We should all try to reduce heavy metals in order to preserve and protect our health. That’s the premise of Dr. Garry Gordon’s book, Detox with Oral Chelation—Protecting Yourself from Lead, Mercury & Other Environmental Toxins.
It’s good advice, and to reduce heavy metals it’s easier than you might think.
Here’s a quick story …
In 2006, the residents of the beautiful coastal community of Esperance in Western Australia noticed that the local seabirds were inexplicably dying. This was not just a handful of dead birds, but thousands and thousands of birds. The local officials investigated and determined the birds were dying of acute lead poisoning. Needless to say, the community was concerned. Where was the lead coming from? Was the town’s population at risk?
Later, it became clear that the people were very much at risk. The dead birds saved thousands of human lives by alerting the people to a silent killer in their midst. You see, the birds functioned much like canaries in a coal mine, dying first so the people could see there was a problem …
A few months before the birds began dying, the port of Esperance began receiving trainloads of lead ore from a mine about 500 miles to the north. At the port, the lead ore was transferred from rail cars to ships. Now, because Esperance is located on the coast and faces the Great Southern Ocean, it experiences strong winds for much of the year.
After months of investigation, including testing residents for lead contamination, it was determined that wind blown lead particles had contaminated the town’s air, water and food supplies. The entire town was slowly and unknowingly being poisoned with lead! Had it not been for the dying birds, and the discontinuation of the lead ore shipments, the ultimate affect on the people of the town would have been catastrophic.1
And while this may be an extreme example, it still illustrates the point. Environmental toxins are everywhere and can infiltrate your body without your knowledge. You don’t need to live near a lead mine or a windy seaport to be exposed to toxic heavy metals and other environmental toxins. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a more pristine and picturesque place to live than Esperance. But this story helps demonstrate the fact that no matter where you live, even if it seems pristine, environmental toxins abound. And if you do not remove them from your body, the affect on your health can be disastrous!
Reduce heavy metals and feel better now.
Ask yourself this question: Is your mind and body functioning at its best? For most people, the answer is no. Decades of exposure to harmful poisons from our industrial society mean that each and every one of us have accumulated stores of deadly toxins in our bones and organs. Removing these stock piles of poison from your body can have a dramatic, positive impact on your health.
Built up toxins can make you feel sick, tired, achy—and can lead to diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and a host of others. Imagine how you will feel once you eliminate the toxins that are holding you back.
- Boundless energy—no more sluggishness
- Mental clarity—no more foggy brain or forgetfulness
- Pain free—aches and pains disappear as your body regains its vitality Disease free—as your immune system kicks into overdrive
This is not a pipe dream. You can eliminate toxins from your body—safely, naturally, and inexpensively— but before we get to that, let’s briefly look at …
The heavy metal poisons are all around us
Due to the industrial revolution and modern farming methods our air, food, and water are already hopelessly contaminated with environmental toxins. Over the last century, the amount of man-made pollution that has infiltrated our food and water supplies is mind-boggling. Unless you are from another planet or have lived in a bubble your entire life, your body is loaded with toxic heavy metals and the threat they pose to your health is REAL.
In fact, the Center for Disease Control recognizes the risk to human health posed by environmental toxins. In 2005, they released the Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals where they examined 148 chemicals. It is the most extensive assessment ever of exposure of the U.S. population to environmental toxins, and their findings were disturbing. Five percent of the U.S. population aged 20 years and older has cadmium levels in a range that could harm vital organs, and nearly six percent of women of childbearing age had mercury levels that could harm neurodevelopment in the fetus!2 So to reduce heavy metals makes good sense.
You’ve heard most of this before … don’t eat too much fish or you will be exposed to toxic levels of mercury. Don’t smoke or breathe second-hand smoke or you will subject yourself to arsenic and cyanide—and ultimately, cancer. Don’t cook with aluminum pans or you may ingest minute particles and risk Alzheimer’s disease.
In Dr. Garry Gordon’s new book, recently published by Smart Publications, he relates a couple of stories that are truly frightening and show the extent of the toxic pollution problem.
For example, Dr. Gordon says a single cabbage that is grown just a hundred yards from a freeway in California can contain a thousand times the safe level of cadmium as a result of being next to the freeway.
He also talks about how cows in New Zealand have been found to have lead poisoning because they grazed on grass by the side of the road. Because New Zealand doesn’t have the most modern refineries, their gasoline is loaded with lead, as is the exhaust from their cars, which gets into the soil, the grass and eventually the cows.
