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Caution About Chelation & Alternative Approaches to Heavy Metal Detoxification

Chelation is something we get asked about a lot. The problem with chelation is that chelating agents are not so selective in what they bind themselves to. Calcium and magnesium are as likely to be bound up as mercury and arsenic. Trouble is that chelating agents–while able to coax toxic metals out of fat cells–are not so spot-on in ushering toxins out of the body. Instead, studies have found that, after chelation treatments, mercury can be more heavily concentrated in spinal motor neurons. Depletion of essential minerals can also occur (causing, in rare cases death) but also, quite frequently, heavy metals get redistributed to the liver, the kidneys, and the brain. Bad news for these organs, as heavy metals can promote cancer, organ damage, and nervous system malfunction; and metals such as lead and mercury can be the culprits behind autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and more.

Chelation enthusiasts, who have seen bad clinical results, acknowledge that you just cannot predict how the detoxification pathways will work in each individual. So, beware of the promises of chelation treatments. It’s probably best to use these kinds of treatments in cases of acute toxicity, such as exposure to a thermometer that has shattered and spilled mercury on unprotected skin.

Bill Henderson’s Take on Chelation Therapy

Cindy recently had lunch with Bill Henderson, author of Cancer-Free, at the Annie Appleseed cancer therapies conference last weekend. After considerable study, since chelation is a therapy promoted for many cancer treatments, Bill has become absolutely convinced that the amount of time and money that people spend on chelation treatments is far better spent on safer, more gentle, natural detoxifiers and dietary support for detoxification. By the way, when it comes to dental toxins, Bill is an expert and is also a rare resource for integrative dentists who understand the toxicity that can be caused by certain dental procedures and also specialize in removing mercury fillings in highly-specialized, highly-safe ways.

There’s been consistently solid research on supplements that deliver the goods for heavy metal detoxification, like n-acetyl-cysteine (for mercury detoxification), probiotics (for removing arsenic), and vitamins C and E (for reducing the effects of lead on reproductive function). There are many more supplements that are champs but there’s also another route to getting rid of heavy metals.

Sweating, yep, good old-fashioned sweating, is one of the best elimination routes for toxic heavy metals! According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Environmental Public Health:

“Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury may be excreted in appreciable quantities through the skin, and rates of excretion were reported to match or even exceed urinary excretion in a 24-hour period. This is of particular interest should renal compromise limit urinary excretion of toxic elements. And, continuing…

“It has been noted that among people whose health is compromised by toxicants, heat regulatory mechanisms of the autonomic nervous system are often affected, resulting in a failure to sweat readily. In these cases, along with diet and nutritional supplementation to remediate biochemical imbalances, interventions to consider include brushing the skin, niacin to assist with vasodilation, and exercise prior to sauna use. Clinical experience is that with persistence and ample hydration patients do eventually start to sweat. This is often a sign that the autonomic nervous system function is beginning to improve. With enhanced ability to sweat, detoxification is facilitated, which can ultimately result in clinical improvement.”