Copyright © 1996, 1997, 2001 by Galen Daryl Knight and VitaleTherapeutics, Inc.


Eye glass manufacturers have been making metal frames out of nickel for many years even though contact with this metal is known to cause cancer (NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, September 1985, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health).

The manufacturers of the nickel-containing frames may be culpable because of the well-publicized and documented hazards of nickel. Even its name (German nickel, for satan's or "old nick's", and from kupfernickel, or "old nick's copper") implies a sinister side to this substance. Ironically, simply plating the frames with tin, or using another more durable coating, might do away with most of this toxicity in eyeglasses.

If you find a green color on your eyeglasses where the metal frames touch your face, and especially if you are experiencing a rash where your eyeglasses contact, either paint the portions of the metal frame in contact with your skin with finger nail polish, or better still, replace the frames, altogether, with a frame made of more inert ingredients like titanium or plastic with the following reservations.

Other metals known to bind sulfur compounds such as thiols (-SH) more tightly than water (-OH) often are either very toxic and/or carcinogenic. It is no small coincidence that these heavy metals are toxic to the production of protective cytolytic antibodies and other immune functions, in a manner that is consistent with their tenacity for binding sulfur to form metal sulfides. In contrast, stimulation of this same response with vitalethine was found to decrease the growth of melanoma over a wide range of concentrations, so the immunotoxicity and carcinogenic potential of heavy metals is easily explained by the chemical abilities of their ions to complex, and presumably inactivate, the vitaletheine modulators. This rather striking relationship not only reinforces concerns over the carcinogenicity of plutonium, but also raises new concerns about the use of bismuth-containing salts to settle gastrointestinal disturbances. It seems logical, based upon this analysis, that absorption of any immunoregulatory thiols by "Pepto-Bismol-like" medications could lead to increased incidences of cancer in the esophageal and alimentary tract, including colon cancer. Exceptions to this general rule seem to be metals that bind water and sulfur compounds equally well (such as the tin) and metals that are known nutrients. Tin cans have not always been considered a safe way to store food since it has only been in the last few decades that the use of lead to seal the seams of the cans was phased out. Presumably, the body in evolving mechanisms for assimilating and retaining these nutritious metal ions, also has developed mechanisms for coping with their tenacious affinity for regulatory sulfur compounds. (See "metallothionine" discussion below.) It follows that nutritious metal ions probably provide protection against the accumulation of toxic metal ions, but acute administration of excessive amounts might have the undesirable effect of releasing and transiently increasing the circulating levels of any toxic metals that have accumulated in the body's protective mechanisms. This may be an important phenomenon governing the success of chelation therapies and mineral supplementation.

Nickel may be particularly problematic in our environment. In addition to direct chelation of immunoregulatory and other thiols, nickel can catalyze the epoxidation of olefins and other biological molecules at room temperature and under atmospheric pressures of oxygen. This includes the epoxidation of carboxamides to produce competitive analogues of the carbamate/carbonimidate moiety of the vitaletheine modulators. The sulfide derivative resulting from reaction of vitaletheine modulators with the epoxides also can divert substrates for the monooxygenase receptor, essentially uncoupling any oxidative signaling of the immune response and resulting eventually in immune disorders and disease.

Stainless steel often contains nickel, so titanium's use in surgical implants instead of stainless steel may have advantages in addition to its strength to weight ratios. Nickel is paramagnetic and weakly attracts a magnet, but stainless steel can also contain enough iron to mimic this weak attraction for a magnet. Problematic stainless steels (i.e., those containing nickel) include most type numbers greater than 200 and less than 400 and numbers 414 and 431. The numbers between 200 and 400 are not heat treatable according to the CRC Handbook (American Iron and Steel Institute).

Some titanium sulfides are reportedly hydrolyzed slightly in water, so this metal, like tin, may be a somewhat safer alternative to nickel frames. It is not known how tightly other salts derived from alloys of titanium bind regulatory sulfur compounds, but a lighter and stronger frame in eyeglasses should facilitate consistent positioning of the frame away from contact with the face. This may still be important since Beryllium (Be), used in some alloys of titanium, is also listed in the NIOSH Guide as carcinogenic. Other possible sources of contamination with beryllium are the "precious" gems, emeralds and aquamarine.

Based upon existing information on toxicity available from the U.S. government and other sources, VitaleTherapeutics has broadcasted its concern about nickel frames in an interview conducted by Carly Newfeld and Diego Mulligan on the Connections Radio Show (KVSF AM-1260) out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.


If you know of anyone who has developed skin cancer or rashes on their face, especially where their glasses contact their face, tell us your story. Although anecdotal, these "stories" can be used to build a case for controlled studies and, if we get enough similar responses, recommendations for regulation of the industry if necessary. Attempts will also be made to provide possible solutions for metal poisoning for your and your doctor's consideration.

