Heavy Metals In Daily Life (Part 4 in series)

(audio transcript below)

Welcome to AIM For Health: Root-Cause Conversations with Dr. James Biddle. All content from the conversations in this podcast are created and published for informational purposes only. This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on for personal medical decisions. Always seek the guidance of your doctor with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.

All right, welcome back to our podcast, Ask Dr. Jim Bob.  I am Dr. James Robert Biddle.  I run Asheville Integrative Medicine, and I have our new patient coordinator Joy to help us out today.

Hello everyone!  So the next one on (our heavy metals) list is cadmium.


What is cadmium?

Cadmium – let’s see.  I have a little note here: cadmium was identified in 1817 by a guy in Germany and named after a mythological Greek character Cadmis.  Anyway, cadmium is another heavy metal that is used in paint pigments a lot, like cadmium red.  So we can see artists who are painting on canvas and such who are not protecting themselves, not ventilating well and getting this on their skin can become cadmium toxic.  And cadmium is also concentrated by tobacco – cigarette smokers have high cadmium levels.

Would that apply also to secondhand smoke exposure? 

It also does apply to secondhand smoke, that’s right.  What I find interesting is all of these were used as medicines like 100-150 years ago.


Yes.  I have a little book, it’s the 1899 version of the Merck Manual.  Because I bought the 1999 Centennial edition and they sent out the 1899 version and there is a whole bunch of cadmium preparations, a whole bunch of lead preparations, a whole bunch of mercury preparations…

Why do you think they were using it as medicine?

Well because in some ways it temporarily inhibits your immune response so it can decrease inflammation just like steroids do.  It makes you worse in the long run, but it can make you feel less inflamed in the short run.

A little bit of immediate relief.

A little bit of immediate relief, right.  Meanwhile you are kind of poisoning yourself.

So cadmium, what I know about cadmium as far as it toxicity levels is cadmium has an estrogenic toxicity.  So cadmium is associated with increased risk of breast cancer.


Besides that I don’t know a whole lot about the other.  Here it is talked about causing enlarged joints and glands, but I don’t know a whole lot about the actual symptoms of cadmium.  I know a bit more about the next one which is antimony.

Antimony – what’s that?

Antimony is often used in gunpowder, so that is the place I’ve seen it.  It has also been used as a malarial treatment before, for tropical diseases, for parasites.  It can also be in well water as an industrial contaminant, and I have seen a few kids high in antimony and they all had aggressive issues.  They are the kids who are hitting the other kids over the head with toys in the playground.


Yes, so antimony can be a problem.

Next we have aluminum, and I think most people have heard about aluminum being an issue in dementia risk.

Right, because it goes to the brain, does it not?

It does tend to go to the brain.  It’s found in the brain plaques.  Interestingly aluminum is the most abundant metal in the crust of the earth, yet it is never found free in nature, it is always bound up.  Obviously we mine it and then isolate it and use it in all kinds of things from aluminum foil to cans and utensils.

And we put it directly on our bodies in antiperspirants and it’s even in baking powder.


Really important things to keep an eye out for so that you are not just placing it directly on your body.

Sure.  And aluminum is a bit tricky because it is in, for example, a lot of shampoos and conditioners.  We see it as an external contaminant in the hair analysis.  So when I see a high aluminum in the hair, it might be coming from the body, but it might just be on the hair, not in the hair.  So then we want to confirm that with a chelation challenge and see if it is actually in the urine coming out after a chelation.  Along with aluminum is uranium and uranium is a heavy metal but it is quite common around here because granite mountains break down and granite breaks down into uranium.  It is not radioactive uranium. But all the well water around here has uranium in it.

Really – I did not know that.

Yes.  Which is why even if you are on a well you should probably filter your drinking water with a filter that takes out 99% of the heavy metals like lead and mercury and uranium.  So we routinely see it high in the hair just like we sometimes see aluminum high in the hair.  And then we have to see in the urine, you know, is it really high in the body or is it just an external contaminant onto the hair.  Uranium doesn’t have a lot of specific symptoms.  I have seen it be associated with chronic fatigue when it is actually high in the body.  I did discover having one person’s well tested that they actually had radioactive uranium.  Apparently they were downstream from the groundwater of where the atomic bombs were made over in Tennessee.

Oh wow!  So their actual well was radioactively contaminated.

Yes, it was.

