Trace Minerals as a Natural Remedy for Digestive Problems
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE.
Scientists today believe that as many as 90% of Americans are deficient in trace minerals. Trace minerals (which are also known as electrolytes or trace elements) are merely elements from the earth that our body uses to produce the electricity that runs our organs and that makes our nerve cells work. A deficiency of trace minerals can cause symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, but because trace minerals are used throughout the body to provide electricity for all organs and systems, a deficiency of these vital nutrients can lead to a wide spectrum of different diseases, including digestive diseases. In this article, we mostly discuss how trace minerals impact digestion via the liver and the gallbladder as well as how to supplement with trace minerals to ensure that you end up with balanced levels of the elements that you need.
Though many liver and gallbladder diseases involve a deficiency of one or more trace minerals (which are also known as “electrolytes”), some liver or gallbladder diseases can be traced back to electrolyte imbalances or even to trace mineral excess.
Muddy Pigment Stones and Electrolyte Imbalances
One scientific study examined liver and gallbladder bile from 208 patients and then noted the pH, osmolarity, and electrolyte levels to determine if electrolytes or pH levels changed the types of gallstones found in the liver and in the gallbladder. Essentially, all of the patients had identical pH levels, osmolarity levels, and electrolyte levels except the group of patients with muddy pigment gallstones (which can be found in either the gallbladder or the liver). In patients with muddy pigment stones, there were higher levels of calcium and magnesium in their liver bile.
All other types of gallstones in both the liver and the gallbladder contained similar levels of electrolytes, pH, and enzymes.
Electrolyte Imbalance in Metabolic Disease and Chronic Liver Disease
A number of studies, many of them Russian, have shown correlations between electrolyte / trace-mineral levels in gastric juices and bile and diseases of the stomach and liver. The liver plays an essential role in the maintenance of electrolyte and trace mineral balance in the body. Most electrolytes / trace minerals are absorbed into the bloodstream in the first and second section of the small intestine (the duodenum and the jejunum).
The liver is the organ that makes it possible for electrolytes to be absorbed into the digestive system and to then travel to the other organs of the body that require them. Electrolytes typically have an “electrical” function wherein they move across membranes to generate electricity that the organ uses in order to function properly. But electrolytes can only enter the bloodstream if they latch onto a plasma protein such as albumin. Albumin, by the way, is manufactured in the liver. As a transport protein, albumin acts like a vehicle for electrolytes to safely transport them to areas of the body where they’re needed most.
In addition to playing a vital role in the distribution of electrolytes and trace minerals throughout the body, the liver and gallbladder are also involved in the removal or excretion of trace minerals like copper and magnesium from the body via the bile.
Essential trace minerals (also known as trace minerals or electrolytes) play vital roles in the general maintenance of health because they’re involved in a number of metabolic pathways. Indeed, electrolytes must be present in order for the body to generate electricity that is in turn used to animate the body. A deficiency or excess of any of these electrolytes can lead to so-called metabolic diseases which include the following:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Impaired Glucose Tolerance
- Gaucher’s Disease
- Glucose-Galactose Malabsorption
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Lipid Problems
- Heart Disease
According to conventional medicine, when a trace mineral like zinc, selenium, iron, or copper is deficient or in a state of excess/imbalance, metabolic diseases occur. Another way to state this same concept (according to orthomolecular medicine, for example) is to say that metabolic diseases are actually mineral-deficiency diseases or diseases of mineral imbalance. And once we acknowledge that trace mineral deficiency can lead to serious diseases like those listed above, it becomes more interesting to note that the liver is at the core of these diseases as the organ that is largely responsible for metabolizing trace minerals and electrolytes.
In other words, if the liver isn’t functioning properly, various diseases that have been dubbed “metabolic” can occur. Scientific studies have acknowledged that administration of trace minerals can cure metabolic diseases. In some cases, trace minerals must be depleted to cure metabolic diseases that are caused by excessively high levels of trace minerals. But administration of trace elements/electrolytes/trace minerals must be administered with a recognition of the fact that the trace minerals by themselves may or may not treat the liver dysfunction that lies at the core of these diseases. However, if trace mineral deficiency or excess/imbalance causes symptoms of a metabolic disease, liver disease is sometimes cured by the administration of trace minerals too. Many trace minerals can be taken in high doses without adverse effects. Lugol’s iodine and potassium iodide, for example, are both often taken in mega-doses to cure disease.
Scientists are currently studying how disorders of the liver can cause metabolic disease through its effects on trace mineral levels in the body. Dysbiosis of the gut (also known as Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO) is also responsible for impaired metabolism of trace minerals. A deficiency of trace minerals may, in fact, play an important role in the perpetuation of SIBO and gut flora problems. Perhaps trace mineral deficiency initiates the disease versus SIDO causing trace mineral deficiencies. In either case though, if you drink a sea water supplement as a natural treatment for SIBO, it will help your body hydrate more efficiently and it will also help keep your bowels moving, which in turn, will help you cure SIBO.
