…tiny amounts of toxic metals can damage your health, your immunity, brain, kidneys, liver,… …detoxing heavy metals like dental mercury treats anxiety and depression by increasing GABA and serotonin…

How to detoxify Heavy Metals

© Peter Smith –Holistic Medicine Practitioner- (updated 2/2013)
Heavy metal toxicity can disturb your brain chemistry causing depression and anxiety[i], it can also significantly weaken your immunity.  You’ll probably get disappointing results with the treatments for these problems until you detoxify the heavy metals first.  Once you’ve detoxified the heavy metals you may recover your health or at least find you now respond to other appropriate treatments.  
There are no safe levels for heavy metals, mercury in particular is the second most toxic metal known to man, second only to plutonium and even in extremely low concentrations or parts per million it can strongly downgrade your health.
Heavy metal toxicity can have a wide range of negative effects.  Mercury, can cause depression and add to anxiety; mercury and cadmium can significantly compromise your immune system.  Amalgam fillings still present a significant risk of mercury poisoning, mercury toxicity can also cause allergies. 
Lead poisoning particularly disturbs GABA balance, this neurotransmitter enables the brain to inhibit persistent thoughts going around and around when GABA becomes deficient it can contribute to anxiety, lead also dulls your intelligence. 
Lead, cadmium (from smoking) and arsenic disturb dopamine, this neurotransmitter gives the brain energy, motivation and the capacity for pleasure, when it becomes deficient you can get a low energy demotivated depression. 

Mercury, lead and aluminium disturb acetylcholine, this neurotransmitter gives the brain a sharpness and good memory. 

Detoxifying heavy metals involves balancing mineral antagonists which dislodge the metals from the tissues into the blood with chelating agents that bind the metals in the blood and prevent them from being re-deposited  somewhere else so the kidneys can excrete them; it is a specialist job.  Regular detoxification techniques like fasting, the liver flush, kidney cleansers etc. do not work with heavy metals.

Mercury Lead Cadmium & other Toxic Metal Detoxification

There are several possible ways heavy metals get into your body.


There are 4 main sources of mercury poisoning:
1. Passed from mother to baby
2. Vaccinations
3. Dental Amalgams or 'Silver Fillings'
4. Contraception Pills and Contact Lens Solution

1. Mother to Baby

A mother with mercury in her body will pass it into her baby.  The level of mercury in the tissue of the foetus, new-born, and young children is directly proportional to the number of silver fillings in the mother’s mouth.

2. Vaccinations

Vaccinations are the number 1 mercury exposure in infants, and the number 2 exposure in adults.
•        25% of vaccines today still contain mercury.
•        Flu shots still contain mercury.
•        When mercury is removed from flu shots, it is replaced with other toxic chemicals such as aluminium and formaldehyde.
Mercury is used as a preservative in vaccinations.  Flu shots contain mercury also, as a preservative.  According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) the average child can tolerate 0.3 micrograms of mercury.  Note that a 2 month old infant receiving all 4 scheduled vaccinations (DtaP, Polio, Hib, Hepatitis B) will have a mercury level of 62.5 micrograms, 125 times higher than the EPA 'safe' level.

3. Dental Amalgams or 'Silver Fillings'

Amalgam fillings leech methyl-mercury into your body.  Methyl-mercury is particularly dangerous as it’s attracted to tissues and organs and can actually cross the blood brain barrier and get into your brain.  Some health authorities deny that the mercury in amalgam fillings poses any health problem.  For me the debate was settled when several countries drastically reduced or banned the use of amalgam fillings.  The additional cost to the health services in these countries runs in excess of £50 million per annum, and no government would spend that much money without substantial evidence of a risk to public health for which they would be liable. 
In 1988 scrap dental amalgam material was declared a hazardous waste by the EPA, and environmental health has certain guidelines to handle amalgam fillings before going into and out of your mouth including:
•        Scrap amalgam must be stored in an unbreakable, tight sealed container away from heat.
•        Use a 'no-touch' technique for handling the amalgam
•        Store under liquid, preferably glycerine or photographic fixer solution
Activities such as brushing your teeth and drinking hot liquids can increase your exposure to methyl-mercury (mercury vapour) from 10 to 100 times.

