Mercury Toxicity in Human Illness

Michelle Berriedale-Johnson reports on the joint meeting of the BSAENM (now the British Society for Ecological Medicine - and the British Society for Mercury Free Dentistry.

Dr John Mansfield opened this fascinating day by suggesting that environmental medicine started as a search for the causes of illness; what Professor Sydney Baker classes as the 7 Plagues: Food, chemical and biological inhalant sensitivity, fungal dysbiosis and magnesium, zinc and essential fatty acid deficiency.

To these Dr Mansfield would add: mercury and heavy metal sensitivity, chronic parisitic infection, undiagnosed hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, and Vitamin B, chromium and selenium deficiency. These factors he suggested combine and react to cause ‘'illness' - and the more that we know about them the better chance we have of creating ‘healing.In his experience mercury sensitivity could be suspected when symptoms were relentless, regardless of all other factors, when there was a metallic taste in the mouth and when the patient was very light sensitive, ground their teeth at night or had discoloured gums.

Dr Fritz Lorscheider, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Calgary, then described the research that he has carried out over the last 20 odd years into the effects of mercury released from dental amalgam. Mercury, he said, is not an alloy but a solid emulsion (with a melting point of -39?F) which is fabricated at room temperature. As a result it has an unstable oxide layer which will release vapour under friction or heat (chewing or a hot drink). In the 1980s studies on sheep and monkeys (both heavy ‘'chewers') who were fitted with amalgam fillings showed significant deposits of mercury in the jaw bone, brain, gut, liver and kidneys after only 4 weeks chewing.

Meanwhile, human autopsy reports showed that mercury levels in the brain and kidneys were significantly higher in human corpses with amalgam fillings. A further post mortem study showed that mercury from a mother's amalgam fillings could be absorbed by the foetus across the placenta. By 1991 the WHO had recognised that 3-17µg (micrograms) of mercury (probably an average of around 12µg) could be absorbed from dental amalgam while only 2.6µg per day was normally absorbed from all other sources.

In his second presentation Dr Lorscheider examined the effects of mercury in its accumulation sites: the central nervous and immune systems, gastrointestinal tract, renal and reproductive system. In his recent work on the central nervous system he has found similar molecular lesions on brains affected by mercury vapour and on the brains of Alzheimer's patients examined in post mortems. His most recent and ground breaking work has shown, visually, that mercury vapour inhaled over a 14 day period reduces the efficacy of certain neurochemical processes in the brain (by destroying the nerve growth cones) by 75%. Post mortem examination of Alzheimer’s patients has shown identical neurochemical malfunctions. Moreover a recent study of rats showed that when rat foetuses are subjected to mercury vapour they show a 50% increase in the production of metallothionen (our systems ‘'mop' for sweeping up heavy metal and similar toxicity); presumably an attempt to protect itself against the mercury vapour.

Dr John Howard, founder and laboratory director of Biolab (, explained how the discovery that 7ppm (parts per million) of aluminium could entirely disrupt his work with enzymes led him wonder whether it could have a similarly disruptive effect on the body, acting not as a toxin but as an ‘'anti-nutrient' and interfering with the normal operations of the gut, the brain, the hormonal or any other body system. If this could happen with aluminium, could it also happen with any other toxic metals? He explained that brains process information biochemically in parallel but that if one ‘arm of the parallel processing is slowed down (as by the interference of an ‘anti-nutrient) then the processing can become entirely skewed. The patient's brain reaches the wrong conclusions, becomes confused or goes into overdrive possibly leading to seizures.

Dr David Harvie Austin and Dr Allan Hibberd detailed their own protective and detoxifying protocols before, during and after mercury amalgam removal. Dr Harvie-Austin explained how the mercury released from fillings by heat, acids and chewing could get ‘'trapped' in all body cell but how the individual's ability to deal with its toxicity varied enormously. He suggested that mercury filings should never be replaced with metals of any kind as patients would probably be metal sensitised (all gold is mixed with nickel and both can be potent allergens, as can titanium). Sensitive patients may also react to the pigments in composites leaving ceramic as the best alternative option.

Dr Patrick Kingsley described his work with Multiple Sclerosis patients many of whom appear to have mercury concentrations 7.5 times higher than the healthy population. He suggested that mercury may only show up in some tests after chelation therapy has ‘'pulled it out' from the cells where it has lodged. He suggested that anyone with a neurological condition should check their mercury status. His initial therapy always concentrates of normalising bowel function and adjusting diet. Thereafter he uses zinc, selenium and Vitamin C as chelation tools to detoxify the system of mercury.

Dr Damien Downing examined the possible relationship between mercury from vaccines, and foetal transmission from maternal amalgam fillings, and autism. In 2003 Gaeir & Gaeir showed that over the last 25 years there was a clear linear correlation between the rise in autism (but not any other condition) and the rise in mercury dose via vaccination. During that period vaccinations had become earlier and more frequent. At 2 months a baby now receives 3 vaccines in one day containing a total of 62.5µg of mercury (Thiomersal used in vaccines contains 47% ethyl mercury and 25% molecular mercury). By 18 months a baby will have received 237µg of mercury - far in excess of the accepted safe level for mercury absorption of 0.1µg per kg of body weight per day. Further studies showed that autistic children had less mercury in their hair suggesting that it was not being excreted but had been retained in the body, possibly in the DNA.

A suggestion from the floor was that the increased exposure to mercury (as a result of both vaccination and free dental treatment with amalgam fillings for pregnant mothers) in the first months of life when the baby was not able to make antibodies and when the gut was immature and permeable meant that the more susceptible children were then unable to process the triple MMR vaccine.

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