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Chelation: oral not very effective, IV causes brain fog

Posted Feb 10 2011 10:30am

One very common therapy in the Complementary and Altenative Medicine (CAM) world is chelation. It has been very popular amongst DAN doctors and other CAM practitioners in the autism community, largely based on the mistaken ideas that (a) autism symptoms are similar to mercury poisoning and (b) autism is caused by mercury (from vaccines and elsewhere).

I’ll say it here and I’ll repeat it at the end of this piece: any parent who believes his/her child is a victim of heavy metal poisoning should take that child to a medical toxicologist. Find an expert in toxicology. This is not a project to take on yourself and your child deserves the best. Find someone trained and experienced in toxicology. You can search by state or country .

That said, here are two articles I’ve run across recently which reminded me of why people should seek experts. First, the most common oral chelating agent (DMSA, succimer) is not very effective against mercury. Second, IV chelation can result in “brain fog” lasting days.

An NIH Research Matters article titled “ Lead Poisoning Treatment Less Effective for Mercury ” discusses measurements of blood mercury levels in children in a trial of chelation for high lead levels.

A drug commonly used to treat lead poisoning is relatively ineffective at removing mercury from the blood. The finding provides insight into a compound currently being used as an alternative therapy for autism.

Here are the concluding paragraphs:

A research team led by Dr. Walter Rogan at NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) sought to investigate whether succimer can also remove mercury from the blood. The team used blood samples and data from 767 children, aged 12 to 33 months, who participated in an earlier clinical trial of children who were treated for high blood levels of lead.

The research team measured mercury concentrations in blood samples collected prior to treatment, a week after beginning treatment with succimer or placebo, and again after 3 month-long courses of treatment. The study was funded by NIEHS, NIH’s National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results appeared online on October 1, 2010, in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The researchers found that, after 1 week, succimer lowered blood concentrations of mercury by 8%. In contrast, it reduced blood lead concentration by 42%. After 5 months, those taking succimer had blood mercury concentrations about 20% lower than the control group. However, the therapy had only slowed the rate at which the children accumulated mercury.

“Succimer is effective for treating children with lead poisoning, but it does not work very well for mercury,” Rogan says. “Although succimer may slow the increase in blood mercury concentrations, such small changes seem unlikely to produce any clinical benefit.”

In an article in Integrative Medicine, J oseph Pizzorno (a leading naturopath) talks about his experience with IV DMPS .

Unfortunately, my first experience with IV DMPS at the normal dosage (250 mg) resulted in significant “brain fog”. I experienced obvious impaired memory and decreased cognitive capacity for several hours (my wife asserts she noticed effects for a full week).

He goes on to tell that even though he believes that overall he is doing better due to lower mercury levels, his team asked him to refrain from IV chelation before meetings. His colleagues were able to see the obvious adverse effects (Dr. Pizzorno refers these as “adverse IV chelation effects”)

I repeat this here: any parent who believes his/her child is a victim of heavy metal poisoning should take that child to a medical toxicologist. Find an expert in toxicology. This is not a project to take on yourself and your child deserves the best. Find someone trained and experienced in toxicology. You can search by state or country .

  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Chelation: oral not very effective, IV causes brain fog « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com:
    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev and jamie davis, Alltop Autism. Alltop Autism said: Chelation: oral not very effective, IV causes brain fog http://bit.ly/hEnWfJ [...]
  2. Kasey Hyde:
    Haven't seen your posts on FB in a while. This is a great one. My son's ABA therapist told me that the kids that he sees who get chelation treatments are very hard to deal with. Once they get back to normal - no treatments for a few days/weeks - they are much, much better. I thought of this with the brain fog mentioned in the post.
  3. autiemum:
    Why were these children accumulating mercury? Presumably they needed treatment for lead levels in their blood and so were given succimer. The researchers took the opportunity to track the effects on blood mercury levels. The succimer reduced the blood mercury levels but they continued to rise? Am I understanding that correctly? The blood mercury levels must have been below the level necessitating treatment (otherwise the children should have been treated with a proper treatment) but the levels were rising and succimer only slowed the rise. What was going on with these children?
  4. Sullivan:
    autiemum, these kids were being treated for high levels of lead. The mercury measurements were secondary to the primary focus on lead. The blood levels of mercury were not high enough on their own to warrant treatment. Blood levels of mercury did drop, just not very fast. Succimer isn't that effective against mercury and children see a constant exposure.
  5. autiemum:
    That's not quite what it says. To quote "the therapy had only slowed the rate at which the children accumulated mercury." It was 20% lower than the control group but (see above) still rising

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