Heavy Metals Relevant for Well-being

By: Dr. Deborah Gordon, May 17, 2023

The term “heavy metals” refers to those metals which are:

  1. generous in the environment, and
  2. can be encountered in routine daily life sufficiently to cause some individuals to experience a toxic effect.

We test for the metals that are circulating in blood and thus a consistent hazard, and we do that through a routine blood test amidst your other labs.  (Some practitioners rely instead on “provoked” metal levels in blood or urine, but provocation is almost always a reflection of stored—not circulating—metal accumulation in the kidneys, and perhaps bone, not the amount to which you are regularly exposed.) Med Toxicol 2013


We routinely test for cadmium, lead, and mercury, and might test for others on an individual basis.

Cadmium  Sources of exposure: chocolate, secondhand cigarette smoke, and other environmental contamination. Testing can be in whole blood OR a random urine specimen.

Chronic exposure can cause:  Cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, kidney disease, peripheral artery disease, COPD, periodontal disease, impaired fasting glucose, maybe increased breast and endometrial disease, it’s a xenoestrogen.

Lead  Sources of exposure: chocolate, outdated waterpipes, groundwater, and other environmental exposure. Testing can be in whole blood.

Chronic exposure can cause: gout (especially in women), COPD, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, allergies, cataracts, high blood pressure, other cardiac and vascular diseases. 

Mercury Sources of exposure: dental amalgams, seafood, and other environmental exposures. Alcohol causes an increase in the retention of mercury in the liver and adrenal cells. Testing can be in whole blood.

Chronic exposure can affect almost every system:  cardiovascular, neurological, immune, hormonal and metabolic.

Arsenic Sources of exposure include common foods (chicken and rice), groundwater, and other environmental contamination. Testing is done in a random urine specimen, after stopping seafood and mushrooms for five days.

Chronic exposure can cause peripheral neuropathy, skin lesions, vascular disease, Raynaud’s, conjunctivitis, and certain cancers.



For ALL of the heavy metals, we start with a “generic” detox protocol consisting of:

  1. Avoiding further exposure (see article below for more information).
  2. A substance working as a binder (charcoal, clay, or a specific combination supplement for metals).
  3. Glutathione or N-Acetyl Cysteine to support your internal detoxification processes.
  4. Encourage you to take a sauna, preferably infrared on a regular basis. If thatisI not possible, we encourage routine overheating, sweating, followed by a good soapy shower.   

Each heavy metal has a different approach for stubborn levels of toxicity. If you are concerned that you or a loved one have been exposed to toxic levels of metals, please give your provider a call and ask about getting your tested.