February 13

The Ultimate Heavy Metal Detox

Doctors Mercola and Yu bring us the Niacin Detox Protocol.  It’s a proven, effective way to detox the chemicals from your body, which on average holds more than 400 toxic chemicals.  But I advice caution.  Beware the “detox effect”.  Watch Yu and Mercola below.

Note: This is article 3, part 2 to my FREE four-part series about how to build a strong and youthful body. For more on heavy metal detox and where it fits in an overall cleanse, read Why You Need a Three Phase Detoxification Plan.

REGULAR READERS of this blog know well that I’m a big proponent of heavy metal detox cleansing.  It’s simply unavoidable that a person in modern society can reach adulthood without accumulating unnatural and unhealthy toxins in his/her body.

But you don’t even have to wait till adulthood to be so encumbered.  Nor need you wait to be born to start counting the toxins in your body.  According to an Environmental Working Group report, toxic chemicals first get introduced into a person’s body while still in the womb.

The report said this:

“Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood… harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.”

“Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied.”

I don’t believe we all start out life as sinners, but it’s clear that we start out toxic.

So, from the start of life, our organs of detoxification, such as the kidneys and liver, are quickly tasked with working hard to keep us functioning.  However, as we grow up and drive our cars, drink our booze, smoke our cigs, and eat our manufactured food, we double down on our chemical “inheritance”.

Of course, our industrialized world contributes more than its fair share, making the most abstemious among us a toxic dump.  In North America alone there are over 77,000 chemicals being produced; 3,000 of them have been added to our food supply and our bodies cannot metabolize 20,000 of them properly.

What happens to them? Between 400 and 800 of these sweet chemical residues get stored in our fat cells where they set up camp and thrive. We’re talking PCBs, dioxins, xylene and dichlorobenzene, among the hundreds of others.

Being overweight is becoming dangerous.

In addition to the diabestity and heart disease epidemic sweeping the country, we can now include toxic overload. That’s because toxins inhabit fat at 100 times the rate as is found in blood. Given that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, most of us are walking, talking chemical repositories.

Now, for those of you who haven’t clicked away in disgust or depression, know that there’s a little known protocol for extracting the toxins quickly, effectively and –maybe — safely.

Before I learned today about this protocol by Dr. George Yu, clinical professor of urological surgery at the George Washington Medical Center and Dr. Mercola, of health web site Mercola.com fame, my best advice for detoxing was to choose one of several cleansing rituals that’s aimed at detoxifying the liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.  And I’d say, “be sure you include frequent detox baths”.

[Read It’s Detox Time and Cleanse the Bloat Away – 5 Recommendations.]

Certainly, I still advocate these, as they’re effective and complementary to the Dr. Yu Protocol I learned today.  But now, we have an extra detox weapon in our arsenal, and one that has clear scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.


The Niacin Detox Protocol

Yes, this what I’m referring to as the Dr Yu Niacin Detox Cleanse, and it’s based on niacin, which is vitamin B3.

This heavy metal detox protocol is very similar to what’s used to treat drug addicts, and other sufferers of chemical/heavy metal toxins, such as the 911 responders, those exposed to Agent Orange, and the like.  This niacin cleanse has been extensively tested and works to quickly and effectively purging the body of toxic chemicals.

The niacin simply drives the toxins out of the cells.  Yes, the niacin does its job, but yours is to do the specific routine that helps ensure your safety and the effectiveness of the protocol.

Here’s what to do each day for 30 days:
  1. Niacin. Start with 250 milligrams of the type of niacin that creates the body “flush”, not the popular non-flush brand.  When high doses of niacin are in the bloodstream, you will experience splotchy redness on the skin, itchiness, irritation, and if there’s too much niacin, light-headedness.  So you need to start at 250 milligrams or less if less than 140 pounds.  Ingest the niacin and then…
  2. Exercise. You have to elevate your heart rate and start sweating. Do not wait more than 15 minutes after taking the niacin or you may be dealing with some of the unpleasant flush effects. Any aerobic exercise that elevates your pulse and causes sweating will do.  Using a rebounder will increase the detox effectiveness because it helps cleans the lymph nodes.  Other exercise choices could be jumping rope, jogging, walking up a hill, stationary or regular bike, elliptical machine, etc. Do it for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Sauna. After exercising, cool down a bit, take a cool shower and then a 40-minute sauna.  Forty minutes are too long for anyone not practiced at it, so you must do it in intervals.  If you can only stand 15 minutes at a time, do it three times, with cool showers intermixed.  An infrared sauna is best, but any will do.
  4. Evacuate. After the sauna, ingest activated charcoal or bentonite (a type of liquid clay).  Either of these quickly binds and absorbs anything in your gastrointestinal track and evacuates it from the body.  (These are great to have on hand for those rare times you may overindulge on sugar or alcohol.)
  5. Drink Water. Drink as much purified water as you can over the next several hours.


