For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-federal-award-winning independent advocate for childhood Lead-poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (two of her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF technology (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times to confirm the test results for each component tested. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
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Published: July 31, 2019
Updated: November 18, 2023
For those who like a quick answer when they read an article:
That’s it. Eat all the garlic and move on.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
P.S. Tomatoes, berries, onions and grapes are good, too! (Read more here.)
Links to the science supporting the efficacy of garlic for removing heavy metals from the body are at the bottom of this article.
For the rest of you… (interested in the details, science, and some yummy garlic focused recipes from my friends)… continue reading below the disclaimer!
- I am not a doctor and any advice on this website should not take the place of medical advice from your doctor! (But hopefully your doctor will also encourage you to eat garlic!)
- In the case of acute high level Lead poisoning, a child may need medical chelation, which is usually done in a hospital with close supervision by a doctor.
- However, it is interesting to note that one of the studies linked below supports the use of garlic for heavy metal detox and also specifically mentions that even children undergoing medical chelation may see additional benefits from adding garlic to their diet (in conjunction with other interventions deemed by their doctor to be medically necessary).
Tamara, why did you pair this article with a sensational headline?
Frankly, I get sick of everyone sharing their new “detox protocol” with me. I haven’t yet found any prepared concoction (pill, powder, or liquid) that itself has been rigorously tested for Lead contamination to standards I currently* believe are appropriate (that has been tested and found to be 100% Lead-free — or in the low single digit parts per billion level — the only level that is actually protective of children’s health).
While some natural chelation products used in medical/ hospital settings or scientific studies may, in fact, be Lead-free, their readily available counterparts (that one can easily buy retail online for example) may not be. As a result, giving these “detox” products to children may actually INCREASE their blood lead levels and PROLONG their exposure to Lead in their environment (home, school, daycare, etc.)
Some products that purport to remove Lead from the body:
- Bentonite clay typically/ frequently has unsafe levels of Lead (and can have unsafe levels of other heavy metals, too — including Cadmium, Arsenic and Antimony) and if administered orally as a supplement, can actually be a source of poisoning for a child or any sized human for that matter.
- The nonsense about bentonite clay being “ionically charged to be non-bioavailable” is total BS spin that has been 100% generated by the bentonite clay industry and has no basis in fact. In fact, the opposite of these claims is true: Bentonite clay administered orally has been proven to be bioavailable and to cause both elevated blood Lead levels and a bioaccumulation of lead in the soft tissue (brain, kidney, liver, etc.) See more here and here.
- Some Modified Citrus Pectin has been found to contain unsafe levels of bioavailable Lead. (More about MCP chelation here.)
- TRS (a “liquid zeolite” product) has not yet been appropriately tested for Lead (with independent third party testing to determine whether or not it contains lead in the finished product, and how much lead it contains) to my knowledge, but zeolite (in general) has been found to contain Lead. (Read here.)
- Separately, there is no actual scientific evidence (that I am aware of) that demonstrates that TRS/ manufactured “liquid zeolite” does anything to actually reduce lead levels (beyond what one might expect with the normal reduction of Lead levels given the half-life of Lead in blood — see additional articles below). TRS (and similar unproven “detox” supplements) is especially dangerous because parents may give it to their children expecting it to “detox” Lead, without first identifying and removing the source of Lead from their child’s environment. In those cases a child may continue to be exposed to Lead during a period in which the family thinks they are “detoxing” — increasing the long-term potential harm that may be caused by the child’s exposure.
- Some (but not all) commercial Cilantro and Chlorella extracts/suspensions/tinctures (etc.) have been tested and found to contain unsafe levels of Lead. (More about those chelation methods here.)
General note about “detox protocol supplements”: IF a substance (any substance) is purported to “molecularly bond to Lead to help expedite the secretion and elimination of Lead,” there’s a pretty good chance it may be contaminated with Lead (by virtue of the very nature of the properties people are extolling as a health benefit!).
Some additional related reading that may be of interest
- A discussion about the half-life of Lead in blood — link.
- What to do if your doctor tells you your child’s blood lead level is “normal” — link.
- Your child’s BLL test result had a “<” symbol in front of it, what does that mean? — link.
- Our overview article about Blood Lead Level testing — link.
- The potential impact of low level lead exposure — link.
- An article discussing the symptoms of Lead exposure in children — link.
- An article discussing the symptoms of Lead exposure in adults — link.
- An article discussing the impact of low level lead exposure on pregnancy and fertility — link.
- A link to my documentary feature film on the subject of childhood Lead poisoning.
Tamara, what did you use to help detox your children once you learned they were poisoned?
While I did use a “natural chelation” product with my children — in 2005 when they were first tested for Lead and found to be poisoned (I used a cilantro and chlorella-based product, which was the closest to an independently tested “Lead-free” product I could find) — I have always talked about the benefits of diet and the need for natural chelation efforts to be based in fresh, whole foods whenever possible. As noted above, the one single whole food that has been very well-studied (by multiple sets of independent scientists in many different countries, no less!) and as I understand it, has been shown to effectively remove Lead both from the blood and from tissue (like the brain, muscles and organs), is garlic. These scientific studies have been conducted on both humans and other animals (including rats and chickens).
