The first question after my diagnosis of mercury toxicity was: “But how did I get this?!” As my physician explained, this level of mercury build up must have happened over several years due to multiple factors. On one hand increased exposure must have been present, and on the other hand my body was likely to be very inefficient in detoxification on its own. Great, another thing I am not very good at 🙂

I did an extensive research reading the scientific literature and various health blogs (hence this post took a long time for me to finally publish), in order to collect all the information currently available on the causes of mercury toxicity in people. The most shocking part of my research is the number of people affected by this silent illness – people suffering for years, growing old without finding out what is wrong with them. So sad! I feel so fortunate to get my diagnosis before things got a lot worse – I read about so many stories that just broke my heart.  

I am a bit nerdy, so I will give you a brief chemistry lesson on the different forms of mercury that people can be exposed to and potentially develop toxicity from. I apologize in advance for going into a bit of a detail in some molecular mechanisms, but I know many of my readers are doctors and scientists amongst my main audience.  

There are two big categories we can differentiate: inorganic and organic mercury. And within the inorganic group, there are 3 forms of mercury that we can get exposed to: elemental mercury, mercury salts, and mercurous mercury.

inorganic mercury forms

1. Elemental mercury 

This is the form that exists in nature, in the Earth’s crust. Exposure can happen during coal mining. Also found in:

  • vaccine preservatives
  • old thermometers
  • cosmetics 
  • light bulbs
  • dental amalgam fillings (see below!)

The elemental mercury then quickly spreads through the body via the bloodstream and binds to the tissues of several organs such as the brain, connective tissue (muscles, ligaments), the intestinal wall lining, liver, kidneys and the reproductive organs. 

Unfortunately this is mostly a one-way street – once bound to the tissues the mercury doesn’t like to leave. As a result the elimination half-life is several years, and can be up to 20 years (!) in the brain. 

2. Mercury salts (mercuric mercury)

This form of mercury in general is poorly absorbed, but prolonged exposure can cause problems.

It can be found:

  • certain food preservatives used in the past
  • in the mixture used to develop photographs
  • skin lightening creams 

3. Mercurous mercury

This form of mercury is poorly absorbed, and used as a laxative in the form of calomel. 

organic mercury

When the inorganic mercury is  converted by the microorganisms in water, organic mercury compounds are formed. These will then be ingested by fish, and accumulate in their tissues. Again, the mercury exposure to fish is a one-way street, it will only accumulate over time, as fish will not excrete it, neither get sick from it. People however will be exposed to significant amount of organic mercury by eating large fish, especially tuna, shark, mackerel, swordfish. The bigger the fish, the larger the mercury exposure !

This form will be then readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, and distributed similarly to the elemental mercury to the tissues of the different organs. The half life is 70 days, as in the tissues it will be converted into elemental mercury. 

Dental amalgam

I decided to dedicate a separate paragraph to discuss the risks associated with amalgam dental fillings. These fillings contain 50% elemental mercury, and responsible for 10 % of the world’s mercury production. They have been used for almost two centuries, yet their safety for use has never been tested, as it would be routinely required for any other medical implant. In 1991 the WHO confirmed that dental amalgams are the biggest source of mercury, exposing people to mercury levels significantly exceeding those set for food, air and water. Norway and Sweden have banned the use of dental amalgam 10+ years ago, while Germany and Canada advise against their use in children and pregnant women.

Most of the human mercury exposure happens through the outgassing of mercury from amalgam fillings through inhalation, 80% of which gas is inhaled by the person and absorbed through the lungs. Changing the amalgam fillings without using safety measures by the dentist puts the patients in extreme risk. They would be inhaling the elemental mercury gasses produced during the procedure. 

Toxicity

Mercury has been identified as one of the most toxic non-radioactive materials known to man. It is rated to be 10x more toxic to the nervous tissue than lead. It will bind to the sulphur containing amino acids in the different organs, and impair organ function. It has a high affinity to the brain, liver, kidneys, placenta and the fetal brain. Effects include altered membrane permeability, increased oxidative stress, peroxidation of lipid membranes, mitochondrial dysfunction and altered production of neurotransmitters and hormones.