4. Contraception Pills and Contact Lens Solution

Mercury used to be used in both of these products.  It has since been discontinued.  Using these products in the 1980's would have exposed you to mercury, which in turn would be passed from mother to child.

Fish and Mercury

Exciting new information has finally definitively answered the question is fish safe to eat during pregnancy, the dilemma was you need to fish oil to enable the baby's brain to grow to its full potential on the one hand but on the other hand it is said that fish can contain toxic levels of mercury which actually stunts development of the brain.  The new research has revealed that it is not the total amount of mercury that is in the fish that is important, it's the ratio of mercury to selenium.  For example tuna does contain what looks no which antagonise and render the mercury safe.  To see more on this exciting new information visit www.undeerc.org/fish/Default.aspx You will see that all the common fish we eat from the sea are completely safe except swordfish, shark, dolphin and whale which apparently you can eat in Japan!


Lead was a very widely used toxic metal until just a couple of decades ago and many of the original sources of lead are still in use today, old houses and water supplies for example may still have lead piping, I lived in a house that had lead piping in the 1960s, historical sources of lead may take decades to fully eradicate, however I think we can be optimistic as lead in gasoline, paint and other sources is being phased out.  Sources include leaded paint, leaded gasoline, painted dishes, old lead painted toys and even some modern toys from China, candy from Mexico, children's jewellery and sometimes canned foods. 
Many of our parents were exposed to unsafe levels of lead and unfortunately lead can be passed down to the next generation in the womb and through breastfeeding. 

Lead produces toxic effects in our digestive system, cardiovascular system, kidneys, reproductive system and the brain. Lead is particularly toxic to brain development in children chronic and acute lead exposure impedes brain development it can diminish potential IQ and leads to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Hyperactivity Disorders. 

As with all toxic metals the longer lead days in the body the worse the consequences, you can aggressively flush led out of the body with the methods described below.


The main source of cadmium toxicity today is smoking.


Aluminium pots and pans slowly dissolve metal into the food.  When you cook acid containing foods most notably tomatoes in an aluminium pan the acid will dissolve away the metal at a dangerous rate.  Use either high quality stainless steel or glass and earthenware. 

The Heavy Metal detoxification technique

Mercury and other heavy metals are hard to remove from the body.  They are called cumulative poisons because in normal circumstances they come out of the body more slowly than you absorb them from the environment so the older you get the more you accumulate and the higher the levels in your system. 
To reverse this build-up and actively eliminate this type of toxin requires taking supplements over several weeks, and this process may need to be repeated several times in the future as the reservoir of toxic metals in the bones slowly comes out (see The Bone Reservoir later). 
The first stage of eliminating heavy metal is to dislodge the toxic metals from the tissues, (brain, liver, kidneys, muscles etc.).  To achieve this you flood the body with nutritional minerals like zinc, selenium and magnesium that compete for the same deposit sites and dislodge the heavy metals.  This is called mineral antagonism.   See the mineral interaction (antagonism wheel below).

