Heavy Metal Toxicity
By Maile Pouls, Ph.D. (Director of Research for Extended Health)
(Part 2 of a 3 Part Series)
Brief Review of Part 1:
Heavy metals- what are they?
Heavy or toxic metals, including mercury, nickel, lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, platinum, and copper, are trace metals that are stable elements (meaning they cannot be metabolized by the body) and bio-accumulative (passed up the food chain to humans). Heavy metals have no function in the body and can be highly toxic. Heavy metals are taken into the body via inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption. If heavy metals enter and accumulate in body tissues faster than the body’s detoxification pathways can dispose of them, a gradual buildup of these toxins will occur. High-concentration exposure is not necessary to produce a state of toxicity in the body, as heavy metals accumulate in body tissues and, over time, can reach toxic concentration levels.
Human health effects of exposure to heavy metals.
Studies confirm that heavy metals can directly influence behavior by impairing mental and neurological function, influencing neurotransmitter production and utilization, and altering numerous metabolic body processes. Systems in which toxic metal elements can induce impairment and dysfunction include the blood and cardiovascular, detoxification pathways (colon, liver, kidneys, skin), endocrine (hormonal), energy production pathways, enzymatic, gastrointestinal, immune, nervous (central and peripheral), reproductive, and urinary. In addition, toxic metals can increase allergic reactions, cause genetic mutation, compete with “good” trace metals for biochemical bond sites, and act as antibiotics; killing both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Much of the damage produced by toxic metals stems from the proliferation of oxidative free radicals they cause. (End- Review Part 1)
Chelating (pronounced key-layting) agents are substances which can chemically bond with, or chelate (from the Greek chele, claw), metals, minerals, or chemical toxins from the body. The chelating agent actually encircles a mineral or metal ion and carries it from the body via the urine and feces.26b Many organic acids found in the body or in foods can act as chelating agents, including acetic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid, and lactic acid. Natural chelation processes in the body are responsible for such things as the digestion, assimilation, and transport of food nutrients, the formation of enzymes and hormones, and detoxification of toxic chemicals and metals.27
Intravenous chelation therapy involves injecting the chelating agent EDTA into the bloodstream for the purpose of eliminating from the body undesirable substances such as heavy metals, chemical toxins, mineral deposits, and fatty plaques (as in the arteries; the agent binds to the calcium in the plaques). EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid) is an effective and widely studied chelating agent. It cannot chelate mercury, however, DMSA and DMPS, the chemicals which work intravenously to chelate mercury, are not approved by the FDA.
EDTA is a synthetic amino acid (amino acids are the building blocks of protein) and is approximately one third as toxic to the body as aspirin.28 Chelation therapy with EDTA was first introduced into medicine in the United States in 1948 as a treatment for the lead poisoning of workers in a battery factory. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Navy advocated chelation for sailors who had absorbed lead while painting government ships and facilities. The FDA approved IV EDTA chelation as a treatment for lead poisoning.
Physicians administering the chelation for lead toxicity observed that patients who also had atherosclerosis (fatty-plaque buildup on arterial walls) or arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) experienced reductions in both conditions after chelation.29 Since 1952, IV EDTA chelation has been used to treat cardiovascular disease.30
Over 1,800 scientific journal articles have been published on the use of EDTA in intravenous (IV) chelation. In the past 30 years, hundreds of thousands of patients have received this therapy, as delivered by over 1,000 physicians in approximately 3,300,000 IV infusions. EDTA’s success rate in increasing blood circulation is 82%, provided the patients received sufficient chelation.31
Chelation reduces calcium plaques on arterial walls. These atherosclerotic plaques are not limited to arteries nearest the heart. On the contrary, they are widespread and can affect blood flow (oxygen delivery) to every cell, tissue, gland, organ, and system being served by the over 75,000 miles of blood vessels in your body. Chelation reaches every blood vessel in the body, from the largest artery to the tiniest capillary and arteriole, most of which are far too small or too deep within the brain or other organ to be safely reached in surgery.
