If you are heavy, it could be making you sick and tired and age prematurely. And I don’t mean heavy with fat …
I mean heavy with heavy metals–like mercury. Unfortunately, toxic mercury problems are common. Along with creatures that eat fish or live in water like ducks, otters, and all river fish as well as most large ocean fish, we humans are being poisoned with mercury at ever increasing rates.
There’s no doubt about it, mercury is the most alarming, disease-causing source of environmental toxicity.
Many of my patients have toxic levels of mercury–and they’re not alone.
I personally suffered from mercury toxicity and chronic fatigue syndrome–which I cured myself of, in part by getting rid of the mercury in my body. So I know about this first hand.
I became toxic because I polluted myself through occupational exposure placing and drilling out amalgam fillings for years without proper safety precautions.
If mercury exposure happens in combination with genes that prevent you from effectively detoxifying metals in your body, this leads to slow and significant poisoning of your cells and mitochondria (the battery powerhouse of your cell).
And the effects of mercury exposure were obvious for me …
I felt weak, tired, and couldn’t think. I had muscle pain and twitches, brain fog, lethargy, mood swings, insomnia, digestive problems, food allergies, depression, and anxiety. And it was only by discovering high levels of mercury in my urine — and slowly detoxifying myself — that I was able to get better.
I have seen this over and over in my patients, too. From chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia to depression, anxiety, obesity, dementia, thyroid disease and much more, the message is clear …
We are being poisoned!
Mercury is lipophilic, meaning that it concentrates in fatty tissues, especially in the brain, which is made mostly of fat.
This is such an important issue I want to fully about mercury issues and gives you a plan for reducing your exposure and recovering from mercury toxicity.
I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned over the years.
Mercury Levels Are on the Rise
Due to the impact of industrialisation environmental mercury levels have increased.
Over the past 100 years, there has been a 30-fold increase in mercury deposition, 70 percent of which is from human sources. There has been a peak in mercury over the last 40 years due to major industrialisation. Much of this mercury comes from coal-fired industrial plants and from the process of making chlorine used in plastics, pesticides, PVC pipes etc.
The more mercury we are exposed to, the more we are likely we are to be toxic.
Health Risk Increases with Dose
Your risk of toxicity increases with higher doses of mercury.
There are different types of mercury. Nearly all human exposures to methylmercury, come from fish. The higher up the food chain the fish is the more mercury it contains.
The health effects from methylmercury upon infants and children have been shown to depend on the dose.
Severe symptoms start with exposure to doses of 100 mcg/kg/day, mild symptoms with more than 10 mcg/kg/day, and sub-clinical symptoms with less than 1 mcg/kg/day. These symptoms include late development in walking and talking and decreased performance on neurological tests.
Mercury Tests Have Limitations
There are limitations regarding the of various forms of testing for mercury.
Methylmercury (also called organic mercury) is found predominately in red blood cells, which is what doctors check when they do a blood test for mercury. But unless you’ve been eating fish with mercury recently, you won’t see your total body level of mercury.
Plus, mercury is lipophilic, meaning that it concentrates in fatty tissues, especially in the brain, which is made mostly of fat. That means that blood levels aren’t an accurate measurement of total body burden of mercury.
Inorganic mercury from dental fillings (amalgams) is found in plasma but is rapidly cleared and stored in your tissues. Inorganic mercury is also converted from methylmercury by the body and is the main form of mercury in the brain, which can lead to dementia, autism, ADHD and more.
All of these are reasons why you need to get comprehensive testing done to assess your total mercury load.
Health Effects of Mercury
How does mercury get in your body and what it does to your body and brain?
We get mercury-exposed from many sources including mercury vapours in the air, ingesting it via drinking water, fish, dental amalgams, vaccines, occupational exposures, home exposures including fluorescent light bulbs, thermostats, batteries, red tattoo dye, skin-lightening creams, and more.
You absorb about 80 percent of inhaled mercury vapour and nearly 100 percent of the mercury in fish.
Once this mercury is in your body it is then distributed in the kidneys and brain and can be readily transferred to the foetus via the placenta.
The only way it can get out of your body is via urine, faeces, expired air, and breast milk.
The major reason it is toxic to human biology is that mercury has the ability to bind to sulphur-containing molecules in the body (found in nearly every enzyme and in the mitochondria), as well as other chemical binding sites in the cells.
We’ve learned a lot about how this mercury effects us and our children from reported exposures to mercury over the last 100 years. These include epidemics such as the Minimata Bay exposures in Japan, acrodynia or pink disease in children from calomel (HgCl) used in teething powder, “mad hatter syndrome”, and methylmercury fungicide grain seed exposures in Iraq and Pakistan.
