CHRONIC ACQUIRED IRON OVERLOAD -
A DISEASE OF CIVILIZATION
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© August 2011, The Center for Development
Iron is a vital mineral in the human body. Iron overload, however, is deadly. Most physicians believe it is rare and mainly hereditary. In fact, it is far more common and more dangerous than many people imagine.
Conditions in which iron can be a factor include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Others include chronic infections, hair loss, hypothyroidism, hyperactive behavior, violence and many more conditions.
The causes of iron toxicity are discussed below. However, what is important is that a properly designed nutritional balancing program can reverse iron toxicity in most cases, even rather advanced cases of those with a diagnosis of hemosiderosis and hemochromatosis. The latter two diseases are considered hereditary and incurable, but this is not true. For a short case history, see the Testimonials Page on this website.
THE ROLES OF IRON
Iron has three major roles in the body:
1. It helps transport oxygen to the cells from the lungs. Hemoglobin is the main iron-bearing substance in the body. It carries oxygen to all the body cells. Any problems in this system and a person becomes very tired and will die if it is not corrected. This is the single most critical function of iron in our bodies.
2. Iron is needed for energy production in every cell. Energy production requires the conversion of sugars, fats and proteins into adenosine triphosphate or ATP, the form that the body uses for all its activities and healing as well. Iron, as well as copper, are required for energy production. Low energy will result in cancer eventually in every person with iron problems.
3. Catalase Production. Catalase is an enzyme that travels around the body and picks up free oxygen atoms called free radicals. This protects the body from free radical damage, a very important function.
4. Other Roles. Iron is also involved in the sense of direction. Human beings and the animals, especially birds, use the magnetic properties of iron, manganese and other magnetic elements to navigate the globe with amazing accuracy. Small deposits of these ferrous metals in the brain are used like compasses to direct the creature on its way.
ACQUIRED OR HEREDITARY TOXICITY?
Recent articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere indicate that a person may have iron overload without having either the hemochomatosis gene or other obvious reasons for the problem such as multiple blood transfusions or other obvious exposure.
In another study of heart disease, 13% of those screened had indicators of iron overload. This cannot be explained by heredity. It also correlates with findings in my own practice and that of other researchers and physicians using nutritional balancing science.
Let us say a few words about iron deficiency, a much more well-known problem. This is a severe problem in certain parts of the world, especially Africa where malaria and other parasitic diseases cause blood destruction and other problems.
In America, it is found most often in poor children, those with chronic illnesses or bleeding that can deplete iron rapidly, in some menstruating women and in strict vegetarians.
In many cases of iron deficiency anemia, as it is called, the cause is not really poor iron levels. It is copper toxicity, and or biounavailable iron. This concept was presented earlier in this article. This is a most confusing aspect of “iron deficient anemia”. In fact, many physicians prescribe iron to patients who do not need it, including most menstruating women who have copper toxicity and copper biounavailability causing their anemia. This wastes their time and leads to worsening iron overload problems in these young women.
We hope that this article will bring to the attention of physicians the need to be more careful before prescribing iron pills to their patients, including those who appear to have an iron-deficiency anemia.
IRON IN THE AVERAGE DIET
There is some evidence that the average American diet includes excess iron for men but perhaps not enough for menstruating women. I tend to disagree with this, as many women today have iron toxicity to some degree, as revealed on hair mineral analyses.
Higher iron foods include liver, kidneys, all red meats, chicken, turkey, eggs, clams, oysters, other seafood, many fish, kelp, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s and torula yeast, bone meal, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, dark green vegetables, and soybeans. Iron is also added to most white flour products, and it is found in some vitamin pills and other vitamin/mineral preparations.
EXCESSIVE SOURCES OF IRON
1. White Flour Products. The most important single source of excess iron is refined wheat flour products. The product is labeled as wheat flour, but it means refined white flour. Only whole wheat flour really is the genuine article.
In the 1920s, it was found that animals fed a diet of white flour developed serious neurological diseases and then died. Instead of banning this product, the US Food and Drug Administration declared that most white flour products must be “enriched” with iron and a few vitamins to “correct” the problem. Unfortunately, the enrichment has created an even worse situation in many cases that results in diabetes, heart disease and cancer for millions of people.
First, “enrichment” enhances the iron content far more than is healthful. Secondly, it is “enriched” with a very poorly used and toxic form of iron. Third, the food is stripped of all its trace minerals.