Why shold you reduce heavy metals
We don’t have space here to detail all the health problems that toxic heavy metal exposure can cause, but here are a few that you should know about.
- Lead—It is well documented that children exposed to lead have lower IQs and increased risk of delinquency when they get older. In adults, lead has been shown to impair the immune system, increase blood pressure, and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Lead is toxic to the brain, kidneys, heart, reproductive system, and other vital organs. It can even substitute for calcium in bone and can accumulate in the skeleton over the course of a lifetime.
- Mercury—With what we know about the dangers of mercury, it’s hard to believe it is still used in amalgam dental fillings. Mercury is a neurotoxin and can have a profound affect on the brain and nervous system. It can also negatively affect the liver, kidneys, and has been shown to impair vision.
- Cadmium—Virtually all living organisms find cadmium exposure toxic. Cadmium, which is a recent byproduct of our industrialized society, can accumulate in the kidneys and liver, where it substitutes for zinc and interferes with zinc’s normal functions.
- Aluminum—Though not technically a “heavy metal,” aluminum is no less toxic to humans. Scientists believe that aluminum in the body may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum particles can also settle in the lungs and impair respiratory function.
These elements represent the “big four” when it comes to heavy metal environmental toxins, but the list of other toxic substances is nearly endless. PCBs, DDT, Benzene, Chloroform, Formaldehyde, Nickel, Carbon Monoxide—all these and more are encountered and ingested in everyday life through everyday activities.
Eating, breathing, drinking—there is literally no escape from these poisonous and cancer causing substances—but there is hope!
Fight environmental toxins with natural detoxifiers
In Dr. Gordon’s book, which is cowritten by noted health writer David Jay Brown, the authors identify natural detoxifiers that, when consumed on a daily basis, can protect the body from the onslaught of environmental toxins and remove stores of these poisonous substances from the body. It is a difference you can feel: get these toxins out of your body and you will feel better, avoid sickness and disease, and live longer.
Let’s take a look at a few of these individually and understand the mechanisms they use to remove toxic heavy metals from the body and help you feel better.
Calcium disodium EDTA to reduce heavy metals
To understand how calcium disodium EDTA can literally flush toxic heavy metals from the body, you first need to understand the concept of chelation (pronounced key-lay-shen).
Chelation is the process where certain molecules called chelators latch onto heavy metals encountered in the blood stream and then carry them out of the body in the urine and feces.
In his book, Dr. Gordon speaks at length about the chelation power of calcium disodium EDTA. He has used it in his own personal practice for more than 30 years. And, although the practice of chelating toxins with calcium disodium EDTA has only been around for 70 years or so, Dr. Gordon cites nearly 500 scientific studies on his website that support its use. Additionally EDTA is the standard FDA approved treatment for lead, mercury, aluminum, and cadmium poisoning and the American Heart Association (AHA) recognizes chelation therapy as a treatment to reduce heavy metals. Below are just a few of the studies that demonstrate the favorable affects of heavy metal chelation therapy in a variety of chronic diseases:
- There have even been two massive “meta-analyses” of published and unpublished studies evaluating the results of over 24,000 chelation patients.3 The results: 88 percent of the patients demonstrated clinical improvement.
- One of the studies included 92 patients who were referred for surgical intervention. At the end of the study, only 10 required surgery either during or after their chelation therapy.4
- In another study of 2,870 patients with various degrees of degenerative diseases brought about by long-term environmental toxic exposure, almost 90% of the patients showed excellent improvement.5 In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Pharmacological and Experimental Therapeutics, researchers showed that chelation with calcium disodium EDTA, among other things, could prevent nervous system cell death by reducing heavy metals.6
In addition to the above, EDTA chelation therapy has shown positive effects on brain function and protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.7 Since calcium disodium EDTA has an affinity for aluminum, and studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients often have elevated aluminum stores in their brains, supplementing with a detox formula that includes calcium disodium EDTA makes a lot of sense.
N-acetyl cysteine—powerful antioxidant support and proven mercury remover
Over many decades of research, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) has grown in stature in the scientific community from a powerful antioxidant to a remarkable compound with many potential health benefits including anticancer, anti-aging, anti-Alzheimer’s, and improved circulation and cardiovascular health.