Clinical symptoms associated with mercury toxicity 

  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • development of auto – immune diseases
  • IBS, IBD
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • autism
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • certain psychological disorders (depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) 

Pregnancy

The developing nervous tissue is the most sensitive target for mercury, hence there is an extreme risk for pregnant women. It is recommended to avoid any seafood during pregnancy, as well as any supplements that may remove the dormant mercury from the tissues during a detoxification process. I will talk about these supplements and their action in an upcoming post, just wanted to emphasize here for pregnant woman to stay away from seafood (cooked or raw) and any type of green supplement during pregnancy, and don’t even think about replacing amalgam fillings until after birth. 

back to my story

After learning all this information about the risks of exposure, the cause of my toxicity became clear. I had 4 amalgam fillings in my mouth since childhood, and I had them replaced 3 years ago by a dentist, who had no idea about the risks and took no safety measures during the procedure. Looking back, that is the time when my health started declining. I suspect I had chronic toxicity from childhood, by constantly ingesting the mercury outgassing from my fillings, which likely contributed to my health struggles and food intolerances along the way. When I had my fillings replaced 3 years ago, I suffered an acute on chronic poisoning, and started the vicious cycle with a whole new set of health issues. While I do eat fish, it is not extreme quantities. Also, I always favored salmon over tuna, which is considered less mercury laden anyways. So there is a possibility that seafood consumption contributed to my poisoning, it was likely negligible compared to the dental amalgam exposure.

As discussed before – mercury ingestion is a one-way street… once it is in your body, it will not leave voluntarily. There are some people that have better detoxification processes than others (like me), but an extreme exposure, coupled with poor detox ability is a recipe for illness.

I am now on a mission to spread the word about the risks associated with mercury exposure and amalgam fillings. People around me are probably sick of hearing me talk about mercury, but I don’t really mind… if I can only help one person to get diagnosed and put an end to their chronic health issues, it was worth it! I will talk about safe amalgam removal and the detoxification process in upcoming posts.

To learn about how I found out about my mercury poisoning browse the Detox Diaries page on my blog. Thanks for reading.

Love, Nora  

References 

  • Bernhoft RA. Mercury toxicity and treatment: a review of the literature. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:460508. doi:10.1155/2012/460508
  • Jirau-Colón H, González-Parrilla L, Martinez-Jiménez J, Adam W, Jiménez-Velez B. Rethinking the Dental Amalgam Dilemma: An Integrated Toxicological Approach. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(6):1036. Published 2019 Mar 22. doi:10.3390/ijerph16061036
  • Homme KG, Kern JK, Haley BE, et al. New science challenges old notion that mercury dental amalgam is safe. Biometals. 2014;27(1):19‐24. doi:10.1007/s10534-013-9700-9

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4 comments

Reply

If you check out the work of Dr. Andrew Cutler, you can safely and slowly pull the mercury out
of you body and brain. There is a facebook group as well.

https://andy-cutler-chelation.com/mercury-detox-forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=83
https://www.livingnetwork.co.za/chelationnetwork/chelation-the-andy-cutler-protocol/testimonial-andy-cutler-chelation-protocol/

Reply

Hi Deb, I was found to be a Good candidate for IV chelation therapy by my integrative clinician, so I started the chelation 4 months ago. It is a combination of oral and IV chelation which has worked wonders so far. It is a lot faster and I am lucky enough not to have side effects. I will write a blogpost on this process in the next few days 🙂 thanks Nora

Reply

If you check out the work of Dr. Andrew Cutler, you can safely and slowly pull the mercury out
of your body and brain.

https://andy-cutler-chelation.com/mercury-detox-forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=83
https://www.livingnetwork.co.za/chelationnetwork/chelation-the-andy-cutler-protocol/testimonial-andy-cutler-chelation-protocol/

Reply

Hello Nora , Hope you are well and got your health back to normal now.
After extensive search on google I stumbled on your website and read your 3 articles. I feel like Im reading my life story with all my health issues including mitral valve regurgitation , fatty liver , gerd , kidney cyst and so on.. I basically been unwell and miserable all m adult life. I’m 38 now and think I might have severe mercury poisoning which the countless doctors ive seen arent capable of getting into. I had around 7 dental amalgams 20 years ago!
Im in Dubai and heard about Dr.Heather but unfortunately cant get an appointment till next year! I have already removed all my fillings safely (I think) last month. Want to start metal chelation as soon as possible and would like to hear any suggestion or chelation protocol that makes the mercury leave body. Im afriad this mercury might get the last of me!

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