Heavy Metals have always been a part of nature and are necessary for the earth’s balance. Every form of life has evolved survival mechanisms to keep them in check, to sustain life as long as possible. Over the last hundred years humans have created mass redistribution of heavy metals. For example, lead used in fuel, paint, lipstick, tattoo ink. Mercury in paint, herbicides, insecticides, pharmaceuticals, skin lighteners, medical devices or light bulbs. Or in older times when mercury was used as a diuretic given to patients by doctors – my paternal grandmother was prescribed mercury for the last 5-6 years of her life. Or what about hat makers used mercury to sustain the shape of their felt hats (the “mad hatter” was literally “mad” because of his professional exposures). This has all given birth to unnatural levels of exposures and toxicity that your body is not prepared to handle
You may despise the symptoms that indicate unhealthy exposures, but symptoms are also convincing catalysts that encourage healthier lifestyle choices for better future health. A lot of people have no warning signs or symptoms, but are devastated years later with the diagnosis of a degenerative or life ending disease state.
The goal in health recovery, and removing heavy metals and toxicity, is to heal without doing further damage while minimizing set-backs. The slower the detox process, healing must not be a race to get back to YOUR life, the milder the set-backs and regressions. There is a lot of hype about how “healing crisis” (or Herxheimer Reactions) are great positive and desirable signs. I don’t agree. They are indeed a sign, but is the violent response your body’s last ditch screaming attempt asking you “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!” Maybe that healing crisis a sign that you need to back off, take a break, slow down and be a kinder and gentler Sherpa for your body. Sometimes those healing crisis might also be your body screaming “YOU ARE GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!”.
A natural way to remove heavy metals, and certain types of toxicity, is by activating your body’s methylation cycle, by increasing your intake of methyl donors. Methyl donors are sulfur based elements that include methionine (L-Methionine or SAMe), cysteine (or N-acetyl cysteine, NAC), glutathione, taurine, glycine (or DMG, TMG), MSM, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), methyl forms of supplements and certain foods, herbs and supplements.
Sulfur is “an acid forming mineral that is part of the chemical structure of the amino acids methionine, cysteine, taurine and glutathione, sulfur disinfects the blood, helps the body to resist bacteria and protects the protoplasm of cells. It aids in necessary oxidation reactions in the body, stimulates bile secretion, and protects against toxic substances. Because of its ability to protect against the harmful effects of radiation and pollutions, sulfur slows down the aging process. It is found in hemoglobin and in all the body tissues, and is needed for the synthesis of collagen, a principle protein that gives skin its structural integrity” (Page 71 of the book Prescription to Nutritional Healing A-to-Z Guide to Supplements by Balch).
Sulfur “is involved in the formation of bile acids important for fat digestion and absorption, is a constituent of bones and teeth, activates certain enzymes, and helps regular blood clotting. Sulfur helps in the conversion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to energy because it is a component of vitamin B1, biotin and pantothenic acid; helps regulate blood sugar by being a constituent of the hormone insulin and is a component of collagen, a protein in the connective tissue that holds cells together” (Page 137 of the book The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals by Somer).
Methyl donors are typically taken on a daily basis, work in harmony with the body, jump start the healing process and keep detoxification pathways open and mobilized in natural ways. Each sulfur or methyl donor is different and effects each person differently, there may only be ONE that works for your body. Just because something is natural does not imply it will have a positive effect for your body. Natural elements in certain body environments cause negative reactions, but those negative responses usually stop when the natural culprit is removed. Methyl donors are convenient and inexpensive, especially compared to the cost and inconvenience of disease treatment. And disease treatment is often chosen by doctors, big pharma and insurance companies rather than the treatment that best suits your body and health recovery.
The more you do for your body
the more energy and resources it has to do what you can’t
In the phenomenal, yet complex book Pathways to Recovery by Dr Amy Yasko, she shares the essential role and influence of methylation for proper body function.
♦ Proper methylation is the starting point for every chain reaction in the body for every body function, including its role in turning genes and enzymes on & off
♦ Regulates dopamine levels
♦ Creates more effective nerve transmission and is important for neural transmitter activity
♦ Stabilizes the methyl cycle for medical chelation
♦ Low body methylation is related to high inflammation and productively high methylation function is related to low inflammation
♦ Methyl groups determine how the immune system responds to virus’, bacteria, parasites and fungus
♦ Silences virus’ (virus may build up and/or may bind to and store metals)
♦ Good methylation is a primary key for decreasing viral and bacterial loads
♦ Deactivates allergies (allergies increase histamine which causes inflammation)
♦ Necessary for myelination, nerve pruning and remyelination
♦ Manufactures T cells, too many B cells can result in auto immune disorders
♦ Methylation is necessary for removing heavy metals, but heavy metal toxicity interferes with the methylation cycle
♦ Mitochondria, the energy storehouse of each cell, depend on proper methylation. Symptoms related to impaired mitochondria include chronic fatigue syndrome, low muscle tone and body weakness. CoQ10 and Carnitine supplementation may be beneficial for insufficient mitochondrial function.
