What is the most effective way to detox from heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic that are an unfortunate part of the post-industrial era we live in now. Do we even need to? I'm not talking about acute but rather chronic toxicity.

Detox has the reputation of being unscientific — probably because of all the bogus products and procedures associated with it. Is there any way to do a broad spectrum heavy metal detox, or is it individual for a metals? If so, how so?

Ps. Please add or take tags as you feel approopriate!

  • Your kidneys are really good at filtering, trust them.
    – John
    Sep 26, 2016 at 8:08
  • You can know you have a chronic heavy metal intoxication if you have 1) related symptoms 2) blood levels of heavy metals higher than what is known as a risk factor for developing a certain chronic disease (cancer, nerve damage, etc.). Levels of heavy metals in saliva or hair (these are popular test performed by certain alternative healers) may not correctly show the actual amount of heavy metals in your body. Most of alternative detox methods do not eliminate any significant amount of metals, anyway.
    – Jan
    Sep 26, 2016 at 12:03
  • Welcome to health SE :-). This is an interesting question (+1 from me), but would you mind rewording the part about detox having connotations of being stupid. It's not that I in essence don't agree that most of popular detox routines are not as miraculous as they claim to be, but the wording you used sounds a bit off. Thanks!
    – Lucky
    Sep 27, 2016 at 0:45
  • @JJosaur if that were true, no one would ever have heavy metal poisoning, right? It depends very much on the extent of the exposure (i.e. concentration in the contaminated medium as well as route and duration of exposure).
    – Lucky
    Sep 27, 2016 at 0:48
  • 1
    @Lucky thanks for the upvote i changed it see if you find this one better Oct 2, 2016 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


Unless you live on an area known for having deposits of heavy metals, or you suspect that you have been exposed (in which case you should go see a doctor), your kidneys should be able to take care of the small amounts of heavy metals present in your diet and environment. That being said, heavy metal intoxication can be treated with chelation therapy if needed. There are many drugs for this, most of them target a different metal selectively. This is not exempt of risks and by no means should be performed without medical supervision.

  • For which exact chelators and which exact drugs you have found some reliable evidence that they eliminate heavy metals from the body once they are already absorbed?
    – Jan
    Sep 26, 2016 at 10:07
  • Penicilamine for copper(molpharm.aspetjournals.org/content/5/2/200.long) and deferasirox for iron (link.springer.com/article/10.2165%2F00003495-200767150-00007)
    – Variax
    Sep 26, 2016 at 11:34
  • OK, so, I believe that by not mentioning these chelators in your main answer you suggest (at least I do) they should not really be used by anyone who does not have clearly diagnosed heavy metal overload.
    – Jan
    Sep 26, 2016 at 11:49
  • 4
    That's right. Chelators can clear you body of heavy metals, but also of beneficial ions such as calcium or magnesium. This may cause a lot of side effects, from osteoporosis to cardiac arrest. You don't want people self-medicating with these.
    – Variax
    Sep 26, 2016 at 13:00

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