A spiral.


I tried to detox lead and all I got was this stupid vertigo

(Updated April 2023.) (See also this post on iron-induced vertigo.) I developed vertigo after my second dose of DMSA treatment for lead chelation. For the next four weeks I had trouble moving quickly, standing up, going down stairs, etc., with no signs of it abating.

Yahoo metal chelation forum saves the day

Eventually I happened upon a comment on a heavy metal detox forum (on Yahoo, where untold gazillabytes of valuable information are inaccessible due to craptastic design) indicating that some people can’t process sulfur due to insufficient body stores of molybdenum. Most approaches to lead detox involve sulfur, and DMSA is a walloping dose of sulfur. In fact, one study I found says that eating a whole lotta garlic can chelate lead. So I took 2,000 mcgs (2 mgs) of Mo the next day and the vertigo was gone the following evening.

More notes on molybdenum

  • It is used to reduce copper in the brain, which is a problem in some mental illnesses.
  • It is used to break down acetaldehyde produced by candida and which causes brain fog, fatigue, malaise, etc. For about 18 months I used it regularly for that. I later ran across a few self-experimenters who’d discovered that once they got to a certain place in their heavy metal detox treatments, their longstanding candida issues disappeared.
  • Resist the urge to call it “molly”, the street name for MDMA aka Ecstasy. Those of us on the supplement-popping path are fighting enough suspicion and misperception as it is.


This content was first published in September 2018 and updated in April 2023.

Marjorie smiling, wearing an orange shirt.

Marjorie R.

Marjorie is the creator of AvoidingRx.com, a record of her and her guest authors’ experiences with non-prescription health solutions. She is a third-generation nutritional-therapy self-experimenter.

3 thoughts on “I tried to detox lead and all I got was this stupid vertigo”

  1. I have only taken lymph cleansers in the form of tinctures. When burbur disappeared I switched to rotating among cleavers, red root, and various manufacturers’ lymph-cleansing combos. They seem to work fine.

  2. DMSA is also a chelator for mercury. If you take a large dose of DMSA, it stirs up a lot of mercury (and lead) that may have been out of the way, causing minimal harm (relatively speaking). The DMSA leaves your body much faster than mercury or lead, because the liver/kidneys/sweat glands can only process heavy metals a little at a time. This leaves a lot of mercury/lead to settle out and deposit in new locations. It might settle someplace where it can do new damage.

    The solution to this is to take DMSA in small, frequent doses (say 25mg every 4 hours) around the clock for a few days. This keeps a small amount of lead/mercury in circulation long enough to be excreted, without causing a lot of new damage. This is repeated every week or so (3 days on, 4 days off) as long as needed. If you have only lead and no mercury this can be done once a month, because lead comes out more slowly.

    The best description of how this works came from Andrew Hall Cutler, who is a Chemistry PhD. I’ve been using his protocol to clear my system of mercury (primarily) and lead for a few years. He recommends DMSA and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) for mercury and DMSA for lead. The first time I tried DMSA I did 100mg every 4 hours for 3 days, and I was nearly incapacitated for 4 days afterward. Now I take it in much lower doses. Note that ALA should also be taken in low, frequent doses. I messed myself up pretty badly taking 250mg ALA once per day for 8 months.

    Cutler recommends taking magnesium, zinc, C, and E to repair the damage caused by heavy metals, and perhaps something to support the liver such as milk thistle. I don’t tolerate milk thistle, so I don’t take it. Other supplements may be useful, such as lithium orotate, B vitamins, molybdenum, etc. There are several web sites that outline the Cutler protocol, so the information is free. They’re a bit disorganized (to my eye), but then so is his book. Let me know if you’d like to know more about my experiences.

    • Thank you for the info. I was following the Cutler protocol at the time, using mostly the Yahoo group as guidance. I think I also had two of his books. I did two 3-day sessions of DMSA and then decided I needed to get out of mold exposure before anything else. I do need to revisit eventually because I lived in buildings with lead plumbing for at least five years. I could not tolerate ALA at all.

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