Heavy Metal Headache

By Christel Martin

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Every day, the news is filled with information about environmental toxicity, multiple allergies, autism, cancer, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, infertility, irritable bowel - it's enough to make a person buy a fancy car and drive off into the sunset.

Chemainus boilermaker Brian Lenny will say to buy that car because it'll be enjoyable - if the person can remember where he or she is going - "but I wouldn't," he says.

During 35 years of industrial welding, Brian inhaled vapourized metals and preservative coatings daily.

"You absorb a lot of this stuff through your skin, too," he says.

He also had "15 or more [amalgam] fillings. It sounds like a lot, but that's about normal."

In his 40s, Brian developed allergies, short-term memory problems, and Parkinson's-like tremors.

Several family members have Parkinson's disease, including his grandfather who'd also had dementia. After many visits to the doctor, Brian was surprised to learn that Parkinson's is not genetic, but environmental.

According to Dr. Olinka Hrebicek, Victoria neurologist and head of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic, "chronic diseases are multifactorial and in many, such as MS and Parkinson's, the environment is probably a significant factor." Some of her MS patients use chelation hoping to control symptoms. Hrebicek does not prescribe chelation; she leaves that to doctors specially trained in the process, such as Dr. John Cline, integrative medicine practitioner in Nanaimo.

According to Cline, chelation is the process of giving "a chemical, called a chelator, intravenously or orally, which binds metal ions, pulls them out through the kidneys in the urine to decrease the body burden of heavy metals."

Brian wondered if chelation could help him.

"Fifteen years ago, one of the guys at our church had real bad heart problems; they told him to go home and die. Instead, he went to the States for chelation [not available in B.C. at that time] and he was fine." An avid computer ("Mac!") geek, Brian surfed the Net for a local practitioner.

Meanwhile in Port Alberni, dentist Jim Bradley felt lousy: short-term memory loss, irritability, and bouts of anger.

"I'd get up in the morning and [realize], 'I just can't do it, I'm too exhausted.' I felt as though I was living in a fog," says Jim. "I couldn't make a decision about anything." His doctor said he was depressed.

Just before Jim graduated from the University of Alberta School of Dentistry in 1983, Drs. Vimy and Lorscheider, at the University of Calgary, were examining the safety of "silver" amalgam fillings - actually 50 per cent mercury, with tin, zinc, nickel and silver. "They used radioisotope mercury in [pregnant] sheep's fillings so they could track where it went - gut, kidneys, brain and [fetus]," says Jim. When dental students asked about this, professors said sheep chew differently than humans, therefore, mercury release in humans was not an issue. The studies were flawed.

"No student would have dared to say, 'Mercury's No. 3 on the toxicity list of all time. Why are we using it and how can you say that once it's mixed up with this stuff that it's safe?'" says Jim. "It wouldn't be a smart thing to do in dental school to challenge the powers that be."

By the early 1990s, Jim had seen enough evidence of mercury's toxicity that he started filling with "white stuff" only. It was better for his patients - less mercury to ingest and inhale. But Jim never considered what the inhaled mercury vapour during amalgam removal, and his own amalgams, were doing to him. By his late 40s, Jim felt the effects. At 52, he sold his Port Alberni dental practice. "Actually, I pretty much gave it away; it was just too much trouble to negotiate."

His doctor treated him for depression, but "I knew I was poisoned," says Jim. After sitting on the couch for several months without relief, because it's "hard to make any decision when you are in the midst of The Fog," Jim called a former Port Alberni family doctor: Cline.

While working as a general practitioner, Cline observed a bedridden patient's struggle with severe fibromyalgia. Standard medical treatments did nothing. Desperate, the patient tried chelation - and recovered.


The World Health Organization has known since 1991 that the greatest individual source of mercury poisoning is dental amalgams. Mercury vapourizes in the mouth. Inhaled mercury vapour enters the bloodstream and travels directly to the fatty cells (brain, nerves, glands, kidneys, liver).

Slightly less neurotoxic than plutonium and uranium, more poisonous than lead and arsenic, mercury disrupts cellular enzymes, causing over 200 different symptoms (the U.S. Center for Disease Control Web site shows 367 pages of health effects).

