[4:29] Dr. Christopher Shade
[6:54] What Got Dr. Shade Into This Field
[12:16] Detox Mechanisms in The Body
[23:21] What Method Dr. Shade Developed
[32:41] Dr. Shade's Favorite Way of Getting Rid of Mercury In The Body
[35:33] Quick Commercial Break/GainesWave
[42:25] Issues With The Detox
[44:55] Liposomal Delivery Mechanisms
[50:23] Getting Sick Individuals to “Right Themselves”
[56:31] Other Detox Issues
[1:07:41] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, folks. What's up? It's Ben Greenfield. It's about 5 am, I haven't yet cleaned out my throat with my morning cup o' coffee, and so you might notice sounds, like a frog in my throat, whatever that means. I always thought that was a weird phrase. Anyways though, today's discussion is pretty interesting. It's with this dude I met at a coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado and he's an expert in things like neuroinflammation and toxicity. So I think you're going to dig it. Now as soon as I finish recording for you, I'm actually going to go upstairs and have me a cup of coffee. My coffee of choice these days is this stuff called Kimera, K-I-M-E-R-A. Why? Because it's not just coffee. It's coffee with alpha-GPC, taurine, l-theanine, and DMAE in it. Now all of those help you to do things like offset cognitive, decline fight oxidative stress, prevent cholesterol related damage, and especially the choline that you're going to find in many of those compounds, it's the same stuff that you find in fish and meat, for example. But rather than drinking fish and meat for breakfast, or figuring out a way to turn those into powdered black goodness, you instead just drink it with coffee, and it boosts mental performance, and increases oxygen efficiency, and promotes red blood cell function. It has all sorts of cool effects so. This is basically like the most tricked out coffee that you're ever going to have. And you get 10% off. You go to Kimera Koffee, KIMERAKOFFEE.com, and code Ben gets you 10% off at KimeraKoffee.com.
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In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“We have to have higher levels of glutathione, higher activity of the linking enzyme Glutathione S-transferase, and higher activity of those transport proteins moving out of the cells and then the ones in the liver and kidneys. And importantly, at the GI level, we have to be binding those toxins that get shoved down into the GI tract.” “When we detox you, we just up regulate all your inherent mechanisms for doing detoxification, instead of trying to subvert them and do an end run with the chelators”
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield here, and recently Dr. Joseph Mercola, who I actually interviewed in an episode a little while ago called “Killing Fat Cells, Fixing Mitochondria, Growing Superfoods, and More”, wrote to me and told me about this guy named Dr. Christopher Shade, who Dr. Mercola told me was one of the more brilliant minds out there when it comes to topics like neuroinflammation, toxicity, metals like mercury, and even unique delivery mechanisms for getting nutrients into your body, including something called liposomal delivery. So I reached out to Dr. Shade and he graciously agreed to come on the show and talk to this stuff about us that, frankly, we haven't really taken much of a deep dive into before.
So who is this guy? Well, Dr. Shade got his degrees from Lehigh University in Environmental and Aqueous Chemistry. And then he also got a PhD from the University of Illinois where he studied Environmental and Analytical Chemistries of Mercury, as well as Advanced Aquatic Chemistry. So he's basically studied chemistry and mercury out the yin-yang. He also patented technology during his PhD work for something called mercury speciation analysis, and we'll talk about what that is today because I find it intriguing and I think you're going to be very interested in this if you, say, live anywhere except on a pristine Himalayan mountain top. And now he does most of his work focusing on the human aspects of things like mercury exposure, and toxicity, and the human detox system. So he knows a ton about like basically not just getting metals out of your body, but then delivering things that help to heal you back into your body. And his current focus is kind of at the intersection of neuroinflammatory issues, and immune issues, and toxicity, and infection, and how to get your body to the point where it's able to kind of heal itself. So, Dr. Shade, welcome to the show, man.
Dr. Shade: Thank you, Ben! It's pleasure to be here.
Ben: Yeah. And I'm curious, whenever I see a guy like you who's gotten so much studying done in chemistry and mercury detox, was there anything that attracted you to this field in the first place? I mean, did you have like a mouthful of metal or something like that?
Dr. Shade: Well, yeah I did. And that wasn't actually what got me into this field. To go back a long way into my life, I grew up in an academic family, very reductionist, and I got into college, and you get into college and your mind opens up quite a bit, and I got to see that science was too reductionist. Then I had this sort of rebellion against it and I became an organic farmer, and I was way into sustainable agriculture. And one thing led to another, and I had a farm, and things just pushed me back into academia, and I did my master's looking at environmental chemistry around farming. And then I was going to do a PhD at the University of Illinois, and I intended to look at different farming systems, organic versus conventional, and how they impact environmental chemistry and pollution, and I went in to interview, and they had me cycle through this guy's office, this guy named Bob Hudson who was working on global models of mercury emissions, and deposition, and movement through the environment. And when he talked about environmental chemistry and mercury, it was just so much more sophisticated than I had heard before, and it was so cool that I stayed there, and he said, “Hey, are you good in the lab?” And I said, “Oh, yeah. I'm great in the lab. I can figure a lot of stuff out.” And he said, “Can you develop a new method for separating different forms of mercury?” And it was a nice challenge, it sounded like a lot of fun, and so I said, “Yeah. Sure, I'll do that.” And at that time I was just looking at it moving through the environment, I wasn't really even thinking about how it affected my body.
