Chelation Chronicles – 1H 2020

This blog post is focused on my chronic health issues, specifically, learning to detox heavy metals using the Andy Cutler Chelation (ACC) protocol.  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 as I undertake detox from mercury, lead, and silver poisoning; 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.

January

2 January.   I have just a few quiet days of vacation left, and I thought I would take a few minutes to recap where I am, and what the next six months or so might look like, chelation-wise.

As I described in my last chelation chronicles blog post, I had a really good summer followed by a really rough spot last Fall and this Winter. I have been tracking chelation (of course!) and food changes, so it wasn’t hard to go back and figure out where I made changes that might have caused the downturn.

This week I’ll be doing Round 89 of chelation, which is Round 116 in round-equivalents. What do I mean by round-equivalents? I chelate four days almost every weekend, and those extras days have added up to an equivalent of 27 additional rounds. It’s been a relatively painless way to accelerate the process for me.

On the other hand, I was also trying to accelerate the lead detox, and I think I’ve learned my lesson the hard way on that! Since starting chelation in March 2018, I’ve done 43 combo rounds of ALA + DMSA. That includes my first 14 weeks of chelation with DMSA only. I’ve also done 20 rounds with DMPS, but due to the global shortage last year I haven’t used it as much – even though combo rounds are more effective.

By January 2019 I was chelating at the max dose of DMSA (25 mg), so I’ve been doing that every fourth week. Once I hit max dose of ALA in late August (I opted to go to 300 mg), I was feeling really good and decided to focus on the lead in earnest. I started using DMSA every other week, and worked my way up to 50 mg DMSA. What I didn’t count on was the delayed reaction of lead removal. I felt great on round, but in September and beyond, my stool was getting lighter and lighter, I was reacting to foods again … in other words, I was regressing.

According to the Facebook community:

Four to eight rounds of DMSA are suggested to clear the lead in extracellular space to a great degree. 95% of lead is in bones. Bones recycle on two schedules, fast recycling bone is on an 18-month cycle and slow cycling bone like bone shafts are on a decade-long cycle. So monthly rounds can be adequate after the 4-8 weeks of DMSA chelation, though some do it twice monthly for a time, then switch to monthly, and later, bimonthly can be enough. … Doing at least a round a month with DMSA for at least 2 years, then doing it bimonthly … DMSA and DMPS both boost ALA effectiveness 20-30%. ALA is not needed if lead is the only issue but usually there is some mercury to chelate.

Lead and mercury make each other feel worse. … While Amalgam Illness suggests 100 mg of DMSA as a maximum dose, with the greater restriction in availability and concomitant increase in cost, Andy has said that 50-60 mg of DMSA is enough for a maximum dose.

Since I had received some conflicting advice on my next steps, I made a post to the community, and am waiting to hear back from a couple of the admins who I think have the most experience in this area. We’ll see where that leaves me – right now I’m back to chelating with DMSA just once a month. Not sure yet about dose. Probably back down to 25 mg until things settle down for me again.

11 January. I have an update and some good news to share.

I posted a few weeks ago about feeling terrible in spite of nearing the end of chelation. I was tired all the time, inflamed, and had recently started getting headaches between rounds. In the past few days I’ve had an almost unbelievable breakthrough, and I wanted to share in case it helps someone else.

My family and I are all chelating. My youngest (DS10) is on his final round this weekend! I have eight rounds to go for mercury but quite a long journey ahead of me for lead and silver. Nonetheless at the end of August last year, I reached the max dose of ALA (and then some); I’m at 300 mg and have been since then. I posted to the FB group a week ago asking for help, because I have been in a slump and I thought it was due to raising my dose or frequency of DMSA.

With my youngest it’s become apparent he needs less and less ACE. We missed a few doses and we didn’t notice any difference so we started to cut back. He wasn’t weepy and he was sleeping better, so we’ve stuck with it. Even with my oldest (DS12, who still has about six months to go) we have found that he is better with less ACE now than he was six months ago. I had dropped my dose a little bit, but was still taking at least 24 Thorne ACE a day.

Anyhow, I was sitting at breakfast with them earlier this week, and I had taken my ACE about 30 minutes before. I felt my energy tank while I was sitting there – I really felt terrible. So I decided to do what we are doing for the kids and stopped it completely just for the day. I felt better and better as the day progressed. Although my sleep was really disrupted that night, I woke up the next morning feeling pretty good – so I stuck with it. By the afternoon I felt like I was 10 or 15 years younger. By the day after that I felt like I could go for a run. Not kidding. Also not in good enough shape to do that – but you get the point. 🙂

I’m on day three of this new routine and I am not taking ACE at all. I’m chelating with ALA only for the next few days, so this should be an interesting test. I started chelating on Friday at 8 am and I’ve been up every three hours to chelate myself and my kids.

