We are potentially constantly exposed to heavy metals living in an industrialized society. Conventional thinking only recognizes overload and toxicity syndromes, as opposed to increased body burdens. For example, lead paint and leaded gasoline have only relatively recently been removed from the market. 

Lead, along with all the other heavy metals, may have negative effects even in relatively small amounts. In a healthy body, the body burden of heavy metals should be low as these metals are non-nutritional and can be toxic, depending on the level and individual variations in sensitivity. These metals may be a source of stress to the body with respect to detoxification pathways. They may inhibit enzyme systems throughout the body, potentially leading to reduced cellular energy production.

In fact, as a single intervention, Dr Walter Blumer MD in Switzerland has shown a 90% reduction in cancer mortality when treating heavy metal patients, compared to 172  control patients in the same area.  Heavy metals may be associated with damage to DNA both directly and indirectly.

The metals that I am most concerned about in my practice relate to the problems that my patients experience.  

For example, someone who is:

-experiencing a slow deterioration in mental function and memory

-describing a "brain fog"
-describe fatigue that improves with rest but is not sustained
-has a history of mercury exposure (taking fish oil supplements not tested for mercury, eating fish frequently)
-has amalgam dental fillings

I may be concerned about the potential of mercury toxicity.  

Another patient's bloodwork may have evidence of an increased iron burden on the body.  Iron itself reacts with oxygen to produce the hydroxyl free-radical, which is particularly damaging as it attacks the fatty cell membrane in a chain-reaction.

Lead is another potential concern, and this does not only apply to those who deal with lead on a daily basic (construction, firearms, etc). On average, studies have shown that we have at least 1,000 times more lead in our brains, with even higher levels in our pituitary gland (that is the master gland that controls our hormones) than we had before the industrial age and that other toxic heavy metals are being found in equally elevated levels in critical tissues and organs throughout our body, such as our kidneys, liver, and brain. Note: Congestive failure heart patients have recently been reported to have 22,000 times more mercury and 14,000 times more antimony in their hearts. 

Chelation therapy is a popular alternative therapy for heart disease in the US.  More information on this can be found at www.acam.org.  However, currently newer protocols are proving to be safe and even more effective at removing heavy metals.  The ultimate goal is to detoxify heavy metals to decrease free radical damage.  The traditional method of administering chelation therapy was used because of additional effects on calcium metabolism which seemed to improve the outcome of cardiac patients. For example, McDonagh and Cheraskin found that chelation therapy improved blood flow in arteries the extremity and to the brain. A study that looked at the effects of chelation on 2,870 showed a marked improvement in 77% of heart disease patients.

If my primary concern about a patient is heart disease, the traditional method of administering chelation may be used, even though I still believe that the effect on calcium metabolism is minor and the main effect is on heavy metal detoxification.

Chelation for these purposes involves:

-testing of kidney function
-a challenge of EDTA given by injection
-collection of urine for analysis of what metals are pulled from the body
-and then individualization of therapy based on test results
-treatment is usually once to twice a week, depending on patient response to detoxification

Potential side effects chelation: Occasionally headache, low blood sugar, sweating, dizziness, lightheadedness, mild discomfort / vein irritation may occur.  Side effects (generally rare in our experience): changes in kidney function (kidney function checked routinely, before and periodically during treatment regime).  Irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, thrombophlebitis have been reported.  Allergy reaction, rash, gastrointestinal upset, is possible with any medicine, slightly more common in our experience with sulfur containing compounds like oral DMSA.  It is generally recommended to eat prior to receiving IV chelation to prevent feeling like you have low blood sugar.  Vitamin/mineral supplements are often recommended between chelation treatments to help prevent mineral deficiencies that could occur.

A course of chelation generally involves 30 treatments for heart disease, and anywhere from 10-20 for heavy metal detoxification.

 

Evidence for IV chelation, vitamins/minerals for cardiovascular disease

Issa OM, Roberts R, Mark DB, Boineau R, Goertz C, Rosenberg Y, Lewis EF, Guarneri E, Drisko J, Magaziner A, Lee KL, Lamas GA. 2018. Effect of high-dose oral multivitamins and minerals in participants not treated with statins in the randomized Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT). Am Heart J. 2018 Jan;195:70-77.

