Heavy Metals

Introduction

Heavy Metals

March 14, 2017

Is heavy metal toxicity a contributing factor in Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)? Is the plethora of the most common heavy metals that includes mercury, lead, arsenic, aluminum that are now ubiquitous in our environment contributing to the impaired ability of the body to clear biotoxins from mold, algae blooms, some reef fish, and the like? Well, we know that the body’s natural detoxification system does remove mycotoxins but to what extent heavy metals are the culprit is unknown. What we do know is that the array of damage a build up of any one these toxic heavy metals inflicts is wide and deep.

Take for example mercury. In his book, Amalgam Illness Diagnosis and Treatment, the chemist Andrew Cutler dedicates a whole chapter to outlining the various forms of damage that mercury alone can impart. This damage ranges from hormonal imbalance, damage to the liver and kidneys, gastrointestinal tract (GI) dysbiosis, depleted heart and muscles, along with immune system suppression and many others. On the front cover of his book, Mr. Cutler has a long list of mercury toxicity symptoms. The ones that I found particularly interesting as they are also common to many folks suffering from CIRS are anxiety, asthma, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease, candidiasis, chronic fatigue, depression, food allergies, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and panic attacks.

So it was with the basic understanding that heavy metals wreck havoc that I recently sat back and looked over my current health status. I’m ever so much better after following Dr. Shoemaker’s protocol. However, I’m now taking four doses of VIP daily and I can’t say that I really notice much. I will continue to press on with VIP for many months now with my fingers crossed that my health will continue to get even better. Note: Related to VIP usage, I’m monitoring Lipase to make sure I don’t damage my pancreas along with testing TGF-beta 1 to make sure its level doesn’t spike up with the application of VIP thereby suggesting there is an ongoing mold exposure – see Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP).

So I’m currently not seeing VIP as the last piece in my health puzzle. My energy levels are simply not what I’d like them to be. As such, I don’t plan on relying on VIP only. Last month I had cavitation surgery done. Cultures of the infected upper jawbone at the sites of root canalled teeth showed a group of really nasty bacteria including MARCoNS – more in a following article. In addition, my wife recently tested positive for Blastocystis hominis cysts (protozoa), a microscopic parasite that irritates the gut mucosal lining and can cause nausea, constipation, gas, fatigue, joint pain, food sensitivities, bloating, abdominal distention, insomnia, fever, and so on.. Given the importance of minimizing gut inflammation when it comes to opening up the detox pathways, I’m sending in my own parasite test to Para Wellness Research.

So in addition to VIP, my plan is to first eradicate any parasites followed by going after the SIBO that I tested positive for. Once I’ve got those gut inflammagens addressed, I plan on starting a heavy metal protocol. I’ve done heavy metal “challenge tests” in the past that showed high levels of lead and others. This isn’t surprising given the fact that I grew up in the era of leaded gasoline and worked for several summers pumping gas during my high school years.

In addition, I had a QuickSilver Mercury Tri Test run as part of my workup to cavitation surgery. Similarly, a mouthful of mercury (amalgam) fillings when I was younger, along with working for years in a foundry, loaded me up with mercury. Thankfully although my levels are elevated, they’re not “off the charts”. My total mercury (Hg) levels are elevated with roughly 80% of those tested having levels equal to or less than mine (80th percentile). Note: I do not recommend challenge testing using larger, single doses of DMSA, DMPS, or some other chelator.

Years ago, I’d foolishly done some really aggressive heavy metal chelation. (Note: Chelation refers to the removal of heavy metals by administering an agent that tends to pull the toxic metals off of sites on the body where they are currently bound in order to facilitate their removal.) I needed to come up with a safer, long-term plan for my wife and myself – she tested high in mercury too. This has been quite the laborious process!

In particular, anyone interested in removing toxic metals is faced with choosing between at least four significantly different methods. They are: a plant-based approach, Andrew Cutler’s protocol, Chris Shade’s protocol, or following standards such as those outlined in the Physicians’ Desk Reference. What follows is a recounting of some of the deliberations I went through in selecting a protocol along with the details of the method I plan on using.

Caution!
Working to remove heavy metals should be done under the close supervision of a medical professional. Any time you detoxify heavy metals, there is risk. Metals currently lodged in a part of the body wherein little damage is being done may be moved to an area that causes more damage and increases symptoms – like the brain. Do your homework, work with a physician, stick to your protocol, and re-evaluate if your body reacts badly.

Detoxification

Milk Thistle

Before I dive into comparing and contrasting heavy metal detoxification protocols, it makes sense to take a minute or two to cover the detoxification system in general as discussed in the three articles I wrote in succession, namely AGA – Diet – Detox, GSH Detox Protocol, and Blocked Detox. In those articles, I discussed how the blood is filter by both the kidneys and liver. Toxins removed by the kidneys are excreted in the form of urine and toxins removed by the liver go out with feces.

However, there is a lot that goes on before and during the detoxification process by the kidneys and liver. These processes begin at the cellular level. Getting into some detail, the various organs, muscle, fat, connective tissue and so on are made up of many trillions of tiny little cells. Toxins of all sorts get lodged within the cells and wreck havoc.

The body’s natural detoxification system is typically discussed in terms of three Phases. The job of the first two phases is to either convert some toxins into a water soluble form for excretion through the kidneys or into a more reactive form so they will stick to anti-oxidants like glutathione (GSH). In the third phase, a group of transport proteins moves toxins out through the cell wall, across the gelatinous space between the cells call the Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM), and into the nearest blood vessel for transportation to the kidneys and liver. Once at the kidneys and liver, phase three continues as water soluble toxins are sequestered in the bladder by the kidneys and toxins conjugated onto anti-oxidants are collected in bile by the liver before being dumped into the intestines.

As discussed in previous articles, detoxification slows down and the person’s health declines for any number of reasons. In Phase I, the weed killer Round-Up found in the food we eat, with a total use in the millions of tons since its introduction in the 1970’s, suppresses our critical CYP450 enzymes used to transform toxins into either a water soluble form or into a more electrically reactive form so they stick to anti-oxidants. In addition, I discussed how in Phase II, the ability to combine the fat soluble toxins with an anti-oxidant like GSH or sulfur relies on a series of enzymes and adequate levels of a range of nutrients. As a result of an overuse of herbicides and fungicides, along depleted soil biology, much of the food we eat now-a-days is nutrient deficient. Deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals dampens detoxification.

Furthermore, I discussed how in Phase III, the ability of transport proteins to move the toxins along starting from within the cells and ending up in urine or feces is dramatically affected by the health of the intestines. An overgrowth of yeast due to a poor diet, a buildup of heavy metals, or chemicals like Round-Up cause inflammation in the gut. Our bodies are very intelligent. When the cell walls are rigid due to a lack of phospholipids (lecithin) and toxins can’t get out of the cells, when the ECM doesn’t have a nice electrolytic balance thereby preventing the movement of toxins from the cells to blood vessels, or when the gut is inflamed for the reasons mentioned, detoxification is intentionally slowed down by the body. Everything needs to remain in balance.

