Archive for the ‘heavy metal poisoning’ Category


What is IV Chelation?

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

As an integrated medical clinic we are often asked about IV Chelation in support of elimination of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic).

What it is:

Chelation is a chemical process in which a substance is used to bind molecules, such as metals or minerals, and hold them tightly so that they can be removed from a system, such as the body. In medicine, chelation has been scientifically proven to rid the body of excess or toxic metals.

For example, a person who has lead poisoning may be given chelation therapy in order to bind and remove lead from the body before it can cause damage.

How does it work?

In the case of EDTA chelation therapy, the substance that binds and removes metals and minerals are the salts of EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid), a synthetic, or man-made, amino acid that is delivered intravenously (through the veins).

EDTA was first used in the 1950s for the treatment of heavy metal poisoning. Calcium disodium EDTA chelation removes heavy metals and minerals from the blood, such as lead, iron, copper, and calcium, and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in treating lead poisoning and toxicity from other heavy metals.

If you or someone you know may benefit from IV Chelation, please call to schedule an appointment 503-287-4970

If you are currently under the care of a medical provider and think IV Chelation may be of benefit, we accept referrals. Please contact Nature Cures Clinic for more information.


National Institute of Health:

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Portland Lead Crisis: Lead in our children’s water, what now?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

With the revelations about Portland Public Schools lead contamination, we are fielding fevered calls from parents concerned about what they do now that their children have been exposed to lead.

In brief these are the steps we take for lead exposure in children, as recommended by the CDC:

  • Find and eliminate the source of lead.
  • Find a healthcare provider knowledgeable about lead exposure. The diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic lead exposure is a focus of providers who specialize in chelation therapies. These providers are often integrated health care providers, ACAM providers, naturopathic providers, medical care providers with expertise in toxicology. However, often toxicologists focus on extremely high levels of blood lead, but have less experience with lower levels, which may still have adverse health effects.
  • Have blood testing to assess for levels of lead in you or your child. This should not be done with a finger prick, but rather with a true venous blood draw.
  • Evaluate blood lead levels, if there has been a known chronic or long-term exposure without correspondingly high blood levels, the Mayo Clinic recommendation is urine testing pre and post chelation to see if lead has been stored in the bones. Rarely, radiographic imagining is also used to assess for this.
  • Depending on the blood lead levels, initiate therapy to eliminate the body’s lead burden. This should ONLY be undertaken with a skilled medical care provider trained in chelation therapy. At Nature Cures Clinic, our providers have fifteen years training and experience with both oral and IV chelation.
  • Begin dietary & nutritional support to aid with recovery. This should be under the direct supervision of a medical care provider who understands the chelation process, ideally the provider overseeing chelation will formulate a long-term recovery plan with you.

As parents in the Portland Public School district, all of the providers at Nature Cures Clinic understand and share the deep concern about the lead exposure to our communities children.

Please check out our more in depth article on lead exposure here.

In response to this crisis, please contact us at Nature Cures Clinic 503-287-4970 for more information or set up a complimentary visit to meet with our providers and see how we can assist you and your family.

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Lead in our drinking water: what are the risks and what do I do now?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Lead in our drinking water is all over the news; from Flint, Michigan to Portland,OR Public Schools!

It can be easily overwhelming worrying about the risks of lead exposure, knowing where to find “good” information on recognizing the symptoms and- perhaps most important of all- knowing what to do about the exposure you are at risk for.

As an integrative medical clinic, we are familiar with the treatment of elevated blood lead levels and are dedicated to providing patients the latest standard medical, naturopathic and chinese medicine available. Our providers understand the importance of environmental medicine and recently returned from an international conference devoted to heavy metal (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic) exposure.

Given the recent concerns of our community over chronic heavy metal exposures, we are offering this overview of the risks of lead exposure, symptoms, testing and treatment options. If you have not been lead (or heavy metal) tested, have further questions, or would like to be seen, please contact us at 503-287-4970.


There are many studies linking adverse health findings with even the lowest levels of lead exposure. The most common adverse effects are in children (or adults) who have had long-term (not necessarily high levels of) lead exposure. These effects include changes in intellectual function, associated drop of IQ points, increased risk of attentional deficit and hyperactivity disorder (2012- PMID: 23008274), hearing loss (2012- PMID: 22851306) and balance issues (2012- PMID: 22214670). Even low level environmental lead exposure has been associated with subclinical decreases in neurocognitive function in young children, as well as elevated blood pressure in adults.


Symptoms of lead exposure can be difficult to identify, and are often initially missed (as lead exposure) due to their vague and frequently seen nature. These can include abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, decreased growth in height (children), delayed sexual maturation (children), increased dental cavities(children), and impaired neurologic development -behavioral changes, mental impairment, seizures, coma (Lead poisoning in Children. American Family Physician. 2010). Some reported acute symptoms of lead exposure have included headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, severe itching, weight loss, fatigue, irritability, poor cognition, ‘brain fuzziness’ or feeling ‘mentally clouded’, as well as weakness.

