Literally nobody told me the MRI gadolinium-based contrast I was about to have could screw up my health for years
... or even permanently!
Want to hear about a terrible mistake I made?
Wednesday 9th November 2016: That was the day my life changed. That was the day I had my first, and only gadolinium-enhanced MRI scan. I will never have another one. I’ve written about my experience here.
That was the day I realised that the conventional medical system is desperately flawed. And now I know the real reason my doctor ordered a scan using contrast. It wasn’t because it was necessary. it wasn’t. It was because there’s a pharmaceutical cabal that deals in misinformation and uncertainty. You can find out more about it in this article. And that, unless I research every single investigation and treatment offered to me, I won’t understand all the implications. In short, I discovered that informed consent is just an illusion.
When it comes to gadolinium contrasts and their adverse effects, most doctors don't know very much
Doctors seldom have the knowledge to advise patients about the true risks and benefits of the treatments, surgeries, and investigations they are offering. They don’t have the time to search the literature. Even if they did, seldom do they have the skills to critically appraise those studies. Nor do they have access to unpublished data.
Oftentimes, most of the information on risks is hidden in unpublished studies. Doctors also usually can’t spot enormous gaps in research. This is critically important. As a result, industry-funded studies often market only the benefits, and omit any harms, of their product.
All that means is that both you and your doctor are only getting a fraction of the full story. The way that drug companies design and publish clinical trials conceals adverse health effects.
The blind leading the partially sighted
Awareness of GBCAs’ adverse health effects is starting to grow. But at a crawl. When Sky News interviewed me about it back in 2018, and the Daily Mail a year before, very few people had even heard of the element gadolinium, let alone knew that it was used as the contrast for MRI scans. So you might discover about retention of gadolinium before your doctor does.
I’ve heard far too many stories about people not being believed by their doctors when they raise the issue of gadolinium toxicity after their MRI scans. Has your doctor listened to you when you voiced concerns about the adverse effects? I hope they have. But you might be in the minority if you have an understanding doctor who’s willing and able to help with the adverse effects of GBCAs.
What I'm about to tell you might save your health, or your life
Let me tell you about gadolinium-based contrast agents, so that you don’t find yourself in a similar situation to me.
I now know many people who have had similar experiences as a result of having one or more gadolinium-enhanced MRI scans. In fact, despite being able to personally identify with all of the symptoms I describe below and more, I count myself luckier than most in the gadolinium toxicity groups. At least I’ve been improving. Many others are suffering from heart-breaking gradual deterioration for months or years. Some friends are no longer with us.
What is gadolinium?
Gadolinium is a rare earth element. It’s a toxic heavy metal. In addition it’s also the most potent calcium channel blocker ever identified. It is known to be toxic to:
- tissues, particularly connective tissue,
- and the nervous system.
In humans gadolinium accumulates in bone in particular. But it can also accumulate in:
- and other tissues and organs.
It causes oxidative damage, inflammation, and cell death. Studies indicate that it probably causes malignant transformation. That means there’s a good chance it could lead to cancer.
How do you get exposed to gadolinium?
It’s rarely found in nature, so exposure should usually be minimal under normal circumstances.
However, gadolinium is used in the contrast agents injected into patients during MRI scans so GBCAs are the top source of exposure.
The contrast agents are drugs based on chelating agents, also not found in nature. A chelating agent is a drug that is capable of grabbing on to a metal and holding on to it.
Chelating agents can also come unattached from the metal they bind (in this case gadolinium) in several circumstances. Firstly, in the vial they are stored in. Secondly, in your body. Finally, in the environment after they have been passed out in your urine.
Free chelating agents are also biologically active. In fact they’re not inert. Some of the chelating agents, like the one that’s used in the contrast agent, Prohance, have been shown to cause brain toxicity as well. This even occurs when not bound to gadolinium.
DTPA, the basic parent molecule used for all gadolinium contrast agents, has been shown to deplete essential nutrients, including zinc and calcium. Due to safety concerns, DTPA is not licensed for use during pregnancy. This is even when it’s not bound to the toxic element, gadolinium.
What long term research has been done on people who have been injected with gadolinium based contrast agents?
Gadolinium based contrast agents are proven to cause an often fatal connective tissue disorder in the only group of people who have been studied long term: renal patients.
If you have normal renal function, you’ve probably been told not to worry. You only need to drink lots of fluids in the next few days and your kidneys will flush all the gadolinium contrast out in your urine within 4 days. Sound familiar?
The only problem is that this isn’t true. On 19th December 2017 in a drug safety communication, the FDA issued a new class warning about gadolinium retention, stating that all GBCAs for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) leave gadolinium in the bodies, internal organs, and brains of all patients for months to years after a dose. It doesn’t matter whether your renal function is normal or reduced.
