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Gulf War Syndrome

Chelation Therapy: A Means of Extracting Heavy Metals

Chelation therapy refers to a treatment in which certain synthetic chemicals and body proteins bind metal molecules, extracting them from the system. Literally, chelation therapy is derived from the Greek word chele, which alludes to a claw-like action imposed upon unwanted materials accumulating in the body. Chelation is currently best associated with the clearance of plaque from the arteries, establishing normal blood flow to the vasculature.

Historically, chelation therapy has been used for other objectives apart from cardiovascular health. As early as 1941, Providence Hospital in Detroit used chelation, employing intravenously administered ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), a synthetic amino acid, to extract lead. EDTA, a nontoxic chelator, also clears mercury, cadmium, nickel, copper, calcium, and other metals from the body. Even physicians who are not proponents of chelation therapy admit that evidence in regard to extracting heavy metals appears convincing. Chelation therapy has been useful in treating schizophrenia and Lou Gehrig's disease as well.

For the 25% of the U.S. population who have varying levels of heavy metal poisoning, the dangers are manifold. Illustrative of this, molecularly, some metals closely resemble the chemical structure of enzymes, with a small amount of the metal chelated into the enzyme's structure (Walker 1990). If an excess of the metals replaces the normal mineral content of the enzyme, the enzyme can become chemically altered and nonfunctional, hindering metabolic activity. Because enzymes ignite detoxification, the process suffers when enzymes are in short supply. The Gulf War veteran who was exposed to unreasonable amounts of environmental metallic poisons could be shutting down enzymatic systems vital to detoxification processes.

The signs of heavy metal poisoning closely resemble the complaints of the service personnel of the Gulf War, for example, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, tremors, anemia, mental confusion, mental illness, depression, tingling in the extremities, abnormal nerve reflexes, insomnia and/or drowsiness, dizziness, irritability, disorientation, decreased male fertility, spontaneous abortions in women, and poor circulation. Virtually every organ system responds adversely to heavy metal accumulations, including the respiratory, cardiovascular, muscular, integumentary (skin, hair, nails), nervous, endocrine, skeletal, urinary, and digestive systems.

Walker (1990) believes that chelation therapy is 3.5 times safer than taking an aspirin tablet for a headache. LD-50 refers to the pharmaceutical term "lethal dose 50," the dose of a substance that is fatal to 50% of test animals. Aspirin has a LD-50 at only 558 mg per kilogram in humans, while EDTA's LD-50 is 2000 mg/kg.

A crucial phase of chelation is re-establishing the beneficial minerals that were extracted, along with the heavy metals. This may be accomplished either orally or intravenously. It would be to the patient's advantage were the physicians using autonomic balancing as the premise for refusion of the minerals. The selection of appropriate minerals to normalize imbalances occurring in the autonomic nervous system appears an integral phase of the success or failure of chelation therapy.

An individual wishing to obtain chelation therapy may want to contact a physician who follows the standard chelation protocol of the American College of Advancement in Medicine. The number of sessions required to enact a change cannot be presupposed, but the recommended maximum dosage is currently about 3 grams of EDTA, dosage usually calculated by body weight, given by IV infusion 1-3 times weekly, as a drip for 3-4 hours. Initially, the dosage may be as small as 1/2-1 gram of EDTA.

Can What You Eat Make a Difference?

According to Dr. Steven Whiting of the Institute of Nutritional Science, supplemental fiber, as well as fibrous food choices, not only protects the digestive system from concentrated toxins, but it also serves as a cleansing factor for many poisons accumulating in the body. Certain foods, such as bran, whole grain wheat, oats, corn, cereals, lentils, beans, peas, peanuts, figs, dates, and apples, are natural chelators. Supplementing with psyllium seed husks, oat, and wheat bran (if not allergic to wheat), and acacia gum, plus emphasizing high-fiber food choices assists in binding noxious materials in the digestive tract and expelling them in fecal material.

