I already wrote about my health struggles that recently trickled back in my life, in such a sneaky way that it took me a while to realize something was not right. As I have already described in my previous Detox Diaries blogpost under “Intro to my Detox”, I had vague symptoms characterized by extreme fatigue, digestive issues, severe headaches with intense neck stiffness and brain fog. All of these just made no sense, as I was already following a healthy lifestyle with quality foods and regular exercise. I tried to regain my health by trying different extreme elimination diets, supplements, meditation – you name it I tried it, but I did not succeed. When I finally admitted defeat I made an appointment with an integrative physician in Dubai, Dr. Heather Eade at Novomed Clinic. 

What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is a healing oriented approach to medicine that takes in account the whole person and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affects the person’s health. It uses elements from Western, naturopathic and holistic medicine, and strives to find the root cause of disease and designe treatment accordingly. While Western medicine focuses on managing symptoms, by prescribing medications to lower high blood pressure, or statins to treat high cholesterol; integrative medicine will find the cause and treat it for good, so people don’t need to live on medications for the rest of their life. This approach however will require significant commitment on the patient’s side and willingness to change dietary and lifestyle habits to achieve good health. For example Western medicine uses the umbrella term of “autoimmune diseases” to describe a lot of illnesses that do not have a scientifically well defined cause or a pathogen associated with their origin, such as lupus, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis. An integrative physician would however explore underlying nutrient and vitamin deficiencies; hormone and microbiome imbalances, silent infections such as Lyme disease or Epstein-Barr virus, food allergies or, as in my case, heavy metal overload, as the potential cause of autoimmunity and inflammation. By treating these underlying disorders many of the patients with auto-immune conditions improve tremendously, and can reduce, and in some cases even stop their medications they were prescribed for life. 

 

I first heard of Dr. Heather in the radio, as she was a regular guest on Dubai Eye radio station. She works at the Novomed Clinic located in the Dubai Marina. I found her very pleasant and personable from the beginning, with great bedside manner. Be prepared to wait if you would like to see her – new patients have an average 6 weeks of waiting time to get an appointment, which proves how good she is at what she does. 

During my initial visit, which was 60 minutes long, we went through my entire history in a very detailed fashion. She asked questions about my health, my dietary habits, exercise schedule, supplements, coffee and alcohol consumption, family history of chronic illnesses, general lifestyle inquiries about my sleep and work schedule an so on. Since I already had a lot of my health issues diagnosed, we could really focus on the new symptoms that I started experiencing in the past couple years. She ordered blood tests to evaluate my hormones, she tested the health of my adrenal glands from serial saliva samples, she ordered tests to evaluate my microbiome and potential GI infections and tested me for heavy metals.  

Heavy Metal Testing

My heavy metal test results

Testing heavy metal levels is not easy. These substances like to bind to the tissues, therefore they do not stick around in the blood for too long, they deposit in the internal organs, central nervous system and connective tissues after exposure. As a result, a simple blood test will not be able to detect chronic exposure and toxicity, it can only be used after acute ingestion – which is quite rare. When we talk about heavy metal overload and toxicity, we mean the chronic exposure, that results in accumulation of these substances in the tissues over several years, contributing to a slowly declining health status with vague clinics symptoms. 

In order to adequately evaluate the body’s heavy metal load, one can be tested by measuring the heavy metal levels in hair. This test however can result in false positive results due to environmental exposure, and not very reliable. A better alternative is to test heavy metal in the urine sample, after administration of a chelating agent in the form of an injection. This chelating medication will free up the heavy metals bound in the organs and tissues, and allow the kidneys to excrete them through the urine. This is the test that I had done. After my visit, I was given a dose of dimercaptopropanesulfonic acid (DMPS) injection intravenously, and I was sent home with a large container to collect my urine for the following 6-8 hours. I went back the next day to drop the sample, which was then sent off to the United States for testing.

If you read my previous blog post in the Detox Diaries series, you already know the results – I was diagnosed with SEVERE mercury toxicity, with values 80X above the reference interval, and MODERATE lead toxicity, with values 5X above the reference interval. I was relieved to get this diagnosis, as it meant I had something that could be fixed, and I had a chance to regain my health. 

With the level of poisoning I have, the detoxification process will take a very long time, several months to a year even. This will definitely teach me patience and perseverance, but I am ready to jump in and get on the path of recovery! I was sent home with multiple supplements, vitamins, digestive enzymes and I was prescribed a series of intravenous chelation treatments (a process that allows binding of the metals deposited in my tissues and eliminated via the urine). According to my physician, we need to eliminate the lead from my body with intravenous EDTA infusions first, which I had to receive 4 treatments of, then attack the mercury with 14 treatments of intravenous DMPS infusions. In the meantime, I had to take the prescribed supplements around the clock every day at home to assist with the elimination and detoxification process. 

I will go through all of the supplements  and how they work in a separate blog post, and my plan is to write down my experiences along the way. 

Please let me know if you found this post helpful, or if you have any other questions about integrative medicine, or heavy metal testing. Stay tuned for next week’s post where I write about how I developed mercury poisoning and what are some risk factors that everyone should be looking out for!

Cheers, Nora 

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4 comments

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Cannot wait for the upcoming posts. Very interesting!

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Fascinating. Thanks for sharing this. Very insightful.

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So interesting! I think I’m suffering with the same problem- I’ve seen doctors in the U.K. but they’re quite useless I think, I’m now in Germany and have higher hopes. I have 4 amalgams since I was around 10 y, so 20 years later… pins and needles, headaches, stif neck and shoulders, brain fog, weight gain.. the list is endless. I just ordered a urine toxicity test and will see a holistic dentist tomorrow! Would love to know which supplements you’re taking. I have so far; hawthorn (I have heart palpitations which I’m sure are also related), probiotic, spirulina, wheatgrass, and valerian since my sleep has deteriorated. I really hope you can get back to me! Thanks so much xx

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Dear Emma, I am sorry to hear you are going through this! Such a devastating disease! I take so many supplements!! I am working on a blog post to sum them up, should be ready for the weekend. I also have IV chelation treatments every week. But it is NOT advised to start the detoxification while you still have amalgam fillings! Have those removed first, then start the detox afterwards! connect with me on IG and stay in touch! My goal is to help other people with my experiences! xx

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