Several months ago, a full year into my healing journey, I felt impressed that I needed to have my amalgam fillings removed. When I began my journey, I put my full faith in God that He would lead me toward healing. So I wondered, why wait a whole year to remove my fillings? Why didn’t God tell me sooner? I could have had a whole year of detoxification under my belt and been more healed and more ready for pregnancy. Right??
And God knew that. I mean, I did figure there was a good reason for delaying it. If it had been truly best for me to get my fillings removed in the summer of 2011, then I’m sure I would have at least had the thought come to me. But it never occurred to me until a year later. Why? I had figured that maybe God wanted me to learn to take good care of my body first, to put in a really good effort toward becoming healthier instead of relying on a “silver bullet,” so to speak. Which would have been a good reason, sure. But after listening to a talk on mercury detoxification during the HealThy Mouth World Summit, the answer became all too clear to me. The reason God didn’t suggest I get my amalgams removed at the beginning of the healing journey was probably because I wasn’t healthy enough for it.
In order for the body to detoxify properly, the liver and the kidneys need to be in good working condition. Let’s remember that the whole reason I embarked on my healing journey was because my kidneys were not up to par. The naturopath I saw then had told me that my kidneys were my weakest organ and that my liver was “stagnant.” Doesn’t sound like a body ready for detoxification, does it? If I had tried to detox from mercury a year and a half ago, the mercury would have had a hard time leaving my body. It would have gotten released from my kidney tissues and other tissues and gone where? To my brain? It happens to people. People have suffered brain damage because of this. There’s a lovely term for this: It’s called retoxification. Hopefully I would have consulted with a naturopath who would have advised me to get healthier first, anyway. “Hopefully” being the key word there.
So it seems that the impression I had to get the mercury out of my body came at just the right time. Now that I’ve had my amalgams removed, how should I detox?
Turns out, the answer to this is not so simple. And yet, then again, it is.
The not so simple part is there are numerous ways to detox from heavy metals from chelation drugs to juicing, from herbs and algae to milk protein, from high doses of vitamin C to ALA supplementation. I had thought that a cilantro/chlorella combo was the golden nugget approach (cilantro releases mercury, chlorella carries it out of the body) until I read that it wasn’t. Chelation drugs are effective, but they also take minerals such as zinc out of the body, too, and can have pretty bad side effects. I got a taste of chelation drugs after each of my amalgam removals and it not something I want to experience again. Plus I don’t want to be losing minerals since I’m hoping to get pregnant soon (by the way, it’s really not ideal to get pregnant soon after amalgam removal, ideally you would wait at least a year–however, I am in a hurry and my ND seemed to think it would be okay to get pregnant within a few weeks of amalgam removal). Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of the GAPS protocol, does not recommend any heavy metal detox protocol except for juicing and restoring healthy gut flora. Turns out that beneficial bacteria can actually detoxify the body and carry heavy metals out. This would also explain why some people get mercury toxicity from amalgams while others do not.
While I was trying to make sense of all the different protocols that have commonly been used over the years–and wondering if I should just not bother detoxing at all pre-pregnancy–I got an email newsletter from Dr Mercola with a link to an article explaining a new mercury removal protocol. And I liked this one. It wasn’t so much about putting agents into the body to directly act on the mercury, but rather to enhance the body’s own mercury detoxification system. Turns out, the body is naturally capable of removing heavy metals from itself. The key is to stop the mercury exposure and then make sure the body is getting the nutrients it needs to detox on its own.
There are three steps to the protocol, assuming you have been on a healthy diet for a while. Step One is to increase glutathione production in the body. This can be done by eating cysteine-rich foods. Whey protein is the richest source of cysteine. My naturopath actually had me take whey protein when I had my amalgams removed. Step Two is mobilizing mercury by boosting enzymes and transport proteins. This is done by partly by eating foods with sulfur-based nutrients. This includes cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, as well as garlic. It is also suggested to eat foods rich in phytochemicals, particulary polyphenols, which are found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Step Three is capturing and eliminating mercury with intestinal binders. This would include chlorella, beneficial bacteria (fermented vegetables are recommended), and thiol resins. I like this protocol because it utilizes the body’s own detox system by supporting it nutritionally and ensuring there are intestinal binders to remove the mercury to prevent retoxification. Seems very safe and I don’t think the body would detox faster than it should on this protocol.
There were some other detoxification ideas expressed in the HealThy Mouth World Summit. Dr David Getoff encourages using only products that can safely be used on a daily basis. He said the herxheimer reaction (feeling tired, fever, chills, muscle pain, headaches) should be avoided at all costs. He recommends using alpha lipoic acid (ALA), zeolite ACZ, and charcoal and he talked about supporting the body nutritionally and specifically supporting the kidneys and liver.
I really like the above quote. Of everything I’ve learned about mercury detoxification, the things I have really resonated with are: that the body can remove heavy metals itself with proper nutrition, that a healthy gut can assist in mercury removal, and that detoxification should be done slowly. What this all amounts to is nourishing the body and NOT feeling like crap while detoxing. It also seems much safer than other protocols. And SIMPLE!!
So what’s my plan? Since I want to get pregnant soon, I don’t really have much of one. I was going to see my ND but since she seems to be pro-chelation drugs, I think it might not be very beneficial to see her at this point. I have been taking one scoop of whey protein most days for the last week with some acerola powder for extra vitamin C, and I am taking chlorella; however, I am unsure about taking the whey powder because it is so concentrated, so I’m either going to quit it or cut way back. I drink raw milk so I will still be getting whey protein. I eat as much vegetables as I can seem to fit in my diet, and cruciferous veggies are in season so that part’s easy. I am trying to eat plenty of ferments and take my probiotic daily. I’m basically doing a very simple version of the protocol outlined above. Well, actually, I’m pretty much eating the same as I was already, if you exclude the whey powder.
With everything I’ve read out there, I feel the best plan of action is caution. There is so much disagreement on what is or isn’t a safe way to remove mercury from the body. Until I have a lot more information and a doctor I can really trust, I won’t be doing anything more substantial than just trying to eat well, as described above, including amounts of chlorella that I think are reasonable.
Hopefully Dr Campbell-McBride is right that by healing the gut, the heavy metals will dump into the gut and be carried off by bacteria. Hopefully, by eating a good diet, over time, my body will release the mercury at a level that it can also excrete. Nice and slow. Thankfully, I’m feeling well enough these days that I think I can be patient.
Detoxification is not a sprint, but more like a marathon. ~Dr Chris Shade