Other scientifically documented benefits of intravenous EDTA chelation therapy for the cardiovascular system include:
• Stabilization of arterial intracellular membranes 32
• Maintenance of the electrical charge of platelets in the blood, reducing blood clumping (aggregation) and preventing blood clots.33
• Marked improvement in nearly 100% of 2,870 studied patients with peripheral vascular disease 34
• Normalization of half of treated cardiac arrhythmias 35
• Reductions of cerebrovascular occlusion 36
• Improved cognitive function in people with memory and concentration deficits and improved visual acuity (when problems are caused by arterial blockage) 37
• Improved myocarditis due to lead poisoning.38
• Reduction of blood fat levels and improved capillary blood flow.39
• Increased peripheral blood flow to the extremities.40
• Improved compliance of vascular tissues; decalcification of elastic tissues resulting in improved elasticity and resilience. 41
• Improved red blood cell membrane flexibility and permeability to potassium. 42
• Decreased blood pressure levels, as a result of excretion of cadmium from renal tissues, diminished peripheral resistance, improved blood vessel resilience and pliability, decreased vascular spasm, and improved magnesium uptake.43
The human and financial cost of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. is astronomical. Every year, approximately 1.5 million Americans have a heart attack, 300,000 of who die before receiving medical attention. The treatment of cardiovascular disease rings up a total of $100 billion dollars annually—$200,000 spent every minute.44 Coronary artery bypass surgery (bypassing the blocked heart artery with grafted leg artery, average cost $44,000) is the most frequently prescribed surgical procedure for heart disease, costing $10 billion per year.45 Numerous leading medical doctors and authorities have stated that coronary bypass surgery is over-prescribed and often unnecessary.46 Nearly 20,000 people die every year as a result of bypass surgery or angioplasty (ballooning of the occluded artery, average cost $21,000).47
Intravenous chelation is far safer, much less expensive, and less invasive. Proven effective in circulatory disorders, its benefits for cardiovascular patients is clear. IV chelation does pose some risks, however. Although nontoxic, EDTA produces side effects in some people. These include burning, redness and swelling at the injection site, fever, hypotension (low blood pressure), joint pain, skin outbreaks or rashes, upset stomach, and, rarely, irritation of the kidneys and liver.48
Some cardiologists who understand the benefits of intravenous EDTA chelation do not recommend its use with patients who are debilitated, emaciated, have weak or diseased kidneys, or advanced cardiovascular disease (end stage). They believe the sudden, massive infusion of EDTA puts too much stress on the kidneys, liver and detoxification pathways in these patients and could be harmful or even dangerous. Other doctors and medical researchers disagree, contending that “transient kidney malfunction” is a normal physiological adaptation occurring during the passage of toxic products (chelated metals and chemicals) through the kidneys, and that properly administered IV chelation will not cause kidney damage.49
A common misconception about chelation is that it lowers the levels of calcium in the bones and teeth as the body draws calcium from them to replace the calcium drawn from the blood by the chelation process. On the contrary, the calcium to restore blood levels is drawn from places in the body where calcium has built up unnaturally, as in arterial plaques (which contribute to clogged arteries), calcified bursae (a source of bursitis), arthritic joints, and kidney stones.50
Further, one of the co-founders of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) and a pioneer in chelation therapy, states, “If calcium levels start to drop, the parathyroid glands kick in and start secreting parathormone which ‘steals’ back enough calcium from the EDTA (and other) chelates to keep the heart beating normally (serum calcium must stay at a constant level for normal heart function) and to activate cells called osteoblasts, which strengthen and rebuild bone. The more chelation we give people, the less osteoporosis they have and the less age-related calcium accumulation [arterial wall plaques] there is in the blood vessels.”51
Intravenous chelation has two drawbacks, however. Although much safer and less expensive than coronary bypass surgery or angioplasty, it is still relatively expensive (hundreds of dollars per visit) and not widely available, as there are comparatively few experienced medical doctors certified in IV chelation therapy. Fortunately, there is an even safer, inexpensive, and more easily obtained alternative: oral chelation.