And as I went through doing this PhD, I developed and patented this testing that we still use to this day for separating different forms of mercury, and along the way I suddenly had this realization that my mouth was full of mercury. And the ironic thing in the environmental world is none of those guys who are doing this really sophisticated modeling of mercury moving through the environment are thinking about what it's doing to themselves. And suddenly, I just had this acute awareness of all this mercury leaching out of my amalgams and dribbling down my throat. I could just feel the toxicity going through me, and I was getting into the late 20's where you start to hit some of the hitches in your health and you really have to optimize more, and it was really clear to me that I had to work on this. And when I left school, I started up a company originally doing environmental chemistry, but with an eye to move into the clinical side. And I did that over the first two to three years of running my company, and I got my amalgams out, and when I did that, I approached my detox from all the conventional ways. I was using the conventional chelators, DMSA and DMPS, and I was really wreaking havoc on my body, and that got me to rethink the way that we do detoxification. But fortunately, I had a great framework for understanding the biochemistry of mercury. And that was really what led me down this path then.
Ben: So you decided to go from kale to mercury, basically. Organic kale. Do you have a farm or anything? Do you do your farming or anything like that?
Dr. Shade: No! I've got about 25-square foot of yard in my backyard, and so I don't do that now. And it's something I would like to get back to, but it definitely, that systemic understanding of how you build the soil, and how a healthy soil is making a healthy plant, and that's making a healthy you was really fundamental to my understanding of how to work in integrative and functional medicine.
Ben: Yeah. Where you live now? ‘Cause I ran into you randomly a couple of months ago as we were getting ready to kind of organize this show in Boulder, at some coffee shop in Boulder.
Dr. Shade: Yeah. We were actually, I think it was it Zeal, that sort of raw foods…
Ben: Yeah. The Zeal Coffee Shop. Great coffee shop in Boulder.
Dr. Shade: Fantastic place. I was there with Rangan Chatterjee, who was in town after a summit, and we were setting him up with some products, and we went out to dinner, and there you were. And we live about 10 miles away from Boulder.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Gotcha. Alright, so I'm going to selfishly throw a few questions at you that I've always wondered about detoxification. It sounds like you're kind of the guy who has studied up on this stuff, and I definitely want to talk about mercury with you as well. But before we even jump in to mercury, I want to talk about detoxing in general, and specifically I've looked into the liver, and the kidneys, and the skin as, of course, some of the major detoxification organs that we all know about. But are there other detox mechanisms that you think should be paid attention to within the human body when looking at upregulating the body's function to be able to clean itself up on a day to day basis?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. Absolutely. The missing one there, you listed liver, kidney, and skin, and the big missing one, and this was really where we brought the most development, was the GI tract. And when we talk about the GI tract, now on a very simple level, you're dumping all these toxins out of the liver, into the GI tract, and some of the toxins are going from the blood right into the GI tract, and if you don't bind those up in the GI tract, and hold on to them, and pull them out, you're not going to be able to detox anymore. Now you can picture like conveyor belt moving from the cells, out into the blood, and down to the liver, and from the liver through the bile ducts, and into the GI tract. And if you accumulate a lot of these toxins in the GI tract, you're not going to be able to keep moving all these toxins down. So when you…
Ben: Now where do toxins accumulate in the GI tract? Is it in like the folds within the villi? Is it along the actual, like the single cell wall that lines the digestive tract? When you say they're in the tract…
Dr. Shade: There's a mixture there. So you have…
Ben: Yeah. You hear some people say you have like 30 pounds of undigested meat in your digestive track, which I don't really believe is true, but I'm curious where we actually keep these things in our gut?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. Well, it's a mixture. And it's not like people have gone in and really imaged exactly where those toxins lie, but picture that there's a lot of transport mechanisms for moving from the blood and lymph into the GI tract. And on one level, if you don't clean out your GI tract enough, and this goes back to that idea of all this undigested material and this sort of sludge layer along the intestinal walls, that prevents the movement of the toxins into the GI tract and it prevents absorption of nutrients. So there is that, if you have a sluggish bowel, you do need to move all that out, you need to clear out the GI tract both to simulate nutrients and to dump toxins. But when the toxins go down, so I said on a loose level, you have to move them out or you can't move more toxins down there.
Now it's not totally understood, but there is a sort of mechanism where the body is recognizing that there's a build-up of toxins into the GI tract, and there's these transporters that are active transporters, and they're having to move against a gradient. So we don't have to worry exactly where they are. Are they in the folds of the villi, or are they finely distributed along the walls. There's probably some mixture of that. But these transporters that are moving toxins into the GI tract are active transporters and they have to move against a gradient where there's a lot of toxins in there, the transporters actually slow down.
But then there's another issue with detox where you'll dump toxins out through the bile, but then you'll reabsorb them farther down. So the bile is coming in at the top of the GI tract, in the upper small intestine, and then it's got the rest of the GI tract to be reabsorbed. And for certain toxins, this is a real notable phenomena and it's called enterohepatic circulation. So for methylmercury, it's like almost 95% reuptake. Cadmium, I don't know what the percentage is but there's a pretty high reuptake. The mold toxins, the mold toxins are getting to be an epidemic because we move to doing a very good job of insulating our houses, and as such we don't let enough air move through them, and so we have weather houses, we have more mold. And mold toxins go out to the GI tract, and a lot of them are reabsorbed. Then there's a lot of toxins, the pesticides, herbicides, volatiles from car exhaust and we don't know the extent to which they reabsorb. So the more you can put binders through your GI tract, binders are things that are not absorbed into circulation, but they do the job of absorbing the toxins in the GI tract and then going out through fecal elimination. So the most classic of those who'd be charcoal and clay. We have one called IMD that is very specific to metals. There's one called chitosan that we use, chlorella, just general fibers are good for that.
