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Barium in medical scanning

Barium And Gadolinium Toxicity In Medical Scans?

By Ted Twietmeyer

The abstract posted at the nih.gov website [1] (National Institutes of Health for the USA) about Barium in the environment immediately inspired me to consider other Barium sources, besides those sources which are environmental. Do medical imaging technologies require the use of heavy metals? Yes they do, and in great volume.

If there are people (patients) who have a genetic (or other) susceptibility to Barium in the environment as the research appears to show, imagine what happens if their system is flooded with this metal during a medical procedure. I am referring to the frequent use of Barium as a contrast agent in various types of upper and lower GI tract X-Rays. The amount of Barium required for medical images is millions of times the concentration of that found in the environment.

Another element called Gadolinium is also used in medical MRI imaging. This is administered using a pump to force it into the patient intravenously at exactly the right time during an MRI scan. This element is used to enhance the imaging process. One example of Gadolinium use is imaging the brain when doctors are looking for the long, white vertical threads which are a tell-tale indicator that a patient has MS. Gadolinium's shorter history in the medical imaging industry dates back to when MRI imaging became commonplace, which is about 30 years. The use of Barium for X-Ray imaging dates back much earlier. Even new imaging methods which employ "digital film," Barium is still used.

Modern medicine considers both Barium and Gadolinium as harmless metals to the body. Of course, the same has been said of Mercury and Silver tooth fillings used by the dental profession for about one hundred years, too.

Here are some characteristics of the elements Barium and Gadolinium [2]:

Atomic weight for Barium is 137.33.
Cost (pure) is $55.00/100g.
Conductivity is 1 mohm/cm, which makes a conductor of electricity and better than copper which is 595.8mohm/cm.
Electron shell counts are for Barium are 2,8,18,18,8,2.
Atomic weight for Gadolinium is 157.25.
Cost (pure) is $191.00/100g.
Conductivity is 7.91 mohm/cm.
Electron shell counts are 2,8,18,25,9,2.
Possesses unique paramagnetic properties, and has been used as a refrigerant in magnetic refrigeration.
Note that Copper, long considered a heavy metal, has a lighter atomic weight of 63.456. We routinely consider copper as a heavy metal to the body which is toxic when present in excess. Yet the atomic weight of Barium and Gadolinium are almost 2.5 times heavier than copper! Can this be a good thing?

For those readers who haven't had the honor to be the recipient of an upper GI tract test, it works like this. The patient fasts after midnight of the day before the procedure. Upon arrival at the imaging center or hospital, a white "Barium Milkshake" is given. This concoction contains about a liter of the chalky, milky Barium material. Then X-Rays are taken.

For lower GI tract imaging, more is required of the patient. The lower GI tract is usually emptied through fasting and flushing, and Barium is then administered rectally. The patient must hold this in until imaging is completed. In both cases, Barium works by coating the inside of the stomach or intestines and blocking X-Rays. This permits the doctors to see a clear image to look for suspected abnormalities. These tests are never ordered unless something is suspected to be abnormal.

It's noteworthy here to consider the absorptive properties of both the stomach and large intestine. If you take a pill, some of that pill's medicine will be in your bloodstream in as little as 15 seconds after it enters you stomach. The stomach and the large intestine are not believed to absorb Barium by the medical profession, and have been deemed to be safe to all patients according to the Standard of Care.

When patients are asked by medical personnel about allergies to drugs, Barium or Gadolinium is never considered. And for good reason perhaps ­ having heavy metals in your system often has no pain or side-effects. Even doctors rarely consider the effect of heavy metals unless symptoms are present, which are not the result of a bacterial infection or virus. According to the NIH abstract, the disease MS may be a symptom of Barium in the environment. However, doctors are NOT trained today to see Barium as a source of the disease. Instead, Barium is only considered as a diagnostic tool.

What this strongly raises is the question of whether or not Barium used for upper and lower GI procedures are poisoning people with an overload of the metal. It always seemed to me that pumping someone full of this element must result in SOME absorption of the material, even though the majority of the metal is removed by the body in a relatively short time.

The basic question is this - How long of an exposure to any heavy metal is unhealthy? It can take many hours for the body to purge itself of Barium and Gadolinium - if all of it can ever be removed from the body at all.

Gadolinium might be equally sinister ­ it invades the brain by crossing the blood/brain barrier. This must happen to penetrate the lesions of the brain so they will show up on MRI images. Otherwise, MS lesions will not appear on the scan.

This entire issue of contrast agents (so named by the medical profession) is a very difficult one. Most likely, no contrast agent exists which will be broken down by the body, work effectively and all the while be completely non-toxic. Both X-Ray and MRI technologies must have these agents to make otherwise invisible structures appear on images.

So the question remains of contrast agents ­ when is too much harmful, to whom and when? It could be years before we will hear anything on this subject from watch dog agencies, if ever.

All this gives one pause to consider the alarming rise in incurable diseases like MS. Some estimates put the number of those afflicted with the disease at 10 million in theUSA alone, both diagnosed and those not yet undiagnosed. The addition of Barium as a cause for MS might be added to the list of factors causing the disease. Just as cancer has multiple causes, MS may also have various sources other than the result of a Micoplasma infection. It already appears that genetics is involved in whether someone will develop MS, too.

MY DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this essay is to be construed by the reader as advice to not follow their doctor's orders or advice. It is also not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Issues about risk with regard to any diagnostic procedures are presented here purely as research material only, and must not be construed as medical advice. I strongly advise the reader to do their own research when making decisions regarding all medical care.

Ted Twietmeyer


[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=pub

[2] http://www.chemicool.com/elements/barium.html


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