Clearing the Body of Lead

One of the problems with chelating lead is that during early stages of treatment, blood levels can actually increase due to release of lead from bone. Care must be taken to remove this newly released lead quickly so that it isn't redistributed to another organ or the nervous system. Furthermore, removal of toxic metals, especially from the nervous system is not an easy matter. Very exacting methods are required for proper chelation of each metal.

The most effective way to remove lead from the body is by DMSA chelation. Like mercury, DMS A binds very tightly to lead and allows the kidneys to flush it out into the urine, but the greatest difference between lead and mercury chelation is that mercury is not stored in the bone. An early consequence of lead chelation is the rebound effect, caused by lead leaving the bones once chelation has begun. With DMSA, after an initial drop, blood lead levels will rise and may be higher after chelation has begun than they were in the beginning.

As a result of this process, prolonged chelation is sometimes required, and is best accomplished in cycles. I suggest following the same precautions and follow-up studies I outlined at the end of chapter three. Once lead levels are sufficiently low—preferably undetectable— I suggest one additional twenty-four-hour provocative study, just to make sure your lead levels are not slowly creeping back up.

It must be remembered that the main goal in lead removal is to protect the brain. A recent study found that the use of DMSA was no more effective in removing brain lead levels than was a placebo.177 This study was conducted on rhesus monkeys exposed both acutely and chronically to lead. Brain biopsies were taken from various brain regions both before and after chelation. Not only was DMSA ineffective in removing lead from the brain, but lead distribution in the brain was uneven, with levels in the following order from highest to lowest: prefrontal cortex, frontal lobe, hippocampus, and striatum.

The study also demonstrated that a single blood lead measurement was a poor predictor of brain lead levels, and that high brain levels can occur together with low blood levels. The problem with the study was that, in humans, considerable levels of lead can exist in the bones, acting as a continual source of the toxic metal. This is the value of DMSA, to remove lead deposits so that brain levels can decrease naturally. It has been shown that when sources of lead exposure are removed, brain lead levels will fall 34 percent in five weeks. In addition to chelation, then, it is obvious that you must isolate sources of lead exposure and eliminate them from your environment. In particular, do not drink fluoridated water.

Some have advocated intravenous EDTA to chelate lead, but one study demonstrated that high oral intakes of magnesium were superior to EDTA in elimination of lead.178 In this study, researchers measured biochemical markers of lead toxicity such as protoporphyrin and delta-aminolevulinic acid, and found that magnesium treatment worked more slowly than EDTA but had a more profound effect on biochemical measures of lead toxicity.

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