Major and minor studies emanate every day that tell us just how much we have introduced all kinds of toxic chemicals into the environment. Through industrialization, agribusiness (this word was purposely used- instead of agriculture, to emphasise the intensive methods of food production), the burning of fossil fuels, (primarily to produce electric) and other "modern life" processes- our land, air and water has been contaminated to one degree or another.
And what is more, to accumulate these toxins into our own body's, does not "mean we have to be handling "dangerous chemicals in the sense that a scientist, an engineer, a mechanic, a farmer or even a gardener may. In the every day course of our lives, simply breathing, eating, drinking and cleaning ourselves enables us to accumulate toxins.
Let us look at some "everyday" examples:
These facts and figures may be all very interesting by themselves, but what are the consequences of accumulating these various toxins, and what "burdens" do they place upon our optimal health? Let us look individually at some of the key toxins in question:
Lead interferes with haemoglobin synthesis and is believed to make red blood cells "brittle." (15) Furthermore, increasing lead levels correlate with the age-related decrease in renal function, and even low-level environmental lead exposure may accelerate progressive renal insufficiency. (16/17)
One of the key perquisites with lead is that it can lower I.Q. levels. Results from research conducted at Cornell University indicate that lead/blood levels even far below 10 mcg. per decilitre, (the current US Federal minimum threshold for defining elevated lead levels in children), effects mental development and I.Q. (21)
Lead is also known to displace minerals within the body, particularly calcium, in severe cases "lead lines" can actually be visible on X-Rays where it has replaced calcium. (14) In general lead toxicity can cause memory loss, attention and learning disabilities, muscle pains, nausea, headaches, depression, immune system suppression, dizziness, lethargy, abdominal pains, high blood pressure and in more severe cases anaemia, multiple sclerosis and kidney failure. (22)
Additional common sources of lead can include bone meal, ceramics, cosmetics, newsprint, putty and hair coloring. (30)
Mercury is one of the most toxic heavy metals, and is noted for causing rapid brain neuron degeneration. [Ed.- If you are interested, with QuickTime 4.0 you can see how mercury causes neural degradation in a video presentation by the University of Calgary at; http://commons.ucalgary.ca/mercury].
Mercury contamination can lead to restlessness, profuse sweating, tremors, swollen extremities, lethargy, anxiety, depression, insomnia and brain fog. Indeed, these symptoms can often present themselves as vague/ unrelated and multiple in their origin. Meanwhile, mercury has been cited as the main culprit in the so-called Gulf War Syndrome, where hundreds of troops experienced these types of symptoms after being injected with a cocktail of vaccines. Vaccines that used thimerosal, an ethyl mercury-based compound that was present because of its preservative qualities. (24)
Mercury has also been closely linked with senile dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease. Remember the saying "Mad as a Hatter?" Back in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Hatters used mercury in the steaming process to shape headwear. As a result, they breathed in the heavy vapor and many of them went senile! Hence the expression. My dentist tells me that his profession is now in one of the highest risk factors for Alzheimer's disease… No coincidence then that most of them find themselves regularly removing silver mercury amalgams and constantly and continually breathing in the drilled-out vapor?
Now new research shows that Apolipoprotein E (Apo-E) genotyping may be a potential biomarker for mercury neurotoxicity, (and indeed personal susceptibility to other heavy metal neurotoxicity). Moreover, Apo-E is a major risk factor for neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease. So the door could be open to understanding how chronic low-level mercury levels can, over long periods of time lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's. (25)
Additional common sources of mercury can include adhesives, fabric softeners, laxatives, pigments and wood preservatives. (30)
Signs of severe arsenic intoxication include dark spots on skin, bleeding sores, nail rot and gangrene. Arsenic may also lead to cancers of the lung, bladder and kidney, as well as blood vessel diseases. (23)
Apart from shell fish, arsenic can be found in soil, and minute quantities may also be contained in fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides. Furthermore, arsenic is used in the formation of pressure treated woods, accordingly carpenters are exposed when sawing etc. Arsenic may also be used in glass manufacture, weed killers, wallpaper and detergents. (30)
Ingested cadmium is mainly deposited into the kidneys and the prostate gland. High blood levels of this metal can cause acute renal failure, "hardening" of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), along with high blood pressure. (23)
Perhaps the greatest cadmium exposure is caused by cigarettes. The "average" cigarette contains about 1.4 mcg. of cadmium; with 30 percent entering the lungs and the remaining 70 percent entering the atmosphere. Perhaps it's no surprise considering the affinity for cadmium to congregate in the prostate gland that male smokers are at a much higher risk for prostate cancer than their non-smoking counterparts. (14/27)
