Toxic metals can certainly be a contributing factor in ME/CFS since they impair everything from cellular energy production to immunity, detoxification capacity and cognitive function.
Given your job and the fact you have a number of amalgam fillings I believe you are certainly doing the right thing looking into this issue!
Hair Mineral Analysis (HMA) is certainly controversial but may provide a useful initial screen for toxic metals. HMA is considered inaccurate for measuring nutrient minerals (e.g. magnesium) but more helpful for detecting levels of toxic metals in the body (Hambidge 1982). However it is more accurate for some metals than others; mercury levels detected on a HMA are thought to be more representative of the mercury distributed throughout the body than those of aluminium, for example (Shamberger 2002). The differences in accuracy are mainly a result of the fact that different metals tend to accumulate in different parts of the body - in the case of aluminium it preferentially deposits in bone (Eastwood et al 1990) so hair levels may underestimate your total body burden. Another example is cadmium which tends to accumulate in the kidneys. You also need to keep in mind that hair samples may be contaminated by external sources such as air pollution, and particularly in your case, hair products.
If your HMA comes back showing high levels of toxic metals I would try to have a provocation test carried out (to be honest I would do this anyway given your illness and exposures). During a provocation test a chelating agent is given, orally or usually intravenously, and then your urine is collected for a number of hours afterwards. The chelating agent binds to toxic metals in your body and the two together are excreted in the urine. By measuring the concentrations in the collected urine an accurate picture of the levels of different toxic metals in your body can be established.
If substantial amounts are found then treatment usually involves the use of the same chelating agents by IV and/or orally. There are also a number of natural food supplements such as alpha lipoic acid (ALA), coriander/cilantro and chlorella (a type of algae) that are useful but that would be something to discuss with your doctor.
Let us know your HMA results when you get them and please let us know if you have anyh more questions <br /><br />Post edited by: Maff, at: 2010/05/29 16:46
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