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naturopathic medicine

Heavy Metals and Chelation Therapy

BEAT DRUMS ~ animal’s heavy metal!

I’ve recently returned from a fantastic course in Las Vegas put on by ACAM (the American College for the Advancement of Medicine) with whom I’m a member. The purpose of this trip was to learn how to integrate chelation therapy into my practice safely and effectively. If you believe you have heavy metal accumulation, or want to prevent heart disease, this therapy is something you should strongly consider.

Chelation therapy may be something you’ve never heard of, which is why I’ll attempt to give a brief overview below.

So what are Heavy Metals?

Heavy metals are toxic and negatively affect peoples health. In very small amounts, some are necessary to support life. However most, such as lead, have no known safe level. If found in the body in large amounts, these metals have toxic effects and disrupt our normal biological activity. Soon after exposure, heavy metals are found in the blood, some may be excreted, however a large portion are thought to accumulate in our vital organs and become a significant health hazard.

Where are we exposed to Heavy Metals?

Everywhere! Our world has become extremely toxic. Yes, our bodies are equipped to protect us from toxins and detoxify us to a certain degree, but what happens when our toxic load exceeds our detoxification rate?

  • Food supply: pesticides, seafood, contaminated soil, canning and packaging, pharmaceutical drugs.( click here for a pocket guide to safe fish consumption )
  • Air: jet engine fuel, coal burning, industry waste
  • Water: source and supply, treatment, pipes, storage ( water quality can be tested at my clinic through doctors data ) 
  • Environment: building material, work exposure, cleaning chemicals, old paint, smoke, mercury fillings
  • Personal products: lipstick, children’s toys, purses and industrial dyes, jewelry (check your cosmetics here )

Take some time to think about your personal exposure. Here in the HRM we have significant sources of toxic metal exposure; fumes from the oil refinery, fumes from tuffs cover which ran on coal until 2004, both are known to have high amount of heavy metal fallout including lead, arsenic and mercury. Many pipelines are still made of lead, and in many old homes lead paint is still lingering on the walls. We are a coastal city, fish is found commonly in our diet. Canned tuna, for example, frequently exceeds safe level guidelines for mercury set out by Health Canada.

What are side effects of heavy metal toxicity?

Heavy metals disrupt immune function, neurological function and endocrine function. They deprive our bodies of anti-oxidants and increase inflammation, heart disease, and the aging process. The following are common effects of heavy metal toxicity:

  • fatigue
  • brain fog, attention deficit, poor concentration
  • anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorders and OCD
  • thyroid and adrenal fatigue
  • infertility
  • developmental delay in children
  • autistic symptoms
  • hyperactivity and insomnia
  • arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic pain syndromes
  • poor immunity, frequent cold and flu’s, longer recovery time
  • neurological disorders such as tics, dementia, tremors and memory loss
  • diminished eye sight and cataracts
  • diminished hearing, sense of taste or smell
  • numbness/tingling

Curious about your own personal toxicity? If so, fill out this form to get an idea of what your heavy metal toxicity is http://acamnet.com/Morrisonhandout3.pdf

Do heavy metals contribute to heart disease?

Yes! Heavy metals, such as lead, are the main contributor to cardiovascular disease. Heavy metals are believed to be involved in the formulation of atherosclerotic plaques, leading to clogged and narrowed arteries. This eventually increases risk for heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease, increasing the need for expensive, invasive and risky procedures such as bypass surgery.

The removal of toxic metals with chelating agents can reverse plaques in the arteries and even bypass bypass-surgery. This is an important treatment to consider if you are diabetic with poor circulation, have a previous history of cardiovascular events, arterial blockages, high blood pressure, cataracts or are just looking for preventative care.

How do you test for heavy metals?

Many conventional health care practitioners don’t know how to properly test for heavy metals, therefore they tend to miss heavy metal toxicity. Most doctors test for levels of heavy metals circulating in the blood. However, that just tells us what your current exposure is, or if you’ve been acutely poisoned. Heavy metals don’t just hang out in the blood or vanish into thin air, they leave the blood supply and are stored elsewhere in your body. They have a high affinity for binding to vital organs.

We need to assess the storage of heavy metals. This can only be done by administering a chelating agent before a urine test for heavy metals. The word chelation is derived from the greek language and means “claw” or to grab onto. Chelating agents are synthetic amino acids that love to bind to heavy metals and pull them out of storage in the body and out through the feces and urine.

In my practice the most accurate way to assess heavy metals is a urinalysis prior to and after taking a chelating agent. This will assess current exposure and overall toxic burden. Hair mineral analysis is also valuable in certain circumstances

How do you remove heavy metals?

There are many nutritional supplements and dietary protocols that will aid in removing heavy metals. However, synthetic amino acids such as EDTA and DMSA are extremely effective, and invaluable for successful heavy metal detoxification . A comprehensive protocol is used in my practice for patients undergoing heavy metal chelation therapy.

