Heavy Metals & Environmental Toxins: Roadblocks on the Path to Health

Detour road closed and no entry signs on highway in California

It is astonishing to realise how cavalier us humans are with our most precious asset, our health. The health of our planet and the health of our human populations are completely dependent upon one another, and yet we have spent many years continuing to load heavy metals and harmful chemicals onto our crops, into our waters, our buildings, our manufacturing processes, and therefore into our bodies.


Just a small sample of these by way of example:

Lead: Many old paints were lead-based, including not just house paint but some old glazes for pottery and china. Some pesticides and fertilisers, some toiletries, some car batteries, traffic exhaust etc.

Mercury: Amalgam dental fillings are a major source of this, as is the consumption of large fish such as tuna.

Cadmium: Cigarette smoke, including second-hand smoke. Some metal treatments (welding, solders, electroplating and rust proofing etc). Some electronic equipment.

Aluminium: Used in cookware, deodorants, some food processing and food additives, some medications.

Arsenic: Treated wood is a huge source of arsenic – builders are vulnerable, and just think of all the treated wood going into the ground in new vineyards as we become adoring wine-lovers!

Organophosphates & pesticides: Everything we spray on our weeds and crops to kill plants or bugs has the potential to get into our food chain. Not to mention what we are doing to the bees.

Plastics and plasticisers, PCBs: All soft plastics, including drink bottles!

…and there are just so many more, too many to list, but you get the idea!


Many of the effects are still unknown. Quite simply, the body does not have normal biological ways of dealing with many heavy metals and chemicals, and so they can accumulate in our tissues and have significant detrimental effects on our health and wellbeing. Consider also that while some information is available about the effects of the accumulations of single toxins, the effects of the combinations and interaction of these toxins in our body is largely unknown.


Some symptoms which may have toxicity as a contributing factor include:

  • Fatigue (this is a huge area of discussion, as toxins can not only block normal metabolic pathways but also reduce energy production in the cell)
  • Learning, attention, social and behavioural problems
  • Developmental, co-ordination and sensory problems
  • Immune dysfunction, allergies, asthma
  • Reproductive & hormonal problems
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Cancers, chronic illness, degenerative diseases


What Can I Do?



  • Avoid


The best measure is avoidance! Good luck with that! Not to get too doom and gloom about it all, but really we are swimming in a virtual sea of chemicals, so this can be tricky. As with anything though, we do what we can. Focus on the things you CAN control, like what cleaning products you use, personal care products, how you eat, and how you garden. Reducing our exposure is of utmost importance. Start reading labels of foods, perfumes, make-up, detergent. Awareness is always the first step.


  1. Support & Detoxify

There are some excellent general measures for both supporting natural detoxification processes in the body, and reducing the negative effects of harmful substances on our health. These include:


  1. Identify & Target

As ever, we are all individual, and the more information we have about which toxins we may have higher levels of, the more targeted our treatment can be. Identifying not only which substances may be present in our bodies, but also how reactive these are for us, is the best way to improve our health and wellbeing.


In addition to this, we all have different processing abilities. Someone with excellent liver function for example, may be able to better cope with metabolising and excreting some chemicals, while someone with a congested or sluggish liver may be more vulnerable. Assessing organ function therefore is an excellent way to understand how best to support our bodies as they work to neutralise environmental toxins.


If you do have high levels of any specific toxins, you may feel you need specialist support to understand how best to support detoxification. We would always recommend this. Contact your natural health practitioner for tailored treatment that takes into account your individual biology and needs, so that treatment can be as safe and as effective as possible.


The first step is awareness, the next step is action. This may be action on a personal level (eg. changing cleaning products or deodorants), or on a community level (contacting the local council about herbicide spraying around your local playground or asking your supermarket to start charging for plastic bags). Every step is a positive one, towards a healthier body, a healthier community and a healthier planet.

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