So all these things that grab toxins and move them out of the GI tract will enable the whole system to start moving more toxins down to the GI tract. And there, we're just looking at it simplistically like a conveyor belt. But what's not thought of about enough in detox is looking at the whole soup to nuts of detox. And so to do that, we have to go from the GI tract all the way up into the cell. So we need the cells to have the proper chemistry to be able to conjugate toxins onto things like glutathione, we need them to have the energy to push those toxins out of the cell. And what's important then is to see where they go from the cell. They go from the cell, not into the blood, but into the extracellular matrix, and the extracellular matrix can be thought of as one single organ that connects every cell from the top your body to the bottom of the body. And in German biological medicine, they focus more on the extracellular matrix than on the cell because…
Ben: Now is that extracellular fluid, are you referring to like what surrounds all of the cells and would be what actually forms the lymph fluid?
Dr. Shade:Yes, exactly.
Dr. Shade: And some people tend to think of it just as this bath of lymph fluid, but it's actually a very sophisticated structure. And at the coarsest, the sort of biggest timbers in the structure there are the collagen fibers, and then it moves down into these long chains of lipopolysaccharides, or long chains of polysaccharides and different protein matrices, and then into this stuff called the ground substance. And the Germans have found that this is a very highly ordered material, and they have identified what they call the puncture effect, which is how acupuncture works, and how a single puncture to skin into that matrix cascades through the whole system. When an acupuncturist puts a needle in one part of your body, it can affect the whole body. And Bill Tiller at Stanford has identified what he believes are hyper structured ion channels going through this that he believes are indeed the meridians of Chinese medicine, and that all of these energy medicine that we look at, from light therapy, to acupuncture, is actually working through the extracellular matrix. And the extracellular matrix all comes into the GI tract through what's called the GALT, or gut associated lymphoid tissue.
So when you work on the GI tract and cleaning the GI tract that cascades up through the whole extracellular matrix, and the GALT is most pronounced in the colon, and that's why things like colonics have such a profound effect on the whole body and on detoxification. When I first looked at detox, I didn't quite understand it because most of the transporters for detox are located up in the upper small intestine. Yet colonics are working only on the colon and large intestine, yet they're helping detox. And it's because of this ability to free up the extracellular matrix throughout the whole body. And so these are some of the things that we're not looking at enough is how the cells tie into the matrix, and the matrix ties into the whole body, and then anchors down into the GI tract. And that's why guys who focus so much on the GI tract have generally successful businesses where they're able to help just about everybody, and that's that tie between the GI into the extracellular matrix, and how that feeds our cellular health.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So we've got the liver, we've got the kidneys, we've got the intestines. And it sounds like primarily with the intestines, we're looking at like the colon and the lower GI tract as being one of the primary spots where a lot of the stuff gets its final elimination. And then the skin, oh, go ahead.
Dr. Shade: Well, the lower, let's refine that a little bit. The lower area of the colon, large intestine is what having that clean allows our extracellular matrix to work very well. But the active transport aspect of detox where you're dumping into the GI tract is actually more in the upper small intestine, from the liver into the upper small intestine. And it was connecting those two, why colonics worked so well on detox, and a big aspect of that is how they feed the extracellular health.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Now what about the respiratory system? I mean I know that that's one of the main ways we actually blow off fat really, is after we burn fat in the form of carbon dioxide, but I know that that carbonic gas, I've heard that you can evacuate some toxins, in terms of both gas coming out of the lungs and then also potentially phlegm. Is that also something, is that like a major detoxification pathway or is that pretty minor when it comes to what you've just described?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. That's a great question. I think it's more of a minor one. Though there are these occasional releases where the body figures out how to release a whole bunch of toxin it's been storing, and if that can go out through the lungs, a lot of it will. You'll hear people do a detox where they are able to exhale a lot of mercury and measure that, or you'll smell petrochemicals coming out of them. Those are presumably held in fat, then released from fat, and if they can partition out into that gas matrix, some of it will come out through the lungs, though I generally don't consider the lungs as a major area of detoxification.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Now you studied, or you developed, from what I understand, some kind of unique clinical analytical methods for specifically looking at, I believe, metals and their role in the system that you just described. Can you go into what exactly it is that you developed and worked on?
Dr. Shade: Right. In grad school, I was tasked with creating a mercury speciation system. That means you can separate different forms of mercury. Now when I came into clinical mercury chemistry, that's work on mercury toxicity in people, I found that they didn't have a very sophisticated understanding of the different forms of mercury and had lumped it all together as mercury. Whereas in environmental chemistry, they were separating the different forms because they realized that certain forms were building up in the food chain and other forms weren't, and they realized that one form would become another form and these transformations were key to understanding the movement of mercury through the environmental compartments. And so I developed this system where I would separate inorganic mercury from organic mercury.
Now to look a little deeper, inorganic mercury, when we look at mercury in the body, there's two inorganic forms that you're exposed to. There's the mercury in the amalgams, which is the metallic form of mercury, and that comes off as a mercury vapor which you then inhale, and it oxidizes. Just like iron rusts to iron oxide, mercury vapor rusts to this mercury salt, and that is the form that's toxic in the body, and so we call that inorganic mercury. And then the organic form that we're exposed to is called methylmercury, and that's the form that’s in fish. And a lot of people these days that get exposed to high levels of mercury, it comes through eating fish from the top end of the food chain. Like eating swordfish and tuna, or if you eat marlin or king mackerel, those are all very big fish with very high mercury levels. And that methylmercury affects your body differently. It goes into the cells differently, it goes into the brain versus not into the brain, and they excrete differently. Where the organic forms go through the liver and into the GI tract, and the inorganic forms are split between going through the urine and going through the GI tract.
