Is Gadolinium from Contrast MRI Safe?

Gadolinium is a metal used to enhance MRI images and help diagnose multiple sclerosis, stroke, dementia, cancer and infection. It is known to build up in the body, including the brain, and there is no central authority keeping track of gadolinium dosage over a patient’s lifetime.

This post discusses the safety of gadolinium, potential adverse effects and ways to detox from it.



What is gadolinium and why is it used?

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan produces images of organs and structures in the body to help doctors diagnose disease. An MRI can be done with or without a contrast agent. Gadolinium is a contrast agent used to make certain tissues and blood vessels show up more clearly and in greater detail on MRI images.

Gadolinium is a toxic magnetic rare earth metal. Gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) are drugs that are given intravenously. It is estimated that about 50% of people needing MRI have an MRI with contrast (with GBCAs).

Because gadolinium is very toxic in the human body, it is normally bound to a chelating agent and then used as a contrast agent drug. The purpose of the chelator is to reduce the potential of unbound gadolinium to interact with tissues in the body before the kidneys excrete the contrast agent after the MRI. It has become clear that chelators do not completely prevent patient exposure to gadolinium because gadolinium bound with other molecules has been discovered in various organs and tissues of patients who receive GBCAs.[i]

Gadolinium can disassociate from the chelating agent and because it is a nanoparticle – it builds up in our bones, tissues, ligaments and in the brain. This has been known since the 1980s.

Although the FDA declares, “No long-term clinical consequences of gadolinium exposure in healthy individuals have been identified,”[ii] there are growing concerns about its safety as it can remain in the brain for decades and cause a variety of serious adverse effects. Also, patients can receive multiple MRIs with GBCAs with no central authority monitoring the gadolinium dosage over a patient’s lifetime.

Not until 2018 did the FDA finally declare a warning that gadolinium accumulates in the body.

Unfortunately, a person can experience gadolinium poisoning symptoms months or years later after the MRI, which makes it more challenging to determine gadolinium poisoning.

Symptoms of gadolinium poisoning

It was originally assumed that only people with impaired kidney function could experience adverse effects from GBCAs. In these patients, the kidneys are not able to excrete GBCAs effectively and as a result, they are more susceptible to a potential life threatening condition called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). Symptoms of NSF include burning itching skin, red or dark areas on the skin, thickening and hardening (fibrosis) of the skin, edema, loss of flexibility and impaired mobility of the ankles, knees, feet, arms, wrists and hands. NSF can also cause serious damage to other organs, including the lungs and the heart.

It is now becoming clear that symptoms of gadolinium poisoning are also present in people who have perfectly functioning kidneys or near perfectly functioning kidneys.

Because this toxic metal is injected into the bloodstream, it travels throughout the body and can cause a variety of symptoms. Some symptoms are transient while others are permanent. Generalized pain has been reported by 100% of the people suffering from gadolinium poisoning.

Symptoms of gadolinium poisoning include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cognitive function – poor memory, mental clarity, cognitive impairment, dementia
  • Neurological symptoms – pain, numbness, burning, tingling throughout the body, but mainly the skin
  • Skin symptoms – skin feeling tight, skin lesions, hyper pigmentation, rash, blotchiness or mottled skin, itchy skin
  • Muscle symptoms – small, local, and rapid twitching, muscle weakness
  • Ocular (eye problems) … impaired vision, dry eyes, blood clot in the eyes
  • Ear, nose, and throat symptoms… Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), difficulty swallowing and voice problems
  • Low body temperature
  • Hair loss
  • Poor balance
  • Edema or swelling of the extremities.

Ways to detox gadolinium from the body


  • N-acetylcysteine


Heavy metal detox – ionic foot bath, cilantro tincture and binders (above) or chelation therapy with a naturopath.

Cilantro is a powerful heavy-metal mobilizer.

Discuss the state of your health and potential risks of gadolinium toxicity with your doctor before authorizing a GBCA

  • Do you have kidney problems? Decide if using a GBCA is worth the risk of NSF.
  • Do you have a systemic inflammation?
  • Do you suffer from a chronic disease?
  • Are your detoxification processes impaired (kidney, digestive tract and lymphatic system)? This can hinder the GCBAs from leaving the body after an MRI.
  • Do you suffer from soft tissue damage?

You have a choice, ask questions and understand the risks. If you are in an inflamed state, consider having an MRI without contrast.

As of 2018, patients should be educated on the risks of GBCAs and given the choice of whether or not to have an MRI with contrast.

Although GBCAs are still used in the US and Canada, other countries have significantly limited their use or have completely banned them.

What to do if you think you might have gadolinium poisoning

Obtain your MRI medical records to see if you have had MRI(s) with contrast in the past.

If you had MRIs with contrast in the past, make an appointment with a naturopathic physician and complete a heavy-metal test. Gadolinium toxicity should show up on this test.

Do a heavy-metal detox and follow all the steps in the Live Disease Free plan.

Reach out to support groups. For example

Reach out to a lawyer who helps people who have been injured by gadolinium poisoning to recuperate costs of injury and rehabilitation. Bayer and GE have admitted no fault but have confidentially settled hundreds of lawsuits involving their gadolinium contrast agents.

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