Oral Chelation of Heavy Metal
Mercury, Lead, and Aluminum
Many people today suffer from what is often broadly referred to as “heavy metal toxicity.” The most common source of toxicity is mercury from dental fillings. When the so-called “silver” fillings are put in the teeth, they are roughly 49-53% mercury. The filling is an amalgam that contains some silver and other metals as well as what is for some people a lethal amount of mercury.
To determine the extent of possible mercury poisoning, studies were conducted on sheep. The fillings were removed after six months and found to contain only about a fifth of the mercury that was present when the fillings were first put into the teeth. The rest of the mercury had leeched and was found in significant concentrations in the brain and small intestines, though the liver and kidneys and lungs were also repositories for the mercury.
Since 1988, the Environmental Protection Agency has required dentists to treat amalgam fillings that are removed as hazardous waste. However, the various regulatory agencies as well as American Dental Association insist that putting “hazardous waste” in the mouth is safe.
I have known about the dangers of heavy metal poisoning for many years. My grandfather was a metallurgist and warned our family to avoid mercury and never to use aluminum. My mother had only porcelain dental restorations but for some reason the same precautions had not been used with me . . . despite the admonitions to avoid amalgams as well as aluminum cookware and even food packaged in aluminum. The studies supporting my grandfather’s knowledge began to appear thirty or more years ago, and, in some countries, such as Germany and Sweden, the governments are paying for mercury removal. However, in the United States, dentists in some states still face prison sentences for suggesting to their patients that removal of amalgams might improve their health. Amalgams can, of course, always be replaced for cosmetic reasons.
Duluth, Minnesota, was the first to prohibit mercury amalgams and later California disbanded the dental board with instructions to dentists to get their act together. Meanwhile, the legislature passed some sensible laws restricting the use of mercury restorations.
Insistence on the safety of amalgams is not just nonsense, but criminally irresponsible. For many people, mercury is a very significant cause of ill health. Symptoms range from muscle spasms to severe neurological problems such as paralysis and memory loss. For years, many people have been going through the quite expensive procedure of having amalgam fillings replaced with more stable and less toxic dental materials, often having biocompatibility tests performed before choosing the restoration material. To the surprise of the uninitiated, there are actually about 200 choices of materials even though most dentists offer only 2-6 options.
Once the amalgams are removed, many patients follow up with some form of chelation therapy, this ranging from somewhat expensive and often stressful reliance on intravenous or intramuscular methods that are augmented by vitamins and sometimes other supplements to far less costly oral chelation, either supervised by a dentist or doctor or self-prescribed.
Chelation methods became an integral part of many holistic medical practices. Special training is required for the intravenous protocols, and all methods are best carried out in conjunction with baseline and periodic tests of the presence of toxic metals in hair, urine, blood, and sometimes also stool specimens.
Until recently, all chelation was a formal medical procedure, usually supervised by a doctor but sometimes carried out by dentists. Then, a researcher named Dr. Yoshiaki Omura discovered that some patients excreted more toxic metals after consuming a Chinese soup made with cilantro, the leafy part of coriander, an herb whose seed is a familiar culinary spice in African, Middle Eastern, and Indian cooking. In China, cilantro is called Chinese parsley, and it is used mainly as a garnish rather than seasoning. Cilantro is also common in some Italian dishes as well as Mexican and South American cuisine. It is a member of the carrot family and has a distinct taste that most people either love or hate.
I first heard about the chelating properties of cilantro back in my Santa Fe days; and, fortunately, I happen to like the taste of cilantro. I was eager to make a product that was “fresh,” not just another tincture. Obviously, people can eat cilantro, make pesto of it, juice it, and ingest it however they choose; but my experience is that most people are more compliant when the method of delivery of the herb is simple. So, we made an extract using fresh juice from organically grown cilantro. The result was dazzling, a gem quality luminescent green liquid that remains stable due to the alcohol.
Advice from Dentists
Years ago, I began having my dental work done by environmental dentists. The first dentist retired from his practice on the advice of his personal physician who said that swelling in his brain had become life threatening.
When a patient has mercury amalgam fillings removed by a properly trained dentist, the patient is somewhat protected by a rubber dam that reduces the risk of swallowing the dental materials that are removed, but just as important is the fact that the mercury vaporizes and can be absorbed through the membranes od the mouth and inhaled. This later risk is shared by the dentist who is sometimes even more at risk than his or her patients. To mitigate these hazards, suction can be used for the patient and the dentist as well as his assistants can be masked. Keep in mind that the mouth is tight working space so many dentists, even those who do understand the medical risks to themselves and others, will choose to ignore safety in favor of ease of working. However, the vapor is so dangerous that even sharing a sauna with someone with amalgams can be toxic for everyone in the sauna as well as those who use the sauna at some later date.
The dentist who took over the practice from the retiring pioneer discussed a number of cases of spontaneous remissions of cancer following mercury amalgam removal. This said, he advised me not to bother with the mercury in my mouth. Stubborn as I am, I insisted he do one quadrant. He said, “Ingrid, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What I didn’t know at the time was that I am personally more sensitive to composite fillings than mercury. They are estrogenic and the lidocaine is a carcinogen so I was forced to realize that people with cavities and/or mercury-sensitivity are caught between a rock and a hard place. This said, there are biocompatility tests that help people to determine which substances are most suitable for them, but all these tests do raise the cost of dental work.
