Get the lead out
by Dr. Fred G. Arnold —
The Centers for Disease Control classifies lead poisoning as an environmental disease. Even though it has been known for centuries that lead has detrimental health risks, it has continued to be utilized in a variety of ways.
The ancient Romans used the term “plumbism” to describe lead poisoning. Although they were aware that lead could cause serious health problems — even madness and death — they were so fond of its diverse uses that they continued to use it but tried to minimize the health hazards it posed. What they did not realize was that the everyday low-level exposure to lead made them vulnerable to chronic lead poisoning.
In 1924, U.S. workers who engaged in producing lead as an additive to gasoline fell sick and died at several refineries. It was not until 1986 (more than 60 years later) that it was outlawed for that purpose due to its known health hazards.
Just because you seem healthy does not mean you do not have elevated levels of lead in your blood or stored in your body. Signs and symptoms usually do not present themselves until its accumulation has reached dangerous amounts. Early symptoms of lead exposure may include: persistent fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, stomach discomfort and/or constipation, reduced attention span and insomnia. Failure to treat lead poisoning in the early stages can cause long-term or permanent health damage.
In adults, lead poisoning can cause poor muscle coordination, nerve damage to the sensory organs and nerves controlling the body, peripheral neuropathy, joint and muscle pain, increased blood pressure, hearing and vision impairment, nausea, constipation, anti-social (criminal) behavior, reproductive problems and retarded fetal development, even at relatively low-exposure levels. Seizures, coma and death may occur at very high levels.
Lead is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease that includes hypertension, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, stroke and chronic kidney disease. A 1996 article in The Journal of the American Medical Association states: “Our findings suggest that long-term lead accumulation, as reflected by levels of lead in bone, may be an independent risk factor for developing hypertension in men in the general population.”
Sources of lead
Sources of lead include red/yellow glazed jugs, lead crystal, herbal medicine, paint in older homes, varnish, polishes, dirt in your garden, paint chips, jewelry (lead and cadmium), lipstick (61 percent of lipsticks contain lead), purses, storage batteries, vinyl blinds, paint sets and art supplies, and candles (burning candles with lead in their wicks can raise the concentration of lead in the air as much as 36 times the amount allowed by the EPA).
Testing for toxic metals
Testing for toxic metals such as lead can be done in a variety of ways. Blood is considered the gold standard for acute or recent exposure. However, it must be realized that, after short-term exposure, the toxic metal is then absorbed into the body and no longer elevated in the blood.
Urine is the accepted form of assessing the stored or body burden of a toxic metal. A challenge test is performed with a chelator such as ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA). After the chelation challenge test has been performed, the urine is collected for the next six hours and then analyzed for toxic metals that are stored in the body. Hair is another method of analysis; however, it is not as accurate and rarely recommended.
Regarding treatment strategies, the first is to avoid exposure — remove lead paint from your home, drink filtered water and choose herbal products tested for heavy metals. A second treatment strategy is sweating — use a sauna and exercise to remove heavy metals. A third treatment strategy is EDTA chelation therapy. Calcium EDTA chelation is FDA approved for the treatment of lead toxicity, but it should only be performed by a qualified, trained physician. Other non-FDA approved uses of EDTA chelation include the treatment of chronic heavy metal accumulation and renal insufficiency, and management of atherosclerosis.
The National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine sponsored the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) — the first large-scale, multi-center study designed to determine the safety and efficacy of disodium EDTA chelation therapy for individuals with coronary heart disease.
Results from TACT were published in the March 27, 2013, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. The TACT study has proven that chelation works. This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted over 10 years at a cost of $31 million dollars.
According to Roy Heilborn, M.D., the results of the study showed chelation plus vitamins recorded a 26 percent overall improvement. Subjects showed an 18 percent improvement in heart health; diabetic heart complications were reduced 39 percent; hospitalizations were reduced 28 percent; heart attacks and strokes were each reduced 23 percent; heart surgeries were reduced 19 percent; and death was reduced 7 percent.
Lead is one of the most toxic metals known to man and can cause a wide variety of health conditions. Although the dangers of lead have been known for centuries, it continues to be used and poses a significant health risk to children and adults. If you are experiencing health problems as listed above, you may have an elevated body burden of lead or some other heavy metal. A challenge test of EDTA is an effective way to evaluate the body’s burden of lead and other heavy metals. EDTA chelation is a proven FDA treatment to reduce toxic levels of lead and should only be performed by a trained physician.
Fred G. Arnold, N.M.D., has more than 20 years of clinical experience and specializes in pain rehabilitation services. He is a Fellow in Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine, a Fellow of American Academy of Ozonotherapy and certified in prolotherapy. He is one of the few physicians in the nation with both a naturopathic medical degree and chiropractic degree. prolotherapyphoenix.com or 602-292-2978.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 1, February/March 2015.