I woke up this morning before my alarm and I feel good. I am energetic, positive, creative, focused, and productive. In other words, the way I hoped I would feel toward the end of chelation!

It may well be that raising my DMSA dose has also been a factor in all this, but what I suspect more likely is that I reached max dose over the summer and I never made any adjustments to ACE. I needed it so much early on to just get to work every day. It didn’t even occur to me that I might not need it anymore. So my advice or lesson learned to all of you is as you approach your max dose (or maybe the end of chelation) make sure you’re looking hard at your ACE consumption and evaluate whether you might be able to decrease it or even eliminate it completely. In my case dropping the ACE has done way more for me than addressing my B vitamin insufficiency, or almost anything else except food related changes. And the feedback has been almost instantaneous. I do hope this helps someone else!

  • Round 91, Round-equivalent ~118
  • 300 mg ALA
  • 25 mg DMSA (though I’ve been up to 50)

18 January.

I’m approaching the two year mark, I’ve been at 300 mg for about four months. Max dose was 225 mg but I’m pretty toxic so I went up. Rounds are uneventful; I still get some euphoria when I do combo rounds with DMSA.
My thyroid antibodies are down (technically no longer have Hashis though I still take T3). No longer taking ACE (posted about that last week). Generally have more energy for my family, my house, my job. Starting to be crafty / creative again which feeds my soul. I am immeasurably better than I was before starting ACC.

Still struggle with food sensitivities (histamine especially), but I have reintroduced other foods that I hadn’t eaten in 5+ years (peppers, tomatoes). Still no gluten dairy or soy.

I definitely feel like I’m getting my life back bit by bit, but the wear-and-tear of the rounds is getting to me (still getting up to chelate DS12). After 100 rounds I may drop to every other week or once a month to give myself some time to rest and recover. I am still dealing with tons of silver and lead so I need to pace myself for the long haul …

February

28 February.   I’ve had a few really good weeks, but this one has been a little rough.

First, the good stuff. I started Round 98 today. I did a DMSA combo round last week and it was uneventful. I am wondering if I should raise my dose again to 400 mg, as some others have done. I am really not feeling anything except normal chelation fatigue at this point, and I want to make sure I’m doing absolutely everything I can.

In terms of things that are bothering me, I have been increasingly frustrated by my weight gain. I’m up almost 45 pounds since starting chelation, and when I hit 190 pounds a few weeks ago, I really started to panic. I haven’t weighed that much since I was very pregnant with my second son. In reflecting on the past, I remembered that both Weight Watchers (many years ago now) and keto helped me. I eventually combined keto and intermittent fasting, (eating only at 10 am and 6 pm), which I really liked because I needed to plan less meals. However, I stopped keto and intermittent fasting when I started chelating because it just made me too tired. However, I thought it might be worth giving a try as I am approaching the two year mark with chelation, and I no longer need Adrenal Cortex Extract (ACE).

I started keto slowly because I didn’t want to crash my adrenals. My goal was about 100 grams of carbs a day (moderate keto), because I didn’t want to be too extreme too quickly. As with any lifestyle change, it’s easier to introduce changes gradually and then adjust. So I did 100 grams of carbs at first. The biggest change was dropping to 1/4 cup of rice with every meal. That alone was 63 grams of carbs! That was a much easier transition than expected, and I lost a few pounds right away. That made me hopeful that keto might work again if I was patient.

Within a couple of weeks or so, I eliminated rice completely. Occasionally I’d have other carbs (butternut squash, sweet potato), but in general I wasn’t feeling the need. I also started paying more attention to the snacks I was eating. I have been eating a lot of nuts, but I started consciously choosing pecans (4 g of carbs) over cashews (more carbs) when I needed a snack, for example.

It has been a huge relief to not have the tyranny of blood sugar ups and downs. Combined with the calm that’s come with stopping ACE, my daily life is just way more calm and consistent. The weight loss is slow – I won’t lose anything for a week at a time, and then I’ll lose 1-2 pounds all at once. I understand that it’s going to take some time. But, it is such a relief to be doing something practical and familiar about an issue that’s been making me increasingly unhappy.

