What do Metallica and chronic fatigue have in common?
Metallica is one of the best known heavy metal bands in the US and chronic fatigue is often a symptom of heavy metal toxicity.
Mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic pose the greatest risk to your health. These metals can all accumulate in the blood stream causing a number of symptoms, but one of the main symptoms is chronic fatigue.
Could your chronic fatigue be related to heavy metals?
In a perfectly normal scenario, the amount of heavy metals that we are exposed to on a regular basis can easily be eliminated by the liver and kidneys and we’re known the wiser that they were ever there.
However, in certain circumstances where the amount of heavy metals that we are exposed to is greater than our liver and kidneys can get rid of, those heavy metals start to accumulate.
Dental amalgams and certain fish can expose us to large amounts of mercury, overloading our ability to eliminate it.
Lead based paint, while rare these days, can still be found in older homes. It may have been painted over, or wall-paper placed over top of it. Your DIY remodeling job could expose you to lead without you even knowing.
Effect of Heavy Metals on the Body
Effects of these metals is somewhat dependent upon which metal you are exposed to, but almost all of them increase your risk of cancer, can cause brain fog and fatigue.
Here are the specifics for each one:
Arsenic: abnormal heart rhythm and damage to blood vessels, neuropathies, darkening of the skin and small “corns” on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and midriff.
Cadmium: kidney disease, lung damage, and fragile bones
Lead: can affect every organ system in the body, weakness in fingers, wrists, or ankles, increases in blood pressure, anemia, nerve damage, brain damage, miscarriage in pregnant women, and kidney damage
Mercury: the nervous system is very sensitive to mercury, brain damage, kidney damage, miscarriage, irritability, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems
Testing for Heavy Metals
If you’re sitting there thinking, “Oh my gosh, these sound a lot like things that I’ve been dealing with!” make an appointment with someone that understands this type of toxicity right now.
This is nothing to play with and the longer you let it go the worse it can get.
In order to find out if your body is holding onto toxic amounts of heavy metals you’ll need to test for it. And there are a couple options for doing this.
The first option is a DMSA challenge. DMSA is a chelating agent that binds up heavy metals. It works by binding up heavy metals in the tissues and pushes them out of the body in the urine.
With the DMSA challenge, you’ll take a pretty hefty dose of the drug, then you’ll pee into a jug for 6 hours. After you’re done, put the lid on it, give it a little shake to mix all the urine together, then pour some into the collection cup and send it off or drop it off at the lab.
One of the drawbacks to DMSA challenge is that some people experience flu-like symptoms after taking the DMSA, which can last up to 24 hours.
There is an alternative that does not require taking DMSA. This test is a blood metals panel from Quicksilver Scientific in Colorado.
Dr. Shade and his team have developed a testing method that allows them to extract metals out of your blood samples to get an accurate picture of what your metals burden is.
While Dr. Shade has put a lot of research into his methods, his testing method does not have the same time-tested quality as the DMSA challenge.
The Quicksilver Blood Metals Panel is much easier in that it is simply a blood sample and much less time consuming, plus you do not have to take the DMSA.
Either one is a viable option, but I prefer the Quicksilver panel just because it’s so much easier!
Getting Rid of Heavy Metals
This is going to sound very similar to the testing portion.
There are, again, 2 options. One is DMSA and the other is a protocol from Dr. Shade and his team.
DMSA for treatment purposes is a much lower dose than what you would take for the testing portion.
Many practitioners are pulsing the DMSA now to decrease the chances of adverse reactions. So, they’ll have patients take 3 days worth of DMSA, then take 11 days off and repeat this cycle for 6-12 weeks.
The other option is from Quicksilver and it is a little bit more of the free-loving, tree-hugging variety.
With the Quicksilver protocol, you are basically ramping up your body’s ability to get rid of the toxic metals. There is no binding up of the metals and forcing them out the kidneys.
Dr. Shade’s approach is much more gentle, but does take at least 3 months to complete.
There are benefits to each one and it’d be worth a discussion with whoever is managing your treatment as to which one might be appropriate for you.
Next week, I’ll be back with more information on what could be underlying your chronic fatigue and how you can get back to being you.
To be kept up to date on the next article in this series on the underlying causes of chronic fatigue, make sure to sign up for my newsletter below. You’ll get new blog posts right to your inbox.