A GAPS Case Study

How Dental Treatments Complicate Symptoms and Healing

Chronic gut dysbiosis, or Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), is very common today among populations in all parts of the world. Each person with a GAPS diagnosis presents a unique set of symptoms and health history that require significant time and effort by the health care practitioner to fully understand in order for the right healing protocol to be chosen.

The patient’s dental health history also plays a crucial role in deciding the appropriate healing protocol to prescribe for patients with complex conditions. The case study presented here involves a typical GAPS patient whose chronic symptoms were aggravated and complicated by dental treatments. Such patients require the coordinated care of a network of holistic practitioners in order to make real progress toward restoring their health.


Ann first contacted me in October 2007. She was fifty-eight years old at the time, a fragile-looking lady—thin, pale, with dark circles around her eyes and a feeble voice. The long list of symptoms Ann presented with would have made any doctor’s head spin. Here is the register of her symptoms at that time:

• Digestive problems: abdominal pain after food and between meals; bloating, abnormalities in her stool ranging from loose to constipation; indigestion and reflux;
• Chronic cystitis with symptoms of burning and cramps while passing urine;
• Bed wetting;
• Food intolerances: she could only tolerate a handful of foods, and even those were causing reactions;
• Chronic fatigue to the point of having to spend weeks in bed;
• Headaches of varying intensity;
• Dry, itchy and cracked skin;
• Chronic sinusitis: her voice was nasal and her nose was constantly runny; she had aching pain over her sinuses;
• Muscle pain, muscle spasms and cramps: these symptoms were so bad that Ann had to walk many nights in order to control them. She resorted to sleeping with tight shoes, which prevented cramps somewhat and allowed her to sleep a bit more.
• Joint pain, which migrated from one joint to another every few days;
• Dizziness, vertigo and tinnitus;
• Poor concentration and memory;
• Sensitivity to light;
• Sudden loss of hearing in one ear;
• Extreme sensitivity to electrical equipment and chemicals;
• Bad breath;
• Shooting pain in limbs which often led to cramps;
• Strange sensations in her limbs, including a feeling of “crawling all over,” a feeling of “hot water being poured onto her,” and numbness;
• Fluid retention on and off: at the worst times her face, hands and legs would swell and visibly stretch her skin;
• Brittle hair and nails;
• Sore lumpy breasts;
• Sore tongue, burning lips and mouth. Ann’s lips looked purple and sore, her tongue was cracked, purple and enlarged.

Visiting various mainstream doctors, Ann had been diagnosed with several serious degenerative conditions at once: multiple sclerosis, nephropathy, chronic interstitial cystitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, atopic dermatitis, chronic sinusitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A plethora of various medicines was prescribed. Ann tried some of them and got worse. Eventually, she gave up on the mainstream medical approach, as she could not get any real help from it. She did not believe in taking drugs and tried to avoid them as much as possible. In fact, she felt that if she had taken the drugs that were prescribed to her by various specialists she would have been much sicker. She tried some alternative treatments, but did not find relief from them either; various nutritional supplements prescribed to her made her symptoms worse. Ann became very cautious when trying anything new, as she seemed to react to everything: foods, drugs, supplements, electricity, TV, computer screens and mobile phones.


Ann was bottle-fed as a baby. As a child she was a fussy eater with very poor appetite, had mild eczema and was susceptible to infections. She suffered from digestive troubles all of her life.

In her teens she suffered abdominal pain so severe that it resulted in an exploratory operation during which her appendix was removed (the appendix was in fact healthy and was removed “prophylactically”). At eighteen Ann tried taking contraceptive pills, but had to stop as she got severe cramps in her calf muscles and lethargy; she also developed a non-healing ulcer-eczema patch on her face for three months, which healed only when she stopped taking the pill.

After having her first child at age twenty-one Ann suffered regular bouts of cystitis. Since then her cystitis had become chronic: she had to set an alarm clock to wake up in the middle of the night to empty her bladder, otherwise she would wet her bed. After her second child she developed constant diarrhea, nausea, bloating, flatulence, burping and abdominal pain.

Gradually Ann developed other symptoms, and at age thirty-five was tested for food allergies. She saw some improvement when she removed wheat and food additives from her diet. At the same time she tried a few nutritional supplements, but most of them made her symptoms worse.

Throughout her life Ann underwent a lot of dental treatment; she had several amalgam fillings, root canals, two gold crowns and several white fillings in her teeth.

She entered menopause at age fifty-one with hot flushes.


Ann implemented the GAPS Nutritional Protocol and found that most of her symptoms improved. She could sleep through the night without wetting her bed, her leg cramps and joint pain reduced considerably, and her energy levels became almost normal. Her skin was still a bit dry but not itchy anymore, and her digestive symptoms were almost gone; she suffered from occasional headaches but nothing as bad as before, and her fluid retention was gone. Though she was slightly underweight, she felt strong enough to enjoy her life.