Third, wheat today is very high in glutamine, an inflammatory amino acid, and often contains other irritating chemicals such as chlorine and bromine used as bleaching agents. It is a thoroughly toxic brew, found even in some “health foods”.
Fourth, the body requires minerals and will absorb whatever is available. The white flour is stripped of its trace elements, creating a nutritional deficiency condition. The iron is plentiful and thus the body absorbs more than it would if there were a natural balance of minerals in the flour.
Fifth, iron is selectively absorbed by the body. This is a vital survival mechanism because of the great importance of iron for oxygen transport in the blood. We hope this explains the deadly combination of problems with bleached, refined white flour, mistakenly labeled often as “wheat flour”.
2. Vitamin Supplements And Tonics With Iron. Doctors and a few health food advocates routinely prescribe iron and iron-containing potions, even when they are not indicated medically. Some prescription and a number of over-the-counter drugs also contain iron.
Prenatal vitamins are the one type of vitamin that should contain plenty of iron. Here also, however, it is usually a form of iron that is poorly utilized and toxic. Chelated iron is better than most forms found in these products. Dessicated or dried liver is also better absorbed, but is toxic today due to other toxic metals in the liver, so it is not used too often.
3. Red Meat And, To A Limited Degree, All Dark-colored Foods. Red meats are excellent sources of iron. However, they can be overdone. Beef is the number one culprit here. We recommend some lamb, but never more than once or twice per week due to its iron content.
Vegetables contain less iron and less protein. This greatly reduces the availability of iron from vegetables. Lower iron intake is an important reason why some advocate a vegetarian diet.
Unfortunately, these diets tend to be deficient in other nutrients and this eventually leads to problems that are even worse than iron toxicity. For this reason we do not recommend vegetarian diets for more than a few weeks, for example for cancer patients.
Tobacco can be high in iron depending on the soil on which it is grown. Alcohol intake of any amount tends to worsen iron overload difficulties because alcohol depletes zinc, an important iron antagonist.
4. Pollution. Iron contamination of the air, water and soil is quite common, especially in iron-producing areas of the nation such as the Midwestern US and parts of California, Arizona and others as well. Industrial iron contamination may also occur anywhere.
Iron overload in shellfish and even other foods often contributes to “food poisoning”. Vegetables grown on iron-rich or iron-contaminated soils and may also contain high levels of iron. Water supplies, especially if the water is slightly yellow or orange, are a common source of excess inorganic iron. Wells should always be tested for iron contamination.
5. Occupational Exposure. Welders, electrical workers who use solder, iron and pipe workers, steel fabricators and other occupations may expose one to enormous quantities of toxic iron.
6. Congenital Iron Toxicity (excessive iron present at birth). Most children today are born with some excess iron. They may still be anemic because their iron is not all bioavailable (see the section on biounavailability).
Large amounts of white flour, red meats and vitamins with iron consumed by young women can contaminate their bodies with iron. Some is passed on through the placenta to their children, causing chronic infections, developmental delays and behavior and learning disorders among other children’s conditions.
7. Other Physical Sources. Iron cookware is a source of iron if used to cook tomatoes or other acidic foods. Rarely is this a major problem, however, if the other sources are not in the picture. Iron is common in the earth, so it can find its way into many foods grown in naturally iron-rich soil.
8. Emotional Iron Sources. Holding on to one’s anger or rage appears to keep iron in the body. While this is not a source of iron toxicity, it still has an extremely damaging effect.
While some anger is normal and even healthy at times, dwelling on one’s anger when it is time to let it go has this effect on our bodies.
In fact, anger, rage, and hostility, all traits associated with iron, are qualities associated with planet earth, which happens to be an iron-rich planet.
HOW IRON DAMAGES THE BODY
1. Iron Replaces Other Vital Minerals Causing Enzyme Dysfunction. Understanding this requires knowledge of the concept of preferred minerals. It basically states that all enzymes in the body have ideally a certain mineral in each binding site that allows the enzyme to function most efficiently.
If, however, the preferred mineral is not available, the enzyme will accept a less preferred mineral in its place to allow the enzyme to function at all.
Iron replaces other vital minerals such as zinc, copper manganese, and many others in hundreds or even thousands of enzyme binding sites. This cause the enzymes to malfunction and leads to many physical and emotional symptoms.