Other Treatments for GWS

Mycoplasma Forecast

Nicolson et al. (1998) have released the heartening news, gathered from their research at the Institute for Molecular Medicine, Huntington Beach, CA, that thousands of soldiers are being helped when mycoplasma infections are identified and killed.

The presence of mycoplasma infections in the blood of fractions of patients with CFIDS, FMS, GWS, or RA enable health care professionals to rule out psychological or psychiatric based illness as a causative factor in the above-mentioned conditions and instead direct their efforts toward correction of medical anomalies. Administering antibiotic therapy is sometimes a chosen treatment modality. Appropriate cyclic treatments with antibiotics or other medications that suppress chronic infections have resulted in improvement and even recovery in most of the individuals treated. If blood infections are diagnosed, patients receive continuous antibiotics for at least 6 months before beginning a 6-week cyclic treatment. The recommended treatments for mycoplasmal blood infections require long-term antibiotic therapy, usually multiple 6-week cycles of doxycycline (200-300 mg a day), ciprofloxacin (Cipro) (1500 mg a day), azithromycin (Zithromax) (500 mg a day), or clarithromycin (Biaxin) (750-1000 mg a day). (Note: Administering some antibiotics produces no favorable clinical response; in fact, penicillin results in patients becoming more symptomatic.)

Multiple antibiotic cycles are required because few patients recover after only a few cycles or even within the first year of therapy if the illness is chronic, possibly because of the intracellular locations of the infections and the slow-growing nature of the microorganisms. As with other treatments used to rid infiltrations of noxious materials or microorganisms, a Herxheimer's reaction usually occurs, meaning the patient feels poorer than before beginning the curative. This reaction occurs as die-off or release of toxic materials from damaged microorganisms is increased. As die-off decreases, stabilization occurs, and the patient slowly moves nearer recovery.

Confounding the treatment, some patients recover only to a certain point and then fail to continue to respond to the antibiotics, suggesting that other problems, such as viral infections, environmental exposures, and other toxic events, are working synergistically with the microorganism to produce a state of ill health.

A 3-year follow-up of antibiotic therapy by the SHASTA CFIDS Association of Northern California reported that a majority (about 80%) of the patients with confirmed mycoplasmal infections who participated in the antibiotic therapy recovered from 50-100% of their preillness health, within the 3 years.

Antibiotics are not without their dark side. Apart from an ugly list of side effects that commonly accompany antibiotic therapy, antibiotics can disrupt the friendly flora that resides symbiotically in the gut. Gut flora represents several pounds of highly sensitive material that is regarded as immune modulating. Disturbance of "friendly flora" can antagonize the immune and inflammatory process. Reinoculation of the gut with cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium breve is vital to recovery. Selection of a probiotic that is touted to be antibiotic resistant is recommended.

To be successful, each patient must comply with a complementary health approach that employs the best of orthodox and natural medicine. Gulf War veterans presenting with mycoplasmas typically display nutritional deficiencies and poor absorption that must be corrected. Mega vitamin/mineral therapy is warranted, and sublingual or liquid supplements should be considered. Vitamin C, which detoxifies most heavy metals (5-15 grams daily, in divided doses), vitamin E (600-1000 IU daily), CoQ10 (50-150 mg daily), bioflavonoids (200 mg 3 times a day), choline (1000 mg daily, in divided doses), inositol (750 mg daily), vitamin B5 (500-1500 mg daily), PABA (500-1000 mg daily), sublingual vitamin B12 (1000 mcg daily dose), and flaxseed or fish oils (1 tbsp daily), along with minerals, such as zinc (50 mg daily), calcium (1000 mg a day), and selenium (up to 300 mcg a day), may be used. Minerals should be taken apart from antibiotics because minerals can affect antibiotic absorption. Garlic (Allium sativum) is a potent detoxifier. Use 2 capsules (300 mg each) 3 times a day with meals. Use 500 mg of L-cysteine, L-tyrosine, L-glutamine, and L-carnitine daily on an empty stomach.