♦ Supports fluid phospholipid cell membranes for effective nutrient entry and waste excretion which improves immune signals and protects nerves.
I don’t have an opinion about which methyl donors are best. The best methyl donor is the one your body responds to favorably and encourages health recovery. Sometimes a sulfur methyl donor may take several months to bear fruit, but at its onset it should not cause your body distress. If it does then you are moving in the wrong direction, need to reduce the dose, take a break for a few days or include adjunct therapies to give your body extra support it needs. For more information refer to “36 Simple Approaches to Support Your Body (during health recovery, chelation and detoxification)”
About a year ago while I was giving a lecture someone shared the story of their friends breathing difficulties, caused by ALS, which stabilized and reversed once they started taking N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC). I loved what she told me because the only thing NAC did for me was make my hair extremely thick! After taking NAC for more than a year, urinary tests revealed it did nothing to change my body’s urinary excretion of heavy metals. It may have increased stool excretion of heavy metals, but I didn’t have that tested. The additional irony is that some people take NAC for hair regeneration and yet won’t get that result from NAC. The body responds to all of our choices, but not always according to what media states nor how we may want it to.
Early on I bought into the “expert knowledge” that oral glutathione was useless and unfortunately I took that information at face value without letting my body tell me what IT thought of glutathione. Seven years into the process liposomal glutathione hit the market. I decided to try it. You know what it made a huge difference for my body and became a pivotal piece to my health recovery. What’s more I compared liposomal glutathione to oral capsules and got the same positive results. I share this, not because I think glutathione is YOUR answer, but simply to encourage you to give your body a chance to cast its vote. Let your body sit in the driver’s seat, not so called experts. Even though glutathione turned out to be an important key my body needed me to find, my body still requires medical chelation treatments to keep my conditions stable.
Your choices do not need to make “logical sense”
nor do they need to please an “expert”
Best choices mobilize healing.
Health recovery requires a person think for themselves, pay attention, question, play devil’s advocate and let their body responses guide their decision making. Your body is different from everyone else’s. Pay attention to how your symptoms respond and how both your weak and strong systems function and respond to your choices. Welcome new ideas and information from others, but allow your body to guide your decision making.
The people who share your life often see you more objectively than you yourself do. Their shared observations are often priceless. Invite, welcome and thank them for sharing what they notice and hopefully they will find the words to deliver the information respectfully. Learn to use comments, even those that lack ALL grace and caring, for their pure grass roots informational value. You may not notice the tiny subtle signs your body is screaming, but a left handed compliment may allow you to put 2 and 2 together. A sign of improvement may be walking 15 minutes longer, better urinary flow, the cloudy urine has vanished, being less emotionally reactive (no arguments for a week or two), mental ramblings are more peaceful, no neurotic cravings for foods or experiences you knew to be harmful and unproductive.
If your body did it once, it can do it again,
do it longer or produce the desired result consistently in the future
The downside of excessive methyl donors or excessive methylation
A same condition can be caused by two extremes of a same dynamic. Did you know that heart burn (acid reflux) is the result of too much stomach acid or TOO LITTLE stomach acid? Methionine is known to relieve and reverse depression, schizophrenia and psychosis, but it may cause it in someone who doesn’t have these conditions. Natural substances are not “dangerous”, but you need to pay attention to how your body responds to make sure you are taking the most personally appropriate option.
I often hear “I am sensitive to sulfurs (methyl donors)” and I always wonder…
➤ How is your body responding? What is the symptom of sensitivity?
Gas and bloating? OR do you have decreased kidney function, too much cortisol release, fragile red blood cells (broken capillaries or excessive bruising/bleeding) or impaired sugar regulation? All of these are signs of excess sulfur in the body that is NOT oxidizing nor available for proper body use.
➤ Sensitivities and intolerances to sulfa drugs and sulfites are NOT to be confused with sulfur sensitivity. For more information about sulfites, sulfa, sulfur and sulfates please read this article.
➤ Is the sulfur sensitivity indicating a bigger problem that needs support?
