Heavy metals are a natural part of the world around us. The Earth’s crust is a natural source of heavy metals and today, these ingredients are found almost everywhere including in animal products, chemicals and even the soil underneath your feet.

Some of these metals, like iron, zinc, and copper, are important to keep all living organisms (including you) healthy. These essential metals help your body create red blood cells and regulate your metabolism. However, over time, exposure to heavy metals causes serious health effects in humans.

Today we must take extra care to live as toxin-free as possible. Knowing how to identify the symptoms of heavy metals and heavy metals detox side effects is an important part of improving your health.

What is a heavy metal detox?

A heavy metal detox plan is an intentional combination of herbs, supplements, and all-star foods that work together in order to rid your body of harmful heavy metals.  This uses your body’s natural detox system, by introducing carrier foods that will be most effective in eliminating the harmful metals in your organs and bloodstream.

Do I need a heavy metal detox?

When’s the last time you felt energetic, sharp, happy, and healthy? Do you chronically feel fatigued, foggy, or have trouble sleeping? Are you suddenly feeling numbness or fainting spells?

Heavy metals accumulate in two ways. In acute poisoning, you may experience one high dose of metals that causes almost immediate symptoms. Chronic poisoning is a low, but consistent dose over time that causes symptoms that are harder to detect.

  • Acute Symptoms (one high dose): Confusion, numbness, nausea, abdominal pain, fainting, diarrhea, cramping.
  • Chronic Symptoms (low dose over time): Chronic fatigue, headaches, Autoimmune diseases, including Lyme’s disease, skin irritations like burning or tingling, neurological disorders including brain-fog, trouble concentrating, difficulty learning and poor memory, and/or dementia, digestive issues, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), chronic aches and pains, such as those associated with fibromyalgia, tremors.

If these sound familiar, it might be time to understand the process, symptoms, and heavy metals detox side effects so you can take control of your health.

Thinking about doing a heavy metal detox?

You can go to your doctor and request a hair or blood test for metal poisoning. However, even if you haven’t been tested, the diet and lifestyle changes of a heavy metal detox can still be beneficial for your overall health. In addition to alleviating the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning, a detox can provide the following benefits:

  • Increase immune system function
  • Gut health
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved energy
  • Better digestion
  • Improved attention, memory, and learning
  • Skin health

What are the different ways to detox heavy metals?

There are two main ways to detox heavy metals: chelation and daily detox.

  1. Chelation Therapy: The most common way, is through chelation therapy. This is an intense medical procedure that should be performed by a doctor due to potential side effects. Recommended for more serious cases.
  2. Daily Detox: The second method for detoxing is a daily detox through herbs, supplements, and changes to your diet. This takes longer but is effective at breaking down metals into smaller pieces that can be removed by your body’s natural detox systems.

What should I expect during a heavy metal detox?

As you begin to detox, you’ll notice your body will start to acclimate to the changes. Sometimes, this can make the original symptoms feel worse before they get better. This is referred to as a healing crisis.

While your body realizes something is changing and it tries to take a stronger hold before releasing the toxins for your body.

  • Symptoms of a Detox: Bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, headaches, skin rash, low energy, metallic or sour taste in the mouth.
  • Possible Reactions: Mental fog, insomnia, lethargy, respiratory problems.

While these may be uncomfortable, it is actually a sign that your body is working to change and ultimately, you will feel much better.

What could make my symptoms worse? 

  • Detoxing too quickly: This is the most common because everyone is looking for a quick fix. When you do an extreme cleanse, you may release too many toxins all at once and make your symptoms significantly worse.
  • Chelation: Because this involved using strong agents bind the heavy metals to molecules in the body, it can be an uncomfortable process that should be medically supervised.
  • Strong supplements: If your body is not prepared or ready for strong supplements, they can cause adverse side effects you’re likely not prepared for. It can get especially worse if you jump to supplements before making sure your daily habits are cleaned up.
  • Bad diet: Using food to detox your system sounds easy, but it often leads to craving the bad food you’re used to. This can slow the process and cause uncomfortable symptoms.
  • Getting dehydrated: Your main source of detoxification is your bowels and urine. Because they are kicked into overdrive during a detox, if you’re not staying hydrated it can make the entire process much worse.
  • Lack of sleep / high stress: Detoxing isn’t just for the body, it’s also for the mental and emotional part of us. It’s important to stay mentally healthy by getting enough rest and practicing active meditation or healthy stress relief to aid the process rather than make heavy metals detox side effects worse.

