Every once in a while, I come across a client who is sensitive to antioxidants—particularly oral glutathione.  If they take a large dose of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), vitamin C, or especially a quality liposomal glutathione supplement, they will soon begin to feel symptoms like brain fog, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and/or muscle weakness.  What did they all have in common?  Heavy metal accumulation.  Some had mercury fillings, some worked in an industrial facility, and a couple ate canned tuna fish several times a week.  Powerful antioxidants assist with the binding and transport of heavy metals in the body, but for some, these toxins just relocate to another part of the body creating oxidative stress. 

The mechanism of glutathione and heavy metal detoxification is well understood.  Heavy metals have a strong electrochemical interaction with sulfur containing thiols. 1 Once bound, they are transported out of the tissues so that the body’s immune system can tag damaged areas to be repaired. 2 So, why do some people suffer from brain fog, or other issues from oral glutathione?  Unfortunately, some people have poor digestion and/or poor diet that prevents the excretion of the bound mercury and it ends up in the brain. 3 Every time they take a powerful antioxidant, they start to develop symptoms within an hour or two, and they need to make some adjustments so that they can excrete the heavy metals before they accumulate even more. 

If you are reading this and you also develop the same types of symptoms when you take an antioxidant supplement, please do not just assume that you have heavy metal poisoning.  With each of these clients, we worked with their doctors to get a hair mineral analysis test (which is much more sensitive and accurate than a blood test).  It is important to confirm that you have high levels of heavy metals in your body, because the supplement timing may be coincidental.  It’s not that the protocol is dangerous, but there could be an underlying health condition that is causing your symptoms that needs immediate attention. 

Once you have confirmed that you have high levels of heavy metals in your body, you need to take measures to remove them.  In severe cases, doctors will prescribe medications or invasive procedures to treat heavy metals, but a lot of the time, you can do it cheaper and with less side effects by following this protocol: 

Step 1: Supplement On an Empty Stomach 

Take your antioxidant supplement.  This might seem counterintuitive, because the supplement appears to be what is causing your symptoms, but it actually the heavy metals.  Be sure to take the highest quality antioxidant you can get a hold of like a high-quality liposomal glutathione supplement. 

Step 2: Wait 30 Minutes 

Thirty minutes after you take your supplement, the heavy metals should be bound and transported.  The body will attempt to transport them from the liver to the portal vein and into your intestines for excretion.  This is where the problem usually takes place because either the digestive system isn’t making enough bile, or there is nothing in the intestines that can bind the heavy metals. 4

Step 3: Eat a High Fat Meal 

Pick your favorite high fat meal!  It could be nut butter, a ribeye steak, strawberries and heavy cream, or your favorite dark chocolate!  Sound yummy?  Good, because you are going to be doing this every day for a while.  Make sure you get at least fifty grams of fat in this meal because it will encourage your body to produce more bile.  If digestion problems arise, you may need to take a lipase supplement. 

Step 4: Take a Bile Production Supplement 

Along with that high fat meal, you may need to encourage the body to produce more bile.  Herbal bitters work well for this and if you don’t like the taste, they come in capsule form

Step 5: Take Binders 

For mercury, cilantro and chlorella work really well as binders, but be careful with the chlorella because with the wrong brand, you could do more harm than good.  I always recommend Sun Chlorella because they make sure to carefully monitor their in-house algae supply so that they don’t create toxins. 

Other heavy metals bind well to volcanic clays like Zeolite.  With Zeolite, you probably want to take it in a capsule form because it does not have a great flavor. 

If you are taking other medications, you may not want to take them with this meal if at all possible because they could be absorbed by the binders and they may not get into your system. 

Step 6: Pass the Heavy Metals 

Now that the heavy metals are bound, and transported to the liver, we have added a high fat meal along with some supplements that will encourage bile production sending the heavy metals into the intestines.  Before they can be reabsorbed, they attach to the binders that you took so that they can be safely passed. 

After some time on this protocol, make sure that you get tested again to measure its effectiveness.  Then, you can enjoy your antioxidant supplement like oral glutathione without succumbing to brain fog because of your heavy metal accumulation. 

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