The ACAM course which I attended in Las Vegas focused on EDTA chelation as this is where most research has been done with regards to the benefits of chelation therapy. EDTA is administered intravenously or rectally via suppositories. EDTA improves calcium and cholesterol metabolism by eliminating metallic catalysts such as lead and cadmium which are involved in hypertension and atherosclerosis. These heavy metals increase free radicals that promote inflammation and cellular damage. EDTA is also thought to remove calcium plaques from arteries and increase nitric oxide, therefore improving vascular circulation and decreasing “hardening of arteries”.

EDTA is an extremely safe molecule, it has been used since the 1950s to remove arterial plaques. It fell out of favour when its patent expired and new medications and surgical procedures came to the forefront. EDTA can be used in conjunction with other medication, even those used for cardiovascular health. More than 400,000 patients have received over four million treatments during the past 30 years without any serious side effects or fatalities when properly administered. As of 2007, close to 100,000 adults receive this therapy annually.

To know how successful a particular chelation therapy program has been, heavy metal urinalysis are repeated approximately 6 months after starting the treatment. However, it’s common for those around you to start noticing you have more vitality, and you’ll start to notice more energy and relief of symptoms before laboratory reassessment.

EDTA and the TACT trial

I was fortunate to take my chelation training just as the results of the largest trial to date on chelation therapy are coming out. The American College for the Advancement of Medicine was formed in 1973 to teach chelation therapy and has since published many studies showing safety and effectiveness of EDTA chelation. Until now, no multi-centre trial has been published to solidify these outcomes. The Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) was initiated in 2003, with the purpose to determine the effectiveness of EDTA chelation in patients with coronary artery disease. The trial just wrapped up in October 2012. The study enrolled 1708 patients who received 40 intravenous chelation or placebo infusions. The results were as follows:

  • patients who received chelation therapy had 18% fewer cardiovascular events
  • diabetic were shown to have the most benefit with a 39% reduction in cardiovascular events

These benefits were even seen in those who were already on medications for their cardiovascular system, like statins, beta blockers and platelet inhibitors.

With a total of 55,222 treatments, there was no increased risk of side effects.

These results are quite promising, especially when we put things into perspective. One bypass surgery can cost our medical system up to $100,000, add in lifelong prescriptions for pharmaceutical medications with other medical interventions and this number skyrockets. EDTA chelation therapy, along with dietary and lifestyle modifications is a cost effective adjunct to safe reduction of cardiovascular risk. To check out some ACAM patient testimonials click here.

If you have any questions about heavy metal chelation or would like to book an appointment please contact me at 463-9351 or email me at dartmouthnaturopathic@gmail.com

-Dr. Tara Lapointe BScH ND

Resources

ACAM Vegas 2012 Conference notes and lectures

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryhusten/2012/11/04/nih-trial-gives-surprising-boost-to-chelation-therapy/

http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/14/1/3.pdf

http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/14/2/103.pdf

http://drcranton.com/chelation/patient_testimonials.htm

http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/walletcard.PDF

http://www.doctorsdata.com/water_test.asp

http://54.243.178.219/

http://www.patientsmedical.com/treatments/chelationtherapy/chelationtherapy.aspx

http://www.morrisonhealth.com/blog/dr-morrison/nih-trial-gives-surprising-boost-chelation-therapy-heart-disease

Quixotic Quiche

Another food box, another week…a marvelous week that is, for my culinary skills. I made my first quiche from scratch, dabbling into my French heritage. I had to use up some broccoli, leeks and mushrooms, so I just did a recipe search in goggle with those three guys and up popped an easy quiche recipe click here 

Gluten free crust:

1. 1.5 cups of gluten free flour with Xantham gum (bobs red mill or bulk barn)

2. ½ cup of cold fat (organic butter or coconut oil)

3. pinch of salt

4. 1 tsp of ice cold water if necessarry

Add all ingredients together (only use the water if it’s too dry after a good pounding). It’s easiest to mix ‘em up in a food processor. I just used my hands until it became nice and doughy and that worked just fine. Then roll it out and plop into a pie pan. It may break up while you try to do this, in that case just press in into the contour of the pan. Chill for 1 hour before pre-baking for 10 minutes on 400 degrees, remove, add the filing and the bake again.

Quiche filling:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek
8 mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 broccoli crown
2 stems of fresh rosemary (note the rosemary bush in the picture aboutve :)
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Raw organic cheddar cheese (optional)


Chop up the leeks and mince the garlic, saute them in the olive oil in a frying pan over the stove. After 5 minutes add in the broccoli, mushroom and rosemary, cook for 10 minutes. Place in the pre-baked pie crust. In a separate bowl mix up the eggs, almond milk, salt and pepper. Pour into the pie and top with the cheese. Bake in the oven on 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Spicey spotlight ROSEMARY:

Rosemary is known to have memory enhancing properties as an essential oil. Get out that diffuser for your next round of midterms! Medically it has components shown to decrease the risk of stroke and alzheimer’s, heart disease and inflammation. In Ayurvedic medicine it’s known as a pungent spice that eases menstruation, headaches, harmonizes the heart and emotions. Interestingly enough, historically it’s been used as a symbol for remembrance during weddings and funerals.