The problem of mineral replacement is made worse by the fact that all minerals compete for absorption. Iron enjoys a selective advantage. That is, it is selectively absorbed because of its essential role in oxygen transfer. This mechanism of iron absorption definitely works against a person who is eating white flour, lots of red meat, and perhaps smokes or drinks a little alcohol, for example. Adding orange juice at breakfast makes it worse, because vitamin C enhances iron absorption greatly.
The person becomes greatly saturated with iron at the expense of other trace elements that are already deficient in the food supply.
2. Inflammation. When iron replaces other elements in the body, in addition to enzyme malfunction, the next most important problem it causes is inflammation.
This occurs because iron attracts oxygen directly to it. Then, when it contacts delicate body tissues, the singlet oxygen molecules, termed free radicals, detach and destroy body tissues. This mechanism is called oxidant damage or free radical damage, a potent cause of inflammation.
Oxidant damage contributes to many other problems as well. These include insufficient repair of the organs and tissues to meet the needs of the body. This, in turn, can cause every disorder imaginable from heart disease to cancer to hyperactive behavior.
Aging is though to be caused by oxidant damage and it may be a direct effect of iron toxicity. This is rarely diagnosed, however, unless one happens to undergo special blood tests or a liver biopsy for iron.
3. Toxic Iron Oxide. Iron oxide is formed when iron combines with several atoms of oxygen at once. It is biologically useless and quite toxic as well
4. Bacterial Growth Stimulant. Due to its properties as an excellent oxygen transporter, iron tends to stimulate the growth of common bacteria. This is a significant cause for chronic infections in our population.
5. Cellular Poison (Cancer). Imbalances related to iron reduce the output of cellular energy in the body. This leads directly to cancer, which is basically a parasite on the human body. It uses an inferior energy generating system based on direct conversion of sugar to energy without the many intermediary steps associated with the Krebs and glycolysis cycles.
Iron Synergists. Certain substances and situations favor iron accumulation and absorption. These invariably make iron poisoning worse.
For example, vitamin C and other acidic substances like tomatoes can increase iron absorption. Copper can be an iron synergist as well, although it is also an iron antagonist in the intestinal tract. This means it competes with iron for absorption in the intestines.
Copper can build up in the body to mask the presence of iron. This often occurs and is revealed on some hair tissue mineral analyses.
Other iron synergists would include white flour products for a variety of reasons other than their iron content. For example, any mineral-deficient food will enhance absorption of iron if iron is present in the diet, as it often is.
Other iron synergists are stress, anger, frustration, resentment, hostility, fear and other such negative emotions. The mechanisms for this are more complex and beyond the scope of this article. See the section on iron in the hair tissue analyses for some elaboration of this topic.
ORGAN AND TISSUE EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE OR BIOUNAVAILABLE IRON
We have discussed the major types of damage caused by iron excess. Each of these mechanisms affects all the organs and tissues of the body. Thus the damage done by iron and other toxic metals with similar properties is very complex and comprehensive. However, some organs and tissues are damaged more extensively than others by iron.
For example, all organs and tissues are affected by generalized inflammation. The manifestation will vary, however, depending on the function or functions of the particular organ or tissue and upon its resonance or its generalized response to the presence of excessive iron.
Organs that may be most affected by iron are the pancreas, liver, kidneys, brain, heart, arteries, and joints. This is not so much because the mineral deposits there. In fact, more iron is in the liver than elsewhere, but so are many other minerals deposited there. It is more about the resonance or response of the organ to the energy or structure, more properly, of the iron molecule or combinations that iron forms with oxygen and other elements.
The liver and iron. The liver can be saturated with iron, and in Chinese medicine the liver is the seat of iron. It is associated with an attitude of anger and rage. Iron also accumulates in the amygdala, a part of the brain associated with anger and rage.
However, it can accumulate everywhere in the brain and is certainly one cause of dementia related to aging, since iron accumulates with age, as a general rule. As it does so, it replaces other vital minerals such as chromium, molybdenum, selenium, germanium and others in vital organs, glands and tissues.
SYMPTOMS AND CONDITIONS OF IRON OVERLOAD
These are extremely numerous. I will list the most important of these as they will serve as a guide for other researchers to investigate. In fact, this entire article is designed to spur investigation of problems associated with iron.
Physical Ailments Associated With Iron Poisoning.