How to prepare for a detox to avoid symptoms: 

The best way to alleviate these symptoms is to take your detox plan slowly and incorporating elements over the course of several weeks rather than starting everything at once. Pay attention to your body, as well as your mental and emotional health throughout the process.

  1. Low Fat Diet: As you detox, you want to keep your diet healthy and your blood/fat ratio lower than usual. We don’t want to eliminate fat completely, just reduce your intake to only 1-2 servings of meat per day. If you eat vegan, reduce the fats you are getting from nuts, seeds, and oils. Because metals are absorbed by fats, reducing the fat in your diet makes it easier to find and eliminate the metals.
    • Juicing: For some, a juice cleanse is a good way to eat healthily and prepare for a detox. This is a one to two day fast where you consume only juices with celery, cucumber, and apples. This combination keeps your glucose stable as your body cleanses.
  1. Stay Hydrated: You want to make sure the bowels are moving regularly so you don’t get constipated. If you get constipated during a detox, all those toxins will eventually just settle back in. Staying hydrated is the best way to ensure your bowels and move freely.
    • Lemon water – One of the best ways to stay hydrated is to drink two 16-ounce glasses of water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, with half a lemon in each glasses. The water is great, but the lemon actually enhances your water’s ability to latch onto and take out toxins.
    • Aloe vera juice – This is another great option for staying hydrated. Aloe is the perfect sidekick for flushing out metals. You can blend this into a smoothie, or drink on its own.
  1. Start slow: Detoxing too quickly leads to an imbalance in your body and causes additional side effects like unstable blood sugars, high histamine, and electrolyte imbalance that slow progress.
    • Activated charcoal: Charcoal is a great way to absorb toxins through its small chambers and cavities. This activated charcoal is easy to digest, safe to consume and contains no preservatives, yeast, milk, lactose, wheat, sugar, soy or corn.
    • Pectasol C powder: This supplement is the only researched, and proven effective Modified Citrus Pectin supplement. It is designed to give your body additional help at the cellular level to eliminate lead and other heavy metals.
  1. Sauna use: An infrared sauna delivers rays that penetrate the body and increase blood flow and oxygen levels, which can aid in whatever detox process you’re using. This can also help to alleviate symptoms of aches and pains. Sweating it out is a natural process that actually helps many other problems you may be experiencing with your health. If you want more info, check out my article on how to use a sauna for detox.
  2. Get good sleep, light exercise and stress reduction: It’s important to take care of your whole health, including mental and emotional wellbeing throughout this process. Because your body is so interconnected, lack of sleep or high stress during detox can make heavy metals detox side effects worse. Now would be a great time for yoga and meditation.
  3. Use more natural supplements: These key players can help you to rid your body of heavy metals while alleviating uncomfortable heavy metals detox side effects.
    • Barley grass extract powder – This supplement focuses on getting heavy metals out of your spleen, intestines, pancreas, thyroid, and reproductive system.
    • Cilantro Extract – While fresh cilantro is great too, this extract goes deeper to extract metals that have been there for a long time. Add it to salads, guacamole, or in a smoothie!
    • Wild blueberries – Not just any blueberries will do, but specifically wild blueberries from Maine have been shown to draw heavy metals out of brain tissue.
    • Biosil – BioSil has a particular type of silica that helps to mobilize metals from tissues and bones to release it into your body. When used with a binder like modified citrus pectin or charcoal, it allows the body to absorb all these metals and mobilize them to be removed.
    • Phytoplankton – It is definitely not a tasty option, but Phytoplankton can be more effective than other options in delivering strong detoxification benefits. This one supplement provides minerals, chlorophyll, essential amino acids, DHA, EPA, carotenoids, antioxidants, nucleic acids, and necessary vitamins.

Heavy metals will always be a dangerous part of the world we live in. Taking the steps to clear your body of these dangerous toxins is an important part of maintaining your overall health. Keep in mind, this is not a quick fix, but these simple guidelines can help you to become a better version of yourself with greater health and vitality.  Above all, remember to take it slow. Introduce one new food, supplement, or lifestyle change and add in additional elements over time. Honor yourself and care for any heavy metals detox side effects with time, space and gentle loving support throughout the process.