Mercury & Heavy Metal Detox Dangers & Solutions

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Those of you who are familiar with naturopathic doctors are very likely also familiar with the concept of detoxing one’s body of heavy metals. The process of detoxing heavy metals is commonly known as chelation.

What is Chelation Therapy?

Chelation therapy is the use of chelating agents (e.g. DMSA, EDTA, DMPS) to detoxify poisonous metal agents such as mercury, arsenic, and lead by converting them to a chemically inert form that can be excreted without further interaction with the body, and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1991.

I will be the first to admit that we live in a polluted world that is filled with toxins. We breathe polluted air, drink polluted water, and eat polluted food. Pregnant women are warned not to eat tuna fish because they are filled with mercury (as well as other toxins), absorbed from the polluted waters of the ocean. Like the ocean, our atmosphere is also polluted with mercury. Add mercury-containing vaccines and amalgam dental fillings into the mix, and you can be sure that your body does contain some undesireable amount of mercury.

Could we all benefit at least a bit from detoxing our body of heavy metals? Most certainly. However, many alternative health practitioners and alternative health companies seem to be cashing in on the concept of heavy metal toxicity by saying it is responsible for a variety of ills including cancer, autism, chronic fatigue, and almost everything under the sun.

First I will be examining dangerous ways of detoxing heavy metals. Shockingly enough, these supplements are routinely prescribed by many naturopaths and DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) Doctors. I will then be looking at some safer ways of detoxing, and of treating disease in general.

DMSA

Even as early as 10 years ago, alternative health expert Dr. Mercola was writing about the dangers of using DMSA for mercury detoxification of autistic children.

Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), is the organosulfur compound with the formula HO2CCH(SH)CH(SH)CO2H. It is an FDA approved synthetic drug, used by some naturopaths and DAN! Doctors to chelate (excrete) heavy metals from the body. DMSA has also been used by traditional MDs in cases of lead poisoning. It is not a natural supplement.

The side effects of DMSA include seizures, increased self-stimming, compromised central nervous system function, ataxia, convulsions, nausea, diarrhea, anorexia, headache, dizziness, sensorimotor neuropathy, decreased urination, arrhythmia, and infection. These side effects are probably due to the inability of the liver and kidneys to detox the mercury in the tissues adequately. Thus, the mercury circulates in the blood, taxing the brain, lungs, muscles, heart, kidney and liver.

EDTA

EDTA is a widely used initialism for the organic compound ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. Like DMSA, EDTA is FDA approved, has traditionally been used to treat lead poisoning, and is not a natural supplement. Unlike DMSA, EDTA is a weak chelator of mercury.

Taking EDTA can be dangerous because it will chelate calcium and other essential minerals out of the body, along with the undesireable heavy metals.

Treatment is commonly administered via IV. Not only is treatment typically expensive, but potential side effects are kidney failure, convulsions, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrythmias, allergic reactions, respiratory arrest, and even death.

DMPS


Dr. Mercola and other alternative practitioners believe this is a safe alternative to DMSA, but I’m not convinced.

Dimercapto-propane sulfonate (DMPS) is an experimental drug used for chelation, not approved by the FDA.

Drs. Levy and Huggins are experts in the field of toxicity due to mercury amalgam fillings. In their book Uninformed Consent, they talk about the dangers of using synthetic chelators: “Heavy metal chelators almost always overaccelerate the detoxification of the post-TDR (total dental revision) patient. DMSA, DMPS, and EDTA can all do this. DMPS is consistently the greatest offender here. Immune declines and clinical illness can result for weeks and sometimes even months after only one injection of DMPS.”

DMPS side effects include shivering, fever, mild to severe skin reactions, nausea, dizziness, and weakness. Long term use of DMPS can influence the mineral balance, especially for elements zinc and copper. Administration of DMPS causes mobilization of mercury taken up in the body. In isolated cases therefore, clinical symptoms of mercury poisoning may be produced.

Chlorella

Chlorella is a variety of algae found in fresh water such as lakes or ponds. It is commonly used as a natural chelation supplement.

Chlorella has a great affinity for mercury and heavy metals. However, Dr. Mercola points out that chlorella also readily extracts mercury from the water it is grown in. Analysis of at least one specimen of commercially available chlorella has shown high levels of mercury.