1) Diabetes. This is known in the medical literature and is sometimes referred to as bronze diabetes. However, we feel that researchers will learn that more than this is due to iron overload, in subtle ways. Iron replaces many minerals that can give rise to symptoms of diabetes.
2. Cancer. This is another subtle situation in which researchers will find, we believe, that many cases of cancer are indirectly caused by or related to iron overload from non-hereditary causes.
3. Nervous System Diseases. These may include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and behavioral abnormalities, including violence, anti-social behavior, ADHD, autistic characteristics and other. A bad temper is often related to iron toxicity, as mentioned earlier.
4. Hypertension And All Cardiac Conditions. Iron has an ability to enhance the hardness of the arteries, as does cadmium. So the blood pressure rises, without any obvious cause. Arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, cardiac stenosis, cardiomyopathy and others are included in the list of cardiac difficulties that are known to occur with hemosiderosis and hemochromatosis and can occur with acquired iron overload as well.
5. Kidney Problems of Many Types. Iron can accumulate here, causing hypertension, renal failure and other difficulties.
6. Inflammatory Symptoms. These include a wide range of disorders and syndromes, ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome to lupus, myelination diseases such as multiple sclerosis and others.
7. It may also include milder, minor forms of inflammation such as random aches and pains, premenstrual syndrome, headache syndromes and so many other inflammatory conditions that may occur in children and adults.
IRON AND HAIR TISSUE MINERAL ANALYSIS
Hair tissue mineral analysis is helpful to identify an iron imbalance in most cases, but one must not just use the hair iron level. Here are the main indicators:
1. HAIR TISSUE IRON GREATER THAN ABOUT 2 MG%. this indicator applies mainly to an initial hair mineral test, though not necessarily. On a retest, during a nutritional balancing program, the hair iron may elevate as the body eliminates excess iron through the hair, so the indicator is less reliable on retests.
2. IRON IN THE POOR ELIMINATOR RANGE. This is a hair tissue iron level of less than about 1.2 mg%. It indicates the body is having difficulty eliminating iron. For more on this new and exciting mineral analysis pattern, read Poor Eliminator Pattern on this website.
3. ELEVATED ‘AMIGOS’, SUCH AS MANGANESE OR ALUMINUM, IN MOST CASES. When aluminum is above about 1.2 mg% or manganese is greater than about 0.04 mg% in the hair tissue, iron toxicity with biounavailable iron is almost always present to some degree.
4. OTHER ‘AMIGOS’ IN THE POOR ELIMINATOR RANGE. This means that aluminum or manganese, usually, are very low in the hair. The poor eliminator range for aluminum is when it is less than 0.65 mg% and for manganese when it is less than about 0.015 mg%.
Ideal Hair Iron Levels. The ideal iron level in the hair should probably be about 1.8-2 mg% or 20 parts per million in an unwashed hair sample. This fact is important because the suggested normal value varies from lab to lab. Often people just read the level as low, high or normal. It is important to actually review the level, not just whether it seems low, normal or high.
This term means that iron is present somewhere in the body but is unable to be utilized properly. Iron is called biounavailable:
1) If it cannot be bound properly. Iron must be bound to a protein molecule such as ferritin, metallothionein or other, if it is to be transported properly throughout the body. If it is not bound correctly, it builds up in the tissues and cannot be utilized in many chemical reactions.
2) If it is in a valence that cannot be used. For example, iron can have a valence of +2, +3, or under rare circumstances, +4. It must be in the correct one to be used properly. Copper, manganese and other minerals are involved in the conversion of iron, for example from the ferrous, or +2 form to the ferric or +3.
3) In certain molecules such as an oxide.
4) Other complex biochemical reasons. For example, iron may be so bound up with other protein carriers that it cannot be freed up for utilization in other areas. Chelating agents do just that for therapeutic purposes. However, it can happen for other reasons as well that are pathological.
5) Iron may be biounavailable if it cannot be absorbed. This occurs with some malabsorption syndromes that affect the upper intestinal area where iron is mainly absorbed. This subject is huge and beyond the scope of this article. For example, if one eats a lot of manganese in a food or even a vitamin pill, it will inhibit the absorption of iron to some degree. This makes the iron less bioavailable that is in the food or drink. Eating iron with protein or vitamin C, for example, increases its bioavailability by increasing its rate of absorption.
