Detox Foods and Supplements

How to Remove Aluminum, Heavy Metals & Other Toxins

Note: A description of specific foods and supplements is presented after the introduction. Scroll down to find them. Also be sure to read the disclaimer and cautions on the detox guide intro page.

Foods, supplements and drugs used to eliminate metal toxins from the body are often called “chelating agents”, or chelators. The word chelate comes from the Greek khele, which means claw or talon. Most chelators are organic substances that bind to solid toxins, dislodge them from where they're at, and carry them through the bloodstream for elimination.

At hospitals, chelation (pronounced “key-LAY-shun”) therapy is implemented in cases of lead poisoning and other heavy metal contamination.  It’s also used on occasion to clear hard plaque from the arteries.  In a typical procedure, synthetic drugs are administered intravenously, such as Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) and Ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA).  Unfortunately, this intervention removes all the healthy minerals in the body as well as the bad ones.  So once the chelation phase is completed, mineral supplements are provided to patients to replenish their supply.

Oral chelation therapy with over-the-counter drugs and supplements is a second option. A suggested program for aluminum toxicity can be found in the fifth edition of Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

When there's no medical urgency, most detox experts recommend using natural foods and supplements over a much longer period of time.  Many different chelators and other agents for removing toxins are available, as you’ll see below. Each one has a capacity to capture and transport toxins safely to the kidneys, liver or other detox organs. But since they're all different chemically, you'll need take time to learn about the properties, contra-indications and cautions before ingesting any remedy.

For aluminum and other metals lodged in the brain, the best chelators are those that can cross the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is a web of very thin, filtering blood vessels that surrounds the brain and keeps most foreign substances out. However, aluminum has the ability to penetrate the barrier, so it represents a grave threat to your health. While not all chelators can reach inside the brain, a tasty herb known as cilantro is one that can. Drinking mineral-rich spring water may also clear out the metal. One other thing to consider: Studies have shown that sleep and relaxation stimulate the normal flushing activity of the brain that takes place via the glymphatic system.

Sometimes a combination of two or more chelating agents is needed in order to move a toxin from the place where it’s holed up, to the place where it can safely eliminated from your body. On occasion, the apprehended toxin may escape from the first chelator during its travels and get lodged somewhere else. This is called retoxification ad cilantro is a case in point. It tends to bite off more toxin than it can chew, so to speak. So supplementing the herb with chlorella and other agents (like lemon or mineral water) is a more effective approach than using it alone.

All the chelators and other remedies described below can be purchased either at natural food stores or through online sellers.  (Iherb.com has good prices, an easy to navigate website, low or no shipping charges, and even discount coupons you can find with Google. Amazon.com also carries a wide selection of detox supplements.) 

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Aluminum oxide is a more insidious toxin than pure aluminum because it's not a chunk of metal. Like rust, this metal oxide is broken down into tiny particles, which makes them harder to extract from the body.  Presently, there's not much detox info available that specifically pertains to oxides. 
  • Fasting should normally be avoided when using chelators since your liver, kidney and other organs need protein, anti-oxidants and other nutrients in order to break down and excrete toxins.  Without nourishment, the organs may get broken down themselves, instead of the other way around.
  • In most cases, you'll want to drink extra water in the hours after consuming a detox food or supplement, since most toxins have to be converted to a water-soluble state in order for the kidneys to eliminate them.
  • Not all toxins are alike. Harmful microbes, spores and even bio-warfare agents circulating within the general population may only be treated with anti-biotics. For more on this subject, see Dr. Garth Nicolson’s presentation on the Watch Videos page.

Here's the list of foods, supplements and other easy remedies available for removing aluminum and other foreign debris from your body:

Drink Silica-Rich Mineral Water

According to an Alzheimer’s research team reporting results of a 2013 study, “We have shown that drinking up to 1 liter of a silicon-rich mineral water each day for 12 weeks facilitated the removal of aluminum via the urine in both patient and control groups without any concomitant affect upon the urinary excretion of the essential metals, iron and copper.” Similar studies corroborate these findings.  The team said the chelating effect of the silica is more effective when you drink a lot of water (e.g.  a pint or half liter) in one sitting, rather than sipping small amounts throughout the day.