Case #1---Fibrosarcoma

Fibrosarcoma on the cheek in one individual wearing metal frames came back again, even after surgery. He had already determined that he was "sensitive" to nickel because of previous reactions to a belt buckle. After radiation treatments to put the cancer in remission, he was warned that he would have permanently suppressed immunity in the area irradiated.

Information provided to this individual appears to have helped in diminishing the ill-effects of his radiation treatment and may have preserved some local immune function to combat any future recurrences of the cancer. It is not possible to draw any conclusions from this single case, but this individual also has been notified about the possible complications of metal eyeglass frames in his prognosis.

Case #2---Dermatitis (Rash)

I am a research biochemist who has had the described reactions to my nickel eyeglass frames. This problem "surfaced" soon after the enamel wore off of my frames several years ago, and painting the rims with fingernail polish was suggested by the retailer as a way of lessening the reaction. In my case, hypersensitization to the metal in the frames (alleged by this and other retailers) seems to be merely an emergence of the toxic substance through the masking enamel. In addition to this "metal sensitivity", I also had to stop wearing my wedding ring because of persistent rashes on my left palm, misdiagnosed as dyshidrotic eczema by a medical professional but later determined to be pompholyx due to the nickel poisoning through comparisons with photographs of cases of known nickel poisoning. Since symptoms that I have had for several years went away as soon as the ring was taken off, I suspect that this rash also was caused by metals in the 14 carrot gold alloy. Makes one think twice about carrying coins around in one's pocket or giving them to kids to put in their mouths and piggy banks, doesn't it? Despite several calls to the store where I bought the ring, they apparently didn't want to tell me what the alloy was or give me the jewelry manufacturer's name and number so that I could track down this information. Is there anything that can be done to cleanse my system of contaminating metals?

One way to determine if a piece of jewelry is causing a reaction is to simply switch it to another appendage. If the rash follows the jewelry's position you've got a problem and should probably not wear the offending accessory. The body has some inducible reserve capacity for dealing with potentially hazardous metals. A protein known as metallothionine, composed of about 30% cysteine residues, may preferentially bind toxic metals, thereby protecting the minute amounts of important regulatory thiol compounds, such as the vitaletheine modulators, from complexation and inactivation. The unusual multi-ligand capability in this particular protein appears to be particularly adept at binding multivalent metal ions since zinc, cadmium, copper, and mercury routinely copurify with this protein. (Note that several types of casein, a major protein component in milk, has no cysteine in its processed forms.) Other thiol substances that are present in our bodies at relatively high concentrations, such as glutathione, probably also afford some protection. It seems likely that the hypersensitivity reactions (i.e., immune system imbalances) may be nothing more than a saturation of these natural buffers that protect our bodies from contaminating metal toxins. This concept also might explain "multiple metal sensitivities" and other allergic reactions that typically ensue after initial "sensitization" (or the more likely, "saturation" of our protective mechanisms).

Other multi-dentate sulfur (thiol) matrices, i.e., those mimicking the structure of metallothionine, might be useful in trapping unwanted metal ions, not only for cleansing the blood and body of toxic metals, but also for removing contaminants such as plutonium and lead from our environment.

Fish, generally appreciated as one of the healthiest sources of protein, have amino acid compositions that are higher in cysteine than most other sources of protein. Among the vegetables, soybeans are also higher in cysteine. One can ensure adequate levels of cysteine by taking vitamin supplements containing the B complex, since B12, B6, and folate have been implicated in the conversions of other amino acids to cysteine. Fortunately, vegetarian diets can be enriched in these very B vitamins, ones that may offset the greater potential for protein (i.e. cysteine) deficiency in vegetarian diets. When added to the other B vitamins critical to synthesis of the vitaletheine modulators and to the functioning of the monooxygenase, B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and B5 (pantothenic acid), it is clear that deficiencies in the vitamins of the B complex may seriously compromise the proper regulation of our immune and other systems.

Chelation therapy has been proposed by some as a way of cleansing the body of unwanted toxins. This is interesting in light of recent reports that mayonnaise may be good for the heart, despite the fact that it contains whole eggs (cholesterol) and vegetable oil (fat). It is reasonable that at least some of mayonnaise's nutritional benefit can be attributed to the vitamins found in its components, eggs and vegetable oil being good sources of both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, respectively. Eggs are also a source of protein that contains cysteine, especially their whites. Mayonnaise also contains acidic substances, such as vinegar and lemon juice, and the commercial versions often contain a metal chelator, EDTA, as a preservative, all of which may help the body to rid itself of toxic metal ions.

