Updated: Nov 20, 2020
In past articles, I wrote about the YouTube interview of Chris Shade by Becky Davila. Number one is about the chronic illness epidemic in children and what might be causing it and the disagreement between Christopher Shade, PhD, owner of Quicksilver Scientific and my teacher, Andrew Hall Cutler, PhD about the cause and remedy for the situation. Number two is about some of the more inflammatory and irritating things Shade had to say about Andy… the fact that he called us a cult and said that the Cutler protocol is made up out of whole cloth….compared to his company, Quicksilver Scientific's products which are so marvelous, all natural and effective.
The most important difference in this controversy is whether alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is or is not a chelator. Is ALA just an agent that encourages the body to make glutathione, or is it (or its metabolites) an actual dithiol, fat and water-soluble chelator of mercury? A fat-soluble chelator can move metals in and out of body compartments. If ALA is just an agent that encourages the body to produce glutathione, you can take any form of it and as much of it as you want at any old time. If it is a chelator, it needs to be taken on a strict half-life schedule or else it will move mercury from some place harmless in the body to some place where great harm can occur….like the brain. This even more so if the person taking the ALA has amalgams in their mouth. In this case the ALA will allow the lipid barriers to “open” and the body’s natural tendency to seek equilibrium across the formerly impermeable membranes will force the metals INTO the cells rather than the way we want them to go, which is OUT.
The study Gregus Z, et al. 1992. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 114,88-96 discusses how ALA works. Shade read this study and concluded that ALA is an NRF2 upregulator and any detoxing ability it has is because it makes the body produce more glutathione which leads the body to detox in a “natural” way.
Andy Cutler came to a very different conclusion from reading this study.
I spent a lot of time with it. It is really a good interesting paper. My reading of it was that it was conclusive proof of the chelating ability of ALA, and also was very useful in establishing the pharmacokinetics especially as excretion rates from the paper matched those in the Leskova study to the extent they can be compared by appropriate calculations.
So who is more qualified to evaluate this scientific study, Shade or Andy Cutler? This is what Andy said about his own qualifications as a chemist.
(There are) distinctions within the very general field of chemistry as to what specialized knowledge we have. Most people are aware that chemistry breaks down into organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, etc. There are finer subdivisions and I happened to be the guy with exactly the right specialized knowledge who had to figure it out right for my own sake, and who could read (with great difficulty) Russian language papers, and who was very used to actually looking up and reading and interpreting journal papers for whether they were actually correct (which is almost never done in academic situations, I learned this as an industrial consultant).
Kinetics is not a common thing for chemists to know and the relevant part of kinetics here actually is considered chemical engineering - but a chemical engineer would never have known enough descriptive chemistry to figure the rest of the relevant material out.
Also, a lot of the biochemistry I know is, well, biochemistry, which is again a different field than chemistry and is not common for chemists to know even if they work in areas like Boyd Haley does. I knew it primarily out of personal interest from a fellow postdoc telling me about the Life Extension Foundation and its theories that taking vitamins properly can prolong lifespan.
My personal experience in universities was that people NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, NO MATTER WHAT, learn material outside their field of specialization after they get their PhD. It is just not done. I was kind of a misfit for doing so. While there is a lot of babbling about interdisciplinary work it is almost never done because people won't even learn enough about other specialties to be able to talk to each other and define research projects. (I can vouch for that in chemistry). So, an academic chemist is not in a professional environment conducive to learning things like chemical engineering kinetics or inorganic descriptive chemistry (which includes how mercury binds to things and what kinds of complexes it forms).
So basically, a lot of luck winnowed all the people interested in mercury detox down to me. Hopefully some others with the relevant knowledge will show up. I think there are a lot of people in industry and a reasonable number in academia who also could figure it out pretty quickly or even already know it but they lack the personal experience of getting toxic to motivate them to ask the basic questions necessary to realize that the medical literature is, to put it politely, inaccurate on this issue.
Dr. Shade refers to himself as “the person who knows the most about mercury,” but he is an organic chemist with little to no background in chemical kinetics. He simply is not qualified to appraise the relevant papers to assess ALA as a chelator. Further, unlike Andy, he has a financial interest in promoting his products and keeping people buying them, so he has little motive to verify that Andy was right and a lot to discredit him.
Below is a discussion of Gregus Z, et al. 1992. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 114,88-96. To understand this paper, it is important to know about the various forms of mercury and how they exert their harmful effects.
Vapor mercury (Hg0) is the form that can off-gas from amalgam fillings and evaporate in the oral cavity. The vapor can enter the lungs, get into the blood stream and also cross the cellular membranes (because it is fat soluble). Methylmercury (CH3Hg+ ( MM in the Gregus paper) is one form of organic mercury commonly found in fish. It is readily absorbed into the body from the intestines where it will go to the blood stream and circulation. Ethylmercury (C2H5 Hg) is the form of organic mercury that is found in the Thimerosal component of vaccines. When this is injected, it goes directly into blood circulation. Organic mercury is fat soluble and can cross cellular membrane so these forms all get into the brain readily.
All three of these forms will circulate in the blood and enter into cells, organs and the brain where the mercury will be attracted to sulfhydryl (SH) groups. Inside the cells the body slowly converts the vapor mercury and organic mercury to inorganic mercury (Hg++). Inorganic mercury is not fat soluble. Because of this, it will become stuck in the cells, organs and the brain and not be able to leave. While some natural processes may remove small quantities of inorganic mercury from organs over a very long time, whatever is in the brain basically remains there for life. That is why we need a fat-soluble chelator that is able to cross the blood/brain barrier to get into the brain to remove inorganic mercury. The Gregus study shows that alpha lipoic is such a fat-soluble chelator.
In the Gregus study, rats were injected with specific metals and alpha lipoic acid. Bile was collected for analysis every 30 min. At the end of the three hour experiments the rats were sacrificed and samples of blood and tissues were collected for analysis.
The experiments showed that alpha lipoic acid dramatically increased the excretion of Hg++ into bile. At the lowest lipoic acid dose there was a 12-fold increase of Hg++ excretion while at the largest dose, a 40-fold increase in Hg++ was found in bile. Shade theorizes that the observed increase of Hg++ in bile is the result of alpha lipoic acid activating Nrf2 (Nuclear factor erythroid-related factor 2) which would subsequently increase glutathione and it is the glutathione that is responsible for moving the mercury. But Gregus et al (1992), did a further series of experiments that treated rats with DEM (diethyl maleate).