The symptoms and diseases these exposures have caused are varied and mimic many other conditions: Nervous system toxicity can cause erethism (“mad hatter syndrome”) with symptoms of shyness; laughing, crying, and dramatic mood swings for no apparent reason; nervousness, insomnia, memory problems, and the inability to concentrate. (I had all of these when I was mercury toxic).
Other neurologic symptoms may include nerve damage, Parkinsonian symptoms, tremor, ataxia (loss of balance), impaired hearing, tunnel vision, dysarthria (slurred speech), headache, fatigue, impaired sexual function, and depression.
Kidney toxicity leads to proteinuria (protein in the urine) and acute renal failure.
Gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and colitis.
Skin toxicity causes allergic dermatitis, cheilitis (cracked corners of the mouth), gingivitis (gum disease), stomatitis (sores in the mucous membranes of the mouth) and excessive salivation.
Clearly, mercury toxicity is a VERY serious business!
Dentistry and Mercury
One of the more controversial sources of mercury toxicity is dental fillings.
Silver dental fillings, or amalgams, contain inorganic mercury.
Mercury exposure from amalgams is estimated to be between 3 to 17 micrograms per day from chewing, brushing, grinding, and even slow corrosion.
Questions have arisen about whether or not this amount is toxic …
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no significant neurologic or behavioural changes in children who had mercury amalgam (silver) fillings, compared to kids who had composite (white) fillings placed. But there were significant problems with that study …
First, the duration of the study was short and the effects subtle. Second, they failed to emphasise the significance of the fact that the kids who had the silver fillings had much higher levels of mercury in their urine than the kids with white fillings.
This is one of the most important details of that study because it proves that mercury fillings in your mouth release mercury vapour that is absorbed into your body, ending up in your urine. It is deposited in your organs, including your brain, where it accumulates over time.
Whether your fillings are new or old, the mercury in them is constantly absorbed into your body.
And even if you stop being exposed to that mercury, it sticks around. It takes up to 18 years for the body to clear half of the dose of mercury from the body. Once mercury is in the body it comes out only VERY slowly.
In fact, people with amalgam fillings have significantly elevated blood mercury levels, three to five times more mercury in the urine, and two to twelve times more mercury in their tissues than those without amalgam fillings.
However, blood and urine mercury levels don’t necessarily relate to the mercury load in your body tissues or severity of clinical symptoms.
Research on sheep and monkeys with dental amalgams has shown that blood mercury levels remained low — even though their tissue mercury levels were raised.
Urine mercury levels aren’t much better as an indicator of your total mercury load. They mainly reflect the cumulative dose of inorganic mercury in the kidneys and there exists only a very weak correlation with levels in other target tissues.
As a dentist, this makes me concerned – especially when I see videos of mercury vapour being released from a 25-year-old tooth. (You can watch it on the website of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology.)
But other dentists aren’t so concerned. In fact, the American Dental Association still says it is safe to use mercury or silver fillings. That’s something I’ve always wondered about since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers old mercury fillings that have been removed from the body toxic waste that has to be disposed of as such.
Let me put this another way. It’s apparently all right to put mercury fillings in your mouth — but not to throw them out in the garbage!
The Dangers of Amalgam Fillings
The danger of amalgam fillings has been confirmed by research from around the world.
Anders Lindvall, M.D., from the Foundation for Metal Biology in Sweden, in his work on the health effects of dental amalgams, has presented a review of the controversial literature on dental amalgams and human health.
Many of Dr Lindvall’s patients reported a symptom complex consistent with chronic fatigue syndrome that they believed were related to dental amalgams. So in 1990, Dr Lindvall began a study at a University Hospital in Sweden to diagnose and treat 796 patients with suspected amalgam-related illness and to develop and evaluate diagnostic tools to assess toxicity from dental amalgams. (i)
Besides conventional measures of quality of life and symptoms, unique laboratory assessments were used to determine the presence and immunological toxicity of metals.
Dr Lindvall’s patients were treated with antioxidants (B complex vitamins, vitamins C and E, and selenium); infections and jaw dysfunction were addressed, and selective removal of any incompatible dental material was performed using safe amalgam removal techniques and biocompatible materials to replace the amalgams.
Follow up at one year showed over 70 percent of patients reported significant improvement in symptoms after amalgam removal!
But Dr Lindvall’s study suggests that silver amalgams can cause health problems and that removing the fillings can help relieve these problems.
And other studies have had similar effects.
