Aluminum, a Shiny Metal with a Dark Side

by Michaela Felgines, July 27, 2022

What do most people think about when they hear the word aluminum?  Maybe images of chocolate chip cookies baking on top of shiny aluminum foil come to mind or your favorite soda in a cold can or maybe even if you are old enough you might think of your grandmother’s spaghetti sauce simmering away in her lightweight aluminum saucepan. Beyond this I would argue that most people think very little about aluminum, but I here to argue that they should.

 

Aluminum may be the 13th element on the periodic table, but it holds the honor of being the number one most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and the third most abundant element after Oxygen and Silicon. Aluminum is a reactive element and is naturally found in highly stable alumino-silicate complexes and not alone in its metallic form. What is most interesting and strange about aluminum is that aluminum is not part of the human metallome, meaning that it has no biological function, none whatsoever, analysis have shown that no biota in history has shown a need for aluminum. So, if it is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust how can it be that life has evolved with it being so abundant, yet have no biological function for it?

 

The answer is in its tightly bound form of alumino-silicate. Aluminum on its own, in its metallic form Al3+ is not found naturally since it will always form tight bonds with silicate. Silicate is even more prevalent than Aluminum, and so aluminum will never find itself without a date. However, man over the last 100 years has come between aluminum’s close relationship with silicate and the consequences of this have been a dysfunctional relationship between us and aluminum, to put it mildly.

 

Intense mining efforts to extract aluminum from earth’s crust and separate it from its lifelong partner silicate began with the advent of industrialization. This process gave us the shiny lightweight metal that we all know today as aluminum. When separated from silicate aluminum  is a highly versatile metal which is used in many products that we use today, We can find it in antacids, anti-perspirants, cosmetics (aluminum is what gives makeup it’s sparkly look), tap water, table salt, aluminum cans, foils and other packaging, uncoated aluminum cookware, building materials, household items, tapes, insulating materials, food grown on clay soils, baby formula [1] [2], vaccines [3], processed cheese and prepared foods made with table salt and tap water, as well as many medications, including Tylenol and Advil. When aluminum is separated from silicate, we get AL3+ a very biologically reactive element and because of the intense mining of it, it has become ubiquitous in our environment and is now widely distributed throughout all industrialized nations. In fact, when reviewing hair tests this is the most common toxic metal that we see elevated on an initial hair test, which is indicative of an increased body burden of this metal. Clients always ask me “Where is this coming from?” and I want to say, where is this not coming from? We have had throughout history, the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age and as Professor Chris Exley, top researcher on aluminum has declared, we are now in the Age of Aluminum.

 

Because of the prevalence of this element in our environment it is imperative that we understand it’s action upon humans as well as the plants and animals that coinhabit the planet with us. Why? Because before industrialization, never before in our evolutionary history have we had to contend with this element, not in its bio-reactive metallic state. Although research has found that there is no biological function for aluminum in our bodies, that does not mean that it is biologically inactive, we know that aluminum is on the contrary very reactive within our body.


 

How Can Aluminum Affect Me?

When there is no use for an element in the body, then it is considered toxic. The body will need to expend energy in order to process it for removal, it will try either to dispose of it or try and make do with it to the best of its abilities. If the detox pathways are healthy, the body will shuttle it out of the body via feces, urine, sweat and breath. If, however the body does not have sufficient energy to detox the metal properly it may try to store it away into the tissue in order to deal with it at a later time when energy is high enough to get rid of it properly. Compounding this, If the body is already mineral deficient while being exposed, the body will act like a sponge for toxic metals, because if the body is lacking in minerals, it will try and use what it can to fill in the enzyme sites that should be taken up by the proper mineral. In the case of aluminum minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc are directly antagonistic to aluminum which means that they will compete with aluminum in these sites. We can imagine toxic metals as spare parts, the body will use them rather than having no parts at all. The problem with this is that the spare parts are never as good as the actual parts and when the body substitutes toxic metals for essential minerals there will undoubtedly be symptoms as our body is not running to full capacity with the replacement parts, on the contrary it is limping along, just getting by. When the correct minerals are high enough, the body will release the toxic metals in favor of the original parts. Symptoms of an individual overburdened by aluminum will vary on how the metal has distributed, combined along with predisposing genetic susceptibilities. Below is a list of the possible symptoms and disease processes that aluminum can cause.

  • Brain fog

  • Memory loss

  • Dementia and Alzheimer's disease [4]

  • Amyotrophic lateral

  • Cardiovascular Disease [5]

  • Sclerosis

  • Anemia

  • Asthma

  • Allergies

  • Hemolysis

  • Leukocytosis

  • Porphyria

  • Colitis

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Tremors

  • Epilepsy [6]

  • Dental cavities

  • Hypoparathyroidism

  • Kidney dysfunction

  • Liver dysfunction

  • Neuromuscular disorders

  • Osteomalacia

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Ulcers

  • Autism [7]

  • Brain Inflammation

  • Inflammation (all Kinds)

  • Decreased Sperm Counts [8] [9]

  • Arthritis                                                                     

  • Breast Cancer [10] [11]

  • Encephalopathy

 

The Verdict is out on aluminum, studies have shown that aluminum is decidedly neurotoxic. As a neurotoxin aluminum is capable of destroying the neurons that are needed for proper cognitive and motor function [12] [13]. The brain is a target tissue in the accumulation of aluminum [14] [15] which is why many brain symptoms and diseases are involved in aluminum accumulation. In fact brain biopsies of people that have died with diagnoses of Autism, Alzheimer’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis have shown greatly increased accumulation of aluminum in their brains compared to those that did not die with the those same diagnoses [16]. Although much of aluminum’s effects are due to chronic exposure over a lifetime or decades, aluminum has also caused documented acute cases of toxicity in humans. aluminum for example was the causative factor in dialysis encephalopathy where aluminum was inadvertently titrated into the brains of individuals receiving dialysis. The aluminum that got into their blood and subsequently into their brains was the aluminum from simple tap water. Tap water had been used to clean the blood of the dialysis patients. Because there was more aluminum in the tap water than the blood, the aluminum passively transported through the dialysis membrane and into the blood causing high blood concentrations of aluminum and resulting encephalopathy and death in some of the cases. Yes, this is acute, but one could easily argue that drinking aluminum containing tap water over decades could easily present a chronic exposure to the metal.