Chelation delivered orally involves ingesting nutritional food supplements which contain chelating agents (EDTA & numerous natural chelators) including; vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and herbs.
Oral EDTA chelation has all the benefits of IV chelation, but is much slower acting because only 4% to 18% of an oral EDTA dose is absorbed (compared with 100% of an IV dose).52 Taken on a daily basis, oral chelation will gradually accomplish what its IV counterpart does in a few administrations. According to many studies, oral chelation is useful in reducing heavy metal toxicity and calcification, lowering blood cholesterol, lessening lipid peroxidation (free-radical oxidation of metabolized fats), thinning the blood, and preventing the formation of blood clots (a cause of heart attack).53
In some areas, oral chelation may actually outperform IV EDTA (only) chelation. In addition, my oral chelation formula has the ability to chemically bond with and cause the elimination of mercury from the body (as evidenced by mercury levels in urine samples before and after oral chelation).54 As mentioned earlier, EDTA does not chelate mercury. In Extended Health’s Oral Chelation formula, it is the other chelating agents—cilantro, chlorella, and lipoic acid—that effectively act on mercury.
The heightened benefits of oral chelation may result from the synergistic effect of combining EDTA with numerous natural chelating agents, such as activated clays, certain bioflavonoids, chlorella, cilantro, coenzyme Q10, garlic, L-cysteine, L-glutathione, lipoic acid, methionine, selenium, sodium alginate, and zinc gluconate. Each chelating agent has a predilection for different chemicals and mineral or metal ions.
The addition of nutrients known to support liver function and detoxification also increases an oral chelation formula’s effectiveness. A companion formula of antioxidants and other nutrients enhances the chelation process by replacing beneficial minerals removed during chelation, promoting the healing of tissues, and preventing free-radical oxidative damage. As with chelating agents, different antioxidants work on free radicals formed by a variety of oxidizing agents. For this reason, the formulas contain a wide range—there are 30 different antioxidants in the Longevity Plus formula.
Antioxidant activity may play a particularly important role in amplifying the benefits of chelation. Elmer Cranton, MD, author of Bypassing Bypass, believes that the prevention of free-radical damage (which EDTA does) is the main action behind chelation’s positive effects.55
The effectiveness of oral chelation is a topic of debate, even amongst proponents of IV chelation. My clinical research, however, demonstrates oral chelation’s benefits for atherosclerosis and heavy metal poisoning.56 Many health professionals believe that oral chelation is not a replacement for IV chelation. I agree with this view when the patient’s condition is too severe to wait for the slower-acting oral chelation to produce effects. When such patients have completed the recommended number of IV chelation treatments, however, oral chelation is of great benefit in maintaining their cardiovascular health.
In addition to heart patients, I particularly recommend oral chelation for anyone with a family history of heart disease, long-standing poor dietary practices, or a history of exposure to mercury or other heavy metals or toxic chemicals. More generally, oral chelation is useful to anyone who wants to prevent cardiovascular disease and clear their body of the metals and toxins that we all accumulate and which can cause a variety of health problems.
As such, oral chelation can serve as a convenient, non-invasive, long-term health maintenance and preventative program. The gradual dosage delivery significantly reduces the risk of side effects; oral chelation is safe for children and adults.
Over 15 years of clinical nutritional experience and three years of researching nutritional supplement formulations enabled me to identify the optimal substances for detoxifying heavy metals from the body. In evaluating available oral chelation formulas, I found none that had all the ingredients necessary to comprehensively chelate heavy metals and mineral plaques, and assist the kidneys and liver in the detoxification process. As a result, Extended Health, Inc., has developed two formulas: Oral Chelation Formula and Longevity Plus, a companion formula for total mineral and nutritional replacement.
The formulas exert beneficial effects on the entire cardiovascular system. By detoxifying your body and allowing your veins and arteries to open up, these formulas ensure that your tissues, glands, organs, and interrelated systems receive ample oxygen-rich blood, which in turn improves their efficiency.