On a side note, it’s understood that biotoxins cause the body to malfunction wherein it becomes perpetually stuck in inflammatory processes that causes all sorts of damage. However, the implication is that somehow our bodies are to blame, that they’ve failed us. We “shake our finger” at our failed detoxification systems. I would suggest that this negative perspective is not helpful.

For myself, I like to think of the human body as being exquisitely intelligent. Loaded up with chemicals, heavy metals, chronic infections, parasites, and exposed to unprecedented levels of Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF), our body’s work valiantly to preserve our health and happiness. At a certain point, the body burden becomes too much. Never giving up, the body fights on valiantly driving up levels of reactive oxygen species in order to kill off the perceived threat. The counter balancing detoxification processes are intelligently put on hold; it would be counter-productive to turn up anti-oxidant levels for detoxification when the fight is on to try and kill off pathogens with higher levels of oxidants. So we blame the body when really it knows full well that it’s fighting for its very existence and is responding accordingly.

For example, folks with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), often urinate a lot. Well, we know in CIRS that low levels of Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone (MSH) weakens the gut lining. When the gut is inflamed, fewer toxins are going to be sent out via the liver. It doesn’t make sense to load up the already impaired gut with even more toxins. So what’s left? It’s up to the kidneys to remove more of the toxic load. This is facilitated by peeing more.

So the body is doing the absolute best that it can given all the constraints. Trying to short circuit the innate intelligence of the body leads to even more trouble. For example, taking a drug to lessen urination, before the person gets out of their moldy house, simply loads them up with even more toxins as detoxification through the kidneys is now blocked. Don’t get me started on the insanity of prescribing an ever increasing number of psychotropic drugs in order to temporarily address the ever widening neurotransmitter imbalances. This is often done while completely dismissing the fact that biotoxins from moldy homes and work places are the real culprit. From my view, the body is being really smart and we’re supposed to get really depressed and anxious so we realize something is seriously wrong and change our situation!

I’ve digressed. Let’s get back on track by starting to look at the various heavy metal detoxification methods.

Natural Heavy Metal Chelation

Chlorella

In GSH Detox Protocol, I outlined a detox protocol that used natural supplements. The intention of this protocol was to modestly increase detoxification primarily using Haritaki along with Vitamin C and glutathione (GSH). To mop up toxins, I added in charcoal, clay, and chlorella. While I believe it’s reasonable to gently increase detoxification after having added in necessary liver, kidney, and Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM) support, I now believe it’s prudent to also add in synthetic heavy metal binders to the mix.

One doesn’t have to read very long to realize just how damaging heavy metals are. In addition, natural binders like clay, charcoal, chlorella, and cilantro just don’t chemically latch onto heavy metals really well and some can’t tolerate chlorella. This means that even if your body manages to move toxic heavy metals into the intestines, if the binders don’t hang on tightly then a portion of the toxic metal is going to become lodged in the intestines or reabsorbed by the body – not good. So given the serious damage heavy metals do, the great degree that many of us are loaded up with metals, along with the fact that natural binders just aren’t as potent as synthetic forms, it just seems prudent to add in stronger heavy metal chelators.

By the way, if you haven’t read GSH Detox Protocol along with AGA – Diet – Detox and Blocked Detox, I recommend that you do. Not only is there a more thorough all discussion of detoxification but I also cover the importance of preparing the body for increased detoxification – PreTox. For some, this is vital. You need to make sure your kidneys, liver, and ECM are supported. You need to be having regular bowel movements and urinate every few hours. Otherwise, even if your body has the tools to move toxins out of your cells, those toxins are going to start piling up in other places with deleterious consequences.

Related to Pre-Tox, it’s also very important to eat well, supplement wisely, and address stressors like exposure to biotoxins and electro-magnetic fields (EMF). Experts like Dr. Klinghardt also discuss the importance of uncovering hidden infections (dental, Lyme, SIBO, etc.) along with adding in supportive detoxification methods like lymph massage, rebounding, mild exercise, light therapy, relaxation techniques, and so on. Basically, you want to get your body in the best possible condition before starting to remove heavy metals. Once you’re ready to start increasing detoxification, make sure to follow a detailed protocol that you’ve developed with a physician.

Conventional Heavy Metal Chelation

DMSA is a synthetic chelator often used to remove heavy metals. The conventional approach as outline in the Physician’s Reference Desk (PDR) recommends a starting “…dosage at 10 mg/kg or 350 mg/m^2 every eight hours for five days… Reduce frequency of administration to 10 mg/kg or 350 mg/m^2 every 12 hours (two-thirds of initial daily dosage) for an additional two weeks of therapy”. That’s it. There is no reference to getting the body into good shape before administration or making sure amalgam fillings have been removed. Furthermore, at 10 mg/kg, this works out to 680mg for a 150 pound person! If you’ve done any reading by Andy Cutler or others, administering what amounts to a huge amount of DMSA, along with waiting a long time before the next dosing, will likely lead to scary consequences. Especially for those of us that are more challenged. I wouldn’t even follow this protocol if I was totally healthy.

Andrew Cutler Heavy Metal Detox

Andrew Cutler

Briefly, Andy Cutler’s protocol consists of very slowly titrating up on doses of DMSA (a synthetic heavy metal binder) and then later on slowing adding in increasing doses of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). Generally, a person starts by taking 12.5 mg of DMSA every four hour for three days followed by taking three “of” days when no chelators are taken.

Over the period of a couple of months or more, the doses of DMSA are brought up to 25 mg. At that point, 12.5 mg of ALA is added in with the DMSA and dosing is done preferably every 3 hours. Over time, the number of “on” days can be increased to up to two weeks. Dosages are increased very slowly and only when symptoms for a given round abate. You can read more about the details at:

Andrew Cutler Detox Guides

Essential to this protocol is that the person continuously doses with DMSA, ALA, or a combination of the two every few hours. If a dose is missed, that “round” is terminated and the requisite number of “off” days must be taken. The reason for this has to do with the fact that DMSA and ALA each contain two thiol groups – also called sulfhydryl or SH groups. Having two thiol groups, DMSA and ALA bond reasonably tightly to many heavy metals – Mercury (Hg), Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Silver (Ag), and Zinc (Zn).

When ingested, approximately 20-40% of DMSA and 20% of ALA enters the blood stream. The remainder rides through the gastrointestinal tract (GI) and globs onto heavy metals that have been deposited there by the body’s detoxification system. The DMSA and ALA in the gut helps to ensure that toxic metals in the gut don’t get inappropriately reabsorbed.

In terms of the DMSA and ALA that enters the blood stream, what’s important to understand is that neither agent seems to be capable of actually extracting the heavy metals from within cells nor transporting the metals they bind onto from the blood and into the GI tract or bladder. This is an important point. It’s not like DMSA is this tiny robot that goes out into the body, grabs onto a heavy metal, and then hauls it into the urine all on its own power. Instead, it relies heavily on the body’s natural detoxification system.