➤ Do you have problems with ALL sulfurs and methyl donors (ingested and dermal) or just certain ones? Be sure to use sulfur and methyl donors that produce desirable responses. Avoid those that cause problems.
➤ How does your body respond to Epsom salts baths? Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate and sulfate is a body ready form or sulfate. Epsom salts baths allow magnesium and sulfate to enter the bloodstream in the body through the skin and bypasses the digestive tract entirely.
Considerations Worth Considering
➤ Your body functions vary at different times of the day. It may respond better with one big dose in the morning? Maybe the best response is by taking a single dose before bedtime? How about smaller regular doses throughout the day? On an empty stomach or with a piece of fruit or a vegetable (a vegetable with no starch)?
➤ Your body needs enough to make a difference, but not so much that the helper becomes an additional burden your body must manage. More is NOT better and you are not a more capable or stronger person because you take more. You body’s optimal dose may be a fraction of what is suggested OR your body may need 3x more than others.
➤ Price has nothing to do with quality. Higher prices may be an indication of lower productions quantities, expensive advertising, fancy packaging, flashy labels, greedier manufacturers, higher overhead or more middle men taking their cut.
➤ A same exact ingredient may vary considerably depending on company, manufacturing processes, excipients and its form (powder, pure, capsule, tablet, liquid – ingestion, dermal or inhalation).
➤ Try each methyl donor in isolation before using them in cocktail formulas because it enables you to understand how your body is responding to a given element. Do not take products with any ingredients you know to be a problem for your body.
➤ What is right for one person may be disastrous for another, even if they have the same symptoms, health and/or medical conditions.
➤ As health recovery progresses and toxicity decreases your body will shift. Solutions at one stage of your healing may not be appropriate at another stage. Re-evaluate regularly. Take breaks to see how your body responds (did your body confirm that you need it?). You may need to change course, strategy and paths along the way to continue health recovery. I got frustrated a lot because I wanted to just figure out what my body needed once and for all, but it was naïve of me to think that my constantly changing body would also need the same exact routine. Be open to testing options again. Things that worked for me at one time became problematic at other times. What didn’t work for me at an earlier time may now be what my body needs. You may fib from time to time, but your body won’t ever lie.
➤ Don’t underestimate how the slightest change influences whole body function. You may see anything with carrots as a carrot, but for your body carrot juice is not a raw carrot is not a cooked carrot. An organic carrot is not the same as non-organic. How you cook a carrot or what you cook it with (dill for example) changes how your body responds to it. Carrot juice sets in motion a different digestive process than will a raw carrot or a cooked carrot which changes the whole of the body. This goes for everything else too.
➤ Optimal gut health is essential for health recovery. Do what is needed to ensure optimal digestion and intestinal health. Avoid intolerances. Eat foods your body tells you are helpful and “healing” – don’t rely on best foods or so called expert food lists). Make sure you have complete and regular stool elimination and improve your diet or include fiber supplements, intestinal flushes once a week, retention enemas or colon hydro therapy if needed.
➤ Support both your weak AND strong body systems. Strong systems work overtime to compensate for the weak systems and the strong systems need as much support as the malfunctioning systems. A strong system may become stronger from the challenge OR it may be the next system to fall into disrepair and failure.
Below is the list of the sulfur methyl donor options along with some basic information – I opted not to share my own experiences because I don’t want my experiences to cloud or influence your decisions.
Amino Acid Methyl Donors (methyl donors that are proteins)
Glutathione, Cysteine (NAC), Methionine (L-Methionine, SAMe), Taurine and Glycine should be taken on an empty stomach or with non-protein containing foods such as fruit or vegetables. Taking amino acid methyl donors with protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, protein powders, beans or grains) may alter and/or negate the benefits from possible protein reallocation and competition. A lot of individuals give strict instructions that methyl donors MUST be taken on an empty stomach. I don’t agree. A light digestive process with a fruit or vegetable places the body in a different state of body function (digestive juices, chemistry and hormones) and that slightly altered state may be EXACTLY what your body needs and prefers for best outcomes.
Your goal is health recovery. One-size-fits-all approaches are “easy” and “simple”, but they discredit the uniqueness of each person’s body and its individual needs for healing to happen. When the body is having problems is when it requires the most help and has the most to say. This article offers more information – “Your Body has a Voice. Are you Listening?”
A phenomenal reference book that highlights the uses, benefits and drawbacks of each amino acid is THE HEALING NUTRIENTS WITHIN by Dr Eric Braverman.
Methionine – Methionine is an essential amino acid (one your body cannot make on its own), contains the highest level of sulfur compared to other amino acids, and is also a methyl donor.
