Get the Lead Out
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
It’s what we used to say when we were kids, if someone was walking too slowly: “Get the lead out!” It’s taken on a whole new meaning for me now. When the results came back from my heavy metal toxicology test, it showed that my lead levels were 3.5 times the reference range (the average healthy population). So my goal, and that of my naturopath, understandably became “Get the lead out!”
As the doctor explained how he would do this, I was busy wondering where my exposure had come from. I thought back to my childhood and how Dad had a fascinating sheet of pure lead on his work bench that we kids and our neighbourhood buddies loved to play with. It was so soft and flexible, we could easily cut it into strips and shapes with the big tin snips that were there and then bend it into all manner of interesting things. Health authorities today would take a dim view of such entertainment for children.
Then I thought of how when Dad was filling the car with gas, we kids would stand around imitating the sound the pump made each time another gallon went in (“Dingit! Another fifty cents!”). And I would stand as close as I could to the nozzle and inhale deeply, because I loved the smell of that raw, leaded gas. I remember Dad noticing this one time, and he rebuked me, saying that it would eat out my brain. (He was a doctor—he oughta know.)
And, not just raw gasoline, but the exhaust as well. When Dad’s car was idling out front of the house, warming up as he got ready to go, I would go squat behind the exhaust pipe and inhale. I don’t think he ever knew that I did that, but I don’t recommend it. Kneeling behind vehicles that are running can be hazardous to the health, and not just because of what you’re inhaling.
Back in the present, my naturopath was saying that he would like to do a series of chelation treatments, where an agent called EDTA, administered intravenously, would stir up the lead deep in the body, even in the bones and brain, bind to it, and carry it out through the various channels of elimination. He suggested 10 treatments. I elected to do them monthly: at $136 each, I wanted to spread the expense out over a year.
This summer, as I was approaching the end of the treatments, I got a random email from someone who reads my articles, saying that the Celtic sea salt I’m always touting is dangerously high in lead. So I asked him for his sources and did some checking of my own. I find that it’s very hard to nail things down. The main problem is that one brand’s analysis may only measure down to what is considered an “acceptable level” and another may calculate the exact content. So in a comparison of, for example, Celtic sea salt and Himalayan, the first measures in at <0.0004% and the second at 0.00001%. You simply can’t compare figures like that. It’s also hard to discern whether some of these scare tactics are just marketing techniques of competing companies.
I talked it over with my naturopath. How crazy would this be if I was taking in lead as fast as he was taking it out? I’ve talked about how much salt I ingest, given my adrenal challenges: up to 4 teaspoons daily. I seriously need to know if I’m poisoning myself. The doctor suggested I go to my regular GP where I could get a urinalysis done without paying out of pocket. This would measure recent exposure—within the last couple of weeks. Given also that I take lots of iodine and a good dose of selenium daily, and that these two elements are known to keep most circulating heavy metals moving out of the body, I felt sure that any lead in the salt would show up clearly. Well, I did the test 19 days after a chelation treatment so there was lots of salt and water under the bridge in the meantime. And the results came back showing that I was safely below the reference range. So at present, I rest assured that there isn’t a problem with the salt I’m using.
Having now completed my 10 chelation treatments, the next step is to do a round of chelation as the provocation for yet another urinalysis. This will give a picture of lead at a much deeper level than the soft tissue provocation of a year ago and will show whether I still have lead in the bones and brain.