And so, it wasn't until we brought this testing where we could separate those two forms when we test it, it wasn't until we brought that into clinical use that you could really make sense of what does blood mercury mean, what does your urinary mercury mean. Is a high level good or is it bad? And so, it was a little bit of what I call a black box before. It was just like we'll assume all mercury's bad and we assume high levels are bad. And now we have a more sophisticated understanding where now we can compare forms in the blood, forms in the urine, and we can say, “Alright, you're detoxing correctly to the kidneys,” or you're not. So it was that ability to separate those two forms when you analyze them and then compare hair to blood and urine to blood so we could get a map of mercury in the body and [0:26:34] ______ think it out, and what forms you're exposed to.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So there's basically two different forms of mercury, the kind that we would get like from dental work, for example, this inorganic mercury that you're talking about, and that's the one we find in the urine. And then there's the other one that we would usually get from like seafood, for example, and that's the one that we would find it in the hair or the blood.
Dr. Shade: Yeah. Let's refine that a little bit. The blood will have both forms, but the methylmercury from fish represents itself higher in the blood compared to the inorganic mercury. What do I mean “represents itself more”? So there's always more in the tissues than there is in the blood, and there's a distribution between tissues and blood, and methylmercury distributes a little higher into the blood. So for a given amount in your body, if you have equal amounts in the body of methyl and inorganic mercury, methyl in the blood will be much higher than an organic mercury. And so 10 years ago, before we brought speciation in, they would say that blood mercury was mostly methylmercury. But now that we can separate these two forms, we can see the inorganic mercury in the blood. And for the given amount in the blood, there should be a given amount in the urine of inorganic mercury, which is about sevenfold higher in the urine than the blood.
So now that we can get these numbers distinctly, we can get an exact ratio and see how well your kidneys are moving that inorganic mercury out of the blood and into the urine. And that same mechanism for moving the mercury out of the blood and into the urine is used for a number of different toxins. And if we see high inorganic in the blood and low in the urine, we know that there's damage to the transporters in the kidneys, and that's affecting, that's causing you to retain toxins. Not just mercury, but you'll retain other metallic toxins, you'll retain mold toxins, and a variety of different pesticides and herbicides. So that becomes a good functional measure of the detoxification. Whereas over on the other side, methylmercury, you'll have it in the hair and in the blood. And we can look at the ratio between those two and see how well you're mobilizing methylmercury. Now the hair is a surrogate for the bile where most of the methylmercury will come out, but we can't measure that. So that's how that map of mercury works.
Ben: And that particular test where, and I know you have a website, I'll link to it over in the show notes. I'm going to put a link to everything that Chris and I talk about, by the way for those you listening in, over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/mercury. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/mercury. That clinical analytical test that you developed, and this is such a sexy conversation we're having by the way. I'm sure everyone's loving this, is that what's called mercury speciation?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. We call it the mercury tri-test because we're looking at three matrices, or three parts: the hair, the blood, and the urine. The technology that separates the different forms is called mercury speciation.
Ben: Now how is that any different or any better than the way that most people get tested for metals, which is this, I believe it’s called a challenge test, where you take certain things, like what they call provocation tests, and they cause your body to pee out certain metals or to get rid of certain metals, then you test the levels of those metals. How is this any different than that?
Dr. Shade: Right. Well, this gives you a lot more specific information about which form of mercury you've been, well which forms you're exposed to and which forms you're accumulating. And one of the problems with the challenge test, well there's two main ones, one is that the people who are the sickest cannot tolerate the challenge agents. It just stirs up that mercury and really mobilizes a lot of it, and they can't always excrete it really well. And so it'll often make them quite sick. A lot of people come to us having been made sick by the challenge tests. The second problem is that this sickest people will often have a false negative on the challenge test, and that's because when I talked about the urine to blood ratio…
Ben: A false negative meaning it says that they don't have any mercury in the system but they actually do?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. And that's because the transporters in the kidney that are responsible for moving the blood, moving the mercury from the blood to the urine are also necessary for moving the complexes of DMSA and mercury, and DMPS and mercury. And so when those transporters that damaged, causing you to retain toxins, you also can't move those chelates out, and so you won't really show accurately what your exposures were in that challenge test. And because you don't move those out, that causes you to feel sick because you're holding all those in.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So the challenge test, you're not a big fan of?
Dr. Shade: No. I'm not a big fan of. And I went through doing it myself, I mean I went through, I thought that I was going to use my speciation technology to just measure people's challenge tests and see how much was inorganic and how much was organic, but I found that those chelators were making people sick, and so I moved towards a really true naturopathic approach to this where we measure you without perturbing the system and see what the disposition of the metals are in the body. And then when we detox you, we just up regulate all your inherent mechanisms for doing detoxification instead of trying to subvert them and do an end run with the chelators.
Ben: Now what's your favorite way to get rid of mercury within the body? Besides, of course, enemas, which you've already talked about, which we all know and love.
Dr. Shade: (laughs) Well, I like enemas for sort of restoring integrity to the lymphatic tissue. But for getting mercury out of the body, there's hands down upregulating the glutathione system. And people talk about glutathione, this master antioxidant that's in your cells, but we don't talk enough about the whole system, and that's the enzymes and transporters that work with the glutathione to get it out of the body. So now if we can look from a cell downward perspective, the way you detoxify mercury is that, in the cell, there will be mercury there sticking on to some cell protein, and you want to get it off, and you've got mercury there. Then you need an enzyme called Glutathione S-transferase, and the transferase clues you into what it's [0:33:33] ______ doing transfers, and it's prying the mercury off the cellular protein, and then linking it or transferring it onto the glutathione, onto sulfur group on the glutathione. That's why it's an S-transferase. So then in the cell, you've got this mercury glutathione complex, and you want to get it out of, you want to move it out. And so you've got transmembrane transporters, that means there's this little machine in the membrane that grabs that mercury glutathione conjugate from inside the cell, and pushes it outside of the cell to the extracellular environment.