Symptoms of cadmium toxicity include fatigue, hypertension, emphysema, yellowing of teeth, pains in back, legs and sternum, rheumatism and prostatic cancer. (27)
Other cadmium sources can include bleached flour, pottery, dental prosthetics, nickel-cadmium batteries, paints, solvents, rubber carpet backing, organ meats, plastics, rice and fertilizers. (30)
Whilst most supplement manufacturers add iron to their multi-vitamins, it is so prevalent in day-to-day activity that, in the majority of cases it is rarely required as an additional supplement. (20) What should be better known is that iron overloads contribute to a number of health inhibiting factors. For example, iron is a pro-oxidant as well as a "nutrient" for invading microbial and neoplastic cells. (20)
Excessive iron in specific tissues and cells can promote development of infection, neoplasia, cardiomyopathy, arthropathy and various endocrine and possibly even neurodegenerative disorders. (18) Furthermore, there is evidence that body stores of iron correlate with the risk of cancer, with the higher levels exposing greater risk. (19)
Despite aluminium being one of the most prevalent mineral's in the Earth, it would appear that our body's have not developed a use for it. However, there are now more than 30 published articles that link excess levels of Aluminium in the brain to premature senility and loss of memory. (27)
Aluminium toxicity can present the symptoms of aching muscles, rickets, osteoporosis, senile dementia (particularly Alzheimer's disease), hepatic dysfunction, gastric distress and GI tract inflammation, flatulence, belching and in children- hyperactivity. (27)
Typical "everyday" sources of aluminium contamination include cooking utensils (including cutlery and pots and pans), baking powder (contains aluminium sulfate), antacids, deodorants and antiperspirants, cans and other food/ drink packaging containers, coal burning, milk products (from milking equipment), pesticides and food additives, to name but a few! (30)
So now let us discover some of the key factors involved in reducing these heavy metal burdens:
EDTA or Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid was invented in Germany in the mid 1930's as a substitute for citric acid and is a synthetic amino acid related to vinegar. It is a potent and multi-chemical chelator. This means that it has one main action- it binds minerals to itself, in this case holding them tightly, then leaving the body with the mineral, primarily through the urine. Due to the structure of the molecule, it seems appropriate to consider it as a biologically active detoxifier.
EDTA is one of, if not the prime chelator used today. It has a very strong affinity for removing lead. In fact a report by the Los Alamos Research Laboratory showed that oral EDTA excreted 5 to 10 times more lead out of children than placebo. EDTA has also been shown to remove iron, cadmium, aluminium and even mercury, along with other metals, such as nickel. (20)
Usually EDTA is used in i.v. form at physician's offices, but the work of Dr. Garry Gordon has shown that EDTA is efficacious when taken orally, and he has over 507 published references to the fact that oral EDTA is safe and effective at his Gordon Research Institute website. (20) Furthermore, as Dr. Gordon points out in his lectures, chelation is an ongoing continuous process, particularly when chelating bones can take on average 7 years or more to accomplish. Under such circumstances, i.v. chelation is simply not practical for such continuous long-term use.
[Ed.- EDTA is now available in capsules as Essential Daily Defense ® which is also contained in the sachets of Beyond Chelation Improved ®). EDTA is also available as "bath salts" in Beyond Clean ® and uniquely in chewing gum form as EZ Defense ® gum].
One caveat is that EDTA will bind and remove other minerals from the body, thus it is highly prudent to ensure that multi-vitamins/ minerals are also taken along with EDTA. (20) [Ed.- This is accomplished if you use Beyond Chelation Improved ® as this product contains a full spectrum of nutrition and oils etc]. However, it is clear that with its proven continuous use in tens of thousands of patients, (many of whom have used EDTA for years), that EDTA is a safe therapy. Accordingly, more-and-more individuals and health professionals consider EDTA to be a long term "lifestyle" supplement.
Clearly dosages of any chelating substance, including EDTA are based upon the need. But in the case of low-level intoxication for an otherwise healthy person, a daily oral dose of 400 mg. to 800 mg. is fairly typical. (20)
Succinic acid or DMSA (Dimercptosuccinic acid) is noted as being one of the most potent chelators of both mercury (20) and cadmium. In fact, one study highlighted Succinic acid as being the most effective in leaving minimal residual levels of cadmium in the liver and the kidneys of animals. (28) In addition, Succinic acid also shows reasonable affinity for chelating lead and arsenic. (20)
As one of the most potent chelators, oral Succinic acid is often utilised prior to an i.v. chelation therapy, but unless required for acute cases, is rarely used on a permanent basis. In the chat-groups on Dr. Gordon's website, (20) he himself states that he uses a product called Heavy Detox ® at 1-3 capsules nightly, (each capsule containing 65mg of Succinic acid) one month on, one month off.