Niacin Cleanse Precautions

As with anything new that affects your health, you need to be smart about this! Friends of mine have done the detox bath and overloaded on the niacin and had a couple of hours of a very unhappy time.  The same could happen here.

  1. Don’t overdose on the niacin! (See # 1 above.)
  2. If you don’t have a sauna, substitute it with a detox bath. (Instructions are at the end of this post, Detoxifying Your Way to Nirvana… skip the niacin part since you’ll have already consumed it.)
  3. 30 Days is a long time. Frankly, although this is the time-tested protocol used for detoxing some high at-risk people, I think it’s too long for the average person.  Take baby steps… maybe try every other day for a week and see how you’re feeling.
  4. Overweight? Dr. Yu cautions that doing this niacin cleanse if overweight, particularly if obese, may release more toxins from fat into the bloodstream than can be handled without causing a detox effect. (Read my post, The Reboot Diet and the Detox Effect.)  If this describes you, lose some pounds first.  (Yeah, I know…easier said than done.  Get some points on this by reading, Diet 101.)
  5. Liver Problems.  High does of niacin can affect the liver of some people.  Hepatotoxicity may occur after months of daily doses of 500 to 750 mg/day, along with side effects such as higher liver enzymes, jaundice and hepatitis. So, I say again that medical supervision is recommended before you do this niacin protocol.

My last comment on this topic is that I intend to try this Niacin Detox Protocol myself, but to be clear about how it would work for me I first need to get a blood test to identify my body’s chemical load. Then retest. Another item on my “to do” list.  You may want to wait for me to be the guinea pig before you try it, or do it under the consultation of your doctor.

And now to the videos about the Niacin Detox Protocol from doctors Yu and Mercola:

Note that Dr. Mercola spoke about telomeres, the DNA in our chromosomes that is a marker for lifespan. Here are some posts on the topic that you’ll want to know about:

Three Months to Longer Life
How Exercise Slows the Aging Process
How to Live to 100. Watch.

So, that’s it on the Ultimate Heavy Metal Detox for now. Is this something that you would consider doing? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Over and out.

UPDATE: If you want a deeper dive on detoxification, you will get a lot out of these articles (and video):

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If you liked this article and want to read the rest of the series, go here!

Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Joe Garma


chemical detox, niacin flush, heavy metal detox, Dr. Mercola, Dr. Yu, niacin detox

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  1. Interesting Joe. I wonder how I would feel if I popped the niacin right before the 90 minute Bikram Hot Yoga class……In the Hot Yoga room, we have the heat, sweating and getting the heart rate up, all in one…….then hose off with nice cool water after class….How long do you suggest to exercise before taking the sauna on your routine?
    I think I am getting some bulk activated charcoal powder ……allways good to have some handy in case of food poisoning etc……

    1. Depends on the amount of niacin. Start with 250 milligrams. All that movement and sweating for 90 minutes should counter any uncomfortable niacin flush caused by this dose. Increase the dose gradually.

      Suggest at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise after taking the niacin. If after that amount of time, the niacin is still flushing — and it would be with 500 milligram doses for most people — the sauna will help dissipate the flush.

      I don’t have personal experience with the charcoal, but I do with the bentonite, and I think it’s great.

    2.  I’ve been taking 500 mg of niacin before Bikram (hot) yoga for the past 10 days and I feel great.  I actually notice the flush less in the hot yoga room. 🙂

      1.  That makes sense, given that you’re already accustomed to Bikram yoga, because all that sweating will flush the niacin from your system, even more than would the detox bath.

  2. Should this protocol, niacin/exercise/sweat/clay be done on an empty stomach or can you eat a little something before taking the niacin and exercising?

  3. How much Niacin should you eventually take? Until you get the flushing? IF you start at 250mg and get no flush keep slowly increasing the amount until you get a flush? Or how do you decide how much Niacin you should take?

    Thank you.


