Heavy Metal Cleanse: How Does It Work and Is It Necessary?

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We live in a heavily polluted world, which is increasing with every passing day. When we think about pollution, it’s generally about atmospheric and water pollution. However, there are a number of objects that we come in contact with on a daily basis that have some form of pollutants or contaminants in them. We also consume a lot of contaminants through the food we eat and water we drink. Among these are a variety of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, etc.

There are ways of removing these heavy metals from our bodies. It’s commonly referred to as heavy metal cleanse. It can be done naturally by incorporating certain food items in our diets or consuming certain supplements. It can also be done medically by using pharmaceutical cleansing agents. A couple of decades back, a heavy metal cleanse would have been a choice, but now it’s a necessity, especially in urban centers around the world. However, simply cleansing the body isn’t enough. It needs to be done in conjunction with certain changes to our lifestyles, including increased physical activity.

How Does the Body Eliminate Heavy Metals?

A process of bond formation between organic molecules and metals known as chelation happens within our bodies. It sequesters, transports and eventually excretes both useful and harmful toxic elements, including heavy metals from the body. Chelation plays the most important role in the natural detoxification of heavy metals from our bodies. The two primary chelates in the human body are the peptides glutathione and metallothionein. One issue that’s being looked at more closely is that these heavy metals sometimes get recirculated or reabsorbed in the kidney, depending on the quantity and amount of time they’re in the kidney.

Natural Cleanse

A number of food items and supplements have the components that make them natural chelates. Including these in our diets helps the body get rid of heavy metals.

Garlic and Ginger

Garlic not only helps the body remove heavy metals naturally, it also enhances the taste and flavor of any dish it’s added to. It can be easily incorporated in a number of dishes we eat on a regular basis as well as in tea. Since it’s quite a versatile ingredient it finds use in most cuisines.

We had mentioned earlier that the kidney is put under a lot of strain in the process of eliminating heavy metals from the body. An anti-inflammatory agent like ginger ensures that the kidneys remain healthy, which in turn boosts the removal of heavy metals from the body. Ginger is also quite a good digestive aid, which improves bowel movement. Similar to garlic, it can be easily incorporated in a variety of dishes and in tea.


Cilantro, which is also known as coriander, is a potent natural chelator. It can be added in green smoothies and juices and incorporated in a number of dishes, just like garlic and ginger. It adds a beautiful flavor to the dish, even when it’s used as a garnish. It’s worth noting that a study to determine the role cilantro plays in eliminating lead from the body didn’t indicate that it has a major impact. However, there’s enough anecdotal evidence to back it’s potency as a natural chelator.

Green Vegetables

Leafy bitter green vegetables are excellent detoxification agents and help the body remove heavy metals. So, stock up your fridge with lots of spinach, kale, etc. Incorporate these in salads, make smoothies and other dishes.

Flax and Chia Seeds

Omega-3 fats are good for the body as it’s an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Flax and chia seeds contain it and are fibrous as well. The colon gets detoxified, which is essential for the effective elimination of heavy metals.

Help the Natural Cleanse

Simply adding these and other food items in your diet will not be enough. You need to eliminate certain food items from the diet as well, besides making changes to your lifestyle. Besides edibles, there are other sources of heavy metals as well. These need to be addressed as well and eliminated as much as possible.

  • Processed foods hinder the detoxification process by preventing chelates from bonding with heavy metals. The same holds true for food items with excess fats. You also need to completely stop purchasing canned food items and foods packed in plastic containers. Cans transfer heavy metals into the food, while plastic containers are predominantly coated with a toxic substance called bisphenol A (BPA).
  • BPA is also found on several plastic cooking utensils we use at home. Even if it’s not possible for you discard all such utensils from the kitchen at once, slowly replace them with utensils made of natural materials such as wood, mud, bamboo, etc.
  • The teflon coating on non-stick cookware is equally toxic and harmful. Over time you end up consuming small particles of the coating without even realizing.
  • Also, while buying packaged food items at a supermarket remember to check if it contains high-fructose corn syrup. It’s a sweetener that’s added in a variety of food items. It has been found that sometimes it contains mercury.
  • Fruits and vegetables also contain traces of insecticides and pesticides. Even after washing them thoroughly small portions remain, which then enter our bodies. Try to buy organic produce as much as possible.
  • The cleaning products used at home contain heavy metals. These enter our bodies through the skin. When we touch a carpet cleaned with such a product or while washing utensils, heavy metals enter the body. Most of these cleaning products have all-natural alternatives. So, you can replace them in the next cycle, i.e., when you buy these the next time.
  • Personal care products, including cosmetics, toiletries and deodorants among others also contain heavy metals.