For example, eating just one food at a meal, or taking a digestive enzyme, can greatly enhance the absorption of iron and any other substance by reducing competition for the minerals or enhancing digestive capacity to, for instance, break down the fiber in meat or vegetables. This is why we so often recommend digestive aids and simplified meals. Overeating can greatly reduce iron bioavailability by overwhelming the digestive capacity and blocking absorption by overstimulating the absorptive mechanisms.
This is a vital concept to understand. Otherwise the practitioner will be confused, as some patients have signs and/or symptoms of too much iron while at the same time they and others may show signs and/or symptoms of deficiency. Tests for iron such as TIBC, ferritin and the hair analysis may also be totally confused if one does not understand bioavailability.
Biounavailability may cause the iron levels on hair tissue mineral tests and even blood tests to appear low when they are really normal or even high. Please recall this well.
Biounavailable Iron Effects On The Adrenal Glands or the Nervous System. Biounavailable iron appears to irritate the adrenal glands or perhaps other parts of the sympathetic nervous system. This appears to have the effect of pushing up the sodium readings on hair tissue mineral analyses when the test is performed without washing the hair at the laboratory.
This seems to be an adaptive mechanism to help boost adrenal activity and maintain the sodium level in the tissues, which is very important. However, it is a toxic mechanism that does not produce health. Manganese, aluminum and perhaps other minerals, especially in a biounavailable and toxic form such as oxides, appear to do the same thing. These are called the ‘friends’ or ‘amigos’ for this reason, and are often found together in the bodies of slow oxidizers, in particular. Slow oxidizers have exhausted adrenals and are the ones most needing a boost, perhaps. This topic is also discussed in an article entitled Iron, Manganese and Aluminum.
IRON ELIMINATION METHODS
Iron is difficult for the human body to eliminate. This may be because iron is such an essential mineral. The body conserves iron carefully, rather than risk excreting too much. Humans often had to survive on low-iron vegetable diets for months, so iron conservation was essential.
Today we have the opposite situation in many parts of the world. White flour in enormous amounts, along with red meat and iron-rich vegetables are in abundance in most developed nations. Also, excessive iron in the air and water supplies are common. The only methods I am aware of to remove excess iron from the body are:
1. Nutritional balancing programs.
2. Phlebotomy or bleeding (removing blood).
3. Iron chelating drugs and other substances.
Let us discuss each of these methods:
Nutritional balancing programs. A properly designed nutritional balancing program easily removes toxic iron only from the body. I am surprised how easily and how consistently this occurs. This type of regimen combines six or seven methods of eliminating iron at once. Iron is removed gently, quickly in most cases, and very safely. Here are the basic components of this program:
1) Diet. Iron toxicity is often largely caused by dietary imbalances. The diet must:
a) Exclude white flour and some red meat except perhaps lamb once or twice a week. Other restrictions for iron are usually not needed, except perhaps to avoid molasses, red beets or other very high-iron foods or using a lot of iron cookware.
b) The diet must be correct for one’s metabolic type, based upon a properly performed hair mineral analysis. This is vital in some cases.
c) Eliminate all sugars, including most all fruit, all fruit juices, which upset blood sugar, and all other sweet foods.
d) Reduce all chemicals in the diet such as excitotoxins like MSG, aspartame and other chemical additives found in many prepared foods.
e) Eliminate other foods that are refined, such as all white rice, white sugars and refined flour, even if it is not enriched with iron.
f) Eat bout 70% cooked vegetables and some animal protein daily.
2) More Rest, Emotional Adjustment, if needed, And A Healthful, Low-Stress Lifestyle. Rest, stress reduction and releasing negative emotions are essential for the best results.
Emotions such as anger, rage and resentment greatly increases iron retention in some individuals. The body seeks to maintain adequate adrenal activity by retaining iron and manganese, among other minerals. These, in fact, can irritate weak adrenal glands, which keeps the adrenals pumping out hormones when they would prefer rest.
3) Reduce The Activity Of The Sympathetic Nervous System. The sympathetic nervous system inhibits proper digestion, proper elimination and many other vital body functions. It is a fight-or-flight response that millions of people are caught in.
To help reduce sympathetic nervous activity, sauna therapy and the use of foods and nutrients that relax the nervous system are most helpful. This includes the avoidance of all stimulants and refined sugars (including most fruit and juices). Fruit should be limited as most of it contains excessive sugars and often pesticide residues. Also, excitotoxins are dangerous for the person with iron toxicity. These include chemicals that stimulate the sympathetic system such as caffeine, MSG and aspartame (also called Equal or Nutrasweet).
