Heavy Metal Chelators (BAL, DMSA, DMPS, EDTA, Penicillamine, Glutathione, Vitamin C)

For anyone who has heavy metal toxicity, the information I know about heavy metals is a gold mine. I have a different yet valuable perspective because my understanding and knowledge come from the patient perspective and all the challenges, obstacles and problems that patients encounter while seeking solutions for their health recovery.

If I had been made aware of all the options with more complete information it is probable that I would have tried to find more comfortable and personally appropriate chelators for my body. Different choices may have resulted in less body trauma, better outcomes, quicker healing and more complete health recovery.

This article covers the different medical chelating agents available: BAL, DMSA, DMPS, EDTA, Penicillamine, intravenous glutathione and intravenous vitamin C. Few professionals make known all the medical chelating options available, but it is important to know about the various choices. A solution that only works for a minority may actually be the only suitable and effective solution for your body.

This article doesn’t address any of the chemistry aspects. Human bodies are not mathematical machines like a car engine and I feel the chemistry interferes with a person’s ability to simply pay attention to how their body is responding which I feel is far more important to finding the right path for health recovery. Mathematical and chemical equations negate some of the most important questions a patient should be focused on:

♥ How are the body, mind, and emotional states before, during and post treatment?
♥ Do adjustments need to be made to better support the body with the huge work being done?
♥ Is there another more body preferred method for administering the chelator such as oral, IV, transdermal or suppository?
♥ Is a different chelating option more appropriate?

The most accurate way to know if your body has heavy metal toxicity is with a Heavy Metals IV Challenge Test using 1500mg of Intravenous EDTA and a 500mg oral dose of DMSA followed by a 6-24 hour urine collection. If intravenous testing is not possible then an oral DMSA Challenge test is next best. This test also verifies kidney function which is necessary for chelation testing and treatment. Heavy metal testing does not reveal if copper or gold are in excess and both are toxic if too elevated. You may need to consider additional testing to determine if other metals and minerals are a part of your body’s challenges.

Blood, hair or unprovoked urine testing methods are unreliable and misleading. If you are basing your decisions on one of these tests or something else, then get retested.

The only time a Provoked Urine Challenge test may not be providing the best results is if the heavy metals are tightly bound in a lump with bacteria, virus or fungus which will make the heavy metal unavailable to be captured by a chelator. When a chelator or methyl donor cannot bind to a heavy metal, the heavy metal cannot be removed from the body in the urine or the stool. These bonds can be broken down using antivirals, antimicrobials, antifungals, enzyme therapy or other methods. Once the heavy metal is free, then it will properly bond with a chelating agent or methyl donor and be eliminated from the body. If heavy metals are not showing up on test results, but you feel heavy metals are in fact the problem, then I encourage you to explore these other options. Once the bonds are broken, if that is the problem, then heavy metals tests will begin to show more accurate test findings AND your body will begin to show very small signs of greater comfort as healing begins to happen.

Important Reminder: Please read all my articles about heavy metal toxicity and removal. Each article has different yet very important information to understand the big picture. Seeing the big picture will enable you to make the right decisions for your body.

The best medical chelator for you will take into consideration, the heavy metals elevated in your body, your medical conditions, body function and lifestyle.

Each chelator has an affinity and greater bonding capacity to different heavy metals and uses different excretory pathways for each.

For example:
DMPS has a high attraction for mercury and uses the kidneys and urine to remove the mercury from the body.

EDTA on the other hand has an affinity for various types of metals and uses different excretory pathways for each. The understanding is that EDTA removes lead toxicity via the urine and mercury in the stool and a urine test using only EDTA is unlikely to provide the most accurate information regarding mercury burden in the body.

The chelating process and heavy metal body storage in the body
Heavy metals and toxicity are stored in the body in layers. As top layers are removed, subsequent underlying layers become available. Each layer may contain the same or different types of heavy metal toxicity. Depending on what toxicity is at the top layer and the chelating agent used, different metals will be excreted via different excretory pathways.

Imagine a top loading freezer chest. The first items you put into the freezer will be on the bottom. The most recent additions placed in the freezer are at the top. The chelator will take the most easily accessible items at the top of the freezer and slowly work down to the bottom. Each layer may contain different heavy metals which will be revealed in subsequent chelation challenge tests.

Below are my own test results from back in 2006 to better illustrate.

September 6, 2006 – IV challenge test using Sodium EDTA 1500mg and a 500mg oral dose of DMSA

My mercury level was 34, but should be four or lower. My lead levels were indicating a 14 and at the time was considered to be too elevated if five or higher. Since 2006 they have determined that lead should not exceed a two.

page 1 Sept 6 2006 EDTA DMSA urine

November 11, 2006 – IV challenge test using intravenous DMPS (I am not sure of the DMPS dose, but I believe it was an infusion of 1500mg) with a 2-3 hour delivery time.