This is just the first step of elimination, as once dislodged from the tissues these toxins tend to just circulate around in the blood and become re-deposited in some other part of the body.  Even when they get as far as the liver and kidneys, they often just get stuck and poison these organs.  X-rays studies of sheep and monkeys given amalgam filling (containing radioactively tagged mercury) showed heavy a build-up of mercury in the liver and kidneys. 
So for example you may take selenium and dislodge some mercury stored in your brain, this mercury then circulates through the blood and becomes deposited in your liver.  Your next dose of selenium dislodges the same molecules of mercury from your liver back into the bloodstream whereupon they travel to the kidneys and become deposited there.  A subsequent dose of selenium dislodges the same mercury from the kidneys back into your blood and sends it back to the brain where it becomes re-deposited. 
As the mercury is circulated and re-circulated around your body a tiny trickle will be excreted to the outside.  This process is dreadfully slow and the whole time you’re re-circulating the toxins may feel worse.  When the body cannot eliminate a toxin it will naturally attempt to lock them away out of circulation to try and protect vital organ systems such as the brain.  This first stage of detoxifying actually goes against what the body does to minimise the effects of the poison. 
To solve this re-depositing problem you need to take a chelating agent i.e. a substance that will chemically bind with the heavy metal keep it in circulation, and prevent it from being re-deposited.  Once bound to the chelating agent the kidneys are able to excrete the mercury out of the body.  This is the second stage of elimination. 

Example Detox Procedure

As an illustration of how you would do a metal detoxification below is the prescription I typically use to detoxify mercury.  There are cheaper brands but the ones use have proven to be effective.  The brands I recommend are specifically chosen for the job in hand based on over 24 years of clinical experience using supplements, if you go “of piste” and using different brands may produce less predictable results. 

Prescription for Mercury Detoxification (take with food)

Mercury Antagonists
VM75 (Solgar)
1 pill a.m. & p.m.  If the tablets are hard to swallow you can use the capsules, but you must double the dose.
This contains folic acid the synthetic form of folate and if you have the MTHFR gene mutation you could substitute Doctor’s Best Best Multiple
Selenium (highly bio-vailable sources of selenium are best such as Food State Cytoplan or Natures Own in the UK or MegFood in the US)
1 pill a.m. & p.m.
Vitamin C with bioflavenoids  (Natures Own Food State)
1-2 pills a.m. & p.m.
Biocare Vitamin C 1000 Tablets (Magnesium Ascorbate)
2 tablets a.m. & p.m.
(If you cannot get this brand substite magnesium and vitamin C)
Zinc (Natures Own Food State or Zinc Extra by Cytoplan or Mega Food)
1 pill a.m. & p.m.
Vitamin E (again I recommend Food State such as Higher Nature True Food 200 or Mega Food in the US, alternatively Gamma E from Jarrow). Vitamin a is a very good free radical scavenger and worth taking while you are moving toxic metals around the body to protect the body during the detoxification process.
1 pill a.m. & p.m.
Another great optional extra in this regard is Alpha-Lipoic Acid, combination of alpha lipoic acid and vitamin E is particularly effective because the alpha-lipoic acid preserves and recycles the vitamins E.
Silica (I use silica from bamboo: Lamberts Healthcare Silica 200 mg). Some claims are made that long term use of silica supplements can cause kidney stones other claims say silica prevents kidney stones.  Always use good quality silica from organic not inorganic sources that can build up in the kidney, and limit dosing to 4 months a year. 
3 capsules per day divided between 2 meals.
Iodine: the easy and very cheap way to supplement this is to buy to old-fashioned antiseptic iodine tincture from an independent chemist.  It should be 2-2 ½ % iodine.  Put a 2 cm (3/4 inch) dab of the tincture on the skin and allow it to be absorbed without washing off.  Keep moving the area you apply it. 
Optional if you believe in homeopathy you can take: homeopathic Merc Sol 30
One dose twice daily