Patients with chronic kidney disease are the only ones who’ve been studied extensively to determine the true long term effects of gadolinium exposure. That’s how we know that gadolinium contrasts can cause horrifying adverse reactions. When patients with renal failure are injected with gadolinium contrast agents, they’re at increased risk of developing a devastating type of systemic fibrosis called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) or gadolinium-associated systemic fibrosis (GASF).
So far, NSF (or more accurately GASF) has only been looked for in people with poor renal function following exposure to gadolinium.
However patient support groups and cohort studies of people with normal kidney function have identified constellations of symptoms. A growing number of people (both with and without chronic kidney disease) are starting to realise they’re suffering from these symptoms following gadolinium exposure.
What are some of the symptoms of gadolinium contrast side effects?
Here are just some of the chronic problems that people in gadolinium support groups complain of for months, and even years, after scans using GBCAs:
- brain fog,
- joint and muscle problems,
- metabolic syndrome,
- high blood pressure,
- sleep problems,
- gut symptoms,
- skin disorders and
- other inflammatory conditions
- anxiety and depression
I’ve written about these and other adverse effects that people have described following gadolinium-based contrast injections in a lot more detail in my ebook, Contrasts: More than meets the MRI. But I’ve also got a short, free downloadable guide for you which will answer a lot of the questions you have about the side effects of gadolinium contrasts for MRI. You can access the free guide immediately when you sign up for my newsletter. And there’s this article on gadolinium deposition disease as well.
Which gadolinium toxicity symptoms are most difficult to deal with?
Many people find the emotional burden, feelings of isolation, and psychiatric effects are some of the most difficult ramifications to cope with. So I wrote an article describing the mental torture of gadolinium contrast toxicity.
We know that gadolinium contrast agents are inflammatory, mitochondrial toxic, calcium channel blocking drugs. So none of these symptoms should come as a surprise. They’re the commonest ways that inflammation, mitochondrial damage, and the blockade of calcium channels manifest.
You can also throw severe connective tissue damage into the mix since fibrosis is possibly the best-described symptom of gadolinium contrast agents. After all, that’s what nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is named after.
And what is atherosclerosis, if not hardening of the blood vessels? A hardening that is associated with both inflammation and connective tissue disorders. While high blood pressure is associated with abnormally stiff blood vessels. In fact, the blood vessels have lost their ability to respond properly to fluctuations in the blood supply to different tissues.
Acute and immediate complications of gadolinium-based agents are much better described in clinical studies. Unfortunately, they include death, shock, and organ failure.
What tends to happen when patients think that they are suffering from a chronic reaction to gadolinium?
Patients who present with symptoms are almost never investigated for gadolinium retention. In fact, doctors seldom consider gadolinium toxicity. This poses challenges if you’re trying to discover who treats gadolinium poisoning.
Doctors are much more likely to order more gadolinium-enhanced scans to look for the cause of new symptoms and deterioration rather than consider whether their patients are suffering from adverse effects from the MRI. And then patients suffer from worsening symptoms as a result. They may also undergo other investigations. Not only that, but they might end up misdiagnosed with conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS – you might know it by a different name. It is also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Motor Neurone Disease), and be treated with powerful medications.
Can gadolinium get into the environment?
As yet no-one has fully elucidated the environmental effects of gadolinium contrast agents on aquatic life. Or on fields irrigated with water containing increasing levels of gadolinium pollutants . However, preliminary studies are extremely worrying.
Have you received a gadolinium contrast agent in an MRI?
Were you warned that there are no long term safety studies on how it will affect you? Did your doctor warn you about the potential risks of administration of gadolinium to your health? Or were you reassured about the safety of gadolinium?
Are you worried about the risks of transferring it to your offspring? (the children of pregnant women injected with gadolinium are more likely to be stillborn. Inflammatory skin and joint conditions are more common in surviving children).
Do you worry about cumulative toxin exposure from our environment? Or about the effects on plants, animals and fungi of combined toxin exposure from multiple sources? These could include waste water from medical procedures?
Have you found yourself affected emotionally and psychologically by gadolinium? Know that you aren’t alone. And you’ll find this post really interesting. But this post tells you all you need to know about how to deal with anxiety, even if you are suffering from gadolinium toxicity.
If your health has been affected adversely following GBCAs and you’re interested in exploring whether the natural, gentle ways I’ve used to get my life back could work for you too, I’d love to chat with you. You can easily schedule a free clarity call over the internet. Just follow this link.
Or you can email me by clicking here. I’m also on Facebook as The Food Phoenix and you can find me in some of the gadolinium toxicity Facebook groups.
Share your own experiences of gadolinium contrast below.