The Toxic Truth About MRI

October 24, 2017
MRI Toxicity

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.

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

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  1. Suzanne

    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

      Thank you Suzanne for this reminder.

  2. Ellen

    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

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

    • Jane

      People who are reacting to the dye are usually allergic to shellfish. If the MRI is necessisary then an allergy is given piror to the test.

      • Ann Louise Gittleman

        Team ALG here: Good point Jane. That is what should be done to help eliminate risk.

      • Claire

        No, you’re thinking of the iodine used in CT scans. MRI dye uses a toxic heavy metal called gadolinium, not iodine, so shellfish allergy is not a factor here. Surprised Team ALG agreed with this comment. They need to do some research.

        • Jerry

          Some hospitals will inject you with this metal without getting mri…lab rats we are

      • Shari

        You are so very wrong! Shellfish allergy is related to X-ray and CT dye which is iodine based. It has NOTHING to do with MRI dye which is a type of metallic salt called Gadolinium which is causing all these illnesses. And there is no allergy test that can be given for any dye. It makes me so angry when people spread fallacies. I’m many years in the business and I know what I’m talking about! And by the way, you’ve got CT And MRI confused.

      • Jane Riley

        Gadolinium is a highly toxic metal and is toxic to all humans. I doubt it has anything to do with who is allergic to shellfish, ect.

      • Jeff

        This is wrong. You are thinking of CT contrast with its iodinated properties. Shellfish has no correlation to MRI.

  3. Beth

    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

      Dear Beth:

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

    • Jerry Taylor

      gadolinium is NOT!!! a dye it is a toxic heavy metal…call it what it is…call everything by its proper name

  4. Anita

    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!!!!!

    • Fred

      Sounds like you should see a trusted Dr.thats not afraid to tell the truth To You or a 1-800-call me now TV Aturney they advertise all day and all night they will get to the bottom of this for you, ,,, don’t wait to long get started now before any sickness starts then it might be to late

    • Cathy

      Doctors should make patients aware! O no I don’t think they care evidently. I’m having hair loss since I had one MRI at MD ANDERSON in Houston I simply had a small Melinnoma skin removed. It was either the CT scan r from the MRI & dye. My hair was never that thick so thinning is scarry.

  5. Mark

    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?

    • Janette

      Consider learning about ASEA redox signaling molecules for a DEEP DETOX as well as cellular REPAIR. Ann Louise Gittleman, ASEA should detox this shouldn’t it? You can learn more if you are on Facebook with a group called ASEA redox signaling molecules skin brain body detox EMF klinghardt …

  6. Team ALG

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

  7. Kathryn

    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.

  8. Kimberly Jacob, PT


    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!

  9. James M. Hodges

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

  10. sofia

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

  11. Edward

    Although, heavy metals in gadolinium do build up in vital organs including the brain. The solutions presented here are highly misleading. Nothing will clear them from the organs. The best course of action is to avoid gadolinium altogether, unless it’s absolutely necessary. It is folly to believe that vitamins and supplements will clear the body of heavy metals as it would be that they would cure cancer.
    No medical evidence is presented here whatsoever, because there is none. Its a quack solution for a serious problem.

    • Mel Ram Van


    • Melody

      I would also like to add avoid chlorella at all costs if you have heavy metals in your body. It is a powerful mobilizer of heavy metals and will make symptoms worse not better

  12. Janice Durphey

    Wow! I thank you very much everyone for your contribution. I have a brain aneurysm and have other things where I have had the use of the contrast. My mother has had bladder cancer having to take prednisone and other meds before taking the test using contrast. And yes she is allergic to shellfish. She has been hospitalized with some problems with her kidneys. And really my sister lost a kidney after all of these “needed” test. Yes I am afraid because my Dr’s assistant just recently wanted me to have a CT SCAN with contrast. I told her I had just recently had a MRA & MRI. We’ll wait for those results.

  13. Janice

    I am no longer having MRI’s with contrast. Long before I found this detailed information I knew there was something terribly wrong when contrast was injected because I felt like I was going to DIE. I almost had another one a few years ago but a kind and wonderful nurse called me right before it and asked if I had been premedicated with prednisone after getting hives the time before (and yes, I do have an allergy to scallops). That was the first I heard of prednisone ahead and I decided not to go ahead with it. Then I started reading about the horrors of gadolinium. I have kidney problems too and they do not run in the family. My severe allergies and asthma are another consideration. Methinks all this expensive MRI machinery is a big money maker and the owners of it will stay on the gravy train for as long as possible because they are getting rich, rich, rich. They will just have to come up with something else for me. I’m not doing it anymore. Yikes, so sorry so many have had such a rough time with it all. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Janice

    “First do no harm.” Whatever happened to that?!

    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Team ALG here: Janice thank you for your story. So glad you were able to avoid the risks of taking the test. Agreed that medicine should do no harm!

  15. JayJay11

    I had two MRI’s with the Dye contrast and have had all the dangerous side effects described in the above article. Very sad and I really hold my Gastrointestinal Doctor for not informing me off the dangers of this Gandolinium heavy metal poisoning. He was completely negligent in not doing so, but as usual I was so unaware of these side effects until it was too late to sue him for not doing any pre-information. My health has been extremely tentative since. He is completely responsible for this poisoning I have going on in my body due to the lack of informed convent. He will need to answer to a higher power for his greed or his lack of knowledge for my bodily damage and misfortune. I believe in a GOD that will work with me either way. Hoping for healing, have begun doing mushroom therapy recently which has helped my intestinal issues a bit. The problem with all of this is that as we age we have certain symptomologies anyways, so it’s hard to sort out what are the damage symptoms compared to just plain aging symptoms. I just know my body and mind clearly sincerely regrets listening to a damn Dr who was negligent in informing me of my medical rights and warning ⚠️ me of the dangers of such a test with risks way beyond the benefits…..

