, heart failure, myocardial infarction) with heart and blood pressure medicines, than to admit there may be a widespread underlying toxic cause. All of these symptoms and more can be signs of heavy metal toxicity. We continue to rely on serum levels to diagnose heavy metal toxicity despite the fact that it has been shown that it correlates very poorly with total body burden of these toxins. Specialized provocative testing is necessary to help make this diagnosis.
Detoxification is no longer an option but a necessity if we want to achieve optimal health. The various means available include chelation (for heavy metals), far infrared sauna (primarily for volatile toxins, plasticizers, persistent organic pollutants, etc.), colonics (similar effects as sauna) as well as supplements and other techniques to maximize our natural detoxification pathways.