In terms of ingredients, the formulas have two overall advantages:
1. They are plant-enzyme based. Enzymes, which are the catalysts for all metabolic actions, assist in the optimal assimilation and utilization of the food people consume (giving them the most nutrients for their money). Enzymes also assist in the assimilation and utilization of the other nutrients in my formulas; thereby ensuring you get the most out of each ingredient. Without enzymes, proper utilization of nutrients is not achieved. With enzyme supplementation, you can get up to ten times more assimilation of food and nutrients as without.
2. Aside from EDTA, the nutrients in the formulas are whole food/plant based which means you get the range of nutrients and co-factors found in that plant or food, rather than only isolated fractions (as in synthetic vitamin supplements). The healing actions are thus more powerful. In addition, since the formulas are plant based (concentrated food nutrients), there is no need to be concerned about drug interactions or side effects.
Dosage starts at one tablet of Longevity Plus at breakfast (increasing gradually to three tablets) and one capsule of the Oral Chelation Formula at dinner (increasing gradually to three). It is important to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of filtered water daily. If intake is far below that, it can be raised in increments.
In rare cases, people experience irritability, low-grade headache, or overall achiness. These symptoms arise from the heavy metals or chemical residues that have been pulled out of tissues and are circulating in the body prior to excretion. The symptoms do not indicate an adverse reaction to the formulas, but rather that the body has been storing significant amounts of toxins. Decreasing the dosage of the formulas and increasing water intake will eliminate these symptoms.
In keeping with a whole-body approach to health and medicine, I recommend that my patients implement healthy dietary and lifestyle practices along with the oral formula program. Abuse of alcohol, drugs (recreational or prescription), and tobacco products, chronic stress, and lack of exercise are obviously detrimental lifestyle factors.
Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to cardiovascular disease.57 Certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients have been identified as vital for maintaining cardiovascular health. Degrees of deficiency of one or a combination of the following nutrients will result in corresponding symptoms of physical disease or inadequacy in the cardiovascular system:58
• Vitamins: C, E, A (beta-carotene), D, B (1, 2, 3 [niacin and niacinamide], 5, 6, 12), folic acid, and biotin.
• Minerals: Calcium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
• Amino acids: L-carnitine, L-lysine, L-proline
• Coenzyme Q10.
All of these nutritional supplements and more are in the Oral Chelation and Longevity Plus formulas.
Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to the accumulation of heavy metals in the body. When sufficient levels of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are maintained in the body, the continued absorption of specific heavy metals is greatly reduced.
Nutrients Known to be Protective Against Heavy Metal Toxicity:
Arsenic Amino acids (containing sulfur), calcium, iodine, selenium, vitamin C, zinc.
Cadmium Amino acids (containing sulfur), calcium, vitamin C, zinc.
Lead Amino acids (containing sulfur), calcium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc.
Mercury Amino acids (containing sulfur), pectin (alginate), selenium, vitamin C. 67
All of these nutritional supplements and more are in the Oral Chelation and Longevity Plus formulas.
Oral Chelation and Longevity Plus nutritional formulas can be purchased at 800-300-6712. Professional and quantity discounts are available. Extended Health’s preliminary clinical studies are now available for review. Extended Health is appealing to doctors and health research centers interested in conducting related clinical studies. Please call Ms. Michele Payne at 800-300-6712.
References (part 2):
26Walker, M., D.P.M., and Shah, H., MD Everything You Should Know About Chelation Therapy (New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing), 37-38.
27Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994), 114.
28Foreman, H. “Toxic side effects of EDTA.” J Chron Dis 16 (1963), 319-323.
29Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994), 74.
30Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994), 14.
31Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994), 14.
32Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994), 17-18.
33Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994), 17-18.
34Olszewer, E., and Carter, J. “EDTA chelation therapy: a retrospective study of 2,870 patients.” Journal of Advancement in Medicine Special Issue 2:1-2 (1989), 197-211.