This was about 2 months after the initial test using EDTA and oral DMSA. I had only one or two EDTA chelation treatments in the interim while I was trying to locate a doctor who used DMPS in my geographic proximity.

DMPS testing revealed a mercury level of 90 while my lead was testing at 3.4. DMPS has a stronger affinity for mercury than lead and the comparative test results reveal this.

page 3 Nov 11 2006 DMPS urine

January 26, 2007 – Two and a half months later I insisted on being retested because the post treatments recovery was so traumatic I needed to know or have confirmation of what might be happening. With hindsight I don’t know DMPS was the best treatment option for me because I had severe central nervous system disorders and DMPS is known to exacerbate those in certain individuals. I shared my experiences, but healthcare professionals shrugged their shoulders as if to indicate it was my only option, which was not true, but I would only learn of the other options much later.

The test revealed that my mercury level decreased by 61 units. Going from a 90 to a 29. As the mercury decreased, lead levels began to increase. Removing the remaining mercury from a 29 down proved to be a much longer and arduous process with treatments being as violent as they were in the beginning. Once the mercury levels were lower I stopped DMPS because it was no longer the best solution to address the lead and cadmium toxicity which were rising and I switched to oral DMSA and IV EDTA.

page 4 Jan 26 2007 DMPS urine

Keep in mind that I am using my lab results to illustrate how different agents remove different metals and how the heavy metals are stored in layers. Years later and with far more understanding, knowledge and personal experience I question the appropriateness of that treatment for my body and health conditions. There may have been a far more personally appropriate chelator and administration method for my body. Healthcare professionals tend to offer one size fits all single option chelation approaches. Their choice may or may not be the best option for you and your body.

MEDICAL CHELATOR OPTIONS

Please refer to my other articles for more detailed information about the different methods for administering medical chelators to the body which include oral, transdermal, rectal suppository, intravenous infusion and injection. The body will respond to a same chelator very differently depending on the method of administration. I only address the options available in this article and do not go into detail about the methods for chelation administration. You will need to refer to my other article for that.

DMPS (2,3-Dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid)

Methods for Administration: oral capsules, IV (intravenous) drip, transdermal or rectal suppository. Some offices offer “rapid IV push”. These are risky and I highly advise against it because the direct blood injection is simply too much and too fast for the body. A slower infusion over a longer period of time is easier for the body.

Affinity: DMPS is best known for its strong affinity for removing mercury but it is believed to have an even stronger attraction to copper and zinc. It primarily uses the kidneys for eliminating these.

Health Insurance: You will have to check with your health insurance to see if IV DMPS is covered. It is unlikely but it is worth doing a thorough investigation.

Does DMPS cross the blood brain barrier? Most information says “no”, but DMPS is an analogue to BAL which does cross the brain barrier.

Even though they say DMPS doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier it had a startlingly unpleasant influence on my thoughts, emotions, sleep states and function for up to 3-5 days after treatment. I have heard others share having had similar experiences to mine with DMPS.

Important Comments that may be helpful
DMPS is believed to have an even stronger affinity for removing copper and zinc. Copper and zinc are essential minerals. Body imbalances in these are likely to cause other health conditions and problems.

DMPS is not advised for people with central nervous system (CNS) disorders because of its negative impact on the central nervous system, but I would not take that as a 100% rule.

Do not use DMPS if you have amalgam dental fillings in your mouth. See my article “When to Remove your Mercury Dental Fillings” for more information. http://blog.kristaumgelter.com/when-to-remove-your-mercury-dental-fillings/

Few doctors in the USA treat mercury toxicity with DMPS, but it is a commonly used in other countries.

DMPS effects each person differently. It may be perfect for some and very inappropriate for others. My post treatment experiences from DMPS were quite violent and lasted up to 3-5 days. A few of the side effects included: night terrors, nightmares, depression, sporadic emotional swings, behavioral dysfunction, need to be alone, multiple night sweats throughout the night, constant need to urinate and more.

EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)
EDTA is a synthetic amino acid.

Methods for Administration: oral capsules, intravenous drip, rectal suppository and possibly transdermal. Some offices offer calcium EDTA “rapid IV push”, I advise against these. A slower infusion over a longer period of time is easier for the body.

Affinity: EDTA has an affinity for many different heavy metals. The general belief is that EDTA has a higher affinity for chelating lead and cadmium via the kidneys in the urine while eliminating most of the mercury in the intestines via the stool.

