Heavy Metals Testing
These five tests are fundamental in evaluating for various environmental toxin exposures, e.g. chemical, heavy metal, mold. The five tests are: Organic Acids Test (OAT), Toxic Non-Metal Chemical Profile (aka. GPL-TOX), Glyphosate Profile, GPL-MycoTOX Profile (aka. mold toxins) and Hair Metals (aka., Toxic & Essential Elements, Hair).
These tests all come from Great Plains Laboratory (GPL) and are available for ordering from Lab Tests Plus. Each test ordered through LTP comes with a detailed written review of findings of the relevant test markers and ‘action step’ suggestions. Ideally, all five tests should be done, but listed below are some additional considerations for each test if you are desiring to focus on certain exposures.
Organic Acids Test (OAT)
The OAT is a comprehensive assessment of various toxins linked to digestive yeast and bacteria toxins, digestive mold overgrowth, oxalate and various biochemical and mitochondrial imbalances. The OAT is a foundational test to have done and should not be skipped over for other testing. Other testing can be done, e.g. GPL-TOX, but in my opinion the OAT should always be done in combination with other tests.
Toxic Non-Metal Chemical Profile (aka., GPL-TOX Profile)
Toxic chemicals are significant factors in many chronic health conditions. Everything from gasoline additives, herbicides and pesticides can find their way into our water and food supply.
Many of these chemicals are problematic increasing the potential for various conditions such as cardiovascular disease, brain and nervous system disorders and even cancer. The OAT has certain chemical markers that are suggestive of chemical exposure, but the only way to know for sure which chemicals you are being exposed to is through testing. The GPL-TOX Profile is the test that should be done to identify various environmental chemicals.
Glyphosate is a chemical found in a popular herbicide used throughout the world. It is heavily used in soy and corn crops but is often used for other farming purposes too. There is growing evidence regarding the toxicity of glyphosate and the negative impact on health. The Glyphosate Profile from Great Plains Laboratory is a nice complement test to do along with the GPL-TOX Profile.
Glyphosate is known to alter the normal bacteria in our digestive system which increases the potential for opportunistic yeast and bacterial imbalances. Many times, high glyphosate is seen along with elevated clostridia bacteria markers, such as HPHPA and 4-Cresol, which are detected on the Organic Acids Test (OAT).
Mold toxins, called mycotoxins, are some of the most toxic compounds produced in the natural world. They can cause severe tissue damage within the body leading to kidney, liver, immune and nervous system diseases, as well as causing cancer.
Mycotoxins can find their way into various foods such as grains, fruit, meats and dairy and are commonly acquired from mold growth from water damaged building material. The Organic Acids Test (OAT) provides a few markers that indicate an overgrowth of mold in the digestive system, but it doesn’t identify which mycotoxins are present. The only way to do this is through the GPL-MycoTOX profile.
If you have concerns about mold exposure, the GPL-MycoTOX Profile should be done in combination with the OAT.
Hair Metals (aka., Toxic & Essential Elements, Hair)
Heavy metals such as Arsenic, Lead and Mercury can be acquired from various sources, e.g. grains, chicken, fish, water, contaminated soil and lead to wide variety of health disorders. For example, Lead exposure is a cause of brain and nervous system damage and is associated with various mental health conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and behavioral problems in children.
A hair analysis is a non-invasive test to assess for heavy metal exposure. It is easy to do for both adults and children and provides information regarding past exposure to heavy metals. It also provides a useful way of measuring for certain mineral imbalances such as lithium, selenium and zinc. It is recommended to do the Organic Acids Test too along with Hair Metals testing.
Ideally, all five tests should be done for the most comprehensive assessment. However, if you are looking to combine just certain tests for specific purposes the following combinations are suggested.
Heavy metal detoxification, aka. heavy metals detox is a method of removing toxic metal from the body. There are many different remedies which have different binding capacities to certain metals and are used in the process of heavy metals detox. Heavy metals like aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury all carry a certain level of toxicity and depending on the exposure amount, the rate of exposure, and the accumulative effect of exposure these metals can have serious negative consequences on health.
Heavy Metals Detox and DMSA
One of the most common remedies used for heavy metal detox for metals like lead and mercury is called Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). DMSA has been around for decades and primarily is recognized by traditional medicine practitioners for acute lead poisoning. It has a strong binding capacity to lead, but is also useful for arsenic and mercury, and a host of other metals. DMSA, as a heavy metals detox remedy, is widely used as oral capsules multiple times throughout the day. Traditional medicine prescribing for DMSA calls for a short duration of treatment, i.e. 5 to 10 days, but in many cases DMSA may need to be used for much longer periods of time, especially when heavy metals like lead have accumulated overtime. In the heavy metals detox regimens for DMSA it is not uncommon to use this remedy for many, many months at a time. Ideally, in these situations DMSA is dosed in small amount which makes it more tolerated.
