At the current time, many thousands of people are going through “detoxification” to reduce elevated levels of mercury and other toxins. As the public awareness grows, this will turn into millions of people, all seeking products and practitioners that will assist in a safe, effective detoxification. Here we try to share information about some of the newer or lesser-known products and practices that are available, and give some words of caution about the pitfalls that may occur in the detoxification journey.
This is an article written by Christopher Shade and is the latest thinking on natural detoxification. Christopher Shade is founder and director of Quicksilver Scientific, Inc., which provides the Tri-test for mercury body burden and products for practitioners working with patients on detoxification. This article first appeared in a publication printed by DAMS (Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome) and appears on our website with Christopher Shade's permission.
A Detoxification Update From Quicksilver
The farther I come on this road, the more I feel I must distance myself from the old paradigms of detoxification, primarily the "challenge and chelate" community. I've tried to be nice and respectful, and have listened to all the arguments about the intricacies of detox, but I've concluded there is a lot of mythology that has developed around the subject that is without basis.
Toxicity and Our Defense System
Toxicity can be defined as the negative biochemical outcome of an interplay between load or level of a toxin and the ability of your defensive mechanisms to resist that load. Your defense is a combination of both your ability to excrete the toxin and your ability to "accomodate" it. In that light, it is necessary to focus not only on removing the toxin, but also to improve your defenses. The quintessential defense, in my research and application, is the glutathione system, meaning not just glutathione, but also the enzymes and other proteins that enable glutathione to do its work. People talk a lot about glutathione and how it is needed to bind to mercury and take it out of the body, but rarely do you hear people talking about Glutathione S-Transferase (GST), an enzyme that catalyzes the transfer of the metal off of a cellular protein and onto the glutathione. Yet, if you start doing some research on Pubmed, you will find that there are many more pathologies, especially cancers, associated with express of GST that with levels of glutathione, although low glutathione levels are associated with a lot of problems as well. A well-functioning glutathione system not only has adequate glutathione levels, but also has adequate expression of GST and has the transport proteins that move the metal-glutathione conjugates out of the cells. These same transport proteins move the conjugates from the blood into the liver, from the liver into the GI tract, from the blood into the GI tract, and also from the blood to the kidneys.
A great paper demonstrating the importance of the integrated functioning of this glutathione system looks at cell cultures screened for cadmium resistance. Researchers found cells that were highly resistant to cadmium; they then found that these same cells were also resistant to arsenic and mercury, and that the feature of the cells facilitating this resistance was a strong glutathione system. Indeed, if they suppressed either synthesis of glutathione, or the expression of GST, or the transport proteins, then the cells lost their resistance to these toxic metals. Thus the entire system is important, and we want to support all the functions of the glutathione system.
Extra-Cellular (Outside The Cell) Drainage, Which Should Precede Intra-Cellular (Inside Cell) Detox
There are many ways to look at this distinction between extra-cellular and intra-cellular detox and what it means, and there are certainly overlaps between the two. In our work we call the extra-cellular drainage "Pre-Tox," as it precedes detox, because the extracellular cleaning comes first. Then, following the Pre-Tox, we are able to safely eliminate intra-cellular toxins.
The European Schools have the best treatment of the extracellular space, termed the extracellular matrix (ECM). Many German researchers, notably those in the tradition of Alfred Pischinger, devote themselves to its study. A lot of these schools' work is bases on the concept of "drainage" of this highly complex and ordered space of the ECM. The ECM, the area between cells, is bathed in lymphatic fluid across through which all nutrition and all waste must pass for exchange between blood and cells. Once considered to be a kind of inert "goo," the ECM has been found to possess immaculate order, and to be the one "organ" that connects all spaces of the body, from head to toe. It is through the ECM that acupuncture and the meridians work, the "body work" modalities work, the acidification of tissues takes its toll, and the more traditional detoxification modalities generally work. By these traditional, I am referring to herbal and homeopathic drainage remedies, fasting, diets, juicing, saunas, and alkalization therapies. The basic cleaning mechanism for this is to open up the "drains" out of the body by increasing the functioning of the kidneys, liver, and GI tract, and by manually moving the lymphatic stagnation out, using movement and massage. This ECM space must be cleared before releasing cellular loads, or else the released toxins will stimulate negative symptoms, most of which are consequences of inflammation caused by the toxicity. We found that cases of attempted detox that have shown negative reactions, such as severe fatigue, aches and pains, skin eruptions and GI distress, to initial detoxification, would react positively with our program once we stepped back and treated them with drainage remedies for a month or so before resuming detoxification efforts. Patients needing removal of dental amalgams and other toxic dental materials and/or toxic, dead teeth should start this ECM cleanse before the dental revision work. Taking this basic holistic step has greatly increased success rates, so I recommend to anyone who wants to detox effectively that they start with basic kidney, liver, lymph and GI (gastro-intestinal) work. There are many formulas, both professional and commercial, that can be used for this. My favorite products are Spagyric Remedies, which are mostly European, and are a hybrid of homeopathic and herbal formulas. Good water and a good mineral balance are also needed. The single best product I have used for both mineralization and drainage is Quinton Marine Plasma Isotonic, also sold commercially under the trade name Quintessential 0.9 (Full disclosure, I do have a connection to them, but I do not receive promotion money from them). This product has a fascinating 100+ year history of use in correcting a "corrupted terrain," which is the old term for a polluted ECM.