I’m going to do another 4-6 rounds of 25 mg DMSA before I raise up to 37 mg again. I don’t want a recurrence of the issues I was having at the end of last year. So, that is another milestone …

On the downside, I still do have days where I am unexpectedly tired. In the past few weeks I’m dealing with a flare-up which I think is Lyme related. I’ve had really bad pain in my right arm, then my right foot, then behind my right shoulder blade. Sometimes it is so bad that it takes my breath away. I’m trying to be better about taking sick days when I need them, but man is it hard to do that, especially with so much going on at work.

March

18 March. Really no new news to report. Plugging away with keto. It doesn’t seem to be affecting my energy but progress is slow. Rounds are generally uneventful. I am still undecided how long I will continue chelating every week. I know I’ve made great headway on the mercury, but I don’t have any sense of how long I’ll be at it for the silver and lead. Does silver necessitate chelating every week? There aren’t really any answers at this point. In April I’ll get another hair test, and maybe that will inform what I do next.

April

3 April. Well, the COVID-19 pandemic is in full swing. We’ve been exercising ‘shelter in place’ for three weeks now. One week of that was the kids’ Spring Break. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a big adjustment. But, I was already working at home a few days a week, and rarely traveling except back and forth to work. Not traveling in to work at all has allowed me to relax my schedule a bit more, because I don’t have to dress up or prepare all my meals before leaving for the day. I appreciate the extra time to connect with my family in the morning, and seeing them around the house throughout the day.

For our boys (DS10 and DS12), the changes have been much more significant. While both of them interact with friends while gaming online, it’s not the same as being in a classroom full of kids each day. Even our little introvert (DS10) is feeling lonely at times.

Nevertheless, yesterday was the first day where I felt we might be settling in to our new normal. I went for a walk before my work day started, I had a few minutes with the kids over breakfast before my meetings began. And, my work schedule was busy but not jam-packed, so I was able to check in on the kids once or twice during the day while they were doing their homework.

The other three members of my family had low-grade fevers over the past few weeks. For whatever reason (maybe because of the LDN?), I didn’t have any issues at all. We did take a few weeks off from chelating during that time, to let ourselves rest, deal with the stress of all the changes, and give ourselves the best possible chance to heal.

Those two weeks were really wonderful, to be honest – in spite of all the craziness. I was able to stay up late reading, and still get up on time for work. I went for walks outdoors for fresh air and exercise. I was just more rested and relaxed. I was also amazed at how quickly I got used to *not* having alarms go off all the time. Combined with no ups and down from ACE or blood sugar, it felt almost normal.

I did my monthly DMSA round last weekend, and by Monday I was definitely dragging. Still, considering what I’m asking my body to do, I am always amazed that I can go to bed early on Monday and Tuesday and bounce back so quickly. I started a new round (ALA only) today. But, after those delicious few weeks off, every other week is increasingly appealing. I’m struggling because DS12 is still chelating every weekend, so it seems like a bad time to switch to every other week. It doesn’t make sense to chelate every other week if I’m still getting up at night every weekend to chelate him.

After a lot of discussion, where we have ended up as a family is that we’re going to drop to every other week for the foreseeable future. DS12 is super disappointed, because he knows it’s going to prolong his chelation process. We’re going to resume chelation for DS10 at some point soon, too. But I just can’t do every week any more. And, once we decide we’re done chelating the kids, I will drop to once a month and really focus on the lead. It’s increasingly clear to me I need more time to rest and recover, and that I still have a long way to go. So I need to set a pace that I can sustain for the long haul. At some point when we stop chelating the kids, I may drop to once a month (with a focus on lead).

I would say my biggest takeaway at the moment is to stop focusing on the date when I’ll be done, and instead accept that this is going to be part of our lives for a long time. We’ve also started to talk to the kids about that. They really don’t want to hear it! But if a COVID-19 vaccine comes out and it’s mandatory, we’ll likely have to chelate some more. And, there are a couple of vaccines like meningitis and tetanus that my spouse is unwilling to skip for the boys. To be clear, I am not opposed to vaccines – our kids are fully vaccinated. But toxic metals like thimerosal / mercury and aluminum are used as preservatives in vaccines, and I don’t think it will be possible to get versions that are preservative-free. That means a setback in the detox progress for the whole family.