Essentially DMSA and ALA float around in the blood waiting to bump into a heavy metal they have an affinity for and then latch onto those metals reasonably tightly. However, before that can even happen, it’s up to the body’s Phase II detoxification enzymes to actually attach the toxic metals onto a conjugate like glutathione (GSH). The body also needs to use Phase III transport proteins to move this bound up metal across the extra cellular matrix (ECM) and into the blood stream. Furthermore, once the blood passes through the kidneys and liver, additional Phase III transport proteins move the bound toxins out of the blood and into the gut or bladder.

In other words, it’s vital that a person’s detoxification system be brought up to the best possible condition before adding in DMSA, ALA, or any other heavy metal chelator. We get a sense of the fact that binders like DMSA are using the body’s natural detox system in reading about how the transport protein Mrp2 facilitates the movement of DMSA bound mercury into the urine. Note: DMSA is removed exclusively by the kidneys while toxins bound with the body’s natural conjugates like glutathione are filtered out primarily by the liver and gut. This will come into play later on when we compare and contrast Andy’s and Chris’s protocols.

So we’ll get into some of the differences in the approaches Andy and Chris take later on. For now, suffice it to say that DMSA and ALA are simply helping to ensure heavy metals that the body is always naturally working to move out through the liver and kidneys is more tightly bound up. As such, these agents help ensure that the heavy metals in transit aren’t inadvertently dropped and subsequently end up being deposited in some other area of the body that may cause more harm. In other words, heavy metal chelators are an important aide to the body’s natural detoxification system because they bond more tightly to toxic metals than the body’s own natural conjugates.

Having said this, the bond to DMSA isn’t invincible. It does get broken fairly often, just a lot less than the body’s natural chelators like glutathione (GSH). This is why Andy insists folks keep their levels of DMSA and ALA high by dosing frequently. When the levels are high, any metals that are dropped in route to the liver and kidneys will be snatched up again before they have a chance to lodge somewhere and create trouble.

As mentioned and important to the understanding of this overall picture is that the normal bonds between the body’s natural chelators/conjugates like glutathione (GSH) are not very strong. Glutathione only has one thiol group while DMSA and ALA have two. When GSH is attached to a heavy metal like mercury, that mercury will not make it too far before it breaks free from the GSH. If there are sufficient levels of GSH and its related enzymes and transport proteins, this isn’t necessarily a problem. The metal is simply bonded to a subsequent GSH molecule and moves toward elimination.

The trouble is that we’re all exposed to levels of toxic metals far in excess of those man experienced prior to the industrial age. In other words, we’re exposed to levels in excess of what are bodies have naturally adapted to handle. In addition, our body’s detoxification systems are also heavily burdened by many other unnatural toxic exposures including chemicals, electro-magnetic fields, hidden infections, and so on. Not surprisingly, the load becomes too great and as a result, our body has to sequester toxins in fat and wall off sources of infection as opposed to being able to clear them.

So the overall picture is that the body’s natural detoxification system is always working to move toxins out through the kidneys and liver. These toxins are bonded to a conjugates like GSH and transported out from the cells and into the bloodstream. In the case of specific heavy metals that enter the bloodstream, DMSA more strongly latch onto these metals helping to make sure they don’t get dropped somewhere along the line. Upon arrival at the kidneys, the body’s natural transport proteins move the bound metals into the urine.

With this understanding, let’s now consider the fact that DMSA can not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) but ALA can. We’ll do this in light of the understanding that ALA and DMSA only remove the heavy metal burden in the blood and GI tract. It’s up to the body to move metals out of the cell and into the blood. Knowing these facts, we see that by using chelators in the bloodstream, a gradient/disequilibrium in terms of heavy metal distribution is created; the level in the blood drops relative to the overall body burden. The body recognizes this gradient and naturally moves more metals out of tissue and into the bloodstream.

This is why Andy says that it’s important to use DMSA for a period of time before adding in ALA. The goal is to reduce the overall burden in the body relative to the brain before adding in ALA and starting to move metals out of the brain. Remember DMSA can’t cross the BBB while ALA can. With the body’s burdened lowered first, the body’s detoxification system will naturally move the metals out of the more heavily loaded brain toward the less toxic body tissue. In other words, you don’t want to enhance that movement of brain metals until a strong gradient is created. At all costs, we don’t want metals to move toward the brain!

Andy writes, “Alpha lipoic acid does not inherently carry mercury into or out of the brain. Nothing can. To do so is against the laws of thermodynamics. All it can do is permit equilibration across the blood-brain barrier, and bind free mercury on both sides of that. The relative levels in the body and brain determine the net direction of movement”.

So I think that’s enough of a primer on Andy’s protocol for now. We’ll get into more details when I compare and contrast Andy’s and Chris’s protocols. I’ll end by saying that Andy does recommend supportive supplementation including higher doses of Vitamins A-B-C, magnesium, molybdenum, zinc, fish oil, Co-Q-10, milk thistle, and so on. In other words, he does recognize the importance of supporting the body in conjunction with heavy metal detoxification.

Chris Shade Heavy Metal Testing

Chris Shade

In brief, Chris brings advanced mercury testing and a heavy metal detoxification protocol to the table. Unlike previous testing that lumped inorganic mercury and methyl-mercury together, Chris’s company, QuickSilver, measures each separately. Consequently, QuickSilver is able to provide more useful information about the sources of the mercury and is also able to determine how well a person detoxifies the two types of mercury. When it comes to detoxification, Chris’s protocol up-regulates the body’s natural glutathione (GSH) detoxification system in combination with using a powerful binder called Intestinal Metal Detox (IMD). Let’s look at testing.

When it comes to testing for mercury and other heavy metals, in the past one common approach was to do what is called a “challenge test”. In a challenge test, the person takes a substantial amount of a chelating agent like DMSA and then collects their urine over a 24 hour period that is then analyzed. Challenge testing has several drawbacks not the least of which is that some folks detoxification systems do not work well enough to clear the amount of metals that are liberated. As a result, these metals get re-deposited in other parts of the body and this can lead to a worsening of symptoms.

In addition, regardless of total burden, whenever anyone ingests a large amount of a chelator, their heavy metal levels will always go up dramatically. No one has ever determined what is considered a “normal” rise in metals simply due to the intact of a chelators and what is excessive. The bottom line is that challenge testing is a bit risky and produces dubious data. Neither Andy Cutler nor Chris Shade recommends challenge testing. You can read more about this in Does the Challenge Test Really Show You the Body Burden of Mercury.

Another limitation of challenge testing is that there is more than one type of mercury of concern and challenge testing lumps the two different types together. While an overall lump sum is useful, a lot more can be gained by QuickSilver’s test that separates through “speciation analysis” inorganic mercury from methyl-mercury. Using this technology, they are then able to compare the amount of inorganic mercury in the blood versus the urine in order to determine how well your kidney’s are working – inorganic mercury is eliminated in urine. Similarly, they are able to compare the amount of methyl-mercury in the blood versus the hair in order to determine how well your liver and gut are working – methyl-mercury is eliminated in feces.