NAC is an amino acid that converts to cysteine in the body. Studies have shown that NAC has the ability to reduce heavy metals in the body.8 It has also been proven to prevent the damage caused by acrylamide, the carcinogen found in fried foods.9
Among the most promising research findings regarding NAC is the indication it may both prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show NAC has the ability to detoxify beta amyloid protein and lower the brain’s production of this toxic substance.1213 Along with aluminum, beta-amyloid is one of the leading suspects in agerelated brain disorders.
Finally, between NAC’s toxic fighting properties along with its ability to convert to cysteine (which has been shown to negate the harmful affects of arsenic),14 supplementing with NAC is an important part of any detoxification program.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid—anti-aging nutrient vital to detoxification
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has unique abilities as a natural, broad-spectrum antioxidant. You’ll want to include ALA in your detoxification program because, much like NAC, it has been proven to reduce heavy metals from the body, especially mercury.15
Dr. Gordon and David Jay Brown write at length about the anti-aging and chelating powers of ALA in Detox with Oral Chelation. They write that ALA can effectively chelate lead and mercury, and is powerful enough to actually chelate mercury in cases of acute mercury poisoning.
They also note that there have been more than 800 published research studies since 1950 on ALA, with new discoveries coming along all the time. Some of the positive health findings for ALA include:
- Improves memory in aged animals by reversing age-related brain cell receptor defects16
- Protects brain cells from damage caused by toxins and chemicals17
- Restores antioxidant protection in old animals to normal, young animal levels and reducing the risk of oxidation damage, cardiovascular disease, and cancer18
- Restores mitochondrial and cellular antioxidant protection—which is greatly diminished as a result of aging19
- Prevents the toxicity of beta-amyloid peptide, a prime culprit in the development of Alzheimer’s disease20
The list goes on and on. Alpha Lipoic Acid is a must have nutrient that works throughout the body to detoxify, fight free radicals and slow aging at the cellular level.
Curcumin—the natural spice that aids in detoxification and may prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Curcumin is derived from turmeric and is the spice typically used in Indian cooking. It is a member of the ginger family and contains a class of polyphenolic compounds called curcuminoids.
Curcumin is a heavy metal chelator that can remove lead, iron and other metals from the body. A study published in 2007 that Dr. Gordon cites in his book noted that curcumin significantly reduces lead-induced memory deficits in laboratory animals.21
The fact that curcumin is used extensively in Indian cooking may help to explain why the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is much lower in India than in the West. Earlier this decade, an on-line BBC article called “Curry May Slow Alzheimer’s”22 cited previous studies that showed Alzheimer’s affects just 1% of people over the age of 65 living in some Indian villages.
And a University of California at Los Angeles study showed reduced Alzheimer’s-like brain changes in mice that were injected with betaamyloid to create conditions like those that exist in patients with the disease. They found that curcumin helped to clear amyloid deposits from the brain and that its relative lack of side effects and combined anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties could be beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients.23
The secret chelator in apple acid—malic acid
In the book Detox with Oral Chelation, Dr. Gordon cites apple acid, also known as malic acid, as a detoxifying chelator. In fact studies show, malic acid has a strong affinity for aluminum and it appears effective in treating aluminum toxicity in laboratory animals.26
Says Dr. Gordon, “Apple acid, malic acid, great chelators. I have everybody on apple acid, because malic acid is needed for everything that we do. And I have everybody on garlic. So you begin to get the idea that I really believe these are great foods.”
And speaking of garlic …
Garlic and selenium—powerful chelators and the ultimate cancer fighters
The stinking rose, also known as garlic, has a long history of medicinal uses. However, it has only been in the last 20 years or so that scientists have begun to understand the powerful nature of this natural chelator and cancer fighter.
Researchers in Korea, a country whose population eats enormous amounts of garlic, report that garlic will chelate lead and mercury, as well as other toxic heavy metals.27 Garlic also contains a powerful anti-cancer agent called diallyl sulphide and has been shown in a number of studies to detoxify carcinogenic chemicals.28 Garlic has also been studied for its positive affects on blood pressure and atherosclerosis.2930
And when combined with the trace mineral (and powerful mercury chelator) selenium31, the chelation and anticancer properties are increased.
The recent development of a selenium- enriched garlic compound is showing great promise as an anticancer agent. Animals fed selenium-enriched garlic showed significant cancer tumor reduction compared to animals fed comparable amounts of non-enriched garlic.32
And remember, exposure to toxins can result in cancer, that’s why including chelators and cancer fighters like selenium and garlic in your detoxification program is a wise idea.