6 April. Although I haven’t written much in terms of chelation chronicles, I did manage to write an off-cycle blog post about chelation. I took a pause here to write a post about celebrating round 100 of chelation (basically the two year mark).

May

8 May.   Yeah, I haven’t written much. We’ve been in a little bit of survival mode with COVID-19, getting the kids into a routine (first with school, and then without it). And I work in healthcare consulting so work has never been busier. I’m glad to be employed, with a roof over my head, and with good healthcare. But still, we’re starting to feel the strain of the shelter-in-place and being shut in for so long. I did manage to write a one-off chelation post, though. It’s about chelation-related lab tests – my initial two urine tests (avoid!), and my three hair tests for ACC.

June

30 June.   Things have been a little up and down. I’ve had couple of rough patches, but I am not totally clear what’s causing them. My spouse was also not feeling well, so it could have been a cyclical Lyme thing. Maybe food. Also, I have been dealing with wicked hot flashes in the past month – that has started pretty suddenly. My previous FMP told me that lead starts to dump from the bones in peri-menopause, so maybe that’s a factor too. I was also starting to walk almost every day, and maybe it was too much too quickly? Also had an intense few weeks personally and with work – multiple 12+ hour days, helping my mom with real-estate transactions, my mother-in-law in the hospital, and our basement flooded. In fact, it could have been just a regular autoimmune flare from the stress of all that.

Although I have kept my DMSA dose steady after that rough patch at the end of last year, I had anticipated raising it to 37 mg pretty soon. But the last few rounds of DMSA I’ve needed naps, which I don’t seem to need on ALA-only rounds. So, if I had to guess on what is causing the latest issues, I suspect it’s a combination of things. More than once the Lyme has reared it’s ugly head around the full moon. I had started walking every day, and maybe that was stirring things up, or it was just too much too quickly. The crazy hot flashes combined with the extra fatigue while on DMSA rounds leads me to suspect it’s some combination of hormones and lead dumping. Still, I have to remind myself that every round is a small step forward. And, even though I won’t make as much headway with rounds every other week, it’s all still progress.

  • Round 107, ~139 in round-equivalents
  • 300 mg ALA
  • 25 mg DMSA

I have a blog post started for the second half of the year. But as I chelate less and my rounds become more predictable, I’m not sure how valuable they will be. The next one might be the last … we’ll see.

In the meantime, if you have questions or feedback, I’d welcome that in the comments.

LGBTQ+ Civil Rights

This article is cross-posted from the ZS intranet (which we call ZSpace), where I write episodically about issues of interest to the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. It’s been lightly edited for an external audience.

It’s been a rollercoaster few weeks in the world of LGBTQ politics, and I thought it might be useful to provide a summary for those that may not be as in tune with that slice of the U.S. national news.

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Intersectionality

This article is cross-posted from the ZS intranet (which we call ZSpace), where I write episodically about issues of interest to the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. It’s been lightly edited for an external audience.

Last week, I finished up my week enthusiastic about our global plans for Pride Month.  I was looking forward to a Monday with my Pride Zoom background, my signature file with our amazing rainbow logo, and our social media plans on the horizon.  I even made sure my rainbow socks were clean.  I would be all decked out in rainbows and ready to go! 

However, the sobering events of the past few days demand our attention and acknowledgement.  Part of what has made the LGBTQ+ community at ZS as positive and strong as it is today are the wonderful allies in our midst.  Similarly, in this time when gross injustice and treatment of African-Americans is perhaps finally getting the outrage and attention it deserves, being strong allies to our The Black and Hispanic Alliance (BHA) colleagues and their communities has never been more important.

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Third hair test

This blog post is focused on my chronic health issues, specifically, my efforts to detox heavy metals using the Andy Cutler Chelation (ACC) protocol. You can read about how I found ACC and chose to pursue it in this post. For the past several years I have been writing Chelation Chronicles posts, where I am documenting the ups and downs I’m experiencing as I undertake detox from lead, mercury, and silver poisoning. This is an off-cycle post regarding my third hair test.

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Celebrating Round 100

In this blog post, I am going to provide an overview of my chronic health issues, and reflect on the ways that the Andy Cutler Chelation (ACC) protocol has radically changed my life for the better over the past two years. It is part of an ongoing series related to my chronic health issues. You can read an overview of those health issues, or read the other chelation-related posts too, if you’re interested. I’m using the milestone of Round 100 (or R100, in veteran shorthand) to reflect on where I was before starting ACC, how far I’ve come, and what I think may lay ahead.

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