However, before we get into interpreting QuickSilver results, let’s talk a minute or two about the types of mercury. While there are other forms like ethyl-mercury found in vaccines, the two of primary concern are inorganic mercury and methyl-mercury. Methyl-mercury comes primarily from sea food. Methyl-mercury tends to bind onto proteins via the cysteine molecule with its single thiol group. Later on when the protein is broken down, the cysteine remains bound to methyl-mercury and the combination is confused for essential amino acid called methionine. As a consequence, methyl-mercury ends up being deposited in brain and body tissue.

You can find charts online like this one from the FDA that lists the levels in sea food. While Chris says that the actual values on various charts can be off, it’s the relative values comparing one fish to another that really matters. Basically, the bigger the fish, the more mercury it’ll have. In Dr. Mercola and Chris Shade Interview, Chris commented that swordfish have 1000-5000 ppb, large wild tuna 1000-2000 ppb, small skipjack or chunk jack tuna 200-1000 ppb, small sockeye, coho, or pink salmon 50-100 ppb, and kippers, anchovies, or sardines 1-10 ppb. So while swordfish are to never be eaten, you can gobble up sardines to your delight. For every one part of methyl-mercury mercury floating around in the blood, there are 7-10 parts lodged in tissue.

Switching focus, Chris says that inorganic mercury is the form that causes most symptoms. I was a bit surprised to hear this because inorganic mercury can not cross the blood-brain-barrier while methyl-mercury can. In terms of sources, inorganic mercury comes primarily from amalgam fillings. According to the FDA, amalgam fillings, also called “silver” fillings, are made up of 50% elemental mercury. Other than mercury fillings, accidental exposure to mercury from old thermometers, fluorescent lamps, and the like is the other main contributor. Surprisingly, Chris says that elemental mercury from coal fired power plants is not a very big contributor to the overall body burden. Another small source of the more troublesome inorganic mercury comes from the conversion of methyl-mercury from fish into inorganic mercury in the gut. The degree to which this happens varies from person to person.

When it comes to silver fillings, the mercury is forever being oxidized (rusting). As a result, small particles flake off and are swallowed. In addition, amalgam fillings perpetually off-gas mercury vapor that is inhaled into the lungs. Once elemental mercury enters the body, it is converted into toxic inorganic mercury. For every one part of inorganic mercury floating around in the blood, Chris says there are 100-150 parts lodged in tissue.

QuickSilver Values

Now that we’ve got a basic understanding of the types of mercury, let’s look at QuickSilver test results. There are two main parts. One part is a table that lists the levels of methyl-mercury and inorganic mercury found in the blood. In addition to the overall values, you’re given a “Percentile” chart. By comparing your values to this chart, you’re able to see how many people have mercury levels low than yours. In my chart shown above and looking at the sum of the two values of 2.08, it can be seen that a little more than 75% of people have lower amounts of total mercury.

QuickSilver Graphs

The other part of results consists of two graphs that compare the amount of inorganic mercury in the blood to the amount in the urine along with the comparing the amount of methyl-mercury in the blood and hair. Before I understood these graphs and when I initially looked at my graphs shown above, I thought they were telling me that I was doing a poor job detoxing inorganic mercury because my level was so low on the graph. However, this isn’t what the graphs are about. Instead, what a person needs to focus on is whether their values are above or below the diagonal line.

If the value is above the line, this means you are eliminating more mercury than other people that have taken the test. Furthermore, the amount above or below the line matters. If you’re a little above the line, then you’re a little better than average at removing mercury. If you’re a lot above the line, then you’re detoxification system is really humming along. Conversely, if you’re below the average line, this indicates there are issues that need to be addressed before starting a detoxification program. In the case of poor inorganic mercury detoxification, the kidneys need extra help. In the case of methyl-mercury (also includes ethyl-mercury), the liver and gut need support.

I’ve already talked a fair amount about how to give your detoxification system a “tune-up” in GSH Detox Protocol – PreTox and Blocked Detox – DIM. For weaker folks, this is essential. However, with the aide of QuickSilver test results, you can also see whether additional kidney or liver and gut support should be added in. That’s really helpful but I wonder if a person can’t glean even more information from the graphs.

For example, consider the case of low methy-mercury output and normal to high inorganic mercury output. A person could conclude that the gut is probably in reasonable shape but that the liver needs additional support with supplements live milk thistle. To understand this, remember it’s the liver and gut that detox methy-mercury. Furthermore, if the gut was badly inflamed, then we know from my previous detox articles that overall detoxification will be hampered by as much as 60%. As such, if the gut was inflamed, then I would expect both inorganic and methyl-mercury output to be low. This isn’t the case, so we can tentatively rule out gut issues and focus in on the liver. Note: The example given is just my interpretation of how to work with these graphs; make sure to consult with a professional.

In addition, I do wonder whether even though a person is above the line if there isn’t still an issue if their overall output is low – as in my inorganic mercury level above. I had a mouthful of mercury fillings for many decades before I had them improperly removed. As such, I was surprised to see I was excreting so little inorganic mercury. One possibility is that because it’s been many more decades since the fillings were removed, along with the fact that I’m decent at detoxing this form of mercury, that I simply don’t have much of a body burden to remove.

On the other hand, I started getting symptoms from Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) when I was a teenager and walking around with a mouth of metal. We know that CIRS messes up the gut and mold toxins further dampen down the detoxification system. It’s a bit of a stretch for me to believe that somehow with a detoxification system that was getting pounded on relatively early on that I was able to detox all that inorganic mercury.

Basically the point I’m trying to make is that I believe that a person can reflect on their history along with looking at how high up on each of graphs they are in order to glean extra clues. In my case, it appears my liver is in OK shape. However, even though my inorganic mercury level is above the line along with considering my dental history, some part of my detoxification system involving the kidneys may be depressed. As such, Pre-Toxing followed by ramping up detoxification using polyphenolics like Haritaki and sulfur compounds like R-Lipoic acid makes good sense. (Again, this is me just my trying to glean a little more information from the graphs.)

QuickSilver Tri-Test Mercury Testing

  • If you want to take the QuickSilver without a doctor, realize you’ll need to set up your own appointment at a blood draw center. Also, QuickSilver can not ship to some states. You can get around this by relaying the kit through a friend/relative in an approved state. The return shipping needs to come from an approved state.
  • Do not eat fish within 72 hours of blood draw. The main concern is with larger sea fish such as the Grouper, Sword Fish, and Barracuda.
  • Tri-Test Instructions
  • Tri-Test Mercury – Direct Access

Chris Shade Heavy Metal Detox

IMD

I’ve already written about Chris Shade’s detox protocol fairly extensively in GSH Detox Protocol . In brief, Chris uses the polyphenol called Haritaki and the sulfur compound R-lipoic acid to up-regulate the body’s natural glutathione (GSH) detoxification system and adds in chelators. Like Andy’s protocol, Chris’s protocol calls for slowly increasing detoxification and pulsing. Pulsing is critical as otherwise the body adapts and detoxification drops to normal levels. During “on” days, mineral intact is limited while detoxification is up-regulated and chelators are taken. During “off” days, a multi-mineral and extra zinc is taken.