A 2015 study of lead poisoning in South Africa (2015-PMID: 2618425) showed individuals exposed to lead with persistant headaches, fatigue, arthralgia and myalgias, abdominal pains and mood swings two years after primary exposure.


One of the concerning issues with lead (and other heavy metals), is that while medicine has identified levels of ‘concern’ found in blood (linked to long-term effects), the known exposure threshold for the effects of lead has not yet been identified (National Research Council, 1993).

What we do know is the CDC, in 1991, established 10 ug/dL as a blood lead level concentration of ‘concern’ for children. While this value gives us a starting place, medicine & environmental science remain unclear as to what threshold of exposure is linked to negative effects. Per the American Family Physician March, 2010 article on lead poisoning in children, “Even blood lead levels lower than 10 μg per dL can affect cognitive development.”

The truth is ,none of us in medicine fully know what the ‘safe’ exposure level (if any) is. We can not give guidance on outcome or risk of effect if it is below 10 ug/dL, although it is generally agreed upon that blood levels above 10ug/dL, require intervention and that childhood and/or chronic lead exposure poses the greatest risk.

Getting Tested:

For Recent or ongoing lead exposure: Lead testing –both screening and diagnostic- should be done through blood (serum) testing for lead. This is done via standard blood draw and processed through standard labs and your insurance plan (all plans vary, contact yours to determine cost). We do these tests at our clinic, but they are also available any location that has a CLIA certified blood-draw center.

For high or chronic past exposure: For individuals with high or chronic past exposure, blood lead levels often under-represent the total body burden because most lead is stored in the bone. This may make it appear as if the individual has “normal” levels in the blood. One exception to this are patients with a high body burden who are also under physiological stressful circumstances. In these cases blood lead levels may be elevated from the release of lead stored in bones.

24hr Urine Lead testing: Blood lead is the best clinical correlate of toxicity, however as indicated above, lead stored in bone is difficult to detect. This method of testing is recommended for individuals who have had either A) high blood lead levels and are seeking chelation treatment or B) individuals who have had high or chronic past exposure. Per Mayo Clinic, “Measurement of urine lead excretion rate before AND after chelation therapy has been used as an indicator of lead exposure”

(Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboritories 2016). This test requires collection of 24 hr urine. It often requires processing at speciality labs which may or may not be covered by insurance.

Tests not recommended:

Finger-stick/capillary testing are easily contaminated. If you or your child has had a finger stick lead screening, elevated blood lead results should be considered presumptive and must be confirmed using venous blood –as in a standard blood draw (see above). (CDC, Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children, 1991., CDC: Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Environmental Health and Medicine Education: Lead Toxicity, what tests can Assist with diagnosis of lead toxicity?, 2012).

Not recommended as screening in children: Erythrocyte protoporphyrin (EP), commonly assayed as zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP), was previously considered the best test for screening for asymptomatic children. However, it is not sufficiently sensitive at lower blood lead levels and is not as useful a screening test for lead exposure as previously thought (CDC: Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Environmental Health and Medicine Education: Lead Toxicity, what tests can Assist with diagnosis of lead toxicity?, 2012).

Treatment of lead exposure:

The CDC recommended initial treatment for blood lead levels less than 14ul/dL is identification and removal of the lead source, accompanied by dietary and environmental support. While this is based off of the CDC’s level of 10ul/dL as the threshold after which increased health concerns are prevelant, there is little evidence to support this arbitrary value as the ‘starting place’ of concern and the American Family Physician in March 15, 2010 issue entitled Lead Poisoning in Children states:

“For children with a blood lead level of less than 10 μg/dL, providing basic    nutritional and environmental education to parents may be of benefit,       although the true effectiveness is unknown. Identifying and treating iron      deficiency are important in decreasing a child’s vulnerability to lead. The     ultimate goal is to maintain the child’s blood lead level as low as possible       because of evidence that levels of less than 10 μg/dL still pose a risk of    damage to the child’s neurologic development.”

Once blood lead levels (or urine levels) have been identified, Chelation therapy is the treatment recommended by the CDC. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta, Ga.: CDC; March 2002).

At Nature Cures Clinic, we have experienced providers who are trained and certified to perform both IV and oral chelation therapy, having 15 years experience and longtime membership to a premier organization of integrated medical providers: ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine).

Getting Started:

Prior to initiation of chelation, base blood lead levels (or other heavy metal testing), a complete blood count; reticulocyte count; urinalysis; and testing of electrolytes, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and liver function is performed along with a complete physical exam. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta, Ga.: CDC; March 2002).

Close monitoring during and after the chelation process is essential with follow up serial blood (or urine) testing.

In light of recent happenings in the Portland metro area, lead (& heavy metal toxicity) is a real concern with tangible risks. We have been told there is lead in our children’s water; our air & backyard moss is tainted with arsenic, cadmium, and lead; we have high levels of diesel exhaust linked to negative health consequences…it’s enough to overwhelm anyone. Nature Cures Clinic is here to offer you tangible information, hope and optimism that even with the exposures our community has suffered through, there is hope for treatment.

Give us a call today: 503-287-4970



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