A heavy metal detox aims to remove heavy metals from your body. Excess metals have been found to lie at the root of many symptoms of chronic illness, including autoimmunity, headaches, tinnitus, neuropathy, Hashimoto’s, cognitive dysfunction, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety and even autism, and degenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Heavy metals penetrate the cells and accumulate in the tissues of your brain, organs, and bones, where they can remain stored for years, silently bound in your tissues, disrupting cellular function, and contributing to chronic inflammation and neurological illness.
Heavy metals can also impair immunity, damage the kidneys, liver, lungs, thyroid and the brain. They can poison your organs, disrupt our digestive system, and leave you more susceptible to illness and disease. In the central nervous system, heavy metals can cause both mental disorders and degenerative neurological disorders.
Essential oils, with their unique ability to access and heal the brain, have been playing a critical role in my heavy metal detoxification effort.
What Are Heavy Metals?
Heavy metals are chemical elements naturally found in the soil with high densities, or a gravity that is at least five times that of water.
Some heavy metals are beneficial for your health. For example, iron, zinc, cobalt, and manganese help support liver function, regulate metabolism, and form red blood cells. Other heavy metals, like mercury, lead, and aluminum, have no beneficial role in your body and are known to contribute to chronic disease. A chronic, low-level exposure to heavy metals that are retained in the body may contribute to a vast array of adverse health effects and chronic disease.
Heavy metals can enter your body through your skin, inhalation, or ingestion. Once inside your body, heavy metals reside in your tissues and bind to parts of your cells that interfere with homeostatic function. In essence, they block receptors or take up a seat on the bus so that the appropriate enzyme, mineral, or hormone cannot perform its function.
For example, mercury is known to deplete the body of selenium, a vital nutrient required in the synthesis of thyroid hormone. Mercury has an affinity for the thyroid gland and affects the conversion of T4 to T3, resulting in high T4 with low T3 levels. When there are high levels of mercury in your thyroid cells, your immune system may destroy healthy thyroid cells, resulting in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Studies have shown that mercury can bind with cells in the gland and lead to an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. Mercury is also linked to thyroid damage, autoimmune thyroiditis, and hormone function impairment. Associations between positive thyroid antibodies and total blood mercury have also been identified.
Signs You May Benefit from a Heavy Metal Detox
Exposure to toxic heavy metals is believed to contribute to symptoms like low energy, mood disturbances and cognitive challenges, including:
- Brain fog,
- Memory and Concentration Difficulties
- Lethargy or Fatigue
- Immune imbalances (overactive or underactive)
- Skin irritation
- Achy muscles and joints.
- Hormone imbalance, excessive bleeding during menstrual cycles or infertility
- Digestive issues
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and/or depression
- Multiple chemical sensitivity
- Neurological disorders
How to Detoxify Heavy Metals?
I suffer from Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid condition that is linked to poor thyroid function which contributes to weight gain, dry skin, brittle nails and cold hands and feet. I had long heard that Hashimoto’s is caused by mercury toxicity and Epstein Barr virus. I had managed to keep Epstein Barr in remission and felt ready to tackle the heavy metal detoxification.
What I didn’t realize was that heavy metals – like lead and mercury – do not show up in typical blood tests or hair mineral analysis. They hide in the cells – often for decades – and only show up when provoked. What this means is, you collect a sample of urine, then take a provoking agent, metal detoxification agent such as EDTA, DMSA or DMPS (I took dimercaptosuccinic acid – DMSA – capsules) to pull “hidden” heavy metals from deep tissue stores and mobilizing the metals to the kidneys for excretion in the urine.
After you ingest the chelating agent, you collect another urine sample which gives you a more accurate picture of the heavy metal burden currently stored in your body. Once you understand what heavy metals are hiding in your tissues, you can work with a practitioner to safely mobilize and eliminate these harmful metals.
A heavy metal detox can help remove accumulated heavy metals from your brain and nervous system. Your kidneys, liver, heart, lymphatic system, and respiratory system will also benefit from detoxification.