According to studies, Haritaki and R-lipoic are oxidants that stimulate the body’s natural detoxification system. Chris says that when ingested, these strong oxidants cause the Nrf2 protein inside cells to move into nucleus and trigger a group of “gene promoter regions” responsible for the up-regulation of the detox system. Nrf2 detox up-regulation can also be triggered by other polyphenols like green tea and pomegranate along with sulfur compounds from brassicas like broccoli seed extract, allicin and diallyl disulfide from garlic, and cardamom. Once ramped up, the body not only removes heavy metals but also mold toxins, fluoride, bromide, chloride, hydrocarbons, pesticides, herbicides, and so on. In particular, Chris focuses up ramping up the glutathione detox pathway that is capable of removing mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.

In addition to up-regulation, Chris’s heavy metal protocol uses a proprietary chelator called Intestinal Metal Detox (IMD) along with EDTA. IMD is basically super small sand particles loaded with thiol groups. Unlike DMSA and ALA, IMD does not enter the blood steam; it stays in the GI tract. Given that toxins removed through the GSH pathway end up in the gut, this is exactly what’s required.

Per Chris, one tiny little scoop of IMD is equal to 100 chlorella tablets! As mentioned, thiol groups bind firmly to Mercury (Hg), Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Silver (Ag), and Zinc (Zn). EthyleneDiamineTetraacetic Acid (EDTA) is an FDA recognized chelators of lead with Dr. Gordon as a leading advocate. In addition to lead, EDTA also binds to the toxic metals mercury and aluminum along with a host of essential minerals like iron, copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium . In any heavy metal chelation protocol, it’s important to supplement essential minerals.

Andy Cutler versus Chris Shade

Discuss

In this section I want to compare and contrast Andy’s and Chris’s protocol. To me, the controversy and confusion around these protocols is similar to what I see in the mold world. All too often, folks jump into one camp or another without every bothering to try to really hear what the other side is saying and develop a better approach. What follows is my attempt to make sense of the various competing views.

Glutathione & Cysteine

Andy is adamant about not supplementing sulfur compounds like glutathione (GSH) or cysteine beyond what is required to bring levels up to normal. His view as that by adding in either of these sulfur compounds that heavy metals will be moved around without being eliminated from the body. As we know, when these metals are re-depositing in a more sensitive part of the body, the person suffers.

Andy’s main argument seems to be that because these sulfur compounds only have a single thiol group, they don’t hang onto the metal they latch onto. As such, when GSH or cysteine are taken especially on an intermittent basis and at levels greater than what’s needed to bring levels up to normal, toxic metals like mercury “bounce” around doing damage. In other words, every time they’re dropped by the weak GSH or cysteine bond, they inflict cellular damage before being bound up again. Eventually, some additional amount of toxins do get excreted but at a very serious cost.

So this all seems to make good sense; let’s look at what Chris says. Chris agrees with Andy that both GSH and N-acetylcysteine move heavy metals. Where I think folks may get confused is that Chris isn’t just increasing levels of GSH through the use of the polyphenol Haritaki. Rather, rat studies show that Haritaki increases not only the conjugate GSH that metals get stuck to but also enzymes like glutathione-S-transferase (GST) that make GSH stick and various other enzymes responsible for repairing oxidized GSH.

As Andy depicts on page 292 in Amalgam Illness: Diagnosis & Treatment, the toxic metal is frequently dropped, interacts with your cells, and then is reattached to another GSH protein. Chris says this isn’t a problem especially when the GSH detox pathway has been up-regulated; this is in fact how the body removes heavy metals. Rather than the metal being more strongly bound to a chelators like DMSA that sticks with the metal for a much greater part of the total trip before dropping it and having it picked up again, the body’s natural approach is to play “hot potato”. The metal is bound to GSH, transport proteins move this compound along, the metal gets dropped and reattached. Eventually, transport proteins escort the bound metal into the urine or bile.

So does the constant dropping and re-attachment of the metal cause a problem? Chris says no and cites a cell culture study wherein cells were exposed to high levels of cadmium, mercury, and arsenic. When the GSH detox enzymes and proteins were in good working order, the cells remained undamaged. Every time a heavy metal came “knocking on the door”, it got attached to GSH and sent packing.

So from my perspective, I think there’s value in both views. A person wants to take enough Haritaki to keep the GSH pathway humming along. In Chris’s protocol, people are to take Haritaki three times a day with meals. I’m not sure if this level of dosing is sufficient to keep the GSH pathway well up-regulated. I definitely see the wisdom in not simply adding in NAC or GSH without up-regulating the entire pathway. So until I learn otherwise, I think it makes sense to lower the amount in each dose while increasing the number of doses. Incidentally, Andy lumps chlorella into the same weak chelator category.

In addition, Haritaki is considered the “king of herbs”. There is a reason for this. Also, I have an inherent belief in the wisdom of the body. So maybe bouncing heavy metals around doesn’t seem like a good idea and then again, maybe it’s really efficient in ways we don’t understand. When you dig into the research on chelation, you realize there is still a lot to learn.

Sulfur Compounds

Another area of confusion relates to sulfur compounds with free thiol groups and foods that convert into compounds with free thiol groups. Both can latch onto heavy metals. This includes GSH and cysteine, along with lipoic acid, foods like cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, etc), alliums (onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek, and chives), dairy, eggs, and so on – see Foods High in Sulfur (thiols). Both Andy and Chris agree that mercury toxic folks don’t tolerate certain sulfur compounds well and this concern has two parts.

The first part of the concern with sulfur isn’t really related to heavy metals per se but does have to do with whether a person is able to metabolize sulfur containing substances. When these sulfur compounds are broken down, they convert into either cysteine or sulfate. We’ll talk about cysteine in just a minute. In terms of sulfate, initially and for a very brief period, the body makes toxic sulfite before transforming it into healthful sulfate. This done in a process called Sulfoxidation whereby sulfate is created from sulfur compounds to be then used in Phase II detoxification. That’s all well and good.

The trouble is that some folks don’t do a good job making the conversion from sulfite to sulfate and consequently end up with an overload of sulfite. A few of the reasons this break down in the sulfoxidation process resulting in high sulfite levels are low molybdenum, Vitamin B12 deficiency, porphyria, high boron, and such. Interestingly, people that don’t metabolize sulfur well tend to have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and nervous system issues.

When it comes to determining if sulfite overload is an issue, one way is to test sulfite levels using Sulfite Urine Strips shortly after eating foods high in sulfur. Another would be to watch for symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, racing heart, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, runny nose, and so on. Note: Various CBS mutations have been bantered about with no real clarity as to whether or not they are helpful in determining if a person has a “Sulfoxidation” problem.

The second part of the concern with sulfur specifically relates to mercury toxicity and has to do with the creation of cysteine. During the initial stages of the Sulfoxidation process cysteine is created. Some of this cysteine stays as cysteine and some is turned into sulfite and then sulfate. The trouble is that some people have higher levels of cysteine blood plasma. (By the way, there used to be a test for this but it is no longer available.)

