Worth another look

One factor rarely causes a disease, and writing off co-factors is potentially dangerous

What I've said about vaccines and autism, contrary to what some have understood, isn't that vaccines cause autism, but that many scientists and researchers believe mercury to be a potential co-factor worth investigating further.

It's very rarely any one thing that causes disease. Diseases, like car accidents, happen when one too many contributing factors converge. Combine unprecedented levels of new toxins with genetic predispositions, and disease sets in. About half of us, says Dr. Mark Hyman, are missing a key gene—GSTM1—which helps the body rebuild its stores of glutathione, our last defense against toxicity. We are the ones who haven’t yet evolved to deal with the new level of chemical exposure.

When we haven’t yet found a cause for a disease, it's not helpful—or scientific—to dismiss inconvenient facts. But malign and dismiss is what we tend to do to those who propose new theories that don’t line up with the existing wisdom in which we have invested much. One of those very recently again misrepresented, in a January 17 Chicago Tribune piece, is Dr. Boyd Haley.

The story, in short, is that a powerful antioxidant called OSR (Oxidative Stress Relief), manufactured by Dr. Haley's biotech firm, CTI Science, has been helping autistic children. CTI Science makes no claims for OSR’s ability to treat disease or act as a chelator, though according to Haley, anyone with knowledge of chemistry will know that it does have potent antioxidant and chelation abilities. It raises glutathione levels, allowing the body to maintain its natural detoxification processes. It has an antioxidant capacity score many times higher than that of more commonly known antioxidants such as blueberries, cranberries or garlic.

The families of autistic children have discovered OSR, and word has spread.

What the Chicago Tribune reported is that OSR is an industrial chemical. “It's technically true,” Dr. Haley told me over the phone from Kentucky, “but many chemicals have an industrial application. Production standards depend on application, and they’re very stringent when the product is intended for human consumption. We have to prove rigorous purification every time we make a batch.”

The Chicago Tribune also suggested that Haley has not been forthcoming with the FDA. “We submitted a ton of pre-market safety data to the FDA,” he says. “We do nothing without clearing it with our lawyers, who are experts in FDA regulations. The FDA knows everything about the product.”

Is the product safe? “Animal studies with doses several thousand times higher than would be given humans revealed no toxicities. It’s not mutagenic. It doesn’t bind with essential minerals. The FDA approved it to test on humans, which we did. We did blood and urine testing on 200 different parameters. It elevated glutathione to healthy levels, and nobody’s had an adverse reaction.”

The Tribune article also implied dishonesty on the part of CTI Science around the availability of OSR. The company’s website says it is available by prescription; the Tribune was able to secure some without one. “Pharmacies must sign an agreement to provide it only by prescription,” Haley says. “The Tribune was able to find a pharmacy willing to break that agreement. That pharmacy is no longer selling it.” 

I can't help but wonder what purpose the tone of the Tribune article serves. “It’s a scare tactic,” Haley says. “It’s a way to come after the doctors who treat these children being helped. We make no medical claims, but everyone knows that reducing oxidative stress is a good thing to do. Oxidative stress is another way of saying low glutathione levels.”

It's easy to see why some may not particularly like Dr. Haley. He has hypothesized that the mercury in vaccines is a significant contributing factor to our alarming autism rates. And he's developed a compound that helps autistic children, making the connection between mercury and autism more difficult to dismiss. V

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