Chelation Therapy

Chelation therapy is a medical procedure that removes heavy metals from our bodies. A chelating agent is injected into the bloodstream, which acts as the organic molecule and binds with the heavy metals and eliminates them from the body via the kidneys. It can also be administered orally. These chelating agents are also referred to as pharmaceutical chelates. The five most common chelating agents used in the United States are DMSA or dimercaptosuccinic acid, DMPS or 2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid, EDTA or ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, penicillamine and dimercaprol.

  • DMSA can eliminate lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, tin, silver and copper.
  • DMPS can eliminate mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, tin, silver, copper selenium zinc and magnesium.
  • EDTA can remove lead, cadmium and zinc.
  • Penicillamine is mainly used to treat Wilson’s disease, i.e., it can remove copper. It also removes arsenic, zinc, mercury and lead.
  • Dimercaprol eliminates arsenic, gold, mercury and lead.

If you do opt to undergo chelation therapy, make sure that it’s at a certified clinic. Do not try any over-the-counter chelation medications. These haven’t been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for OTC sales because a lot more studies need to be conducted to understand the intricacies of how these pharmaceutical chelates work before they can sold like common medicines. You need a prescription to purchase FDA approved chelation medication and if a pharmacy is selling them without asking for a prescription, then report it. It’s worth noting here that there are documented cases where people have died and other serious issues have cropped up due to the administration of these chelating agents.

Why Is Heavy Metal Cleanse Essential?

All of us have these heavy metals in our bodies. Some of them are good for our bodies in small quantities such as iron, copper, zinc, etc., but if the quantity increases beyond a limit, for both the useful heavy metals or the more harmful ones, it can result in heavy metal poisoning. Excessive accumulation of heavy metals in the body can also lead to diseases taking root such as Wilson’s disease. This disease has serious life-threatening consequences, because the body fails to eliminate copper and it ends up accumulating particularly in the liver and brain.

There are other damaging serious consequences as well which may not be life threatening, but are worrisome nonetheless. As more heavy metals accumulate within the body, it can lead to on the one hand something comparatively mild, like constant, irritating headaches to something extremely lethal like organ damage. There are multiple documented cases of problems with the thyroid gland, neurological issues and even birth defects due to the excessive presence of heavy metals in the body for prolonged periods of time. Some of the symptoms that indicate that your body might be suffering from overexposure to heavy metals are abdominal pain and cramping, vomiting and nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, burning sensations, respiratory problems, etc. You should consult a doctor if these symptoms persist.

Now, heavy metal cleansing cannot be done in isolation. You can’t undergo chelation therapy or start eating a lot of green vegetables and solve the issue. These are short-term solutions at best. You undergo chelation therapy or do a natural heavy metal detoxification to eliminate the excessive heavy metals accumulated in your body. In order to sustain the low levels, you need to take a holistic approach.

  • To begin with you need to identify and eliminate sources of heavy metals in your life. It could be food items, your source of drinking water, other products you use, etc. You should start doing it a month or two before the detoxification. It will make the detoxification process more effective.
  • Next, you undergo the heavy metals cleanse. It could be chelation therapy or undergoing a one week heavy metal detox diet, whatever you prefer. Natural cleanses take longer, but are more gentle on the body. Chelation therapy puts a strain on the kidneys while excreting the heavy metals.
  • Finally, you need to provide the body the necessary nutrition to heal. So, you incorporate the natural chelates, natural anti-inflammatory agents that are rich fiber and protein in your diet, along with essential vitamins. Dietary supplements can also be included. Keep yourself hydrated, but do not overhydrate.
  • At the end of the cycle, low to negligible amounts of heavy metals will be entering your body and your body will be equipped with enough natural chelates to deal with the ones that do enter.


The Hare and the Tortoise’, one of the most famous stories from Aesop’s Fables has offered us the saying, “Slow and steady wins the race.” It’s applicable in many facets of our lives, but in this case it’s applicable to heavy metal cleansing. The heavy metals that have accumulated in our bodies didn’t reach there overnight. Each day a new set of heavy metals enter the body and join the others present inside. This has been going on since we were born. These have entered through food, water, air and other products we use. So, even though it’s extremely important that we eliminate these heavy metals from our bodies, the approach should be to do it gradually. Sudden changes inside the body aren’t good.

If you’re suffering from a disease borne out of overexposure to heavy metals or you’re suffering chronic symptoms of overexposure to heavy metals, then obviously the time for a slow and steady approach doesn’t hold water. However, for others, natural cleansing of heavy metals should be the primary approach. It will take longer to eliminate the hordes of toxins in the body, but the results will be effective and long lasting. The importance of lifestyle changes are equally important and can’t be emphasized enough. The reason we end up consuming a lot of processed food and fatty foods is because our busy lifestyles do not allow us the time to cook a healthy meal at home or even afford us the time to sit peacefully and enjoy a healthy meal. These habits that have been built up over years can’t be overturned in a day or even a week. It will take a lot of effort and determination to make long lasting changes. Start small. Eat one healthy meal everyday, which includes some of the natural chelates mentioned earlier. Slowly build up from there, one step at a time.


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