That’s terrible!

Yes.  And they shut down news about that pretty quickly.

I bet.

What’s our next one?


Nickel.  Yes, nickel is what, you know, people will get rashes on their wrist or finger from wearing cheap jewelry that has too much nickel in it when it is supposed to have gold instead.  So that is what most people know about nickel.  It has been used to make bronze all the way back 4500 years ago in Syria and weapons in China, it was called white copper.  And I also don’t know a whole lot about nickel toxicity.  We don’t see as much nickel toxicity these days.  I think there is just less of it used.

Well that’s good.

Yes, that’s good.

We also have tin and arsenic on the list. 

Right, so we do see arsenic and arsenic was made famous in a movie with I believe Cary Grant called “Of Arsenic and Old Lace” where the old ladies were poisoning vagrants with the blackberry brandy which is funny because it is a comedy.

Well sometimes when we see people come back with the high arsenic level, sometimes the men will look at their wives and say “what are you doing to me?”

Right.  Well, so arsenic is one of those that can, as you can tell from that story line, if you get a lot of it right away, it can kill you right up front.  Otherwise it is also just one of those kinds of general metal toxicities that does not have a whole lot of specific symptoms.  But all these metals, the problem with them is they just poison every single cell in your body, so often it is not specific symptoms, but what they all have in common is they disrupt your gut in nonspecific ways, they disrupt your brain in nonspecific ways, and so they are all associated with kind of the same sort of fatigue, malaise, brain fog, anxiety.  You go in to your doctor and start complaining about all that, what are they going to do?

Give you prescriptions for all sorts of things.

Give you Prozac and valium, or Xanax.  They are going to give you antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, but they are never really going to investigate the root causes of it, and especially looking at heavy metals.

Right, and detoxing.

And detoxifying you.

Now, I wanted to ask you specifically about two things that are actually used in medical testing that people can get exposed to – barium and gadolinium.

Yes, so barium is using mostly in swallowing, or in an enema.

As a contrast.

As a contrast.  So you swallow it and they can do a barium swallow and then do an x-ray while you are swallowing it and see if the muscles in your esophagus work appropriately and in synchrony or if they are disordered.  And they can see how well your stomach empties, how long stuff stays in your stomach versus how long it goes down, to see if you have gastroparesis which is paralysis of your stomach, usually from diabetic neuropathy.  And they can do a barium enema as kind of an alternative to doing a colonoscopy or a flexible sigmoidoscopy.  They don’t do that as much anymore because it only finds one out of three cancers and misses two out of three, so it’s – but if for some reason somebody doesn’t tolerate a colonoscopy, if they medically can’t do it, then they will still look for lesions that way.

Huh, I hadn’t heard of that method.

And of course the big question is “How much gets absorbed?”  So the doctors tell us that it goes right through you, it comes on out and none of it gets absorbed.  But barium is a heavy metal, it is a toxic metal, and we are seeing it more and more in people.  I don’t know what to think about this, but supposedly that is what is being sprayed out of the airplanes in chem-trails as geo-engineering.  They can control the weather or something.


Barium is one of the things that – and I don’t know what to do with that information.  Where do I go with that?  I don’t know.  All I can do is measure people, see if they have it, and then help them get rid of it.

Right.  Well I was curious about that one.  I have had to do those barium swallows before and it is not pleasant!

No, it is not pleasant, and I don’t know how much of that actually absorbs.  You know, they say not much.

That would be nice to think as you’re drinking it.  And gadolinium?

Yes, the gadolinium is more problematic because gadolinium is injected into your vein as an IV contrast for MRIs.

And some people have some pretty strong reactions to it.

Right.  It has been known to, if you have borderline kidney function, to tip you over the edge and cause kidney failure or worsen your kidney functioning.  And it can cause painful skin all over your body as it builds up.  The action movie star Chuck Norris who was the Texas Ranger in that one TV series, well his wife had a series of I believe like 9 to 11 MRIs and they injected gadolinium every single time and she ended up with gadolinium toxicity.  When we are doing a chelation challenge on people and they had had an MVI in the last year or two, we routinely see very high levels of gadolinium come out.  Now sometimes you do have to have gadolinium to get a good MRI.  Sometimes if you can do without it that’s great.  Sometimes you can still learn what you need to learn without the gadolinium and I encourage you to avoid it if you can, but if you have to have the gadolinium then I would want to do chelation.  Do a series of chelations afterwards to get it out.

