(NaturalNews) Abundant, durable, malleable, resistant to corrosion: No wonder lead has been such a popular metal throughout human history. Ancient Romans found a multitude of uses for it, from lining water pipes and drinking vessels to sweetening wine. What they didn't realize were the detrimental health effects of this metal. It is now believed that lead poisoning was responsible for the bizarre behavior, mental incompetence, gout, stillbirths, and sterility that afflicted the Roman aristocracy- and quite possibly contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire.
Fast forward to 1921, when General Motors engineer Thomas Midgley, Jr., came up with another use for lead. As a gasoline additive, it reduced engine knock and improved performance. Of course, it was known to be toxic. Thomas Midgley himself was plagued with a "mysterious illness" while experimenting with it and, in 1924, 15 refinery workers died and 300 more became severely psychotic as a result of working with leaded gasoline.
But that didn't matter. Thanks to corporate greed and government complicity, lead's well-documented adverse effects were ignored, and for more than 60 years this potent toxin spewed into our environment. Leaded gas was finally phased out in 1986, and air levels of lead dropped dramatically. But even today, 20 years later, 7 million tons of lead remains in our soil, water, air- and bodies.
Bones Bear the Burden of Lead
More than 90 percent of your body's total burden of lead exists in your skeleton. And for those of us who grew up in the days when lead was also in paint, pipes, water tanks, cans, and a plethora of other consumer products, that's a lot of lead. In fact, we harbor a whopping 650 times more of this heavy metal in our bones than people did 100 years ago.
Lead is a neurotoxin that causes mental retardation and developmental delays in children and a multitude of cognitive problems in people of all ages. It also damages the endothelial cells lining the arteries and curbs production of nitric oxide, impairing circulation, raising blood pressure, and increasing risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney dysfunction, cancer, and premature death.
If lead would stay put in the bones, it might not be such a problem- but it doesn't. Along with other minerals, lead is released into the bloodstream and transported to tissues throughout the body. Generally, this release is slow, gradual, and unnoticed. But there are times when it picks up speed. During pregnancy, when extra calcium is needed for fetal bone development, blood lead levels rise, increasing risk of hypertension for women with high levels, and often causing low birth weight and physical and mental developmental delays for their children.
Lead is also mobilized during mid-life and old age. Women are especially vulnerable after menopause, when bone loss increases. It is estimated that blood lead levels go up 30 percent during the five years after menopause! Men also lose bone mass as they age, and the resultant increase in blood lead levels negatively affects them as well.
Chelate the Lead Out
As you can see, we all need to take steps to get the lead out, and the fastest way to do this is to undergo a course of intravenous (IV) EDTA chelation. EDTA is a synthetic amino acid that forms a tight chemical bond with lead and other minerals and carries them out of the body in the urine.
EDTA chelation has been the number one FDA-approved therapy for lead poisoning since 1948. After World War II, sailors suffering with lead toxicity acquired while painting battleships and docks with lead-based paint were treated with EDTA chelation, and their results were remarkable. Not only did these men have the expected restoration of memory, energy, vision, and hearing, but those who also had heart disease experienced unexpected improvements in angina and circulation.
That's how the broad benefits of chelation were serendipitously discovered. Astute physicians took heed and began using chelation for patients with cardiovascular disease and circulatory problems and, for a decade or so, its popularity mushroomed. Then the politics and economics of modern medicine intervened.
To make a long story short, this relatively inexpensive, office-based therapy had no chance against the Goliaths of cardiology (surgery and drugs). Chelation became embroiled in controversy, where it remains to this day. But a few thousand physicians refused to give up on it. I've been using EDTA chelation in my clinic for about 20 years, and I've seen it eliminate angina, improve exercise tolerance, lower blood pressure, increase circulation, and save limbs on the verge of amputation. The following story, from subscriber William Tessier from Cotuit, MA, is a perfect example.
