Ciguatoxins: In Our Own Back Yard

By: Debra E Dallas, PhD,MIfHI,CI


Ciguatera Poisoning creates Polio Like Symptoms

I     Ciguatera poisoning has become more prevalent over the past couple of years. A sickness that should rarely occur so far from the Caribbean has now reared its ugly head for seven of my clients, and thousands of others in the US and elsewhere. So what is Ciguatera poisoning?


       Ciguatera poisoning is a toxic condition acquired from eating fish that have ingested smaller fish that make it a habit of dining on Dinoflagellates; marine microalgae that clings to Caribbean ocean life as seaweeds and coral. The microalgae toxin accumulates in the bigger fish as they consume more and more of the smaller contaminated fish. As the food chain states, then we eat the larger fish: tuna, salmon, sea bass, etc. This toxin is tasteless, odorless and colorless, and is not altered or eliminated by cooking. Historically ciguatera has been found in Caribbean fish, but now is found in any fish.


        The increased incidence of Ciguatera poisoning is due to the ever so slight rise in ocean temperature. The warmer the water gets, the farther north the Caribbean fish travel. What was once a rare occurrence in the northern areas has become more prevalent.  


        Dinoflagellates contain a nerve toxin, Gamberdiscus toxicus. Fish are unaffected when ingesting this toxin, but humans suffer adverse affects once the infected fish enters the stomach. The body quickly tries to eliminate the toxin through regurgitation. The level of toxin absorbed into the body before regurgitation determines the severity of the symptoms. The day after the event, the person begins losing motor control; walking, talking, thinking, feeding one’s self all becomes drastically affected. Unbelievably, four clients at Dallas Wellness Center have suffered from this toxin last year alone. All but one had been misdiagnosed in the hospital.


        In many publications on Ciguatera poisonings it states that it is incurable; that there are no successful treatments. For example:


        Treatment[edit]There is no effective treatment or antidote for ciguatera poisoning. The mainstay of treatment is supportive care. There is some evidence that calcium channel blocker type drugs such as Nifedipine and Verapamil are effective in treating some of the symptoms that remain after the initial sickness passes, such as poor circulation and shooting pains through the chest. These symptoms are due to the cramping of arterial walls caused by maitotoxin[6][12][13][14] Ciguatoxin lowers the threshold for opening voltage-gated sodium channels in synapses of the nervous system. Opening a sodium channel causes depolarization, which could sequentially cause paralysis, heart contraction, and changing the senses of hearing and cold. Nifedipine is a calcium channel blocker.[6] Some medications such as Amitriptyline may reduce some symptoms, such as fatigue and paresthesia,[15] although benefit does not occur in every case.[16] Steroids and vitamin supplements support the body's recovery rather than directly reducing toxin effects.Mannitol was once used for poisoning after one study reported symptom reversal.[6][17] Follow-up studies in animals[18] and case reports in humans[19] also found benefit from mannitol. However, a randomized, double-blind clinical trial found no difference between mannitol and normal saline,[20] and based on this result, mannitol is no longer recommended.[5]


        About CiguateraCiguatera fish poisoning (or ciguatera) is an illness caused by eating fish that contain toxins produced by a marine microalgae called Gambierdiscus toxicus. People who have ciguatera may experience nausea, vomiting, and neurologic symptoms such as tingling fingers or toes. They also may find that cold things feel hot and hot things feel cold. Ciguatera has no cure. Symptoms usually go away in days or weeks but can last for years. People who have ciguatera can be treated for their symptoms.


You get the point. No Cure.


The Cure


        As inconceivable as this may sound, the treatment for Ciguatera poisoning is quick and 100% affective. It is Ion Cleansing, simple as that. All of the negative representation Ion Cleansing receives on the internet; it is a Ciguatera poisoned victims only hope and best friend. The first cleanse reveals such a drastic improvement, the client cannot wait to come for the second cleanse. After three cleanses, the client is living his/her life again; back to work or school, etc. After six cleanses there is no sign of the illness at all. The first three are spaced two weeks apart; the last three are one month apart. The timing is for minimal detox symptoms and toxin redistribution for maximum affect.


Identifying the Culprit


        So, how does one know if the fish he/she is about to consume is infected with Ciguatera if identifying through sight, odor, or taste is impossible; what can one do?


        According to, Australians claim that a fly will not land on an infected fish. Locals in The Grand Cayman Islands claim that if you place a little piece of the fish you would like to consume on the ground and ants that gather on it do not die, then the fish is safe to consume. Another less known test is to place a silver coin under the scales, if the coin turns black, it is contaminated. Since Ciguatera is so prevalent in the Caribbean, you can be sure that the locals have their methods of identifying the toxic fish. With so many fish contaminated, that leaves an abundance of fish for the happy sharks.


       On the Government website:, the fish most likely to be contaminated is listed: Barracuda, several species of snapper, two species of grouper, greater amberjack, hogfish, horse-eye jack, and king mackerel. It is interesting that the four people that have received Ion Cleanses at Dallas Wellness Center ingested none of those fish. The guilty fish in these cases were tuna, salmon, squid, and the fish from sushi. These fish are readily available at every grocery store. The warmer the waters, the more of these infected fish will end up in the fished waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the more likely these fish will be mixed into our food supply.


        It is very discerning that in addition to the toxins that has always been present in our fish, DDT, mercury, etc, that ciguatoxins are now a considerable risk. It used to be approximately 4 per1000 people per year were reported in the US, but if I have seen four cases in one year, it is probably considerably higher. (


        Misdiagnosis is most definitely problematic.


We Love Our Fish: What Is One To Do?


        Outside of the tricks the Australians use and the locals in the Caribbean to identify contaminated fish, what is one to do without sustaining from eating all fish? The best way to protect yourself from Ciguatera and all other environmental toxins is by detoxifying your body on a regular basis; either by visiting an establishment that offers Ion Cleansing, or purchasing your own machine. The trick is purchasing a quality machine that really detoxifies the entire body. We purchased all three of ours on: These machines have been working five days a week for seven years without a hitch and have brought four hopeless people back to living their lives.