35Goldberg, B., and the Editors of Alternative Medicine Digest. Alternative Medicine Guide to Heart Disease (Tiburon, CA: Future Medicine Publishing, 1997), 82.
36McDonagh, E., et al. “an oculocerebrovasculometric analysis of the improvement in arterial stenosis following EDTA chelation therapy.” Journal of Advancement in Medicine Special Issue 2:1-2 (1989), 155-166.
37Casdorph, H., MD “EDTA Chelation therapy: efficacy in brain disorders.” Journal of Advancement in Medicine Special Issue 2:1-2 (1989), 131-153. Alsleben, H., MD, and Shute, W., MD How to Survive the New Health Catastrophes (Anaheim, CA: Survival Publications, 1973).
38Freeman, R. “Reversible myocarditis due to chronic lead poisoning in childhood.” Arch Dis Child 40 (1965), 389-93.
39Zelis, R., et al. “Effects of hyperlipoproteinanemias and their treatment on the peripheral circulation.” J Clin Invest 49 (1970), 1007.
40Schroeder, H., and Perry, H., Jr. “Antihypertensive effects of binding agents.” J Lab Clin Med 46 (1955), 416.
41Shin, Y. “Cross-linking of elastin in human athersclerotic aortas.” Lab Invest 25 (1971), 121. Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994), 164.
42Jacob, H. “Pathologic states of erythrocyte membrane.” University of Minnesota, Hospital Practice (December 1974), 47-9. Soffer, A., et al. “Myocardial response to chelation.” Br Heart J 23 (1961), 690-94.
43Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994), 164-65.
44Rath, M., MD Eradicating Heart Disease (Copyright 1993, by Matthias Rath, MD), 11.
45Rath, M., MD Eradicating Heart Disease (Copyright 1993, by Matthias Rath, MD), 11.
46CASS Principle Investigators and Associates. “Myocardial infarction and mortality in the coronary artery surgery study (CASS) randomized trial.” New England Journal of Medicine 310:12 (March 1984), 750-758.
47Goldberg, B., and the Editors of Alternative Medicine Digest. Alternative Medicine Guide to Heart Disease (Tiburon, CA: Future Medicine Publishing, 1997), 20-21. Strauts, Z., MD “Correspondence re: Berkeley Wellness Letter and chelation therapy.” Townsend Letter for Doctors 106 (May 1992), 382-83.
48Oral Chelation: The Bright Hope For Heart Health (Old Lyme, CT: Alternative Medical Publishing), 33.
49Walker, M., D.P.M., and Shah, H., MD Everything You Should Know About Chelation Therapy (New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing), 96.
50Walker, M., D.P.M. The Chelation Way (Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1990), 36.
51Gordon, G., MD, D.O. , “Chelation Therapy”, Life Enhancement 32(April 1997), 9-10.
52Halstead, B., MD “The scientific basis of EDTA chelation therapy.” Summarized in Life Enhancement (February 1998), 8.
53Walker, M., D.P.M., and Gordon, G., MD The Chelation Answer (Atlanta, GA: Second Opinion Publishing, 1994). “Garlic-EDTA Chelator.” Web site article at www. life-enhancement.com/garlicEDTA.htm
54Urinalysis studies conducted by Maile Pouls, Ph.D., and Greg Pouls, D.C., 1998.
55Cranton, E., MD Bypassing Bypass (Trout Dale, VA: Medex Publishers, 1993).
56Urinalysis studies conducted by Maile Pouls, Ph.D., and Greg Pouls, D.C., 1998 and currently. Thermology studies conducted by Maile Pouls, Ph.D., and Greg Pouls, D.C., 1998 and currently, with Philip Hoekstra III, Ph.D.
57Cranton, E., MD Bypassing Bypass (Trout Dale, VA: Medex Publishers, 1993), 83.
58Rath, M., MD Eradicating Heart Disease (Copyright 1993, by Matthias Rath, MD), 196.