Links to the science supporting the efficacy of garlic in removing heavy metals from humans and animals are at the bottom of this article.
In the end, your grandmother was right, apparently. Garlic fixes (cures?) everything!
To read more about my thoughts on garlic, click here (for an article with direct links to some of the science supporting the use of natural garlic as a good detox method).
What form of garlic works best for detox?
The studies (including the ones linked below) exploring the efficacy of Garlic as a detox protocol for removing Lead (and other metals) from blood and biological structures (organs, brain, bones, etc.) do not share a consensus on which type of garlic might work best for removing Lead from the body: cooked, raw, capsule/ powdered, etc. Some of the studies used cooked garlic and found that effective, some used raw garlic, and others used medically pure (ostensibly Lead-free) garlic powders or garlic in pill form. Given there is not a scientific consensus on this, I encourage families to incorporate garlic into their diet in any way that works for them. As for what we do in my family: We eat it raw, juiced or cooked, and add it to any dish or drink that might work (I especially like raw garlic added to fresh pressed green juices with lemon and also love roasting raw garlic in the oven until it is soft enough to be spread on toast or crackers). Think green Juice with garlic, steamed broccoli with garlic, pizza with garlic, pasta with garlic, garlic bread, garlic bagels, garlic butter (vegan or regular), toast with Garlic … the possibilities are endless!
Is powdered garlic a problem?
While I sometimes incorporate organic powdered garlic into my cooking, I do have some concerns for powdered garlic administered as a supplement in a capsule or pill form, however, and have chosen not to use those options for my family. Once something comes in a bottle, powder or capsule (including garlic!), I cease automatically trusting it as a potentially truly Lead-free supplement. The commercial manufacturing processes of bottling, concentrating, grinding, or encapsulating otherwise beneficial ingredients almost always adds (or concentrates) Lead. (This concern is discussed at length in my baby food overview article.) The potential for the manufacturing process to add lead to a finished product (even when starting with a relatively Lead-free source material/ food) is aggravated by the fact that a lot of equipment and machinery across all industries today (which applies to both older and new equipment as well as equipment in the food and supplement industries) is still covered in Leaded paint, and/or employs the use of Leaded brass components to facilitate the functions of the machine.
Tamara, how can I incorporate more garlic into my diet?
If you are looking for some quick, easy, and creative ways to incorporate more garlic into your diet, please scroll down for links to some garlic-focused recipes provided by some of my friends with cooking websites. It’s also super easy to grow garlic in your garden in many U.S. climates (if you test your soil first you can ensure your soil is lead-free, which will then ensure your garlic will be Lead-free). Growing your own makes this a nearly free (or even 100% free) “detox” solution.
But Tamara I have this great product I use with my kids! I’m certain it works as a safe and effective detox for Lead!
PLEASE stop trying to get me to try, endorse, mention, discuss, or comment on the remedy you have chosen to use. Instead, do your own homework and make an educated decision based on the information you have at the time (taking into account the advice of your naturopath or doctor — assuming they have some education related to Lead and Lead exposure/ natural detox protocols). Do your best, do your best for your children — with the caveat that one should never eat clay, K? (Especially clay that is being sold and marketed as having magical healing properties!)
Continue reading below the recipes.
Some quick ways to add garlic to your diet:
As always, thank you for reading and for sharing the articles from Lead Safe Mama dot com! (And a special thanks to my friends for the above links!)
Please let me know if you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them personally as soon as I have a moment (but it may be a while since I have disabled, Lead-poisoned kiddos underfoot, nearly 24/7).
Owner — Lead Safe Mama, LLC
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children
More garlic study and article links:
- Chickens: https://www.livestrong.com/article/199912-what-natural-herbs-can-be-taken-for-chelation/
- Chickens: https://pharmacologia.com/fulltext/?doi=pharmacologia.2014.110.119
- Chickens: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/073e/5ee1fba5fc024d51d8517d310a560e576beb.pdf
- Rats: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598274/
- Rats: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f708/b59d7caca50e8b9118211594cf1f779e5a95.pdf
- Humans: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22151785
*When I first found NDF by BioRay I understood it to be “Lead-free” — my understanding of the definition of “Lead-free” (in the various contexts in which that term is used) has evolved over the years. I now understand it to mean that a product is known to be “Lead-free” given a set limit of detection used in testing a particular product, not necessarily 100% “Lead-free.” So, NDF by BioRay has been tested (and is rigorously regularly tested) and found to be “Lead-Free” with the limit of detection (low threshold) being <0.050 ug/g. In “English,” this is “less than 0.05 micrograms per gram.” That translates to “less than 0.05 parts per million,” so “less than 50 parts per billion.” While “less than 50 ppb” is a good place to start for a liquid supplement, given what I know now, I would love to see more specific testing down to the single digit parts per billion if at all possible.