Mercury & Heavy Metal Detox Dangers & Solutions

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.


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 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.


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 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.


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


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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25 thoughts on “Mercury & Heavy Metal Detox Dangers & Solutions

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  7. I believe the information you have on your site, be it interesting, are just opinions. They do not seem to be factual as you have not stated any studies and research.

    • I have added a couple links at the end of the article, under “Research” I think a lot more research needs to be done to prove that chelation is safe. Obviously chelation can benefit children but I think that there is a very real safety risk that should be considered.

  8. This is going to be a long bit of thanks plus ranting plus the initial thing, which is a bit of correction. While overall most of this I’m grateful for, as detoxing is often deadly–can’t really emphasize death enough, as people seriously forget it’ll happen to them… the Vitamin C part is wrong as far as supplements are concerned. A side effect of Vitamin C intake in pill form–actually ANY form that isn’t in the food it arrived in (which we have plenty of even if we should absolutely avoid juices)–is cardiac arrest, even in youth/perfectly healthy (minus the vitamin C) young adults.

    C is an anti-oxidant when in food. In supplements, C is a PRO OXIDANT. It leeches iron from muscle tissue, releases it as a free radical in the bloodstream, and this iron in the blood has been linked to what would best be considered an onslaught of early cardiac arrests and in some cases death…

    ESPECIALLY when detoxing, that’s just adding injury to “Is this revolver loaded? Lemme point it at my head” level insult… Last thing you need is IRON flooding the cardiac pathways while putting toxic chelating agents in as if there’s only good to be had.

    I work in neurology. I unfortunately see a lot of the more extreme cases–TBI, MR/DD, neuromuscular conditions… I’ve had to treat people while opting to help their families sue naturopaths for unwarranted treatments all over the board…

    The main things naturopaths send to us are healthy-turned-epileptic, healthy-turned-neuromuscular impairment (similar to MS and cerebral palsy, different for each but SO many lose control of neuromuscular function and “twitch” uncontrollably, are disabled, cannot write, drive, or do other thigns they formerly did daily. Know what was the problem in plenty? Stress… menopause…thyroid conditions they were told by said naturopaths “oh, it’s not that; you have THIS!” when no heavy metal exposure was likely anywhere for these kids), and healthy-turned-mentally retarded… I have even had spouses ask if autism or Tourette’s can begin to show symptoms in adulthood…

    So for those trying to CURE autism with these (or blame vaccines–that was debunked; it had FALSE DATA; the practitioner was BANNED from practice in his home in the UK), please, don’t. Our exposure is not non-existent, but I’m sorry, really sorry… the “problem” as you would call it is called survival. We used to lose 6 of every 7 children by the first year… just love them and be grateful technology gave you this beautiful gift. Autism simply wasn’t SURVIVED a millennium ago. Be so thankful we have these beautiful people. Developmental disabilities are my passion. Don’t try “curing” it. They need environmental management, not chemistry; hugs, not drugs for them… and good diets: no soy, no processed foods and NOOOO drinks but water and milk (ESPECIALLY with fructose–juices, agave, corn syrup, sugar–or enriched anything like breads… Dave’s Killer Bread is a good occasional choice, but really, just minimize grains apart from rice if they’re tolerant)… If you can’t pick it from the garden or catch it with a trap or fishing line, don’t eat it. Know their triggers. Lose fluorescent lights if they might be a problem… but don’t do this. It’s made perfectly well people suddenly unable to speak a sentence. I’d never wish such harm on anyone so innocent.

    Detox should ONLY be done by IV in a clinic, and you’ll note… WE DON’T DO IT OFTEN because it’s just NOT a problem in western nations to the extent people start preaching! We have problems, oh yes, and SOME do get heavy metal exposure (they’re called miners and metal workers and fire fighters/bomb squads/cops.. it IS a problem where we OUTsource our labor, cheap China factories, but humans are disposable there, save little boys who get sold all too often :/)… the pills are more deadly than the IV, 10-fold. Not only are you doing this days on end but you’re not flushing anything through the way rapid, saline-rich treatments(which are MONITORED EVERY SECOND!) do–you’re just letting it systemically work through your whole body and distribute (free-flow) toxins to every part. The liver can’t handle what you’re doing and can rather easily collapse. Most crucially to me are the impacts to the heart, the brain/nervous system, and to your immune response. Autoimmune diseases can be triggered by detoxing… the body simply is NOT meant to endure this, and there’s really no way to isolate the organs that will be hit with the toxins. It’s best to leave them dormant unless they are truly at the level the body isn’t able to handle. After all, arsenic is in our soil… we’re around these metals and have been all our humanity. We are exposed to less now than 100 years ago, save people who had several fillings, though THAT mercury isn’t like what’s in fish–it’s VAPOR while I’m VEHEMENTLY against them, I also know it’s not likely destroying us. We have too many OTHER things that truly are killing us to freak about it all being heavy metal. Look at the NOISE, the STRESS–do you commute? Do you DRIVE? Do you have MEDIA on even an hour a day? Get out, RUN, connect with the earth, and turn your gadgets off!

