Heavy Metal Challenge Tests how useful?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by roge, Jan 28, 2007.

  1. roge

    roge Member

    My Dr. wants me to do a 24 hour heavy metal challenge test with DMSA but I am hesitant for a few reasons. I know another poster (shanwill) recently posted about her caution with DMPS. But now after doing some research by Andy Cutler (supposedly the heavy metal guru) he says the challenge test has no diagnostic value! and that a hair analysis test is the best. I had a hair test in 1999 and I will get another now based on my research. I was already hesitant but now reading what I did from Cutler why would I waste $200? Unbelievable the amount of conflicting information for both heavy metals and FM/CFS at large, it is quite simply overwhelming.

    Below is from Andy Cutler:

    No. Challenge tests are of no diagnostic utility.

    Challenge tests do not tell you any more about body burden of mercury than an
    unchelated 24 hour urine mercury collection does. This is extremely well
    established in the literature for all numerate people. Since MD's as a rule
    are NOT numerate, and do NOT analyze the data in the papers they read about
    chelated and unchelated urine mercury production, they generally don't
    accept this. Kind of like someone arguing with you that 2+2 = 5 because they
    don't know how to add.

    If the same "challenge tests" that are used as diagnostic of mercury
    poisoning are applied to random people on the street who are healthy, most
    of them show up as "toxic," too.

    Lots of overtly mercury poisoned people who take the challenge tests do NOT
    meet the published criteria for being toxic, but they are still as a rule
    treated and get better from mercury detox.

    It is really pitiful to read stuff in the literature such as the statement in
    the paper on neurobehavioral impairment of dentists that says half the scores
    correlate slightly better with unchallenged mercury output and half slightly
    better with challenged mercury output and then have the authors not realize
    that what they said is that challenged and unchallenged mercury output are
    the same thing and statistical noise is controlling which fits better.

    There are even some papers that poisoned rats different ways so as to get
    different tissue distributions of mercury, and chelated them with DMSA and
    DMPS and determined where the mercury came from in the chelated urine - 75%
    from the kidneys with DMPS, about half with DMSA. The rest primarily from
    the bloodstream. These are NOT the target organs in chronic mercury
    intoxication so measuring what is in them isn't diagnostic.

    The challenge test is a pseudoscientific procedure (which most of the
    physicians using it do honestly believe in) to legitimize the diagnosis of
    mercury tox to the patient, physician, and possibly insurance carrier. It
    is a way to make things seem really technological and sophisticated because
    people are uncomfortable making the diagnosis on the basis of a physical
    examination and how the patient feels. The challenge test is a ritual to
    legitimize the diagnosis after it has been made on other grounds.

    Challenge tests that don't use timed urine samples are really silly since
    they are strongly influenced by how much water reabsorption there is in the
    kidney (your kidneys make about 125 quarts of pee a day, and then suck the
    water back up so you pee out 1 or 2 or 3. If you drink a bunch you may
    temporarily pee out urine at a rate of a quart per hour).

    Timed challenge tests give results completely predictable from the chelation
    formulae in my book and the unchelated urine mercury levels. Measure
    unchelated mercury level. Multiply by appropriate fudge factor. Get
    "challenge test" mercury level. No need for the challenge agent (or the risk
    or expense of the challenge test).

    Add to this that a very large number of doctor's offices mishandle the urine
    samples so that inaccurate results are obtained from both challenged and
    unchallenged samples (the creatinine level in the Doctor's Data report is
    there so you can check this - it should be pretty much the same every time,
    and you can calculate the number it should be from height).

    The "challenge tests" actually came from experiments done with people who
    worked in mercury using factories. These people had pre-chelator urine
    samples taken and then post chelator urine samples taken. Both the
    pre-chelator and post-chelator samples were vastly higher in mercury than is
    considered diagnostic for mercury tox by "alternative" doctors, yet all
    these people were quite healthy.

    The important factors in mercury intoxication are how sensitive the
    individual is, and how much is in their brain and internal organs. DMPS and
    DMSA challenge tests do not measure either of these.

    Have I belabored this enough?