“The absorption and availability of the essential elements zinc and selenium depend on methionine” (Page 16 Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Body chemistry and Nutrition). Selenomethionine is a selenium paired with a methionine. Taking methionine with B6 may reduce the risk of elevating body homocysteine levels which would cause undesirable symptoms that are best avoided.
SAMe is the S form of Methionine and “bio available” which means the body doesn’t need to do anything to it to use it. Keep in mind that “bio available” is a different “form” of Methionine, does not mean it will work better for your body. Let your body tell you.
L-Methionine is the L form of Methionine and is a less expensive alternative to SAMe and produces similar results for many people. Taking a combination of both SAMe and L-Methionine may be an improvement over taking one or the other exclusively. You would have to test it to see.
Actions – Anti-depressant (proven to be as effective as drugs Anafranil and Elavil), lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides, speeds wound healing, promotes detoxification, aids against the harmful effects of radiation, relieves pain from ailing gallbladders, helps control Parkinson’s disease by stimulating dopamine production, helps relieve heroin addiction, relieves pain, necessary for healthy folate levels, prevents and treats hair, skin and nail disorders, cancer prevention, may protect urinary tract from infection and vaginal cavity from warts.
Glutathione – Virtually every animal and plant cell contain glutathione. Glutathione depends on B vitamins (pyridoxine, riboflavin and folic acid) and vitamin E. Selenium, zinc, magnesium and vanadium may enhance glutathione synthesis for certain conditions.
Actions – intracellular antioxidant, detoxifies poisonous chemicals, essential to immune function, promotes red blood cell integrity, neurotransmitter, oxygen transporter, anti-tumor responder, helps alcoholism/cataracts/drug overdose/emotional disorders/stroke injury/ulcers/radiation prevention/Parkinson’s, protects liver and lungs again harzardous environmental exposures, provides resources to white blood cells to destroy invading microorganisms and kill cancer cells. When combined with selenium glutathione forms enzyme systems that defend the body against cancer causing free radicals and oxidative stress.
Update on Glutathione December 2018
In the last 6 months there has been a surge of glutathione available on the market and the prices went down by 30-40%. I decided to “save” myself some money and bought a bottle. It had the same exact ingredient identification. By the end of the first time I tried it I looked 6 months pregnant (bloated) and felt horrible. I wasn’t sure if my body was responding to a intense exposure or if it was the “new” glutathione. When what happened calmed I tried the glutathione again to figure what my body had responded it and discovered the glutathione produce was to blame 100%. I returned it because I feel if enough people return “bad product” then the company will fix or stop selling it. I tried another of these USA brand glutathione products with the same ingredient identification as the one I was using and had the same problem. I returned to the consistently reliable brand I had used without any problems. Had I been a chemist I would have done some tests to determine what exactly they were claiming was Glutathione. I share this as a heads up about glutathione, but also as a story worth remembering for any products you may use.
Cysteine or N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – Sulfur rich, works synergistically with vitamin C and is considered a precursor to glutathione. If your body responds favorable to cysteine then try NAC (or vice versa). One, the other, or a combination of both may produce the best results.
Actions – Builds immune system, helps control diabetes, speeds wound healing, promotes detoxification, resists effects of radiation, antioxidant, destroys free radicals, removes excess copper, enhances general metabolism, may reverse hair loss and promote healthier hair, benefits angina and coronary artery disease, strong antidote for arsenic poisoning, photo sensitivity, ulcers, aids those with kidney stones (may cause kidney stones for others), alleviates lung disorders (bronchitis, asthma, emphysema), reduces risks associated with cancer treatment
Taurine – Essential for normal infant and child growth and development. It is found in high levels throughout the body and most concentrated in the central nervous system (CNS).
Actions – Balances electrolytes, alleviates and may reverse conditions related to the heart, eye, metabolic, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, mitral valve prolapse, seizures/epilepsy, high blood pressure, ulcers and gallbladder function, stimulates the immune system, relieves morphine withdrawal, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, promotes detoxification, helps resist the effects of radiation, reduces blood pressure, calms aggressiveness, relieves ailing gallbladders.
**Taurine is very important to the proper development of newborns – for the full excerpt see page 134 of the book – The Healing Nutrients Within by Braverman.
Glycine is not a sulfur, but is an important element for detoxification for certain people
Glycine is in high concentration in the skin and connective tissue. May improve insulin use and blood sugar levels for certain people. Other forms of glycine include Dimethylglycine (DMG) and Trimethylglycine (TMG).