Supplements such as calcium/magnesium, zinc, copper, ox bile and pancreatin have a parasympathetic effect.
Other methods to reduce sympathetic nervous activity include meditation, relaxation, rest with daily naps, and other lifestyle modifications designed to relax a person.
4) Balance the oxidation rate, as revealed on a properly performed hair tissue mineral analysis. This is most important because this balancing, done with foods, nutrients, lifestyle changes and some basic detoxification procedures, will increase the efficiency of energy production. Increased cellular or adaptive energy can assist every healing process. This balancing process is unique to this program. The other components can be used without the balancing, but the program will not be as effective.
5) Assist the Eliminative Organs. Any method that assists the liver, kidneys, bowels and skin will help remove iron, as well as all other toxic substances in the body.
Many methods are available to do this. Nutritional balancing uses near infrared saunas, coffee enemas, and, at times, herbs such as milk thistle, black radish, dandelion or uva ursi to assist the activity of the colon, kidneys and liver, primarily.
Relaxation methods, foot reflexology, acupressure, acupuncture or others could also be helpful, if needed, which they are usually not.
The skin is another important route through which the body appears to be able to remove iron. Nutritional balancing encourages the use of near or far infrared sauna therapy for everyone. Details of how to improve skin elimination is the subject of Sauna Therapy, a book by this author. Also see the Sauna Therapy article on www.drlwilson.com.
6. Support The Sodium Level. This is vital, in fact, for iron removal. Supporting the sodium level with a proper diet and the optimum nutritional supplements and other methods is required to remove iron in most cases. This is because a toxic and biounvailable form of iron appears to be used by the body to support the tissue sodium level. To remove the iron adaptation, one might call it, one must support the sodium in other ways. Otherwise, all the other methods will not work well. This particular aspect of nutritional balancing science is the trickiest to do and the most important as well. It permits the body to excrete much more iron quickly.
It involves giving the right amount of other supportive minerals such as manganese, chromium, selenium and zinc, along with the appropriate vitamins, glandular products and digestive aids. Dr. Paul Eck figured out these doses some 35 years ago and we seem unable to improve upon them.
7) Iron Antagonists. These have been discussed above and include minerals such as zinc, selenium, sulfur, manganese and other nutrients. Hair analysis, when interpreted according to the method of Dr. Paul Eck, can carefully guide us in giving antagonists that do not worsen the balance of the body chemistry. This is a very important consideration when giving iron antagonists or any supplements to help remove iron.
8) Chelators. Nutritional balancing does not involve using synthetic drug chelators such as EDTA, deferoxamine or IP-6. They are not needed and have many problems that are discussed below. Natural chelating agents are also used very rarely, such as high-dose vitamin C. Vitamin C can increase iron absorption.
Small amounts of vitamin C and sulfur-bearing amino acids such as L-taurine, L-cysteine and L-methionine may be used at times. Related products such as ALA (alpha lipoic acid), NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) and others could be used, but we find them unnecessary and that they add cost and inconvenience to the programs, and often unbalance the programs because they are too yin in Chinese medical terminology.
Once again, all supplements must be given in a way that does not unbalance the oxidation rate, as this will slow or even stop progress rather than enhancing it.
9) Digestive Assistance. While this may increase iron absorption somewhat, this problem is more than offset by assisting one to better absorb other competing minerals that are needed to help remove excess iron from the body.
The digestive aid I like best is pancreatin with ox bile, dehydrocholic acid and Russian black radish. The product is called GB-3 from Endomet Labs. It is many other benefits discussed in a separate article on this site entitled GB-3. For example, it is also very parasympathetic in its effects and it can protect somewhat against the development of cancer, one of the side effects, so to speak, or iron toxicity. The reason is that pancreatin can help digest the coating on cancer cells, rendering them susceptible to removal by white blood cells. Pancreatin also digests foreign proteins in the intestines, including some parasites, yeasts and other harmful organisms. These are very common in iron-toxic people. Pancreatic enzymes can also be helpful to assist the body to produce plenty of bile to help eliminate iron.