    Andy Cutler

    PS since challenge tests are widely believed in, and even mentioned in some
    of the most recent medical texts, they may be worthwhile if needed to
    convince an insurance company or doctor that someone has mercury tox. But
    the test really does NOT provide useful diagnostic information even if an
    insurance company adjuster or physician is silly enough to think it does. I
    suggest using challenge tests only when necessary to convince such people.

  2. roge

    roge Member

    sorry for the repost

    this wasny first original post and i didnt see it so thought it wasnt sent, but i see it takes a few minutes to show up.

  3. deliarose

    deliarose New Member

    utterly fed up with all the conflicting info.

    BTW, I heard that DMSA can deplete glutathione, and I've just spent a fortune raising glutathione...so that puts me off even more.

    I'm using sthg called Metal Magnet. Seems to be helping. I have no idea if its'safe.. not all that confident in my alternative MD.

    Not helping much am I?

    Lemme know if you hear any good info.

  4. shanwill

    shanwill Member

    Hi Roge - fellow canuk.
    I am really needing to get sorted on how to do this heavy metal testing as it seems very necessary. My GP is still advising DMPS as the only way. What did you end up doing? How do you go about having a hair test?

    Many thanks,
  5. pw7575

    pw7575 New Member

    I have seen people here talking about this topic before. I have looked a little online about it myself. Some people say it is safe and others say it is not. Seems like more people are against it than for it but I am not sure if that is the case.

    For me personally I am doing the hair test. I don't want to risk making myself worse with a test that many say is dangerous and not useful. Some say the hair test is the best way to go so that is the route I am taking. That is just my personal opinion though.

    The best advice always seems to be follow your instincts. Do what feels right. Seems like you are doing your research and doing what feels right to you.

    Take Care,
  6. Waynesrhythm

    Waynesrhythm Member

    Hi Roge,

    My perspective has been to listen to a foremost expert (Andy Cutler) on this topic.

    I personally feel that what some may view as a simple diagnostic test could more acccurately be described as a "radical approach". There are just too many stories of bad reactions to these tests to justify their use, especially when there are safe alternatives.

    It makes sense to me that everybody should take concrete steps to detoxify their bodies with a strong detoxification regimen. This is especially important for us because so many of us have impaired detoxification. I would do my own regimen no matter what any test results revealed.

    Bottom line: I would recommend saving yourself $200.

    Regards, Wayne
    [This Message was Edited on 04/11/2007]
  7. roge

    roge Member

    shanwill: heh there fellow canuck, actually i have not looked into this yet (that is the heavy metal thing) , you know between dealing with this disease, dealing with lawyers, insurance, other doctors and tests, just have not gotten to it yet.

    that being said, i have put in a 2nd request to my insurance for funding of various testing and seeing a specialist in the USA, i assume they will decline again but worth a shot and so i am waiting on this before I do this heavy metal test (assuming I even decide to do it)

    cause i am still undecided , still seems the provocation tests are not diagnostic according to cutler so not sure i want to risk even doing this test, although i think a dmsa challenge test is fairly safe (i say this from my research and my gut) I would definitely stay away from DMPS (more risk with that one I believe) I am not sure why Dr. Bested would have recommended the DMPS, she seems like a pretty good doctor from what I have heard from others here.

    What makes Dr. B. think you have a heavy metal issue besides your symptom set? anything in particular she mentioned?

    I think best course of action would be a hair test to start and even if that doesnt show much, then to treat empirically and go slow and detox with more natural metal chelators, ie. chorella just to name one.

    Wayne: thx for chiming in man - have to agree with you for the most part. by the way , love your pic.

  8. shanwill

    shanwill Member

    Hi Roge and others - thanks for responses.

    well dr B seems to think this is the most effective way of testing and that hair testing isn't accurate or tell which substances. i got the onset of CFS after taking about 5 vaccinactions together to go on a trip - big mistake.

    the problem is my blood tests come back fine but my symptoms are extremley limiting so she thinks i may have mercury poisoning. i'm trying to suss how best to do this, there is just so much info - and so much of it's conflicting.

    if i do the DMPS - it's a 24hr monitored urine with them aiding with natural chelators, she says it's very safe (?) and that if i have heavy metals, then i will have to get them removed.

    but! if i can get a better safer test here it would save me the 4hr journey, costs of tests, and stress of so much travel. i'm still not sure what to do, just want to get it sorted as best as poss!

    any tips?
    ps roge - what clinic/doctors are you dealing with in ottawa?
  9. Waynesrhythm

    Waynesrhythm Member

    Hi all,

    I feel I should share the following website:


    The woman who started and runs this had CFS and claims to have recovered from it, primarily by detoxing. She used a combination of things, including clay baths, clay foot baths, saunas, and more.