Heavy Metals Detox and DMPS
DMPS (2,3-Dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid) is another popular heavy metals detox remedy used widely to help reduce the toxic burden of heavy metal poisoning. DMPS has long been a favorite of many integrative medicine practitioners, especially for mercury toxicity, because it is felt to have better absorption from the digestive system when taken orally compared to DMSA, and has more binding affinity for mercury as well. DMPS can be administered in many different ways. A popular form of DMPS used for heavy metals detox is through an intravenous (IV) infusion. DMPS has strong affinity for mercury and when giving through an IV and is felt to have a greater potential to remove toxic mercury more efficiently. However, like DMSA, DMPS can also be taken orally and does have a greater percentage of absorption compared to DMSA. The biggest challenge with DMPS is cost making DMSA a more attractive remedy overall in the process of heavy metals detox.
Heavy Metals Detox and EDTA
EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is another popular remedy for the use in heavy metals detox. EDTA, like DMSA, has a strong affinity for lead, and can remove mercury too – although DMSA and DMPS seem better for this. EDTA is especially useful for aluminum toxicity and is often used to remove aluminum through various routes of administration. EDTA is commonly used in intravenous heavy metals detox programs sometime alone or in conjunction with DMPS. When combined with DMPS it is felt to have a more wide range effect of complete heavy metal removal than just by itself. The downside to EDTA is its absorption from the digestive tract compared to DMPS and DMSA. It just doesn’t have significant oral absorption so in many circumstances DMSA and DMPS are used preferentially over EDTA.
Summary of Heavy Metals Detox
There are other remedies available for heavy metals detox such as cilantro, chlorella, and a host of other natural agents, but the primary medications with a good track record of success, positive safety profile, and known mechanisms of action are EDTA, DMSA, and DMPS. EDTA can be obtained orally as a supplement, but DMSA and DMPS are prescription only items. DMSA is available as a prescription medication from most pharmacies, but DMPS needs to be obtained from specialty compounding pharmacies who purchase DMPS in bulk, and dispense it accordingly through oral capsules or intravenous bottles. All of these remedies are quite useful for heavy metals detox depending on which metal needs to be removed and which route of administration is preferred.
Recommended: Lab Tests
There are many benefits of doing heavy metal tests that can be applied for a wide variety of health concerns. These tests provide good information about various heavy metals and the potential health implications they cause or contribute to. Also, with many heavy metal tests like hair analysis certain mineral levels are also being looked at to see if deficiencies are occurring that could also worsen the situation. Finally, hair analysis heavy metal testing as looks at the pattern of mineral distribution and can provide some clues as to the likelihood of heavy metal problems. There are a number of heavy metal tests that are commonly done, and the benefits of these heavy metals tests always depends on how each test is being used.
Benefits of Heavy Metal Tests – Hair Analysis
The benefits of heavy metal tests, specifically hair analysis is important to understand with regards to detection of various heavy metals. Hair analysis, aka. Hair Metals or Hair Metal Analysis is an excellent test to perform as a general screening tool for heavy metal exposure. Hair is a medium that registers stored heavy metals in the body, and upon attempted excretion of these metals it shows up normal, high or very high depending on accumulation of that particular heavy metal overtime. For example, chronic exposure to metals like arsenic or lead are often seen elevated on hair testing, when compared to blood testing where the levels may not appear at all. The reason is hair analysis is able to pick up on stored levels of heavy metals overtime instead of just an acute exposure which may only show in the blood stream for a short while, i.e. a few days to a week. A hair analysis is a preferred screening test for anyone wanting to assess heavy metal exposure that has occurred over time.
Benefits of Heavy Metals Tests – Urine Testing
The benefits of heavy metal tests, specifically urine testing, aka, urine metal testing is important to understand with regards to detection and measurement of excreted heavy metals overtime. Urine metal testing is often used when an individual is undergoing heavy metal detoxification therapy to measure how much metal is being excreted. Often when a baseline urine metal test is done, unless there has been recent exposure to a heavy metal, the levels on excretion are quite low. However, when a specific detoxification medication is used prior to the urine metal test it will show elevated excretion of a particular metal like lead, arsenic or mercury.
Benefits of Heavy Metal Tests – Blood Testing
The benefit of heavy metal tests, specifically blood testing has a limited role in the detection of heavy metals unless exposure levels are quite high and currently occurring. For example, children are often tested for lead and mercury in the blood and the reports come back low or non-existent. The blood report is then read as negative and the parent told heavy metals are not an issue. However, when the blood results are cross checked with a hair analysis, aka. hair metal test one will see high levels of certain metals like lead and/or mercury. The reason is blood levels do not register elevated metals for very long unless the exposure to the specific metal is still ongoing. Once the exposure has occurred the metal is normally cleared from the blood fairly quickly. Often, the metal is taken into the tissues of the body and stored there. Therefore, blood testing often reports false negatives.
Summary of Benefits of Heavy Metal Tests
The benefits of heavy metal tests are important to recognize as their value is immeasurable when heavy metal exposure is suspected. Toxic metals cause serious damage within the body and can affect every organ system causing and/or contributing to brain, nervous system, immune, cardiovascular and hormone problems. Hair metal analysis is excellent for all around assessment of past exposure to heavy metals. Blood testing is worthwhile for recent exposure to various metals like lead and mercury, and urine testing is best used as a baseline prior to heavy metal detoxification or as a way to track metal excretion when undergoing heavy metal detoxification therapy. The benefits of heavy metal tests unfortunately are not regularly appreciated by traditional medicine practitioner, but are often seen as a vital tool in the practices of integrative medicine doctors.
Recommended: Heavy Metals Detox
Toxic lead levels in children is a growing concern, not only in the United States, but across the globe where even small amounts of lead can be damaging to the brain. Recent contaminated toy and jewelry products from China containing high levels of lead has raised concern that lead, once thought to have been reduced significantly from the environment in the United States is now once again a serious public health concern. Toxic lead levels in children has serious consequences for brain function and has in part contributed to the increase in attention deficit disorders.
Various Environmental Exposure for Toxic Lead Levels In Children
Toxic lead levels in children has been a problem in past decades. For years lead was used in paint used in homes across the United States. This exposure source became more concerning as homes aged and paint weathered and chipped providing sources of lead deposited throughout the home environment, especially if eaten by small children. In the 1970’s lead based pain was banned in the United States, but around the world these bans do not always take effect and therefore can remain as a source of toxic lead in children. Other sources of toxic lead exposure for children has been various household goods such as bathtubs and ceramics even though the Environmental Protection Agencies campaign against environmental lead exposure has helped reduce the exposure risk of toxic lead levels in children, exposures still occur.
Attention Deficit and Toxic Lead Levels In Children
Toxic lead levels in children is damaging to the brain. Levels high enough can cause severe damage and disease to the cells of brain leading to mental confusion, behavior problems, and stunted development. However, it is the lower and more sustained exposures of toxic lead levels in children that is most concerning as blood levels for lead can be misleading. There is now strong evidence that toxic lead levels in children is a contributing factor to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in children. Various research from across the United States has shown that cognitive function is altered by accumulation of lead, and that hyperactivity is also linked to lead exposure as well.
Testing for Toxic Lead Levels In Children
Over the years testing for toxic lead levels in children has been mostly done through blood sampling. The problem is unless the values where quite high not much was done for a child as it was misunderstood how bad the problem could be. Research data now shows that there is really no safe level of lead in the blood and that any level could be a problem. Another way of assessing for toxic lead levels in children is through hair analysis testing. Hair Analysis provides assessment of lead exposure over many months to years and is reflective of accumulated stores of lead in the body. Even when blood levels are normal, hair analysis testing can still be high showing tissue accumulation that has moved beyond transient blood circulation. Therefore, in my experience performing Hair Analysis Testing is an excellent screening assessment for toxic lead levels in children, that can also be followed up if deemed necessary by blood testing.
Recommended: Benefits of Heavy Metals Tests
Heavy metals are a group of metals that can be toxic in varying amounts, and are toxic by their individual nature. For example, tin and nickel can be toxic in the human body in high amounts, but their overall toxicity is much less than a heavy metal like mercury or lead. It will take much less mercury or lead to cause heavy metal toxicity symptoms than tin or nickel. There are many different heavy metal toxicity symptoms that can trigger long-standing illness. For example, irritability and volatility of mood can be a sign of mercury toxicity. Unfortunately, these symptoms are not specific heavy metal toxicity symptoms for mercury. Mercury toxicity is also known for many neurological symptoms such as weakness, numbness, headaches, memory deficits, and if very serious dementia.
Heavy Metals Toxicity Symptoms Vary By Metals
Lead is another toxic metal that often give certain heavy metal toxicity symptoms. Some of the symptoms of lead are similar to mercury in that they alter the brain and nervous system, but often gives specific issues of attention and focusing problems. Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been strongly linked to lead exposure, and any child who exhibits attention deficit and/or hyperactivity should be checked for lead levels. Blood testing for lead is quite common, but hair analysis testing is also accurate as well. In fact, hair testing may be preferred as it is indicative of storage of lead in the body long-term, whereas blood testing may only be indicative of recent exposure. After the exposure is gone blood lead levels can dissipate quite quickly. This too is the case with mercury and other heavy metals.
Arsenic is another heavy metal associated with marker heavy metal toxicity symptoms. Arsenic is commonly found in various rice and chicken products. It is also used in pesticides and herbicides sprayed on farms which makes it associated with ground water contamination. Arsenic, like lead and mercury, can lead to nervous system problems as well such as attention, hyperness, and poor cognitive function, but can also create problems metabolically leading to fatigue, weakness, and anemia.
Unsure? A Heavy Metals Lab Test Can Tell You
It is very important for anyone suffering with various heavy metal toxicity symptoms described in this short article to be tested for heavy metals. Hair analysis testing is the preferred method at first as a general screen for prolonged heavy metal exposure. Blood testing can be done, but often it doesn’t stay elevated for very long after acute exposure. Either way the presence of heavy metal toxicity symptoms warrants laboratory assessment.
Recommended: Toxic Lead Levels in Children