    1. Doug, there’s no telling how much “flush” is going to be experienced by any one individual. I’m 210 lbs and yet if I take 250 mg at once I’ll get too much flush. This is fine if I’m going to take a “detox bath” which will help dampen the flushing effect, but if I’m working or something, don’t want to deal with it. So, I recommend that you start at 250 only if you can take a bath or sauna to reduce the effect if it comes on strong; otherwise, take half w/ a meal, and the other half w/ a meal and slowly increase the dose. This is what I’m doing. – Joe

  4. I tried this and 5 minutes into the sauna my head got sleepy/lightheaded/dizzy and i think my blood pressure plummeted. after my shower i took afterwards my skins was soo incredibly unbearably dry and itchy…took a few hours for everything to calm down….that was miserable

    1. Ouch.

      This is why I caution people to go really slowly with the niacin. I know this from experience. One way to help subside the niacin “flush” is to take a detox bath followed by a cold shower scrub. Also must keep drinking water.

      I haven’t experienced or heard others complain about dry skin. If you have aloe vera lotion or something similar, use it liberally. Coconut oil too.

  5. Thanks. Do you think its from the sauna or niacin? Weird thing about it is that a few months ago when i was at college I would take niacin occasionally and do cardio (especially after a night on the town if you know what i mean haha) and it would work out fine…no weird side effects just the typical redness and all. Do you think these weird effects are from the sauna? Or do you think i did something to my skin? If not, then the Only thing i can think of is that i used to take a few detox baths a week with hot water…maybe that could’ve cause skin damage?….I’m so confused haha whatever you can suggest and tell me would be great!

    1. Adam, fast answer: I don’t know.

      Even doctors, of which I’m not, do not try to figure these things out sight unseen, or knowing a person’s history.

      Just don’t do it again, or you’ll get the same results.

  6. Dr. Garma,
    I watched your video.
    I am applying your Niacin detox technique
    in an attempt to remove the ciguatera toxin
    from my system. I aquired the ciguatera toxin
    in my system back in November, and I am
    still suffering from extreme chronic fatigue,
    and awful paresthesias in both my feet. I have seen a specialist on ciguatera, but her perscription
    faild to help. So now I am being my own
    doctor, and hopefully this Niacin technique
    will work. I have done it now for two days,
    and already the chronic fatiue has improved,
    at least temporariy. The feet are still sore
    and numb.

    1. You are being facetious with the “Dr.” label, yes Monte, for I’m not a doctor, and just to be accurate, this is not “my” niacin detox technique, but one developed by Dr. Yu.

      There might be a lot going on with you of which you’re not aware. I myself am trying to get to the bottom of what might be causing some symptoms of my own that are inconsistent in a person w/ my exemplary health habits. In my case, a low functioning thyroid and/or mercury toxicity may be causing high LDL numbers and various precursors to heart disease; namely, systemic inflammation and high homocyst(e)ine.

      Although I really have no idea, your issues may not be solely due to ciguatera. Consider having some blood work done to examine hormone functions. Also, a good website for chronic fatigue is http://www.ProHealth.com, where there are 100s of articles about it and fibromyalgia. Good luck!

      1. Joe,
        thank you for responding to my question.
        I was not deliberately being “facetious” in addressing you as doctor, I am sorry for my
        misinterpretation. I simply browse through a lot
        of web sites in my attempts to find answers, so I don’t notice all in print, as I focus in on what
        I am looking for. The video you supplied was excellent.

        1. Read it. The article makes the connection btwn ciguatera and CFIDS tenuous. If you disagree, re-read it:

          “The only way one can get ciguatera poisoning is by ingesting the toxin, and the toxin is only occasionally found in such fish, which are the top of the food chain. There is no other source. The typical human being will never be exposed to ciguatoxin.”

          Re Dr. Hokama study: “… it is highly likely that the substance wasn’t ciguatoxin. He suggests it is some type of lipid released by the liver.”

          “So should CFIDS/ME patients rush out and get Dr. Hokama’s testing for ciguatoxin that the National CFIDS Foundation has advertised? No, since no useful purpose would be served.”

          Anyway, I have no experience or insights with this. If you’re convinced that this is the cause of your CFIDS diagnosis, keep digging and find an integrative/functional medical doctor with this specialty.

  7. What precisely does the detox bath consist of and how long is it done?
    Also, would it be adjusted for someone very slim and low in weight?

    1. In the above post under I wrote: “(Instructions are at the end of this post, Detoxifying Your Way to Nirvana…)”, which contained the link to the detox bath instructions. For your convenience: https://garmaonhealth.com/detoxifying-your-way-to-nirvana/ Twenty minutes or more should work. The ingredients that could be troublesome if too much is used is niacin and ginger powder. Might want to begin below 250 mg of niacin and a level tablespoon of ginger powder.

