Let us talk about IV Chelation Therapy and Heavy Metal Detox with Dr. Jessica Tran, ND.
Meet Dr. Jessica Tran, ND
Dr. Jessica Tran is a doctor of naturopathic medicine practicing in Irvine, California. In her integrative medical practice she has a special emphasis on the impact of environmental factors on the human body. Dr. Tran’s comprehensive and diverse training allows her to combine traditional medical practice with complementary and alternative medicine. She completed a three-year Environmental Medicine fellowship, and served as Clinical Faculty in both the Departments of Environmental Medicine and General Medicine at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, Tempe AZ. To learn more about her long list of additional credential visit her practice’s website.
In a recent interview with Dr. Jessica Tran we were discussing the topic: —-> IV Chelation Therapy and detoxing from heavy metals
In this blogpost you are going to learn about environmental medicine, specially focusing on heavy metal toxicity and IV chelation therapy. Using myself as an example, I’m going to show you my personal heavy metal tests and how we approached putting together a treatment plan.
Going through my own health journey lead me to Dr. Tran, she practices near where I live in Orange County, California and after working with her for a year I was able to convince her to join me for an interview. I have been dealing with both mold and heavy metal toxicity and as of writing this post I have now completed 7 rounds of IV Chelation Therapy with her.
As far as mold, I have very high levels of Ochratoxin A and Gliotoxin that I have been trying to detox for a long time. Mold toxicity can be a very serious health issue if you are one of those people like me with impaired detox pathways. Interestingly it is very common for people with mold toxicity to also have issues with heavy metal toxicity which is the focus of this post today.
I have known from previous tests that I have high levels of mercury and lead and had previously attempted to do other forms of chelation therapies using binders and sauna prior to working with Dr. Tran, but as my health issues were expressing increasingly serious symptoms of brain-fog, migraines, fatigue, weight gain, joint pain and a generally dysregulated immune system I decided to pursue IV Chelation Therapy as a last ditch effort in getting these very toxic heavy metals out of my body.
What is environmental medicine?
Environmental Medicine is about evaluating the interaction between a person and the environment. Each individual has a unique genetic ability to handle a toxic load and there are no two people that have the same exact makeup or do they respond in the same manner. In environmental medicine, all aspects of a person’s environment are evaluated from the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of wellness as it relates to environmental factors.
Through my own biohacking journey I knew that I had to find a physician that had extensive experience with chelation therapy. Surprisingly it wasn’t easy to find a knowledgeable practitioner, even here in Southern California… the mecca of alternative medicine.
Dr. Tran interviewed for this post, completed a three-year fellowship in Environmental Medicine and she trained with William Rea, MD, founder of the Environmental Medicine Center in Dallas. She was also mentored by Doris Rapp, MD who was a pioneer in environmental medicine. During her residency, fellowship, and as a clinical faculty, she worked along the side Walter Crinnion, ND, who combined the naturopathic medical philosophy and therapeutics to Environmental Medicine and they worked on several projects and research papers together in regard to chelation therapy.
What is chelation therapy?
Chelation therapy is used in the treatment of removing toxic metals and for the management of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular conditions. Studies shown to benefit patients with diabetes-associated cardiovascular disease.
Interviewing Dr. Tran she explained that the health concerns she mostly saw in the clinical setting ranged from all aspects of chronic illnesses such as metabolic issues, cancer, neurological conditions, endocrine disorders, immune dysfunction, and autoimmune conditions.
During her residency Dr. Tran had seen some very impressive results with IV chelation therapy from a woman who was able to stand and walk out of her wheelchair to non-verbal children being able to talk. (Watch our full interview above where Dr. Tran goes into more details).
Do you have issues with heavy metal toxicity?
We are all exposed to toxic metals and it just depends on how well our body is able to clear it out. It is the combination of the person's toxic level in the context of their ability to handle their load, which is both depends on the person’s genetics and nutrient status.
People with common signs of cognitive decline, memory issues, high blood pressure, inability to lose weight, diabetes, cancer, and both children and adults on the autistic spectrum are red-flagged for possible heavy metal toxicity. Memory issues, tremors of unknown origin that are often described as a Parkinsonism-like tremor but is not diagnosed as Parkinson's, or known toxic metal exposures may all be candidates for further investigation, and testing.
You can test heavy metals through blood, hair and urine. The most typical is that your doctor going to test your blood and urine if you are working with a functional medicine or integrative physician (as most allopathic doctors will simply run a blood test and unless you have some crazy-high recent exposure that will show up in your blood, they will probably dismiss the issue all together and tell you “not to worry about it”).
