Ask Dr. David

by Dr. David Olarsch
Practice of Naturopathic Medicine

Q: How do I tell if I have toxic, heavy metals in my body and what can I do about it?

A: Heavy metals are a huge concern of mine for everyone on this planet. We are becoming toxic time bombs, in human form! That being said, when creating a program for my patients, some of my intention is to clean out heavy metals. However, for those I suspect have a higher than average amount, there are more specific protocols I engage. In my humble experience, the best way to test for heavy metals is hair mineral analysis. I provide this test at the Institute and it can be done at your next visit, or preferably, before your next visit so that we may review the results and make appropriate changes to your program at that visit. You may come in anytime for that—it only takes five minutes—and the cost is minimal. I find this test very useful but do not push it as people get well without it. It is interesting and wonderful to have it done, as one can take the test again a year later and see some outstanding differences. I do my own every year and have many years worth of tests to see progress.

Fiber is a key element in eliminating some of these poisons. Apples are particularly renowned, as they contain a fiber called pectin that pulls certain heavy metals out, and even regulates certain fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Fiber from other fruits and vegetables helps eliminate toxins, including heavy metals, as does pure water. There are other nutrients that can be used, call “chelating” factors. Chelate means to attach to something. I use supplements such as alfalfa, chlorophyll, Vitamin C, minerals, and a supplement called Ex-Tox to detoxify my patients of these poisons. It is a slow process, and I make sure to remove the cause of the problem in the first place. We check drinking water, cosmetics, cookware, occupation and host of other factors to find the root of the problem. This has led to some interesting findings over the years. This wisdom is what I share with my patients and is the reasoning behind many of my recommendations.

Q: Should I use suntan lotions and is the sun good for me?

A: Ah, the sunscreen controversy. That I could write a book about—I’ll try to keep it short here! I feel that the sun is very good for us. We should get as much as possible early in the season to build up our pigments and natural protection factors. It appears that certain poisons in our diet, most notably nitrates from cold cuts, may dramatically increase our chances of skin cancer. Burning the skin is never a healthy event, and sun tan lotions are suspect as they may cause more unintended problems. I know how controversial this all is, but the sun is natural and it hasn’t been conclusively proven that exposure to it causes anything except giving us Vitamin D, a very good thing! In addition, the body needs at least twenty minutes of raw light every day to be well. This means no glass in front of the eyes. A wide-brim hat or baseball cap is fine. So, if you have fair skin and burn easily, you may only be safe with the morning and late afternoon sun come summer.

If you use sunscreen at all, make sure you only use Aubrey Organics as they have it right as far as ingredients and which rays to block. I personally do not use lotion—even in Mexico—I practice “safe sunning” and wear a desert type hat from L.L. Bean that also protects my neck from burning. We often forget that sunlight is healthy for us, and yes, that includes nude exposure, except where illegal! Benefits of sun exposure are: vitamin D which is absorbed through the skin and is important to protect us from certain cancers and keep our bones healthy, prevention and treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), helps people with sleep disorders, reduces P.M.S. in some women, and reduces the appearance and discomfort of psoriasis. For scientific references read this article: Is the Sun Good or Bad?

Some studies have shown that skin cancer can be healed by exposure to sunlight! This is yet another example of the controversy surrounding the human body. We are very individual and studies can only take us so far. Now, we know that some nutrients protect us from radiation and I recommend them for those who get a lot of sun. Supplements to consider include lots of Vitamin C, selenium and essential fatty acids such as borage oil, flax seed oil or super omega-3’s. These act as anti-oxidants, protectors that mother nature uses to keep things in balance. With these, the suns rays, naturally occurring pollutants such as radon and ozone, and bad cells (the cancer or other disease types) are kept at bay. Fat in the diet. the good kind, can protect us. That is why good fats such as coconut are used abundantly in the tropics. Butter, coconut oil and fats from nuts & seeds would be my first choice to increase in my diet to keep your skin moist and youthful.

David G. Olarsch, N.D.