Exercise may rid our bodies of unwanted heavy metals, since the sweat of healthy men in saunas contains about 20 times the levels of nickel found in blood serum. The nutrients, zinc (up to 4 mg/day) and iron, are also lost from our bodies in this manner. If otherwise properly nourished by an adequate intake of the nutritious metal ions, we can probably benefit from exercise that makes us sweat by ridding our bodies of unwanted and potentially carcinogenic metal ions (such as nickel) in this manner. It is not known if this excretory phenomena is responsible, in full or in part, for the cardiovascular benefits attributed to aerobic activities by the medical profession. However, it is logical that antiperspirants diminish our bodies' excretions of toxic and carcinogenic metals through this mechanism, and an accumulation of toxic metals in some of our systems may help to explain allergic "sensitization" to various antiperspirant products. Maybe there is some fundamental dichotomous wisdom in the old entreatment to "get the lead out".

Acidification and chelating mechanisms have been proposed for the beneficial effects of a fermented tea preparation known as "mushroom tea", or more commonly as "Kombucha". There are suspicions and some evidence that there is a mobilization and excretion of lead and other toxic metals from endogenous stores in individuals consuming this fermented tea. In addition, some controlled studies indicate immunopotentiation with this ferment, which is consistent with a loss of immunosuppressing metal toxins from the animals consuming these extracts. Information about how to prepare this tea is on the WEB, but little scientific information can be found as to what the active ingredients in the ferment are and how they work; various organic acids (acetic, glucuronic and gluconic) have been proposed as active ingredients.

Compared to the toxicities of pharmaceutical preparations that can have adverse and life-threatening complications as high as 15% , Kombucha tea seems to be relatively safe when the instructions for its preparation are followed carefully. Less than half a dozen cases of serious complications are known for the millions of people who reportedly are drinking this "elixir?" daily. In nearly all of these reported cases of problems, the individuals also were taking prescription medications which may have been the real cause of their problems. Even theophylline, a caffeine-like substance normally found in tea, appears to be absent from extracts fermented by this lichen-like organism, so presumably the organism either completely metabolizes the theophylline or absorbs it so that it is not present in the ferment. Absorption also may account for the conspicuous lack of several other organic substances in extracts of this ferment.

Case #3---Yeast Infections and Hypersensitivity

A grandmother who had been plagued with recurrent yeast infections and a situation diagnosed as yeast hypersensitivity by a medical doctor, and who was placed on constant nystatin to control the infections, contacted us to gain insight into what was amiss with her system. Over time, it was suspected that she eventually would have become more susceptible to the disease as the yeast became resistant to the antibiotic and her immune system became more and more "confused" about what the immune challenge actually was.

The grandmother heeded our suggestions that she first take a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure that her body was primed for a specific immunological assault against the immune irritant, probably the yeast that was causing her problems. This also allowed any easily-displaced, toxic metals in her system to be slowly substituted with nutritious metals, thereby lessening any inhibition of her immune system by toxic metals that might be released when she started drinking Kombucha tea. We also advised that she start drinking very small quantities of the tea at first, such as a teaspoonful, to ensure that she did not have an adverse reaction to it and as a way of diminishing the release and excretory burden of any toxic metals that may have accumulated in her system. There are reports of antibiotic activities in this fermented tea as well, but these have not been identified nor characterized in the extracts that we have studied, leaving open the possibility that the mere excretion of contaminating toxic metals that inhibit immune responses is a primary mechanism for Kombucha's action in mammals.

The Saccharomyces in the Kombucha symbiote is interesting since it reportedly does not produce spores and therefore is unlikely to excite hypersensitivity reactions to the spores. At the same time, the ferment reportedly inhibits the growth of spore-producing yeasts. After "equilibrating" her system with vitamins and slowly increasing her daily intake of Kombucha to about two cups a day, it was suggested that she then wean herself slowly from the nystatin. Within about a month after starting to drink Kombucha, she was able to stop taking nystatin, altogether, but she continues to drink the Kombucha tea, now convinced of its health benefits. She reports an absence of yeast infections since she started to drink the tea.

This response to Kombucha tea is an interesting anecdotal story, but there are warnings, without elaboration on the WEB, that Kombucha should not be consumed by those with autoimmune diseases. We are not entirely sure that this is justified based upon the information that is available. It is our concern that a variety of environmental toxins, nutritional deficiencies, and infectious agents can trigger autoimmune responses. If our immunity is somehow deficient, any challenge that is not resolved in the immune system's first few efforts to remove the challenge is likely to cause an escalation in the immune response until the immune system becomes so toxic that it can start attacking normal tissues instead of the challenging irritant (i.e., by definition a an "auto"immune response).

