Mercury: Sources, Toxicity, Testing & Detox Protocols

I have certainly had more than my share of issues with mercury toxicity from amalgam fillings, and I wish I’d had some of the information below years ago when I first started dealing with the situation. Hopefully you’ll find the following article as helpful and eye-opening as I did….

Revised Protocol for Detoxifying Your Body from Mercury Exposure

January 13, 2013

By Dr. Mercola

It is likely you are accumulating mercury and other heavy metals at a disturbing rate. This is occurring at a time when your body is already bombarded with multiple chemical assaults, making it harder to keep its natural detoxification system working smoothly and efficiently.

The two primary sources of mercury exposure are dental amalgams (mercury-based fillings) and seafood consumption, followed by thimerosal-containing vaccines and mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants.

Other significant environmental offenders are chlor-alkali plants (which make products like chlorine bleach and PVC), trash incinerators, cement kilns, and gold mining. These industries are loading our environment with inorganic forms of mercury that are then converted in the soil and water to a type of mercury called methylmercury (MeHg) — which then accumulates in the fish you eat.

Dental amalgams are comprised of 50 percent elemental mercury. This form of mercury evaporates from the surface of the amalgam and is inhaled, absorbed into the blood, and then converted to inorganic mercury, the most toxic form of mercury to cells. Inorganic mercury builds up far more in your organs of elimination — it’s 100 times as high in your kidneys and liver than in your brain. But when it does make its way into your brain, it’s far more damaging than any other form.

Dr. Christopher Shade, a mercury and glutathione expert from the University of Illinois, explains how your body’s natural heavy metal detoxification system works. It’s a lengthy lecture — about three hours. But if you truly want an in-depth understanding of this topic, he gives an excellent presentation of the latest science about the human biochemistry of mercury. I also previously interviewed Dr. Shade about mercury detoxification; you can download the transcript here:

Download Interview Transcript

Mercury Marches into Your Body and Takes Prisoners

Mercury’s toxicity is related to inappropriate binding — it’s never a “free agent.” Instead, mercury is always paired with a ligand, a molecule or group of molecules that binds to other molecules to form a larger complex. Mercury’s favorite ligand is sulfur, especially a reduced form called a thiol. Thiols are found throughout your body for example, cysteine and the super antioxidant glutathioneEnzymes use beneficial metals for their activity and hold those metals in place with thiol groups.

But mercury has a far higher affinity for the thiols than do beneficial metals like zinc. How much greater?

In the case of zinc, a billion times! This means mercury fiercely grabs onto these groups and refuses to let go, depriving you of the good metals and stopping your normal biological processes in their tracks. Mercury will also grab onto cell membranes, which leads to shattering of the membranes, vascular leakage, and subsequent “spackling” of the damage with cholesterol.

A Two-Headed Dragon: Toxicity and Inflammation

It’s an interesting fact that some people with high mercury exposure don’t become toxic, yet others with relatively low exposure do. Why is this? Why does one person get really sick from her amalgams while another is perfectly fine?

The difference lies in your ability to detoxify naturally. You already have a system in place for removing mercury and other heavy metals from your body. Mercury’s half-life can range from 40 to 120 days, and the faster you can clear it out, the less you’ll be affected.

It’s important to realize that people are either slow detoxifiers or fast detoxifiers, and a small genetic subset are super slow detoxifiers. If you are in the super slow group, your detox system is significantly impaired and the result can be mercury overload. How quickly you detoxify on your own depends on a several factors, such as your exposure level, genetic makeup, genetic expression, and overall health. For example, if your progesterone levels are low, you can’t detoxify as well, and unfortunately, decreased progesterone levels are common today.

Additionally, people who are hypersensitive to metals will have toxic effects at much lower levels than other people. When it comes to the buildup of heavy metals in your body, the news is all bad. Heavy metal toxicity produces a wide range of adverse biological effects.

Your brain is a primary target for heavy metals, which results in many neurological symptoms, including depression and anxiety, irritability and memory loss. Mercury overload can even lead to major neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Heavy metals also target your kidneys, liver, heart, pituitary and thyroid glands, and increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, a mercury detoxification protocol can significantly improve insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome. Mercury, especially from dental amalgams, can accumulate heavily in your digestive tract where it attaches to your gut epithelium.

Amalgams BATHE Your Brain and Digestive Tract in Mercury

Besides creating a significant environmental burden, the biological damage from amalgams is two-fold. Mercury vapor emitted from amalgams passes readily through your cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system where it causes immunological, neurological, and psychological problems.

At the same time, mercury is leaching into your saliva and being swallowed, making its way down your digestive tract where it causes inflammation and damages your immune system — because the frontline of your immune system is in your gut. This blocks one of your body’s major detoxification pathways: passage out of your GI tract.

Additionally, mercury shuts off the ability of your liver and kidneys to move mercury into your gut for elimination. So, if you have amalgams in your mouth, you are bathing your digestive tract AND your brain in mercury every day, poisoning your brain while at the same time blocking its route out of the body… the perfect recipe for mercury poisoning.

How do you know if mercury toxicity is a problem for you? Well, if you have a mouthful of amalgams and a laundry list of health challenges, chances are mercury is a factor. According to Dr. Shade, there is 2,000 times more mercury coating the inside of the mouth (and thus the whole GI tract) of people who have amalgams than in those who don’t. The only way to know for sure whether you are accumulating mercury is to have yourself tested. But before you do this, there are some important items you need to know.

Read the rest of the article, access two videos with Dr. Shade, and find out about mercury testing, glutathione and other detoxing protocols such as cilantro, pure water, probiotics and vitamin C:

Did you know there may be mercury in your drinking water from dental dumping?!:

Related Self-help Health posts:

Detoxing Heavy Metals Naturally

What You Should Know About Chemical & Heavy Metal Toxicity

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Vitamin C

Cilantro: A Powerful Herb With Punch



p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

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