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Poisons > Mercury Removal Advice

12 Points on Mercury Toxicity | Mercury Removal Advice | Treatment of Autism

Mercury is a toxic metal widely occurring in the biosphere which presents hazards associated with both ingestion and inhalation. Mercury has no essential function within the body.

Pesticides, large fish, and mercury dental filings are the most potent sources of mercury. The amount of mercury found in fish is directly proportional to the size of the fish, with the largest and most long lived fish (eg sharks) accruing huge amounts of mercury by the end of their lives. Mercury tends to enter rivers, lakes, and the oceans through industrial discharges and volcanoes. It settles in bacteria which are eaten by algae; algae are eaten by small fish; small fish are eaten by large fish, and so on up the chain. Each step concentrates the amount of mercury present in each animal.

Mercury has also been used as an antiseptic and pesticide. Many commercial preparations have contained the inorganic mercury salt calomel (mercurous chloride), including over the counter laxative preparations and some cosmetics. It has also been used to treat grain seed, as a pesticide.

The largest source of mercury for most people in the Western World is from Amalgam (silver) dental fillings. Amalgam fillings were developed by a British chemist in 18 I 9 and were originally made from filing down silver coins and mixing the filings with mercury to make a paste or pliable mass. Modern amalgam is made from a mix of copper, tin, zinc, silver, with 50% mercury. Mercury fillings have a life expectancy of 10 years, due to the highly corrosive conditions of the mouth. An electrical current tends to exist between the mentals in the amalgam and saliva. This electrical current is actually a chemical reaction between the amalgam and saliva, and leads to a loss of mercury from the amalgam as a vapour, where it is inhaled. The normal chewing of food also causes the abrading of amalgam from the fillings, leading to the ingestion of small particles of mercury. Natural endogenous bacteria of the mouth and gut are able to convert inorganic mercury into organic mercury through methylation (adding a methyl group to the mercury element) and so forming methyl mercury.

The World Health Organisation states that the largest estimated average daily intake and retention of mercury and mercury compounds in the general population is from dental amalgam fillings. The estimated daily intake of mercury from dental amalgams is 3.8 - 2l mcg per day.

Mercury can be found in a two main forms, inorganic and organic. Inorganic mercury is very toxic to humans, but not nearly as toxic as organic mercury such as methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is a form of mercury which has been bound to a simple organic carbon group. This makes it permeable to membranes and encourages its movement into brain tissue. About 10% of mercury ingested accumulates in the brain.

Mercury has an affinity for organic sulphur compounds called thiols, which are essential components of enzyme systems. Mercury will irreversibly bind to these thiol groups, and inhibit their function in enzymatic reactions. Thiols are also involved in protein formation and help stabilise protein structure. Mercury is then able to cause the denatutration of protein structures, particularly in the brain. It can also form a hapten with the protein it is bound to, causing the immune system to recognise that protein as foreign and destroying it at all opportunities. This leads to beginning of autoimmune disorders.

Mercury toxicity can be manifest in many forms. In acute organic mercury toxicity symptoms include loss of co-ordination, intellectual ability, vision, and hearing. Organic mercury can produce redness, irritation, and blistering of the skin. Chronic exposure to mercury can produce the following symptoms: fatigue, loss of energy, weakness, oedema, pallor, inappropriate chilliness or excessive warmth, excessive perspiration without fever, fainting, blurred vision, headache, anxiety, irritability, hostility, aggression, insomnia, restlessness, decreased concentration, grogginess, depression, and thoughts of suicide.

In attempting to reverse the problem of mercury toxicity it is important to realise that the mercury contamination must be removed, whether this be the cessation of using cosmetics, eating fish, or having your dental amalgams removed. It is also important to supplement those nutrients most effected by mercury as this appears to one way of reducing the effects of chronic exposure.

As mercury will attach to sulphur amino acids in protein it is important to supplement with nutrients to encourage mercury elimination.

Glutathione (USH)
Glutathione is an important antioxidant amino acid which protects against mercury toxicity. Glutathione is a tripeptide, made from the combination of three amino acids; L-glycine, L-glutaniic acid, and L-cysteine. Studies have shown that GSH levels are decreased during cases of mercury toxicity. It is interesting to note that GSH deficiency resulting from genetic errors mimic the acute mercury toxicity effects of Minamata disease. Without adequate OSH, mercury from the environment cannot be detoxified and eliminated.

N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC)
This compound has been used clinically as it is able to act as a precursor to L-cysteine, cystine, L-methionine, Glutathione (USH), and mixed di-sulphides. It stimulates the body to produce large amounts of cysteine and GSH thus augmenting plasma and red blood cell contents of both cysteine and Glutathione. In experiments where animals were exposed to mercury vapour, NAC treatment increased animal survival time and decreased the mercury levels in blood, lung, and kidney tissues from these animals.