This phenomena is like the "cold war" in which the US and USSR built lethal nuclear arsenals for leverage on political issues. The issues were not resolved by these threats, but the two opposing sides kept at it until the US nearly bankrupted itself and the USSR did. The "fall-out" from this insanity is that both, the US and what was the USSR, are sitting on "auto"toxic levels of plutonium and other radioactive debris and enough nuclear warheads to blow up and/or poison the entire world several times over. If their arsenals were their "immunity" against invasion, then this "fall-out" can be equated with a potentially lethal "auto"immune response. Through this analogy, the key to bringing autoimmune and perhaps even hypersensitive symptoms under control may be to give the body everything it needs to "negotiate" a rebalancing of the immune response and to increase the specificity of this response "to challenges" so that the irritations can be eliminated and any escalation of the response (i.e., inflammation) can be abated.

Application of corticosteroids and non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory agents help to calm inflammatory escalations, but do little to resolve the problems. These agents actually may ensure that the problems continue by helping to suppress an immune response that, left alone, might eventually do away with the challenge and "cure" the disease. It is no small coincidence that older people with more fragile immunities are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. In a sense, anti-inflammatory agents treat the "symptoms" (i.e., the inflammation) without providing a "cure". In painful or life-threatening situations, use of the corticosteroids in combination with nutrients and immunotherapeutic agents known to specifically stimulate the immune response and target the irritant may be the most logical approach to overcoming the "cause" and for effecting a "cure". However, this is probably an oversimplification of the big clinical picture, since we don't yet know for sure what triggers many of these sensitizations, whether or not the challenges even can be eliminated through an immunological response, nor have we thoroughly delineated all of the mechanisms for how the immune response and inflammation are interrelated.

VitaleTherapeutics, Inc., is in the process of identifying probable causative agents for hypersensitivity and autoimmune reactions based upon the dramatic immunological responses to the vitaletheine modulators observed in cancer and mAIDS models. A number of metal ions known to trap sulfur compounds, like the vitaletheine modulators, are suspected of suppressing our immunological responses, thereby allowing challenges, such as cancer, to go unmet until the "escalation" is underway. One of the classical steps in establishing whether metal poisoning is a problem is a simple blood or hair analysis for known toxic and/or carcinogenic metals. Unfortunately, these tests are probably not sufficiently sensitive at this time to determine risks from metals with very high affinities for sulfur compounds (Ksp) like bismuth and presumably plutonium. Plutonium represents a relatively new challenge to our systems since it does not occur in nature and has been artificially produced primarily for nuclear weapons. Without fanfare in 1990, the Albuquerque Tribune cited a DOE report indicating enough plutonium contamination per square meter in certain areas of Albuquerque, including parks where our children play, to generate up to 46,620 counts per minute. Why expend huge amounts of money to "deep six" plutonium-contaminated materials in WIPP? Because it is extremely toxic and carcinogenic, and it is reportedly dispersing into our environment through a natural process called entropy. Other toxic agents are suspect as well, including other known chemical carcinogens, compounds containing the element arsenic (including those found in well water), and a variety of environmental and dietary toxins. We are in the process of down-loading this information onto our web site as it is processed, and have hinted at its importance in the "reference/outline" section of our site.

Case #4---Yeast Infection and Hypersensitivity

A desperate young man came into the laboratory complaining of dependence upon nystatin similar to the one described above, but one in which the situation was much advanced; he could no longer control the yeast even with toxic levels of this antibiotic and felt like crawling out of his skin because of the constant irritation from the persistent infection and hypersensitivity reaction. He scoffed at my suggestions for changes in his nutrition and there is no knowledge of what his outcome was.

Case #5---Basal Cell Carcinoma

A forty year old man with recurrent basal cell carcinoma that had been surgically removed twice, got some dramatic relief from constipation by drinking Kombucha tea.

This unsolicited observation of another type of response to Kombucha tea hints at other benefits from this ferment (i.e., a normalization of our "machinery" for assimilating protective nutrients). The recurrent skin cancer on his stomach raised concerns that his system was not properly "tuned" for assimilating those nutrients needed to help correct and avoid serious disease. This "tuning for assimilation" may not be entirely dependent upon the mammalian side of the equation. For example, there are suspicions that new, possibly genetically engineered strains of E. coli that have been found to contaminate hamburger and cause serious illnesses may be laboratory strains that have been inadvertently selected to be stingier with the building blocks for the vitaletheine modulators. Less pantothenic acid and cysteine, especially in protein-deficient and other "depraved diets", may translate into fewer vitaletheine modulators produced by our side of the equation and a greater susceptibility to opportunistic infections.

Another "natural" remedy gaining popularity in the medical and alternative medicine fields for helping to settle gastrointestinal disorders is the consumption of active cultures of yogurt, which provide immune-building nutrients and which also help to reestablish the natural flora of our intestines, such as the E. coli that usually makes pantothenic acid, a logical building block for the vitaletheine modulators.


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