Case Study: Simon Presents Eczema, Hives, Allergies
Simon was a 39 year old saw operator who had worked for the previous 14 years at an aluminum smelter and who was also a part-time fishing guide. He presented with one of the worst cases of eczema I have ever seen. He told me that since early childhood he had continuous problems with eczema affecting his forehead, scalp, neck, elbows, forearms, hands, back, and lower legs. Over time, he also developed hives on his skin. As a child, he was given almonds and within minutes he fainted and his throat swelled shut. From that time, he meticulously avoided eating almonds as well as hazelnuts, to which he was also highly sensitive.
For the six years before he presented his case to me, Simon’s symptoms became gradually worse, and during the preceding three months they had become unbearable. In order to control his symptoms, he had to take Benadryl (an oral antihistamine) several times each day, and apply potent steroid creams and ointments. In the springtime, he developed symptoms of allergic rhinitis when exposed to tree and grass pollens, and consumption of certain foods such as eggs and salmon would make his skin condition worse. He mentioned that when exposed to cat dander he would start to wheeze.
Over the years, Simon had been prescribed many different types of antihistamines, topical steroid creams and antibiotics. He attended several allergists, whose tests revealed severe reactions to trees and grasses. He had moderate reactions also to dust, cat and dog dander, as well as molds. Skin testing revealed adverse reactions to cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, sesame, dairy, wheat, and shellfish. Blood tests revealed very high levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) (9540 microgram/L with normal being 0 – 430), indicating that his immune system was very reactive and in a hyper-alert state.
Simon consulted internal medicine specialists in the USA and Canada but no matter which specialist he saw, the diagnosis was the same: severe atopic dermatitis, urticaria (hives), angioedema (severe hives with local tissue swelling), and allergic rhinitis. When I first met him, he was desperate to find an effective treatment because the severity of his condition was having a major impact on his life. He had chronic sleep disturbance because of severe itching, his energy fluctuated, and he had difficulty maintaining his weight. Nevertheless, despite all these problems, he enjoyed playing hockey and tennis, as well as lifting weights.
Simon’s past history revealed that his mother had mercury amalgams present in her mouth when she was pregnant with him. He had his childhood vaccinations, and began getting mercury amalgams placed in his teeth as a child. He therefore would have accumulated some mercury from his mother, from the vaccines, and especially from the eleven amalgams present in his teeth. He had also consumed plentiful amounts of fish, from which, again, he would have absorbed mercury. He had worked at the aluminum smelter for 14 years, a job which, for the first seven years, involved pouring liquid aluminum alloy which exposed him to fumes containing metals.
When I examined him, Simon had severe eczema on his forehead, scalp, neck, elbows, forearms, hands, and lower legs, but his examination was otherwise unremarkable. We performed skin testing for inhalants and found that he had severe reactions to dust mites, cat, dog, guinea pig, and horse danders as well as to cockroach. He also exhibited severe reactions to trees, grasses, and weeds, and had moderate reactions to molds. I ordered a number of investigations which showed that his IgE level was still critically elevated (3908 microgram/L with normal being 0 – 430). Stool testing was negative for parasites, and his laboratory work was otherwise unremarkable.
Simon was placed on the dietary protocol I have described earlier, together with nutritional supplements. His first DMPS challenge test showed a mercury level of 320 mcg (with normal being less than 3). Aluminum was elevated (44 with normal being less than 35). Lead was elevated (15 with normal being less than 5). Cadmium was also elevated (2.1 with normal being less than 2.0). Arsenic, cadmium, nickel, and tin also showed up in his urine, all within reference range with the exception of cadmium, which was just over the borderline.