From there, they'll join the lymphatics and then move into the blood flow. And when it's in the blood circulating, then it is going to be picked up by another set of transporters, much like the ones that were in the cell membrane, but these transporters will be in the liver and the kidneys, and they will grab that conjugate, pull it into the cells, in the liver or the kidney, and then they'll dump it out. In the liver, it's taking it from the blood into the podocytes, and then dumping it in to the bile flow. These are the same transporters that move bile into the bile ducts. So that means having a healthy bile flow is crucial to detoxification. So it'll move through the bile tract and into the small intestine, and then will move out of the body. Now I said that a lot of these toxins will get reabsorbed. So it's crucial at this point that you have what are called intestinal binders, and that would be, for metals it would be RIMD, which is the silica with the sulfhydryl groups. For other toxins, it might be charcoal, it might be a clay, or a zealite, or one of the other binding groups, binding compounds. And then that goes off the fecal excretion.
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This podcast is also brought to you by something that I've been drenching my food in lately because it's a flavor enhancer, and also because it's kind of wintery here in Spokane, Washington, and for some reason I'm a huge fan of the flavor of pumpkin in the winter. So I have been taking pumpkin MCT oil and putting it on my salads, putting it on my afternoon fry up that I have for lunch with all my vegetables and noodles in a stainless steel or cast iron skillet. It basically brings up the flavor of anything that you eat. I think it was designed to put in tea and coffee, but I've kind of bastardized it and now I just put it on anything. Salads, food, smoothies, you name it. It's called emulsified MCT oil. Emulsified because it mixes into hot or cold with no blending, or shaking, or anything like that required. And it's made by this company called Onnit. You get a 10% discount on it, get it? On it? Or anything else on the Onnit website that is supplement or functional food related. And the way that you do that is pretty simple: you go Onnit.com/Ben10. That's ONNIT.com/Ben10. That'll give you 10% off of any of their supplements, foods, you name it. And I do recommend that you toss in a bottle of this emulsified pumpkin flavored MCT oil. And now, back to today's show.
Ben: I have a question too about some of these things, especially like you were talking about glutathione and I have a question about like how to actually make it absorbable, but finish what you were saying. Go ahead and finish that…
Dr. Shade: Yeah. We can finish with the kidneys and then we can go back to looking at all of those points. So we said at the cell we had the mercury transferred onto the glutathione, transported out into the lymph, then into the blood, and then it can go through liver or kidney. So we covered liver, going into the liver and out through the bile ducts. And in the kidneys, it's not actually part of what's called glomerular filtration. It is an active transport that is in the proximal tubules of the kidney. And so just a side note on how the kidney works, the kidney's broken into nephrons, which are little functional units of the kidney, and you have the glomerulus where you have this crude filtration, and you take all this stuff out of the blood, and you move it through this winnowing tube called the proximal tubules where you're taking out of that urinary flow stuff that you want to save. These could be electrolytes, they could be amino acids and small proteins. You're saving those and pushing them back into the blood. And then you're taking certain elements from the blood and actively transporting them into the urine. So the same kind of transport system you have in the liver, you also have that in the proximal tubules in the kidney dumping those mercury-glutathione conjugates into the urinary flow and out through the urine. So that's how it works top to bottom. So if we want to create a good system for upregulating mercury detoxification, we have to have higher levels of glutathione, higher activity of the linking enzyme Glutathione S-transferase, and higher activity of those transport proteins moving out of the cells, and then the ones in the liver and kidneys. And importantly, at the GI level, we have to be binding those toxins that get shoved down into the GI tract.
Ben: And all of these different nutrients that you just talked about, such as glutathione, such as some of these binders, they all work together to achieve that?
Dr. Shade: Exactly. In the Quicksilver System, we set up a whole system for doing that. We saw that as what we call our detox cube. And…
Ben: Now what about, a quick question on that. Like I had talked with Dr. Dan Pompa a couple of months ago on a podcast, and he talked about how some detox, like systems, cause issues because they kind of like detox the whole body at once and wind up causing some of the toxins to cross the blood-brain barrier, and wind up causing things like brain fog or damage to neural tissue. Do you take that into consideration in terms of like throwing some kind of a nuclear bomb detox into the body and just kind of seeing what happens versus taking things step by step, or in like a more systematic way?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. And a lot of it comes down to the rate of detoxification. So one way to look at it that, in light of what Dr. Pompa was saying, the way that I teach it is that you have cellular detoxification where you're dumping out of the cells and out of the tissues as composites of cells into circulation, so there's the movement out of the cell into circulation, and then there's the filtration of the circulating fluids. So it's the liver, kidneys, and GI that are filtering the circulating fluids. And in the old European context of detox, that was called drainage, the filtration part. So you have to make sure the filtration part is working well before you unleash the movement out of the tissues. So a focus on drainage is a way to start detoxification, making sure that the kidney, liver, and GI are adequately draining and then we start releasing out of the tissues. And we do that, we start at a sort of low dosage range and move up to high. It's called titration of dosing. So you're starting with low doses and you're moving up to high doses. I always say there's two ways to fail. One is you start too high with the detox supplements, and you move too much at once, and you jam the system, you create inflammation, inflammation opens up the blood-brain barrier, and that's where you get a lot of this brain fog. So that's one way to fail is going too intensely. The other way to fail is starting too low so that you don't hurt someone and never getting up to a high enough rate. So that's the way that we manage it is balancing cellular mobilization with the drainage.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. And one of the other things that you talked about is the use of some of these supplements, some of these things like glutathione, you talked about, for example. And I know one of the things you're kind of well-versed on and you've studied up on quite a bit is the absorption of some of these things. And, for example, when I was looking in your website, you talked quite a bit about liposomal delivery mechanisms. Is that kind of like your go-to delivery mechanism for a lot of this stuff? And how does that work? And if that's not the delivery mechanism, let me know what else it is that you use. But I'm curious how you actually deliver some of these things into the body effectively.
