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Toxic Heavy Metals, Uranium in Particular,
are Triggers for Fibromyalgia
By Dr. Mervyn Willard M.D.

The toxic profile of heavy metals warrants heedful attention on the part of anyone with fibromyalgia ("FM"). Environmental exposure is increasing to heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, arsenic, lead, tungsten, and uranium. Entering the body via air and water pollution and food contamination, these substances accumulate in tissue and cause toxic effects. All of these toxic metals can cause various FM symptoms, but uranium is capable of producing the entire FM syndrome.

Our alarm mounts when we learn that despite bans on atomic testing, more uranium than ever is being discharged into the environment. Uranium is alloyed with other metals to make them extra hard so they penetrate armored tanks. The shells explode upon impact, scattering dust with uranium into the air. Dust from these munitions is generated not only in the Middle East, but also in practice runs from Nellis Air Force Base and at Nevada Test Site.

For clarity, we will limit our discussion to uranium's hazard as a toxic chemical, a chemical that gets into the bloodstream and migrates into body tissues. Uranium also poses a radiation hazard, which we will not be discussing.

Percentage-wise, how many people actually harbor these toxins?
The number approaches 100% for one or more of the toxic metals. Maybe not everyone has symptoms; but FM symptoms if present can only be worsened by heavy metal toxins.

But can anything be done about it?
Definitely, yes! Heavy metals are quite treatable by over-the-counter agents that have recently become available. Derived from volcanic ash, these agents trap heavy metals and carry them to the kidneys for excretion. By the end of this article, you should know how to test yourself and how to detoxify yourself.
* * *
Typical toxic profile of heavy metals:
Heavy metal exposures of any kind carry an imposing list of symptoms, many of which mimic and can therefore worsen FM:
memory loss
• speech difficulties
• fatigue
• aggression
• irritability
• depression

Why isn't heavy metal testing routinely performed?
Has there been a mistake? Shouldn't we be routinely tested given our level of exposure? Despite increasing exposure, routine testing has never received an official nod from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. Nor have specific metals come under suspicion in physicians' offices, since the typical symptoms are not easily traced to a specific toxin.

There are exceptions. Infants are routinely tested for lead poisoning. Persons with specific occupational exposure (some miners; lead battery workers) may receive routine testing.

Our recommendation is for everyone to be tested. Those without symptoms should have advanced warning of impending toxic loads. Those with illness—FM emphatically included—have all the more justification for being tested.

What will the results of testing show?
Results will reveal which metal exposures fall in the "unacceptable" range. Results showing elevations of specific metals can be checked against symptom profiles and sources of exposure.

Results also give a broad view of total toxic load; e.g., multiple metals in the "unacceptable" range suggest a heavy toxic load. Very likely, toxicity builds up in a synergistic way related to the mix and total load.

How is testing properly carried out?
Seldom when testing is done is it properly done. Blood and urine specimens often fail to reveal toxins harbored in body tissue unless a "provocation" (or "challenge") test is carried out. The provocative agent pulls toxins across cell walls into circulating body fluids, where they can be detected by the lab.

In practical terms, you ingest the provocative agent while collecting all urine at the same time. For example, you might dissolve some of the agent in water and drink it down every four hours for a total of 16 hours. You would also collect all urine for during the same time period for lab analysis. The urine would contain the metals that were pulled out of tissue into the circulation while taking the agent. That is what would show up on your report from the lab.

Treatment—reduction of total body load of toxins:
The goal of treatment is reduction of toxic load. By continuing use of activated, purified volcanic ash, toxins can be reduced without side effects. A few weeks usually suffice.

Critics assert no proven benefits to reductions in toxic load. Perhaps such assertions are justified, given the scantiness of research on this gargantuan problem. Others advocate good riddance to toxins whose only potential is grievous harm, and the sooner the better. With successive doses, metals are removed by increments from the body.

Your first provocative test will show you that the agent is working— metals are being pulled from your body and show up on your test report. Weeks later a follow-up test will show a smaller amount than was present on the first test. After a variable number of weeks, sometimes months, all toxins will be reduced to a safe or "acceptable" level.

The danger of "pull and drop:"
A danger of some detoxifying and chelating agents is that after they pull metals out of tissue, they release them into the blood stream. Metals are thus "dropped" into the bloodstream and re-distributed among body tissues. "Pull and drop" syndrome results in fatigue and malaise for a few days after taking the detoxifying agent.

Zeolite (a type of volcanic ash) circumvents the problem of "pull and drop" due to its cage-like configuration. The particles of volcanic ash are negatively charged, whereas metals in solution ("ions") are positively charged. The negatively charged ash pulls the positively charged ions across the cell wall, out of the tissue, into the circulation.

Immediately after "pulling" the metal ions out of tissue, the volcanic ash "traps" them in its cage-like structure. The cage configuration was formed when the volcanic ash—originally molten lava—poured into sea water. As the lava spewed and foamed, bubbles and pockets were formed, "cages" of the right size to capture metal ions.

