Michele: Just a thought. Wouldn’ t Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate) baths be a good way to detox and add sulfur in a safer way? I know you would absorb small amounts through he skin, and this is processed differently than dietary additions of sulfur. What are your thoughts? Also it seems that if you took anything like MSM you would want to maintain the tiniest doses to avoid overload until these other imbalances are corrected.
Shelley: Hi Michele. Andy Cutler (biochemist who self-published a book on amalgam illness) just emailed me saying the same thing— to try Epsom Salts (I assume he meant baths!). So you are in good company. I also just saw the same recommendation in a book my dentist just started carrying.
Interesting thing that before— maybe a year and a half ago— before I started really really getting serious about antioxidants and liver support, that even Epsom Salt baths would make me really really sick. They don’ t now. So there is improvement as I see it!
Note: Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) baths are often recommended to help replace the sulfate lost due to mercury poisoning. Caution. The impurities found in some generic magnesium sulfate products may make them unacceptable. Many people use Aaron Brands, which is laboratory tested and quality guaranteed. (Whole Foods carries this brand.)
Mary W: Since I don’ t tolerate oral supplements, I decided to try Epsom salts baths to increase my sulfate levels. According to what I read, when people had a bad reaction, it seemed to make them feel very tired and weak or sleepy. (Sleepy I consider a plus if you do them before sleeping). So I tried one with 1/2 cup of Epsom salts a week ago and had no reaction. This weekend I did another with 2/3 cup and probably soaked longer (stupidly wasn’ t keeping track of the time). Within 40 minutes I was intensely nauseous. I ended up vomiting 6 times over 3 hours, bile, etc. Two days later my liver still has some pain and I’m not tolerating fats at all. I’m curious if anyone else has experienced this? Also I wanted to share this because it seems Epsom salt baths are a lot more powerful than I had realized.
Mary G: The first time I tried one, I used a cup of Epsom salts and later in the day took about a third of an MSM capsule. That evening I started to feel a bit dizzy and the next day I literally had to hold on to the wall a couple of times to maintain my equilibrium. The second time I tried the bath, I only used about 1/8 of a cup and the next day I felt just a little dizzy and my equilibrium was off but not nearly as bad as the first time.
Jock in UK: Warning, diabetics who take insulin, people with cardiovascular problems, and anyone with open wounds are advised not to bathe in Epsom salts. This is from Leon Chaitow’ s book Principles of Fasting.
Polly: Dr. Shaw says that theoretically, someone with a Clostridia infection could suffer a reaction if given sulfates. Clostridia inhibits an enzyme that removes sulfates from key brain lipids. Excess lipid sulfates cause demyelination. You can check to see if there are excess lipid sulfates in the urine.
The usual Epsom Salt bath recommendation is to use a cup of Epsom Salts in a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes. Rinse off afterwards. Do this perhaps once a week. Be careful to drink plenty of liquids. If you are quite ill, be particularly careful about the amount of Epsom salts that you try and be careful about how long the bath is. There is nothing wrong with starting with a teaspoon of Epsom salts and a 10 minute bath. Better safe than sorry. This website, http://www.pennysaved.com, suggests that you add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath water to help pull out the metals. Instead of the apple cider vinegar, some people suggest adding a cup of baking soda to the bath. The carbon dioxide from the baking soda has a great affinity for the oils in the skin and thus may help pull in the magnesium sulfate through the skin. I wouldn’ t experiment with adding the baking soda until after you are sure the Epsom salts baths are tolerable.
Some people can’ t tolerate soaking in chlorinated water each day. Others have dry skin and can’ t tolerate it for this reason. There is another option. You can make a skin cream using the Epsom salts. Dissolve 4 tablespoons of Epsom salts in 3 tablespoons of warm water. Then add to 12 tablespoons of coconut oil. (Recipe was provided by Karen D at this site http://www.autismchannel.net/dana/phenol.htm ) You can purchase some ready-made magnesium sulfate creams, but it seems safer to make your own.
For instance, many skin creams and cosmetics contain parabens as preservatives. Parabens are weak xenoestrogens. Since the parabens are such a small percentage of the ingredients, some people think they are of little consequence. However, there is some reason to be concerned. Different xenoestrogens might add together synergistically and produce a much stronger effect than any of them separately. This is one of the reasons that parabens are banned in Japan.