Mercury Chelating Agents

Cysteine (I have no brand preference here, Now Foods is good value for money Solgar is also a good brand). Cysteine is a very efficient and cost effective chelating agent[ii].  It chelates mercury[iii], lead, cadmium and arsenic[iv].
1200 mg on an empty stomach 30 before meals.  Typically 2 doses per day is sufficient but for a stronger chelating effect, for someone with poor health and/or a heavy mercury load you can take 3 doses per day. 
An effective schedule would be to take the NAC cysteine before lunch a few hours after consuming the antagonistic minerals with breakfast and before bed a few hours after taking the antagonistic minerals with dinner.
If you take an individual amino acid at the same time as protein food the protein can stop the amino acid supplement being effective. 
It may not be a good idea to take cysteine if you still have silver amalgam fillings in your teeth. One of the things cysteine does is it assists the transportation of mercury across the blood-brain barrier, but it’s a two-way street cysteine can help mercury both in and out of the brain. So if you’ve had your amalgam mercury fillings removed and are dislodging the mercury from your brain with antagonistic minerals then cysteine will assisting the mercury to cross the blood brain barrier on its way out, so it’s a good thing at that point; but if you have a lot of old mercury amalgam fillings leaking mercury into your blood then possibly cysteine would not be helpful at that time. I say possibly because on balance cysteine increases urinary excretion of mercury from the body so it may reduce overall body/blood levels and consequently even decrease levels in the brain. In my practice I’ve prescribed cysteine to people that have had their amalgam fillings removed and to people that have only a few small amalgam fillings, vast majority of people felt improvements, some people felt no better but no one ever felt worse; I don’t however have any experience of giving cysteine to someone with a lot of amalgam fillings still in their mouth.
N.B. there is a more expensive version of cysteine called NAC cysteine that is reputedly effective at reducing mucus in the lungs and sinuses, as far as I can work out there is no advantage to using this type of cysteine to chelate mercury, however these days I regularly prescribed this form of cysteine because it has been researched and shown to have antidepressant, antianxiety and anti addiction affects. . See my separate page on the Health Benefits of NAC Cysteine

Cysteine is a sulphur containing amino acid and flooding the body with extra sulphur at the same time satisfies the body’s other competing needs for sulphur and preserves the cysteine that is relatively expensive.  You should also eat lots of garlic, onions and eggs that are naturally rich in sulphur.
MSM Sulphur (Source or Higher Nature 1000mg tablets or powder equivalent)
2 tablets a.m. & p.m.)
It’s quite rare I’ve only ever met 3-4 cases but some people are allergic/intolerant to sulphur, this looks like it’s a genetic mutation. An alternative to cysteine is to use the chelating agent NDF. NDF is a herbal based chelator it’s effective but very effective.


Continue with the above regime for at 6-8 weeks, typically 6 weeks is enough to remove the mercury from the soft tissues of the body.  That is everything except the bones, to date there is no way of accelerating the discharge of mercury from the bones, and we just have to wait while it is slowly released back into the soft tissues, from where we can remove it. 
The total cost for a six-week program of the above supplements will be several hundred pounds.  Although high this is cheaper than a cause of chelation done via infusions which can cost several thousand pounds. 

Toxic Metal Antagonists and Chelating Agents

You can use the mineral interactions wheel above to work out the antagonistic minerals to dislodge any metal you want to detoxify and the recommended chelating agents below.  I've added nickel, tin and vanadium antagonists below as they are not included on the mineral interactions wheel.  To detoxify lead for example: Silica, MSM sulphur and calcium probably in the form of calcium ascorbate for antagonistic minerals with high potency garlic and cysteine as chelating agents and vitamins E and optional alpha-lipoic acid for antioxidant protection during the detoxification treatment.
To chelate mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic use cysteine, see cysteine above.
Garlic appears to have a very safe and effective mercury and lead detoxify capabilities {PMID: 22151785}, include high-strength garlic but not the deodorised kind as the smelly Alison compound in garlic is one of the active components we want.

