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  Heavy Metal Detoxification / Avoidance  
 
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There are many individual and combination over-the-counter products available on the market to help deal with this problem. Many of the individual components of a heavy metal detoxification protocol are discussed under that condition. Most - if not all - of the natural treatments are mild-acting or mostly of a supportive nature. More aggressive and yet safe treatment options should include the alternative medical use of strong metal chelators such as DMPS (2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid) or DMSA (2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid). Even though a medical doctor may not feel you have a problem until symptoms of poisoning are significant, some heavy metals such as mercury have no desirable place in your body. Most alternative doctors will be able to tell if your body burden of metals is high enough to warrant treatment and how aggressive that treatment should be.

DMPS and DMSA (prescription drugs) are used by alternative doctors for challenge testing (determining the body content of metals), and for treatment. In many cases, a detoxifying regimen using supportive natural chelators and a modified diet is recommended. Some patients should have their amalgams removed. This should be done by a dentist who will follow a safe protocol for the removal to avoid further mercury exposure. Consider using DMPS or DMSA at the time of removal, if available. In 80 patients with dental amalgam fillings and symptoms attributed to chronic mercury toxicity, 100mg per week of DMPS with 100mcg per day of selenium reduced symptoms after an initial 300mg DMPS oral challenge.

Reliable removal should involve the use of more aggressive/safe chelators such as DMPS and DMSA [DMPS, Scientific Monograph: Dimaval (DMPS). 1997, Houston Tx: Heyltex Corp.; DMSA, a non-toxic, water soluble treatment for heavy metal toxicity. Alt Med Rev, 1998. 3(3): pp.199-207]. Some OTC products contain small amounts of EDTA, a general purpose chelator. There is some controversy over how useful it is when used orally and EDTA is much less effective for mercury removal than DMPS or DMSA.

Caution should be exercised when taking chelators for extended periods of time as other minerals (beside heavy metal minerals) may be adversely affected. The strong metal chelators DMSA and DMPS must be used under a doctor's supervision.

An increasing number of doctors are using alpha lipoic acid concurrently with the strong chelators DMPS or DMSA. A typical program is 100mg alpha lipoic acid with 100mg DMSA every 4 hours for 3 days, or 100mg alpha lipoic acid every four hours with 100mg DMPS every 8 hours for 3 days.

DMPS:
Approximately 50% of an orally administered dose is absorbed. The remaining DMPS can bind any mercury present in the stomach and intestines, interrupting its entero-hepatic circulation. Oral administration is now the preferred method in both acute and chronic poisonings.

A misconception is that DMPS depletes copper and/or zinc. While there have been occasional reports of elevated levels of copper and zinc appearing in the urine after DMPS administration, these experiments were not well described. This also contradicts the stability constants determined in vitro. DMPS has its greatest affinity for mercury. If there is a greater accumulation of copper in the tissue, as has been demonstrated in mercury and gold poisoning through the formation of metallothionines, a greater quantity of the DMPS-copper complex is to be expected according to the law of mass action.

When copper or zinc levels are elevated, there may no longer be sufficient DMPS for mobilization of other metals. The results may be falsely negative for mercury. In these cases, repeating of the challenge test in 4-12 weeks is suggested. It is prudent to obtain laboratory measurements of blood trace minerals prior to the administration of DMPS to assess trace mineral status.

There is no standard for conducting a challenge test with DMPS. There exists in the literature several variations with different parameters for each. However, each procedure describes testing of the urine before administration of DMPS (baseline) and initiating a timed urine collection immediatly after administration of the drug (oral and IV). The patient should be well hydrated before and during any of the following procedures.

1. Administration of 300mg oral DMPS with water. Collection of 24-hour urine for metal excretion determination.
2. A challenge dose of 300mg oral given on an empty stomach with ingestion of water over the next two hours sufficient for excreting 500 ml of urine over the next six hours to be collected for testing of metals.
3. Determination of the basal level of mercury in the morning urine. Oral administration with 300mg of DMPS to a fasting patient with 1/2 L of water. Collection of a spontaneous urine 2-4 hours after DMPS administration.

NOTE: Even with oral administration of DMPS, urine testing is preferred over fecal testing for determining excretion of toxic metals. [Heyltex Scientific Monograph on DMPS] Further information can be found at the Heyl website.

DMSA
This test involves taking 300mg to 1000mg of DMSA and collecting urine before and after the drug. Since the DMSA can damage the liver and/or kidneys if one has a great deal of metal in their body, it is recommended that one first take 50mg and wait a week and if it is well tolerated (i.e. not much pain), then take 250mg and wait another week and if that is well tolerated, and then go on to the 500-1000mg that is used for the test. This extended protocol is strongly recommended for those that are very ill.

Dosing protocols for DMSA treatment vary depending on physician preference and individual patient need, but currently two protocols are most often used. In one protocol, 10-30mg/kg per day is given in three divided doses, using a three-days-on, 11-days-off cycle with a minimum of eight cycles. A second protocol involves giving 500mg per day (in two or three divided doses) every other day for a minimum of 5 weeks. DMSA is best taken between meals. Additional protocols have been recommended including daily use of lower doses (25-50mg) for very extended periods (up to 2 years). Check with your doctor on this.