Mineral water brands like Fiji, Spritzer and Volvic all fall into the “silica-rich” category.  As for others, you’ll have to check company websites for an analysis of what’s in the product. Beware of added fluoride and flavorings, as these ingredients either interfere with chelation or deposit other bad stuff into your body.

Take a Bentonite Clay detox supplement with water

This is a cheaper alternative to expensive mineral waters.  Silica is one of this clay’s primary ingredients, although it also contains natural alumina. Generally speaking, various types of clay have been used since ancient times for healing, both exernally and internally. Researchers are still looking into its medicinal properties today. It has been used as a colon cleanse and may treat the effects of radiation poisoning as well. When combined with water, bentonite creates an electrical charge that allows it to absorb toxins, heavy metals and contaminants in your body. According to Livestrong.com "During an initial detox, you may experience secondary side effects which include headaches, muscle pain and joint stiffness as stored toxins are released from your system. When you repeat this process, you may experience these side effects again, although less severely than during your first cleanse."

Needless to say, you should buy the food-grade, detox version of bentonite, since it’s cleaned and processed more thoroughly than the bentonite used for drilling mud and kitty litter. Follow the instructions on the bottle. Also be sure to keep your clay out of contact with metals, including metal spoons. Otherwise, it might get chelated by the clay and be inadvertently ingested.  Use a plastic measuring spoon instead. 

Take Epsom Salt baths

The chemical name for Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate.  When added to bathwater, it has the ability to draw out toxins by way of an ionizing electrical reaction. One cup of the bath salt per 60 pounds of body weight is typically recommended, with a maximum of four cups.

Beware, many Epsom Salt products are advertised as a detox supplement that can be taken orally.  But there are better types of magnesium for this purpose, according to Metabolics.com. More on the alternatives below...  

Eat Apples, which have Pectin and Malic Acid

Whenever you eat an apple, enjoy a piece a pie or drink apple juice, you get a dose of pectin. Pectin is the water-soluble fiber that makes up most of the apple, that is, aside from its high water content.If you check the internet, you can find recipes for “homemade apple pectin”, a jelly that’s made by heating the apples and evaporating some of the water away. Apples themselves are low in acidity, which helps to counteract the impact of acidic  body wastes and toxins. But they also contain malic acid, which aids digestion and assists cellular detoxification of toxic metals, particularly aluminum and strontium, according to MetabolicHealing.com.

Magnesium Malate

Magnesium malate is a combination of the mineral magnesium and malic acid.  According to Livestrong.com, it can chelate toxic metals, including aluminum. Organic apples are a good natural source of magnesium malate.  Other sources include bananas, almonds, fish, grains, black beans and cashews.  You can also purchase it as a supplement, since magnesium malate is a remedy for Fibromyalgia. PLEASE NOTE: Concerns have been raised in recent years about an unwanted substance in the body called biofilms and how magnesium malate may exacerbate Lyme Disease.  So you should consult with a health care practitioner before using it in its supplement form.

To learn  more about the benefits and cautions associated with the mineral magnesium, see theNatural Defensespage of this website.

Cilantro

This common kitchen herb, also known as Chinese parsley, has the capacity to cross the aforementioned blood-brain barrier. This is a super important feat when it comes to treating aluminum toxicity. Cilantro can also chelate heavy metals from bones and the central nervous system.  At the same time, it stimulates the gallbladder to release bile, which helps break down the metals once they reach the liver. 

As mentioned earlier, cilantro may extract more toxic material than it can transport through the bloodstream by itself.  To prevent retoxification somewhere else in the body, you should take a second chelator at the same time. Chlorella, listed below, is most often recommended for the assignment. Cilantro is a staple of salsa recipes, as well as a garnish used on salads, burritos and chip dips.   You can buy prepared salsa, then chop up fresh cilantro leaves and mix them in.  Alternatively, you can buy cilantro in tincture (fluid extract) form.  Follow the instructions on the bottle..