Actions – maintains central nervous system, calms the body (by inhibiting certain neurotransmitters), used for benign prostatic hypertrophy, seizures/epilepsy, gout, growth hormone stimulant, hypothermia, kidney disease, bipolar disorder, metabolic disorders, spastic muscle, myasthenia, builds immune system, lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides, release growth hormone/prolactin and other hormones, speeds wound healing, promotes detoxification, helps resist effects of radiation, prevents insomnia,
Other types of sulfurs and methyl donors
Actions – Helps with joint pain & healing, allergies and gut health.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Actions – antioxidant (may slow aging), repairs liver damage, reduces the risk of cancer/heart disease/stroke/blood vessel disease, improves and may reverse certain symptoms and conditions associated with diabetes, crosses the blood brain barrier for detoxification, has been demonstrated to increase the production of and recycling of glutathione
For more detailed information about Alpha Lipoic acid please see the book The Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough by Dr Burt Berkson.
Vitamin C is a strong healing and chelating agent (but is not a sulfur nor methyl donor). Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Disease and Toxins by Dr Thomas E. Levy is a good book about vitamin C. Your options for getting vitamin C include:
♦ Intravenous vitamin C drips (a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) blood test will indicate if your body can tolerate IV Vitamin C)
♦ Oral ingestion. Water soluble options include ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate and natural sources such as acerola cherry. Fat soluble option includes ascorbyl palmitate. These available in powders, tablets, chewables, capsules and solution (liquid or liposomal). Your body may only tolerate one type.
Sulfur and Methyl Supplements: Methyl forms such as methylfolate (folic acid), methylcobalamine (B12 – necessary for methyl enzyme and increasing folate intake to increase methylation), L-Se-methylselenocysteine (methyl form of selenium) and hesperidin methyl chalcone, Biotin and Thiamine (B1) contain sulfur.
Relatively New Probiotic Supplement
Reg’Activ is the name of a new product on the market with three variations (Cardio Wellness, Immune & Vitality, Detox and Liver Health) that contains Lactobacillus Fermentum ME-3 that is purported to produce glutathione.
Foods, Herbs and More
Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, onions, garlic, dry beans, turnips, kale, eggs all contain natural food source sulfurs. Eat those which help your body function better, avoid those that cause upset.
Coffee has many methyl groups, helps some people focus and has a powerful ability for releasing metals into the blood stream. It is known to mobilize lead from the tissues and bone. Used wisely, deliberately and consciously, coffee (must be organic) can be a powerful ally for detoxification. What about only drinking coffee only on days you are using medical chelators? Maybe avoiding coffee altogether is crucial? Pay attention not only to body function but emotional and mental states when you drink coffee and the days that follow. Three or more cups of coffee is the approximate quantity at which heavy metals show up in milk from breastfeeding moms. If I were breastfeeding I would pay extremely close attention to my baby’s body function, emotional states, development and their ability to sleep and adjust accordingly.
Horsetail and milk thistle contain methyl donors. Milk thistle has the additional benefit of repairing liver damage (cirrhosis or alcohol created damage). Sounds great, but as I say something is a miracle for one but disastrous for another – a friend of mine suffered macular degeneration as a result of taking Milk Thistle. Cinnamon has a methyl component and activates insulin cell receptors. Ritalin has a lot of methyl donors. Is that why Ritalin helps with ADD? Or would it be better to find out if the root cause of the ADD is heavy metal toxicity?
Be curious. Give your body options. Listen to its responses. Play around with those aspects that are producing desirable outcomes, such as trying another variation of the same, a different brand, dose, frequency or timing. Be willing to move things around. Make adjustments. A simple shift can make a BIG difference for your body and healing.
With as much research and study as I have done over the years at some point I came to understand that it really didn’t matter what intellectual information I knew. What mattered was how the body was responding. Was it working better? Were emotions more balanced? Were thoughts and mental ramblings more peaceful? How did my night dreams change? Another thing I came to understand: I don’t have to know WHY my body is responding as it is, I just have to honor it. My healing and health recovery changed when I came to respect and trust my body’s guidance while agreeing to be its Sherpa. My body did more for me than I would ever be able to do for it.
You live in your body 24/7 and are its expert and need to be its advocate. Pay attention to what your unique body is sharing. Leave no stone unturned. It is not possible to have tried “everything”. You will never be able to exhaust your options for solutions.
My articles are written from a very objective neutral position to honor all the directions and choices available since each person’s body, lifestyle and situation are so vastly unique and different. If my big picture approach is more than you want to chew on, then call me, and we can work together. I provide personalized direction when working with people, because with the client comes their expertise about their history, body and evolving situation.