After the improvement of ECM drainage using the above ideas, it is time to start taking binders, as oral supplements before meals, so as to put them into the intestines where they do their work of binding toxins. There is quite a variety of binders, but they are defined as solid, insoluble particles that pass through the gut unabsorbed and are meant to attract and bind toxins to facilitate their passage out of the body through the GI tract. Working at a gut level is crucial because the effectiveness of the whole glutathione system is strongly downregulated (impaired) by intestinal inflammation. One of the aims with the binders is to prevent you from reabsorbing the toxins once they are put into the bowel (the enterohepatic circulation) through this is the only truly necessary for certain toxins-methylmercury, for example, is reabsorbed very efficiently whereas inorganic mercury is not absorbed so much. From my perspective, we are trying to work on the transport proteins here, by creating a gradient away from them, to keep them free of the substances they are trying to transport out of the body. In fact, one in vitro study found that the very metals the transporters are moving would gum up their activity, so you must continuously clear them away. Toxic metals and other toxins are also very irritating to the mucosal lining of the GI tact and, as mentioned before, inflammation is the easiest way to turn down the transport activity. Binders are not all created equally though. Charcoal, clay, and zeolites work primarily by a sorption mechanism and do not have specific binding for heavy metals like mercury. Citrus pectin has no specific metal binding affinity and seems to work by lowering inflammation (which, remember, retards detox). Chlorella has some degree of metal binding, but does not have a high concentration of binding sites. Our professional product, IMD (Intestinal Metal Detoxification), also called Microsilica has thiol binding groups covalently bound to silica particles to provide a high concentration of high-strength covalent heavy metal binding sites. Other products can be beneficial if they help the health of the GI tract. For example, I love montmorillonite clay for its property of stabilizing GI activity that has been disrupted by dysbiosis and parasitic activity. Zeolite and clay are also very good for the first step, extracellular cleanse, though clay is not as strong for metal. For the intra-cellular phase of detox, IMD is the best binder, and chlorella is the next best binder.
It is important to note that this stage of "active" detox can start before the amalgam removal but, if you do, you should stay at low doses until you get the amalgams and other toxic dental sources out of the mouth. Otherwise you threaten to mobilize the very high concentrations of mercury from the oral cavity, the jaw and the GI tract, which, in turn moves more mercury into the blood from where it can re-toxify much of the body. Do not ignore these toxic dental issues or leave them un-addressed. Once you have the ECM reasonably clear and the organs of elimination blowing, and you have the GI binding aspect covered, you can move on to bringing up the activity of the cellular enymes like GST and the cellular glutathione levels. This is largely an anti-oxidant process, but not always in the way that we are used to hearing about. Many of the plant based anti-oxidants we are familiar with have an ability to upregulate intracellular expression of detoxification enzymes, such as GST, and intracellular antioxidants like glutathione and SOD (super-oxide dismutase). The major compound classes for this are the polyphenolic antioxidants like green tea extract or pine bark extract and the sulfur compounds like sulfurophane and other crucifier extracts, allyisothiocyanate from wasabi, and allicin from garlic. Also in the sulfur category, and one of our main work horses, is lipoic acid. For lipoic acid, only the R form of lipoic acid is able to upregulate the same detoxification mechanisms that the polyphenols and plant based sulfurs are. In our product system we use a blend of polyphenols, vitamins B1, B5, and B6, nattokinase, and seaweed extract, in a formula called Clear Way Cofactors. This has been a wonderful formula with many uses. Dosing and timing are important to get the best expression from these compounds. With all of our products we train the practitioners using them to start at a low dosage and slowly titrate up the dose.