Impaired Sulfur Oxidation, Molybdenum, And Histidine
Shelley: This article is from Jeff Clark’ s site: http://www.cfsn.com. (This excerpt is repeated here with his permission.) Jeff Clark also maintains the “metals” list, which often discusses this sulfur topic. (There is a link at his site to join the metals list.)
“ Some people have an impaired ability to oxidize and detoxify sulfur compounds. This is well known by the inability to safely process “ sulfa-drugs.” A buildup in the body of excess sulfur compounds can be uncomfortable and even life threatening.
Two forms of this impairment have been observed. One results in an inability to regulate the amino acid cysteine, and is indicated by an increase of cysteine levels in blood plasma, and other tissues samples along with discomfort in eating foods rich in sulfur amino acids.
The second impairment produces an inefficiency in converting sulfur dioxide and sulfides into non-toxic sulfate.
Anecdotes have been reported to us that impaired sulfur oxidation may occur commonly in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and “ amalgam illness” . (“ Amalgam illness” is a term for chronic health problems stemming from lifetime exposure to mercury and other metals found in dental restorations.)
Paradoxically, and quite frustratingly, persons chronically ill can also have impaired glutathione synthesis and depletion of body stores of glutathione. Lack of adequate glutathione is implicated in poor immune function, poor synthesis and uptake of thyroid hormones, an increased rate of aging, and even poor hair growth.
When a person is a poor sulfur oxidizer they often find ordinary foods bearing sulfur compounds to be a source of discomfort. Broccoli and garlic being but two examples of foods which can contribute to uncomfortable excess cysteine levels in such people.
Excess free cysteine is a toxic condition and has been implicated in several degenerative diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Peripheral Neuron Degeneration, and others. (See our Science Page for journal references on impaired sulfur oxidation, glutathione, and other nutrition related topics.)
Poor sulfur oxidation would seem to be an inherited trait that might be made worse by environmental factors such as exposure to mercury and other heavy metals. We have investigated the enzyme involved in sulfur oxidation of L-cysteine. Based on recent science literature, it appears the liver enzyme “ cysteine dioxygenase” (CDO) is the primary regulating enzyme of cysteine. When this enzyme is not functioning at full strength, normal amounts of Lcysteine derived from food can elevate to dangerous levels in liver, plasma, and even the brain.
In healthy conditions the liver converts dietary L-cysteine into glutathione, taurine, sulfate, cystine, and allows a tolerated amount of unconverted L-cysteine to circulate in blood for direct uptake by body cells and organs.
Excessive levels of L-cysteine are controlled by the liver using the enzyme CDO to decompose the amino acid to non-toxic and rapidly excretable sulfate. The enzyme “ cysteine dioxygenase” (CDO) is an iron-histidine enzyme. Another enzyme called “ sulfite oxidase” has been implicated in dysfunction of the last step creating non-toxic sulfate from sulfur dioxide, and from toxic sulfide compounds. An inherited disorder called “ molybdenum-cofactor deficiency” makes this condition severe, causing loss of eye lenses and usually an early death. Less severe impairments of “ sulfite oxidase” appear related to dietary deficiency or environmental depletion of the essential trace mineral molybdenum.
In response to the special dietary needs of those with impaired sulfur oxidation, and other trace metal enzymes we have created a nutrition program that includes essential trace minerals, and the essential amino acid histidine.
For a person with impaired sulfur oxidation attempting to rebuild healthy nutritional status we recommend starting with our Restore & Replenish formula. When the ability to tolerate foods like garlic and broccoli is restored, then our other nutrition programs should be considered. Poor sulphoxidizers, persons with chronic seasonal allergies, elevated serum iron, or impairment of other mineral-enzymes should consider always adding the essential amino acid L-Histidine to their regular routine of nutritional supplementation.”
Polly: That is an excellent article by Jeff. One addition: Hepatitis B infections and/or the hepatitis B vaccination inhibit the enzyme that converts sulfite to sulfate.  Be particularly careful with this vaccination if you suspect mercury poisoning. Jeff’s company sells books and nutritional supplements that may be of benefit to those with candidiasis and mercury poisoning.