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Chelation Therapy and Heavy Metals

Heavy metal toxicity
We mentioned before that most of the patients we see are terribly deficient in zinc. This is not due just to their not taking enough of it. Many patients have heavy metal toxicity, and these metals interact in ways that are very detrimental to overall health. Zinc, which is needed for vision, hearing, muscle function, and immune health, is often replaced by lead in the tissues, if there is a significant amount of lead present.

Heavy metals enter the body through silver amalgam fillings in the teeth (mercury), paint and other old structures (lead) food raised conventionally, water supplies (arsenic, manganese, lead) and a host of other environmental sources including pesticides and herbicides along with cleaning products. Many people have had a history of working in industries with toxic components such as printing, manufacturing, and certain arts and crafts. Frankly, it is hard to be alive in this time without exposure to heavy metals.

The longer I practice alternative therapies the more aware of issues that are preventing the body to heal. One of these is heavy metals in the body. During my evaluation I am particularly interested in patients who have a history of working or being exposed to heavy metals. Have you lived or worked on a farm that used sprays or pesticides? Working in a factory with exposure to paint or other toxic fumes? Have you lived in a smog or polluted environment? I used to routinely do hair analysis of a method to evaluate for heavy metals. It has been my experience that this test is not very accurate and I no longer perform this test as a screen.

Urine challenge Test
One of the ways we recommend that all patients improve their health status is to be tested for heavy metals and then, if they are found to have a significant load, to undergo Chelation therapy. The recommended type of test is called a “Urine challenge test”. This is necessary for several reasons. A challenge test is necessary to determine your body’s toxic load. If you had severe heavy metal poisoning, in fact you could be on your death bed, if your blood or urine was tested it would be normal. How can that be? Well heavy metals do not stay in your blood but are absorbed into bone, fat tissue and neurological tissue especially the eye. You could be extremely toxic but your blood test is normal. The key to measuring the heavy metals is to force the heavy metals into the blood and urine and then measure the metals. This is done by a challenging agent which makes the metals more soluble and it then moves into the blood and urine. Common agents used are EDTA and DMSA. A measured amount is given either orally or intravenously depending on the weight, age, health and heavy metal to be studied. Urine is then collected over 6 to 24 hours. This sample is then sent to the laboratory for analysis. This gives a much better indication of stored metals than does a blood test. Hair analysis has been disproven as accurate in assessing heavy metal loads.

Chelation therapy is the removal of heavy metals through the urine and feces, by chelating these substances out of the tissues and into the waste stream. It is done by introducing chelating agents, or chemical compounds that bind to the metals and help remove them. In the body, the chelating agent reacts with metal ions such as lead, mercury, calcium, iron and aluminum and combines (i.e. bonds) with the ions, forming a more chemically stable compound. The human body cannot break down this non-soluble compound easily, and it can not be excreted. It is necessary to remove the metal with a chelating agent.

Methods of chelation
Chelation can be done either orally, by taking the chelating agents found in food, oral agents in pill form or through IV injection of the chelating agents; it can also be done topically through the use of creams that contain chelating agents. Chelation therapy can also be done rectally. Chelation, whether oral, topical, rectal or IV, should be done under the supervision of a trained medical professional who can determine the amount of chelating agent you need, the effectiveness of your treatment and the duration of treatment necessary.

Foods as oral chelating agents
The first step in your attack of heavy metals, and I feel is the most important is your diet. There are many foods that are good chelating agents of heavy metals. “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” States Hippocrates.

One of these potent medicinal foods is cilantro( or Chinese Parsley) Dr David Williams published in his newsletter Alternative (For the Health Conscious Individual) (Vol. 7, No. 12) June, 1998 that using cilantro to detoxify the body is the most interesting item to come down the pike in years! Cilantro has been found to chelate (remove) heavy metals like mercury, aluminum, and lead from the body. In fact, it is believed to cross the blood-brain barrier and actually remove said metals from the brain. It may be one of the most effective agents in doing this.

Dr. Yoshiaki Omura, Director of Medical Research of the Heart Disease Research Foundation, Omura observed that subjects had higher than normal levels of mercury in their urine after consuming Vietnamese soup, which has large amounts of cilantro This is a good sign for if you have higher levels in your urine that means mercury is being removed from you body. He followed up on this accidental finding and discovered that giving cilantro to patients with mercury poisoning for several weeks successfully eliminated the toxin from the body. Now I am lucky to have a beautiful Vietnamese wife who frequently makes delicious soup with tons of cilantro. In fact a large section of our garden is dedicated to cilantro which we pick daily for soup, eggs and salads. If you don’t have a Vietnamese wife then I would suggest trying my wife’s recipe listed in the back of the book. Another way to enjoy cilantro is to put it on salads or make a cilantro pesto using olive oil and using either Walnuts or Brazialin nuts both a good source of magnesium and zinc. Consider having a few pots of cilantro on your windowsill so you will always have a fresh supply!

