There are many individual and combination over-the-counter products available on the market to help deal with this problem. Many of the individual components of a heavy metal detoxification protocol are discussed under that condition.
Most - if not all - of the natural treatments are mild-acting or mostly of a supportive nature. More aggressive and yet safe treatment options should include the alternative medical use of strong metal chelators such as DMPS (2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid) or DMSA (2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid). Even though a medical doctor may not feel you have a problem until symptoms of poisoning are significant, some heavy metals such as mercury have no desirable place in your body. Most alternative doctors will be able to tell if your body burden of metals is high enough to warrant treatment and how aggressive that treatment should be.
DMPS and DMSA (prescription drugs) are used by alternative doctors for challenge testing (determining the body content of metals), and for treatment. In many cases, a detoxifying regimen using supportive natural chelators and a modified diet is recommended. Some patients should have their amalgams removed. This should be done by a dentist who will follow a safe protocol for the removal to avoid further mercury exposure. Consider using DMPS or DMSA at the time of removal, if available. In 80 patients with dental amalgam fillings and symptoms attributed to chronic mercury toxicity, 100mg per week of DMPS with 100mcg per day of selenium reduced symptoms after an initial 300mg DMPS oral challenge.
Reliable removal should involve the use of more aggressive/safe chelators such as DMPS and DMSA [DMPS, Scientific Monograph: Dimaval (DMPS). 1997, Houston Tx: Heyltex Corp.; DMSA, a non-toxic, water soluble treatment for heavy metal toxicity. Alt Med Rev, 1998. 3(3): pp.199-207]. Some OTC products contain small amounts of EDTA, a general purpose chelator. There is some controversy over how useful it is when used orally and EDTA is much less effective for mercury removal than DMPS or DMSA.
Caution should be exercised when taking chelators for extended periods of time as other minerals (beside heavy metal minerals) may be adversely affected. The strong metal chelators DMSA and DMPS must be used under a doctor's supervision.
An increasing number of doctors are using alpha lipoic acid concurrently with the strong chelators DMPS or DMSA. A typical program is 100mg alpha lipoic acid with 100mg DMSA every 4 hours for 3 days, or 100mg alpha lipoic acid every four hours with 100mg DMPS every 8 hours for 3 days.
Approximately 50% of an orally administered dose is absorbed. The remaining DMPS can bind any mercury present in the stomach and intestines, interrupting its entero-hepatic circulation. Oral administration is now the preferred method in both acute and chronic poisonings.
A misconception is that DMPS depletes copper and/or zinc. While there have been occasional reports of elevated levels of copper and zinc appearing in the urine after DMPS administration, these experiments were not well described. This also contradicts the stability constants determined in vitro. DMPS has its greatest affinity for mercury. If there is a greater accumulation of copper in the tissue, as has been demonstrated in mercury and gold poisoning through the formation of metallothionines, a greater quantity of the DMPS-copper complex is to be expected according to the law of mass action.
When copper or zinc levels are elevated, there may no longer be sufficient DMPS for mobilization of other metals. The results may be falsely negative for mercury. In these cases, repeating of the challenge test in 4-12 weeks is suggested. It is prudent to obtain laboratory measurements of blood trace minerals prior to the administration of DMPS to assess trace mineral status.
There is no standard for conducting a challenge test with DMPS. There exists in the literature several variations with different parameters for each. However, each procedure describes testing of the urine before administration of DMPS (baseline) and initiating a timed urine collection immediatly after administration of the drug (oral and IV). The patient should be well hydrated before and during any of the following procedures.
1. Administration of 300mg oral DMPS with water. Collection of 24-hour urine for metal excretion determination.
2. A challenge dose of 300mg oral given on an empty stomach with ingestion of water over the next two hours sufficient for excreting 500 ml of urine over the next six hours to be collected for testing of metals.
3. Determination of the basal level of mercury in the morning urine. Oral administration with 300mg of DMPS to a fasting patient with 1/2 L of water. Collection of a spontaneous urine 2-4 hours after DMPS administration.
NOTE: Even with oral administration of DMPS, urine testing is preferred over fecal testing for determining excretion of toxic metals. [Heyltex Scientific Monograph on DMPS] Further information can be found at the Heyl website.
This test involves taking 300mg to 1000mg of DMSA and collecting urine before and after the drug. Since the DMSA can damage the liver and/or kidneys if one has a great deal of metal in their body, it is recommended that one first take 50mg and wait a week and if it is well tolerated (i.e. not much pain), then take 250mg and wait another week and if that is well tolerated, and then go on to the 500-1000mg that is used for the test. This extended protocol is strongly recommended for those that are very ill.
Dosing protocols for DMSA treatment vary depending on physician preference and individual patient need, but currently two protocols are most often used. In one protocol, 10-30mg/kg per day is given in three divided doses, using a three-days-on, 11-days-off cycle with a minimum of eight cycles. A second protocol involves giving 500mg per day (in two or three divided doses) every other day for a minimum of 5 weeks. DMSA is best taken between meals. Additional protocols have been recommended including daily use of lower doses (25-50mg) for very extended periods (up to 2 years). Check with your doctor on this.
Leaded wick candles create dangerous levels of lead in the air. For years, manufacturers have added lead to candle wicks for stiffness and a more even burn. Researchers at the EPA found that burning a leaded-wick candle raises particulates to dangerous levels not just near the candle but throughout the house. The researchers say the worst candle they tested would raise lead levels to more than 13 times the safe limit.
The lack of laws outside the US and Europe allow foreign manufacturers to continue to use lead (the cheapest wicking agent). In the US, sales of imported candles, which frequently contain the metal, have grown by 800% since 1992, to an estimated 3 million candles each year.
There is an easy way to test whether or not a candle is using a lead core wick. Take a normal piece of white paper with you to the store. Rub the paper on the tip of an un- burned candle's wick. If it leaves a light grey pencil like mark, it is using a lead core. If uncertain, look at the label and only buy candles made in the US or European countries which ban lead use in candles. [New Scientist June 17, 2002]