If you study up on some of the “medical wonders” that were developed between the American Revolution and World War I, you might scratch your head and wonder how mankind ever managed to make it this far. There’s seems to have been an unnatural obsession with substances that induced vomiting and “cleansed the bowels”. President Lincoln used “blue mass” elemental mercury that he swallowed to clean out his intestines. Others experimented with arsenic as a cure for cholera. It seems that the more powerful the poison, the greater curative power it must possess.

Antimony has its place among these would-be heroes. At the turn of the 20th century, a revolutionary medical device was announced that would cure the entire world of bowel troubles forever. Even the poorest people on earth would be able to afford this device that had literally infinite potential. It was called the “everlasting pill”.

Antimony was used often in the medical field when it was considered necessary to promote perspiration, or as an expectorant for coughs. It was also thought to cause contraction of the gallbladder and stimulate bile flow, but it was primarily used to induce vomiting. The prevailing idea of the time was that it was often necessary to purge the body of its wastes in order to cleanse the internal organs. Since it was noted that antimony could pass through the digestive tract without being broken down, as well as produce the necessary emetic (vomit inducing) effects, it was eventually made into a pill that could be swallowed by a patient, and then recovered intact from the feces, sterilized and then reused. It was thought the a single family could share the pill, as well as pass it down to future generations in order to preserve the health of future generations.

Thankfully these practices, and even this miracle pill, are entirely unheard of today. I think the idea didn’t entirely catch on because, even back then, the idea of swallowing something that has spent time in someone’s fecal matter isn’t exactly “inspiring”. 

Though it must go down as one of the truly epic failures of mankind, the use of antimony, which is a well-known poison that creates symptoms similar to arsenic, continues today. Though its uses in the field of medicine have been greatly reduced, antimony is still a commonly encountered industrial substance that is used in a large number of consumer goods.

Well over half of all the antimony produced in the world goes towards one purpose: for use in flame retardant materials. The most common materials that receive this chemical treatment are fibers used in clothing (including children’s clothing), upholstery, as well as airplane, bus, and car seats.

The antimony treatment doesn’t make the materials “fire-proof”. It makes the materials resistant to produce and expanding flames. If a flame is applied to the material, it will burn and become ashen, but it will not produce a flame on its own. Once the flame is removed from the material, combustion stops. Basically, if you are wearing treated clothing and run into a burning building, you will still burn, but if you run out you will most likely not “stay on fire” as entirely ridiculous as that sounds. The treated clothing is also less likely to “burst into flame” which, while slightly humorous to read, would be tremendously unpleasant for the wearer if it happened. If trapped in a burning building, I’m pretty sure all of us would opt to be wearing clothes that would not “burst into flame.” Though protected from this calamity, at what cost does this protection come?

What might come as a surprise to most parents is that there is actually a Federal law that requires all sleepwear intended for children must meet certain fire-resistance criteria. It must not char faster than a certain rate, the garment must not exceed certain fitting dimensions because “loose-fitting” garments are more susceptible to flames. The garments must also retain these fire-resistance properties even after 50 washings.

What is actually outrageous is that in order to make this clothing affordable, and comfortable, manufacturers use primarily cotton, but in order for their cotton garments to pass the fire tests, they must be treated with a flame-retarding chemical, though there are a number to choose from, including antimony trioxide which is classified as a suspected carcinogen by the Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Even though the flame resistance is supposed to endure through 50 washings, it is a known and proven fact that these chemicals release from the fabric overtime and are absorbed topically by the human body.

If you think that you’re safe from these chemicals simply because you’re an adult that doesn’t wear a baby’s nightie to bed you’re sorely mistaken. These same chemicals are used in airplane seats, bus seats, and car seats. Saying that it is a challenge to avoid sitting in any of these locations would be a massive understatement. For “safety and liability” purposes, airlines, automobile manufacturers, and transportation authorities actually demand that these materials meet rigorous fire-resistance criteria. The cost to human health is unfortunately not included in these deliberations.

Though antimony is used primarily by the flame-retarding industry, it does have other uses that make it a common toxin in the everyday world. It is one of the most common metals used to improve the hardness and mechanical strength of lead, making it ideal in bullets. Lead solder in electronics often contains a degree of antimony.

That dark powder that accumulates on car tires called “brake dust” actually contains a significant amount of antimony because it is used in brake pads to create proper friction. Mechanics would do well to take notice and use precautions against inhaling brake dust.

The second largest application for antimony, after flame-retardants, is as a catalyst in the manufacture of PET. PET is the acronym of a polymer resin used in making food-packaging containers. If you look on the bottom of a number of plastic food containers, you will most likely find a numeral inside of a triangle. This is a recycling code used to identify different recyclable materials. If there is a number “1” inside the triangle, the package is made from PET. While PET is inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to mold, it poses a number of health concerns.

PET has been proven by a number of studies conducted in Switzerland by their Federal Office of Public Health, to leach endocrine disrupters from the plastic and enter the food or liquid inside of the container. If the material is boiled or microwaved, the rate of release is greater. Because of the chemical relationship between PET and antimony, there is a certain amount of antimony inside of PET containers that also leaches out.

The EU requires that tap water contain less than 5micrograms per liter. A study of fruit juice sold in the UK in PET containers found antimony at the concentration of 44.7 micrograms per liter!

Because the health concerns of plastic are becoming more well-known, some bottled water companies are switching to glass bottles, but unfortunately antimony is also used as an additive in some types of glass and the Swiss studies also found antimony traces in bottled water from glass containers.

Though it may seem as if antimony is somehow inescapable from the moment of birth until death, it does not mean that one has to give in. Though avoidance is difficult, detoxification is possible. There are a number of natural methods to both prevent absorption of antimony as well as remove it from within the body.

Chlorella and cilantro, taken simultaneously, have incredible protective and detoxifying potential against heavy metals, including antimony. Chlorella prevents absorption in the gut and binds with any encountered in the bloodstream, and cilantro draws out intracellular heavy metals so that it can be excreted from the body.

Chronic low dose exposure that has accumulated in the body may require a chelating agent in order to detoxify the body. DMPS, performed with the proper protocols and with the right diet and supplement program may be effective in removing accumulated antimony.

Of course it is vitally important and simply good sense to always consult a qualified medical professional who is familiar, not only with your medical history and your genetic uniqueness, but is also familiar with the effects of heavy metals, such as antimony, and how to safely and effectively detoxify the body of them.