An In-depth Report on the Effects of Mercury Poisoning Toxicity
by Dr. Thomas Nissen
MERCURY: What kinds of symptoms does mercury cause?Symptoms of mercury toxicity are many and varied, since mercury can both reach and affect nearly every cell in the body! Systemic (overall) effects can occur for this reason. The particular symptoms you experience first depend on your own genetic weakest links and on other toxic suppressors. The answers to the following questions below address the type of symptoms that can occur.
How does mercury toxicity affect the reproductive system?
Reproductive effects can occur, such as infertility, miscarriage and prematurity. Mercury lowers zinc levels, which then lowers progesterone levels. Progesterone is needed to bring a pregnancy to term. Birth defects, especially involving the brain and learning ability, can be caused by mercury, as the metal can pass through both the placental barrier and the blood-brain barrier contrary to prior belief. Low libido (sex drive) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are examples of a downward spiral of problems whose root cause is mercury toxicity.
Lowered progesterone levels can lead to infertility. PMS and infertility are common among many young female dental workers due at least in part to their mercury exposure. Male dental workers also suffer from infertility. Mercury lowers zinc levels, which in turn leads to lower testosterone (male hormone) levels.
Can babies absorb mercury from their mothers?
Mercury can cross the placental barrier, which screens out many harmful substances. This has been shown in both human and animal studies. Mercury is in fact, stored in the fetus before the mother. Mercury will also be transmitted to the infant via breast milk. Mercury from amalgam is stored in the breast milk and in the fetus at levels up to eight times that in the mother’s tissues.
How is the immune system affected?
It has been shown that mercury rapidly depletes the immune system. Mercury has been shown to induce auto-immune diseases. Mercury can cause an increase in the number and severity of allergies.
What other types of symptoms are caused by mercury?
Candida (yeast) overgrowth that is difficult to get rid of is also associated with mercury in the mouth. Mercury acts as an antibiotic, and, like medicinal antibiotics, it kills the friendly bacteria which help control yeast overgrowth.
Any of these symptoms can affect almost anyone with amalgam fillings. Some people, however, are especially sensitive, or allergic.
Replacement reactions, also called fight for site, occur when mercury (usually with a +2 charge) grabs the biological spaces which should be filled by necessary minerals. Symptoms that can be caused by a deficiency of minerals displaced by mercury include:
Some digestive problems can be caused by parasite or bacterial infection such as helicobacter secondary to immune system suppression by mercury. Mercury, in effect, opens the door like the Trojan horse so that undesirables can come in.
Mercury combines with bile and can cause bile from the gallbladder to become more alkaline, providing a favorable environment for parasites. These parasites can plug up the hepatic or bile duct so that needed digestive and other enzymes from the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas are not released. Gallbladder function then suffers.
Mercury acts as an antibiotic, and was used in some medicines until safer alternatives came along for this purpose. In the body mercury also acts as an antibiotic, and like medicinal antibiotics it kills off the beneficial bacteria which repel parasites and aid in digestion.
Yeast overgrowth with its attendant symptoms of fatigue, sweets cravings and vaginal infections is often traced to the antibiotic effect of dental mercury. Suspect this as a root cause when yeast is a continuing problem in spite of repeated treatment. The symptom (yeast overgrowth) will not likely go away until the root cause (mercury) is dealt with. The effect of dental mercury on normal gut flora is well documented.
Thyroid problems or mercury toxicity?
Endocrine problems such as low body temperature often improve rapidly when amalgam is removed, a sure sign that the amalgam was causing the problem in the first place. Normal body temperature is about 98.6 F orally.
People reacting to amalgam components often have a temperature range of 96.2 to 97.6 degrees, which can rise to 98.2 in as little as one day after amalgam removal and to 98.6 soon afterward. A low body temperature is a sign of low thyroid function, and many people have mistakenly been given thyroid hormone to remedy a symptom caused by amalgam fillings.
Synthetic thyroid hormone (thyroxin) can shut down the natural feedback cycle of the pituitary gland and its production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). This shutdown then adversely affects the rest of the endocrine system. It would be far better to correct the cause of the apparent thyroid malfunction by removing the fillings that are responsible for the low body temperature, rather than prescribing supplemental thyroid hormone.
What are the mental symptoms of mercury toxicity?
Since mercury is so soluble, it can be easily absorbed through the roof of the mouth, which is less than an inch from the posterior pituitary gland. Mental symptoms of toxicity affecting the posterior pituitary include:
Depression, Timidity, Rage, Phobias, Anxiety, Lowered libido, Indecisiveness, Lack of self confidence, Compulsions, Mood swings
Mercury tends to accumulate in all tisues, but especially in the brain. Within the brain, mercury is stored prefentially in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus.
Accumulation in the brain leads to mental and nervous system effects such as brain fog, depression, vision difficulties, and others as listed above. Mental effects are among the most common due to mercury's special affinity for the brain. Mercury inhibits the effects of certain neurotransmitters:
Inhibition of these neurotransmitters by mercury can account in part for the feelings of depression and loss of motivation.