The main "active" ingredient in garlic is allicin, which is the substance that gives garlic its distinctive smell. One recent aspect of allicin is that it is a very powerful anti-biotic, and along with oregano appears to be a "rare" herb, in that it doesn't allow anything to grow on it! To give one example of how potent it has proven to be, researchers from the University of East London used allicin in capsule and cream form to successfully treat even the most antibiotic-resistant strains of infections, such as MRSA. (26)
It is also known that garlic can chelate heavy metals, particularly lead and mercury and has been shown to increase the fetal excretion of mercury by as much as 400% and to help protect blood cells against high levels of lead. (27)
Providing the source of organic garlic is high in allicin content, a typical daily protective dose is in the region of 800 mg. to 1600 mg. (20)
Selenium is a trace element that binds to mercury and effectively deactivates it. It is also a potent antioxidant and helps the body to assimilate and use vitamin E. (27) Furthermore, selenium helps to prevent protein mis-synthesis and Gerontologist Alex Comfort, in a 1970 paper described Selenium; "like protecting a record by lubricating the needle to reduce scratching with use, that would otherwise make it unplayable." Selenium has shown itself to protect against hardening of arteries and is often used in "alternative" cancer therapies. (27)
Typical daily dosages- to chelate mercury, are considered to be in the region of 100 mcg. to 300 mcg. (20)
Vitamin C holds the honor of probably having more published studies conducted on it than any other substance. Certainly it is clear from the work of scientists such as the late, great Linus Pauling, that vitamin C has the widest possible roles and uses within the body. Yet, it is the one vitamin that the body cannot store and adequate supplies are needed from the diet every day.
In his excellent book; "Vitamin C, infectious diseases and toxins, " (29) Dr. Thomas Levy highlights the studies that have shown vitamin C to have numerous chelation abilities in humans, including reduction of carbon monoxide, pesticides, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, chlorine, aluminium and fluoride.
To work at its best, vitamin C doses should be taken as regularly as possible. For example, dosages of 1 to 3 grams three or four times daily. The problem has always been that larger doses of vitamin C when taken orally are problematic for some people, as they can cause diarrhoea and stomach cramps. This has limited high dosage use of vitamin C to injections, which clearly is not a convenient, nor cost effective approach for the majority of people.
Recently, a unique version of vitamin C, containing L-ascorbate crystals with FASM, (Fully Attached Sodium Molecule) and buffered at a non-acidic, neutral pH has been produced. The brand name is Beyond C ® and Beyond C ® eliminates, (or greatly reduces) the usual intestinal distress that occurs with some persons taking large amounts of vitamin C. Therefore, the full benefits of vitamin C assisting the body in recovering from many serious problems are now achievable with 5 to 20 grams per day when taken orally! For the first time, high ascorbate blood levels are being noted with orally ingested vitamin C, which previously was only achievable with injections. (20)
There are a number of other substances that have been proven to have varying degrees of affinity to chelate various metals, and briefly in passing I will mention Malic acid for aluminium and iron. DL-Methionine for lead and mercury, DMPS (Dimethylpropanyl sulfate) and Alpha-lipoic acid for mercury and L-carnosine for copper. (30)
As is so often the case, and as Dr. Gordon has highlighted in his extensive research, the best approach is multi-faceted. In other words, a combination of different ingredients will work on multiple levels, and is preferable than any massive doses of a single item. (20)
There is much more to the body's burdens, and indeed the chelation substances mentioned above can do much more than just help to remove the heavy metals in question. In particular their effects upon removing calcium/ reducing arthrosclerosis and "thinning" blood, or the research that shows they have significantly increased the longevity of animals. But those are subjects for future articles, when we will elaborate on the additional health benefits of a chelating/ detoxing program.
Common sense should tell us that no matter what we are into for our health, or how deeply we are into it, whether the methods be lifestyle, diet, exercise, nutrition, hormone replacement, drugs, stem cells or any combination thereof, all results can be improved by removing toxins and hence reducing the body's burdens.
We all do what we can to avoid toxins, but at the end of the day- as we have seen, none of us can completely avoid coming into contact with them. As these heavy metals accumulate and deposit themselves in our membranes and bones, it behoves those of us who are interested and motivated enough for our own self preservation, to do what we can through chelation to reduce these burdens.
I believe that this kind of detox program should be taught virtually as job one in Antiaging Medicine.
On a personal note
For me, my core chelation/detox program relies mostly upon a range of products developed by the world expert in chelation, Garry Gordon, M.D. [Ed.- please see interview with Dr. Gordon in this issue]. I take 1 complete sachet of Beyond Chelation Improved ® each morning, 1 teaspoon of Beyond C ® 2 or 3 times a day, use a scoop of Beyond Clean ® in my bath, chew an EZ Defense ® gum after major meals and occasionally ingest a capsule of Heavy Detox ®. To reduce estrogen levels, I use 1 or 2 capsules of DIM and I3C containing Pro-Brassica ® daily.
I admit that I do use a good number of additional products most days (for various reasons). As a researcher I can't escape wanting to try many products and protocols, especially when I recognise my own symptoms in the text! But since I have been using Dr. Gordon's products mentioned above for the past 3 months, I have noticed a number of beneficial effects. I definitely feel that I have more physical energy (and people have commented to me on that), I'm sleeping better (which for me means less) and I've noticed that I can reduce the dosages of some of the specialist products I use, (such as Hydergine) and still maintain their effects. I even see that I am losing weight easier…
Are my cells responding and operating at a better/ more efficient level because I am chelating my toxins? I certainly like to think so!