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Posts tagged ‘EDTA’

Mad as a Hatter: Does It Matter?

Alice in Wonderland iPhone wallpaper

If you think I’m talking about the character in Alice in Wonderland, think again. In today’s blog, I’m going to discuss how toxins, particularly heavy metals (like mercury) could affect everything, including our mental health. The phrase “mad as a hatter” was coined in the early 19th century when “hatters” or people who were making hats started experiencing uncontrollable trembling and appeared insane. Apparently, the hatters were using glue that contained mercury at the time. Mercury toxicity can manifest as loss of appetite, fatigue, depression, emotional instability, peripheral numbness, tremors, poor memory and cognitive function, decreased senses of touch, taste, hearing and vision, and neuromuscular disorders. High levels have also been implicated in acute myocardial infarction. All the symptoms just mentioned  are quite common. Therefore, it’s always a great idea to rule out the presence of (heavy metal) toxins in anyone experiencing the said symptoms or anyone who has a possible exposure to mercury (and that means all of us). Mercury is now found all over the place, including our air (esp. surrounding coal-powered plants), food and water supply. In fact, common sources include fish (all fish now, compared to just large fish during previous years), dental amalgams, skin lightening agents (very common in Asia), some hemorrhoidal creams, some vaccines, medical instruments such as thermometers and sphygmomanometers, batteries, electrodes, some fertilizers, the paper industry and finally, the gold industry. In fact, there were recent reports in the news of mercury/lead toxicity in parts of Nigeria where people are involved in gold mining.

To test if someone has elevated levels of metals, particularly mercury, one can have a blood, hair or (provocative) urine testing done with chelating agents like DMSA or DMPS ( although others may use EDTA or other natural chelating agents). A blood specimen is usually used to determine acute exposure while hair and urinary testing informs us more of chronic exposure. Labs that perform the latter tests include Doctor’s Data and Genova Diagnostics. In Asia, I would imagine that Vitech Pro, a company based in Bangkok, is the one that performs these tests. Regular blood tests for mercury could be performed at any reputable lab like Quest or LabCorp. What do you do if your levels are elevated? Besides avoidance of possible sources (kinda difficult nowadays), the accepted form of treatment is a process called chelation therapy.  This has to be done properly however. Otherwise, further damage can be done. Natural oral chelating agents include vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, garlic, cilantro, onions, chlorella and some therapeutic-grade essential oils. EDTA is available in oral (least effective), suppository and injectable forms. Other chelating agents include penicillamine (for copper toxocity), deferoxamine (for iron poisoning), dimercaprol (for arsenic, mercury and lead), DMSA and DMPS. It is important to individualize treatment in any case. Factors such as kidney and liver function, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, and general patient constitution should all be taken into account when one embarks on a cleansing or detoxification program. For more information, please check out the American College for Advancement in Medicine web site, and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine web site,

Love and Other Drugs

Anne Hathaway at the 81st Academy Awards

Image via Wikipedia

Just saw the movie called “Love and other drugs”. I wasn’t expecting a good story line but it turned out to be a great one. Lots of interesting points in the movie. Among these includes a lesson in what happens to people with Parkinson’s disease or Parkinsonism. Basic info on Parkinson’s disease. It is a progressive neuro-degenerative disorder that affects motor skills, cognition and the autonomic nervous system as well. It is characterized by depletion of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the substancia nigra part of the brain. Initial symptoms include bradykinesia, rigidity and tremors. The simplistic approach to treatment is to prevent further depletion of dopamine (and diminish motor symptoms) using medications such as Sinemet or MAO inhibitors. What are the possible causes of PD? An obvious cause involves repeated head trauma such as seen in boxers (Muhammad Ali and Manny Pacquiao’s boxing coach). In the medical literature, there’s idiopathic PD, meaning the causes are unknown. Of course, other possible causes are not explored and these include the presence of heavy metal toxicity (mercury, arsenic, lead, aluminum), excitotoxins (chemicals such as pesticides or MSG which excite neurons to death) and oxidative stress. Anyway, I’m surprised that the movie even mentioned chelation therapy, which is the accepted form of treatment for heavy metal toxicity. Chelation therapy involves the administration of chelating agents such as EDTA, which attach to heavy metals and are then excreted through the kidneys primarily.

One other interesting point is when Anne Hathaway went to accompany seniors across the border to Canada to purchase their prescription medications. Sad but true. We’re spending more on the same medications that are sold elsewhere for less. And then another one is when Hank Azaria, who plays the doctor, confides to Jake Gyllenhaal, the erstwhile drug rep, that his job isn’t as fulfilling anymore because of HMO’s, paperwork and worry about medical malpractice lawyers just waiting to prey on him.

Anyway, the most important lesson in the movie I believe is unconditional love. We should love one another just because……

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