"As an Australian dentist I have been on a similar journey to you with health issues relating to occupational mercury poisoning. I have recently installed mercury safe protocols in my practice and your site will aid me to educate the dentists who work for me that I have not gone crazy and am on the tight track. Thanks Alison for putting your site together - what a treat of information!"
Dr R, Mercury Poisoned Dentist
This article accompanies the video of the same name below (12 mins).
Mercury: Potent toxin
The highly toxic mental, physical and emotional effects of mercury on the body have been well recognised for centuries.
Although you are exposed to mercury through a variety of sources including eating fish, and the preservative thimerasol (which is included in some vaccines), for most people the majority of their exposure comes from their dental amalgam fillings.
Amalgam was developed 180 years ago and has never been exposed at any meaningful safety testing. It is a mixture of 50% liquid mercury and 50% powdered metals and it never truly sets, instead becoming a stiff paste of alloys in a liquid mercury base.
These different metals combine to create a battery in the moisture of the mouth and when these fillings discharge their electrical current, the liquid mercury within the amalgam filling is vaporised.
Although the authorities impose strict rules about the handling of amalgam before and after placement, and even relating to cremation of cadavers, they still maintain that the mouth of a human being is a safe place for this material - in spite of never having produced one scientific paper to demonstrate their claim.
Mercury truly acts like the proverbial spanner in the works in the body, disrupting biological function on a number of different levels. The following is not exhaustive, but presents a list of some 150 recognised symptoms of mercury toxicity.
The respiratory system
Up to 80% of inhaled mercury vapour is absorbed through the lungs. From here it travels to all the other tissues and organs of the body in the circulation, but particularly concentrates within the kidney, liver and brain.
The presence of mercury in the lungs causes chronic breathing disorders including:
Persistent cough and
Compromised cognitive function
Mercury is both highly neurophilic (which means that it binds tightly to nerves) and highly lipophilic (which means that it binds tightly to fats). When distributed around the body in the circulation it is absorbed into the nerve endings that regulate all the functions of the body (the autonomic nervous system). From there it slowly tracks up the nerves into the central nervous system, in what is known as retrograde axonal transport.
It prevents nerves regenerating by disrupting the protein tubulin, disrupts nerve function and also attacks the insulating myelin sheaths surrounding some nerves.
Mercury from amalgam easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and can damage any part of the central nervous system including the master endocrine glands at the base of the brain which control both the nervous and endocrine systems.
The levels of mercury in the brain have been shown to be directly related to the number of amalgam fillings in the mouth. Whilst mercury is highly detrimental on its own, its destructive power can be increased 100 fold by exposure to other toxic metals such as aluminium, lead or cadmium.
Mercury can produce a host of mental, emotional, and behavioural changes and what are considered 'psychiatric' disorders by disrupting neurotransmitters, interfering with endocrine gland function and hormones and causing destruction of nervous pathways.
The effects of mercury on cognitive function include:
Difficulty finding words
A lack of initiative
An inability to concentrate
An inability to make decisions and
Lack of motivation
Changes in mood
Mercury is also known to have profound effects upon mood including:
Fits of anger
Loss of self-confidence
Being easily embarrassed
Feeling easily discouraged
A loss of sense of humour and
Life seems an endless, joyless struggle
The ability of mercury to induce 'mercury madness' is well recognised and symptoms include:
A persistent death wish
Panic disorders and
Schizophrenia spectrum disorders
Peripheral nervous system symptoms
The profound disruption of nerve structure and function leads to difficulty with motor nerve function including:
Difficulty articulating words
Numbness and tingling
Difficulty doing fine tasks such as typing or adding numbers on a calculator
Ticks and twitches (especially of the face and eyes)
A loss of coordination and
Reproductive and sexual function
Mercury is also recognised to collect in the reproductive organs in both men and women where it can cause a variety of disorders including infertility.
It is known to directly cross the placental barrier in pregnant women and also to concentrate in breast milk and mercury levels in newborn babies have been shown to be directly related to the number of amalgam fillings in the mother’s mouth.