EDTA is also used to treat heart disease. Professional opinions about EDTA’s effectiveness for heart disease are hotly debated. Like most things EDTA probably works brilliantly for some, but not in others and depends on the cause and origin of the heart disease. If I had heart disease I would try EDTA IV chelation treatment and let my body’s response to the treatment tell me if it was personally appropriate.

Health Insurance: Some health insurance companies now cover the cost of EDTA IV treatments. Check with your insurance to see what their requirements are and what is possible.

Does EDTA cross the blood brain barrier? I have read reports that state it does. I have also read reports stating it doesn’t. It may vary based on individual body function, body chemistry, the type of EDTA and the method of administration (oral, IV, suppository or transdermal).

Types of EDTA: Disodium EDTA, Calcium EDTA and Calcium Disodium EDTA

Disodium EDTA (also called “Sodium EDTA”) is administered via intravenous drip (standard dose is 1500mg diluted in a 250ml or 500ml infusion bag). Disodium EDTA was the military’s choice for treating soldiers with lead toxicity. This option tends to cause a lot of discomfort, cramping and a burning sensation for the arm and shoulder where the intravenous port of entry is located. A source of heat on the arm will greatly alleviate the discomfort as will adding additional sodium bicarbonate to the IV solution bag.

Calcium EDTA is administered by intravenous drip and IV “push” (I advise against a rapid IV push of EDTA). Calcium EDTA infused into the body via an intravenous entry is very comfortable and not noticeable as compared to the disodium EDTA mentioned above.

Calcium disodium EDTA is used in oral capsules or rectal suppositories.

EDTA suppositories now require a medical prescription as of a couple years. The interesting thing is, calcium disodium oral capsules are an over-the-counter purchase.

There is a lot of debated controversy about the effectiveness of oral EDTA which requires very large doses to have any chance of being beneficial. Or so it is believed. Each person is different. Oral EDTA may be your best option for positive health improvements. Oral EDTA is worth trying if this option speaks to you. Let your body decide rather than someone who probably has no personal experience with it. My experiences with even just a 50-100mg oral dose of EDTA was disastrous and left me with a 3-5 day recovery time from what it did to my GI tract, rectal suppositories were problematic too, but intravenous EDTA worked very well for my body. Each person will respond differently. Your body is the only one that can tell you if it is appropriate or not.

DMSA (Meso 2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid)

Methods for Administration: oral capsules, transdermal and I recently noticed it is now available as a rectal suppository.

Affinity: DMSA is known to chelate many major heavy metals quite easily via the kidneys in the urine and is also encouraging excretion in the stool.

Health Insurance: In recent years the FDA made DMSA a medical prescription item only. Even though it is a medical prescription health insurance does not cover the cost. It is not available as a pharmaceutical and is difficult if not impossible to find with compounding pharmacies. The best prices can be found when purchased outside of the country.

Does DMSA cross the blood brain barrier? General consensus is “yes”. DMSA is an analogue of BAL which is an intramuscular injection chelator.

Penicillamine and BAL
These two options are likely not to ever be mentioned or made available, but they may be the preferred option for your body.

The longer a remedy or drug has been on the market the more information will be available as to its uses, side-effects and benefits. BAL was the first remedy used for mercury toxicity which is used as a deep intramuscular injection and Penicillamine has been around since 1956 and used for copper toxicity (Wilson’s disease).

PENICILLAMINE (D-penicillamine)

Methods for Administration: oral capsules
Pharmaceutical names: Distamine, Cuprimine, cuprinyl and Depen

Very important: Penicillamine is an amino acid metabolite of penicillin but without the antibiotic properties. Those who are allergic to penicillin may also have an adverse reaction to penicillamine.

Affinity: This is typically prescribed for medical conditions related to copper toxicity, but it is known to remove elevated bismuth, lead, mercury and nickel.

Health Insurance: Likely to be covered by your insurance, but you would need to see. I don’t believe it is available in generic. If this option works for your body, this could be the most cost effective option to remove your heavy metals.

Does Penicillamine cross the blood brain barrier? I don’t know, I could not find any information about this.

Additional useful information
This is prescribed with success for Wilson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cystinuria.

Penicillamine is prescribed to be taken on a daily basis. Most medical chelators are taken intermittently with an on again/off again schedule to limit the loss of essential and trace minerals. Because Penicillamine is taken on a daily basis it would be imperative to have ample amounts of essential and trace minerals throughout the day. If you have elevated copper and are taking this to lower copper, then be sure to verify your mineral supplements do not contain copper.

While this chelator is typically taken on a daily basis, some people may get better results by taking this with an on again/off again traditional chelation treatment schedule.

BAL – dimercaprol

Method of administration: Deep intramuscular injection only

Affinity: BAL is used to treat arsenic, gold and mercury toxicity. When used with EDTA is effective for lead toxicity.