The cages encircle the metal ion and insulate it from further contact with any tissue on its way to the kidneys. The kidney then receives and excretes the ash-metal complex into the urine.

Other detoxifying agents are available, but do not protect the body from "pull and drop" as well as Zeolite. These agents include cracked Chlorella (from algae), alginate (from seaweed), garlic, and cilantro. Drug chelators such as EDTA, DMPS, and DMSA, in addition to "pull and drop," have to be monitored for adverse reactions.

Uranium and Gulf War Syndrome ("GWS"):
While almost all toxic heavy metals can worsen some of the symptoms of FM, uranium has been most closely connected to FM, since FM is hardly distinguishable from GWS. Researchers discovered the connection between Uranium and FM after the First Gulf War and also among veterans of the Second Gulf War.

Official military reports brush off GWS as a psychosomatic illness. "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" (PTSD) is usually blamed despite exposures to uranium and other toxins, and despite much higher rates of GWS among stressed soldiers who were also exposed to uranium.

Uranium exposure in the Middle East and in Nevada:
As we noted above, uranium is used to harden artillery shells so they can pierce armored tanks. The shells after hitting their target explode, scattering fine particles of uranium into the environment. Combatants in areas where these shells have exploded breathe the dust. The dust is absorbed and preferentially lodges in bone, brain and kidneys. Large numbers of soldiers who have thus been exposed to Uranium and other toxins and develop GWS.

These munitions are also used during practice maneuvers at various testing sites throughout the U.S. Of concern to Nevadans, these sites include Nellis Air Force Base and Nevada Test Site. The uranium cannot be coming from Yucca Mountain (still under construction), reactors, or from old nuclear tests, since "depleted" uranium is showing up—a type not used for nuclear reactions.

Currently, the toxicity of uranium and its relation to GWS have been wholly denied by the U.S. military, constituting a scandal. Independent researchers and non-U.S. sources verify the connection. For example, exposure to uranium correlates highly with development of GWS in British soldiers according to British sources.

Other Uranium exposures:
Deep well water should be checked by county water analysts for heavy metal contaminants. Uranium is a fairly common element found in deep strata of granite deposits. Water seeping through layers of rock can dissolve some of the uranium, making it impure to drink. Reverse osmosis removes the uranium (but water softening may not).

River water does not contain uranium unless the river crosses Uranium mine tailings (for example, the Colorado River can pick up uranium at Moab, Utah).

Suggestions for preventing exposure to heavy metals:

• Drink purified water.
• Avoid dental amalgam with mercury.
• Avoid shark, swordfish, and tuna (the most commonly metal-contaminated fish). Ask for typical
heavy metal analyses from sources of fish that you would consider using.
• Install a high quality air filtration system in your home.
• Mercury has not been removed from all vaccines (such as all flu vaccines). Request thimerisol-free vaccines (thimerisol is a preservative with mercury).
• Avoid industrial areas especially in choosing where you live. Air, water, and food are typically worse in these areas.
• Use organic food when possible.

Recommendations for heavy metal testing and treatment:
1. Test kit: generally, testing before using a provocative agent (Zeolite) is not needed. Such tests invariably fail to show toxins for reasons mentioned above. Therefore, only one test kit is required. Use the kit while taking Zeolite for 16 hours. Directions are mailed out with the kit. One bottle of liquefied, purified, and activated Zeolite is sent separately from the distributor, All Natural Prevention.

2. Treatment: the dose of liquefied Zeolite is ten drops in a glass of water three times daily for two weeks. Then use three drops three times daily for several weeks or months in order to continue removing residues out of the body. Monthly or bi-monthly follow-up provocative urine testing will show declines in toxic metals. Once levels return to a safe range, you may stop. Or, you may continue a small dose for prevention.

Final comment:
Whatever causes FM first affects the brain and spinal cord—research firmly comes together around this hypothesis. Clinicians have also observed that traumas and infections that harm the brain tend to worsen FM. Beyond this, though, our knowledge about the cause of FM is meager.

Researchers have been speculating about the cause of Gulf War Syndrome—a condition very similar to FM—but nothing convincing appeared until recently. If we set aside the official military denials about uranium exposure, evidence comes together around uranium.

Nevadans worry about uranium exposure perhaps more than residents in other areas; however, the spread of uranium worldwide gets worse every year. Of interest, uranium tends to deposit in brain tissue. Also of interest, the climb of uranium in the environment parallels the climb in incidence of FM.

The uranium hypothesis can be tested. We can check to see if there is an association between FM and uranium. We can also check how FM responds as heavy metal toxins are cleared out of the body.

If uranium or heavy metal exposure can be shown to trigger FM, at least in part, it will open promising new doors for treatment. It will also open new doors to legitimacy. Once a definite cause for a "new disease" is demonstrated, respectability soon follows. Formal medical studies will hopefully be underway later.

Mervyn Willard, M.D.

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