Detoxification Agents for Mercury and Other Metals

Purpose: Heavy metal toxicity of the nervous system, the endocrine system, the connective tissue and elements of the immune system has been recognized as a major factor in chronic pain and chronic illness. The bi-digital O-ring test (BDORT) has emerged as one of very few tools suited ideally to non-invasively detect heavy metals in various compartments of the body, specify their chemical form (i.e.: Hg-Chloride, Methyl-Hg, Dimethyl-Hg etc.) and their concentration and to determine the most suitable detoxification agent. To assist the practitioner to select the correct substance for a particular patient it is important to be familiar with the most commonly used detoxification-agents and to keep samples of them in the office for testing.

Overview of available detoxifying agents: In Germany and most western countries the complexing agent DMPS (di-mercapto-propane-sulphonic acid) has found most widespread use in the treatment of Hg toxicity. In the USA the orphan drug DMSA or Meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (Chemet) has FDA approval and is readily available. The chelating agent D-Penicillamine (3-mercapto-D-valine) is a potent intracellular Hg detoxifier. EDTA has been used for lead toxicity but has probably no value in the treatment of Hg toxicity. Desferoxamine (DFO) is the preferred detox agent for aluminum, iron and copper. The sulphhydryl-group containing aminoacids such as N-Acetyl-cysteine have been used with some success for elimination of mercury, cadmium and lead. The sulphur containing aminoacid methionine produces increased fecal lead excretion. Closely related compounds are alpha-lipoic acid and potentially all SH- group containing nutritional substances. Amongst natural SH-substances garlic and European bear-garlic have been shown to increase urinary Hg excretion while protecting the kidneys and the red-cells from oxidative damage. Interesting are also various forms of algae that can bind toxic metals with their mucopolysacharide membrane. Chlorella pyreneidosa has the most documented dramatic metal binding properties and increases the fecal elimination of virtually all toxic metals. Claims by manufacturers of other products (spirulina, blue green algae) are not substantiated. The work of James Woods at UW demonstrated that porphyrin-ring structures are used in nature to shuttle metals through the blood and other tissues. Algae also contain porphyrin ring structures (i.e.chlorophyll). A commercial product named "porphyrazyme" shows promise in the course of a Hg ,Cd and Pb-detox program. The latest addition to the arsenal of detoxifying agents for Hg, Al and Pb is Chinese parsley (cilantro), used in Asian and South-American cuisine for centuries, which was discovered by Yoshiaki Omura, M.D.,ScD.of New York Cilantro appears to have it's main action on the cell wall as well as intracellularly. This author believes that the most likely action is that one of the aromatic substances found in cilantro has a direct action on the cell wall, possibly displacing Hg, Al and Pb molecules that have docked as a ligand onto receptorsites. Last but not least, vitamin C has been found effective in a number of studies. The chief effect is it's action as an electron donor: mercury is SH-bound to proteins as a positively charged ion outside and inside the body's cells. Vitamin C reduces the metal ion back to it's original metallic form. Metallic mercury rapidly becomes a gas moving freely through tissues enhancing it s chance for excretion. Some practitioners have also used the principle of competitive inhibition at the receptor sites: by loading a patient with "good"metals, such as calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium etc., `bad"metals can often be displaced from their respective binding sites and can be easier eliminated using the agents discussed here. A cautionary note on zinc and selenium: zinc potentiates the toxic effects of mercury in the brain, selenium forms difficult-to-mobilize complexes with Hg in the tissue. However, lack of either mineral also worsens the patient's condition.

Conclusion: A large number of detoxifying agents are available today. The practitioner needs to be familiar with their appropriate use and safe treatment protocols. Using the BDORT, decisions can be made accurately and quickly. During the course of a detoxification program, different agents may be required at different times or may have to be used in combination with each other. Y.Omura found, that Chinese parsley is neutralized by vitamin C and garlic. Therefore these agents should be used in tandem rather then simultaneously. Patients can also develop allergic (usually mild) reactions to the agents used requiring the use of another substance or a therapeutic pause.

Article copyright Cognizant Communication Corporation.


By Dietrich K. Klinghardt

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