Greetings from Costa Rica.  Ever since we found it, the idyllic waterfall property that we hope to turn into Seekers Falls has brought a unique energy to our team and our work.  Our vision is to create a one-day experience for visitors from around the world that combines nature, adventure, healing and education.  This wonderful project has brought me closer to this beautiful country, where we are building partnerships to support our community and improve public health in many ways.

I gave a lecture for grand rounds at the Hospital Mexico, the largest teaching hospital in the capital city of San Jose.  It was about toxic metals and kidney disease.  Since the Seekers Centre opened its doors, we have been using chelation therapy to heal the brain and body.  This IV therapy, which helps remove toxic metals from the kidneys and other tissues and organs, is of special interest to physicians here.  This is because Costa Rica, with its natural beauty and its global green eco-brand, has important problems with toxic metals.

There is an area near the Pacific coast where artisanal gold mining is leading to a major problem with mercury pollution.  This region, which was once mined by a Canadian firm, still contains gold that the locals are mining on their own.  They buy liquid mercury on the black market from a mine in Nicaragua, and use it to extract gold.  This process, which involves boiling off the mercury in their homes, is not only poisoning their families, but it also gets into the rivers that drain into the ocean.  It ends up in the fish that feed the whole country.

They have also recently discovered arsenic in the water in some parts of the country.  This is naturally present, and comes from the volcanoes that are still active here.  Public health officials are just beginning to try and address this problem, and has brought truckloads of bottled water into a few villages for the people to drink.

These two unique environmental problems may be why there is such a high incidence of kidney disease in Costa Rica.  By some estimates, it is 7x more common here than in the rest of the world.  I visited the dialysis unit, where most of the patients come from the Guanacaste area, about 4-5 hours away, three times per week.  Most are young, and doctors have no idea what is causing their illness.

There is a growing body of evidence that removing metals with chelation therapy can help heal the body.  We were the lead Canadian investigators in the landmark TACT trial, which showed that it prevents cardiovascular disease and death, particularly in diabetics.  See 24254885 and 23532240.  Researchers in Taiwan have also published results showing that chelation can prevent kidney failure.  See 22721929 and 17556414.  This shows that chelation can reduce the need for dialysis, which in Costa Rica – and in Canada – costs over $200,000 per year.

One of the key factors that may be a link between heavy metals and kidney disease in Costa Rica is pesticides.  This is because glyphosate, also called Roundup, which is now in all the world’s corn and soy (unless it is organic), seems to increase the damage done by these metals.   That is why we are working with Rafael Ocampo, a highly respected permaculture and medicinal plant expert, to teach our neighbours how organic farming can help them earn a better living and protect their health and their future.  We now have about 10 acres of rolling hills that will show our community how this can be done.