Just as you have to provoke heavy metals with chelation to assess your heavy metal burden, you also utilize chelation to mobilize toxins from your tissues. Chelating agents remove heavy metals from the body by binding to metal molecules and allowing them to be sequestered, transported and excreted from the tissues in the urine. You will want to work with an experienced practitioner to support chelation as different compounds have different affinities for specific metals and a trained professional can best guide you to the most appropriate chelation agent and binder.
Essential oils can also be used to help regulate your nervous system, open drainage pathways and support emotional and physical detoxification of heavy metals.
Can Essential Oils Chelate Heavy Metals?
While essential oils have many detoxification properties, I am not suggesting that essential oils be used to chelate metals from the body, but rather to help support the organs of detoxification and the detoxification pathways. In this capacity, essential oils can enhance the body’s own ability to remove heavy metals and other toxins. For example, lipids make up 60-80 % of our central nervous system and any deficiency makes the nervous system susceptible to fat-soluble metals. Essential oils are fat soluble and can help the nervous system maintain its resilience against metals.
5 Ways Essential Oils Support Heavy Metal Detoxification
1. Open Blocked Detoxification Pathways
Toxins drain from the brain and the body through specific pathways. For example, toxins draining from the brain exit via the neck pathways including the veins, lymphatic system, and nervous system. When these pathways are blocked or overloaded with a combination of metals and infections, toxins can back up and accumulate and significantly impede our ability to detoxify.
More concerning, neurotoxins that linger in the neck channel due to blocked detoxification pathways can be absorbed by nerve endings, known as neuronal uptake, and travel inside the neuron, either via the spinal cord or the brainstem, back into the brain.
This can contribute to vagus nerve toxicity (Learn how to heal the vagus nerve HERE) and disrupt other functions of nerve cells, such as the transport of nutrients, mitochondrial respiration, and proper DNA transcription.
Similarly if other organs in the body are blocked or backed up, toxins get backed up as well. Detoxification pathways function as a hydraulics system and the downstream pathways need to be open for the toxins to drain from the brain. Toxins can also be reabsorbed by the abundant nerve endings in the intestinal wall and recirculate.
To help open detoxification pathways, consider the essential oils in the Vagus Nerve Kit™ – Parasympathetic™, Lymph and Fascia Release – along with Circulation™.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DETOXIFYING THE BRAIN HERE: Detoxify the Brain with Essential Oils
2. Support Organs of Elimination
Organs of elimination must be supported and working well before increasing the burden on them with a heavy metal detox effort. By supporting the organ, you also help open the detoxification pathways and prevent drainage back up. The organs of detoxification include:
Liver™: The liver is the primary organ of detoxification. It filters toxins, like heavy metals, rom blood and neutralizes the toxins in preparation for elimination. The liver needs energy and vitality to keep up with the increased toxic burden. Liver™ helps support optimal health and vitality of the liver and is ideal during a heavy metal detoxification or any kind of digestive repair effort that might release extra toxins (like yeast die-off). Apply 2 to 3 drops of Liver™ directly over the liver (right side of the body, under the breast) two to three times daily. The blend is especially helpful when applied before sleep during a detoxification effort as so much of the liver’s work occurs while we are sleeping.
Gall Bladder™: The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile which helps us emulsify fat for digestion and carries toxins and old hormones out of the body. Ideally, the gallbladder releases bile into the small intestine where it breaks down the fat for the body to absorb, before being eliminated from the body in the stool. When we eliminate the bile, we eliminate toxins with it. Unfortunately, stress, toxicity, hormones, or diets too low or too high in fat can make the bile thick, viscous, and stagnant which impedes its ability to flow both to the small intestine and out of the body. If toxins, do not exit the body, they can be reabsorbed, further adding to the body’s toxic burden and contributing to hormonal imbalances and gallbladder challenges. Applying Gall Bladder™ on the right side of the body under the bra under-wire or along and slightly under the right rib cage two to three times daily may help support optimal flow of bile.