Health Insurance: BAL is likely to be covered by your health insurance.

Does BAL (dimercaprol) cross the blood brain barrier? General consensus is “yes”.

Glutathione

Glutathione is an amino acid. It is available in capsule, liquid liposomal, rectal suppository and also as a medical chelator when administered intravenously.

For years I had believed media information that oral glutathione was ineffective. A couple years ago when liposomal glutathione arrived on the market I tried it. After 4-6 weeks I could see noticeable improvements. I tried oral capsules and received the same benefits as liquid liposomal. It was another example of how media information can be misleading and keep a person from finding their solutions.

Intravenous Vitamin C Drip

Intravenous vitamin C has far reaching benefits. It is now known to be effective in chelating heavy metals.

Very important: Some people have adverse reactions to Vitamin C (intravenous and/or oral) and a simple red blood cell Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase test also known as a G-6-PD RBC, will indicate if your body can tolerate, use and benefit from intravenous vitamin C. This blood test should be done before receiving intravenous vitamin C.

Typical intravenous dose is 25g/hour which can be progressively increased over the course of several weeks to 100g during four hours per 24 hour period.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Information (ATSDR)
Below I have added some interesting information I gathered from the mercury toxicology report made available free of charge, by the ATSDR. They offer more than 175 individual reports about substances that are known to cause illness and disease. Certain individual reports can be up to 800 pages, but contain valuable information that will help you find your answers. The link for this report and any of the other 175 reports can be found at:

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/index.asp

Information from ATSDR Toxicological Profile for Mercury March 1999, Page 326

BAL was the first chelating agent used for mercury toxicity, and it is still widely used today for inorganic mercury poisoning (ATSDR 1992)…”

“BAL is contraindicated for cases of methylmercury poisoning, because it has been demonstrated to increase the concentration of methylmercury in the brain…”

“DMPS and DMSA are derivatives of BAL, but they have been found to be more effective than BAL in experimental studies…”

“EDTA and EGTA also effectively form complexes with Hg++ and enhance its excretion from the body, in what is typically considered a relatively benign or biologically inert fashion….”

Information from ATSDR Toxicological Profile for Mercury March 1999 Page 332-333

“Chelators differ in their efficacy for various forms of mercury, routes of administration, side effects, and routes of excretion. Depending on the chemical to which one has been exposed and the health status of the individual, different chelators may be indicated…”

“BAL is one of the more effective chelators for inorganic mercury salts. BAL is administered intramuscularly and is the preferred chelator when oral dosing is impractical (Florentine and Sanfilippo 1991; Gossel and Bricker 1984; Haddad and Winchester 1990). Approximately 50% of the BAL dimercaprol-mercury complex is excreted through the kidneys, while the remainder is eliminated in the bile and feces. Thus, this chelator is preferred when renal impairment has occurred. BAL therapy, however, has several limitations. Significant reabsorption of mercury from the bile occurs (Shimada et al. 1993). Also, multiple toxic side effects including urticaria, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, nausea and vomiting, headache, conjunctivitis, lacrimation, and paresthesias have been reported (Goldfrank et al. 1990). Children may develop fevers, and individuals with a glucose-6-phosphatase deficiency may develop hemolysis.”

“Another currently used mercury chelator is D-penicillamine. This drug has been used somewhat effectively to reduce the toxicity of elemental and inorganic mercury exposures. It can be taken orally, and its metabolism is slight in humans. Penicillamine is removed through the kidneys (Florentine and Sanfilippo 1991).”

In Closing
Do additional personal research because you are the only person who knows the intricacies of your body, live in it 24/7 and know what is happening in a way that no one else does. Listen to, honor and follow your body’s guidance. Every option is going to be the right solution for a given person. One person’s miracle will be another person’s DISASTER. When trying any chelator pay attention to how your body is working before, during and after the treatment. Your body will tell you “yes”, “no” or “maybe”. Be willing to adjust and change. A “no” body response may just be trying to communicate that a change of some sort is required to support the work in progress. OR your body’s “no” may a straight across the board “no” and you will need to put that option to the side and find a new path.

Please read my other articles on heavy metal toxicity. It is important to see the big picture of heavy metal toxicity in order to make personally appropriate choices. Each article offers new and different information.

My goal is to share the big picture with you because healthcare professionals often do not have the time. The option chosen by the professional may not be the best for your body. You want to remove heavy metals with few setbacks and without creating additional problems. You have many options to choose from. Keep searching, adjusting, adapting and investigating until you find the right combination for your body’s health recovery.

Krista Umgelter laughingWarmest,

Krista Umgelter