Provocative Heavy Metal Test

Submitted by the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine

Autoimmune disease is recognized as a major health crisis in the United States. Today, 50 million Americans—80 percent of whom are women—suffer one or more autoimmune conditions. Thirty years ago, only one in 400 people developed an autoimmune disease. Today, one in 12 Americans—one in nine women—have an autoimmune disease. More women are diagnosed each year with an autoimmune disease than breast cancer and cardiovascular disease combined.

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissue. Some of the more common conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, but the National Institutes of Health estimates there are more than 100 types of autoimmune diseases.

David J. Bilstrom, MD—the Director of the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine—reveals the importance of proactive heavy metal tests to determine toxicity levels in patients with autoimmune diseases.

Toxicity inside the body

Many toxins enter the body from the outside. And every cell in the body makes toxic by-products of metabolism that must exit the body. Most toxins that are produced internally or come in from the outside have to leave through the gut. There are some toxins, though, that leave through breathing, urination, or perspiration, but most need to exit through the gut. For example, we need oxygen. A person doesn’t get very far without oxygen. It is crucial to survival but the toxic by-product of oxygen metabolism is carbon dioxide. The body has to remove carbon dioxide or else it will poison the body.

“You have all these toxins that get produced that have to be eliminated from the body,” Dr. Bilstrom says. “When the gut is dysfunctional, or we do not have the nutrients we need to drive our detox pathways, we accumulate toxicity. With the accumulation of toxicity comes a big driver of autoimmune diseases.”

What is a provocative heavy metal test?

Many toxins are water-soluble and are removed through urination, but the fat soluble toxins invade fat stores and leech out slowly, which throws off the immune system. In order to test for these toxins they must be mobilized out of the fat stores.

“With a provocative heavy metal test, we use a chelating agent that’s going to mobilize the toxins out of the fat stores and into the urine,” Dr. Bilstrom says. “There’s tens of thousands of environmental toxins that can get in and drive the body crazy that we can’t test for in the clinical setting, but we don’t need to. If you’re having a hard time getting rid of the heavy metals, you’re going to have a hard time getting rid of other toxins as well.” The heavy metals that can interfere with the body are metals such as:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • Nickel
  • Cesium
  • Arsenic

The chelating agent has to be able to bind mercury and lead in order to test them in urine. Normal blood testing will only detect these heavy metals if they are in very high amounts. If a blood test says you have high heavy metals, then you have them. If the blood test says you don’t have them, you may still have them. You just did the wrong test. The information is then used as a record to track the success of treatments over time.

About David Bilstrom, MD

Dr. Bilstrom is Director of the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine, which is the first medical center in the country to treat all types of autoimmune diseases. It is also the first to use nature, and its ability to improve human health and well-being, as an integral part of a wellness program.

Dr. Bilstrom works closely with experts in a number of medical specialties to evaluate, diagnose and treat chronic and autoimmune diseases. He is always welcoming new patients at his office within the Bingham Specialty Plaza in Blackfoot. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (208) 782-2444.

Taking the mind, body, and spirit into consideration, Dr. Bilstrom understands firsthand the benefits integrated medicine can provide to patients. He is triple board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Functional and Regenerative Medicine, and Medical Acupuncture. He has extensive experience in Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine, Acupuncture, Integrative Medicine, and Complementary and Alternative Medicines.

Office Location

Bingham Specialty Plaza

326 Poplar Street

Blackfoot, ID

T: (208) 782-2444

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