How to test the body for levels of toxic metals. Excerpt from upcoming book “Cancer Simplified”
How to test for heavy metal toxicity
How do you know you have toxic heavy metals? Determining the kind of and amount of toxic metal burden in your body is very helpful. There are several ways to help determine this. A hair analysis will only show what has been excreted but is not helpful to show what is currently trapped in the body tissues and unable to move out. Specific tissues can be biopsied for metals but with great expense and pain. I much prefer a pre-and a post-challenge Urine Metals Analysis as a reasonable method to assess the body burden and kinds of heavy metals.
A Heavy Metal Urine Challenge is best performed under the supervision of a trained Naturopath or Naturopathic Medical Doctor.
Heavy metal pre-challenge test
Taking a base-line, or pre-challenge urine metal test will help determine if there is any current or ongoing exposure to heavy metals but will not give an accurate view of bound up metal burden in the tissues. Any metals that show up in a pre-challenge Urine Metals Analysis are coming from a source of direct contact in the environment of the individual. The source of the metal contamination must be found and eliminated immediately and steps taken to cleanse the body of current exposure before taking a post-challenge Urine Metals Analysis.
Heavy metal post-challenge test
Once the pre-challenge test comes back normal, a post-challenge test can now be made. When the post-challenge heavy metal urine test results are assessed they will be used to determine appropriate chelation therapy needed to remove particular metals. The first post-challenge test also gives a baseline to track results of chelation therapies. Taking a post-challenge test from time to time during chelation will help determine the duration of chelation needed to bring the body back to acceptable metal levels.
A typical Urine Metal Analysis should show the body burden of metals like: Aluminum, Antimony, Arsenic, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cadmium, Cobalt, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Platinum, Thallium, Tin, Tungsten, Uranium.
Some Urine Metals Analysis also show body levels of essential metals like: Barium, Boron, Calcium, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Lithium, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, Strontium, Sulfur, Vanadium, Zinc, and Zirconium.
Urine Heavy Metals Challenge tests use a provoking agent to dislodge metals from the tissues where they are trapped and escort them to the kidneys. There are several different chemical chelators used to find various metal burdens in the body. The main three agents used are DMPS, EDTA and DMSA. Other natural agents can be used like chlorella, cilantro, glutathione, garlic and others. First the chelating agent is given and then the toxic metals in question are measured by the concentrations in a subsequent six-hour urine sample. The amounts of toxic metals found in the urine sample are called the “metal spill”.
The metal spill will be a combination of the toxic metal body burden, the ability to excrete via the detox pathways, and the specific chelating agent and dose administered.
EDTA, DMPS and DMSA for removing toxic heavy metals from the body
- Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic Acid (EDTA), binds avidly to lead and cadmium, less tightly to aluminum and arsenic. EDTA prefers lead within the body but not mercury. If you are interested in specifically measuring the toxic lead burden then an EDTA challenge is used. This is usually done by administering 3,000 mg of IV EDTA and capturing the urine for the next 6 hrs to measure the amount of lead excreted. With this agent you may see lead, cadmium and a few other metals, but negligible amounts of mercury regardless of the body burden of mercury because EDTA does not prefer to bind to mercury.
- DMPS is a di-thiol chelator that is used to specifically find mercury in a DMPS challenge. This is usually done by administering 3 mg/kg of DMPS via IV and then collecting the urine for 6 hours. DMP S prefers and binds tightly to mercury and does not prefer lead. Your urine sample would likely demonstrate an appreciable amount of mercury, and not much lead.
- DMSA is an orally administered agent that will bind to lead, cadmium, and mercury. We will discuss this in the later chapter on oral chelating.
The difficulty with mercury is that it bonds tightly to mono-thiol groups in intracellular structures, such as proteins, enzymes, and cellular DNA. Mercury damages the structure and binds so tightly to the mono-thiol that mercury can’t let go. Mercury accumulates in the body because it is easy to get it into the body but very hard to remove. To remove Mercury it takes a two thiol, or bi-thiol group, to bind tighter to the mercury than the one thiol group. Di-thiol chelators, DMPS and DMSA, can pull Mercury away from the mono-thiol binding site and prevent it from re-bonding as it escorts it out of the body.
As chelation therapy continues and health improves, it is not unusual to see a greater spill of toxic metals with subsequent testing. It is not unusual for a Urine Heavy Metal Challenge report to look worse after a regimen of chelation. The metal burden is not increasing, but rather the integrity of the detox pathways along with the enzyme systems are improving.
Read more on how heavy metals affect neurology here: Fixing The Brain by Craig Stellpflug
Authored by cancer nutritionist Craig Stellpflug NDC, CNC, Dayspring Cancer Clinic Scottsdale, AZ
Copyright 2012 Craig Stellpflug© Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this article but only in its entirety