The symptoms of mercury toxicity in both sexes include:
A low or non-existent libido
Precocious or late puberty and
In women, the effects of mercury on reproductive function include:
Heavy, missed or irregular periods
Severe period pains
Pre-menstrual tension (PMT)
In men, mercury accumulates in the reproductive organs and particularly the testes causing:
Premature ejaculation and
Low sperm count, defective sperm and sperm with poor motility
The urinary system
Mercury from dental amalgam fillings is also recognised to severely impact kidney function such that animal studies have shown a 50% reduction within a month of placement of the first amalgam filling.
Effects of mercury on the urinary system include:
Frequent nocturnal urination (2-3 times a night or more)
Incontinence (especially in women)
Difficulty urinating (especially in men)
An urgent need to urinate and
A variety of kidney and bladder diseases.
The musculoskeletal system
Mercury also accumulates throughout the body in muscles and joints causing the muscle tenderness and pain familiar to fibromyalgia sufferers and the joint pain, stiffness and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis.
The symptoms of mercury toxicity on the musculoskeletal system include:
Tender, sore muscles
Rapid muscle fatigue
Muscle weakness and
Jaw joint or Tempero-mandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD)
The cardiovascular system
In particular, mercury seems to collect in the heart muscle and valves and has been found at 22,000X the levels found in the blood. Mercury is strongly associated with elevated levels of homocysteine and cholesterol and heart attacks.
It also causes red blood cells to rupture and replaces the iron in haemoglobin so that the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood can be reduced by half. Mercury also causes a weakening in the walls of the small blood vessels leading to a reduced blood supply to the organs and tissues.
The cardiovascular symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
An irregular heart beat
Angina or chest pain
A racing heart beat
Either an abnormally slow or rapid heart rate
Low or high blood pressure
Frequently feeling faint
Elevated blood cholesterol and homocysteine levels and
Easy bleeding and bruising.
The endocrine system
Mercury disrupts hormone production and release from the endocrine glands, and also blocks the receptors which allow the hormones to dock on to the target cells in the tissues.
The endocrine system has a high requirement for specific trace minerals and accumulation of mercury within the glands may occur because of the chemical similarity to the essential mineral, zinc.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning in the endocrine system include:
Hypoglycaemia and dysglycaemia (low and poorly controlled blood sugar respectively)
Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland)
Hypoadrenalism (under-functioning adrenal glands)
Constant fatigue (adrenal and thyroid gland exhaustion) and
A poor physiological response to stress.
The oral cavity
Mercury also collects in very high concentrations in the jaw bones and the soft tissues of the mouth. This is a result of it being a heavy metal that literally sinks to the bottom of each body compartment including the jaws and pelvis and the fact that mercury is driven into the tissues of the mouth which act as a cathode to the anode of the amalgam fillings.
Mixing gold and amalgam restorations in the mouth is also recognised to increase the amount of mercury vapour given off several fold and placing gold crowns over amalgam cores particularly drives mercury into the surrounding bone.
Symptoms of mercury toxicity in the mouth include:
Periodontal (gum) disease
A metallic taste
A loss of the sense of taste
A burning, red, inflamed mouth
‘Bald’ patches on the tongue or cheeks (includes geographical tongue) and
Dark spots on gums ('amalgam tattoos')
The ears: Hearing and balance
Mercury also seems to collect in the many sensory nerves of the ear that serve hearing and balance. Symptoms include:
Tinnitus (ringing or whining noises in the ears)
Pain in the ear canals
Poor hearing and deafness and
Difficulty interpreting what you hear.
Skin, hair and nails
For the body, the skin is a major route of excretion and it will try to expel mercury via the skin
leading to itchy rashes, and dry, flaking skin. It can also strange crawling sensations and reddening of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
It also seems to interfere with the regulation of perspiration so that some people become unable to sweat while others sweat profusely.
Cold, clammy skin
Peeling or flaking skin on the hands, feet and face
A puffy face
Red, flaky skin around the eyes
Thick, red skin on hands & feet
Pricking, stabbing, fizzing or crawling sensations in the skin (vermiculation)
Very itchy rashes
Eczema and psoriasis.
