How toxic are you? Your hair holds the secrets

You probably don’t feel at all toxic. But it may be catching up with you quietly. Everyone knows that if you put a small frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump straight out as soon as it touches the water. But did you know that if you put the frog in the very same pot, but fill it with cold water and gradually heat it up, the frog will stay there until it's boiled to death.

This nasty analogy probably applies to many of us in many aspects of our lives – from chronic disease to toxic relationships. Gradually, over time, we get used to our relationship being just about bearable or our health being under par.  It's easy to rationalise this. Perhaps you tell yourself: "Age comes with health problems…what can I expect?" Whilst this is true to an extent, toxins increase that toll many times over.

How do you work out what toxins may be affecting you? 

This is a simple one to answer. You do a Hair Mineral Analysis test every few years to identify what’s going on. Your hair reveals all sorts of things about you, with traces of toxins that have built up over time as it grows. The results of polluted lives – whether from the air, water or earth of your immediate environment, all show up. Residues of pharmaceutical drugs and over the counter prescriptions are visible, and the evidence of household cleaning products. The catalogue of chemicals you surround yourself with on a daily basis. All chronicled in your hair.

Hair mineral analysis involves cutting a few small samples of hair from your head, and sending them off to a lab to be tested for toxic metals and mineral deficiencies. It costs around £70 and once you receive the initial analysis, you have in your hands a clear baseline of exactly where you are with your biochemistry, and how it’s being affected by environmental toxins, so that you can work towards correcting it. You then run the test again in a couple of years to make sure that what you are doing is actually making a difference. If it isn’t, then you simply change what you are doing.

In-depth results

You will get back around 11 pages of analysis, telling you what to do to resolve whatever your issues turn out to be. Where else, for the price of dinner for two in a nice restaurant, can you find out your levels of chromium, molybdenum, sulphur, zinc and potassium to name but a few of the minerals and essential elements that the body needs to function? Or the levels of harmful mercury, copper, cadmium, lead and arsenic that might be making you sick? Did you know that the presence of toxic metals blocks the body’s uptake of minerals? Or that the body can’t get rid of the metals by itself – you have to help it?

Mercury fillings 

The first time I had my results back, I was equally impressed and depressed. Impressed by the quality and range of the report; depressed that I wasn’t nearly as healthy as I had imagined. Several pages of charts clearly identified where I was out of balance. My mercury levels were sky high. Really annoying because I had excellent teeth as a child, with not a single hole till I was 15 and my mother switched me from my private dentist to an NHS practice.

Many of us nearing the end of our 50s may have found the same. In those days the NHS dentists were paid per filling. If you didn’t get a filling, they didn’t get paid, so guess what? In the space of 3 years, I suddenly found myself with 10 fillings, and each of them filled with mercury. I have a DVD that shows what happens with mercury fillings over the years. It's a bit like watching ahorror movie. As the fillings deteriorate, the mercury slowly leaches into your body. They often give off a fine gas that penetrates into the soft tissues of your mouth (up into your brain) and throat, lodging eventually in various of your organs.

Toxic tuna

Eating lots of fish also contributes to high mercury levels, and I saw one of the most vivid examples of this in a youtube interview with a young Hawaiian surfer and professional athlete who had just been tested. He was about 25, super fit and had been on a strict organic diet to support his training for several years. He looked incredible but had been feeling exhausted recently and couldn’t find the reason. He had the highest levels of mercury that the lab had ever seen and they worked out that it was down to his diet, and mainly to what he thought was healthy, organic fish. He ate fish all the time – and tuna in particular, which is one of the worst sources of mercury. It was the mercury that was taking its toll on his health, despite the exercise, despite the organic food. But at least he found out in time to do something about it, before he got seriously sick. He had only been eating like that for a decade or so, whereas many of the rest of us have been repeating similar patterns for 40 years or more.

Alzheimer's risk

Toxic metals create imbalances in the body, and can be behind thyroid problems, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, bloating and stomach issues – the list goes on and on. They play a part in most diseases, weakening the immune system and lowering our defences. Cadmium, lead and aluminium are linked to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Studies done on various cancer groups showed that aluminium and cadmium levels were a common denominator in the disease and were elevated in all the subjects. A 2007 study of men over a 13 year period found that for each microgram of mercury in the hair, the risk of acute coronary events increased by an average of 11 percent and a cardiovascular disease death rate by 10 percent.

My test also showed that I had high levels of copper. I worked out this must have come from the ancient copper pipes in the building I had lived in for years. You can also overload yourself if you cook with copper saucepans that aren’t coated properly, and even if you smoke e-cigarettes. Copper builds up in your liver, interfering with its ability to clean your blood. It also affects your neurotransmitters and is associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Need to know

What it boils down to essentially is that you do not want high levels of any toxic metal in your body. You certainly don’t want them accumulating in your bones, brain, liver or kidneys, causing malfunctions and chronic disease. If you don’t fancy cutting sections out of your hair, or if you don’t have much hair to cut in the first place (though they can use pubic or chest hair if necessary) then you can also have blood or 24 hr urine tests done via your doctor or naturopath, specifying what metals you want tested.  Blood or urine results, however, tend to only show your recent exposure to heavy metals whereas the hair test tracks what has been happening over a period of years.

Be safe – test your toxicity!  Toxins may well be causing your health issues.  And once you know what your toxic levels are, then it is entirely possible to rectify the problems and reboot your health once and for all.


Read more of the ReBoot Health detox series