Dr. Shade: Yeah. That's really become my obsession over the last several years, and become a huge focus of our company, are the delivery systems. And there's a family of lipid particles called lipid nanoparticles, and liposomes are one of them. And liposomes are what people know the most, and so that's the word that gets used the most. And a liposome looks like a tiny cell, you're using phospholipids, dominately phosphatidylcholine, these are the same things that make up your cell membrane, and you're using them to make these tiny little spheres. And if you do this right, your spheres will be 100 nanometers and below, and inside the spheres you have your nutrients. And when you make them that small and you make them out of these phospholipids, they actually travel passively through your mucus membranes, right into circulation. And when you make them that small, they actually begin this absorption right in the oral cavity. So you what have what's called intraoral absorption. So with our liposomes, you'll take them, you'll hold them in the mouth for a while, you'll start absorbing right in the oral cavity, then you'll swallow of them. And the smaller they are, the faster they absorb. And so you'll absorb the rest in the stomach and upper GI tract. And so liposomes are a great way to bypass a lot of the blockages to detoxification.
So in the case of glutathione, the digestive mechanisms, the peptidases is in the stomach and small intestine will actually disassemble the glutathione. The glutathione's put together with, it's a tripeptide. It's three amino acids: glutamate, glycine, and cysteine, and they'll take those apart before you absorb them. And there's no specific transporter for them. So if you house them inside this little phospholipid bubble, you could passively absorb those right into circulation, into both lymphatic and into the capillaries right into blood circulation. And this is applicable to a lot of different nutrients, and we have, I think, 20 different liposomal products right now.
Ben: Is it possible to just take like a typical supplement and like blend it with coconut oil, or krill oil, or some other form of a fat to actually create your own phospholipid? Like could I take something that normally wouldn't be absorbed very well, throw it in my blender, blend it up with a bunch of fats, and then have that as a delivery mechanism?
Dr. Shade: Well, that is going to increase absorption, but there's limits to that because those lipids aren't actually phospholipids. Phospholipids have a water soluble side and a fat soluble side. So they got the fatty acid tail, and then they have this phosphate head that's water soluble. And what that enables them to do is to spontaneously form these bilayer sheets that wrap into these spheres. So your best fat for trying to make your at-home liposome would be a lecithin, and you could maybe bled lecithin and MCT or krill, and blend it all together. And you'll get more absorption, but you won't make these very high-end liposomes of these very small sizes, these 100 nanometer sizes. You'll increase absorption across your GI tract, but you're not going to make these perfectly made liposomes. So it is a step up from just your straight, especially if it's something like curcumin, it's a step up from just raw curcumin capsules, but it won't be quite as good as these precision engineered liposomes.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. I actually keep some of that on hand in the pantry. I have sunflower lecithin powder, and I do that with my smoothies now. I make, actually, speaking of Dr. Mercola who I mentioned earlier, he gave me this recipe for bark tea that's got NAD in it, which is kind of like an anti-aging, anti-oxidant support compound, but it comes more absorbable, in kind of like a liposomal…
Dr. Shade: Yeah. Yeah, it is. We're working on an NAD intraoral liposome. I'm excited to see how that goes.
Ben: Yeah. But that's what I use, is sunflower lecithin.
Dr. Shade: Sunflower lecithin is a great thing to put into your smoothies for sure. I would stay away from the soy, when you go and buy nutritional lecithin, you're getting the crude lecithins, and maybe there are about 15 to upwards of 30% phosphatidylcholine, and they have other aspects of the seed in there. And in the case of soy, there's some negative aspects. When you're making engineered liposomes, your phoshpatidylcholine's have been extracted from the raw lecithin matrix and they're very highly purified. And so even the soy doesn't come with any detrimental aspects. But if you're getting nutritional lecithins, stick with the sunflower base.
Ben: Okay. Cool. That makes sense. Now one of the things I've seen you write about is that you can get a sick individual to right themselves. Is that this process that you've just described of testing and putting some of these things into the body? Or are there other things that you're referring to when you say that you and your company kind of specialize in getting sick individuals to right themselves?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. Well when people get sick, and it does happen to a lot of high performance athletes, but when you really get chronically ill where you are not who you were before and you're having a hard time getting back, there's usually a combination of toxins and infection. And the way those two work together is that accumulation of toxins will lower your immune system, and then the lowered immunity will allow a chronic infection to come in, and sometimes these are viral, sometimes they're bacterial, sometimes they're fungal, sometimes you have some of these really nasty players like borrelia, which is Lyme disease and the co-infections. And once those infections get in, the infections create chronic inflammatory conditions, and the inflammatory conditions lower detoxification. In fact, inflammation and detoxification are kind of opposites.
And because detoxification is part of your antioxidant system, and inflammation is largely pro-oxidant and you're making pro-oxidants to kill infections that move in. And so when these things get a hold of you, often you've got lowered immune system and lowered detox system, and everything's accumulating, and you're super reactive to everything, and sometimes you can just detoxify people, and their immune systems will bounce back, and they'll kick things out. In the case of metals, especially mercury, mercury he likes to, well having a high mercury load lowers your glutathione system, and glutathione's really crucial in your immune system, especially for viruses. So people tend to get chronic viral infections, things like Epstein Barr, and any of the other herpes family. And if you unload the mercury, then the immune system jumps back up 'cause the glutathione jumps back up, and you kick out all these viruses, and there's this whole wellness that comes to the system.
