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The Toxic Truth About MRI

Marcie Jacob was a fighter.

Her story starts in 2001, with her first MRI. She had a strong family history of breast cancer, and decided that regular MRI screening was her best option for prevention. Before each MRI, she was injected with a Gadolinium-based contrast agent, to make images as clear and detailed as possible.

After only a few scans, she started experiencing unusual cognitive symptoms. Soon she found herself unable to do even simple math. It wasn’t long before symptoms snowballed, and she was forced to leave her career in finance because of her cognitive disability.

Despite her best detox efforts, Marcie’s breast MRIs may have taken a toll on her heart, the closest organ to the target area. She recently lost her battle to a massive heart attack at only 61 years old.

MRI is widely touted as the safest advanced imaging available, because it uses magnetic fields and radio waves with no ionizing radiation. Some natural health practitioners actually recommend getting them for the positive effect their strong magnets have on painful joints, but this popular screening tool has a dark side. The gadolinium-based contrast used to enhance the images is toxic when it accumulates in the organs.

The FDA Steps In

Despite the FDA black box label in 2007 and warning in 2015, practitioners continue to order these scans routinely without informing patients of the risks. The black box warning is for nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), a serious and sometimes fatal kidney condition, and anyone with kidney impairment is at risk. Gadolinium is normally excreted by the body through the kidneys, but kidneys functioning less than optimally have trouble getting rid of all of the gadolinium, so toxic levels build up in the body’s tissues and organs, including the brain.

The FDA warning that came in 2015 was the one gadolinium toxicity advocates like Marcie were fighting for. It reported what they knew all along – even people with normal kidney function can accumulate gadolinium in their bones and vital organs.

What You Need To Watch For

Most symptoms of gadolinium toxicity mimic the chronic conditions many people get imaging for, but there’s one that sets it apart. People describe it as a feeling of being electrified just underneath the skin, and some people experience it as feeling like their skin is crawling. Other symptoms include joint pains, muscle twitches, and cognitive changes which usually start within the first month after the exposure. Also common are itchy skin, deep bone pain close to the site of the MRI, numbness or tingling, dry eyes, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hair loss, balance problems and swelling in feet and hands.

How You Can Fight Gadolinium Toxicity

The first line of protection against gadolinium toxicity is to avoid having an MRI with contrast whenever other, less toxic options are available. If a doctor recommends this test, ask if there are safer alternatives. Often they can use an MRI without contrast or do a different test, depending on your situation.

When exposure to gadolinium is unavoidable, load up on antioxidants like N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), glutathione, alpha lipoic acid and vitamin C. Supplement with the natural chelators cilantro and chlorella, which help move the gadolinium out of the body. Start these supplements the week before testing and continue for at least one month afterward. Right after the test is done, start taking a binder like activated charcoal or bentonite clay and make sure to drink plenty of clean water.

If you already have symptoms from gadolinium exposure, a more comprehensive plan may be needed. Nourish the adrenals and replenish essential minerals, in addition to the antioxidants, chelators and binders. Support detox through a diet like the Fat Flush Plan and spend time in the sauna to stimulate detox through the skin. Consider HTMA testing, a hair analysis which tests for essential minerals and heavy metals to assess where your body needs the most support.

For more information and support, visit gadoliniumtoxicity.com.


Comments (13)

  • Suzanne October 25, 2017 - 2:24 am Reply

    Chuck Norris’s (Walker Texas Ranger and Total Gym) wife almost died from this. She got really sick. Make sure you ask and go somewhere else if they are going to use the dye.

    • Team ALG October 25, 2017 - 9:04 am Reply

      Thank you Suzanne for this reminder.

  • Ellen October 25, 2017 - 7:48 am Reply

    Dear Ann Louise,
    The story of Marcie is so moving. To think that she underwent MRIs with contrast to detect and prevent deadly disease only to suffer the hazards of the testing. Her tragic case is a powerful reminder that often testing and screening carry risks and that one needs to weigh the risks versus benefits. One needs also to look at the data to verify if the testing/screening for a particular disease actually leads to decreased mortality. Often it does not as is the case with mammography for breast cancer.
    Thank you so much for educating us on the dangers of this contrast agent and for advising us of protection measures. Quite sad to think physicians typically order such tests without providing any information on possible risks to their patients. Patient/consumer beware.

    • Team ALG October 25, 2017 - 9:05 am Reply

      Thank you Ellen. You make excellent points in your comment!

  • Beth October 25, 2017 - 8:47 am Reply

    I just thought that exposure to the MRI was bad enough. I had no idea about the toxicity of the dye. Thank you for educating us to the dangers. I will also warn my friends.

    • Team ALG October 25, 2017 - 9:07 am Reply

      Dear Beth:

      This area is a growing cause of deep concern for many of ALG’s clients. Thank you for your concern.

  • Anita October 25, 2017 - 1:42 pm Reply

    Oh how I wish I had gotten the email with this link in it before I had to have 4 MRI’s (3 with contrast) since February of this year with last one being just this week.

    I had no idea about how bad the dye was!!!!!

  • Mark October 25, 2017 - 2:06 pm Reply

    Thank you for this Ann Louise!

    I had the gadolinium injected for an MRI about 11 months ago and I have had some of the symptoms you reference, including a bizarre itchiness in my left forearm which started about 3 months ago (it may be unrelated to that, and could be a pinched nerve in my neck) and also cognitive impairment. I take Chlorella and Spirulina and Glutathione daily anyway, but would there be any benefit to taking a bunch of activated charcoal now, or does that only work when you first ingest/have introduced a poison?

  • Team ALG October 25, 2017 - 3:19 pm Reply

    Dear Mark: Sounds like you are doing everything right and we would suggest a bamboo-made charcoal as well.

  • Kathryn October 26, 2017 - 1:45 am Reply

    Thank you Ann Louise Gittleman! I have had numerous MRIs due to MS. They never tell patients the great risks involved in having the test wirh the gadolinium and is downright wrong. With such a debilitating diseease you would think that the warning would be given and it should. Thank you for bringing this to our awareness.

  • Kimberly Jacob, PT October 26, 2017 - 2:54 pm Reply


    Thanks for sharing. I had a benign brain tumor removed when I was 32 years old and at the time in 1991, the doctors were sure it would grow back (80% chance they said!). Well, for many many years I routinely had MRI’s with gadolinium injections. I wonder it that is why, at the age of 49, I had to have a kidney removed from “kidney CA” they say!! Wow! there is not a history of CA in my family history and I have always been relatively healthy. Scary information and will definitely heed this advice.

    Thanks so much!

  • James M. Hodges December 2, 2017 - 1:36 am Reply

    Almost all medical procedures have some risk, even taking Tylenol.
    Always comply with the “informed consent”rule.
    Dr. Jim.

  • sofia December 6, 2017 - 8:14 am Reply

    Really surprised to see your opinion, maybe I need to do some more research to get the final verdict.

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