Literally nobody told me the MRI gadolinium-based contrast I was about to have could screw up my health for years... or even permanently!

By Dr Catriona Walsh
Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash
(I couldn't find a free picture of an MRI scanner, so here's a Ct scanner instead)
Wednesday 9th November 2016: That was the day my life changed. That was the day I had my first, and only gadolinium-enhanced MRI scan. I will never have another one. That was the day I realised that the conventional medical system is desperately flawed, and that unless I research every single investigation and treatment offered to me, I won't understand all of the implications of that treatment, because informed consent is just an illusion. Doctors seldom have the knowledge to advise patients about the true risks and benefits of the treatments, surgeries, and investigations they are offering. They don't have the time to search the literature, and even if they do have the time, seldom do they have the skills to critically appraise those studies, nor do they have access to unpublished trial results which are often where the majority of information on risks is to be found. They also usually cannot spot where there are enormous gaps in the research, which is critically important, because often what is not being said is just as important as what is being marketed by these industry-funded studies.

Let me tell you about gadolinium-based contrast agents, so that you don't find yourself in a similar situation to me. I now know many people who have had similar experiences as a result of having one or more gadolinium-enhanced MRI scans. In fact, despite being able to personally identify with all of the symptoms I describe below and more, I count myself luckier than most of the patients in the gadolinium toxicity groups, because at least I have been improving. Many of them are suffering from heart-breaking gradual deterioration over periods of months or years. Some of them are no longer with us.

Gadolinium is a rare earth element. It is a toxic heavy metal, and also the most potent calcium channel blocker ever identified. It is known to be toxic to mitochondria, cells, tissues, particularly connective tissue, liver, kidneys, and the nervous system. In humans gadolinium accumulates in bone in particular, but can also accumulate in skin, brain, kidneys, liver, joints and other tissues and organs. It causes oxidative damage, inflammation, cell death, and studies indicate that it probably causes malignant transformation. 
It is rarely found in nature, so exposure should usually be minimal under normal circumstances. However, gadolinium is used in the contrast agents injected into patients during MRI scans with contrast. The contrast agents are drugs based on chelating agents, also not found in nature. A chelating agent is a drug which is capable of grabbing on to a metal and holding on to it. Chelating agents can also come unattached from the metal they bind (in this case gadolinium) in the vial they are stored in, in the human body, and in the environment after they have been passed out in the urine. Free chelating agents are also biologically active compounds, and are not in fact inert. Some of the chelating agents, like the one that is used in the gadolinium based contrast agent, Prohance, have been shown to cause brain toxicity, even when they are not bound to gadolinium. DTPA, the basic chemical used for all the contrast agents, has been shown to deplete essential nutrients including zinc and calcium, and is not licensed for use during pregnancy, because of concerns about safety, even when it is not bound to the toxic element, gadolinium. 
Gadolinium based contrast agents have been proven to cause an often fatal connective tissue disorder in the only group of people who have been studied long term: renal patients. No other patient population has been studied extensively to determine the true long term effects of exposure to gadolinium, however patient support groups and cohort studies have identified constellations of symptoms that are commonly described by many patients following gadolinium exposure. Pain, brain fog, joint and muscle problems, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, fatigue, gut symptoms, skin disorders and other inflammatory conditions are very common chronic problems lasting for months and years, as would be expected following exposure to an inflammatory, mitochondrial toxic, calcium channel blocking drug. Acute and immediate complications of gadolinium based contrast agents are better described, and include death, shock, and organ failure. 
Patients who present to their doctors with symptoms following exposure to gadolinium via MRI scans are almost never investigated for retention of gadolinium or consideration of gadolinium toxicity. They are much more likely to receive further gadolinium enhanced scans to look for the cause of new symptoms and deterioration, and then to suffer from worsening symptoms. 
As yet the environmental effects of gadolinium based contrast agents on aquatic life and on fields irrigated with water containing increasing levels of gadolinium pollutants have not been fully elucidated. However, preliminary studies are extremely worrying. 
Have you received a gadolinium contrast agent in an MRI? 
Were you warned that there are no long term safety studies on how it will affect you, or what the possibility of you transferring it to your offspring (the offspring of pregnant women injected with gadolinium are more likely to be stillborn, and inflammatory skin and joint condition are more common in surviving children)? 
Do you worry about cumulative toxin exposure from our environment, or about the effects on plants, animals and fungi of combined toxin exposure from multi sources, including waste water from medical procedures? You can get in touch with me through my website, or find me in some of the gadolinium toxicity groups on facebook. Comment below if you would like to share your own experiences and frustrations. Know that you are not alone.


  1. Severe leg spasms after multiple MRIs w gadolinium

    1. I’m so sorry you are going through this too. You are not alone.

  2. I had an infection in my neck, into my spinal fluid. I had an instant allergic reaction to it. I got meningitis, and four other itis's within my skull bones. It nearly killed me. Thanks to holistic medications, I'm now three years past end of life paperwork. I still suffer with high blood pressure; however, it at least doesn't steadily remain in the critical range now. My list of symptoms seem endless. I'm getting neurological therapy for the damage done to my eyes. I've accomplished eight months of flushing, and I plan in four more months. I'm hoping and praying that it will do the trick, and hopefully help in reversing the damage that has already been done. Thank you for trying to educate the public!

    1. I'm so sorry your health has also been affected by gadolinium. It's so frustrating that it's such an under-recognised condition. I'm glad you've found a practitioner to help you to feel better.

  3. Jeff Alexander

    In 2011 I was diagnosed with a rare (it was rare for me because of my age, I was 41 at the time, and my demographic, (white male) and I had it on both sides which also was very rare) brain disease called Moyamoya. The vessels in brain were the size of human hair as opposed to an earth worm which is normal. The vessels were so small that my surgeon said they were breaking as he was performing the surgery. This surgeon was an expert as he helped invent the surgery that he does on many people around the world. An in house Neurologist took upon herself to order an MRI after the surgery to see if the surgery was successful in doing what it was it was suppose to. The "EXPERTS" doing the MRI with gadolinium contrast could not see the dye because the vessels were so small. So they did 3 more in a 24 hour period as they thought there was something wrong. They were thinking their scanner was not working. The surgeon found out what they were doing an told them to stop. They were not going to see the dye because the vessels were so small. So Needless to say my gadolinium levels are through the roof. I must say I believe in the power of prayer and that the blood of Jesus heals all sickness and diseases. According to my surgeon and neurologist I should not be alive right now. I also must say I take NO medication or any kind of drug, not even an aspirin. I do however take many clean supplements that our creator made for our benefit.Gen.1:29. I have defied all the odds and the doctors shake their heads and tell they don't know what I am doing(you would think they would ask, right?) but keep on doing it. I changed my diet habits also. Eat clean, organic, non GMO food. Minimize sugar intake. Eat lots of dark green smoothies as alot of them (dark leafy greens) are chelators. If you have to throw an apple in the smoothie. More importantly, do a lot of research. Do not let anyone tell you "oh, you must be a google geek" because that is what the doctors use. Like what was said in the first article, they don't have time to keep up with all the different studies and they do tend to be Big Pharma biased.

    1. I'm so sorry you've gone through this. It's great to hear that you've also been using natural approaches to feel better. I hope you continue to improve.

  4. I have had two ct contrast scans here in sweden. am i at risk ?

    1. Probably not. CTs rarely use gadolinium based contrast agents. They usually use iodine contrast


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