Nickel Antagonists

Manganese, zinc, calcium, copper, sodium, vitamin E.
  • Manganese 100 mg, do not take manganese if you have liver disease, for example a drug or alcohol damaged liver.
  • Zinc 50 mg (make sure you include 2 mg copper and at least 8 mg iron when you take high doses zinc to prevent the zinc depleting copper and iron).
  • Copper to antagonise the nickel we want extra copper, take 5 to 10 mg chelated copper.
  • Calcium 500 mg (always take magnesium when you take calcium to avoid soft tissue calcification that can contribute to heart disease).
  • Sodium, normally we think of trying to reduce sodium consumption because of its propensity to raise blood pressure, however in this instance it's a useful nickel antagonists for short term use.  You can effectively antagonise nickel with sodium ascorbate (sodium bound to vitamins C), this combination also delivers lots of antioxidant protective vitamins C.  Take 6000-8000 mg (6-8 g) sodium ascorbate.
  • N.B. vitamin C powders are highly acidic like lemon juice and are therefore not good for your dental enamel; if you decide to use sodium ascorbate powder dilute it in a lot of water and after you have taken it don't brush your teeth immediately afterwards when your dental enamel is soft and vulnerable, instead squish your mouth with enamel protecting toothpaste, a teaspoon of xylitol or chew a couple of sticks of xylitol sweetened chewing gum so that your saliva gradually re-mineralises your dental enamel.
  • Vitamin E 800 i.u. divided between breakfast and dinner.
  • In addition to the above take a B complex 50 mg twice a day.  Alternatively take a B complex 50 mg and a multivitamin multimineral such as Solgar VM 75 (the extra minerals are still within safe levels).
I recommend using MegFood, Natures Own Food State, Cytoplan Food State or Higher Nature True Food; if you can get these brands you can half all the above dosages because these formulations are so efficiently absorbed

Nickel Chelators

The amino acid histidine 2000 mg on an empty stomach last thing at night before sleep and another dose 40 minutes before lunch.  If you take an individual amino acid at the same time as any protein food the protein can stop the amino acid supplement from being effective.
N.B. there is a suggestion that long-term use of histidine may worsen depression or bipolar syndrome, this is not confirmed and I would still recommend using histidine even when these conditions are present.  I'm just sharing this information to be ultra-cautious and for you to look out for this hypothetical possibility.


Antagonists: Iron, calcium, copper, vitamin B-2, vitamin E, zinc.
Precisely how to chelated tin is unclear, I would recommend using both cysteine and histidine at the same time.


Antagonists: Chromium, calcium, potassium, iodine, sodium, sulphur.
Precisely how to chelated vanadium is unclear, I would recommend using Vitamin C and cysteine


Antagonists: Silica and iron.  I’d recommend 600 mg of silica (from bamboo gum) divided into two doses, along with 15 mg of iron from a standard chelated iron supplement or even better would be 5 mg of iron from a supplement manufactured with the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (for example True Food Easy Iron from Higher Nature) which significantly improves the absorption of iron.  Iron metabolism needs B vitamins so also take a B complex. Take the silica and iron with breakfast and dinner, and the malic acid about 90 minutes later to mop up the aluminium in the blood. 
To chelate aluminium use malic acid 2000 to 3000 mg from supplements.  Also drink lots of apple juice and use apple cider vinegar for your salad dressings, both are good sources of malic acid. 
N.B. Malic acid is a strong acid and can cause acid erosion of dental enamel so I would only recommend using it from capsules or tablets and not in powder form.


Antagonists: Lithium.  How to chelate palladium is unknown, try cysteine and histidine.
I have no clinical experience with DMSA or EDTA as chelators, I only mention them for information.  DMSA (Meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid) is a compound approved in the 1960's by the FDA for the removal (chelation) of heavy metals. DMSA is reported to work well for the chelation (removal) of heavy metals in both adults and children, however it probably also depletes nutritional minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the body.

