Why I Avoid Ingesting Aluminum and Stepping on a Rattlesnake with Equal Fervor

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The reason is simple: Stepping on a ticked-off rattlesnake or ingesting too much aluminum, either one, will introduce poison into the human body that the human body could really do without.

For every study pointing out the dangers of getting too much aluminum in your system (you can’t avoid having some), there are “debunkers” willing to swear up, down, and sideways that no-no-no, aluminum can’t harm you, whatever you don’t need is flushed out through the kidneys. They’ll admit that if your kidneys don’t work right, yeah, that’s a problem, but not otherwise.

Why am I not surprised that some of these counter-studies have been done by Aluminum Associations whose livelihood depends on selling aluminum?

Most importantly, aluminum has never been shown to be essential in any way for the human body (including the brain) to function effectively. Some studies of dead folks who’d had Alzheimers showed unusually high levels of aluminum in the victims’ brains. Other, later studies have tried to pooh-pooh those findings, but no. Too much of anything is detrimental. Why expose oneself any more than necessary to a metal that’s not needed at all?

Then there’s the knowing factor. No scientist will give such a thing the time of day, but I live by it…and I know aluminum is deathly toxic at high enough levels.

And I’m not alone. There are others out there who believe as I do. Example: Elson M. Haas, MD, in a Staying Healthy With Nutrition article (Celestial Arts, 1991), had this to say about the toxicity of aluminum:

Methods of toxicity: Aluminum is probably the least toxic of the minerals discussed in this section, although the concern is that it has become so pervasive and is now found in higher levels in human tissues. It is not clear how aluminum functions or interferes with activities in the human body, possibly through some magnesium functions. It may reduce vitamin levels or bind to DNA, and it has been correlated with weakened tissue of the gastrointestinal tract. In Alzheimer’s disease, there are increased aluminum levels in the brain tissue and an increase in what are called “neurofibrillary tangles,” which tend to reduce nerve synapses and conduction.

Oral aluminum, as obtained from antacids, can bind pepsin and weaken protein digestion. It also has astringent qualities, and thus can dry the tissues and mucous linings and contribute to constipation. Regular use of aluminum-containing deodorants may contribute to the clogging of underarm lymphatics and then to breast problems such as cystic disease. Ann Louise Gittleman, a prominent nutritionist, calls aluminum a “detrimental protoplasmic poison.”

A review of the literature indicates that anything more than 20 parts per million (ppm) is considered to be above “normal” (i.e. healthy)–in human hair, anyway–and that less is better. So, it sounds like the rattlesnake analogy is right on; the less of that you have in your body, the better, same as aluminum.

But if you do get too much, especially way too much, what might the symptoms of severe aluminum toxicity be? Eh?

Oh, just a few little things. Besides Alzheimer’s (100,000 Alzheimer’s sufferers die each year), there are documented cases of, let’s see, now…

    Kidney and liver gone to fat

    Anorexia, irritated gut and that

    Is just the beginning, don’t you know

    Numbness, paralysis, on we go

    Loss of bone and softening, too

    Constipation before you’re through

    Problems with your nasty skin

    Lack of energy deep within

    Nausea and the deep need to hurl

    That’s just a glimpse of Aluminum World!

My wife suffers from every one of the symptoms on the list, excluding paralysis (thankfully) but including Alzheimer’s. Could it be that her system does not flush excess aluminum as efficiently as it should? Or that she has been exposed to much higher aluminum intake levels over the years? Or both?

My guess would be both. Pam had rheumatic fever as a young (preschool) child, a severe case that kept her out of action for more than a year and nearly killed her in the process. As a result, her immune system is severely compromised, perhaps not as badly as an HIV positive individual, but nearly so. Logically, her system problems could certainly extend to the elimination of metals from her body. As for intake, she was not even aware of the need for aluminum avoidance until after we met 17 years ago, whereas I’d been “on it” since the 1970’s.

Next question: How do I avoid ingesting aluminum?

Well, first of all, the avoidance practice requires obsessive label reading and involves more than just swallowing stuff. Most deodorants, for example, use aluminum hydroxide as a key ingredient. Not all, though; Tom’s of Maine puts out a product that contains no aluminum, and that’s what’s in my Dopp kit.

Deodorant by Tom's of Maine, my choice because it lacks aluminum.

Deodorant by Tom’s of Maine, my choice because it lacks aluminum.

Some months back, I switched away from coffee and began drinking herbal teas instead. My lymph glands had started acting up, overdosing on coffee seemed a likely suspect as the proximate cause, and there were plenty of tea flavors on the market.

Unfortunately, most of the herbal tea companies out there use aluminum foil packets to protect their tea bags. It was heartbreaking (in a minor way) to discover that Bigelow does this, as does Denny’s for their orange spice tea.

The amount of aluminum acquired from foil packets rubbing against tea bags might be miniscule, but still.

Fortunately, Celestial Seasonings does not use aluminum foil in their packaging, so that’s the brand–and the only brand–I’ll touch. This evening, I’ve already downed a mug of Cinnamon Apple Spice and a mug of spearmint tea. (The spearmint is stocked in bulk and purchased from Amazon–and selected from a bulk spearmint farmer who does not use foil packaging.)

Celestial Seasonings is the only locally available brand of herbal tea that does not use aluminum foil packaging.

Celestial Seasonings is the only locally available brand of herbal tea that does not use aluminum foil packaging.

Cookware is a big issue. I’ve been avoiding aluminum skillets, pots, pans, tea kettles, coffee pots, knives, forks, and spoons for more than 40 years as of this writing. We did have one Teflon coated skillet that was made of aluminum beneath the Teflon, but the instant the first scratch through the coating appeared, that frying pan was retired.

With that exception, everything else in the cookware category is made of either stainless steel or, in a few cases, cast iron–neither of which contain any aluminum in the composition of the alloy.

Eating utensils are either stainless steel or, when we’re feeling too lazy to wash dishes, plastic.

My favorite cast iron skillet hangs on a nail right next to the kitchen range.  Cast iron contains iron, carbon, and silicon--but most importantly, no aluminum.

My favorite cast iron skillet hangs on a nail right next to the kitchen range. Cast iron contains iron, carbon, and silicon–but most importantly, no aluminum.

Does all this aluminum avoidance make any real difference?

If you ask that question of enough people, you’ll get a lot of different–and often conflicting–answers. For my part, I see it this way: I’ve been practicing aluminum avoidance for the last four decades, and so far (knock on wood), I’m not experiencing any of the symptoms associated with aluminum toxicity. Thus it comes back to one of my life mottoes:

IF IT WORKS, DON’T FIX IT.

The same approach applies to rattlesnake venom avoidance.