  8. Um. I am overweight precisely because my body has a bunch of toxins. I have never been this big, ever, not even close. So I am supposed to “lose weight” firsts? When literally nothing else works? Thanks…guess I am screwed. Major flaw in your “plan” because the number one symptom of metal toxicity is inability to lose weight.

    1. Hi Kristen.

      Fat holds toxins — helps make them inert, a bit — so when you lose weight these toxins are “released” into the blood stream, which is why it’s a good idea to include some detox cleansing along w/ a new diet aimed at weight loss.

      People who have legitimately been on healthy, reduced caloric diets and do not lose weight may have some issues that encumber weight loss. These can include toxins, as you suggest, but might more have to do with hormonal balance and gut microbiota.

      Suggest the following:

      1. Refrain from grains (pasta, bread), fast and packaged food — all of which spike good sugar, dull insulin and cause fat accumulation.
      2. Drink several large glasses of water each day; in fact, begin the morning w/ a lemon squeezed in warm water (very cleansing)
      3. Regularly consume pre and probiotics, such as kefer, yogurt, sauerkraut, and consider getting your microbiota tested (see https://garmaonhealth.com/discover-your-microbiome-the-ubiome-test/)
      4. Go to an endocrinologist and make sure that you’re hormonally balanced. Thyroid, adrenal, insulin and estrogen levels can dramatically affect body fat.
      5. Read up on these topics on this site. Go to the side bar and select the “Category” of interest, than scan the selection of articles. There are many on diet, cleansing, hormones, etc.

      Remember, this is a puzzle, a process, it will take time, consistent devotion and a positive attitude. Take the journey w/ a buddy. Will make it more fun.

      Good luck!

      1. i have been doing all those things for over a year. My sex hormones are imbalanced as a result of too much body fat, not the other way around, but in any case treating the imbalance has done nothing weight wise. So I don’t know what else Im supposed to do. Guess I will have to keep looking…

        1. Been there, gained that.

          Looked all over for a ‘diet’ that would help me lose weight and never found anything that left me feeling healthy and with consistent weight loss. (and no re-gain!)

          The only way I’ve seen people consistently lose (or gain) weight to their natural body weight is by following this list http://www.dadamo.com/typebase4/typeindexer.htm, eating mainly alkalizing/alkaline foods/drinks and staying away from as much processed and artificial foods as possible.

          I lose a steady 2-3lbs a week, when I can get the foods I need to be healthy. I’ve gained 45lbs in 2 months on the atkins diet, eating fish, chicken and low cal salad dressings. What you eat is much more important than how -much- you eat, calorie counting is useless when you’re eating foods your body does not process properly.

          Eat less, have more energy, weigh less over time. You can do it!

          Gypsy Gal

  9. Joe, how were your results with the 30 days of niacin and sauna? I have a in home infrared sauna and high mercury with lots of brain fog and other issues and was thinking of trying this out. Thanks.

    1. Matt, didn’t have access to a sauna for the full 30 days, but felt great over the 10 days that I did. If you haven’t been tested for mercury, but intend to, make sure the test tests for mercury type (which will indicate sources of mercury) and how well your body is excreting the mercury load. I did such a test, the Quicksilver Mercury test and interviewed one of the practitioners. Go here to see it: http://www.prohealth.com/landing/MercuryDetox/

  10. Hello , Great article

    quick question can I skip the sauna part and just take the niacin and exercise up a nice sweat then pop a few activated charcoal tablets? or is the sauna a neccessary part of the detox.

    I’m not so worried about speeding up flush dissipation, it doesn’t really bother me that much. My niacin comes in 500mg tablets would this be a problem? took one last night and had an amazing flush little light headed and nice itchy/tingly sensation all over kind of nice on a cold night 😛


    1. The sauna is an indispensable part of the protocol, Macaroni, but you might try doing something else that makes you sweat profusely, or try a detox bath. The recipe is at the bottom of this post: https://garmaonhealth.com/fall-detox-cleanse-in-5-steps/

      Re 500 mg of niacin… not a problem if you can handle it. That much makes me very itchy, blotchy (temporarily, the small blood vessels near the skin are dilated) and uncomfortable.

  11. Just wondering if anyone has ever done a maintenance program for this. If so, what do you do.

    I have successfully done the detox, but I would like to continue to keep my tissues, liver and intestines maintained.

    Any one doing this.

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