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There is always a high level of interest among my readers in the health effects of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, so I I thought I’d share my experience with Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA). HTMA is a laboratory hair test that measures the mineral content in your hair and assesses both your mineral deficiencies and potential heavy metal toxicities. Unlike blood testing which only gives you information about recent exposure, hair testing can give you an indication of long-term toxic metal accumulation.
I worked with Karen Stein, of Go Healthy with Karen®, a certified health coach who is also trained in Hair Mineral Analysis. Full disclosure, Karen is my sister.
Honestly, I was not expecting to see any dramatic results given my healthy lifestyle and avoidance of toxins. Needless to say, I was startled to find that I have high levels of mercury as well as some mineral imbalances that signify stress, environmental toxins, or heavy metals. According to WebMD (link), if your hair has toxins like mercury and arsenic, you could be more likely to get certain health problems.
Karen warned me that results from your first hair test often show no or low levels of heavy metals because they can hide in our tissues, organs, brain and even bones. Once you begin to detox, the metals can show up in future tests, before diminishing as you complete your detoxification program.
My Detox Program
Karen developed a personalized supplement protocol based on my testing results. I have taken many supplements over the years and am impressed with the clean ingredients and affordable price. After 4- 6 months I will do another hair test to see if my mercury levels have gone down and my minerals are in balance. There is a chance that as my body is detoxing, I will see the presence of other heavy metals. If that is the case, we will adjust the supplements until my test is clean. I will continue to post updates on my progress.
Things to Consider When Testing for Heavy Metals
I believe that it is important to test before taking any products that claims to remove heavy metals. Different binders (products that bind to and help remove heavy metals from the body) can have a greater affinity for different types of metals. It is important to know what accumulations you have in your body to know what type of binder is appropriate for each individual person. If someone has significant mineral deficiencies showing on their HTMA analysis, they should undergo a slower pre-detox phase while they build up their mineral levels. Blindly taking detox supplements can cause serious symptoms, once these metals are freed and circulating in the body without properly binding and removing them.
It’s also important to consider the laboratory that will run your test. There are only 2 laboratories in the country that do not wash the hair sample before analyzing it. This will distort the results. Make sure the laboratory that is being used for your hair test does not wash the samples.
Finally, look for a practitioner that has delivered results for their clients and who is specially trained in analyzing the HTMA data. The typical HTMA comes from the lab with a report that many practitioners will just pass along to their clients. It offers some basic supplement and/or nutritional recommendations. Karen is among a small group of practitioners who have been extensively and specially trained to further analyze the data contained in the HTMA far beyond what the report shows. This analysis can uncover trends in mineral ratios and patterns that can point to possible underlying issues with metabolism, thyroid function, brain fog, immune function as well as heavy metal toxicities.
If you are looking to boost your immune system try this delicious, warming latte. It packs a punch with immune-boosting ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
2 cup almond milk (homemade preferred)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger (or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger)
Pinch black pepper
Optional: Sweeten with honey
- In a small saucepan, add all of the ingredients, except for the honey.
- Whisk over medium heat until heated but before boiling.
- Remove from heat, pour into 2 cups and let steep for 5 minutes.
- If sweetener is desired, add honey.
- If using fresh ginger, strain before drinking.
Question from Danielle
Sad to hear that you didn’t have any information regarding people towels. Can you research an alternative organic towel and could you please provide alternative information in the form of organic cotton towels for cleaning the kitchen
I use Coyuchi Organic Waffle Towels as a dishtowel and to clean the kitchen. They are durable and absorbent. I also found several option on Etsy by searching for organic kitchen towels. There are options that are more similar to People Towels (which appears to no longer be in business).
To ensure that the dyes and processing of the organic cotton is also non-toxic, I prefer using GOTS certified cotton, when possible, and found a few options on Etsy.
Question from Shelly
I just did a search on the site for information on humidifiers and most of it is quite old.
Might you be able to suggest a brand name/model of a good non-toxic humidifier?
It’s not something I have recently researched.
Question from Terry
I’ve recently sourced a flooring called
Marmoleum. They are click together tiles and planks. No glue needed. Even mentions MCS friendly. Greenbuildingsupply.com
This is a good non-toxic option. It contains linseed oil which is non-toxic but does have a smell. I recommend getting a sample first and see if it works for you.
Question from Donna
Where to buy chemcially free real leather couch that is affordable. ??
I wish it were as simple as directing you to a store to buy a well-priced model. You can look at Debra’s List for sources for non-toxic couches but they are mostly made-to-order and are expensive.
As for leather, there is no chemical-free leather. You can read more here about the chemicals used to process leather. There are safer leather products that use less toxic chemicals. There is a company called Pine Street Natural Interiors which can make a non-toxic couch using a safer leather. Read more here.