Antioxidant nutrients like vitamins C & E and beta-carotene
An important part of any detoxification program is the use of a high-quality multivitamin/multimineral supplement. Not only does daily multivitamin supplementation protect you from nutritional deficiencies, it also provides you with powerful antioxidant nutrients that assist in the detoxification process.
Additionally, since chelation products like calcium disodium EDTA can deplete the body of essential minerals, it’s important to replace those minerals on a daily basis.
Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene work in the body to combat free radicals, which are rogue molecules in the body formed by oxidative stress. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals before they can harm healthy cells. Protecting cells from free radical oxidation prevents them from mutating into cancerous cells. Supplementation with vitamin E, beta-carotene, and minerals like selenium have been shown to lower cancer risk.33 And research studies on ascorbyl palmitate, a fat-soluble form of vitamin C found in high quality multivitamins, have shown it to be preventative against stomach cancer and colon cancer.3435
Your personal detoxification program
Let’s now look at a few simple steps that you can implement TODAY to protect yourself from environmental toxins. These steps can form the basis of your own personal detoxification program, and when applied on a daily basis, could very well keep you healthy for years to come.
What you eat and drink and how you prepare it
As mentioned before, we are inundated with environmental toxins and they are simply impossible to avoid. However, you can reduce your exposure and the health risks involved by making informed choices.
For example, choosing organic fruits and vegetables is one way to reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides. True, these products typically cost a bit more, but the peace of mind you receive from knowing you are not ingesting toxic substances is well worth it. Think of it as an inexpensive form of health insurance!
It’s also important to utilize healthy food preparation techniques. Washing food thoroughly prior to cooking is a good way to remove sediment. You also want to make sure your pots and pans are made from stainless steel and are not made from aluminum. And be wary of the coatings on non-stick cook wear that can flake off and be ingested with your food.
Most importantly, taking a quality oral detoxification formulation that contains the natural detoxifiers outlined in this article is another important part of the equation, as is taking a high quality multivitamin on a daily basis to ensure you are getting enough antioxidants like vitamins C & E, along with other important nutrients that can assist your body in warding off the affects of environmental toxins.
You should also consider drinking purified water as opposed to tap water. According to the National Tap Water Database compiled by the Environmental Working Group, 260 pollutants were detected in the drinking water of 39,000 communities nationwide between 1998 and 2003.36 True, these amounts are often in the legally tolerable range, but any exposure, especially over a long period of time, will have negative health effects. Another good choice when it comes to water is to install a water filtration system on your faucet and shower head. These systems are often inexpensive and do a good job of removing the vast majority of pollutants and heavy metals from tap water.
And while we are on the subject of filtration, a good air filtration system is also a wise investment. Remember the story of Esperance and the dying birds? It was windblown lead that brought the town to the brink of disaster. Of course, an air filtration system is not going do to much good outside, but at least you can be sure the air in your home where you spend a good part of your life is clean and healthy and free of environmental toxins.
Taking the time to reduce heavy metals from your life today will protect you from sickness and disease tomorrow. There is no way to completely avoid all the industrial pollutants and toxins that are part of our daily life, but embarking on your own personal detoxification program, one that includes both toxin avoidance and toxin removal, is a good place to start.
And really, what do you have to lose except the sluggishness and foggy brain, the depressed immune system, and the shorter life span that comes with leaving these toxic stores in your body? Reduce heavy metals now! You will feel better for it!
- B. Gulson, et al, Windblown Lead Carbonate as the Main Source of Lead in Blood of Children from a Seaside Community: An Example of Local Birds as “Canaries in the Mine”, Environ Health Perspect.2009 January; 117(1): 148–154.
- Center for Disease Control, Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, July 2005.
- These papers, The correlation between EDTA Chelation Therapy and improvement in cardiovascular function: A Meta-Analysis, and EDTA Chelation Treatment for vascular disease: A Meta-Analysis using unpublished data, both by L.T. Chappell and J.P. Stahl, were published in the Journal of Advancement in Medicine in 1993 and 1994.
- Hancke, C. and Flytlie, K, Benefits of EDTA Chelation Therapy in Arteriosclerosis: A retrospective study of 470 patients, Journal of Advancement in Medicine, 1993, 6:3, 161-171.
- Olszewer E, Carter JP. EDTA chelation therapy in chronic degenerative disease. Med Hypotheses. 1988; 27:41-49.