Chlorella

This green superfood, a freshwater algae, is the chelating agent of choice for those health-conscious people who can afford its slightly high price.  Besides being touted as the perfect food on earth, it acts on a wide range of illnesses and medical conditions.  It’s high in protein, rich in chlorophyll, contains 20 vitamins and minerals, and also has all the essential amino acids onboard, as well as several anti-oxidants,  There are a few different types of chlorella sold, but the one that works best for detox is known as Pyrenoidosa. PLEASE NOTE: Vitamin C has been shown to disrupt the algae’s ability to bind with contaminants, so avoid taking it before or soon after you've ingested chlorella.

Most chlorella comes from Japan, Korea and Taiwan.  Concerns about the nuclear accident at Fukushima have raised suspicion about the Japanese chlorella, but it’s generally grown on islands near Korea and Taiwan, not the island where the nuclear plant is located.  (It’s also grown in freshwater ponds, not seawater.)  Regardless, you should research any company before buying its product. For an informative introduction to this supplement, watch the informative (albeit promotional) video from the Japanese company Sun Chlorella. The company's chlorella is available at many natural food stores, as well as on Iherb.com and Amazon. A box of 120 - 500 mg pellets costs about $25.

Make Turmeric Tea

Turmeric helps the liver detoxify contaminants and stay strong, which is probably why it has been used for centuries as a healing agent. The key ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is what gives the spice its yellow-orange color. 

Dr. Joseph Mercola states in an article that “Curcumin has a protective effect against aluminum-induced damage by modulating the extent of oxidative stress. It also decreases beta-amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's, delays neuron degradation, chelates metals, decreases microglia formation, and has an overall anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effect.” It’s a tasty spice, too, sprinkled on scrambled eggs and omelets, as well as curry dishes.  You can buy it raw or in powder form to make the popular ginger-turmeric tea, or drink it sweetened with honey.  Alternately, turmeric can be purchased as a tincture or in the form of capsules.  The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 400 to 600 mg in powder form three times per day or 30 to 90 drops per day of fluid extract. 

PLEASE NOTE: Some people have an allergic reaction to turmeric, so taking it in a concentrated dose as your first exposure is inadvisable.  Try a little of the natural spice or the tea to see how your body reacts. 

Use an MSM supplement

MSM, which stands for methylsulfonylmethane, is suggested to treat aluminum toxicity in Prescription for Nutritional Healing.  This is a naturally occurring sulfur compound that chelates metals and converts them to a soluble form.  MSM is commonly used to combat arthritis and inflammation, while its sulfur content has anti fungal properties and defends the body against oxidative damage.  MSM further promotes gastrointestinal health and aids your immune function. 

While it’s already found in many foods, any drying or processing of those foods will eliminate MSM from the equation.  The book recommends 1000 mg per day for detox, although in one study it was shown that a dosage up to 3,000 mg twice per day was safe and effective in treating patients with osteoarthritis. When taken with Vitamin C, the effects of MSM can be enhanced. 

Quality varies among MSM supplements, so read reviews and/or research each company that sells it before you select a product. Also keep in mind that you may already be getting enough MSM in your daily diet and don't need the extra milligrams that the supplement provides.

Use an NAC supplement

Dr. Merrel Woodson writes in The Detox Prescription that "N-acetyl-cysteine NAC is hands-down my favorite supplement for detoxification because it supports Phase II sulfation, as well as amino acid and glutathione conjugation." He's talking about the body's chemical process for detoxing itself. "It also has kidney-protective and immune-boosting properties, and is converted by the body into glutathione, which is sometimes called 'the master anti-oxidant'." Glutathion is discussed on the Natural Defensespage.

Increase your Vitamin C intake

High doses of ascorbic acid (aka Vit. C)are routinely recommended for chelating aluminum.  Vitamin C is also known to attack free radicals which can cause cancer, and has countless other benefits. The problem with high doses is insuring that all the Vitamin C gets absorbed into the body. That's why picking out an effective supplement is crucial. Products that contain bioflavonoids work best. PLEASE NOTE: Most Vit. C sold in the United States comes from China, an it's not the best quality choice. Do your research online to find out which supplement will work best. Also be sure to include rich-in-C vegetables in your diet, like organic bell peppers, broccoli, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, snow peas and cauliflower.  Fruits high in ascorbic acid include Guava, papaya, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries, pineapple and grapefruit. 