Question from ECD
Can a Wool blanket inside an Organic Cotton Duvet be worn over Linen Sheet on top of the body and still maintain a healthy frequency?
I am not familiar with healing frequencies.
At the beginning of January, I had some alarming symptoms that sent me rushing to the Emergency Room. It was cancer.
I was shocked. Being the one person in the world who has probably lived the most nontoxic life for the longest period of time (more than 40 years now), I went through life feeling sure my body would never develop cancer because I was avoiding all the usual known chemical carcinogens.
But even doing that and not smoking and eating organic food and drinking filtered water and everything else I’ve done to be healthy, my body still developed cancer.
The professionals didn’t know. They could identify the tumor was cancer, but not what type. And they still don’t know. But they knew it was a “rare” and “aggressive” type of cancer and that was enough for me to decide to have it surgically removed.
So that’s what I did. Last Friday I had my surgery, then I spent two days recovering in the hospital room, and today I am home sitting up at my computer. I won’t be able to sit here all day, but enough to finish what I need to finish today.
There are two things I want to share with you as a result of this experience.
First, I was 1000% happy with the hospital experience. The building itself was LEED certified to be completely nontoxic. It was fragrance-free, organic food…you can read more about the hospital at LIFELY: My Recovery From Cancer in a Lifely Hospital.
The other thing I want to be really clear about because this was a big lesson for me.
I spent forty years of my life devoted to finding hidden toxics in consumer products and shopping for nontoxic products for myself and others so we could all be safe from these toxic substances. And I thought that would protect me. It did, but only to the degree that it could.
I think there is a thing that happens—I know this happened to me—when people find out toxic chemicals are making them sick, and that you can get well by avoiding them, you begin to think there are only two worlds: the toxic world and the nontoxic world. The toxic world is dangerous and the nontoxic world is safe. It’s easy to be lulled into thinking that all you need to do is avoid toxic chemicals and you will never be sick or get cancer.
But that’s just not true.
What IS true is that toxic chemicals in consumer products make people sick. And eliminating your exposure to toxic products can help your body be healthier. But it’s not the whole story—it’s only the first step.
Last June, I retired from my toxics work because I had a feeling there was more I needed to do and I wanted to give myself the space and time to find out what I needed to do to have a high level of wellness in my body. Obviously I needed to do this because they removed a tumor that was large enough that it may have taken months, if not years, for it to grow.
My first months after toxics I spent researching and writing and developing a viewpoint around adding more Life to our individual lives, and moving away from industrialization.
But only this past week I found there was something else that we all really need to focus on. Not instead of toxics, but in addition to. And that is food.
I’m going to be writing a lot more about this, but I just want to start by telling you that certain foods can be even more harmful to health than toxic chemicals.
The night before my surgery I started reading a book called Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study. I read parts of The China Study about five years ago and I remember it saying “eating meat causes cancer” but I was so convinced at the time that toxic chemicals were much more probable carcinogens that I didn’t pay attention to this.
Yet, the very night before my cancer surgery, I open this book and it says
The food we eat is a much more powerful determinant of cancer than just about any environmental toxin…
Animal protein intake determined cancer development far more than the dose of the chemical carcinogens.
Animal protein is more powerful as a cancer-causing agent than chemical carcinogens. Dr Campbell writes about how his laboratory studies showed how they could turn cancer on and turn it off using nutrition only.
So where did I get cancer? I would say most likely from the years I spent eating a Paleo diet and later a Keto diet filled with animal protein of all types. Both at the insistence of my medical doctors who insisted I each this way to control my elevated blood sugar. I finally stopped eating these diets when I lost my left eye to diabetic retinopathy. After switching to a China Study type diet, my remaining eye has only grown stronger and my blood sugar is now normal, which I had never been able to achieve on the animal protein diets.
I had already planned to start a new food blog, but now it’s on the front burner. Apparently, nutrition affects health even more than most of us thought it would. I’ll be writing more about exactly how animal protein causes cancer and how we can create satisfying meals that eliminate this danger. And many other food and health and nature related topics as well.
My surgery was 100% successful, so I am now cancer-free. Thank goodness. But I can see there is much more to learn and do, while standing on my firm foundation of living toxic-free.
Question from Sheryl
We are allergic to dust mites in pillows and mattresses. There are organic cotton encasings for pillows but from my research and an allergist the tight weave in cotton will loosen over time allowing the dust mites to get in to the pillow. The other option which holds it’s tight weave is micro-fiber. I like a brand called “Mission Allergy”. Do you think it would be toxic to sleep on micro-fiber?