Kidney Support™: The kidneys play a vital role in detoxification, regulating the flow and balance of fluids in the body, filtering the blood, and helping remove waste from the body through urination. In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the seat of courage and willpower. They control the volume, composition, and pressure of fluids in all the cells. Blood flows through the kidneys at its highest pressure, filtering out toxins and directing nourishing materials to where they are needed. Kidney Support™ applied over the kidneys (lower back, size of a fist starting at bottom rib), over the forehead or around the outside of earlobes can help support the kidney’s ability to release toxins. It also helps to support the kidneys with electrolytes. Electrolytes, particularly sodium, help to transport the toxic waste through the extracellular space in the direction of lymphatic and venous vessels, which helps the kidneys maintain normal fluid levels. I like the brand Matrix Electrolyte. Binders also help protect the kidneys by routing the majority of the toxins out through the gastrointestinal system in the feces, rather than excreting them through the kidneys in the urine.
READ MORE ABOUT THE BINDERS HERE : 3 Detox Mistakes to Avoid
Lymph™: The lymphatic system removes toxins from every cell in the body. It works as the body’s septic system, removing the byproducts and wastes created from metabolizing nutrients. Just like the drains in your home, the lymphatic system can get congested and stagnant, and toxins can build up. The more you can help the lymph fluid flow, the more quickly you can move toxins out of the body. Attempts to detoxify the body when the lymph system is congested often lead to detox and healing reactions. The lymphatic system helps remove toxins, excess fluid, and waste products from the cells and the interstitial spaces between the cells.
Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have a central pump—it only moves as the muscles squeeze it along. So the lack of movement makes the lymphatic system stagnant, with waste accumulating and excessive toxins building up. Lymph™ blend helps keep lymph flowing to move toxins out of the body. Liberally apply 2 to 3 drops of Lymph™ to both sides of the neck, the lymph nodes under the arms, over the clavicles, and around the inguinal ligament (bikini line area—think where your leg creases when you lift it) to ensure optimal drainage and health.
Skin: Our skin is our largest organ and can be a powerful channel for sweating out toxins either in a sauna or an Epsom salt bath. The addition of Parasympathetic™ oil can further increase heat levels, which will help you to sweat out toxins. Learn more about healing baths and essential oil combinations HERE.
READ MORE ABOUT OPENING DRAINAGE PATHWAYS HERE : Open 10 Detoxification Pathways with Essential Oils
3. Support Emotional Detoxification
When you start detoxify heavy metals that are buried deep in the cells, you may also release emotions stored deep in the cells, especially negative and intense emotions like anger and sadness. I suspect that when you release physical toxins and allow them to flow out of your body, it is not just fluids that are moving, but trapped emotional energy as well. Essential oils are powerful tools to help you process and detoxify the heavy emotions.
Fascia Release™: Toxins and emotions are stored in the fascia. When trauma occurs, whether physical, mental, emotional, or a combination of these, people respond with a flight-fight or freeze response. It is believed that the “freeze response” in fascia is what keeps memories stuck and prevents you from fully moving forward and naturally healing from a traumatic event.
Releasing the fascia physically can bring up emotions stored in that area from the original trauma. Essential oils are a powerful tool to help “unwind” your fascia to move your mind and body out of a “frozen” traumatized state, gently releasing restrictions in such a way that your body does not have to protect itself. Essential oils can both help to emotionally signal your body that you’re “safe” and physically remove restrictions, rehydrate the fascia, restoring elasticity, and widening the space between the fibers to improve circulation and help blood and oxygen flow smoothly around the body again.
Oils are able to penetrate deeply into your body through your fascia. Fascia lies just below the skin so topically applying essential oils onto the skin allows for easy and immediate access to the fascia. The skin is your largest organ and is relatively permeable to fat-soluble substances like essential oils.