Initially she could not tolerate any supplements at all, but since having implemented the GAPS diet she began taking cod liver oil and probiotics, which she had to introduce very slowly because of severe die-off reactions. One of her die-off symptoms was the development of swollen and very sensitive lips.

Ann was aware that her amalgam fillings could be contributing to her health problems, so she was keen to remove them. In preparation she started taking a supplement (dried seaweed), which is commonly recommended by dentists before and after amalgam removals as a heavy metal chelator.


Just one capsule per day of the dried seaweed caused a serious regression in Ann’s symptoms: painful joints and gastrointestinal problems, and her lips became red and sensitive. When Ann increased the dose to two capsules per day, she became very ill: her lips became swollen, itchy and purple in color, her energy plummeted, and she suffered diarrhea and headaches. Her sleep was disturbed and was punctuated with very vivid dreams and she felt lethargic. Her joints became stiff and she developed leg cramps, a stiff neck and swollen feet. A skin rash appeared on her back and shoulders, her eye lids became swollen, and dark circles formed around her eyes. Ann had to stop taking the seaweed, and it took a few months for her symptoms to subside. Removing fish from her diet helped. Ann’s lips became less swollen and her skin rash finally cleared.


In June 2009 Ann went to her conventional dentist who removed one large amalgam filling, which proved to be a disaster. Within two minutes Ann was struck with heart palpitations. By the time she got home her lips were purple and swollen, her mouth was painful and very sensitive, and her energy plummeted.

Ann developed severe cramps in her legs to the point that she could not sleep: she had to walk most nights to relieve the cramps. She had an almost constant headache and pain all over her body. Ann was debilitated for the entire summer, unable to perform any activity.

By September 2009 she started feeling a bit better and her energy levels had improved. But she had to sleep with shoes on in order to prevent leg cramps, and her bed wetting had returned. Her water retention became bad again, her mouth was painful and she had white patches on the inside of her cheeks. She had shooting pains in her legs, which she described as “electric shock impulses,” and she developed an intolerance of electrical devices to the point of not being able to use a TV remote control or be near plug sockets. Her white blood count was low and she had deficiencies in many nutrients despite following a very nutrient-dense diet.


We found a holistic dentist for Ann, who identified a condition called oral galvanism, wherein an electrical “battery” is formed in the mouth between various metal fillings. The electrical currents generated by this “battery” interacted with the nervous system, giving Ann various unpleasant neurological symptoms, such as shooting pains in her legs, muscle cramps, numbness and abnormal sensations in various parts of her body. At the same time we performed a MELISA® blood test for allergies to metals. The test showed that Ann was allergic to gold, nickel and palladium, all of which were present in her dental fillings and crowns. Her blood had a toxic reaction to mercury, lead, titanium dioxide, tin, chromium, manganese, beryllium, copper and gallium.

A consultation with Ann’s holistic dentist resulted in a decision to remove all crowns and fillings from Ann’s mouth, including the white fillings, as they contained palladium. The process of slow removal was begun in the summer of 2010 and is still underway. Ann is very sensitive to every intervention: after every treatment her symptoms get worse and it takes her a few weeks to start feeling strong enough to go to the dentist again. By the time all gold and mercury were removed from her mouth, she started experiencing improvements in her general health. However, the “electric battery” in her mouth is still active, as she has several amalgam “tattoos” in her gums and jaws, which show a negative electrical charge. Remnants of a very old amalgam filling have been discovered in her jaw bone underneath a tooth, which had been removed several years ago. Removal of those fragments has brought some improvements.

By March 2011 Ann, now age sixty-one, had numerous dental procedures and removals of metals, root canals and crowns. She had three operations when part of her jaw bone and gum had to be removed, as she had fragments of mercury amalgam in the bone. After every treatment she had a reaction: painful back, painful stomach, severe thirst, leg cramps, bed wetting and other symptoms. These reactions usually lasted a few weeks. Her oral galvanism is now much better, but she still has measurable electrical currents in her mouth, which change polarity and direction after every dental procedure. Her dentist has a device to measure these electrical currents.


Overall, however, Ann has improved beyond recognition: she feels well most of the time, she looks well and energetic, has color in her face and strength in her voice. She recently managed to travel around the country with her family and sustain her energy and activity. Her legs are more “normal” now; cramps and various strange sensations have become rare. She still cannot be near a computer, but can now tolerate electrical lights. Her bed wetting is much better and she is able to sleep without shoes most nights as her leg cramps have abated. Ann adheres rigidly to the full GAPS diet with limited fruit. She can now tolerate a few supplements: six capsules of probiotic per day, 15 mg of zinc per day, a few drops of fermented cod liver oil, and some natural vitamin C.

