There are a number of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, aluminium and cadmium which are becoming more prevalent in our environment and thus causing greater exposure than ever before. Mercury is known by science to be a very toxic substance. Research has related heavy metal toxicity to numerous health issues such as: allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, irritable bowl syndrome, sleep disorders, hair loss, dysbiosis, leaky gut syndrome, anxiety, autoimmune disease, endocrine problems, hypoglycemia, arthritis, infertility, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and many more. It acts on the body by binding to sulfur groups, which in turn causes countless issues by interfering with protein-related processes, it also increases homocysteine levels and it also destroys nerve cells.
Sources of mercury can include: amalgam fillings, vaccinations, tuna, shell fish, fungicides, some hair dyes, some paints, coal burning smoke, gardening chemicals and more. If you suffer from any of the symptoms and have been exposed to any source of mercury then you should have your mercury levels tested.
For clarity there are two kinds of mercury. The simple one atom mercury is called “Inorganic Mercury” while the other type of mercury is called “Organic Mercury” which has a hydrocarbon attached to the mercury atom. The organic mercury is considered more dangerous since it can easily penetrate cell walls, is easily absorbed in fatty tissues, and is easily absorbed into nerve and brain cells. For this reason, some feel organic mercury is 100 times more dangerous than inorganic mercury. Sources of inorganic mercury include amalgum fillings while organic mercury can come from fish products, vaccinations or from inorganic mercury in the body (possibly from amalgum fillings) that has been methylated by certain enzymes into the organic form.
Testing for Heavy Metals
Unfortunately normal blood tests are not an accurate means to measure heavy metal levels as they do not stay in the blood for very long before being absorbed into certain fatty body tissues such as the brain, gut and adrenals. Therefore it will not show up in blood tests. Urine tests only show what is being excreted out of the body and is therefore also not very useful for diagnosis. Hair analysis will only detect organic forms of mercury (which is excreted through hair follicles) while inorganic forms go undetected so therefore this test may give a false negative reading in some cases. Since the organic form is the form that concerns us the most some believe that hair analysis is sufficient.
One sure way to determine if you have heavy metal toxicity is to “provoke” them out of your fat stores and tissues and into the blood so they will show up in either blood or 24hr urine tests. They can be “provoked” out of your tissues by using a chelating agent such as DMSA or DMPS. There are several protocol however the method we recommend is taking 200mg of DMSA three times a day on an empty stomach for three days and a 24hour urine sample collected on day three. I recommend this protocol as high doses of DMSA or DMPS can mobilize more heavy metals than the body can eliminate causing discomfort to the patient.
If the results indicate you have elevated levels then it needs to be removed from your body. If the source of mercury is from amalgam fillings then they too should be removed by an experienced holistic dentist. All other sources must also be eliminated.
Removal of Heavy Metals
There are a number of chelating agents available. The choice depends on which heavy metal is present and needs to be eliminated as each agent is more specific to certain metals. These include:
DMSA -is a non-toxic, water soluble substance that has been used since the 1950’s as an antidote to heavy metal poisoning for metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium. DMSA has a large therapeutic window and is the least toxic of the dithiol chelating agents used to remove mercury. DMSA also crosses the blood brain barrier. We recommend low doses to begin with and gradually increasing the dose as the heavy metal burden is reduced in order to avoid any healing crisis reactions.
EDTA: If you are overburdened with aluminium, copper, lead or iron then this is the chelating agent of choice. It does not however remove mercury effectively. EDTA should never be used first if you have mercury poisoning as Dr. Haley, a Ph. D., has shown that EDTA can cause a 100X toxicity increase with mercury in the brain. It is fine to use first if only the other mentioned metals are present. EDTA may also be used in later stages of mercury chelation after much of the initial mercury burden has been removed by DMSA if these other heavy metals are present. We recommend either EDTA suppositories or sublingual powder which are cheaper and more convenient than infusions.
DMPS is considered more experimental by the authorities but has been used in Europe for over 50 years to remove mercury. It is a stronger chelating agent and binds to mercury better than does DMSA so is considered by some more effective however faster mercury removal does not mean better because if mercury is mobilised too fast it can cause serious side effects. DMPS does not cross the blood brain barrier and is considered more toxic than DMSA and can remove essential minerals greater than does DMSA. We strongly recommend not to use DMPS intravenously due to many reported serious reactions. It may however be used orally or transdermally during later stages of chelation once DMSA has removed the initial mercury burden. Many chelating experts will rotate DMSA with DMPS after initially using DMSA alone.
Zeolites, technically a mineral, consists of alternating Silica Tetra Oxide and Aluminum Tetra Oxide crystals that arrange themselves in a lattice-like configuration. The compound has a negative electrostatic charge, while toxic heavy metals have a positive charge. Zeolite thus provides an extensive negatively charged surface area that can attract and bind negatively charged toxic metals. The Zeolite-metal complex is then excreted from the body. Zeolite is less potent a chelator than are the chemical agents such as EDTA, DMSA and DMPS however it is safe to use and cheap. It is often used in combination with the chemical agents. For more information click on zeolites.
There are currently many protocols for heavy metal detoxification depending on who you listen to. Each patient should be matched to the right protocol so it is a very individual treatment plan based on the types of heavy metals present and the extent of poisoning. More aggressive protocols can cause great discomfort to sensitive patients if the mercury comes out of the tissues too rapidly. This causes many detoxification symptoms such as severe headache, feeling toxic, burning symptoms, pains and flu like symptoms. Our aim is to start low and go slow which we feel is the safest approach.
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Our laboratory supplies a number of chelating agents which include DMSA capsules, EDTA sublingual powder and suppositories, DMPS capsules and cream (with glutathione) and lipoic acid.