Buy Uncontaminated Chlorella

Safe, Effective Heavy Metal Detox

I wholeheartedly believe that the safest and most effective way of detoxing heavy metals is to use methods that detoxify the body gently and slowly.

Assuming that heavy metals are the root cause of the problem, the last thing one should do with a toxic individual is to use strong chelating agents. Most likely their body will not be able to handle these aggressive methods because their organs of excretion aren’t working as well as other peoples’, which is why they are so toxic in the first place.

Classical Homeopathy

Even the most sensitive, reactive person is able to handle classical homeopathic treatment. Classical homeopathy gently detoxes the body naturally, without any dangerous side effects. One of the great things about homeopathy is that the dose can always be adjusted downwards to accommodate even the most sensitive individual. Homeopathic treatment is never dangerous and is very effective. Contact the clinic or a qualified classical homeopath in your area to inquire about homeopathic treatment.

Classical homeopathy, combined with vitamin therapy (see below), is the most gentle and effective way to detox heavy metals.

Vitamin C

Almost anybody can benefit from Vitamin C supplementation. Many people suffering from heavy metal toxicity see amazing results just from using Vitamin C supplementation alone.

Two types of Vitamin C are recommended, to be taken together: Calcium Ascorbate and Ascorbyl Palmitate.

Dosage: Both forms of Vitamin C (Calcium Ascorbate and Ascorbyl Palmitate) are taken 3 times per day. The general rule is not more than 1000 mg per year of age. So a child of 4 years can be given approx. 4000 mg a day divided over three doses a day. This means 3 times Calcium Ascorbate 1000 mg and 3 times Ascorbyl Palmitate of 500 mg. This makes 3600 mg per day. Children 6 years and older, and adults, should take a maximum of 6 grams per day.

Diarrhea: The only serious side effect of taking too much Vitamin C is diarrhea. If diarrhea occurs, decrease the dosage.

Zinc

Toxic heavy metals rob the body of zinc.

Give 10 mg for children under 4, 20 mg to children 4 to 8, and 30 mg to children 9 years and older and adults.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A good-quality, uncontaminated fish oil is the best source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplementation helps with autism, all types of cognitive impairment, as well as skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis. Take up to 500 mg per day.

Bentonite Clay

Clay therapy has been used for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. When taken internally, clay has the ability to absorb harmful, toxic substances from within the body, binding with them and carrying them out of the body. Unlike synthetic chelating agents such as DMSA, clay does not cause the release of toxins into the bloodstream/ instead, it actually absorbs the toxins before they enter the bloodstream. Clay cannot be digested. It simply passes through the digestive system, absorbing toxins as it passes through, then the toxins are eliminated when the clay is eliminated through the bowel.

Those who cannot or will not drink clay can still experience its benefits by taking clay baths. Clay has the ability to pull toxins through the pores of the skin.

Buy Bentonite Clay

Fasting & Restricted Diets

 

Water fasting is a cheap, easy way of detoxing the body. When the body is free from the process of digestion, energy is freed so that the body can heal itself. Those who don’t like the idea of fasting can also benefit from a detox diet: try cutting out wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Fasting is not recommended for children. However, many people, especially autistic children, do benefit tremendously from a gluten and casein (dairy) free diet.

Sweating

Sweating is a great way to release toxins from the body. Try saunas, steam rooms, or vigorous exercise.

Research

Aaseth, J, Ribarov,S, Bacher,P;  “The Interaction of copper (Cu++) with the erythrocyte membrane and 2,3-dimercaptopropane-sulfonate in vitro: a source of activated oxygen species.” Pharmacol Toxicol 1987 Oct.; 61(4): 250-3.

Brown MJ, Willis T, Omalu B, Leiker R (2006). “Deaths resulting from hypocalcemia after administration of edetate disodium: 2003–2005“. Pediatrics 118 (2): e534-6. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-0858. PMID 16882789.

Further Reading

Knishinsky, Ran, The Clay Cure: Natural Healing from the Earth, Inner Tradition, Rochester, Vermont, 2000.

Smits, Tinus. Autism: Beyond Despair, Emryss Publishers, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2010.

By Sonya McLeod
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