Trace mineral/electrolyte deficiency plays a role in the following chronic liver diseases:
- Chronic hepatitis
- Liver cirrhosis
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Autoimmune liver diseases
- Chronic liver injury
When liver function is impaired, metabolism of trace minerals may also be impaired which can lead to oxidative stress, liver inflammation, and fibrosis of the liver tissues. In patients with ascites due to cirrhosis, for example, the kidneys become impaired in terms of their ability to manage water levels in the body. The severity of this kidney problem is directly related to the severity of the liver disease. The result is low sodium levels in the body (hyponatremia) and whole-body blood-vessel dilation which then causes an inappropriate activation of Anti-Diuretic Hormone (ADH) / Arginine Vasopressin. The inappropriate activation of ADH causes more water to be retained in the body, further diluting sodium. This example demonstrates the relationship between the liver, kidneys, and the circulatory system, via the release of ADH from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
Trace Mineral / Electrolyte Medicinal Action in the Body
Trace minerals / electrolytes play the following medicinal roles in the human body:
- Enzyme co-factors
Trace minerals like lithium, which can be taken in low-dose supplement form as the lithium orotate salt (as differentiated from lithium carbonate, the toxic drug that’s used to treat bipolar disorder) or it might be added to drinking water via a seawater supplement. Lithium Orotate plays a number of important functions in the body.
Certain trace minerals are required in proper quantities in order to evoke an appropriate immune response to viral infection. Other trace minerals are required for the clearance of viruses from the body. Scientific studies, for example, have demonstrated that essential trace minerals play inhibitory roles in the replication of several hepatitis viruses including:
- Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Hepatitis C (HCV)
- Hepatitis E (HEV)
In other words, trace minerals inhibit the growth of viruses in the liver and in other parts of the body. There are a number theories about how trace minerals work against viruses, but one of the simplest theories has to do with alkalizing the body. All pathogens have an optimal pH range within which they can survive and thrive. Alkalinizing the body creates a sub-optimal environment for a large number of pathogens, including viruses.
Trace minerals work though other mechanisms of action though too to treat disease. For example, selenium and zinc are two trace minerals that specifically inhibit the replication and transcription of viruses in the liver. Zinc plays a role in both innate and adaptive immunity and a deficiency of zinc can lead to impairment in the maturation and activation of lymphocytes.
How to Improve Your Electrolyte / Trace Mineral Levels
There are a variety of ways to use electrolytes / trace minerals to treat digestive problems and liver and gallbladder diseases. Below we talk about 3 different natural forms of electrolyte / trace minerals that should be taken daily if you have a deficiency of trace minerals / electrolytes:
- Shilajit / Humic Acid / Fulvic Acid
- Seawater Supplements
- Himalayan Sea Salt
Shilajit / Humic Acid / Fulvic Acid
Shilajit is an anti-aging substance that is regularly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a substance that contains over 85 minerals in ionic form as well as phytonutrients, humic acid, and fulvic acid as well as vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C esters. It is an important supplement for anyone who is suffering from digestive problems, including liver or gallbladder issues.
About 50-60% of a shilajit supplement contains fulvic acid, a 100% natural organic substance that includes water and 75 million year old earthly deposits of 74 essential complexed and dissolved trace minerals.
The fulvic acid in shilajit has the ability to open cell walls in order to transport the trace minerals deep into the cells for healing. If our cells either don’t have access to trace minerals in sufficient quantities or if the cells aren’t able to absorb the trace minerals, people develop fatigue, inflammation, memory issues, and the aging process speeds up.
Shilajit stimulates the production of digestive secretions including the production of bile while balancing reproductive hormone levels without causing side effects. It can be used as a treatment for a variety of diseases including:
- HIV / AIDs
- Parasite infection
- Skin disease
- Gallstones and gallbladder disease
- Menstrual disorders
- Sexual debility / Sexual dysfunction
- Kidney stones
Patients typically take 100 mg of shilajit 1-3 times daily.
Seawater supplements are another option for individuals who would like to increase their trace mineral intake. Seawater supplements are usually added to every glass of water that the individual drinks throughout the day (usually about a teaspoon of seawater is added to every 8 ounce glass of water to remineralize it.
Seawater supplements naturally contain trace minerals from the interaction of the sea with the rocks at the shore and at the bottom of the ocean. Many trace minerals that have been leached out of the soils have been washed into the ocean. In the ocean, these trace minerals are found in their proper proportion, which is roughly equivalent to the proportions found in a healthy human body. So seawater supplements are another important source of trace minerals.
Himalayan Sea Salt vs. Table Salt
Another way to improve your trace mineral intake is to replace your table salt with himalayan sea salt which contains an array of trace minerals in natural form. Salts easily dissolve in water, so they are easy for the body to absorb and use.
Other Important Links:
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Trace Minerals (2022). Why You Need Ionic Minerals. Retrieved June 27, 2022 from https://www.traceminerals.com/research/why-you-need-ionic-minerals
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