Hydrogen sulfide test results and Epsom salt tolerance

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by richvank, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, all.

    I want to ask for help in testing a hypothesis. Some of you have taken the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) urine color change test, and some of you know whether or not you can tolerate Epsom salt baths.

    I would like to know what the correlation is between the result of this test and whether or not a person can tolerate Epsom salt baths. (Note that some time ago, Susan Owens, the owner of the sulfurstories internet group, started a separate group about Epsom salt intolerance. We kicked this issue around a little there, but haven't reach any conclusions about what's going on in these cases. I think that this new urine test may provide some insight.)

    My hypothesis is that people who test positively on the H2S test do not tolerate Epsom salt baths.

    The rationale is as follows:

    The urine color change test gives a qualitative measure of the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in the urine. It has been suggested by Dr. de Meirleir that when the H2S level in the urine is high, it means that there are bacteria in the gut that are producing large amounts of H2S, so much that the normal sulfide oxidase enzyme in the wall of the gut is not able to oxidize all of it and convert it to thiosulfate, so that it passes into the blood and is then filtered out by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.

    If this is true, it must mean that there is a significant population of sulfate-reducing bacteria in the gut of a person who has a positive H2S urine test, since these are the types of bacteria that produce H2S.

    Epsom salt is composed of magnesium sulfate. As far as I know, there is no pathway in the human metabolism itself that can chemically reduce sulfate, and normal, healthy people are able to tolerate Epsom salt baths and to benefit from them, as their body absorbs both some magnesium and some sulfate through the skin. Both are normally found in the body and perform important functions. One of the functions of magnesium is to relax the muscles. One of the functions of sulfate is to help the cartilage in the joints to retain water, and thus to cushion the joints. Epsom salt can thus help both muscle and joint pain in a normal, healthy person.

    If a person is intolerant of Epsom salt baths, I think the reason is that some of the sulfate is chemically reduced to hydrogen sulfide by sulfate-reducing bacteria in the gut. Some of that is oxidized to sulfite by the human sulfur metabolism. Both hydrogen sulfide and sulfite are toxins if they reach high enough concentrations, and they will both produce unpleasant symptoms.

    So far I've heard from one person who tested positive, and three who tested negative, and all four are consistent with this hypothesis. Four is not a big number, and I would like to accumulate some more data for a preliminary test of this hypothesis.

    So I would appreciate it very much if those of you who have taken this urine test, and also know whether or not you tolerate Epsom salt baths, would post the result of your urine test and whether or not you tolerate Epsom salt baths. It would also be interesting to me to know what the symptoms were for those of you who did not tolerate Epsom salt baths, when you tried it.

    The idea is to get a better understanding of one of the mechanisms of this disorder. Gut dysbiosis is a big factor in CFS, and the more we understand about it, the better position we will be in to correct it.

    Thanks very much.

    [This Message was Edited on 08/14/2009]
    [This Message was Edited on 08/14/2009]
  2. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic New Member

    Howdy Rich,

    LOL ... always good to see you here.

    While I haven't had this urine test I thought I pop in a make a comment. I do have a history of gut dysbiosis and kidney stones but from what I understand, Susan sees the connection as being an oxalate problem. I'm making the leap from H2S in the urine to kidney stones since those with kidney stones don't have enough o.forminges in their kidneys. Not enough good bacteria means too much H2S ..

    Susan can be found on this board most of the time in case you want to ask her or others currrently on the LOD this question. Most of us got there after trying the GFCF diet ... Many of us starting having oxalate issues or these became worse, after eating all those high oxalate foods on the GFCF diet.

    btw, Susan talks about a connection between gut dysbiosis and oxalates on this site as well as her http://www.lowoxalate.info/ site. Many find that this diet helps with candida and I have to credit it for healing my digestive tract enough so that I can now digest supplements.

    I've read repeatedly over there that some autistic parents give their kids epsom salt baths several times a day because it helps calm them.

    We're a freindly group so you'd be welcome over there. : )


    If I'm not mistaken, her work on sulfation was prior to her work on oxalates so she believes oxalates are the real issue here ...Obviously, she'll hava a better answer for you.

    Take care and thanks for all you do for us, Marcia

    ETA .. I've taken epsom salt baths since getting sick in 1990 and never noticed that my muscles were relaxed afterwards until recently when I started adding 3 lbs of it to my bath water. I never felt well after my epsom salt baths until recently but my reaction to epsom salt baths was the hot water. I couldn't tolerate hot showers either. I'd be shakey and it would take me forever to cool down and stop shaking ... I'd have to cool off completely in the tub for fear of passing out. [This Message was Edited on 08/16/2009]
  3. JaneInMelbourne

    JaneInMelbourne New Member

    Hi Rich

    I recently tested negative to Kenny's H2S test. I've never tried epsom salts baths, but I do inject magnesium sulfate about once every 10 days. I have no intolerance to the magnesium sulfate.

  4. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    I tried to order the H2S kit but they're on back order.

    Just thought I'd let you know that it will be awhile - and to thank you again for your input, Rich.