When folks with already high blood plasma cysteine take in sulfur compounds and foods, their cysteine levels rise even higher. As discussed above, higher levels of cysteine without ramping up the entire detoxification system is going to cause heavy metals that are attracted to thiol groups to bounce around and do more damage. Not good. The way to test if this is an issue is with a stop eating sulfur foods briefly followed by eating a lot of them and watching symptoms.

So the confusion that creeps into discussions has to do with thiol groups. Folks in the Andy Cutler camp seem to lump any substance with a single weak thiol group all into the same pile; they are to limited. However, as discussed, GSH falls into this category. Those in Cutler’s camp say to limit GSH. In contrast, I believe Chris Shade is right and that increasing GSH levels is very good so long as the rest of the GSH pathway is cranked up.

Sulfur containing foods are converted into cysteine, sulfite, sulfate and a few other compounds in-between. When it comes to issues with sulfur containing foods, they contain single thiol groups and consequently are believed to be problematic – redistribute heavy metals. Both Andy and Chris talk about sulfur containing foods as very frequently being a problem for people that are mercury toxic. Chris specifically says he doesn’t like using Crucifer and Allium foods for this reason. Andy talks about foods that are metabolically converted into thiol containing substances like cysteine as being a problem.

My take-away on all of this is that it’s important to do an elimination diet to determine if sulfur foods are an issue but ramping up the glutathione pathway should be very helpful if done as discussed – not simply taking liposomal GSH or precursors like NAC along with making sure to reduce gut inflammation as much as possible.

Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) consists of 50-50 mix of R-lipoic acid and S-lipoic acid. The R-form is natural to the body and the S-form is synthetic. From Andy’s perspective, ALA contains two thiol groups and consequently is capable of latching onto the heavy metals Mercury (Hg), Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Silver (Ag), and Zinc (Zn). Unlike DMSA that is also used in Andy’s protocol, ALA is capable of crossing the blood brain barrier. As such, it is only used after the body burden of mercury (excluding the brain) has been lowered with DMSA.

Important to its use, Andy insists that people at ALA every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours through the night. Of course, recommendations also include starting out very slowly, watching symptoms, and pulsing the therapy – taking rest days where minerals only are taken. Starting doses begin at 25 mg and are incrementally increased up to 200mg. As discussed, the reason for frequent dosing is to prevent dips in the level of ALA and consequently the deposition of the metals in transit into unwanted parts of the body.

In contrast, Chris says that ALA is not a chelator. He goes on to say that the common perception of ALA as being an antioxidant is incorrect. Instead, Chris says that the R-form is actually highly oxidative and, among various other actions, triggers the Nrf2 protein to up-regulate the entire detoxification system. Said another way, the reason that ALA may work to remove metals across the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) could simply be a result of turning up the GSH pathway – as opposed to ALA actually latching onto metals that are then transported out of the body – GSH readily cross the BBB.

In support of this contention, when I tried to find studies showing the excretion of ALA bound to heavy metals in some form, I came up empty handed. Instead, all I could find were studies showing ALA triggers the body to start “cleaning up house”. There are lots of studies showing this. In brief, it appears that the R-lipoic acid imposes an oxidative stress that the body responds to by ramping up Phase II detoxification.

So if ALA is actually ramping up detoxification and not actually physically binding to metals, then a person would not necessarily need to be concerned with the half-life of ALA – of keeping levels high. In this case, the real question becomes how long does the body’s detoxification system remain up-regulated after ingesting a certain amount of ALA. I don’t know. Chris doesn’t comment on this specifically. He does say that fluctuations in detoxification levels are not a huge concern because even if detoxification slows it never stops completely.

I’m not sure I agree with this as it would seem that some amount of metals that were being transported out would drop out as detoxification slowed and we know this can lead to damage. As such, while it looks like the main mechanism of action for ALA is ramping up detox, in practice I still think it makes sense to dose more frequently. If you agreed with my previous discussions, then increasing ALA dosing over what Chris recommends fits in nicely as a person would already be dosing more frequently with Haritaki.

DMSA & DMPS

As discussed, DMSA is only used in Andy Cultler’s protocol. DMSA is a synthetic compound that contains two thiol groups that are capable of grabbing on reasonably tightly to heavy metals. Should a person elect to use Andy’s protocol, then starting slowing, frequent dosing, and taking rest days makes good sense.

One important point to realize is that the 20-40% that is actually taking up into the blood stream is all processed by the kidneys. The remainder attaches to heavy metals it runs into in the bowels. In other words, the liver never gets involved.

The fact that all the heavy metals in Andy’s protocol are going out through the kidneys may be why some have trouble with his approach. Clearly the kidneys need to be in good shape. Chris Shade says that gut inflammation can produce lipopolysaccharides, also called endotoxins. Lipopolysaccharides react synergistically with heavy metals. Chris says, “You should see the data. Lipopolysaccharides alone don’t cause this kidney problem, mercury alone causes a little kidney problem, but the combination really blows out the kidney”.

In contrast, the bulk of bound metals go out through the liver and gut in Chris’s approach. Granted this requires getting gut inflammation down and keeping it down. For those that have been chronically ill for some time, gut inflammation is almost guaranteed to be an issue. If someone tries to jump right into Chris’s protocol without clearing the ECM, making sure the kidneys and liver are flowing, along with reducing gut inflammation, you can see why those folks could get into trouble too.

Related to this, Chris has said that often gut inflammation and heavy metal detoxification often need to be worked on simultaneously. From my perspective having had CIRS for decades, I know my kidneys have been working overtime because gut inflammation drastically slows detoxing through the liver. As such, I’d much rather start sending toxins out through the liver and gut.

In terms of DMSA, this is a very powerful chelator. There really isn’t any call for it from what I can tell. In addition, the risks with DMSA are much greater. Jana from DMPSbackfire writes, “Dr. Levy has given me permission to repeat what he has told me directly. In his words, “DMPS is an unqualified sledge hammer to the immune system”. He referred to the administration of DMPS as an “assault”. Dr. Levy believes that synthetic chelators should just plain be avoided most of the time. Most patients simply don’t need them”. Enough said.

My Protocol

Whatever protocol you decide to follow, make sure to start out slowly, gradually increase doses, clear metals from the gut and body before adding in ALA and clearing them from the brain. Also, take rest days, don’t go too fast, and make sure to Pre-Tox along with supporting support the liver and kidneys.

For myself, after I make sure my gut is in as good of shape as it can be by addressing any parasites and clearing the case of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) that I test positive for, I plan on modifying the GSH Detox Protocol that I put together based upon Chris Shade’s work. Below are the modifications I plan on including.

