Chelation Chronicles – 1H 2021
This blog post is focused on my chronic health issues. The series was initially focused on learning to detox heavy metals using the Andy Cutler Chelation (ACC) protocol, which I have been using to detox from mercury, lead, and silver poisoning. You can read about how I found ACC and chose to pursue it in this post. This is the fifth such Chelation Chronicles post, where I am regularly documenting the ups and downs I’m experiencing. You can read the first, second, third, and fourth posts, too, if you like. There are also a couple of off-cycle posts, one about celebrating 100 rounds of chelation, and another about comparing three (annual) hair tests.
Unfortunately, it’s been a very difficult year since last wrote about my health journey; as the world has contended with the pandemic, my health has deteriorated even further.
In early 2020 I was feeling so hopeful about the progress I had made, but a little discouraged about the weight gain from chelation. In February 2020 I started a ketogenic diet, in April I celebrated Round 100, and in May I completed my third hair test and analysis of my progress based on that. At the end of 2020, I had completed 144 round-equivalents, 51of those rounds included DMSA.
But by June 2020 (which I was writing my previous Chelation Chronicles post), my health had taken a major nose dive. I’ve spent the last year trying to make sense of what happened and how to stabilize things again. This year I have only completed nine rounds of chelation (six with DMSA). I’m not even sure I should call this post ‘chelation chronicles’; I’ve gone from being hopeful about chelation and the improvements I’ve experienced to extremely discouraged, which is perhaps why it’s been so difficult to sit down and write this post.
Part of the reason I have finally committed to site down and write is to prepare for another wave of medical appointments and lab work which I hope will help me make sense of what’s happened in the past year. Here’s a summary of what I’ve been through, and some thoughts on what might come next.
The first sign that something was awry was that my period ceased abruptly in June 2020. I had many typical symptoms of my cycle – chocolate cravings, shopping urges … plus raging headaches that were new. But no menstrual cycle. That continued through the Summer and most of the Fall, and I finally went to see a doctor in early 2021. She ran a number of lab tests, noted that most of my hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) had flat-lined, and we agreed to explore hormone replacement therapy, including estrogen, progesterone, and DHEA. We tried for a number of months, and I went from zero hormones to more than six time the top of the optimal range, and then finally stopped them completely with the exception of DHEA (which is a hormone precursor), which is now optimal. My menstrual cycle has not returned.
In the meantime, my thyroid levels were destabilized, so I also worked with my doctor to try to adjust my thyroid medications. I am on a T3-only medication, so we tried adding more T3, replacing T3 with some T4, and a variety of other failed experiments in six to eight week increments. I am now back on my former dose, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me; everything we’ve tried raises my T4 levels but suppresses thyroid function.
I am not sure what we’re going to try next. Perhaps some NDT (Natural Dessicated Thyroid) or compounded thyroid medication in doses that aren’t commercially available.
Of course hindsight is 20-20, but in retrospect, I think my health went screaming downhill starting with the ketogenic diet, and the strain that put on my adrenals. It is normal to experience some adrenal fatigue while chelating; that is why so many folks supplement with Adrenal Cortex Extract (ACE) during the chelation process. As I mentioned during my last Chelation Chronicles post, I had stopped ACE because it was making me feel worse. However, I presumed that was because my were fine. As it turns out, they are not – here is the data from my recent four-point cortisol test:
Since I started to suspect adrenals were in play, I’ve been trying to make all the adjustments I can. Dr. Isabella Wentz has an adrenal reset program and in her communication about it, she does a nice job summarizing all the major things we can do to help calm adrenals:
- Balance Blood Sugar: Stabilize your blood sugar through diet and bid farewell to blood sugar crashes.
- Rest: Discover how to get the best rest so your body can release growth hormones and start repairing itself.
- De-stress: The MOST important strategy, but the hardest to implement.
- Replenish Nutrients: Use delicious foods to nourish and support the body back to health — this is truly using food as medicine.
- Reduce Inflammation: Find out which foods cause inflammation in autoimmune conditions and how removing them can reduce symptoms.
- Build Resilience: I will share strategies to refresh your body and shift it into recovery mode. Adaptogens are one way to do this… but there are many others too.
In reviewing her list, I realized that over the past few years I have developed bad habits that have contributed to my adrenal fatigue. I used to know to not to eat anything sweet outside of meals, but I haven’t been consistent about that recently. I have been keeping crazy hours both for work and to read books. My stress at work has been extremely high in spite of a reduced work schedule, and I’m constantly dealing with inflammation for one reason or another; most recently it seems all my old food sensitivities are exacerbated, and I’ve had be increasingly strict with my food choices again.
I have started tracking my sleep with the Pillow app. I read at night before bedtime, recharge my Apple Watch while I’m doing so, and then put my watch back on at bedtime. It shows significant, consistent sleep disruption at 3 am each night, and then again at 5 am. Sleep quality is terrible, which I know without the data because I don’t wake up rested or refreshed. Somehow I need to break that cycle, because the sleep deprivation is leading to more stress and fatigue.
I don’t want to pretend to have all the answers, because I’m feeling worse now than I’ve felt in years. I reacted pretty badly to my second Covid-19 vaccine, and since then I have had lots of digestive distress, and I am finding myself super sensitive to foods again. I am gradually ratcheting back all my reintroductions and reverting to a strict Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet again. Histamine issues (coffee, chocolate, tomato sauce) seem to be the most problematic at the moment. In the past I thought it was due to overloaded detox pathways, and I believed chelation helped me, but I just can’t take the risk of chelating right now, given everything else going on.
I have been doing some research about the OAT (Ovary Adrenal Thyroid) Axis, and have come to appreciate how deeply intertwined these hormones are. The most critical one to address is adrenals; it won’t be possible to stabilize the others until they have been addressed. Yet, the road to recovery for adrenal fatigue is very slow, and I can’t imagine taking a year or two to recover my adrenals (assuming I even can) before addressing all the other issues I’m facing.
I do know that chelation is on the back burner for now; I can’t afford to compromise my adrenals any further, no matter how much I wish I could continue to progress with my detox plans. I hope to have better news to share when I post again.