Glutathione Taken Within Nanoliposomes Instead Of Capsules
The last part of our system is to directly bring in glutathione in a nanoliposome. Liposomes are phospholipid shells that harbor (contain) an ingredient payload which, in this case, is glutathione. The reason for using liposomes is to increase absorption, either by 1) increasing direct intraoral uptake, 2) protecting the contents from degradation by intestinal enzymes, or 3) facilitating transport across the intestinal wall. Glutathione is very poorly delivered intestinally, so we make very small liposomes, 100-150nm, that can accomplish all of the above three goals, to get more glutathione into the system. Liposomal glutathione has excellent clinical results and the story of the means of action is just beginning to be elucidated. We deliver Vitamin C with sodium R-lipoate in similiar nanoliposomes, always making them out of high purity phosphatidyl choline.
Intestinal parasites harm the health through inflammatory process, especially triggering food sensitivities. Parasites can create strong food sensitivities which disappear when they are dealt with. It may be important to deal with these problems during detoxification. Both detoxification and parasite cleansing can be done concurrently; we are currently developing an anti-parasitical product.
Other Natual Detoxification Thoughts
Deitrich Klinghardt, MD, Ph.D., lists the following barriers to detoxification:
1) geographic stress (underground currents below where you sleep, causing unrestful sleep)
2) electromagnetic or electric fields (ie, from power lines, cell phone towers, cell phones, old computer monitors, wiring in older houses)
3) infection (Lyme disease, often undiagnosed, makes the amalgam toxicity problem much worse; yeast problems often accompany the toxic metals)
4) vitamin and mineral deficiencies; if we are low in necessary minerals such as magnesium and zinc, then our bodies will not be willing to let go of toxic dental metals such as lead, copper, tin, nickel and mercury.
Dr Deitrich Klinghardt likes to use combinations of chlorella, cilantro tincture, garlic, goat whey powder, fish oils and electrolytes for patient detoxification. The cilantro is used to mobilize the mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminum from places such as the bones and nervous system. The body's most important detox organ, the liver, expels the toxins in the bile, which is a digestive fluid that flows from the liver down into the small intestines. Ideally, the toxins move through the intestines and leave the body in the feces. But the lining of the gut has many veins and nerves that can pick up the toxic metals and re-circulate them back into the liver or the brain. The chlorella is used to bind toxins, preventing them from re-absorption and making sure they go out into the feces. The chlorella also serves as a source of minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll and restores the bowel flora. Cheaper chlorellas are also to be avoided, as they are likely to be contaminated with heavy metals picked up during the manufacturing process. Please see Dr Klinghardt's website, www.neuraltherapy.com for more details.
Some others prefer blue green algae products that also help bind the toxins that flow down from the liver with the bile.
For those who are intolerant of chlorella or blue green algae, activated charcoal can also play the role of binder of intestinal toxins. The activated charcoal is a black powder that is stirred into plenty of water and drank; it is fairly tasteless and well tolerated. Activated charcoal is inexpensive and has many applications.
Many devices are being marketed to help drive and energize the release of toxins through the skin and other routes of elimination. Perhaps the most familiar device, is your own bathtub. During active detoxification, you would add a half cup of Epsom salts to the bath, or a half cup of baking soda and once that it is well tolerated you could try doing both a half cup of Epsom salts and a half cup of baking soda together. Bath temperatures should not exceed 104 degrees and should not exceed 20 minutes.
Clay baths can help draw toxins out into your bath water also. LL's Magnetic Clay is a company that has developed a clay bath specifically for mercury detoxification.
Saunas are popular and widely used for detox, especially dry heat saunas or far infrared saunas.
Other ways to assist detoxification are:
~Lymphatic massage can help the toxins move out of the congested areas and through the lymphatic system. Such massage is essential for those who cannot exercise and move about freely.
~Bouncing on a rebounder (the little trampoline) can also get those toxins moving.
~Moderate outdoor exercise in the fresh air under the natural sunlight helps improve oxygenation of the tissues. Avoid any extreme or exhausting exercise. Moderate daily exercise, in an amount that is refreshing for you, can help improve digestion, bowel function, hormonal function, fitness and mental well-being. It helps in use of food fuel and improving sleep.
~Color therapy or "light therapy" is useful in helping the body and brain let go of toxins.
~Music, relaxation, prayer and emotional therapy can also help resolve mental conflicts and be part of the brain letting go of the heavy metals.
Diet for Detoxification
The diet for successful detoxification should be 80% alkaline forming food and should consist of natural, organic foods. Most fruit and vegetables should be unprocessed, raw and organic. While a mostly vegetarian diet is fine, some animal based protein and fats (eg. organic eggs and butter) seem to assist detoxification. Both eggs and butter are good sources of cholesterol, which helps in detoxification of the brain and protection of the brain during detoxification. Eggs are also a beneficial source of amino acids that help in detox and a natural source of Vitamin B12. Drinking pure, non-flouridated water helps avoid constipation and assists cleansing.