Checklist

  • Work with a physician.
  • Reduce gut inflammation as much as possible and keep taking clay and charcoal.
  • Substitute IMD, R-lipoic acid, and EDTA for chlorella.
  • Test urine sulfite levels and test for sulfur tolerance with an elimination diet.
  • Watch for increased symptoms as detoxification is ramped up. If this happens, it’s quite likely there is a hidden infection that needs to be cleared before any further metal detoxing – like Lyme.
  • Make sure to remove any detox blocks and clear the ECM.
  • Enhance liver drainage with one or more supplements like milk thistle, dandelion, gentian and myrrh.
  • Enhance kidney drainage with one or more supplements like cranberry, solidago (goldenrod – Chris’s favorite), corn silk, and juniper.
  • Increase the number of daily doses of Haritaki, R-lipoic acid, and EDTA to keep levels uniformly high.
  • During “on” days, take magnesium (400mg or more), zinc (15-50 mg), and selenium (100-400 mcg) to support “digestive flora”. Also take molybdenum (500-1000 mcg) to aide sulfoxidation.
  • During “off” days, take Daily Supplements along with Carlson Labs Liquid Multiple Minerals plus zinc (50-100mg) through out the day.
  • Take B Vitamins according to Rich Van Konynenburg’s Simplified Approach For Lifting Methylation Blocks
  • While adding in additional GSH may be helpful, I’m not convinced it is absolutely necessary.
  • Although it’s not too hard to make liposomal Vitamin C, adding in 6 or more grams of Nutribiotics Sodium Ascorbate into water drank through out the day should be just fine.
  • Drink plenty of water. Hydration helps aide the movement of toxins.
  • Add a teaspoon or more of Swanson Sunflower Lecithin to my daily green smoothies. This helps improve cell membrane flexibility so toxins can be transported out of cells more easily.
  • Detox for several months before adding in R-lipoic acid and EDTA. I plan on using R-lipoic acid and EDTA in pill form. The goal is to lower the body burden before adding in R-lipoic acid. This will help ensure that metals in the brain will tend to migrate out.
  • It’s absolutely critical to take “off” days. Also, slow and steady wins the race.

Conclusion

Both Andy Cutler and Chris Shade have developed heavy metal detoxification protocols that will work when care is taken to follow their protocol and support the body’s detoxification system. With either protocol, it’s essential to drink plenty of water, open up the extra cellular matrix (ECM), add in support for the liver and kidneys, supplement minerals and vitamins, ensure urination and bowel movements are regular, and minimize gut inflammation. Failing to support the body’s detoxification system prior to starting either heavy metal detoxification protocol may lead to a worsening of symptoms. This happens when heavy metals that are being liberated from parts of the body are not completely eliminated – end up lodging in new places that cause more damage.

Andy’s protocol sends the bulk of metals liberated from body tissue out through the kidneys. For some, the kidneys may already be weakened or overburdened from chronic illness. For example, sometimes when the gut is inflamed, it produces lipopolysaccharides. The combination of mercury and lipopolysaccharides can damage the proximal tubules in the kidneys responsible for filtering out bound heavy metals. As such, those with poor kidney functioning as shown by QuickSilver mercury testing should seriously consider using Chris Shade’s protocol or doing serious work on restoring kidney function prior to using Andy’s method.

On the other hand, Chris’s protocol uses the body’s natural glutathione (GSH) detoxification system. As such, the bulk of bound heavy metals move out through the liver and gut. This lightens the load on the tired kidneys. As such, Chris’s approach relies on the body responding to ingesting Haritaki by up-regulating the GSH detoxification system.

Personally, I think care should be taken with Chris’s protocol by waiting to add in R-lipoic acid and EDTA. This is important in order to help heal the gut, to lower the body burden prior to moving brain metals, and to ensure the GSH detox pathway is working reasonably well. If a person can’t handle ramping up Haritaki and IMD alone, then this may be a sign that they need to get the kidneys, liver, and gut working better before adding in R-lipoic acid or EDTA.

Sometimes hidden infections can waylay either heavy metal detoxification protocol. When a person simply can’t ramp up detoxification without getting very symptomatic, Chris says testing should be done for Lyme, co-infections, and the like.

Clearly, gut health and liver support are very important in either protocol. Chris says that an inflamed gut can slow the entire GSH detoxification pathway by as much as 60%. However, this doesn’t mean that a person will get into trouble using Andy’s or Chris’s approach if their gut isn’t in perfect working order. Rather, detoxification will be slowed. As such, extra care should be taken to very slowly ramp up detoxification and adding in lipoic acid and EDTA should be delayed.

What I like about Chris’s protocol is that it relies more on the wisdom of the body to selectively pull out metals. In Andy’s protocol, you’re sending DMSA coursing through your veins that lowers metals in the blood stream. The body will respond by using its natural detoxification system to move more metals into the blood but there is a bit of a forced component here.

In Chris’s approach, the body’s natural GSH detox pathway is ramped up. The only metal binder used remains in the gut. As such, the body is left to selectively decide what piece of metal it’s going to work on moving out next. I also like Chris’s approach because it also clears a whole host of other toxins including mold. Given this, it’s important to take clay and charcoal to help mop up these additional toxins.