Ben: Are there other things though? Like we talked about mercury a lot, but there's other metals that we need to worry about, right?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. Yeah. There definitely are, and we can cycle on to those. I'll just finish quickly on the chronic infections. Some of the other chronic infections are a little bit deeper and you need to use some anti-microbial herbs or even pharmaceuticals like antibiotics if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or sometimes as you use with Lyme disease. But sometimes, you have to do some work on knocking back the infections and then cycling back between anti-microbials and detoxification elements before you get the microbial load down and the toxin load down, and then the system will restore itself. So that's what I talk about in there. And when the system is down, that's when the neuroinflammatory problems come in, because you have systemic inflammation, you have some breach of the blood-brain barrier. A lot of these toxins affect neuroinflammation to glutamate receptors, and notably mercury does that, mold toxins do that, Lyme toxins do that. So that's the approach of trying to get the body to right itself. We've got to stabilize the brain, lower toxins, and lower the microbial load, and then the system comes back.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. And what about like lead and things like that? Do you just focus on mercury or do all these techniques that you just talked about work on a broad basis for some of the other metals in the body as well?
Dr. Shade: No, no. We don't just focus on mercury. And so there is a big four of toxic metals, and let's focus mostly on those because those are, by far, the worst. And that big four is mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and of course lead. Lead is the one that's been talked about for a longer period of time. Now of those four, three of those will go out with the glutathione system, and those three are mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. They will all conjugate the glutathione and eliminate out of the body through those pathways. Lead is a little bit different. Now upregulating the glutathione system will stop most of the toxic effects of lead, but it won't export the lead. And exporting the lead out of the system does seem to require, or at least exporting it at a good rate does seem to require some of the synthetic chelators, and that would be EDTA is the most well-known for that, but also DMSA and DMPS. And the only one that we use of those is EDTA, which we do in a liposomal format. But when going after lead and using the chelators, that's when we really like to push people, we always like to push people towards using healthcare professionals, naturopaths, functional medicine, MDs, or DOs, or chiropractors, even nutritionists. We like some oversight during detox. So you know some of your readers are sophisticated enough to do that themselves. But then when they move in to using chelators, then they really need to worry about balancing minerals with the chelators, and that's where we really like to specify going to a health care professional the most.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Now you also, in your bio, say that you focus a lot on neuroinflammatory issues, immune dysregulation, toxicity, which we talked about, and infection. And basically at the intersection of those, that's where you kind of put together a healing protocol for people. Now are there other issues in addition to mercury and the metals that you just got done talking about that you find you frequently need to address, like things that pop up over and over again in these folks who you're testing or these folks you're helping to treat?
Dr. Shade: Oh, sure. Absolutely. Mold toxins, for sure. And the nice thing about doing this detox upregulation is that it's not just going after mercury, it's not just going after mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. It's going after all toxins. And if you create a broad spectrum program, you'll be getting lots of different toxins altogether. So in the toxins side, mold toxins, and there's a whole host of toxins that come from GI dysbiosis, that's problem organisms in your GI tract, or toxins that are made from biofilms that form inside the body, chronic infections inside the body. So those can all be lumped under the term biotoxins. And we can even put the mold toxins into that term of biotoxins. So there's biotoxins that are coming from outside, from like a moldy building, and there's biotoxins that are coming from inside. And that brings us to the most common thing that we see out there, and that's chronic infections, and that can be chronic infections in the GI tract or ones that have worked their way into the whole system, and they work in these biofilms that form throughout the whole body. And so managing those microbial loads, those infections, and managing the toxins that come with those is the most crucial addition that needs to be made into a program of getting somebody better.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. And in terms of these mold toxins, lead, and mercury, is this what you were referring to when you say neuroinflammatory issues? Is that what all of these cause?
Dr. Shade: Yeah. So the biotoxins and the metals create neuroinflammatory conditions. So what is neuroinflammatory conditions? That's when you start getting, like you get inflammation in your body which is an immune phenomena, like [0:58:36] ______ when you feel crappy, you feel crappy because of your immune reaction to the infection. It's called pro-inflammatory cytokines. That activity is not supposed to happen in your brain. Your brain is supposed to be shielded for the most part from immune activity. But when that immune activity spills over into the brain, you get what's called neuroinflammation. And there is a back and forth that's going on between what are called microglia, which are immune cells in the brain, and glutamate receptors on the neurons. And glutamate is this thing, it's a neurotransmitter in your brain, and there's a yin-yang action between glutamate and GABA. Glutamate makes you vigilant, diligent, it creates fight or flight, and it creates memory. And that is good, it's what creates a high performance individual.
But when it gets out of hand, it starts creating neuroinflammation. It creates free radical reactions at the glutamate receptors, which create first, anxiety and second, brain fog. And so in that play between [0:59:52] ______ glutamate, glutamate is supposed to be active when you're in a high performance activity, and then it's supposed to yield to GABA that's supposed to let you calm down afterward. And for high performance workout people, they want to get sort of, call it, jacked up before the workout, and they want to be really on, and your glutamate's going to be strong then. And then afterward, they want to calm down, and rest and repair, and then you want GABA to take over.
But when you start getting neurotoxicity and neuroinflammation, that gets stuck over on the glutamate side, and the glutamate side becomes dysfunctional. Instead of creating a hyper diligence and vigilance, it's creating more of a fogginess. And when you go for something like coffee where you think you're going to make it better, it actually makes it worse. And so when you get to that point, you need to spend a lot of time stabilizing the glutamate receptors. And I'll just finish this by saying the most important supplement that's come into the field for doing this in the last 30 years is undoubtedly CBD, or cannabidiol, from hemp. That's the non- [1:01:07] ______ aspect of the cannabis plant that comes from industrial hemp.
Ben: Oh yeah. I'm really familiar with it and how it works. I use CBD almost every day, this like a soluble form of CBD. So you believe that's so important, why?