MEDICAL METHODS FOR REMOVING IRON
1. Bloodletting. Leeches or phlebotomy (removing blood by intravenous needle) have been and are presently the major methods used to reduce iron levels in cases of disorders involving excessive iron. The advantages of this method are it is very fast (too fast) and it is relatively easy for the patient.
On the subject of bloodletting, it is, perhaps, no coincidence that those who give blood often live longer than those who receive many blood transfusions. The problem with receiving blood, however, is not so much the iron, which is often needed, as infections that are blood-borne and hard to detect at the blood bank. If possible, avoid ever receiving a blood transfusion for this reason. Give your own blood before surgery, and bank your blood if you wish, to avoid what could be a medical disaster.
Adverse effects of bloodletting include:
1) Fatigue and weakness temporarily, at least.
2) Depletion of many other nutrients besides iron. This is potentially a very devastating side effect in some cases of iron excess that can worsen the iron condition.
3) Masking of the real problem, since bloodletting does not address deeper causes of iron toxicity. In other words, this method does not restore true health.
4) Subtle defects in the body may show up with repeated bloodletting, as the blood carries much more than just minerals. Removing blood on a frequent basis carries other subtle risks for this reason.
5) Removal of some bioavailable iron when the real goal is just to remove biounavailable iron, ideally.
2. Chelating Drugs. Iron chelators such as deferoxamie, penecillamine or even EDTA to some degree will remove some iron. This method is not used much as it is not safe, the drugs can be toxic, and it is more costly as well. Problems with iron chelators include:
a) Other vital minerals and other substances may be removed
b) Deferoxamine and other drugs are toxic to a degree.
c) They remove both available and biounavailable iron, which is not good at all.
d) They do not tend to address the underlying causes. Chelation may address some causes if it is able to remove lead, cadmium and other toxic metals. However, chelation can also worsen mineral imbalances in some people, especially those with low tissue calcium or magnesium or zinc levels.
3. Natural Chelating Agents. These are sometimes used by holistic doctors. They include green tea extract, a very interesting supplement. One can drink green tea, but it is not as effective as the extract that contains concentrated polyphenols and tannins. These tend to absorb iron and prevent its absorption into the body. It can also extract some iron from the intestinal walls. Four to ten capsules daily are needed, each with a polyphenol content of about 300 mg at least, according to Disease Prevention And Treatment, published by the Life Extension Foundation, 3rd edition.
Another chelator is vitamin C, except for the somewhat serious difficulty that vitamin C also enhances iron absorption, so is less useful unless given intravenously. Another substance used is phytic acid found in some grains or in preparations such as IP-6. This natural method works by inhibiting absorption of iron from the intestine. It does not remove most stored iron, however.
The main advantages of natural chelation agents is lower toxicity than the chelating drugs. However, IP-6 is a powerful chelating agent, for which reason we prefer to call it a drug that requires great care or it will remove many other minerals from the body.
Disadvantages of the natural iron chelators are the same as the drug chelators. They can and do remove other essential minerals, which seriously and sometimes gravely imbalances the body chemistry. Also, chelation rarely addresses the cause of the problem. This usually results in a re-accumulation of iron and a need for repeated treatments. Phytic acid products such as IP-6 are particularly dangerous as they remove a lot of calcium, magnesium and zinc which are all vital nutrients and already deficient in most people today. Vitamin C can lower copper significantly, causing very severe problems in some people if used repeatedly.
OTHER WAYS THE BODY ELIMINATES SOME IRON
Menstruation is the major way iron removal occurs naturally in any large quantity in a few women. Menstruating women, in fact, gain some protection from the ravages of iron toxicity, and this is one reason women may live longer than men.
Cysts and tumors. On occasion, a tumor forms that contains either solid iron particles or liquid that contains iron. This will appear as pathology to a medical doctor, but may in fact be a healing process. Removal may be best if the body is unable to drain and eliminate the tumor by itself.
NUTRITIONAL APPROACHES TO AVOID OR USE WITH CARE IN CASES OF IRON TOXICITY
For the best results with iron toxicity, we find it is best to avoid certain approaches. Supplementing with too many tablets or other potions can spoil the result because they confuse the body. Doctors are often anxious to use all the “best” remedies and overdo. Simpler meals and simple nutritional supplement regimens are always best. Give no more than 20 pills three times daily.
Also, as mentioned above, be careful with vitamin C, which tends to increase iron absorption.
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10. http://ironoverloadtreatment.com/ (the new instrument to measure iron overload)