There are various chelating agents that have a different binding affinity to different metals. EDTA-ethylenediamine-is considered a true chelating agent while the other agents are weaker metal binders in comparison. The other metal-binding agents are DMSA, DMPS, and penicillamine. Glutathione is also classified as a very mild chelator because it can help mobilize and lower a toxic metal burden along with other supportive nutritional therapies.
As an example, below I’m going to show you 3 different tests taken a few weeks and months apart with different provoking agents, so when looking at each test, be sure to look at what provoking agent is used so you can see what metals are mobilized the most….
The heavy metals most commonly associated with poisoning of humans are lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium. Heavy metal poisoning may occur as a result of industrial exposure, air or water pollution, foods, medicines, improperly coated food containers, or the ingestion of lead-based paints.
The most common heavy metal Dr. Tran sees in her practice that cause problems is mercury that most often comes from eating larger fish such as swordfish or tuna that eats smaller fish and thus mercury bioaccumulate in their tissues. This is a reason why women who are pregnant or looking to become pregnant are told to limit the amount of fish they eat. Mercury can also come from dental amalgam fillings, approx. half (50%) of dental amalgam is elemental mercury by weight.
Working with Dr. Tran, we determined that out of all the metals mercury was also the most serious issue for me and DMPS in combination with IV Glutathione (GSH) was the best IV chelating combo to pull the mercury out of my system. Below you can see my initial treatment plan:
-IV Chelation therapy every two weeks that also included some other nutritional IV therapies that varied week by week
-Continuous testing for mineral deficiencies that frequently show up with IV chelation - as you bind metals you may also end up pulling out other minerals from the body that later can result in mineral deficiencies.
-I was also taking DMSA orally, trace minerals, fiber, liposomal glutathione and other supplements and
-Colon hydrotherapy following the IV chelation to further support my body’s detox pathways.
At the time of this blog post I have now completed the 12 weeks and my follow up tests still showing very high amounts of metals.
The process can be extremely frustrating from the patient’s standpoint because your physician really doesn’t have a way to tell you what your over-all body burden of metals are. The way Dr. Tran explained it to me is that “it is like hitting a beehive with a baseball bet, a certain amount of bees will fly out every time, but you don’t really know how many bees are in the hive.”
You body is storing these metals in your tissues and when chelating your body is releasing a certain amount each time, so what you can see with repeated testing is your body’s ability to mobilize the metals. Thus seeing high numbers when provoked on a urine test is considered “good” as your body is able to pull the toxin out and eliminate it.
The frustrating part of this process is that I personally don’t know how long it will take to get to a point where the vast majority of mercury is eliminated from my body. This is an expensive undertaking, both the cost of chelation and supportive therapies, and the time and effort that needs to be invested into the process.
So how long does it take and how do you know when you are done?
It is based on the symptoms and the laboratory evaluations. It can take as short as 1 month to 2 years or longer. Often times it is slow and steady treatments spread over time; however, some people may need more frequent sessions. For some people dealing with chronic health issues, it can be a lifelong maintenance and a very “clean” lifestyle that is centered around detoxing.
[Update: July 2021: I continued my chelation therapy treatments until June 2021, and you can see my last heavy metal test results that I uploaded. My Mercury came down from 85 to 8.4 and my Lead from 14 to 5.5. (These tests are not completely apples to apples as we used various chelating agents, but still roughly you can see the numbers coming down. It took me almost 9 months and I have to say it was a huge time and financial commitment to do this. I still have some track marks on my arms from all the IVs… there was a lot of other detox modalities that were part of the process that also took a lot of time, money and energy. ]
What should you do if you suspect you have heavy metal toxicity?
Find a doctor that is trained in evaluating and treating people with toxic metals. Most naturopathic doctors have this training. Here’s how you can find a qualified physician:
While the process of detoxing from heavy metals is not easy, it is very important for your health optimization and longevity. Here’s a few ways you can get started with detoxing heavy metals without going to a doctor:
Consume a high fiber diet (Lots of vegetables, and/or take a good fiber supplement),
Practice dry skin brushing daily,
Make sure you are pooping every day (Mag O7 is a good supplement if you need help),
Sweat regularly (High intensity exercise and/or getting an infra red sauna),
Liposomal glutathione 500 mg 2x a day
I hope this information was helpful getting you started. Feel free to leave me a comment with questions.
To learn more about Dr. Jessica Tran, ND please visit her website, and follow her Instagram.
I’m passionate about building a women’s health focused biohacking community that is run by women and shares women’s perspectives on health and wellness.