An overlooked exposure. Where does it go?

We now know that we can be exposed to aluminum through eating it, as in processed cheeses and table salt, drinking it, as in tap water, drinks in aluminum cans and baby formula, breathing it in, as in aluminum containing dusts, especially used in building materials, but one of our major and often overlooked sources of exposure to aluminum comes from injecting it. Currently 20 of our childhood vaccines contain varying amounts of aluminum. When we eat it or drink it whatever aluminum makes it through the digestive system then needs to be filtered through the liver before reaching the blood stream which gives us a degree of protection. Arguably the worst type of exposure to aluminum would be inhalation through the nose where it can go right into the brain, or by placing it directly into the blood stream as in the case of the dialysis patients or in the case of vaccination. Many Vaccines use aluminum as an adjuvant. An adjuvant is used in a vaccine to illicit an immune response from the body against whatever antigen that the vaccine was designed to protect against, so in the MMR vaccine, there is the measles, mumps and rubella viruses and in the chicken pox vaccine, the varicella-zoster virus. In consideration of aluminum’s extreme bio-reactivity, there are several problems with its usage in this way. The very presence of aluminum is immune stimulating, which is its purpose as an adjuvant, so we can consider that it is just doing its job, however it can easily produce an extreme immune response, an over response, resulting in varying forms of auto immunity or inflammation as in the development of allergies and auto immune diseases [17]. To compound this, vaccines will often contain trace amounts of proteins that were used in their manufacture, including peanut proteins, egg proteins, as well as various animal proteins from the serum they were cultured on. When the body reacts to the aluminum adjuvant it also can and does react to the other things within the vaccines, causing allergies to eggs, peanuts, and animal proteins. If the aluminum particles end up in an organ or the brain, then the body may attack these organs as it has recognized the aluminum as an intruder. Contrary to what most pediatricians will tell parents, the aluminum does not stay at the site of injection and will translocate to other places in the body and be stored in the body’s tissues as the immune cells take it up and move it away from the injection site. Studies have shown that aluminum excretion after vaccination does not increase in the output of the element in either the feces or urine [18]. So where do they think it goes?

 

What can you do?

Although all of this may seem discouraging, there are important things we can do to maintain our health in the face of aluminum. The most obvious is that we can try and avoid aluminum as much as possible, although this does help and is important, it is often not enough since aluminum is almost impossible to avoid completely, it can even be found in the air we breathe and the organic foods we consume. The other thing we can do is to make sure that we are compensating for our exposure with compounds that are known to antagonize aluminum in the body or alternatively bind directly to it. Studies have shown that patients with Multiple Sclerosis have high body burdens of aluminum, and that when administered 1.5L of silicon rich mineral water a day, their excretion of aluminum greatly increases, reducing the body burden [19]. We can find silicon rich mineral water in many grocery stores, brands such as Fiji Water, Volvic, Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water, and Socosani Still Water as well as others have high levels of Silicon. Anyone who has drank these waters consistently overtime will also report the added benefit of faster and stronger growing hair and nails. The other way to effectively eliminate aluminum is to get a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis from a certified Nutritional Balancing practitioner. The Hair analysis will not only reveal heavy metal burden as in aluminum but can also direct us to the targeted supplements and nutrition needed in order to facilitate the detoxification of aluminum as well as many other metals and chemical substances. In addition to detoxification, the targeted nutrition that you receive from a proper diet and targeted supplementation will enable the upregulation of the whole enzymatic system of the body, allowing for improved energy, optimal immune function, balancing of hormones, ideal sugar regulation, decreased inflammation, balancing of the oxidation rate as well as overall body rejuvenation. When we deal with aluminum in this way, we eventually can transform the body into an organism that will not except aluminum into its cells. Our bodies will, when given enough of the right minerals to occupy the enzymatic sites be resilient to aluminum and other heavy metals as they will have nowhere to attach to. In our present environment aluminum will continue be an unwelcome guest, but if we take protective measures, it will no longer be able to take up residence within us.

[1] https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/5/899

[2] https://bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2431-13-162

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X21000523?via%3Dihub

[4] https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease-reports/adr170010

[5] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0300483X17302305?via%3Dihub

[6] https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/12/2129/htm

[7] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X17308763?via%3Dihub

[8] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0890623817302411?via%3Dihub

[9] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0890623814002548?via%3Dihub

[10] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(17)30233-5/fulltext

[11] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0162013413001608?via%3Dihub

[12] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0161813X02000979?via%3Dihub

[13] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0161813X02000979?via%3Dihub

[14] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0161813X1530036X?via%3Dihub

[15] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2014.00212/full

[16] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-64734-6

[17] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jt/2014/491316/

[18] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0946672X20301978?via%3Dihub

[19] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(17)30428-0/fulltext