Yes, absolutely.  I would imagine the sooner the better.

The sooner the better, yes, to get that level down.

And you would want to come see someone like us for that.  That is not something I have ever heard of as being offered in a hospital although that would be nice.

No, they would never do it.  You actually can – we will get more into that.  There is an oral EDTA called liposomal EDTA.  EDTA doesn’t absorb very well orally, but if you put it into a liposome which is a fat molecule that wraps around it and protects it and allows it to go across your gut wall, then you could self-treat and use that to get the gadolinium out.

It is nice to have options.

Yes.  And then the last one is fluoride – Right?

Yes, that is a big topic.

Yes.  And fluoride – it is hard to talk about fluoride without going right down the rabbit hole.  I have on my bookshelf right behind me a book called The Fluoride Deception and this is all from – government stuff is classified for 50 years and then released, and so all this stuff from World War II is now declassified and so when the Manhattan Project was making atomic bombs, fluoride is one of the byproducts and DuPont (the chemical company) was helping them and they had a plant in New Jersey and they had a fluoride escape spill that killed basically every farm animal across two counties.

Oh my word!

And this was I believe in about 1943 or so.

That’s a large area – two counties!

Yes, that’s a large area and nobody ever mentions, like, what happened to the people.


So fluoride became a PR issue and so the Defense Department hired the same researchers in a university in upstate New York who had done research on radioactivity and injected US citizens without their consent or knowledge with radioactive materials just to see what would happen to them.

That’s horrifying.

And those very same researchers published the first study showing that fluoride is good for your teeth, by ingesting it.  And so it is now thought that that research was totally bogus, that it never showed that, was never even done perhaps, but this allowed – when those studies were published then – allowed the PR movement to say look – fluoride is good for you.  And then they started getting rid of it by diluting it into our water supply.

Right – it’s industrial waste!

And now we all drink this industrial waste of fluoride and I has never actually been shown to be good for your teeth by drinking it.  It is good for your teeth to put it on your teeth.


Topically.  But when you drink it, it actually is very bad for your bones and teeth.  It makes your teeth and bones soft.  It causes bone cancer to some degree, in young men especially.  And now one out of three teenagers in the United States actually has dental fluorosis which is damage to their teeth from the excessive fluoride.  And we tried to get it out of the water supply here in Asheville some 15 years ago.


And myself and a few other Integrative doctors and dentists in town got spanked at City Council.  The American Dental Association came in with all these experts and called us “baby haters” and showed us – look at all these horrible surgeries children have to use, and they couldn’t even get that, well, these are children who are drinking the fluoridated water!  It’s not saving them!  You’re showing me pictures of kids who were drinking fluoridated water who now have to have dental surgeries.  But the most – my one point I was able to make in the two minutes I was given to speak was that the American Pediatric Association says you should not give newborn children formula that is mixed with fluoridated water.

You know, what really breaks my heart is when I go to the grocery store and if I am picking up a couple gallons of spring water, you see the nursery water and it specifically says nursery water with fluoride for baby.

Yes.  You are not supposed to do that.

That makes me so sad to see that.

No – because it actually causes damage.  So you’re specifically not supposed to give infants fluoridated water, but if you are a minority low socioeconomic person, you cannot go out and buy bottled water to mix for your baby, so this is another racial economic discrimination and it is the only medication that we give people without their consent and without any appropriate dosing.

Right.  If any doctor in the country gave everyone the same medication at the same dose, they would lose their license in a split second. 

We don’t even have control of the dose.  What if this one person is exercising a whole lot and drinking a gallon of water a day.  How much fluoride are they getting compared to somebody else that is drinking 3 or 4 glasses of water a day?

Right – and is there even any consistency with how much is getting put in each water supply?

Right.  So fluoride is a big problem and not only does it cause the bone issues and the teeth issues, but it also causes calcification of our pineal gland which nobody exactly knows how bad that is.  But it causes sedation in some ways.  You know, because it displaces iodine from our thyroid gland, so one of the things that has been done in places of mass incarceration where you want to make the inmates more docile is to give them a lot of overdose of fluoride.


Seriously.  Because it makes, just like high-dose lithium, it can make them a little bit hypothyroid which then takes away their motivation to protest and revolt and things like that.


So that has been used through history.


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