Topical supplements play an important role in supporting fascia health and recovery from inflammation. For example, essential oils easily penetrate layers of restricted fascia, creating warmth to break up congestion, increasing circulation, lymphatic drainage and mobilizing adhered tissue.
Essential oils soften the myofascial tissue, allowing the deep and constrained tissue to stretch and move as it is designed to function.
The essential oils in our Fascia Release™ blend are uniquely formulated to simultaneously work on physical and psychological levels, working quickly to break down inflamed, fibrous tissue, removing toxins while unraveling deeply held tensions, constrictions and energetic blockages in your tissues to reduce pain, improve blood and lymphatic circulation and release fear, repressed emotions, and tension held in the body (organs, muscles, tendons, bones and joints) or the mind.
They support the body by creating homeostasis, bringing vitality and energy to the overall system, removing toxins inside and outside the cells, thus bringing the communication network back online. They are also safe and gentle enough to be used with infants, children, elderly patients, and even your pets.
READ THIS NEXT: Essential Oils for Fascia Release
Heart™: Similarly, the scent has direct access to the emotional center of your brain that controls your hormones and influences your emotions and your mood, known as your limbic system. On a physical level, only two synapses separate your amygdala from your olfactory nerve. No other sensory system has this kind of direct and intense contact with the neural substrates of your brain’s emotional control center. Your other four senses, including sound, sight, taste, and touch must travel to other regions of the brain first, before reaching your limbic system.
This makes essential oils an incredibly powerful tool for calming the intensity of your emotions, allowing you to chunk the release so that it feels more manageable. In this way, essential oils help you control the duration of challenging emotions like anger, fear, and sadness – releasing just a small amount of the intensity at a time, much like you would slowly and carefully unscrew the top of a carbonated beverage to gently release excess carbonation and avoid an explosion.
For example, Heart™ balances the heart to enhance compassion and support, integrate and reset all the systems of the body, including supporting feelings of open-heartedness, expansiveness, and receptivity while mitigating loneliness, sadness, and grief. The heart integrates and balances the physical, emotional, and mental body, providing blood to every cell and every organ. It also serves as a complex information processing center, influencing brain function, the nervous system, the hormonal system, and most of the body’s major organs.
I recommend inhaling essential oils and gently releasing intense emotions with your exhale as a powerful strategy to allow you to micro-dose emotional release. Essential oils and the sense of smell allow you to activate and release intense emotions and sensations over brief durations – providing a small amount of stimulus to engage your body in releasing the pain without flooding and shutting down your system or keeping you stuck in denial. Just place the bottle under your nose and breathe deeply, fully inhaling the oil for 3 – 7 breaths. It helps you breathe into and work through the emotion. Try to extend the exhale and really allow yourself to release the painful emotion and any associated pain and intensity.
You can also apply 2-3 drops of Heart™ directly over the heart (left side of the chest) to balance the heart and support, integrate, and reset all the systems of the body, including mental clarity, physical health, and emotional balance. The Heart™ blend also supports feelings of open-heartedness, expansiveness, receptivity while mitigating loneliness, sadness, and grief.
During times of intense sadness, use as often as needed (every 20 -30 minutes). During times of normal stress, use 2-3 times daily to calm and uplift the heart and the body.
Liver Support™ for Anger
Anger that we don’t process and release can get stored in your liver, according to Chinese medicine. Any stagnation, congestion, or compromise in the healthy function of your liver allows toxic chemicals to build up and accumulate in your body. Frustration, rage, and anger tend to build up when toxins build up.
Liver Support™ helps support the release of anger, including frequent irritation, impatience, resentment or frustration, being critical of yourself or others, control issues, an inability to express your feelings, feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized or appreciated. Just place the bottle under your nose and breathe deeply, fully inhaling the oil for 3 – 7 breaths. It helps you breathe into and work through the emotion. You can also apply it around the ankles as this is often an area where we hold resistance to moving forward in life and block the ability to receive joy and pleasure. Start at the back of the ankle and apply under the ankle bone around to the front and back under the other ankle bone, all while allowing yourself to release challenging emotions.
