Strategies for Detoxifying and Ameliorating the Toxic Effects of Lead Poisoning

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Lead has no known beneficial function in human metabolism.

The leading sources of human lead exposure are the following:

  • Lead-containing paint
  • Food stored in lead can liners
  • Food stored in ceramic jars
  • Contaminated water (pipes cast in lead or soldered using lead solder)

In addition to direct ingestion of lead, studies also suggest that lead can be absorbed through the skin.  Once lead is in the human body, it has the ability of cross the blood brain barrier.

Children absorb lead up to 8-times more efficiently than adults.  1

Lead can be excreted from the body through feces or urine.  2  

The toxicological effect of lead can be reviewed at the website Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.


The main focus of this article is to examine the different strategies to detoxify lead from the body and to ameliorate the toxicological effects of lead poisoning.


Detoxification Strategies for Lead Poisoning

Chelation Therapy

Chelation therapy is a medical procedure that involves the administration of chelating agents to remove heavy metals from the body. 

Chelation therapy is used as a treatment for metal poisoning, including acute metal poisoning by:

  • arsenic
  • iron
  • lead
  • mercury
  • plutonium
  • uranium

The chelating agent used for detoxification of metal poisoning is administered either:

  • intravenously
  • intramuscularly
  • orally

Chelation therapy is performed under the supervision of a licensed health care professional.  Patients should seek the advise and counsel from a licensed health care professional when considering chelation therapies.  Patients can contact the The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) for a U.S. national directory of physicians that practice and are licensed as chelation therapists.

There are 4 common chelating agents that are used (in the United States) for chelating lead poisoning:

Chelator

METHOD

Used in
Dimercaprol (British anti-Lewisite; BAL) Intravenous lead poisoning
Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) Oral lead poisoning
Penicillamine Oral lead poisoning
Ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (calcium disodium versante) (CaNa2-EDTA) Intravenous lead poisoning

Two other candidates for chelating lead include:

  • Polygamma-glutamic acid-coated superparamagnetic nanoparticles.  These nanoparticles have been shown to have a high removal level of lead from the gastrointestinal fluid at 147.71 mg per gram.  3 
  • Magnetic chitosan/graphene oxide composites.  A 2013 study found that magnetic chitosan/graphene oxide composites had highly selective adsorption of lead ions at 76.94 mg per gram.  4 

Natural Substances (Nutraceuticals, Foods and Herbs) that Detoxify and Ameliorate the Effects of Lead Poisoning

In addition to the more aggressive chelation therapies administered and supervised by a licensed health care professional, there are certain natural substances that have been studied for their ability to either detoxify lead poisoning and/or ameliorate the toxic effects of lead poisoning.

The Table below lists these various natural substances and their scientific references:

Nutraceuticals, Foods and Herbs that Detoxify and Ameliorate the Effects of Lead Poisoning

CategoryNutraceuticals/Foods/HerbsReferences
Algae
Spirulina1 2
Amino acids
N-Acetyl-Cystiene (NAC)3 4 5
Taurine6 7 8 9
Carbohydrates
Modified Citrus Pectin10
Foods
Poly(gamma-glutamic acid) from Japanese Natto11
Garlic12
Herbs
Ashwagandha13
Coriander14 15
Green Tea16
Hormones
Melatonin17 18 19
Lipids
Fish Oil (DHA and EPA)20
Minerals
Calcium21
Magnesium22
Zinc23
Polyphenols
Curcumin24 25
Quercetin26
Vitamins
Alpha Lipoic Acid27
Vitamin B128
Vitamin C29 30 31 32


Informational References:

Lead and children:  Clinical management for family physicians

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry:  Toxicological Profile For Lead. 2007b;:1–582


Resources:

Spirulina

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)

Taurine

Modified Citrus Pectin

Garlic

Ashwagandha

Coriander

Green Tea

Melatonin

Fish Oil (DHA and EPA)

Calcium

Magnesium

Zinc

Curcumin

Quercetin

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Vitamin B1

Vitamin C


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