"Chelation Saved My Life"
"Fourteen years ago, my doctor told me I needed angioplasty, and if I didn't have it, I wouldn't live more than two years. Something told me that I should not do it, so I lived with angina and blocked arteries, along with asthma, for the next 12 years. I was overweight, could not walk any distance without getting out of breath, and regularly experienced uncomfortable chest pain. I was taking 11 different drugs for all of my health problems."
"Through those years I had to care for a very sick wife who passed away over five years ago. I met a friend three years ago whom I had not seen for quite some time. She told me about vitamins, nutrition, and chelation therapy, which she learned about from your newsletter."
"After undergoing chelation treatment, exercising, and eating a low-fat diet, I am a new person. People cannot get over the change in me; some don't recognize me at all. I lost 80 pounds, my asthma is now a thing of the past, and my arteries are fine. I can walk greater distances and spend nearly an hour a day on a treadmill and other exercise machines. I am also rid of all those killer drugs."
"By the way, before I started chelation, I brought the information to my doctor, who had put me on all those drugs. He said, "You will be wasting your money." He is now retired from his practice because of heart-related problems. Chelation saved my life. I am 78 years old and the friend that I met up with is now my lovely wife. I thank God that she receives Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing newsletter."
What About Oral Chelation?
I am often asked if oral chelation is the same as IV chelation. Yes and no. All chelating agents bind to minerals and move them out of the body. However, no one can convince me that oral chelators have the same effect as IV chelation.
This doesn't mean I don't recommend oral chelation. Although giant strides have been made in eliminating lead, it lingers in our environment. Even if you scrupulously avoid all known sources of exposure, you still have to contend with the lead that's stored in, and being released from, your bones. And lead is only one of many environmental toxins out there. Therefore, I support any and all efforts to chip away at the body's toxic burden.
What is the best oral chelator? Vitamin C is surprisingly good. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco looked at blood levels of lead and ascorbic acid and found that children and adults with the highest levels of ascorbic acid were 89 and 65 percent, respectively, less likely to have elevated blood lead levels.
Other chelators are as close as your kitchen. Phytic acid (also called inositol hexaphosphate or IP6), which is found in the hulls of fiber-rich nuts, seeds, and grains, removes toxins from the intestinal tract. Garlic and cilantro are also natural chelators. In addition to eating more of these healthful foods, look for them in concentrated supplement form.
I've also been researching PectaSol Chelation Complex. It contains modified citrus pectin, a type of fiber derived from citrus pulp, along with natural chelators in seaweed called alginates, and has been shown to effectively remove a wide range of heavy metals. Other helpful supplements include N-acetyl-cysteine, zeolite, and, of course, EDTA.
*Although I most often recommend IV chelation for patients with heart disease or circulation problems, I believe it provides benefits for most everyone over age 50. *EDTA chelation is administered in a doctor's office via a 90-minute to three-hour IV infusion once or twice a week for a total of 25 to 30 treatments. To find a doctor in your area who administers this treatment, visit acam.org. For more information on receiving chelation therapy at Whitaker Wellness, call (800) 488-1500. *Look for oral chelation products in your health food store and take as directed. PectaSol Chelation Complex can be ordered by calling (800) 308-5518.
Reference Simon JA and Hudes ES. Relationship of ascorbic acid to blood lead levels. JAMA. 1999 Jun 23-30;281(24):2289-2293.
Reprinted from Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. For information on subscribing to this newsletter, visit www.drwhitaker.com or call (800) 539-8219.
About the author
Reprinted from Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. For information on subscribing to this newsletter, visit www.drwhitaker.com or call (800) 539-8219. About the Author Julian Whitaker, MD, is the author of Health & Healing, a monthly newsletter that has reached millions of readers since 1991. He has also written 13 books and hosts The Dr. Whitaker Show, a popular radio program. In 1979, Dr. Whitaker founded the Whitaker Wellness Institute. Today, it is the largest alternative medicine clinic in the United States. To learn more, visit www.whitakerwellness.com or call (800) 488-1500.