FOR MORE TIPS ON DETOXIFY EMOTIONS READ THIS ARTICLE : Introducing Emotion Balance Blends
READ THIS NEXT: 5 Essential Oils for Anger Management
Lung Support™ for Sadness
Lung Support™: Toxins in the bloodstream can be exhaled through the lungs. The lungs are sponge-like organs located near the backbone on either side of the heart, that play a key role in detoxification. They function as a fundamental source of life energy –transporting oxygen from the atmosphere into the capillaries so they can oxygenate blood – as well as an important channel of elimination – releasing carbon dioxide and other toxins from the bloodstream into the atmosphere. Applying 2 -3 drops of Lung Support™ over the lungs can help release toxins.
In addition, improved circulation can help the lungs function more efficiently, which promotes detoxification. Applying 2 -3 drops of Circulation™ over the lungs (especially over the left clavicle), on the sides or back of the neck, on the wrists or ankles to support healthy circulation and help eliminate toxins and waste.
READ THIS NEXT: Emotional Detox Support
4. Support Gut Healing
The gut serves as both a major organ of detoxification – where toxin-filled bile dumps into the small intestine for elimination via your stool — and a potential breeding ground for pathogens that feed on the toxins that are not eliminated. It is important to take binders during a heavy metal detox to ensure that mobilized heavy metals and other toxins leave the body.
Heavy metals serve as a source of food for viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens in our bodies, including yeast. Consequently, yeast and parasites thrive in an environment with high metal toxicity and it is important to address these pathogens as part of a comprehensive heavy metal detoxification strategy. When pathogens feed on heavy metals, they produce a waste product (biotoxins) that contributes to gut dysbiosis and wreaks even greater havoc on the central nervous system. For this reason, you always have to balance killing of infections with clearing of toxins
Heavy metals can also promote inflammation in the digestive tract, releasing poisons into our gut as well. Small intestine inflammation can slow down the detoxification and backlog the toxins contributing to re-toxification. If you mobilize more toxins than the body can eliminate, toxins can flood the connective tissue and get into places where they can cause additional damage. For example, a tremendous amount of lymph resides in the gut that can easily become overwhelmed and congested. If the gut isn’t draining, then essentially, the extremities can’t drain, as well. It is therefore important to get the lymphatic waste clearance system moving to release heavy metals.
Heavy metals in combination with other toxins can also throw off the balance of a healthy gut microbiome – your mini-ecosystem of microorganisms like healthy gut flora – which play a critical role in detoxifying heavy metals. The popular herbicide glyphosate has been found to compromise the gut microbiome so certain pathogenic bugs can convert mercury into the more dangerous into more methylated mercury form. It is therefore important to detoxify heavy metals in combination with restoring gut microbiome. The effect of pre- or probiotics without detoxification of the environment falls flat.
During the treatment of germs, neurotoxins and heavy metals or other toxins are freed that were stored in the microorganisms (in particular parasites and fungi). Therefore, a good detoxification protocol must be implemented parallel to the antimicrobial program. The Gut Repair Kit™ and Small Intestine Support™ can help support the gut.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HEALING THE GUT HERE : How to Heal a Leaky Gut in 5 Simple Steps
5. Calm Inflammation
In addition to triggering gut inflammation, heavy metal toxicity can trigger inflammation by throwing off the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid conversion pathways in cellular membranes. Heavy metals can also oxidize, causing damage to surrounding tissue and promoting inflammation.
Similarly, inflammation occurs when bacteria break apart the cells in our body to get the food they need. If you interrupt this inflammatory response, you stop the cellular breakdown so the bacteria cannot get any nutrients from the host, in essence taking away the environment that the bacteria need to survive. Essential oils like Anti-Inflammatory™ can help calm inflammation.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS TO CALM INFLAMMATION HERE : How to Calm Brain Inflammation
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