Interest has been keen in regard to patients wishing to be tested for mycoplasmas, though additional volunteers are welcomed into the clinical trials conducted by the VA. The Institute for Molecular Medicine can test patients for evidence of mycoplasmal infections and other infections of the types that worsen human diseases, such as chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome, fibromyalgia syndrome, Gulf War syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis. Blood sample can be sent to:

  • Prof. Garth L. Nicolson
    The Institute for Molecular Medicine
    15162 Triton Lane
    Huntington Beach, CA 92649-1401
    Tel: 714-903-2900
    Fax: 714-379-2082


Dr. Robert W. Bradford, president of Bradford Research Institute, states that Dioxychlor is the major oxidant of demonstrated effectiveness, capable of ridding the system of pathogenic organisms. An inorganic compound composed of chlorine and two atoms of nascent oxygen covalently bonded, Dioxychlor is currently being used to treat individuals suffering with GWS, Epstein-Barr virus, and cytomegalovirus. Nicolson (1998) reported the usefulness of this therapy.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics bring short-term relief of infections, but the positive effect of antibiotics may be countered by long-term negativity. The Bradford Institute has determined that environmental diseases are typically characterized by systemic Candida, numerous allergies, autoimmune disorders, and compromised antigen kill. Largely, these disorders are iatrogenic in nature, meaning they are caused by either diagnostic or treatment procedures. Chronic or haphazard administering of antibiotics participates in this decadent cascade.

Dioxychlor, a homeopathic substance displaying low toxicity, offers an alternative to this quandary. Dioxychlor appears to destroy mycoplasmas while reducing sensitivity reactions and improving the status of gravely ill patients, such as those suffering from ALS.

An oral dose of Dioxychlor is 5-20 drops in 2 oz of water (4 tbsp), 1-3 times daily, based on patient tolerance. Should "die off" of foreign materials intensify symptoms, reduce the dosage. Dioxychlor can also be administered by slow drip with the assistance of a qualified physician.

A Single Herbal that Appears Helpful in Gulf War Syndrome Complaints

Duke (1997), botanist and humanitarian, illustrates that yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) contains herbal activity that may prove beneficial in regard to symptoms apparent in those stricken with GWS, for example, headache, myalgia, spasms, mycoplasmosis, ischemia, rheumatism, nervousness, sores, and cardiopathy.

Yellow sweet clover contains 0.9-2% coumarin, which may be the substance that elicits the benefit. Coumarin should, however, be used cautiously, for high doses can cause symptoms, such as headache, stupor, thinning of blood, and elevated liver enzymes, which appear transient upon discontinuance.

Individuals wishing to purchase yellow sweet clover may do so by contacting the following two suppliers:

  • Dragon River Herbals
    P.O. Box 74
    Ojo Caliente, NM 87549
    Tel: (800) 813-2118
  • Mark's Drugs Roselle
    384 E. Irving Park Rd.
    Roselle, Illinois 60172
    Tel: (630) 529-3400

Use 1/2 tsp (30 drops), taken 2-3 times a day, for 7-10 days. It is advisable to observe a 3-5-day respite from yellow sweet clover before repeating the herbal therapy.

Oxygenation Therapy

Oxidative therapy can be useful in suppressing a variety of anaerobic infections when administered at 1.5 ATM for 60 minutes. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) refers to a monoplace chamber, in which only one patient is entirely enclosed in a pressure chamber, breathing oxygen at a pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. HBO is regarded as a therapeutic modality because significant physiological mechanisms are activated as a result. HBO delivers 10-15 times the oxygen to tissues as normal breathing. Popularly, HBO is used in the formation of new capillaries around a wound area and to treat anemia, ischemia, and some poisonings.

The flooding of the body with oxygen, as in hyperbaric therapy, tends to remove other gases, such as carbon monoxide and acute cyanide poisoning. HBO inhibits the growth of a number of anaerobic, as well as aerobic, organisms by enhancing phagocytic activity. This effect complements the improved action of host disease-fighting factors and is useful in disorders involving immunosuppression. Studies have demonstrated a prolonged postantibiotic effect when hyperbaric oxygen is combined with therapeutic dosages of antibiotics.