In October 2006, ProHealth founder Rich Carson told the story of his “Road to Recovery” from CFS* following 15 years of near-total disability. Starting in 1981, when he developed acute onset CFS at the age of 25, he had tried “a list of pharmaceutical drugs too long to mention, virtually every supplement known to man,” and advice from scores of therapists and specialists.
But for Rich “the first major turn in the road did not appear until December of 2000, when I received a diagnosis of mercury poisoning. I assume that this was the result of an accident in high school when I spilled about 1,000 grams of mercury in my car. My chemistry teacher was never told, nor did I confide in my parents; I was more afraid of getting in trouble than of being exposed to a deadly neurotoxin.
“Those lab results were a cause for celebration, because after almost 20 years of chronic illness, I finally had a target to attack. And so began the ‘mercury detoxification’ segment of my CFS story. Almost six years have passed, and I remain on the same mercury detox protocol: The only difference is that my mercury levels are now normal. Yes, my health and well-being began to improve once I began the protocol, and I suspect that mercury and other poisons in our environment play a role in the pathogenesis of a significant number of cases of CFS.”
Following is Rich’s response to the many readers who have written to ask for details of his continuing mercury detox regimen.
As I wrote in the 10/11/06 Founder’s Corner, I have no doubt that mercury toxicity can play a major role in causing CFS, and I am quite certain that it was a significant factor in the pathogenesis of my CFS.
A few things you should know about mercury: It is ubiquitous, and is commonly found in seafood, in most dental fillings (amalgams), and even in the environment. Plus, once absorbed into the body as solid or vapor, mercury has a half life of about 35 years — meaning that it takes the average person’s body 35 years to remove half of the mercury load it had at the time of exposure. That’s a long time to have a potentially lethal neurotoxin poisoning your body.
My diagnosis of mercury toxicity was made with a 24-hour urine sample after IV injection of the heavy metal chelating drug, DMPS. This drug forces mercury out of cells. Some of it is then removed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. The mercury levels in my urine indicated significant mercury toxicity.
Much of the mercury that leaves the cells will ultimately be redistributed into other cells throughout the body, primarily to kidney and brain cells. The DMPS test made me quite sick for at least a month — something I attribute to the redistribution of mercury and not to the actual drug. I concluded that DMPS would be too radical an approach to use in the initial stages of my mercury protocol.
I immersed myself in mercury toxicity and detoxification research after finding that I had mercury poisoning. I spoke with dentists, pathologists, toxicologists, and the director of the lab that tested my mercury levels, Great Smokey Labs. I also talked with Andrew Hall Cutler, author of Amalgam Illness: Diagnosis and Treatment and learned a lot from him. I wholeheartedly recommend Mr. Cutler's book Amalgam Illness, Diagnosis and Treatment: What You Can Do to Get Better, How Your Doctor Can Help.
The most popular mercury removal (chelating) drugs are DMPS (via IV injection), oral DMSA, BAL, and D-penicillamine.
Since DMPS made me quite ill and can cause mercury redistribution in the body, and because the other drugs use a similar mode of action, I decided to use a natural approach for mercury removal. Initially my goal was to reduce my mercury levels into the high normal range using this approach, and then use DMPS until the level was in the low normal, at which time I would use the oral drug, DMSA, to ‘clean up’ — particularly since DMSA is very effective in crossing the blood-brain barrier.
But in order to use these drugs, it is important to first have all amalgams removed prior to initiating treatment. I had a number of amalgams as well as several crowns that needed to be removed in order to inspect the underlying tooth for amalgams. The entire dental process took almost a year.
The amalgam removal process should be done by a dentist who is sensitive to the intricacies and dangers of mercury removal. A 'biological dentist' is preferable, and you can contact a professional organization — The International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology (http://www.iaomt.org/ ) — for information and/or recommendations in your area.
The last thing you want to do is absorb more mercury during the removal process (picture a high speed drill pulverizing mercury amalgams…and releasing mercury vapor, which is efficiently absorbed by the lungs).
Also, amalgam particles can be swallowed in the removal process and the mercury can end up exactly where you don’t want it — in your cells. Use of a rubber dam is therefore imperative, and breathing supplemental oxygen or air is preferable, though I used only the dam.
I loaded up with natural mercury chelators and other nutrients prior to each appointment, in order to support my body. And immediately following each dental procedure I would go directly to my doctor’s office for an IV Infusion of glutathione, vitamin C, and vitamin B complex.
In the meantime, my research strongly indicated to me that I should take certain nutrients which have the ability to chelate and remove mercury naturally. I added the important nutrients mentioned below to my daily supplement list.
One of the main tricks is to include nutrients that boost the body's production of intracellular glutathione, which is frequently low in CFS patients anyway. Products that boost glutathione production and help facilitate mercury removal include:
n N-acetyl cysteine (NAC),
Alpha lipoic acid and the sulfur bearing compounds MSM and garlic are helpful for mercury removal as well.
Cilantro is also a very important part of my daily protocol, and I juice it every day and drink it in my super veggie drink. I juice four bunches per week. I also take nutrients to support my liver function, primarily milk thistle extract, and I recommend this supplement to anybody who is interested in detoxing from heavy metal toxicity and from the toxicity of having CFS or FM.
Chlorella is a critical part of my protocol, and I take four to six caps with almost every meal. Chlorella bonds irreversibly to mercury and is a very effective mercury 'magnet'. The reason I take chlorella with meals is that the majority of mercury in our bodies is removed by way of the liver. The mechanism looks like this:
n Mercury is removed from cells,
n Goes into the blood plasma,
n Is removed by the liver,
n Goes into the gallbladder to be excreted with bile,
n And is excreted into the digestive tract via the bile which digests fats when food is eaten,
n Although a significant percentage of that mercury is reabsorbed from the bile/intestinal tract where it goes back into the blood…and back into cells.
Ouch! I therefore take chlorella to bond to mercury to prevent its reabsorbing from bile. I also take chlorella every time I eat any type of seafood, because I am of the opinion that this superfood will bond to mercury and prevent its absorption in the first place.
My mercury levels returned to a normal level after two years, though my CFS began to improve about four months after I began my protocol.
But here’s an important disclaimer: According to my research findings, there may be some risks associated with taking some of these products because of the possibility of mercury redistribution. Do your research and take the approach of being better safe than sorry. Pharmaceutical options can be pretty radical, and so can the nutrients NAC and alpha lipoic acid. So please do your research before you take NAC, alpha lipoic acid, or any of the pharmaceutical drugs previously mentioned.
I hope this information is helpful to you. The important thing to know is that you can rid your body of mercury safely and effectively. Patience and research should be the two key main ingredients in the development of your mercury protocol, regardless of how you choose to proceed. And in the worst case, the intracellular antioxidants provided by these supplements should help your body rid itself of other toxins, and enhance your health.
In any event, appropriate ‘challenge’ testing is imperative, particularly as other tests may not detect mercury that was absorbed into cells long ago.
Note that this story Rich Carson's road to recovery is also posted in the ProHealth.com message boards for those interested in reading other patients’ comments on the subject, or adding their own.
* See “On The Road To Recovery,” in the October 4, 2006 issue of the CFS Treatment & Research Newsletter click here.
Note: This article represents the opinion of the author. It has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition, or disease. It is extremely important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or regimen without first researching and discussing it thoroughly in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.