The Effects of Cigarette Toxins – Arsenic

Thank you for checking part 3 of our analysis of the toxic ingredients of cigarettes. We previously discussed the dangers of benzene [click here], and we will focus next time on formaldehyde.



Arsenic is a highly poisonous chemical that has been used in insecticides, and is known to cause brain damage to the workers who spray it. Historically, noble families used arsenic to assassinate their adversaries and countries have used arsenic in military conflicts. Generally, arsenic inhibits enzymes that cells require to produce energy. This can be debilitating because cells are genetically programmed to destroy themselves when they lack sufficient metabolic energy.  A 2006 study published in the “Environmental Health Perspectives” database determined that the risk of developing bladder and lung cancer increases with exposure to arsenic. Concentrations above 150 parts per billion were found to be hazardous in this regard.[1] According to a 2012 study from the British American Tobacco Company, cigarette smoke contains arsenic at a concentration of about 10 parts per million.[2] This arsenic concentration in cigarettes is 1,000 times higher than that found to be hazardous by the 2006 study.

The most effective way to eliminate arsenic from the body is to remove yourself from the source of this substance. Arsenic is slowly excreted in the urine over time, but as a heavy metal, it can accumulate extensively in the liver.[3] Because of this, you will unlikely rid yourself of arsenic as long as you continue to smoke cigarettes. The chemical can also be absorbed through the skin. So if you routinely smoke in an enclosed area such as a car or a small room, it would be advisable that you clean anything there that you normally touch.

Chelation therapy is one alternative way to remove arsenic in our body. This is especially true if lab results determine your urine arsenic concentration to be above 200 micrograms per liter. According to a 1998 study published in the Independent Journal of Pharmacology, the best agent for arsenic removal is succimer (DMSA).[4] However, this itself is a synthetic chemical with toxic side effects. Most if not all of the approved chelation therapies are done intravenously. One should only consider chelation therapy when there is a medical need and even then should be under the supervision of an experienced health professional. This is true not only for the synthetic chelation therapy (such as DMSA, EDTA, DMPS, etc…) but also for natural chelations (such as Vitamin C, chlorella, and glutathione to name a few).

A much safer and yet more complete way to removing toxins out of our body is by means of what I call “Nutritive Chelation.” That is, by means of the appropriate natural nutrients we take-in in sufficient quantity, they can indeed chelate  heavy metals such as arsenic just as well as the other options. Although slower than the medical chelation method, the nutritive approach has the advantage of working progressively at the deeper cellular level. The result can be foundational and long lasting. When one reaches cellular level balance, a deeper level of toxin displacement takes place and true health and vitality may be restored.

What are some of the nutritive approaches? Without going into all the details, here are 2 simple methods you can easily implement. First, and foremost is food. Nutritious wholesome foods contain vital minerals and nutrients used for every aspect of our body’s metabolism and overall wellness. Best food nutrients that aid in detoxing arsenic and other heavy metals in general may be cilantro [5], seaweeds, chlorella, spirulina, alfalfa, distilled water, garlic, and others. However, our nutrient intake from food sources is incomplete at best because not everyone eats essential foods he/she needs and some of the food sources might be contaminated with the very same toxins that you are trying to remove. In fact, many foods are even  de-natured (e.g. GMO) nowadays. More on that in the future.

As a result, we need to use the second  nutritive approach and that is  – herbal supplementation. Herbs, as you may already know, are highly nutritive. Once digested and absorbed, they have cellular level effects much like that of foods except they may have a greater therapeutic impact through their powerful synergistic actions. Best herbal supplements that may detox and gently chelate arsenic out of the body system may be: vitamin C, sulfur amino acids, apple pectin, alginates, activated charcoal, to name a few. Much like food sources, you need to carefully select the products and product companies that are reputable for uncompromising quality and purity of their products.

Nature’s Sunshine’s Heavy Metal Detox provides a number of chelating substances. It also contains vitamin B6 and alpha lipoic acid, which will protect and repair your liver during the oxidative detoxification process.[6,7] There is a great advantage natural therapy has over prescription alternatives such as DMSA and Dimercaprol.

While we are nutritionally balancing our body and displacing the toxic metals at the cellular level, it is very important to assist our body in expelling out these same toxins via our elimination channels. One of the often forgotten major channel of elimination is our skin. A good deal of heavy metal toxins may be excreted out of our system by sweats. So a very simple natural and yet effective of detoxing is exercise. Consistent regular mild exercise is highly recommended for our overall health. Sauna is another excellent way to helping to eliminate toxic metals out of our system. Infra-red heat systems such as the BioMat (click here for more info), has an additional benefit of deep tissue heating (versus Sauna’s surface tissue). It facilitates the decoupling of toxins from water molecules. and aids in the production of heat shock proteins [8] to promote cellular regeneration and blood circulation. Any of these thermotherapy methods should be seriously considered as a part of your toxic metals detox program.

If you have any question about this blog and/or the natural remedies described, feel free to leave your question or comment in the section provided below. We love to hear from you.

Our next blog on this subject will focus on formaldehyde in cigarettes – check back with us soon!

Jeff Riddle and Paul Tsui

[1] Lamm, S. H.; Engel, A.; Penn, C. A.; Chen, R.; Feinleib, M. (2006). “Arsenic cancer risk confounder in southwest Taiwan data set”. Environ. Health Perspect. 114 (7): 1077–82. doi:10.1289/ehp.8704. PMC 1513326. PMID 16835062.

[2] Liu, Chuan.” Arsenic Speciation in Tobacco and Cigarette Smoke.” Beiträge zur Tabakforschung International. Volume 25 Number 2. June 2012. British American Tobacco GR&D

[3] Swaran J.S. Flora and Vidhu Pachauri. “Chelation in Metal Intoxication.” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 July; 7(7): 2745–2788.

[4] Gubrelay U, Mathur R, Flora SJS. “Treatment of arsenic poisoning: an update.” Independent Journal of Pharmacology. 1998;30:209–217.


[6] Kaya-Dagistanli F1, Tanriverdi G, Altinok A, Ozyazgan S, Ozturk M.  “The effects of alpha lipoic acid on liver cells damages and apoptosis induced by polyunsaturated fatty acids.” Food Chemical Toxicology. 2013 Mar;53:84-93.

[7] Bustamante J1, Lodge JK, Marcocci L, Tritschler HJ, Packer L, Rihn BH. “Alpha-lipoic acid in liver metabolism and disease.” Free Radical Biology & Medicine. 1998 Apr;24(6):1023-39.

[8] Nobuhiro Yoshimizu, “The Fourth Treatment for Medical Refugees – Thermotherapy in the New Century,” Richway International, Inc., 2009

The information provided here has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is for education purpose only and not meant to replace medical advise. As always, if you smoke and suffer any of the symptoms described you should go to your medical physician as soon as you can.


Posted by Paul

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