Updated: Sep 5
People who are living with a current exposure to heavy metals often ask how they can detox. What do you do, for instance, if you still have amalgams? Or perhaps you live in a house with a lot of lead dust and can’t afford to move. In either case you can’t chelate because chelating with current exposure will only make you worse.
Andy Cutler maintained that in the case of mercury one hour of sweating is equal to a day of chelating with DMSA, but I don't remember his saying anything about other metals. I poked around on the internet and found this paper: "Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review": https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312275/, which looks at 24 different studies having to do with sweating and heavy metals. (Two statements in the paper struck me particularly: “Physicians commonly have a low index of clinical suspicion and therefore levels of toxic elements are seldom investigated.” That’s certainly true enough! And then this: “in two studies participants were intentionally dosed with lead.” Wow!)
The conclusion of the paper was yes, all these toxic elements get excreted in sweat. So, if you are in the unfortunate situation of having a current exposure, sweat inducing exercise or a sauna may really help. This is as long as you can tolerate either of these things. The danger is overtaxing your adrenals and crashing.
When using a sauna, it is important to be able to sweat properly. Some toxic people have this ability impaired and if you don’t sweat, a sauna can give you heat stroke. It is normal to feel hot but not to feel distressed or uncomfortable. If you feel bad, you should get out immediately. Your core body temperature should not rise significantly.
Your goal with the sauna is to generate the most sweat possible. Keeping the heat low and spreading the use over several sessions works best to accomplish this without stressing yourself. Remember that heat rises so stay in the coolest part which is near the floor.
Andy reported a high adverse reaction rate with certain far-infrared or infrared saunas. This has nothing to do with their being infrared. The problem is that some of them have inadequate heating units and heat the body up unevenly and stress the autonomic nervous system. In other words, you can crash your adrenals with cheap infrared saunas. Cheap saunas may also be constructed of materials that emit VOCs that can particularly bother toxic people. Andy mentioned Heavenly Heat as a properly constructed brand that is okay to use although I am sure there are others. Regular, old-fashioned saunas are always okay.
To increase sweat production and support your adrenals while you sauna, Andy suggested the “adrenal electrolyte cocktail." The adrenal cocktail is 1 Tbsp of Epsom salts, 1 Tbsp salt, ¼ tsp potassium chloride (Nusalt from the supermarket) in 2 quarts of water. You can make it with juice or add a sweetener to make it palatable. You can use this in combination with a “diaphoretic tea” made of equal parts of yarrow, peppermint and elderflower. Spicy foods such as ginger, turmeric and hot peppers also increase sweating. Just be aware that turmeric is high thiol and that peppers have a lot of salicylates.
If you are one of those unlucky people with looming dental work or current exposure to lead, here is something you can do right now. I would advise approaching it in the same way you approach chelation. Go at it in a steady and structured way. Be mindful how you are feeling and don’t over-stress yourself. Support yourself with the core four and other appropriate supplements or medicines according to the symptoms you are experiencing.
Here is a good article about saunas: https://saunahelper.com/benefits-of-using-a-sauna/