"The vast majority of people who are 55-60 years old, have a mouthful of mercury," says Jim. "What age group has the biggest number of abnormalities? It's the 55-65 senior group that has had time for all this stuff to kick in."

"Mercury is known as the Great Masquerader," says Cline. "The symptoms of mercury poisoning are easily mistaken for something else."

"[My] conventional doctor dismissed the toxicity, even after I was seeing

Dr. Cline and had good results," says Jim.

Luckily, regaining one's health is easy. Cline describes the chelation protocol:

1. Decrease exposure: remove dental amalgams. "When you get the mercury out, there is a protocol that needs to be done so that it doesn't make you worse," warns Jim, "only one or two fillings at a time" with proper ventilation and antioxidant supplements.

2. Chelation to decrease body burden of heavy metals - mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, etc. By eliminating the cause of chronic disease, not just treating symptoms, the body can heal itself.

3. Optimize nutrition to support the body's own detoxification organs [kidneys, liver, skin] with supplements and healthy foods. For dietary advice, Cline recommends Foods That Fight Cancer by Drs. Beliveau and Gingras, cancer researchers at the University of Quebec.

4. Drink water - half an ounce per pound of body weight - daily, to dilute and flush poisons. "Most of us are dehydrated," says Cline.

5. Sauna. "Profuse sweating reduces the burden on kidneys."

6. Exercise "greatly enhances the effectiveness of detoxification."

While chelation is not yet covered under B.C. Medical, says Cline, "insurance companies are starting to realize it's cheaper for them to pay for this than expensive long-term disability [LTD]."

Jim's disability insurance paid LTD, and private insurance paid a portion of Brian's dental work. Both men paid for chelation and deducted it from taxes. "If you look it up in a medical journal, the treatment for lead poisoning is EDTA chelation [covered by MSP], so, why isn't it OK for mercury, arsenic, nickel, cadmium?" asks Jim.

"You'll probably be dead by the time the government gets around to funding it," says Brian, "don't worry about it, just go and do it. Only you control your health. This is why I believe in computers and all the access we have to knowledge. Without knowledge, you cannot make an informed decision on anything."

[Ed. Note: Not all information on the Internet is correct and true. People should conduct thorough research.]

"Just get the metal out," says Jim. "A $500 investment (complete physical examination, lab work, chelation challenge test) will tell you whether heavy metals are causing your problems. Then you can set your priorities."

At 60, Brian's priority is health. "I do want to live a longer and prosperous life, and I want to remember what I did when I was doing it. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, a lot of other illnesses are environmental. You have to have a lifestyle change. You have to think things through and do things different." Most of Brian's allergies have disappeared and he just remodelled his kitchen, doing fine woodwork that was impossible when he had tremors.

"I'm happy that I figured out what was going on," says Jim, now 55. "I'm embarrassed that it was right under my nose all those years. If I'm mad about anything, I'm mad that the University [of Alberta] - a university is supposed to be the centre of knowledge - didn't tell us that mercury was toxic. They knew about Mad Hatter's disease a hundred years ago. They knew it was mercury then." Now that The Fog has lifted and Jim can think clearly again, he plans to open a mercury-free dental practice following the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology guidelines, as soon as he can find space.

For more information about mercury and other heavy metals, search the following Web sites and references:

atsdr.cdc.gov (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Center of Disease Control, U.S. Gov't.)

fda.gov (Food & Drug Administration, U.S. Gov't.)

who.org (World Health Organization)

ucalgary.ca (University of Calgary, for a video)

toxicteeth.org for a list of symptoms

ukentucky.edu for Dr. Boyd Haley's work on autism at the University of Kentucky

acam.org (American College for Advancement in Medicine) for a qualified chelation practitioner in your area

iaomt.org for a dentist

clinemedical.com for treatment options

"The Chemicals Within Us," National Geographic, Oct. 2006. An exposé on internal pollution.

Old medical dictionaries, such as Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 1960 edition, contain interesting information that modern dictionaries may no longer list.

This article has been viewed 17250 times.


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If you are the same Cristel Martin who penned the letter to the editor in the T.C. re: electro-hypersensitiviy, please contact me by email or phone: 250 478 1076.

Posted by Karen Boissonneault | September 25, 2011 Report Violation

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