    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Team ALG here: JayJay11, so sorry to hear about the detrimental effects of your test. It is so sad to not be informed ahead of time and then suffer the consequences. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  16. Jeff

    Hello, my wife suffers from heavy metal poisoning with astronomically high levels of gadolinium, extremely high levels of cadmium and very high levels of tin, bismuth and lead.

    Cilantro and Chlorella are able to successfully bind and remove these metals. However, I am curious about gadolinium. I have not seen any data that either Cilantro or chlorella are effective for binding and removing this metal.

    Does this data actually exist? Because I would like to detoxify my wife with these natural agents.

    • Mel Ram Van

      Chelation Therapy can remove heavy metals.

  17. Laynie

    You might watch a video by Dr Group from the “global healing center” Houston Texas on iodine removing heavy metals from the body. Not just any form of iodine. It’s worth giving a listen to.

  18. Michelle

    This week will be my 30th MRI with contrast since my brain cancer dx in 2011. I honestly thought these symptoms were my new normal from the tumors & surgeries. NO ONE ever has told me these symptoms could be from the contrast. It is a challenging decision, have the mri to monitor the moster in my head & have negative implications from the MRI or ignore it & risk dying from the tumor. Hmmm

  19. Michelle e

    How do you test for
    This? I had 2 test done within 2 weeks apart and have twitches., headaches and tinnitus.

  20. Mel Ram Van

    Yes, In fact you can be burned by an MRI with or without contrast.
    I work with my husband who is an attorney, I went in for an MRI of my shoulder because of loss of range of motion, they were suspect of a labral tear in my rotator cuff.
    Anyway, this MRI was without contrast, it was performed on a brand new Seimens MRI machine. Before, I went in I casually asked the technician about how long will this take and she said, “Oh about, maybe 30 minutes.” I said, “Oh okay, just wondering I have never had one of these before.
    So, I get in there and she comes back after about what seemed like 25-30 minutes I was thinking okay we are done, she pushes the bed out and tells me that she is having a hard time seeing my shoulder, she thinks there is some kind of movement.
    I said, “Well, I was laying very still.”
    Anyway, they placed me back in for another 25-30 min.
    When I came out I was burned.
    In 5 different places.
    Sad. My hair started falling out about 10 days later.
    I had what felt like a bad sunburn on my shoulder where they placed the cap to scan it and where they had left my K. tape on.
    If you create a loop signal you can get a burn.
    If you wear a synthetic or metallic fiber like in some sportswear you can get burned.
    It basically, cooks you from within like a microwave.
    It is non ionizing radiation.
    If you think about it, your hair is a strong form of protein which is called keratin.
    If you leave heat on something organic like that, it is going to burn. It burns the shaft, hair follicles and the bulb where the hair connects.
    I had second degree burns.
    Speaking to a physicist, when something burns you below the fat cell level, the nerves are not present like the are closer to the surface of the dermis.
    It can take months or a year to repair all of the vascular damage to tiny microscopic vessels etc. Too much detail to go into.

    Speaking of Chuck Norris’s wife; Gena O’Kelly, She had an MRI with contrast and it almost killed her.
    She had to go to China and receive chelation treatments etc. To rid her body of the Gaodlinium, which is in fact a heavy metal that is toxic to the body.
    For other stories.
    One thinks that the stays and CT Scans are the bad ones because it it a different form of radiation.
    I tire easily, just all of the sudden like the wind goes out of your sails.
    I had swelling in my body; arms, face, ankles, hands, my wedding ring.
    I had no idea any of this was a risk, I was told nothing about this before hand.
    I will never have another MRI unless, it was absolutely necessary life or death situation.
    They are making these MR machines stronger, the old ones were rated 1.5, now there are 3, 5, 7,11,even 14 over in Japan.
    Europe has stronger guidelines of how long you can stay in one for a certain procedure.
    They are regulated state to state.
    They do have a Standard Joint Commission who helps look into certain things about them.
    Scary thought that I read while researching this is that a hair colorist requires more training than a technician who works an MR machine.
    So those are a few things to seriously, consider before going into get an MRI.
    Hope, things will change to protect innocent patients.

    MRI’s are a big ticket item in the medical field and hospitals are in business to make money…

  21. Cheryl Stetzelberger

    I have had to refuse gadolinium contrast for MRA and MRI twice since July this year. The doctors looked at me like I had 2 heads, asking me what my reactions have been to this metal. I’m not willing to take the risk, for my brain, heart nor kidneys.
    The other thought about using this heavy metal, which have been found to accumulate in the brain and kidneys, is that according to Anthony William, viruses feed on heavy metals. Epstein Barr, shingles, herpes, B19-human parvo, and other retroviruses love metals. This has been my personal experience.
    I did agree to a contrast called Definity to better view my heart. I was told it would not be cleared by my kidneys but through my lungs. I was told it was similar to my own saline. I won’t do that again. One of the side effects was ventricular tachycardia which is why my heart was being ultrasounded in the first place.
    The FDA is supposed to be looking into gadolinium due to comments from patients and practitioners that use these dyes. They used to do MRI’s without contrast. I think they still can.

  22. NS

    I am extremely health conscious and getting an MRI done with contrast in a few days. I am totally aware of the risks, but the doctor says that it is necessary to get a very clear picture before they do surgery. I have done 5 years of cleanses and holistic work to try to heal myself and the surgery has become absolutely necessary. I am terrified of the contrast agent, and the MRI… Any advice?
    Thank you.

    • Team ALG

      Following the suggestions in the past paragraph above will be very helpful to prepare your body as much as possible. Wishing you the best!


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