Dr. Shade: Oh. Because the data on CBD is that the way it works is different than the other cannabinoids. The other cannabinoids are acting just directly on cannabinoid receptors in the body. But CBD is stabilizing the glutamate receptor, which becomes hyperactive in the neuroinflammatory conditions. And so it lowers the neuroinflammation, and it's got tons of data on it doing that. And then furthermore, it stimulates production of endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoid compounds that you make inside your body, one's called anandamide, the other one's called arachidonoylglycerol. And when you have a healthy endocannabinoid tone, those are working on the cannabinoid receptors to sort of glue together the neuro-endo-immune. That's neurotransmitters, hormones, and immune cytokines. They're causing those all to play together in more of a symphony instead of getting disjointed where everything's out of control. So that ability to stabilize the brain, both in the short term right when you take it by stabilizing the glutamate receptors and long term by building up your own endocannabinoids, is why that works so, so well.
Ben: I didn't realize it was so potent for neuroinflammation, or that it upregulated the body's own endocannabinoids. I was just kind of exogenous endocannabinoids and didn't even realize that that had that effect on neuroinflammation. So people doing like a detox protocol, or people who have heavy metal exposure, something like CBD, because of that that glutamate advantage that it can give you, is something you'd actually recommend.
Dr. Shade: Oh, hands down. It is one of the best adjuncts to any detox program or to managing any kind of toxic exposure.
Ben: Like vaping it, or a capsule? What do you like…
Dr. Shade: We do a sublingual liposome of it.
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Shade: Oh, yeah. We did some pharmacokinetic studies and we had a sixfold increase in bioavailability over the pharmaceutical intraoral spray.
Ben: Oh, yeah. I mean you're telling me. I have this, this is actually for THC, not for CBD, but I have this thing called a magic blender, and it's basically like a countertop commercial blade immersion blender, and I've used that sunflower lecithin before with a decaboxylated bud of weed, more or less. And the tiny, tiny, tiny amount that you need after you've done that is staggering. I mean just need like a few drops of it. It is extremely potent.
Dr. Shade: It is staggering. And we're out in Colorado, and so we've developed the technology for the cannabis industry, and we licensed it into the cannabis industry but we also do the CBD, it's become the biggest seller for us because all of our doctors have been waiting for a CBD product that they can trust, and that has science behind it, and that is predictable. We have the metered pumps so you can get exactly the same dose every time. And yeah, as you've seen even when doing the immersion blenders, there is a great increase in bioavailability. So when you get these sub-100 nanometer lipid particles, it's just staggering how good it is.
Ben: There you go. So even if you learned nothing at all from today's podcast, it's basically how to get more bang for your buck out of your weed.
Dr. Shade: There you go!
Ben: But seriously, it's very cool, a lot of the delivery mechanisms that you're developing over there, Dr. Shade. And I've spent a lot of time on your website, and you've got all sorts of kind of like supplements but in these delivery mechanism forms I wasn't really familiar with, and then you've also, of course, got these different tests, for example, the mercury speciation that you talked about. And it's kind of cool to see what's going on in terms of both the cutting edge of testing and also the cutting edge of nutrient delivery. So your website, I'll link to the show notes. It's quicksilverscientific.com. But you can also if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/mercury, I'll link to everything that Dr. Shade and I talked about during this call. And then you can always leave your comments or questions over there. I know we got kind of geeky on this one, but it's fun to take a deep dive into things like detoxification pathways, and liposomal delivery, and some of these things just because we're all smart folks with propeller hats who have nothing better to do than to sit around and talk about these kind of things. So Dr. Shade, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all this with stuff with us, man. It's super fascinating.
Dr. Shade: Absolutely. It's been a joy. I love sharing this. And as much as people can take, I'll dish it out because I think it's great.
Ben: Awesome. Alright, folks. Well, again, the website is bengreenfieldfitness.com/mercury. And until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Dr. Christopher Shade from Quicksilver Scientific signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
Recently, Dr. Joseph Mercola, who I interviewed in the episode “Killing Fat Cells, Fixing Mitochondria, Growing Superfoods & More“, wrote to me and told me about some guy named Dr. Christopher Shade, who Dr. Mercola mentioned was one of the more brilliant minds out there when it comes to neuroinflammation, toxicity, metals such as mercury, and unique delivery mechanisms for getting nutrients into your body, including something called “liposomal delivery”.
So I reached out to Dr. Shade and he graciously agreed to come onto the show.
Who is this guy?
Dr. Shade obtained B.S. and M.S. degrees from Lehigh University in environmental and aqueous chemistry. Dr. Shade earned a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois where he studied the environmental and analytical chemistries of mercury as well as advanced aquatic chemistry. During his Ph.D. work, Dr. Shade patented analytical technology for mercury speciation analysis and later founded a company called “Quicksilver Scientific” that now commercializes this technology.
Shortly after starting Quicksilver Scientific, Dr. Shade turned his focus to the human aspects of mercury exposure, toxicity and the human detoxification system. He has since developed specific clinical analytical techniques for measuring mercury exposure and a system of products to remove metallic and organic toxins by upregulation of innate detoxification biochemistry. His current focus is at the intersection of neuroinflammatory issues, immune dysregulation, toxicity, and infection – specifically how to peel away the layers of overlapping dysfunction in the sick individual until you get to a point at which the system rights itself.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Why Chris decided not to be an organic farmer and instead began studying mercury and the human detox system…[6:40]
-Aside from liver, kidneys, skin, the other three detox mechanisms and organs in the body that get underplayed…[12:00]
-The unique clinical analytical techniques Chris developed, and why he uses something called “mercury speciation”…[23:00 & 29:30]
-Why most tests for mercury give a “false negative”…[30:00]
-The best ways to get rid of mercury in the body…[32:30]
-How to make your own liposomal delivery mechanism at home…[44:35]
-How Chris gets a sick individual to “right themselves”…[50:00]
-A simple trick to make compounds like THC and CBD more absorbable…[63:45]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
-My podcast with Dr. Mercola: Killing Fat Cells, Fixing Mitochondria, Growing Superfoods & More