Research has found that patients with chronic fatigue and autoimmune thyroiditis show improvement in their health status after their amalgam fillings are replaced with composites. (iii)
In another study, 71 percent of people with autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, improved after amalgam removal. Low-dose exposure to inorganic mercury may be a contributing factor in the development of autoimmune diseases. (iv)
Animal and lab studies suggest that exposure to metallic mercury may cause nerve cell damage and promote the production the plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. (v)
Plus, we know that mercury levels in the human placenta correlate with the number of maternal amalgam fillings — and a substantial amount of mercury from amalgams reaches the foetus.
Approximately 20 percent of the general public may experience sub-clinical central nervous system and/or kidney function impairment due to amalgam fillings.
When taken collectively, the research forces us to question the safety of dental amalgams. In my view, there is no doubt about it … they are a danger.
But before you start yanking out your fillings, there is something else to consider …
Genetic Variations in the Ability to Detoxify
Some of us are very good at detoxifying mercury and other toxins, while some of us store toxins like a toxic waste dump. Genetic variations make some people more prone to metal toxicity.
One gene, in particular, is very important because it’s related to the body’s production of glutathione, our most powerful detoxifier and antioxidant. Your body can only excrete mercury when it’s bound with glutathione.
The variation of the gene that controls the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase (GST) prevents excretion of mercury. When that happens, the mercury stays in tissues and does damage.
Plus, even if you don’t have this gene variance, mercury binds to key enzymes that help us produce glutathione — in effect helping itself accumulate in our bodies.
Research also shows that people suffering from symptoms like fatigue, irritability, mood disorders, poor concentration, headaches, and insomnia due to their amalgam fillings are more likely than their peers to have the apolipoprotein E 4 (ApoE 4) gene. (vii)
ApoE 4 is known as the “Alzheimer’s gene.” It also promotes heart disease. ApoE 4 reduces detoxifying activity. This means that people with this gene can’t get rid of mercury from their brains, contributing to its toxic effects on this organ.
How To Check For and Reduce Mercury Exposure
The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce your exposure — and identify if you have toxic levels of mercury.
You should reduce your exposure by avoiding large ocean fish (like tuna, swordfish, shark) and river fish. Eat only small wild fish. If it fits in your pan, it is probably okay.
Remember: Blood tests are relatively worthless for analysing mercury toxicity unless you have had a significant recent exposure or eat a lot of sushi or tuna.
Hair tests only check for mercury from fish, not from fillings so they only give you a partial picture.
The only way to find out your total body load of mercury is to take a medication with sulphur molecules that bind to the mercury like fly paper. This is called DMSA or DMPS.
This test should ONLY be done by a trained physician and involves taking one dose of this medicine, followed by a 6- or 24-hour urine collection to see how much comes out.
Find A SMART Holistic Dentist
If you are toxic and sick, you may consider addressing your dental health by seeing a biological/holistic dentist who can safely help you deal with mercury in your mouth.
Going to see a conventional dentist who drills out your fillings without any precautions or protection can lead to serious health consequences. I strongly advise against it. However, amalgam filling removal can be done safely and effectively done by a dentist trained in the correct techniques. (Seek a SMART certified dentist).
Finding out if you are poisoned by mercury, limiting your exposures, and getting the mercury out of your body is absolutely critical if you want to achieve lifelong vibrant health.
If you have any doubt about the evidence of harm across a broad range of health conditions of mercury, you must do your homework and review the research yourself.
(i) Lindh U. Removal of dental amalgam and other metal alloys supported by antioxidant therapy alleviates symptoms and improves quality of life in patients with amalgam-associated ill health. Neuroendocrinology Letters 2002; 23(5/6):459-482.
(ii) Stejskal V. Metal-specific lymphocytes: biomarkers of sensitivity in man. Neuroendocrinology Letters 1999;20:289-298.
(iii) Sterzl I., et al. Mercury and nickel allergy: Risk factors in fatigue and autoimmunity. Neuroendocrinology Letters. 1999; 20: 221-228.
(iv) Prochazkova, J., et al. The beneficial effect of amalgam replacement on health in patients with autoimmunity. Neuroendocrinology Letters. 2004; 25(3): 211-218.
(v) Stejskal, J. and Stejskal, V. The role of metals in autoimmunity and the link to neuroendocrinology. Neuroendocrinology Letters. 1999; 20: 351-364.
(vi) Holmes, A.S., et al. Reduced levels of mercury in first baby haircuts of autistic children. International Journal of Toxicology. 2003. 22(4): 277-285.
(vii) Wojcik, D.P. et al. Mercury toxicity presenting as chronic fatigue, memory impairment, and depression: Diagnosis, treatment, susceptibility, and outcomes in a New Zealand practice setting (1994-2006). 2006. Neuroendocrinology Letters. 27(4): 415-423