Chris Shade & Dr. Mercola Show Notes

  • Chris Shade studied the movement of mercury in the environment. In terms of the human body, methylmercury comes from fish and is typically much smaller in amount compared to inorganic mercury that comes from the environment. Chris developed tools to distinguish between these two types of mercury.
  • QuickSilver tri-test looks at blood, hair, and urine mercury content. The amount of two types of mercury in the blood represents a smaller fraction of the amount of mercury held in body tissues. Blood mercury is representative of the body’s total mercury burden. Hair and urine represent the body’s ability to excrete mercury. Hair is an “excretion marker” for methylmercury and urine is an excretion marker for inorganic mercury. If the body’s detox systems are working well, the levels in the blood should be proportional with the levels in the hair and urine.
  • The urine-to-blood ratio of inorganic mercury is roughly 7:1. When the urine excretion of inorganic mercury is low this means that there is damage to the Proximal Tubule Transporters of the kidneys and not to the Glomerular Filtration System of the kidneys. Kidney blood cleaning begins with Glomerular Filtration that removes everything from the blood followed by the Proximal Tubules that allow for the reabsorption of beneficial material (water, sodium, chloride, glucose, amino acids, and the like). The remaining toxins are actively transported into the urine for excretion. 7:00
  • In a mouse model, it was found that endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides) in combination with mercury could damage the Transport Tubules in the kidneys such that mercury was reabsorbed into the body. In other words, if you have high mercury and a leaky gut (endotoxins) then you’re likely to damage the Proximal Tubule Transporters. This will result in excess levels of inorganic mercury in the blood. If the blood-to-kidney inorganic mercury ratio is high, then you need to treat the kidney first.
  • Inorganic mercury is much more toxic to the Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM) and builds up in connective tissue resulting in joint or fibromyalgia pain. Inorganic mercury is detoxified through the kidneys and can damage the kidneys (chronic renal insufficiency). Inorganic mercury binds to more sites in cells causing more disruption than methylmercury. In comparison, Methylmercury is less toxic and is removed primarily by glutathione (GSH) conjugation and then transported through the liver into the GI tract. Unfortunately, some methylmercury is broken down into inorganic mercury in the gut in varying degrees depending on the individual. Those that convert more are at greater risk of becoming symptomatic. 10:00
  • My Note: Studies show that chelation can arrest kidney decline. This in combination with a low protein diet can be very helpful. Also, using DMSA forces bound metals out through the kidneys. This can overload the kidneys.
  • Methylmercury comes exclusively from fish. The bigger the fish, the higher the concentration (swordfish 1000-5000 ppb, large wild tuna 1000-2000 ppb, small skipjack or chunk jack tuna 200-1000 ppb, small sockeye, coho, or pink salmon 50-100 ppb, sardine 1-10 ppm). Inorganic mercury comes primarily from amalgam (mercury) fillings and from the breakdown of methylmercury in the gut. There is a much smaller amount that comes from mercury in the air from sources like coal-fired power plants. Chris says that this source of inorganic mercury is quickly broken down in the environment into methylmercury that then is most often taken in when people eat fish from the area. On the human body side, really high sources of environmental mercury typically come from spills into carpeting and the like that then poisons people for decades. 15:00
  • Among others, the kidneys (nephrotoxicity), central nervous system, and thyroid all are damaged by inorganic mercury. Regarding the nervous system, the NMDA (glutamate) receptor is most often damaged resulting in hyper-glutamate activity. This excess activity results in a chronic peroxy nitrate free radical cascade that produces inflammation. This inflammation causes symptoms like brain fog and anxiety. Hypothyroidism from mercury is due to damage the deiodinase enzyme responsible for converting the T4 thyroid hormone into its T3 active form. High T4 and low T3 is most often from mercury, or cadmium, or arsenic poisoning. Mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and lead are the metals that use up the most glutathione. 22:00
  • Dr. Nigel Plummer former owner of Pharmax probiotics and Dr. Robert Rountree from the Institute of Functional Medicine gave talks how the GI tract signals to the rest of the detox system based upon the toxins it’s being exposed to – greater GI inflammation results in diminished Phase II detoxification. When an inflamed GI tract blocks liver detoxification route, then all the chelated mercury has to go out the kidneys. In a healthy individual, the liver should be the dominant detox organ – not the kidneys. 27:00
  • My Note: When methylmercury is high the gut is enflamed and Phase II detox is throttled back. This also happens in people adversely affected by Thimerosol (Ethymercury). Without binders, methylmercury is subject to enterohepatic recirculation from the intestines back up to the liver. If you have blocked or slowed bile flow (cholestasis), this needs to be addressed before trying to detoxify heavy metals. Pectins heal the GI tract reducing inflammation thereby restoring detoxification phases.
  • Taking GI binders helps reduce gut inflammation and open up liver detoxification. Chris got sick using DMSA because the mercury (methylmercury) was recycled from the GI tract. Chris took IMD – a micro-silica particle saturated with sulfhydryl (thiol) groups. A single 6 gram bottle of IMD is equal to 3,000-5,000 Chlorella (one scoop is about 100 Chlorella). One gram of IMD can bind 200mg of mercury. IMD is really strong and this is why it’s restricted. Charcoal is good for mopping up endotoxins and many mycotoxins except Aflatoxin. Clay is good for Aflatoxin. Chris takes a blend of all three and recommends this is important in detoxification to ensure GI health and maximized detoxification. 28:00
  • Drainage includes cleaning of the Extra Cellular Matix (ECM). Liver drainage is enhanced with milk thistle, dandelion, gentian and myrrh. Kidney drainage is helped with cranberry, solidago (goldenrod – Chris’s favorite), corn silk, and juniper. Burdoc helps clean the blood. You need to get the liver, kidneys, and gut in good shape before taking Haritaki and R-Lipoic acid to upregulate Phase II and Phase III detoxification that will “squeeze” toxins out of the cells and transport them into the blood stream. The idea is to make sure you’re urinating and having bowel movements regularly along with drinking plenty of water. 29:00
  • R-Lipoic acid upregulates glutathione S-tranferase that is responsible for pulling mercury off of intercellular proteins and attaching it to Glutathione for transfer out of the cell. R-Lipoic acid also causes the protein Nrf2 to translocate into the cell’s nucleus wherein Nrf2 triggers a group of gene promoter regions resulting in the upregulation of the antioxidant response element, also called chemo protection, for detox. This happens because R-Lipoic acid is very oxidative and consequently activates Nrf2 and the subsequent antioxidant response. Polyphenols like Haritaki, green tea, and pomegranate along with sulfur compounds from brassicas like broccoli seed extract, allicin, and cardamom. They are actually mild toxins that stimulate detoxification. Chris likes Haritaki in part because there’s research showing it upregulates GSH, glutathione S-transferase, and the transport proteins. However, Raw Cacao and Cilantro are two other well known Polyphenols but no one has done any research on their ability to enhance detox. Along a different track, taking anti-oxidants like Vitamin E and Vitamin A just prior to an oxidative stress like exercise, ozone therapy, etc. limits the body’s natural antioxidant response using glutathione and therefore is actually harmful. Antioxidants should be taken after the oxidative stress to help with repair. 35:00
  • When the body is working well, you can take NAC or whey protein and the body will convert this into glutathione enzymes. For those that are sick, liposomal GSH is required. Liposomes also contribute phospholipids to help with cell membrane repair and function so toxins can readily move out of the cell wall. Chris doesn’t like using Crucifer and Allium based sulfur compounds because many mercury toxic folks have trouble converting these compounds to sulfate so it can be excreted via the urine resulting in a toxic buildup of sulfite. Take Molybdenum to help with this. 44:00
  • The glutathione system can remove mercury, cadmium, and arsenic – three out of the four worst metals in terms of their load on the body’s GSH detoxification system. Chris doesn’t believe the body has a mechanism to detoxify lead and this is why it builds up in the body and most old people are lead toxic. Chris uses liposomal EDTA. You need to be high in lead, in good shape, and with proper supplementation before taking EDTA not only because it chelates lead but also because it breaks up biofilms. Folks that can’t titrate up their dose, feel tired all the time, and so on invariably have a hidden infection like Lyme. People that “herx” using EDTA are reacting to the immune response to pathogens previously hidden under biofilms as opposed to the movement of lead. Chris says chelating lead should come last and always with the help of a practitioner. Thiol groups bind to Zinc (Zn), Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb), Silver (Ag), and Mercury (Hg). 49:00
  • Ramping up detox using polyphenols and R-Lipoic acid not only removes heavy metals but also mold toxins, fluoride, bromide, chloride, hydrocarbons, pesticides, herbicides, and so on. It’s very important to start out slow and ramp up along with pulsing. These two are very important.
  • Many nutrient metals especially zinc are displaced by heavy metals and need to be replaced before starting a detox program. Likewise, being high in copper and low in zinc will make the person feel toxic. High copper is synergistic with other heavy metals – makes their effect much worse. Furthermore, when calcium is high and magnesium low, the sympathetic nervous system will be lit up. Molybdenum, selenium, and lithium also need to be at proper levels. Incidentally, Chris says Hal Huggin’s protocol of supporting the body and only using 25mg of DMSA three times a week was very good at removing mercury. 1:00:00

3 thoughts on “Heavy Metals

  1. Great article. I’ve wondered about all this for a while, especially how it relates to CIRS folks. Thanks!

  2. Thanks a lot Greg for this article, I’m sure I’m affected by this and in this artcile there is more information than I could ever dream of 🙂

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