- Flora SJ, Saxena G, Mehta A. Reversal of lead-induced neuronal apoptosis by chelation treatment in rats: role of reactive oxygen species and intracellular Ca(2+). J Phramacol Exp Ther. 2007 Jul;322(1):108-16. Epub 2007 Apr 12.
- Casdorph H. R. “EDTA chelation therapy ii, efficacy in brain disorders.” Journal of Holistic Medicine, Fall/Winter, 1981;(3)2.
- Koh AS, Simmons-Willis TA, Pritchard JB, Grassl SM, Ballatori N. Identification of a mechanism by which the methylmercury antidotes N-acetylcysteine and dimercaptopropanesulfonate enhance urinary metal excretion: transport by the renal organic anion transporter-1.Mol Pharmacol 2002 Oct;62(4):921-6
- Park J, Kamendulis LM, Friedman MA, Klaunig JE. Acrylamide-induced cellular transformation. Toxicol Sci 2002 Feb;65(2):177-83.
- Van Schooten FJ, Nia AB, De Flora S. Effects of oral administration of N-acetyl-L-cysteine: a multi-biomarker study in smokers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2002 Feb;11(2):167-75.
- Lu Q, Bjorkhem I, Xiu RJ, Henriksson P, Freyschuss A. N-acetylcysteine improves microcirculatory flow during smoking: new effects of an old drug with possible benefits for smokers. Clin Cardiol 2001 Jul;24(7):511-5.
- de Ceballos ML, Brera B, Fernandez-Tome MP. beta-Amyloid-induced cytotoxicity, peroxide generation and blockade of glutamate uptake in cultured astrocytes. Clin Chem Lab Med 2001 Apr;39(4):317-8.
- Studer R, Baysang G, Brack C. N-Acetyl-L-Cystein downregulates beta-amyloid precursor protein gene transcription in human neuroblastoma cells. Biogerontology 2001;2(1):55-60.
- D. Nandi, R.C. Patra, and D. Swarup, Effect of cysteine, methionine, ascorbic acid and thiamine on arsenic-induced oxidative stress and biochemical alterations in rats. Toxicology, Volume 211, Issues 1-2, 1 July 2005, Pages 26-35.
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- Muller U, Krieglstein J. “Prolonged pretreatment with alpha-lipoic acid protects cultured neurons against hypoxic, glutamate, or iron-induced injury.” J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 1995 Jul;15(4):624-30
- Arivazhagan P, Juliet P, Panneerselvam C. “Effect of dl-alpha-lipoic acid on the status of lipid peroxidation and antioxidants in aged rats.”Pharmacol Res 2000 Mar;41(3):299-303.
- Arivazhagan P, Ramanathan K, Panneerselvam C. “Effect of DL-alpha-lipoic acid on mitochondrial enzymes in aged rats.” Chem Biol Interact 2001 Nov 28;138(2):189-98.
- Zhang L, Xing GQ, Barker JL, Chang Y, Maric D, Ma W, Li BS, Rubinow DR. “Alpha-lipoic acid protects rat cortical neurons against cell death induced by amyloid and hydrogen peroxide through the Akt signalling pathway.” Neurosci Lett 2001 Oct 26;312(3):125-8.
- Dairam A., Limson J.L., Watkins G.M., Antunes E., and Daya S. “Curcuminoids, curcumin, and demethoxycurcumin reduce lead-induced memory deficits in male Wister rats.” J Agric Food Chem,2007 Feb 7;55(3):1039-44.
- BBC News, “Curry May Slow Alzheimer’s.” Wednesday, 21 November, 2001.
- Brain Research Institute, UCLA, press release, “Curry Spice May Fight Alzheimer’s Disease.” News release, UCLA.
- Campbell F. C. and Collett G.P. “Chemopreventive properties of curcumin.” Future Oncology, 2005; 1(3),405-414.
- Chattopadhyay I., Biswas K., Bandyopadhyay U., and Banerjee R.K. “Turmeric and curcumin: biological actions and medicinal applications.” Current Science, 2004; 87(1): 44-53.
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- Cha CW. “A study on the effect of garlic to the heavy metal poisoning of rat.” J Korean Med Sci, 1987 Dec; 2(4):213-224.
- Lamm, DL, and Riggs, DR. “The potential application of Allium sativum (garlic) for the treatment of bladder cancer,” Urol Clin North Am, 2000; 27(1):157-162.
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- National Tap Water Database, Environmental Working Group, 1998-2003.