Other mental/neurological symptoms include:
How does mercury cause fatigue and lack of energy?
Mercury binds to nitrogen and sulfur in proteins, oxygen from the lungs, sulfur from the liver's detoxification systems, and selenium from the colon. Lower levels of body tissue oxygen due to mercury's binding it may lead to:
Mercury binds with hemoglobin, which is responsible for oxygen transport to the tissues. This results in less oxygen reaching the tissues. The body attempts to compensate for this by increasing the amount of hemoglobin in the blood.
A normal or increased hemoglobin (oxygen carrying) level combined with symptoms usually associated with low hemoglobin such as anemia are often indicative of mercury toxicity. Copper is also required to prevent anemia, and mercury can compete for copper's binding sites. A lowered hematocrit (red blood cell count) can be indicative of lowered blood copper levels.
The terms hematocrit and hemoglobin, found routinely on blood test printouts, can be confusing. If blood is compared to a train carrying oxygen to where it is needed, hematocrit is a measure of the number of boxcars on the train (red blood cells), while hemoglobin is a measure of the carrying capacity of each boxcar, or red blood cell.
Other mineral levels can be lowered by mercury's tendency to fight for site. A deficiency of any of these minerals can lead to fatigue and other symptoms:
Cobalt, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium are all required for energy.
These mineral deficiencies may be primarily due to dietary deficiencies. However, deficiencies may also be secondary. The mineral may be in the body but cannot get to where it is needed because mercury has blocked the way. This is like putting a too-large battery in a toy - it won't fit in the slot made for a smaller battery, both denying power to the toy and blocking the slot from receiving the correct size battery.
Fatigue associated with mercury toxicity can be due to several of mercury's effects, including reducing adrenaline and neurotransmitter effects, reducing oxygen to tissues, and interfering with coenzyme A, which converts sugar to energy.
How can mercury increase the toxicity of other poisons?
Mercuric ion (Hg+2) binds to sulfhydryl groups (-SH) in proteins and disulfide groups (-SS) in amino acids. These sulfur containing groups have an important detoxification function in the body. Increased toxicity from chemicals and metals other than mercury can result from mercury binding these sulfur groups and preventing them from detoxifying the chemicals.
Mercury binding the bile lowers the ability of the body to absorb fat, leading to increased absorption of toxic oil-soluble chemicals such as solvents and pesticides like a dry sponge.
Selenium is an antioxidant which binds in place of oxygen and which protects against free radical damage from chemicals which can lead to cancer. Mercury can bind to selenium, making it useless for this protective purpose.
What else can mercury do?
Mercurous ion (Hg+1) pushes out Na+1 (sodium), K+1 (potassium), and Li+1 (lithium). Sodium and potassium are part of the cellular sodium/potassium pump which causes muscle movement. Interference with sodium and potassium can lead to muscle weakness for this reason. Leg and muscle cramps may be due to potassium deficiency.
Lithium is sometimes given as lithium carbonate to patients suffering from bipolar depression (manic depressive illness) since lack of lithium is one of the causes of the disease. Lack of lithium may itself be caused by mercury preventing lithium from working as it should in the brain.
Mercury is like the 200 pound bully attacking a 7 pound baby; the small baby doesn't have much of a chance. 200 and 7 are the molecular weights of mercury (the bully) and lithium (the baby) respectively. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar depression, maybe what you need is less mercury, not more lithium pills.
Mercury fights for binding sites in the kidney, another organ for which it has a special affinity. A mineral and electrolyte balance is needed in order for the kidney to perform its functions, and a poorly functioning kidney can lead to edema (fluid buildup in the body). These minerals are prevented from entering into their reactions when mercury is there to interfere.
Suppression of potassium by mercury also affects the kidneys which takes you from making adrenaline to maintaining electrolyte balance, and the lowered adrenaline level can lead to lower energy.
Detoxification systems such as metallothionein, cytochrome P-450, and bile are adversely affected by mercury. Metallothionein binds toxic metals in the body to prepare them for excretion. Mercury ties up this material so it cannot clear out other metals such as lead, cadmium, and aluminum.
Mercury from amalgam binds to -SH (sulfhydryl) groups, which are used in almost every enzymatic process in the body. Mercury therefore has the potential to disturb all metabolic processes.
Some people appear to be allergic to whatever food they eat. No matter what they eat, at least one thing in common is ingested - mercury (or nickel). Mercury released from amalgam during chewing may be the cause of most of the symptoms which seem to be caused by the food.
If a mercury vapor test, described later in this chapter, is done, it may show a low to moderate level of mercury initially, but a sharply increased level after chewing gum. This is also what happens when food is chewed. Such a test result combined with apparent allergy to most food points to mercury as a probable culprit. Nickel, which may also be contributing to the problem, is in stainless steel posts and braces.