Diaz D, Fonseca V, Aude YW, Lamas GA. 2018. Chelation therapy to prevent diabetes-associated cardiovascular events. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2018 Aug;25(4):258-266.

Fulgenzi, A.; De Giuseppe, R.; Bamonti, F.; Ferrero, M.E. Improvement of oxidative and metabolic parameters by cellfood administration in patients affected by neurodegenerative diseases on chelation treatment.  Biomed. Res. Int. 2014, 2014.

 

References: Chelation therapy

Alessandro Fulgenzi and Maria Elena Ferrero  2019. EDTA Chelation Therapy for the Treatment of Neurotoxicity Int. J. Mol. Sci. 20(5), 1019.

Bamonti, F.; Fulgenzi, A.; Novembrino, C.; Ferrero, M.E. Metal chelation therapy in rheumathoid arthritis: A case report: Successful management of rheumathoid arthritis by metal chelation therapy. Biometals 2011.

Fulgenzi, A.; Zanella, S.G.; Mariani, M.M.; Vietti, D.; Ferrero, M.E. A case of multiple sclerosis improvement following removal of heavy metal intoxication: Lessons learnt from Matteo’s case. Biometals 2012, 25, 569–576.

Fulgenzi, A.; Vietti, D.; Ferrero, M.E. Aluminium involvement in neurotoxicity. Biomed. Res. Int. 2014, 2014,758323.  

Fulgenzi, A.; De Giuseppe, R.; Bamonti, F.; Vietti, D.; Ferrero, M.E. Efficacy of chelation therapy to remove aluminium intoxication. J. Inorg. Biochem. 2015, 152, 214–218.

Fulgenzi, A.; De Giuseppe, R.; Bamonti, F.; Ferrero, M.E.  Improvement of oxidative and metabolic parameters by cellfood administration in patients affected by neurodegenerative diseases on chelation treatment. Biomed. Res. Int. 2014, 2014.

Roussel, A.M.; Hininger-Favier, I.;Waters, R.S.; Osman, M.; Fernholz, K.; Anderson, R.A. EDTA Chelation therapy, without added vitamin C, decreases oxidative DNA damage and lipid peroxidation. Altern. Med. Rev. 2009, 14, 56–62.

 

References ADHD, Heavy Metals, and other Environmental Exposures

Curtis LT, Patel K.  2008.  Nutritional and environmental approaches to preventing and treating autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a review. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jan-Feb;14(1):79-85. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0610.

 

Lee MJ, Chou MC, Chou WJ, Huang CW, Kuo HC, Lee SY, Wang LJ. 2018. Heavy Metals' Effect on Susceptibility to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Implication of Lead, Cadmium, and Antimony. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Jun 10;15(6). pii: E1221. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15061221.

 

Hong SB, Im MH, Kim JW, Park EJ, Shin MS, Kim BN, Yoo HJ, Cho IH, Bhang SY, Hong YC, Cho SC. 2015. Environmental lead exposure and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom domains in a community sample of South Korean school-age children. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Mar;123(3):271-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1307420. Epub 2014 Oct 3.

 

Kim S, Arora M, Fernandez C, Landero J, Caruso J, Chen A. 2013. Lead, mercury, and cadmim exposure and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.

Environ Res. 2013 Oct;126:105-10. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2013.08.008. Epub 2013 Sep 10.

 

Polańska K, Jurewicz J, Hanke W. 2013. Review of current evidence on the impact of pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls and selected metals on attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder in children. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2013 Mar;26(1):16-38. doi: 10.2478/s13382-013-0073-7. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

 

Nicolescu R, Petcu C, Cordeanu A, Fabritius K, Schlumpf M, Krebs R, Krämer U, Winneke G. 2010. Environmental exposure to lead, but not other neurotoxic metals, relates to core elements of ADHD in Romanian children: performance and questionnaire data. Environ Res. 2010 Jul;110(5):476-83. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2010.04.002.

 

Cheuk DK, Wong V. 2006. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and blood mercury level: a case-control study in Chinese children. Neuropediatrics. 2006 Aug;37(4):234-40.