Lead
Leaded wick candles create dangerous levels of lead in the air. For years, manufacturers have added lead to candle wicks for stiffness and a more even burn. Researchers at the EPA found that burning a leaded-wick candle raises particulates to dangerous levels not just near the candle but throughout the house. The researchers say the worst candle they tested would raise lead levels to more than 13 times the safe limit.

The lack of laws outside the US and Europe allow foreign manufacturers to continue to use lead (the cheapest wicking agent). In the US, sales of imported candles, which frequently contain the metal, have grown by 800% since 1992, to an estimated 3 million candles each year.

There is an easy way to test whether or not a candle is using a lead core wick. Take a normal piece of white paper with you to the store. Rub the paper on the tip of an un- burned candle's wick. If it leaves a light grey pencil like mark, it is using a lead core. If uncertain, look at the label and only buy candles made in the US or European countries which ban lead use in candles. [New Scientist June 17, 2002]
 

 
 

Heavy Metal Detoxification / Avoidance can help with the following:
 
 
Aging  Parkinson's Disease / Risk
 Parkinson's disease is almost certainly caused by oxidative stress aggravated by metal toxicity. People who live in areas where the aluminum content of the drinking water is high have an excessive risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Recent research has linked high aluminum levels in drinking water to acid rain that leaches the aluminum out of the soil and transfers it to the ground water. Other metals are also implicated.

Circulation

  Arrhythmias/Dysrhythmias
 Some doctors have reported arrhythmias improving after mercury amalgam filling removal and systemic treatment with heavy metal chelators. [Alternative Medicine Digest]

Environment / Toxicity

  Heavy Metal Toxicity
  Mercury Toxicity / Amalgam Illness
  Manganese toxicity
 Obviously, the source of the manganese contamination should be discovered and then any further contact or intake avoided.

  Copper Toxicity
 If copper levels are very high, treatment with DMSA, penicillamine or EDTA may be needed.

Organ Health

  Kidney Failure
 A study evaluated 272 men and women with chronic renal failure and found that there was a significantly increased risk from exposure to lead, copper, chromium, tin, mercury, welding fumes, silicon containing compounds, grain dust and oxygenated hydrocarbons. Occupational exposures were high amongst patients with diabetic nephropathy.

Uro-Genital

  Female Infertility
 Investigate the possibility of heavy metal intoxication, which may affect ovulation. A hair analysis can reveal heavy metal poisoning.
 
 


KEY
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended







GLOSSARY

Acute:  An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.

Chronic:  Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

Copper:  An essential mineral that is a component of several important enzymes in the body and is essential to good health. Copper is found in all body tissues. Copper deficiency leads to a variety of abnormalities, including anemia, skeletal defects, degeneration of the nervous system, reproductive failure, pronounced cardiovascular lesions, elevated blood cholesterol, impaired immunity and defects in the pigmentation and structure of hair. Copper is involved in iron incorporation into hemoglobin. It is also involved with vitamin C in the formation of collagen and the proper functioning in central nervous system. More than a dozen enzymes have been found to contain copper. The best studied are superoxide dismutase (SOD), cytochrome C oxidase, catalase, dopamine hydroxylase, uricase, tryptophan dioxygenase, lecithinase and other monoamine and diamine oxidases.

EDTA:  (Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic Acid): An organic molecule used in chelation therapy.

EPA:  Environmental Protection Agency. Also: Eicosapentanoic Acid. A metabolite of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid.

Intravenous Infusion:  (IV): A small needle placed in the vein to assist in fluid replacement or the giving of medication.

Kilogram:  1000 grams, 2.2lbs.

Lipoic acid:  A sulfur-containing coenzyme used in the energy process and is also a powerful antioxidant. Has been used therapeutically in the treatment of AIDS and diabetes because of the synergy between alpha-lipoic acid and vitamin E and the interlocking cycles which lead to better optimization of antioxidant nutrients.

Microgram:  (mcg): 1/1,000 of a milligram in weight.

Milligram:  (mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.

Mineral:  Plays a vital role in regulating many body functions. They act as catalysts in nerve response, muscle contraction and the metabolism of nutrients in foods. They regulate electrolyte balance and hormonal production, and they strengthen skeletal structures.

Over-The-Counter:  A drug or medication that can legally be bought without a doctor's prescription being required.

Selenium:  An essential element involved primarily in enzymes that are antioxidants. Three selenium- containing enzymes are antioxidant peroxidases and a fourth selenium-containing enzyme is involved in thyroid hormone production. The prostate contains a selenium-containing protein and semen contains relatively large amounts of selenium. Clinical studies show that selenium is important in lowering the risk of several types of cancers. In combination with Vitamin E, selenium aids the production of antibodies and helps maintain a healthy heart. It also aids in the function of the pancreas, provides elasticity to tissues and helps cells defend themselves against damage from oxidation.

Stomach:  A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.

Zinc:  An essential trace mineral. The functions of zinc are enzymatic. There are over 70 metalloenzymes known to require zinc for their functions. The main biochemicals in which zinc has been found to be necessary include: enzymes and enzymatic function, protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Zinc is a constituent of insulin and male reproductive fluid. Zinc is necessary for the proper metabolism of alcohol, to get rid of the lactic acid that builds up in working muscles and to transfer it to the lungs. Zinc is involved in the health of the immune system, assists vitamin A utilization and is involved in the formation of bone and teeth.