  5. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Marta.

    Thanks for the heads-up. I appreciate your willingness to give this a try.

    I don't know whether you ordered from ProHealth or from the lab in Europe. Here's the lab's website:


    I've heard that they will ship to the U.S.

    Best regards,


  6. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Marcia.

    Thanks for the oxalate connection. That's an interesting idea.

    I think that another factor can be that if the bile flow is insufficient, fats are not well-digested and absorbed in the gut. The fats can then react with calcium to form soaps. This ties up the calcium, so that it cannot react with dietary oxalate to form calcium oxalate and take it out in the stools. This allows oxalate to build up, and that can lead to kidney stones.

    I'm actually a member of Susan's low oxalate group, too, but I haven't been participating there.
    I thought I would see if this hypothesis is supported by the data, and if so, let Susan know about it then.

    Another interesting wrinkle is that some people with CFS are low in sulfate in their urine. Perhaps one of the reasons might be that they have sulfate-reducing bacteria in the gut, and they are using it up.

    I think the good gut bugs are getting more and more respect these days, as people learn more about all the good things they do for us.

    From what I'm reading, it appears that not all PWCs who have gut problems have sulfate-reducing bacteria. Some do, and some don't. I guess there's a variety of ways in which the gut can be dysfunctional.

    Thanks for the input.

  7. Marta608

    Marta608 Member


    Wandering around I found the thread by Catseye and wonder if what's she's finding isn't similar or the same as the Gut/H2S theory? I went to the Doctor's website that she mentioned and got somewhat re-confused. Are you familiar with this man?

    Do you feel you can comfortably comment?

    Yes, I ordered from PH. They said it would be a week so I'll wait that long for them. Thanks. Still must steep myself in Epsom salts.

  8. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, fredt.

    I've seen a couple of papers about low blood sulfate in autism, as well as one on low DHEA-sulfate. Also, Rosemary Waring and her coworkers reported low sulfation capacity for acetaminophen in low-functioning autistics. I don't know if I've seen papers about high urine sulfate. I do know that mercury can block the sulfate transporters that normally reabsorb sulfate in the kidneys, so if there is high mercury in the kidneys, I think that sulfate wasting would occur.

    As I wrote in an earlier post, I suspect that the presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria in the gut would cause lower sulfate and elevated H2S in the urine.

    The H2S in the urine is filtered out of the blood, so if it's high in the urine, I suspect that it's also higher than normal in the blood.

  9. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, cfs since 1998.

    One person reported a major headache. I'm hoping to find out more myself about the symptoms people have experienced.

    Best regards,

  10. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Jane.

    Thanks for the input. I would say that your experience is consistent with the hypothesis I've suggested.

  11. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Marta.

    I've read Catseye's thread about her positive experience with Dr. Gary Farr. I'm not familiar with him, but it sounds like he knows what to do for the gut.

    The gut seems to be getting more attention from quite a few clinicians in the CFS community lately, and I think that's a good thing.

    From what I've been able to see, there can be a variety of problems with the gut in CFS. Not every PWC is the same in this regard. Having sulfate-reducing bacteria is one aspect, but it isn't the only one, and it doesn't seem to be present in all PWCs.

    Having bacteria that make D-lactate is another aspect.

    Lacking the good E. coli, which normally make vitamins for us, is another.

    Lacking Bifidobacteria, which normally make short chain fatty acids to help the cells lining our colons is another.

    Some people have parasites, either protozoa or worms.

    Yeast infections are common.

    Then there can be celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, or sensitivity to casein or soy or other foods.

    Some people can't tolerate fructose, and some can't handle lactose. Some don't have the disaccharidases that normally process double sugars and starches.

    I think it's best to do some comprehensive testing to see what's going on in the gut, before trying to treat it. The Diagnos-techs Expanded GI Panel is a good one. There are others that can be helpful, too.

    I would say that the gut is just not simple in CFS. The gut and the brain are the two most complicated organs in CFS, in my opinion.

    I'll be interested to hear how that "steeping" goes. Some people just love it, and some can't tolerate it. You might want to consider a short "steep" first, to see how it goes.

    Best regards,

  12. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    Once again, I thank you for your response and willingness to share your knowledge, Rich.

    Can the Diagnos-techs Expanded GI Panel be ordered by my local D.O. or is it the domain of other specialties?

    I will steep very lightly the first time. ;>)

    Take care,
  13. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Marta.

    I think that Diagnos-techs would be happy to deal with your D.O.

    I've found that D.O.'s are often some of the more enlightened physicians when it comes to being open to trying new or alternative treatments.

    O.K. on the "light" steeping!

    Best regards,

  14. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    Hi, Rich!

    I was out of the state for awhile and before I left I canceled my delayed shipment of the urine test. I wanted to be here when it arrived.

    Once back, I called PH to check on the status and they won't be getting it in after all. I guess I need to go through Dr. Myhill if I can figure out the currency in US dollars.

    Just wanted you to know I hadn't forgotten. I will do the Epsom salts bath soon.

    [This Message was Edited on 10/07/2009]