    I like the feel of her general approach and of her entire website. She gives good information on a number of neurological diseases, the role heavy metal toxicity plays in them, and how her protocol can help.

    I would say it's a good read for anybody interested in doing a a detoxification program that appears to be quite safe and effective.

    Regards, Wayne[This Message was Edited on 04/13/2007]
  10. cherylsue

    cherylsue Member

    a prominent CFS researcher believes a stool test is more accurate. He doesn't believe in NAC, ALA, or RX chelators.

    He does recommend milk thistle, chlorella (go slowly), and hawthorn. See Rich Carson's article on detox in the ProHealth library. It took him two years to detox, and he's 80% better.

    Remember, do no harm.

  11. springrose22

    springrose22 New Member

    DMPS is dangerous according to Cutler, and I have read this various places, and because I don't know myself FOR SURE, I would err on the side of caution. It's kind of like the mercury problem in the first place: some say it's dangerous to have amalgams in your mouth, and some say it's perfectly safe. So, who would you believe?

    Don't use DMPS is my advice. The DR. needs to update her education on the matter. Cutler also says not to use chlorella, but to use lower doses of DMSA and ALA to chelate mercury slowly. Marie
  12. shanwill

    shanwill Member

    Didn't he do a DMPS challenge to TEST for heavy metals and said this was necessary? Does anyone know of an 'expert' on the board here to ask?

  13. roge

    roge Member

    Yes Rich did a dmps and he says he got much worse and if he could do it over again, he wouldnt have done the DMPS. This is from my memory

    As for me, you asked what doctors and clinics I am using in ottawa. well, I have my GP who is good but far from a specialist for FM or CFS. Then there is my immunologist for my allergies to molds, an enviromental dr. (dr. Molot), various neurologists and infectious disease doctors I have been seeing the past 1-2 years for various testing but has been frustrating with these mainstream dr.s as many here are well aware but at least i feel good to rule things out.

    Then I came across this clinic early in 2007 in Ottawa where there is a team of medical doctors who specialize in FM, CFS and other similar type illnesses and do functional testing and practice functional medicine. There is a compounding pharmacy affiliated with the clinic as well as a medical lab that does metabolic testing that I recently had a few weeks ago. It operates similar to the FFC in USA in that they try and search for underlying causes , so I believe one has to be educated and assertive and almost guide the doctors, but at least this clinic and doctors believe you and you dont have to waste your valuable energy in trying to convince them of things and getting certain bloodwork done. While I have not done this yet, but I imagine this clinic and Dr. I see is supportive of saying doing a 24 hour cortisol test as well as treating one for say heavy metal according to cutler protocol and other more functionally based testing and so forth.

    The doctor I see has no attitude and works with you as a partner and doesnt push or force any testing or treatments on you. That being said, while I am glad I have this clinic on my team, I am not putting all my eggs here as I am still planning on seeing a specialist in the USA (either Dr. Levine in NY or a doctor in L.A.) to as a first step to get detailed bloodwork for viruses and bacteria and other.

    as you can see I am done monkeying around here, I am fed up and taking matters into my own hands and being more assertive and agressive not only with doctors but also with trying to find some answers here.

  14. roge

    roge Member

    oh yes i forgot the rest of my team...my naturopath, chinese medicine dr., psychologist for biofeedback and to help with my LTD as you know insurers they want to turn this into a mental thing so need the psychologist to rebut this, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and likely more i am forgetting....

    incredible the amount of work is required to manage these diseases and effort to see doctors and therapists and be bounced around, there should be one integrated medical facility so we dont have to waste so much time and treatment would be a lot better with many under one roof working as a true united team.....one day I hope


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