I came to regret the initial round of mercury removal, not that I missed the mercury but the composites have not been a dream either. Moreover, they proved neither durable nor satisfactory. Over the last few years, I have had all the mercury and composites replaced with Cerec dental restorations. I believe these are excellent if a proper bonding agent is used, some bonding agents are more estrogenic than others. It might also be noted that there are several sources for the Cerec restoration materials and they might not all be free of contaminants.
Experimentation on Myself
In 1995, I was bitten all up and down my leg by a lady spider. I was paralyzed for nearly a year by the bacterial neurotoxin and have since that time shown more of the classic symptoms of sensitivity to metal poisoning. I thus decided to try the first batch of cilantro on myself. The results were dramatic: my brain felt like it was “spewing.” Sorry, I can’t find a better word. On a purely physical level, I felt tingling sensations. In my dreams, I saw spurting, like an ink jet printer. My hair started to feel like it was coated with something awful and the smell was ghastly.
The tingling sensations lasted about five days and then subsided markedly. However, I had some muscle cramps so decided to add trace minerals and seaweed to my regime. I was also extremely careful to drink a lot of fluids, including my own delicious tea that I made to support lymphatic drainage.
During the first two weeks, my skin felt like it was coated with slime. I took baths in Epsom salts and found an oil slick on the surface of the water and residue on the tub that looked like gray sand, exactly what yet another dentist told me to expect. He said his wife actually had little dots percolating up through her skin that looked like tiny beads.
I do not think this kind of chelation is for the faint of heart, but the nasty odors and residues on the hair and skin diminished after about three weeks. I then went back to the drawing board and have learned a lot more since 1995.
Should You Chelate?
It is never possible nor wise to speak for another, but people who are suffering from neurological complaints, including memory issues, might consider having a hair and/or blood analysis done to determine the extent to which they might have metals in their system. When the metals are present, they tend to interfere with synaptic responses. They also aggravate the tendency towards free radical toxicity which, in turn, affects many other physiological functions, most especially in the intestines. Perhaps most important of all, metal toxicity impairs immunity.
If one were to embark on a program of heavy metal chelation, it would probably be wise to contact a health care practitioner who is experienced with the subject of metal toxicity as well as removal of the substances. If wanting to do this on one’s own, it would be sensible to support the use of cilantro with other herbs that aid the functioning of the liver, kidneys, and eliminatory channels as well as to anticipate some fairly extreme ion exchanges between minerals in the body so that electrolyte balance and trace mineral balance is temporarily disturbed. Also, though not part of the original work of Dr. Omura, everyone with whom I have discussed this protocol insists that mega amounts of chlorella are a must when chelating metals from the body. According to some authorities, the cilantro mobilizes the mercury (and lead and aluminum) but the chlorella bonds with it and transports it out of the body. I have created a list of adjunctive products that I believe support the action of cilantro and would appreciate feedback from others, especially from those who are willing to do baseline hair analysis followed by repeat testing in three and six months.
Based on the feedback I have been receiving on cilantro use, it seems possible, well probable, that when metals are removed from the body, both parasite and fungal populations increase. Those with candida albicans should be especially aware of this matter. It is an important enough concern that those intending to chelate metals from their body might consider the merits of an evaluation of the presence of fungi and/or parasites before jumping feet first into a toxic metal removal program. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that most people reduce the fungal load and then do a parasite cleanse prior to chelating the toxic metals. It should probably also be noted that many pharmaceutical parasiticides contain serious amounts of toxic metals, including arsenic. This is worth mentioning because those who already suffer from mercury, lead, or aluminum toxicity may have less tolerance for additional toxins.
It is my belief that the metal toxins in the body tend to hold parasite populations in check, in much the same way that a pharmacological compound would kill off parasites in the blood and elsewhere. Since the antiparasite pharmaceutical medicines may contain some of the same contaminants as found in amalgams and vaccines, another major source of mercury toxicity, natural strategies are nearly always the safest choice for those with multiple issues.
Since first posting this article, many patients and practitioners have contacted me about mercury chelation and specific problems thought to be associated with heavy metal poisoning. These include everything from childhood autism to Alzheimer’s disease as well as many cases of neurological degeneration and environmental sensitivity. While some people maintain that total chelation of all toxic metals can be completed in three weeks, my experience is that the process generally takes considerably longer, even years. Progress tends to occur in spurts so there may be periods in which very rapid improvement is noted, such as reduction in allergic reactions to food; however, there could also be stretches in which there are relatively few observable differences. There can be some hair raising moments when the metals are mobilized but not yet removed. Adequate mental and emotional preparation definitely helps people to fine tune their chelation efforts. Allowing the chelation to proceed at a pace the body can tolerate is another word to the wise!
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 1995, 2003, 2006, 2007
Revised 2007, 2009, 2011
There is a new theory that many will find interesting. In hair analysis studies done of children, high mercury counts did not correlate at all with autism. It was assumed that most small children had had similar levels of exposure to toxic metals and that higher levels of toxic metals would be found in the children with attention deficit disorder and autism. In fact, the findings did not support this expectation so they came up with a theory of good excreters and bad excreters. People who are able to eliminate the toxic metals are healthier than those who are for one reason or another less efficient excreters.
This notion appealed immensely to me because it suggests there are significant metabolic and other differences between individuals so some people would be more easily compromised by exposure to toxins than others.
Secondly, in my own work in Europe, I found that patients with amalgams were suffering from a severe burden on their immune systems because the white blood cells were actually attacking metallic by-products in the plasma but dying in the process. Not only did this incapacitate the white blood cells and prevent them from addressing other problems; it meant the plasma was full of dead white bloods cells.