Lead Toxicity: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings.
Sources of Lead Toxicity
Lead Toxicity Symptoms
Treating Lead Poisoning
Testing for Lead Toxicity with HTMA
Lead toxicity is one of the most dangerous types of heavy metal toxicity due to the prevalence of lead in our world and its severe impact on the human body. In the United States, public understanding of how hazardous lead exposure is, especially for children, increased greatly in the 1970s, resulting in legislation that began to regulate and eventually ban the use of lead across many sectors of society, including lead-based paint in homes, lead water pipes, leaded gasoline, and more.
Sources of Lead Toxicity
While the populations of most developed countries are generally safer today than in past decades in terms of daily exposure to this heavy metal, lead remaining in older homes and plumbing infrastructure built before stricter regulations or bans existed can still pose significant health risks to both adults and children.
One common source of lead exposure for children is contact with lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings. Additionally, contact with high amounts of lead is a risk in certain occupations, and toxic levels of lead can also be present in the soil and water around homes near certain industrial areas. Over time, even small amounts of lead can cause serious physical and neurological health problems.
Additionally, according to a study published in March 2022, approximately half of the US population was exposed to harmful levels of lead in their early childhood during the peak era of leaded gasoline use in the US (from the late 1960s to early 1980s).
It's estimated that several million Americans alive today were likely exposed as children to lead levels that were over five times the current reference level. This widespread exposure has likely had health consequences for a large percentage of United States citizens, and affected individuals could benefit from testing their current lead levels and treating lead toxicity if it is found.
Detecting Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning can be difficult to detect. Symptoms may not appear until dangerously high levels are present in the body, but nearly every part and function of the body is affected by lead poisoning — the nervous system, reproductive system, digestive system, respiratory system, and more. In both children and adults, the greatest impact of toxic levels of lead is often on the nervous system.
Common symptoms of lead poisoning in children include:
- developmental delay
- learning difficulties
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- sluggishness and fatigue
- abdominal pain
- hearing loss
- chewing or consuming substances that aren't food, such as paint chips (pica)
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Common symptoms in adults include:
- high blood pressure
- joint and muscle pain
- difficulties with memory or concentration
- abdominal pain
- mood disorders
- reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm
- miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women
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Removal of Lead Sources
The first thing to do if you or a loved one is suffering from lead poisoning is to remove the source of lead from your environment. Once that's done, there are a variety of treatment options, depending in part on the severity of the lead poisoning.
Doctors often recommend undergoing chelation therapy, which involves taking a medication which helps your body bind the lead and excrete it in urine.
However, conventional chelation therapy can have a number of efficacy concerns and side effects including renal toxicity, so alternatives may be better for some people, especially those with kidney issues. Other possible side effects of chelation therapy include appetite loss, nausea, and diarrhea.
Lead Toxicity Symptoms and Treatments
Kristina Amelong, CCT, CNC discusses lead toxicity. She outlines possible sources of toxic levels of lead in our daily life, common symptoms of lead toxicity, and ways to help detox heavy metals including lead from your body and treat the harmful symptoms of lead toxicity. She also explains why a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) is the best way to test for toxic levels of heavy metals (lead, aluminum, copper, mercury, etc.) in your body.
Natural Lead Toxicity Treatments
- Targeted Supplements — Research has shown that dietary supplements can be effective at both preventing and healing lead toxicity. Supplements also usually have fewer side effects, and are more affordable and accessible for many than chelation therapy.
- Ortho Z-Binder — This is a broad-spectrum, naturally sourced binding formula which supports enhanced clearance of heavy metals from the GI tract. Binders have been used for centuries to treat toxin exposure and play an important role in many detoxification protocols.
- Zinc, calcium, magnesium, and iron supplementation — Studies have shown that having low levels of these minerals can lead to higher levels of lead absorption, so ensuring you are not deficient in any of these minerals can help protect your body from lead toxicity. Additionally, zinc helps to relieve the oxidative stress that is often caused by lead poisoning. Lead exposure can also cause iron deficiency and anemia, so taking an iron supplement such as Standard Process Fe-Max Iron or Ortho Reacted Iron is important if you have low iron levels.
- Selenium reduces oxidative stress and supports the body with detoxing heavy metals.
- Vitamin C — Studies have shown that vitamin C can act as a chelating agent of lead, so increasing vitamin C levels is a natural way to help counter lead toxicity.
- Bacopa — Many of the symptoms of lead toxicity are neurological. Bacopa supports brain function and can help one heal from the harmful cognitive symptoms of lead toxicity.
- ATP Fuel can also help counteract the symptoms of lead toxicity and provide your body with an energy boost to support detoxification.
- NEW! OHN Heavy Metals Detox Kit — This kit contains four key supplements, including Ortho Z-Binder, to help you detox from toxic heavy metals including copper, mercury, aluminum, and lead.
- Overall Diet — Your diet can play an important role in detoxing from heavy metals. I recommend following the Ten Days to Optimal Health diet.
- Colon Cleansing — One of the most effective ways to detoxify the body and support liver and gallbladder health is by doing the 3-step enema series protocol frequently for a period of time. Many people will do the enema series anywhere from 1 to 7 times per week while healing from lead toxicity.
Testing for Lead Toxicity with HTMA
What's the best way to test your body's lead levels?
I recommend doing a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) instead of a blood test. Blood tests only measure the amount of lead circulating in the blood at that specific time, which can give you information about very recent exposure but does not reveal lead levels stored up in the body's hair and tissues over time.
Additionally, an HTMA tests your body for many different mineral and heavy metal levels, and provides valuable information about important mineral ratios.
Toxic levels of lead can impact your body's calcium and magnesium ratio by displacing calcium from the bones, so having information about these mineral levels is valuable.
Iron, zinc, and calcium deficiency can result in increased absorption of lead.
Magnesium, copper, and chromium are also often connected to your body’s lead levels. This means that the levels and ratios of these metals and minerals are important, and can provide you with key information on how to remedy lead toxicity and improve your body’s overall health.
Lead toxicity is a dangerous condition which can impact your entire body in harmful ways. There are many natural ways you can support your body in detoxifying lead, including mineral supplementation, overall diet, and colon cleansing with the enema series.
If you think you may be suffering from lead poisoning, or if you want to check your body’s mineral and heavy metal levels, I recommend doing a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis test.
Additionally, if you'd like more support healing from lead toxicity, you can set up a scheduled phone consultation with me for individual guidance and support.
DISCLAIMER: This material is presented for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or prescribing from a licensed healthcare professional. We make no claim or guarantee for cure or relief of any specific symptom, medical condition, or disease when using any of the products or protocols referenced here. Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment, or care, or starting any diet, exercise, cleansing, or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention.
By Kristina Amelong, CCT, CNC
I-ACT-Certified Colon Hydrotherapist
Certified Nutritional Consultant