We welcome part two of Dr. Brian Halvorsen’s article in which he continues on from his first submission- in that he described the issues of dentistry, aging and health, specifically the problems associated with the accumulation of heavy metals such as mercury. Here in part two he offers his constructive advice on how to remove those metals, advice based on many years of helping his own patients overcome their personal health issues.
In westernised societies our life expectancy has been extending for the last 50 years, however if we examine the quality of life as we grow older, it becomes apparent that all is not well. For example, 50% of the North American population over the age of 80 have clinical Alzheimer’s, and this figure does not include all the other neuro-degenerative diseases such as dementias and Parkinson’s etc!
A hundred years ago the elderly were revered for their accumulative wisdom, especially in a community or tribal environment, not so today. For the older we get, the greater the body burden becomes. This combined with an aging (declining) immune system means we are less able to cope. I sincerely believe that a major causative factor in this age degeneration is the accumulation of toxic metals in our bodies, particularly mercury and lead which are both powerful neurotoxins.
‘Modern man’ has been exposed to these toxic elements for many years, [Ed.- evidence exists that we have 1000 times the lead levels of our pre-industrialized relatives]. So it is not surprising that we are seeing so many negative health effects on our ageing population.
Within the dental profession the ‘amalgam’ debate has raged for more than 150 years. However, there can be no arguments that in an increasingly toxic environment, any increase of mercury from amalgam fillings (50% mercury, 50% silver) will add to the body burden. A body burden can be defined as how much the immune system has to work to maintain health at a cellular level (e.g. homeostasis).
Many toxins that we ingest remain in the body for a comparatively short time. However this is not the case with heavy metals such as mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) because they are retained for lengthy periods- sometimes indefinitely. For example, mercury has a 20 year half life in the brain. This is because large areas of the brain have little blood supply. The circulatory system is the main physiological mechanism for the body to carry heavy metals to sites where they can be excreted. This is a similar situation with lead. Lead besides the brain, tends to accumulate in the bones of the body. Again these sites have a poor blood supply compared to organs such as heart, liver and kidneys.
Sadly, mercury is extremely toxic to nerve tissues and my personal opinion is that this situation is grossly unfair! Mercury can be easily absorbed and assimilated into our bodies relatively easily but alas it is difficult to remove. My analogy is it is like having your best white suit splashed with dirty grease, it’s easy to do, but not easy to clean. Just washing with water will not suffice, so specialised cleaning agents are required which will chelate the grease and free it from the cloth. I will discuss later both nutritional and supplemental ways to chelate mercury and lead from the body, so it’s not all bad news!
Aging and Mercury
If you have amalgam fillings the level of mercury in your body will increase with age, but there are other sources of mercury including fish and seafood which will increase your body burdens; (please see my first article for more details Click here).
There are numerous studies that identify symptoms of micro-mercurism varying widely from mental confusion, short term memory loss, ‘brain fog,’ tiredness, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalances, speech disorders, insomnia and neuro degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. All of these are associated with age related declining mental health, so as mercury is a very powerful neurotoxin, could this be why aging is associated with declining mental capabilities? For sure, pathological links between mercury and Alzheimer’s have been clearly demonstrated by scientists such as Boyd-Hayley.
Terrible dementias such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s put a massive strain not only on the sufferer and their family and friends, but also on general society. Yet much of this could be preventable and I would like to outline some measures that will help minimise the likelihood of the onset of these diseases.
Modern society creates 4 basic stresses. These can be broadly summarised:
Environmental: In the form of ingested, airborne and waterborne pollution.
Physical: A lack of exercise reduces the excretion of toxins via sweat etc.
Psychological: Negative stress has been shown to chemically damage brain cells and make the individual more liable to diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Nutritional: Poor nutrition inhibits repair mechanisms, but there are substances we can ingest that help to eradicate toxins.
All of the above are interrelated. Trying to do any in isolation is not advantageous, e.g. trying to think positively when your brain is poisoned is stressful. Having a sporty lifestyle but eating junk food or living in an industrialised city, or near freeways etc., all exacerbate the factors leading to increase of toxins in the body.
The corner stone to any health issues is sound nutrition- we all know the saying- ‘you are what you eat.’ But what many people don’t know is that by targeting food which have antioxidant and chelating properties that heavy metals can be proactively reduced from the body. You can see from figure 1 the dietary, nutrient and general health recommendations that I offer to my patients and my colleagues (i.e. fellow dentists who after all are in a uniquely toxic situation due to their occupation).
The advice given by Dr. Brian Halvorsen to his patients to improve their diet and reduce their intake of toxins/ heavy metals:
Eat organically grown produce wherever possible in order to avoid consuming mercury through fungicides and pesticides.
Avoid eating large amounts of tuna and swordfish which may contain unacceptable levels of mercury. Instead stick mainly to deep-water fish such as cod, haddock and sole. For omega fatty acids consume the smaller oily fish such as sardines and mackerel.
The 2 tips above are designed to help limit the daily intake of mercury.
Eat at least 5 portions of organic fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Choose a variety of colors for their antioxidant pigments and carotenoids.
Consume plenty of vegetables from the Brassica family, e.g. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages etc. These foods increase the activity of the phase-II glutathione-S-transferase system which helps detoxify heavy metals.
Eat plenty of foods containing soluble fiber, particularly pectin, which binds to toxins and draws them from the body. Good fiber foods include natural grains, brown rice, oatmeal, millet, corn and flax seeds; note that these also contain good levels of B vitamins which act as cofactors for liver enzyme systems.