As mentioned earlier, avoid taking Vitamin C before and after using a chlorella supplement, since it disrupts chlorella's chelating effect.

Increase your supply of Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that helps us sleep. But it serves another role as well.  According to Dr. Mercola’s article on aluminum, “Melatonin has a metal binding role and is a useful supplement in the treatment of neurological disorders in which oxidative stress is involved. Such disorders include Alzheimer's. Like cilantro, Melatonin can travel freely across all cellular barriers, facilitating the removal of toxic metals such as aluminum. It also appears to suppress the oxidative activity of aluminum in your brain.”

PLEASE NOTE: If you take melatonin as a supplement more than a few days, your body will stop naturally producing its own melatonin.  So it's better to eat foods the contain the hormone.  According to nutritionfacts.com, cherries, orange bell peppers, walnuts, flaxseeds and tomatoes are excellent sources. Almonds and raspberries also contain melatonin.   A teaspoon of fenugreek or mustard seeds, meanwhile, packs a lot of the hormone. And if you can get hold of some lycium berries, which are popular in Chinese medicine, their melatonin level is off the charts.

Drink Lemon Water

Lemons have citric acid, which is a chelator. According to Doctor Edward Group, "The phytonutrients in lemons, specifically, have antioxidant and antibiotic properties. Lemons also contain limonin, a compound found in citrus fruits with possible anti-viral and anti-obesity effects."  Adding ginger further helps in elimination of waste through the colon, while also cleansing the liver at the same time.

So buy a couple of organic lemons every week if you can handle the tartness, slice them up and squeeze them into your spring or mineral water.  Lemons carry a concentrated amount of citric acid, which is a chelating agent.  The acid also stimulates bile secretion from the bladder, helping the liver filter out toxins.  (Incidentally, there’s no Vitamin C in citric acid.)

Dilute a Teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in Water

This age-old remedy for basically whatever ails you may also be helpful in a detox program. Apple cider vinegar is considered a fermented, cultured food (like sauerkraut). It's rich in natural enzymes and probiotics, contains Vitamins B and C, and has anti-bacterial properties. Bragg's organic, raw, unpastuerized ACV is recommended. Some cautions to keep in mind when using it, courtesy of NewHealthAdvisorcom:

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About Drinking More Water and Eating “Raw” Foods

Virtually every detox program calls for extra water intake to flush chelated toxins out of your bloodstream and through your kidneys. However, blanket recommendations such as “Take 10 glasses of 8 ounces of water daily” should be taken with a grain of salt.  Consider that body weight among adults ranges anywhere from 90 to 300 pounds; that we live in different climates (i.e. temperature and humidity); and that in cold weather drinking too much water can cause indigestion, headaches, kidney pain and other problems. 

If your detox program is not executed under the care of a licensed health provider, you should only drink the volume of water that feels reasonable and comfortable.  For those who’ve historically suppressed their thirst reflex, keep a water bottle or a glass of water nearby, and train yourself to respond to that reflex. It really helps the flushing process if you can gulp down at least a small glass of water once in awhile. After taking chelating supplements with water, wait an hour or two, then drink some more if you can. But be careful and discuss your water consumption with your physician before making any big changes.

Another common detox suggestion is to eat only raw vegetables and fruit, since cooking reduces the potency of food-based chelators. While that may be true, you may also be shooting yourself in the foot by quenching your body's internal heat with too much cold food.  Traditional Chinese Medicine describes the condition that may result as “damp spleen” or simply dampness. This hinders your digestion and can trigger a host of other problems. To address the issue of nutrient loss due to heating, Chinese people traditionally stir vegetables in  a wok for a couple minutes, enough to soften them but not to diminish their potency. You can also lightly steam vegetables to accomplish the same thing.  Just remember that keeping your body warm in the winter takes priority over a raw food diet.

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