Mercury also seems to interfere with the autonomic control of perspiration causing:
An inability to sweat or
The quality of the hair and nails is also adversely affected causing:
Loss of axillary, pubic, body or head hair
Greying of hair
Dry, thin, wiry, dull hair and
Weak, flaky nails that split and tear easily.
The nose and sinuses
Some of the mercury vapour from amalgam fillings adheres to the lining of the nose and sinuses from where it can be transported directly into the brain and cause the following symptoms:
Poor sense of smell
Chronic or recurrent rhinitis
A persistently sore throat and
Mercury appears to collect within the eye balls themselves leading to the appearance of 'floaters' (dark cloudy areas), but also adversely affects the muscles controlling focussing of the eyes and lens and the sensory nerves of the retina itself leading to:
Intermittent visual blurring
Deteriorating peripheral vision or 'tunnel' vision
Sensitivity to light
Poor colour vision
Poor night vision and
Difficulty moving the eyes.
The digestive system
Much of the mercury from dental amalgams is swallowed along with foods or in the saliva and the digestive system is usually one of the first to be affected. Mercury binds with and blocks the actions of digestive enzymes leading to poor digestion and the development of food intolerances.
It also alters the normal ecology of the colon, favouring the overgrowth of yeasts (most commonly Candida albicans) and suppressing the growth of 'friendly' bacteria which can lead to the development of intestinal permeability or a so called 'leaky gut'. Digestive symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
The development of food sensitivities and intolerances
Abdominal cramps and pain
Constipation and/or diarrhoea
Irritable bowel syndrome
The immune system
The immune system is one of the first casualties of mercury toxicity. It causes a reduction in the number of natural killer (NK) cells which are responsible for policing tumours and viruses leading to the development of chronic viral infections and cancer.
The effects of mercury toxicity upon the immune system include:
Chronic, recurrent or frequent infections.
Chronic or recurrent yeast infections. Mercury actively promotes the overgrowth of yeasts such as Candida albicans causing thrush, 'jock' itch and athlete’s foot.
The development of allergies and sensitivities. Mercury alters the ratios of T-helper cells to T-suppressor cells so that the immune response is turned on more readily but not terminated, leading the immune system to over-react to a wide variety of foods and chemicals.
Autoimmune diseases. Mercury binds to proteins on the surface of the cells of the body (the histocompatibility complex), leading the immune system to identify them as being foreign and initiating one of the 100 or more autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, scleroderma or Hashimoto thyroiditis.
Various cancers. The undermining of the immune response and in particular the disabling of the natural killer cells leads to the development of one of the most prevalent immune deficiency disease of all: cancer.
The lymphatic system works to drain and filter excess fluid from the tissues and to initiate an immune response if required. The effects of mercury toxicity on the lymphatic system include:
Water retention (especially of the legs) and
Swollen lymph nodes (especially in the neck).
General symptoms of mercury toxicity
Last, but not least, mercury particularly accumulates in the mitochondria ('powerhouses') of the cells where it poisons energy production. The presence of mercury in the circulation and the effects on energy production lead to:
A profound exhaustion and fatigue (chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia)
Low body temperature
Cold hands and feet
Unexplained changes in weight
Changes in appetite
Headaches and migraines
Difficulty getting to sleep
Sleepiness during the day
Illnesses associated with mercury poisoning
There are a wide range of illnesses that have been linked with mercury poisoning including:
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Alzheimer's disease (AD)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
For more information about the role of mercury poisoning in the causation of fatigue syndromes such as chronic fatigue (CFS) and fibromyalgia, please see About Fatigue Syndromes. For more detailed information about the health effects of toxic metals in general and mercury in particular, and for a means of detoxifying using readily available supplements, please refer to my book Chronic Fatigue, ME, and Fibromyalgia: The Natural Recovery Plan.
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Symptoms of mercury poisoning: Article summary
This article accompanies a video which details over 150 recognised symptoms of mercury poisoning demonstrating the profound mental, physical, emotional and behavioural impact of mercury poisoning largely derived from dental amalgam fillings on the human population.
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The Natural Recovery Plan Newsletter October 2011 Issue 22. Copyright Alison Adams 2011. All rights reserved Dr Alison Adams Dentist, Naturopath, Author and Online Health Coach www.thenaturalrecoveryplan.com