Do not consume refined sugars which drive mercury into the cell rather than allowing it to exit the body through its natural route- the bowel. Eat fresh fruit instead.
Drink less beer, spirits and white wine. Red wines contain potent antioxidants so the occasional glass is acceptable but remember that alcohol inhibits the natural detoxification pathways in the body.
Consume members of the onion and garlic family regularly. These vegetables are rich in sulfur compounds to increase liver sulfation, which is used to back up the glutathione detox system.
Eat lots of selenium rich foods (seeds and nuts- particularly walnuts) because selenium is required to bind to mercury and inactivate it.
The 7 tips above can help regulate phase I and II enzyme activity levels, responsible for mercury removal and to help support healthy liver enzyme activity.
Reduce the intake of hydrogenated fats that are often found in margarine, cookies and sweet snacks. Instead eat plenty of polyunsaturated fats found in borage seeds, olive oil, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, grape seeds, sesame seeds and avocados. Also cut down the consumption of saturated fats, e.g. those found in sausages, burgers and tinned meats. Plus avoid “trans” fats- those found in crisps, chips and food fried in polyunsaturated fats.
Avoid artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.
Avoid caffeine- it is a potent diuretic.
Stop smoking and avoid smoky atmospheres.
Avoid polluted regions.
Drink plenty of hydrating fluids, e.g. spring, mineral or filtered water and herbal teas.
These last 6 tips will reduce the total load on the liver, paramount to allow maximum detoxification of mercury to take place
NB: Modifications can be made to this program to suit the individual- to achieve the maximum benefit most people will benefit from the advice of a well-trained nutritional therapist.
I believe the toxicity of mercury and lead makes heavy metals the body’s number 1 enemy. When combined, lead makes mercury a hundred times more toxic. So we cannot only be interested in mercury detoxification but other heavy metals such as lead too. So whilst the correct organic diet/ lifestyle goes a long way to help prevent long-term disease processes from occurring, I sincerely believe that a proactive detoxification and chelation supplement program is essential for anyone who has had amalgam fillings.
Where do we draw the line? It’s not that long ago when gasoline was leaded so most of us have already been exposed to that. Who has had inoculations, vaccines or eye drops containing the preservative Thimerosal? (This is essentially mercury). As our nest becomes more and more poisoned there are many of the opinion that a detox and chelation program is for everyone (sic).
As for myself, I have taken supplements for over 20 years in order to try to protect myself from excess mercury exposure, (an occupational hazard as a dentist). I believe my well researched methods have been partially successful, but now having met Dr. Garry Gordon I have followed his advice and tried his specially formulated Chelation Improved (BCI) system with startling results. Furthermore, many of my ‘mercury patients’ have also noticed big improvements in their mental and physical well being on this program.
The BCI program is essentially a 3 part system.
The Beyond Chelation Improved has all the synergistic supplements included to make it idiot proof, i.e. each daily sachet contains 9 pills, each of which provide a comprehensive and balanced nutrition which is needed to biochemically compliment the active chelators, i.e. EDTA and allicin- which are also included.
Beyond C is a pure L-ascorbic acid which is also combined with anti-inflammatory MSM, energy enhancing ribose and homocysteine lowering betaine. Beyond C carries the chelated toxins to the sites for elimination from the body- which are primarily through the kidneys and the lower bowel.
Beyond Fiber. As heavy metals are mainly excreted through the large intestine, if the lower bowel is sluggish or does not contain enough fiber to absorb the diffusion through the gut wall- then the toxins and toxic metals can be reabsorbed and re-circulated elsewhere in the body. Beyond Fiber consists of rice husk bran, EDTA and Jerusalem artichoke. From my personal experience Beyond Fiber has been instrumental in improving all aspects of my personal health, both mentally and physically. We have added it to this program to ensure that all the mercury unbound from cells is then excreted out through the gut.
A useful 4th edition is the Beyond Clean EDTA bath salts. These help to remove heavy metals from the skin and are particularly useful after intense exercise or a sauna to trap and remove the toxins from the skin. Plus this is the easiest approach, after all everyone enjoys a soak in the tub and the salts are simply added to the water beforehand.
For my patients who are in a higher risk category I also use a potent selenium and DMSA product called Heavy Detox which is swallowed before bedtime on an empty stomach and EZ Defense gum which are simply chewed after each meal before being thrown away.
Fundamentally what I can report is that every one of my colleagues and my patients who have used the simple 3-part BCI system has reported an improvement in their physical and mental energy, as well as a significant loss of weight.
To give you some examples, here are some of the comments I have received:
“Within days of being on the program I feel better, with more energy- and my lethargy has gone. What’s in this stuff? I can’t believe these improvements could happen in such a short time.” AC
“This is the best combination of supplements I’ve ever used, after several weeks my friends and family have been commentating on my healthy appearance and indeed performance!” APM
Even my accountant is on my program. He phoned me a week later and I thought he wanted to discuss my books, but instead he wanted to thank me for getting him onto the program because he too was “feeling like a million Dollars” (his words).
I want to say that I so believe in the chelation program that I am committed to writing my new book; the heavy metal diet. I wouldn’t have considered this challenging feat a few years ago, but since adopting this program-I too have far more energy and focus, not only to perform in my practice but also for enjoying my life.
[Ed.- Thank you Dr. Halvorsen for your enthusiasm and your commitment to spreading the word about body burdens. Let us remember that no matter what we are “into” whether that is exercise, nutrition, bioidentical hormones or even stem cell therapy, everything works better after detoxification and chelation].