Chelation on a Shoestring Part 1: Getting Started

By Kelly Dorfman, MS, LDN, Co-founder DDR

Five years ago when I wrote Understanding Heavy Metal Toxicity and Chelation (New Developments 6:3), I touched on protecting the body during chelation. Since then the understanding of the chelation process in children has evolved. David Kirby’s recent book Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical ControversyEvidence of Harm has heightened concerns about mercury, aluminum and other toxins in vaccines. Parents are weighing whether additives in vaccines and/or the viruses and bacteria themselves are contributing to their children’s developmental delays.

The conclusion is a definite "maybe." As a result, families are flocking to practitioners who have experience with a technique called chelation, which removes heavy metals. Chelation delivers nutrients, drugs and other substances into the body so that they bind onto and help excrete heavy metals.

Doctors are still looking for the best methods, and are trying several different chelation protocols. The original protocol, DMSA by mouth, is rapidly losing favor, due to serious side effects. The "promising new treatments" described in the Spring 2003 issue, including injectable vitamin B-12 and transdermal or intravenous glutathione (GSH), remain popular. These methods, however, require meticulous medical monitoring, and not all families can afford or access this level of care.

If you are waiting for an appointment with a chelation specialist, or cannot make the financial or emotional commitment to prescription level chelation, consider a safe and effective over-the-counter option. The following are general recommendations only, not substitutes for medical care. If you have doubts, problems or questions, contact a qualified health practitioner.

1. Balance Nutrition Balance and increase good nutrients before removing bad metals.

Make sure your child has sufficient protein. Studies suggest that heavy metals are not excreted as well when the diet is low in protein. Children three to four need a minimum of 25 grams, while those five and up require 30. A child eating only starches, such as waffles and French fries, is not ready for chelation.

Push fruits and vegetables, as they contain the phyto-nutrients and glutathione that naturally support the body’s detoxification pathways. Make three to four servings per day, not including juice, your minimum goal.

Add nutrients even if you have not been successful at balancing the basic diet. The poorer the diet, the more nutrients are needed, whether or not you go ahead with chelation. When heavy metals are excreted, minerals and antioxidants are depleted. Thus, safe detoxification requires extra nutrients.

A sample base nutrient program for a child over 3 includes:

Add nutrients one at a time, three days apart. Monitor reactions, the most common of which is irritability.

2. Balance the Bowels

Correct diarrhea, constipation and severe yeast problems. A gluten-free, casein- free (GF/CF) or specific carbohydrate diet may be necessary to stabilize the gut. If there are still loose stools or severe gas, consider adding probiotics. (See The Poop on Poop,) The bowels need to be functioning properly because heavy metals are partially excreted through them.

3. Run a Baseline Hair Analysis

Monitor heavy metal excretion using hair samples. Hair shows clearer patterns than urine and bowel movements because it reflects what is being excreted over a month, not hours or a day. Also, a doctor’s prescription is necessary for urine and stool tests because the child takes a drug that binds heavy metals before collection to improve the test’s usefulness.

Endomet (1-800-528-4067) will run a hair analysis without a doctor’s prescription for $65. If you call to request a kit, do not ask if you need a doctor’s signature or they will say "yes". Just ask them to send you a kit. As you add nutrients and chelation agents, you can periodically evaluate how much and which heavy metals your child is excreting.

Start the three steps above, including adding nutrients, immediately, even if you decide not to use chelating agents or other processes. A good nutritional foundation helps the body detoxify slowly and cope better. A balanced body detoxes itself; you can then start chelating agents sooner.

In the next issue, Fall 2005, look for Part 2: Chelating Agents and the Monitoring Process, or "what to take, and how do you know when you’re done."

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 10, Number 4 - Summer, 2005]

All material in this web site is given for information purposes only and is not to be substituted for advice from your health care provider.

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Page last modified: February 23, 2009
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