    With that, I wish all well and am turning my comp off for the day–my hour of designated time to sit and browse is up :) I’m going to enjoy my family. Stuff that matters will detox more than these chelating agents that can easily harm in the forms naturopaths give… (I’m pretty anti-pharm, but I had someone tell my EPILEPSY clients to just MEDITATE… I’m so glad they asked me. They don’t, as epileptics, tend to know what they look like with blue hands/faces… I do. Sometimes, drugs are that reason we survive when we naturally should not. I respect that. Thyroid, adrenal… sometimes things break. Metal is rarely why anymore, not since WWII for the general public (soldiers always have more exposure/risk). Genes, again, something we’re overcoming (we ignore natural selection… heck, we ignore SCENT with deodorant and perfume, sprays, etc… that’s how we determined health and fertility for the other 100k documented years… ah well armpits are still glorious when you love the person whose sweat you’re burying your face into!)… we need to be realistic. This is why naturopathy has little respect from most docs–if you don’t stick to science, REAL science, you end up being called quacks and “psychopath the naturopath” or is that naturopath the psychopath? Really, if you have someone say “I’m tired” and say “DETOX!” or “Adrenal insufficiency!” when tests CAN measure these… and then if the tests show the adrenals are FINE and there are super-low levels across the board… you should be fired! Sued, even… giving someone steroids-for-life when they make their own is worthy of life in prison–that’s murder. Stop being AGAINST western medicine. Work ALONGSIDE and COMPLIMENT it with things you’re QUALIFIED to do, which is NOT treat adrenal, thyroid, neurological, autoimmune, or heavy metal toxicity conditions… cardiac, either. Don’t you DARE take my client off a blood thinner because you think your diet will keep that stent in place. This is what I face daily. This is why I have to bite my lip to not cry when a patient who left fine returns debilitated… or when one who was a top student in college is needing to learn how to sort blocks at a grade 3 level. Yoga, nutrition THROUGH FOOD NOT QUACKY PILLS!, meditation, PROVEN TREATMENTS (Echinacea? Oh, good, internal bleeding! Melatonin? How come it takes 0.125mg for us to restore ACTUALLY, BLOODWORK-SUPPORTED deficient patients and it takes “I’m tired” “Oh take these 4-8mg?!??!” “I’m sleepy!” “Try this light box!” for y’all? It’s because that person probably wasn’t deficient and too many GUESS without legit lab test from labcorp and other standardized labs… your own methodology is crap if it’s your own and not the textbook standard–there’s a REASON we have “trusted” to “bollocks” ratings! Now, how about we work with what works? Plants are our friends… I guess too many naturopaths don’t PROFIT WILDLY off the stuff that is truly beneficial. After all, aloe plants are cheap and easy to maintain!) You get my drift here. We try very hard to nature and nurture without ANY supplements unless they are disease-specific-and-proven… we NEVER give melatonin at OTC doses because we don’t want to KILL THE BRAIN’S PRODUCTION OF IT. 4mg a day=40x our Rx strength, so you’re DOPING THEM UP doing that. Stop drugging them. I hate cleaning up after naturopaths. I’m working on a really rough case and wanted to see what one of the chems was (dirt, ha! Not bentonite either, but I’ve seen bentonite sold for $19 for 2oz colored with chorella, no doubt! Ha! I use bentonite on my skin, a bit of honey wine or apple vinegar splashed into the mud… see? We like what works.

    Keep up the work on this kind of detox–if you couldn’t tell, I was yelling at the naturopaths doing this kind of thing. I was letting them know why some patients stop being their patients. I get them on the western side when eastern medicine RUINS THEM. Funny since most who come to me get biofeedback despite me having the ability to dope them up… I do less doping than any naturopath I’ve met. How’d THAT happen? Ah, I went through 10 years of doctoral education (PhD&MD)… that’s how. Cause I couldn’t keep seeing people die.

    Integrated practitioner, signing out… for real this time

    • Thanks for your response. I too believe in natural foods and connecting with the earth. Autism goes deeper than toxic overload, which is why homeopathy (completely safe and non-toxic unlike detox supplements) is the safe effective answer.

  9. Thank you for a very informative post. I have recently had a very bad experience with a naturopath trying to detox me of heavy metals. He has had lots of great results with autistic and Aspergers kids but he seemed at a complete loss while treating me. I have ceased seeing him but I know that I definitely need to get these metals out of my body.

    I am interested in using bentonite clay for a gentle detox. However, most testimonials I’ve read of people using the clay for heavy metal detox were also using other supplements as well, such as cilantro and chlorella. Is there any reputable info you could point me to that demonstrates the effectiveness of clay? I’m wary of the effectiveness of products unless there is at least a bit of science to back it up, because my former naturopath sold me products that Dr Mercola has confirmed are a scam.

      • Hello, I found this site while doing research for my sister. History-heavy metal toxidity, including arsenic. Over the years, went to many doctors, naturopathicand many others, seeking some help somewhere. Could you possibly help her. She lives close to Calgary at the moment, is almost on death’s door, not exxagerating. I live in Northern BC. I was wondering if there was a possibilty of some correspondance with you? We really need help!! Thank you. Kathy Reynolds

  10. Be carefull recommending drinking clay
    Clay is full of toxins. Specifically heavy metals!!! And shouln not be on yr blog
    I am sick fill of metals after ingesting clay!!!

    • True that clay can contain heavy metals. The clay that I recommend is tested free of heavy metals. Thanks for your warning to readers and I am sorry to hear about your experience with bad quality clay.

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