Ann still has a few dental cavitations to remove. Cavitations are hollow spaces in the jaw bone left after incorrectly executed tooth extractions when the dental ligament has not been removed after the extraction. Cavitations are filled with infection, toxins and mutated immune cells, and can have a very damaging effect on the whole body. Ann’s holistic dentist referred her to a specialist in this area, who has a machine called Cavitat for identifying cavitations. Ann actually looks forward to this treatment. Despite the fact that dental treatments are very traumatic for her, she now knows that they are slowly but surely bringing her health back.


This case shows a typical GAPS patient whose situation has been aggravated and complicated by dental treatments. As she first implemented the GAPS nutritional protocol, Ann had great improvements in her health. Her reaction to seaweed demonstrated that her body had a problem with mercury and other toxic metals. As the seaweed started shifting mercury in her body, her symptoms got worse.

On her GAPS program Ann felt strong enough to face the dentist and remove one of her biggest amalgam fillings. As this source of toxicity in her body became disturbed, she had severe regression of all her symptoms. That amalgam was removed by a conventional dentist whom she chose for cost reasons. We found a holistic dentist for Ann to work with, and very slowly through removing everything dentists have put into her mouth throughout her life, Ann’s health began to improve.

Modern conventional dentists use many toxic chemicals and metals, most of which can affect overall health of the body. A considerable percentage of MS (multiple sclerosis) cases, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), various other neurological conditions, leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and various autoimmune conditions are caused by dental treatments. Despite all negative publicity and mountains of scientific evidence of harm, mercury amalgams are still being used by dentists in the Western world today, because they are inexpensive and easy to handle.

Root canals are another source of infection and toxins. Starting from Weston A. Price, who researched root canals extensively, many specialists have come to the conclusion that root canals have no place in the body. Cavitations and oral galvanism are other extremely damaging conditions created by our modern dentistry. Most metals used in the mouth can create allergies in the body, where the white blood cells are literally being destroyed. As a result you may find that these patients have consistently low white blood cell count. The MELISA® test identifies allergies to metals, as well as toxic reactions of the patient’s leucocytes to metals.


Clinical experience shows that it is not the amount of metals in the body that is important but the person’s sensitivity to them. A person may have very high levels of mercury (or another toxic metal) in the body and be perfectly healthy, because this person’s immune system is keeping it under control and the body is not reacting to it. Another person may have very small amounts of mercury (or any other toxic metal) in the body, but because this person is sensitive the result can be a serious illness. GAPS people are usually sensitive to metals. Previous tests had shown that Ann’s levels of heavy metals in her body were low, so they were consistently dismissed as “normal.” But because Ann is very sensitive to metals, those low amounts caused havoc in her body.

It is essential for any GAPS patient to work with a holistic dentist rather than with a conventional one. GAPS patients with metal fillings, crowns, bridges, braces, root canals and any other dental materials in their mouths (metals in particular) should be referred to holistic dentists for evaluation. Only a holistic dentist would know how to measure and diagnose oral galvanism, cavitations, and how to remove mercury amalgams safely. Conventional dentists are not trained in these areas. We may otherwise struggle in vain to help a chronic patient whose problems are created by modern dentistry.

This is just one example of a typical GAPS patient. Every person is unique and can present a unique puzzle for a health practitioner to solve. GAPS conditions are very common and I am overwhelmed by the demand for help from GAPS patients from all over the world. These people need a network of practitioners who can help them in their local area.


I am happy to announce that in the last three months we have completed four GAPS Practitioner Training Courses in the USA, part of which involved going through cases like Ann’s. I have trained some one hundred sixty doctors, nutritional therapists, dieticians, chiropractors, homeopaths, osteopaths, acupuncture specialists and other active health practitioners with an established practice to implement the GAPS protocol on individual bases and to work with these very complex patients. We now have a list of Certified GAPS Practitioners on www.gaps.me for people to contact. There will be more training courses for practitioners in the next year.


This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2011.

Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition), graduated with honors as a medical doctor in 1984 from Bashkir Medical University in Russia. In the following years she gained a postgraduate degree in neurology.After practicing for five years as a neurologist and three years as a neurosurgeon, she started a family and moved to the UK. Fairly shortly after that her son was diagnosed autistic, which prompted an intensive study into causes and treatments of autism. It was during this time that Dr. Campbell-McBride developed her theories on the relationship between neurological disorders and nutrition. She then completed a second postgraduate degree in human nutrition at Sheffield University, UK. Having successfully treated her son, Dr. Campbell-McBride has returned to practice in 2000 and runs the Cambridge Nutrition Clinic. She has specialized in using nutritional approach as a treatment, and has become recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in treating children and adults with learning disabilities and other mental disorders, as well as children and adults with digestive and immune disorders. In 2004 she has published Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment Of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression and Schizophrenia, in which she explores the connection between the patient's physical state and brain function. The book gives full details of the GAPS Nutritional Protocol, highly successful in treating patients with learning disabilities and other mental problems. In her clinic, Dr Campbell-McBride works with many patients suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and other complications of atherosclerosis. She has become acutely aware of the existing confusion about nutrition and these conditions, which spurred an intensive study into this subject. The result of this study is her new book Put You Heart In Your Mouth! What Really Is Heart Disease and What We Can Do To Prevent and Even Reverse It. Dr Campbell-McBride is a keynote speaker at many professional conferences and seminars around the world. She frequently gives talks to health practitioners, patient groups and associations. She is a member of the Society of Authors and a regular contributing health editor to a number of magazines and newsletters.

8 Responses to A GAPS Case Study

  1. patricia says:

    question for dr. campbell-mcbride
    this is a frightening story for me. i have several amalgam fillings, and cannot afford to have them removed. plus, even if i could, there seem to be no dentists in my area who do that using the proper techniques. are there any suggestions you have for the many of us out here who are in the same boat, i.e. lots of dental fillings that for, whatever reason, cannot be feasibly removed? i have read that alpha lipoic acid chelates mercury but worry that, if you have a compromised gut, it will actually make any mercury toxicity worse. thank you for your comments. p.s. i am waiting for the gaps diet book to arrive from amazon and plan to start right away.

    • Mo says:

      I read activated vegetable carbon is gratis for cleansing the body from metals and is also good for your Stomach, but should be for small periods.

    • Jason Crose says:

      ALA chelates not only from the body’s tissues but also crosses the blood brain barrier making it the only known safe chelator of mercury in the brain. However kinetics must be respected meaning that ALA is used up by the system so quickly that mobilized mercury will soak back into tissue if ALA is not taken every 3 hours. Additionally, taking any mercury chelator while “silver” tooth fillings are still in your mouth will pull the mercury out of your fillings making you sicker. On top of that, when mercury body burden increases, due to something like having fillings while using ALA, then ALA will allow the body to move mercury across to blood brain barrier and thus poison your brain very quickly. Look into Andrew Cutler’s “frequent low dose oral chelation protocol.” He provides the full information freely but also has two books on the subject if you choose. I have been on the protocol for about 8 months. I was nearly bedridden because I had been using cilantro which is pretty much impossible to ensure consistent dosing with because no one knows how often to take it or how much to take. Last week I changed the transmission fluid in my truck. It is a long process, I am far from fully recovered, but I see improvement every month and ALA is dirt cheep. Also, DO NOT use R-ALA. It is used up by the body far too quickly and you would never be able to dose appropriately, it will make you very ill just like cilantro did me.

  2. Marjorie says:

    Think Lyme
    A lot of the diseases you mentioned above are not caused by bad dentistry or toxic dental materials but by Lyme disease. Sure toxic dental materials and bad dentistry can add to the problem but they are not the only cause. I think your article is misleading.

  3. Marjorie says:

    Think Lyme
    Bad dental materals & bad dentistry and heavy metals don’t help the toxic load but most of the diseases you mentioned in your article are actual caused by borrelia not bad dentistry.

    • Jeannie says:

      Regarding Lymes
      Marjorie, the GAPS diets IS a treatment for Lyme Disease. It is to treat all immune disorders. It is all interconnected.. But yes this lady obviously had issues from childhood, and yes the fillings only made things worse.. And her body reacting to the metals is an autoimmune response.. GAPS treats it all..

  4. Turbo Smart says:

    Turbo Smart
    I found here nice information about dental treatments. Just a quick note to let you know that your post has proven to be of great value to what I am working on right now. Thanks!

  5. amy says:

    I understand why she went to a conventional dentist because I made that decision too. I was desperate to get out a cracked amalgam tooth that was causing me months of pain. I was well aware that going to a conventional dentist was risky but I barely had enough money to afford a conventional dentist let alone a holistic one. my pain was so bad i just decided that going to the conventional dentist. it was a risk i felt i had to take. long story short. It made every thing worse for me. i ended up very sick the next day and it’s taken me months to feel even half way normal again (i am still generally uncomfortable in my own body)but feel i am recovering very slowly. I have tried GAPS and it helps but is very complicated to get right. my new plan is to save up my money (even if it takes me years) and slowly get the other 4 fillings out by a holistic dentist. I don’t regret going to the conventional dentist because it really woke me up to how seriously dangerous these amalgams and has forced me to research and get serious about my health. however, i will never make the mistake of seeing a regular dentist again!

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