L-rnethionine is an essential sulphur containing amino acid. It is used by the body to produce cysteine, cystathionine, glutathione, and taurine. Mercury is able to bind to methionine and inhibit it being used in the production of cysteine and glutathione. The addition of methionine to the diet will increase the levels of cysteine and glutathione in the body.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
This compound is a natural dietary sulphur compound that provides bioavailable sulphur. This product can provide sulphur to cysteine and methionine. MSM is a completely natural form of organic sulphur found in all living organisms and is completely free of odour or aftertaste. Mercury's great affinity for the sulphur molecule makes MSM a valuable, readily available, source of dietary sulphur. Sulphur labelled MSM has been found to be incorporated into protein cysteine residues throughout the body. MSM has also been shown to exert a beneficial effect in ameliorating a variety of allergic responses and pain associated with systemic inflammatory disorders. MSM is therefore a valuable adjunct in helping to offset the toxic effects of mercury exposure.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
Pyridoxine is critically involved in the metabolism of sulphur amino acids, and is especially critical in the conversion of one amino acid to another. Vitamin B6 is needed in the metabolic processes that convert methionine to cysteine and cysteine to glutathione. Therefore an adequate intake of Vitamin B6 will help insure the body has the necessary nutrients to produce cysteine and convert it to additional glutathione.

Mercury is able to compete with and displace zinc in a number of biological systems. Thus mercury causes zinc deficiencies in various tissues, such as the brain. Zinc stimulates the production of metallothionein in the body, which is one way the body detoxifies the effects of mercury. Metallothionein is very rich in cysteine. Supplemental zinc is therefore vital in any mercury elimination programme.

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Prolonged exposure to mercury tends to depress the adrenal ascorbic acid content. Providing vitamin C should help restore and/or maintain adequate adrenal levels of this critical nutrient, thus offsetting the depletion of this chemical due to stresses caused by chronic inhalation of mercury vapour.

Thiamine (Vitamin B 1)
B group vitamins are involved in energy metabolism, supporting the systems which protect against free radicals. Vitamin B I also contains a sulphur group and has been used in the treatment of mercury poisoning. Vitamin B 1 has a rapid turnover in the brain and the levels are reduced by mercury exposure through mercury oxidising thiamine to thiochrome in the brain. Symptoms of vitamin BI deficiency and mercury poisoning are very similar.

This essential mineral is able to bind to mercury and is able to cause a redistribution of tissue mercury. It is therefore able to precipitate the excretion of some mercury from the body.

Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin BS)
Vitamin B5 is a major constituent of the adrenal glands and may be involved in how the body handles stress. The physiologically active form of calcium pantothenate is coenzyme A. Scientific evidence demonstrates that mercury can inhibit or suppress coenzyme A. Coenzyme A and adrenal function is necessary during the replacement of amalgams.

Garlic is a powerful herb which has been used for centuries as an immune stimulant and as an antiseptic agent. Garlic's powerful actions come from its sulphur containing constituents, including allicin (dially disulphide-oxide), Aillin (S-ally cysteine sulphoxide), and Diallydisulphide. These compounds are quite capable of binding to and eliminating mercury as a normal part of their physiological action.

Other Nutrients
A number of other nutrients help support. These include magnesium and potassium, both of which are essential for correct cellular function and both of which are depleted in the presence of mercury. Rutin is able to bind to mercury and may help in its elimination. The mineral chromium is able to aid in adrenal function, so supports the function of Vitamin C, Vitamin B5 and Vitamin B6. Fatigue is a common symptom of symptom of mercury toxicity and one that can be alleviated with the aid of Ginkgo Biloba, Cats Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) and coenzyme Q 1O. All of these nutrients are capable of increasing energy levels in the body, allowing the patient to feel increased vigour.

Godfrey, M., Campbell, N. (1994) Conformation of mercury retention and toxicity using 2,3-dimercapto- 1-propane-suiphonic acid sodium salt (DMPS). Journal of Advancement in Medicine, 7(1): 19-30.
Huggins, H. (1990) It's All In Your Head. USA: Life Sciences Press.
Zift, S. (1 985) The Toxic Time Bomb. Wellingborough, UK: Thorsons Publishers Ltd.
Zift, S., Zift, M., Hanson, M. (1993) Dental Mercury Detox. Orlando, USA: Bio-Probe Inc.
Ziff, S., Zift, M. (1993) Dentistry Without Mercury. Orlando, USA; Bio-Probe Inc.
Dunne, K. (1990) Nutrition Almanac, 3rd Ed. New York USA. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.
Murray, M. (1996) Encyclopaedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, USA: Prima Publishing.
Hughes, B., Lawson, L. (1991) Antimicrobial effects of Allium sativum L. (garlic), Allium ampeloprasum L. (Elephant Garlic), and Allium cepa L. (Onion), garlic compounds and commercial garlic supplement products. Phytotherapy Research, 5:154-158.

12 Points on Mercury Toxicity | Mercury Removal Advice | Treatment of Autism


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