The Bone Reservoir

Using mineral antagonists and chelating agents can effectively flush mercury and other heavy metals out of the soft tissues of the body.  That is everything except the bones.  By the late 1990s I started to observe patients who had performed my heavy metal detox showing up with mercury toxicity again, and a return of their previous ill-health.  These were people who had also safely removed their mercury fillings and did not have any other apparent sources of mercury exposure. 
The hidden source of this mercury re-contamination turned out to be from within the body itself.  Bones are not inanimate sticks of calcium, they are in fact living tissues and like other tissues are constantly being broken down and rebuilt.  If this bone remodelling takes place in a body polluted with mercury some of the mercury becomes incorporated into the ‘cement’ of the bones. 
This mercury is locked into the bones and cannot be quickly flushed out in a matter of weeks like the mercury in the soft tissues.  This bone reservoir of mercury is slowly released back into the soft tissues as the bones continue to be broken down and rebuilt.  There are two strategies for dealing with this problem:
Firstly you could simply repeat the six-week heavy metal detox program after a year or so, then perhaps after 18 months and then every couple of years for several more times.  It would make sense to get tested occasionally either with the bicom that I use or hair mineral analysis to work out when and if you need to repeat the detox program.

Secondly you could continue to take a multi-mineral supplement and say one cysteine capsule today to catch and deal with the trickle of mercury being released from the bone reservoir.  The cost of this second option is only slightly more than the first, and cysteine is a good thing to take anyway for the health of the liver and hair especially.

How to Test For Heavy Metal Toxicity

Hair mineral analysis is a reliable method to test for the presence of toxic metals in the body.  The hair is an excretory product and does reflect toxins the body eliminating.  It does not however accurately reflect vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  An alternative method is the bicom therapy device that I use.  Blood tests would be a another viable alternative.

Allergies, Candida and Other Symptoms Caused by Heavy Metals

One of the most common clinical observations I make is that people with heavy metal toxicity often also manifest an overgrowth of candida, or a parasite (worms) infestation.  It appears that the heavy metals compromise the immune system allowing these other opportunistic infestations to occur. 
Yeast and parasite infections can compromise the integrity of the intestinal wall, this is known as leaky gut syndrome.  In normal healthy intestinal wall will not allow half digestive foods to pass through it into the blood stream. 

With leaky gut syndrome half digestive food molecules to permeate the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream whereupon the immune system reacts to these ‘foreign’ molecules.  The result is an allergic like reaction.  With the proper allergy however the immune system behaves as if it’s being attacked by a foreign substance when it isn’t, i.e. the immune system is making a mistake, it’s wrong.  With leaky gut syndrome however the body actually is being invaded by a foreign substances and the immune system is right to react.  So with true allergies the goal of treatment is to correct the misguided immune system, and with leaky gut syndrome the goal is to remove any causes of leaky gut syndrome such as yeast overgrowth or parasite infection and then repair the integrity of the intestinal wall. 
I have treated literally dozens of people presenting with allergy symptoms who had to first detoxify heavy metals to get their immune system up to a level that would permanently keep yeast overgrowth and parasites at bay.  Then clear lingering yeasts and parasites and finally rebuild the intestinal wall with the amino acid L glutamine.  For many people that was all that was needed to eliminate the apparent allergy symptoms; for others they also required some allergy desensitisation treatment for a small number of substances. 
I have also observed many people experience a tremendous improvement in their mental health especially with regards to depression and agoraphobia when they have detoxified heavy metals.  [13]
[i] Psychol Rep. 1994 Feb;74(1):67-80. Psychometric evidence that mercury from silver dental fillings may be an etiological factor in depression, excessive anger, and anxiety. Siblerud RL1,
[ii] Environ Health Perspect. 1998 May; 106(5): 267–271. PMCID: PMC1533084 Research Article N-acetylcysteine as an antidote in methylmercury poisoning. N Ballatori, M W Lieberman, and W Wang
[iii] J Neurosci Res. 2012 Apr;90(4):743-50. N-acetyl cysteine treatment reduces mercury-induced neurotoxicity in the developing rat hippocampus. Falluel-Morel A. Et al.
[iv] Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 1999 Nov;26(11):865-9. Arsenic-induced oxidative stress and its reversibility following combined administration of N-acetylcysteine and meso 2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid in rats. Flora SJ1.
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