Fact Check: Heavy Metal Detox Does NOT Cure Autism

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Heavy Metal Detox Does NOT Cure Autism No Metal Cure

Does heavy metal detox cure autism? No, that's not true: An expert told Lead Stories there is "no evidence" that substantiates the claim that taking something for a "heavy metal detox" can cure autism. There is no known cause or cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts say, as of the publication of this fact check. Research has shown only that there are genetic and environmental influences that may cause the disorder.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on Facebook on January 8, 2023. The video opens with a text graphic that reads, "After I detoxed my child, she began to talk and function better!"

The person in the video then says:

After two days her daughter passed parasites and on day four or five of detoxing with a natural mineral her daughter went from non-verbal to talking. This is a real story.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of this fact check's publication:

image - 2023-01-27T110331.967.png

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Jan 27 18:52:37 2023 UTC)

The video was posted on a page titled "WOW PBX" that describes itself as a "health & wellness website" with a link to a website that sells "detox" products. The person in the video claims:

They're all using PBX Zeolite. It is a heavy metal detox to safely remove all of the toxins and heavy metals from the entire body and parents are discovering this is what's causing their kids' delay. If you want more information just check out my page.

Dr. Sunil Mehta, a Minnesota psychiatrist who focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders, with an emphasis on Autism Spectrum Disorder, told Lead Stories via email on January 25, 2023, that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that likely begins before birth. Mehta said the method of "heavy metal detox" mentioned in the video is "an example of chelation therapy." He explained:

There is widespread belief among the public that heavy metals such as lead and mercury lead to Autism (this feeds into the concern about vaccines and thimerosol). There is a lot of evidence that exposure to heavy metals during pregnancy and early brain development is detrimental, but exposures are most strongly linked to intellectual disability and learning disorders rather than Autism. There is no evidence that removing the heavy metals from the body (chelation) alters the trajectory of brain development after it has been disrupted.

Mehta detailed why he does not recommend this method:

Like anti-fungal/anti-parasitic therapy, chelation therapy is one that I counsel my patients not to pursue because these products can actively harm their child through side effects. In the case of chelation therapy, the chemicals used to trap mercury and lead are not very specific and they can lower amounts of necessary elements like Zinc and Copper to dangerous levels.

Mehta also responded to the claim that worms cause autism, explaining that there is no cure or cause as of now:

There is no scientific evidence that an acute infection by a worm, parasite, or any other pathogen causes Autism. There is also no evidence that taking anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, antibiotic, or antiviral medication cures or mitigates symptoms of Autism.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that autism's cause remains unknown:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that act together to change the most common ways people develop. We still have much to learn about these causes and how they impact people with ASD.

The CDC also notes that "[d]iagnosing ASD can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder." The CDC writes on an information page about treatments for the disorder that "There are no medications that treat the core symptoms of ASD."

The neurodevelopmental disorder is characterized by the CDC as people who have, "problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests." These signs of autism may include social impairments, cognitive impairments, communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors, among others. In response to a follow-up inquiry from Lead Stories, Mehta explained in a March 17, 2023 email:

There is no evidence that heavy metal detox improves any of the symptoms associated with Autism. Any treatment that would "cure" Autism would have to make at least some of those symptoms better.


  • 2023-03-20T18:10:37Z 2023-03-20T18:10:37Z
    Adds additional comment from psychiatrist Dr. Sunil Mehta.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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