Now that I freaked you all out with my article about needing to detox, I thought I’d pour some salt on that wound and talk about mercury.
Mercury is a heavy metal element that is unique — it’s a liquid at room temperature. Also referred to as quicksilver, it used to be used in thermometers because it expands so uniformly when heated. They stopped using it, however because, as cool as it looks, it’s extremely toxic. You only need so many kids rushed to the hospital with mercury poisoning after playing with the captivating liquid silvery stuff that comes out a broken thermometer to realize this isn’t the best idea. They use an alcohol solution now.
But unfortunately this isn’t the only exposure to mercury we’re subjected to. Mercury pollution is a serious issue coming from coal-fired power plants, gold mining, vaccines, the chlor-alkali industry and leaking stockpiled mercury dumps. Mercury is pervasive, it’s persistent, it bioaccumulates (building more and more as you move up the food chain) and it contaminates air, soil, water and the fish we eat.
But where the majority of people are getting large doses of mercury on a daily basis is from their own teeth. The amalgam fillings dentists have been putting in teeth for centuries are as high as 54 per cent mercury. Despite often being referred to as “silver fillings,” there actually isn’t much silver in them at all.
As well as a huge list of symptoms of acute toxicity, chronic mercury exposure interferes with the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism. As well, it accumulates in tissues causing problems with proper functioning, including the brain, which can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, fearfulness and emotional instability. People with mercury toxicity tend to be tired all the time, may even manifest chronic fatigue symptoms, have difficulty thinking, insomnia, food allergies and depression.
Exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, lungs and a developing fetus exposed from the dental amalgams of the mother. Needless to say, mercury is not a nice metal to be exposed to, yet millions of Canadians are taking in a daily dose from their own teeth.
On top of this, a report published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease this month which reviewed over 100 different studies on the subject concluded that mercury is a likely contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease. Thirty-two of 40 studies testing memory in subjects exposed to mercury found significant memory problems. Some autopsies of Alzheimer’s sufferers found high levels of mercury in the brain.
Interestingly, studies that looked at cell cultures (in vitro) models showed that inorganic mercury reproduces the same pathological changes seen in Alzheimer’s. Also, in animal studies, mercury produced changes that are similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s. The authors of the report concluded that, as the primary preventive measure, mercury in industrial and medical usages needs to be eliminated ASAP.
In 1996, Canada advised dentists to discontinue metal amalgam use in children and pregnant women, but some dentists are still using the mercury fillings. They’re quite common in the US still, where the FDA has continually denied that mercury in teeth causes any danger of toxicity.
“Future generations not only will condemn the American Dental Association for implanting a neurotoxin into the human body, but no doubt they will resent cleaning up after the irresponsible dentists who polluted our planet with mercury,” said Charlie G. Brown, President of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry in his opening address at the United Nations conference for an environmental treaty on mercury. Dental amalgams are a “primitive, polluting, 19th century product that began when physicians were sawing off legs. Medicine has since moved forward.”
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US ruled in 2009 that mercury exposure from amalgam fillings presents no health risk, the latest assessment from lead author G Mark Richardson, Ph D, of SNC-Lavalin, concludes that the mercury vapor constantly given off by the fillings is absorbed and distributed to every tissue in the body, including the brain. You can check out on Youtube video, a clip from the documentary “The Beautiful Truth”, to see this off-gassing in action.
So if you’re sitting there reading this with a mouth full of fillings, you’re probably wondering what can be done about this, particularly after watching that video. Getting this stuff out of your body is not easy, but it is possible.
The first step is to have the fillings removed. This should be done by an environmental dentist who is well versed in the process and takes precautions including the use of a dam to prevent mercury from being swallowed, suction to get rid of vapors and possibly even a vitamin C drip to chelate any mercury that does get absorbed. Going into a dentist who is not familiar with the dangers of mercury exposure who is just going to yank them out is only going to cause you more damage than if you had left them alone.
After this, a mercury detox is in order. A protocol put together by Dr. Sidney McDonald Baker, published in his book ‘Detoxification and Healing’ is one of the better ones I’ve seen. I know people go crazy in the comments fields if I don’t give detox steps and instead direct people toward a natural practitioner, but the whole protocol is simply too long to reprint here. Detoxing mercury is serious stuff and should really be done with the help of a naturopath or holistic nutritionist.
Nonetheless, the protocol outlined by Dr. Baker is doable. You can get his book on Amazon for $15 (under $10 if you get it used).
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto.