In January 2013, my heath completed shattered. At my lowest point, I was fully bedridden. And for the last four years, I've been on a journey healing from chronic fatigue, Lyme disease, and endless debilitating infections. This is despite being (what many people would consider) the epitome of health; I have three master's degrees in exercise physiology, nutrition, and biokinesiology and I'm the author of a multi-award-winning fitness book.
In 2016—even after years of healing, being treated for endless chronic infections, and having a team of extensive medical professions—I was still not fully functional. So I started digging further into what could possibly be missing to find out why my immune system was still impaired. Heavy metal toxicity seemed like a possible answer. Addressing heavy metal toxicity is essential in treating many cases of Lyme disease, and I found numerous scientific articles that detailed how heavy metals suppress immunity and increase the risk of infectious disease, including mycoplasma pneumonia (which I, too, was being treated for).
How cilantro helped me diagnose my heavy metal toxicity.
During my research I found that a negative response to a chelation agent was one way to determine the likelihood of a heavy metal problem. And since cilantro is considered a natural chelation agent, I decided to just take one pill from a reputable company and face the consequences (if any). What happened? Within 12 hours, the amount of pain became unbearable—every joint in my body burned and I thought my kidneys were going to burst. This continued for three to four days. Obviously, it seemed that I had a heavy metal problem.
Shortly after this experiment, I saw my physician. I told him what had happened and he made numerous suggestions for ridding myself of heavy metals. I asked him why he had not considered heavy metals before, and he said he only really suspects heavy metals in the 50-plus crowd, so I was now the youngest in his practice. Hopefully from here on out, he will start checking sooner! Inevitably, I went through three grueling months of chelation therapy and I suffered from endless herxheimer reactions, severe hypotension, migraines, burning joints, severe exhaustion, chills, nausea, and more.
Chelation therapy helped me regain my health.
After three months, I came out further ahead and was finally able to handle the chelation process without any more negative side effects. My energy levels and stamina reached a new high and I was able to stop numerous medications that I had been taking for over two years. With a condition like mine, you often have to take 10 steps back to move one step forward. And addressing heavy metal toxicity brought me one step closer to regaining my health. In April 2017, I was actually able to return to the gym after over four years.
Now, you're probably wondering why I had a heavy metal problem in the first place? I've been asking this, too. I have no metal fillings, I don't eat excessive amounts of fish, and I've never lived in an area with heavy levels of air pollution. Regardless, failure to address heavy metal toxicity was contributing to my chronic fatigue, and doing chelation therapy was well worth it. And that's all that really matters, right?
Rachel Straub, M.S., is an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, biomechanist, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), and co-author of Weight Training Without Injury: Over 350 Step-by-Step Pictures Including What Not to Do!, which has won 17 book awards and has been endorsed by major names in sports medicine, physical therapy, and professional bodybuilding. She received her B.A. in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University, master's degrees in nutritional sciences and exercise physiology from San Diego State University, and a master's in bio-kinesiology from UCLA.