I met a wonderful organic chief in Naples Florida, Sal Montezinos and we both are collaborating on a Cookbook to cure eye disease. Will have these and other recipes to help you on your journey to wellness and clear vision.

Pectin is another food product that is good medicine. Phyllis Balch, in her book Prescription for Natural Healing, reports that pectin is good for diabetics, removes toxins and heavy metals, lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of gallstones. Pectin is found in apples, bananas, the rinds of citrus fruits (lemons, oranges and grapefruit), carrots, beets, cabbage and okra. If you juice then you will probably get some of the pectins and then the pulp can be made into muffins. Otherwise there are several pectin supplements out there.

Chlorella is a mild chelator. You can find it in green algae. Chlorella has a 3-layered cell wall that contains cellulose microfibrils, which aids in heavy metal detox. You can obtain this all important nutrient in the form of a drink from juice bars or simply make one yourself.

(Need foods!) Methionine is a natural occurring chelating agent that supplies sulfur in the body. It helps in heavy metal detox by increasing the production cysteine and lecithin for the liver and protecting your kidney.

Fresh garlic is a good souce of N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) which increases the production of cysteine and glutathaione which are both powerful antioxidants which lessen the effects of heavy metals. If you find it hard to eat garlic because of the pungent smell, there are also garlic supplements that you can buy.

Milk Thistle is also referred to as silymarin. It helps your liver detoxify and in the process, eliminate heavy metals. Milk thistle also protects the membranes of red blood cells.

Oral Chelation
I used to think that oral chelation had little value. Studies have shown that less than 10% or oral agents are absorbed into the body to help remove heavy metals. This is in comparison to a 100% of IV therapy and 20% via rectal administration. My opinion changed when I was having dinner with several of the top chelation doctors in Arizona, Dr. Bruce Shelton and Dr. Gary Gordon. Dr Gordon had ordered fish for his entree and and immediately chimed,”Aren’t you concerned about the mercury in the fish?” He held out his hand with several chelation pills and stated, “No, not if I take these” Oral chelating agents now made sense to me! The oral agents will combine the heavy metals found in most fish and prevent them from entering the body. They are probably the best way to prevent additional toxins from entering the body. Remember the rain barrel analogy. When you have disease your rain barrel is filled with toxins. You need to do everything you can from putting more toxins into your body. There are many oral chelating agents on the market but you should take them under a doctors supervision. Be aware that all chelating agents will remove both bad and essential minerals. So if you are taking oral agents it is essential to take supplemental minerals. The good thing is that the chelating agents have a much higher affinity or attraction to the larger more toxic minerals than the smaller essential minerals. But it is still important to monitor your minerals while undergoing chelation treatment. This is one reason why I highly suggest patients receiving chelation continue receiving the Myers Cocktail, which is a fortified IV vitamin mixture. Consider Brazil Nuts which contain one the highest amount of zinc, selenium and magnesium in a food. This seems like a perfect food for helping the body recover minerals during the chelation process.

Topical chelation
Application of a skin lotion can reverse years of aging changes in the eyes caused by heavy metal exposure! Dr. Robert Rowen in his newsletter 2nd Opinion has recently reported on skin lotion called TD-DMPS that is able to remove heavy metals from the body. Your skin is rich in nerves, which transport the DMPS backward into the central nervous system and into your brain and eyes. This treatment was developed by Dr Detrich Klinghard, a well known alternative doctor, who treats autistic children with heavy metal poisoning. He researched a technique of administering chelating agents without the invasive intravenous route. This method combines a chelating agent DMPS and glutathione which acts as a carrier to transport the DMPS through the skin into the neurological tissues. This method eliminates the intravenous treatment and there is some evidence that it is far more effective in the removal of heavy metals! This is certainly a metod to consider if you have difficulty with IV therapy or live a great distance to a chelation center.

Rectal Chelation
Rectal chelation is another option for the chelation of heavy metals. About 20% of EDTA is absorbed into the highly absorbable rectal mucosa tissue when using this technique. It can be a very effective option when IV therapy is not available or when patients are looking for a more economical method of chelation delivery. The draw back is that many patients will develop loose stools using this method and just like oral or topical method, a consistent replacement of essential minerals must be undertaken. In addition to removing heavy toxic metals they can also remove essential minerals. This is why it is important that you take a good mineral supplement while undergoing chelation. The advantage of IV chelation, most chelation doctors, end the IV treatment with a mineral boost to help you keep a healthy level of chelating agents.

IV Chelation
IV Chelation is superior to oral, topical and rectal in its effectiveness. When you perform IV chelation, 100% of the chelating agent will enter your body and supply you with the maximum dose to target the heavy metals that are locked into your bone, fat and neurological tissues. I also like IV chelation since most chelating doctors will give trace minerals at the end of the IV chelating treatment. This will greatly lessen the chance of developing mineral deficiencies. You can find a practitioner of Chelation through the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (www.acam.org) This organization of MDs and other professionals is committed to the use of Chelation therapy, and one of their members can assist you with the proper testing and treatment.