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How Toxic Is Mercury?

The more I educate myself on the natural substances that are beneficial to your health, the more I become increasingly alarmed at the amount of toxic substances I used to put in my body. Processed, carcinogenic food like hot dogs and and ramen noodles, antibiotics that destroy the micro-biome of your gut, makeup products with known endocrine disrupters that wreak havoc on your hormones, fruit and veggies covered in pesticides linked to causing cancer, and vaccines that contain neurotoxins to name a few.

Perhaps these toxins wouldn’t be such an issue if our exposure to them wasn’t constant. If they weren’t in everything we use on our body, in the food we eat, cleaning products we use in our homes, added to the water supply we drink, etc. Perhaps they wouldn’t lead to so many health problems if we were nourishing our body with the whole food plant-based vitamins and minerals necessary for good health more than we do the opposite. Perhaps if people were not genetically predisposed to an inability to detox, the risk of injury and death from these toxins would go down.

This is not the case though, and every one of the substances I mentioned negatively impact our health, some of them accumulating in the body. The worst of all of these being heavy metals in my opinion. After learning a great deal about heavy metal toxicity, I was inspired to do a series of blog posts sharing with others how to recognize the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity, limit your exposure to heavy metals, and detox them from your body naturally.

Today’s post is all about MERCURY.

Health Risks of Mercury Exposure

Many studies show that high exposure to mercury induces changes in the central nervous system, potentially resulting in irritability, fatigue, behavioral changes, tremors, headaches, hearing and cognitive loss, dysarthria, incoordination, hallucinations, and death. [1] According to an article in Medical News Today reviewed by Dr. Suzanne Falck MD, the neurological symptoms of mercury toxicity include:

  1. Nervousness or Anxiety

  2. Irritability or Mood Changes

  3. Numbness

  4. Memory Problems

  5. Depression

  6. Physical Tremors

As more exposure to mercury occurs, more negative side effects will occur. These may include:

  1. Muscle Weakness

  2. Metallic Taste In The Mouth

  3. Nausea and Vomiting

  4. Lack Of Motor Skills or Feeling Uncoordinated

  5. Inability To Feel In The Hands, Face, or Other Areas

  6. Changes In Vision, Hearing, or Speech

  7. Difficulty Breathing

  8. Difficulty Walking or Standing Straight

In children, mercury toxicity can have a detrimental effect on early development. Signs of this include:

  1. Impaired Motor Skills

  2. Problems Thinking or Problem-Solving

  3. Difficulties Learning To Speak or Understanding Language

  4. Issues With Hand-Eye Coordination

  5. Being Physically Unaware Of Their Surroundings [2]

The neurotoxicity of methylmercury is well known through worldwide intoxication incidents and studies regarding low concentration exposure. Methylmercury is a strong toxin that influences enzymes, cell membrane function, and neuron delivery materials; causes oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and mitochondria dysfunction; and distracts synapse transmission, microtubule composition, amino acid transport, and cellular migration in growing brains. [3]

It is known that mercury promotes the creation of free radicals, and that methylmercury disturbs the anti-oxidation effects of glutathione and catalase as it has a high affinity with the thiol group, causes lipid peroxidation, promotes platelet aggregation and blood coagulation, causes sclerosis of the arteries, and raises the blood pressure. Consequently, the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) is increased, and the danger of death is increased because of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular diseases. Methylmercury shows fatal toxicity to the brains of children, whose brains are still developing, on the other hand, exposure shows a higher toxicity to adults than to children with regard to the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. [3]

The reproductive side effects of mercury have been well documented as well. In experimental animal studies, animals exposed to high concentration methylmercury for a short period included reduced number of sperms, testicular atrophy, reduced size of infants in one birth, reduced survival rate of fetuses, and fetus deformity. Pregnant women are extremely vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of mercury and a high blood mercury concentration in pregnant women may cause irreversible damage to children, including developmental disorders. The methylmercury concentration of a newborn’s cord blood is approximately 2x higher than the blood methylmercury concentration of the mother. [3]

Limiting Mercury Exposure

Common ways we are exposed to mercury include:

  1. Seafood: Eating seafood that has been tainted with mercury is one of the most common ways humans accumulate mercury in their bodies. The mercury in seafood is a highly poisonous form of the metal called methylmercury, which forms when mercury dissolves into the water. [2]

  2. Dental Fillings: Amalgam fillings, commonly called silver fillings, contain approximately 40 to 50 percent mercury. Amalgam fillings are not often used now, as there are newer and safer alternatives. Old fillings may increase a person’s risk for mercury exposure. Some people choose to replace their amalgam fillings to reduce their long-term exposure to mercury. [2]

  3. Fever Thermometers: It is not uncommon for children to break fever thermometers in their mouths. When a thermometer containing mercury breaks in a child’s mouth and the child might have swallowed some mercury, be aware that the mercury poses a low risk in comparison to breathing mercury vapor. [4]

  4. Vaccines: After concerns of the use of Thimerosal, a preservative consisting of ethylmercury in vaccines, it was removed from them in 1999. However the flu vaccine which is recommended to all adults (including pregnant women) and children annually still contains thimerosal despite the clearly documented neurotoxic risks. [5]

Thimerosal In Vaccines- Why Is A Known Neurotoxin Used In Vaccines?

Thimerosal is used in vaccines as a preservative. According to a safety data sheet for Thimerosal from Millipore Sigma, a company that produces Thimerosal for use in vaccines and other pharmaceutical products, thimerosal compounds have a cytotoxic and protoplasmatoxic effect. Swallowing a small amount or merely inhaling the dusts damages mucous membranes of gastrointestinal and respiratory tract (causing metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, intestinal burns, glottal oedema, aspiration pneumonia); may lead to a drop in blood pressure, cardiac dysrhythmia, circulatory collapse, and renal failure; chronic damage includes: inflammation of the mouth with loss of teeth and mercurial line. The principal signs manifest themselves in the Central Nervous System as is typical of all mercury (impaired speech, vision, hearing, and sensitivity, loss of memory, irritability, hallucinations) [6]

In a Polish study on adolescents (aged 16-17) with chronic eczema, 37.6% reacted to thimerosal when it came in contact with their skin. This definitely affirms that those with eczema may be more susceptible to thimerosal, and it could even be one of the root triggers behind their chronic eczema. [7]

There are not enough studies clearly documenting the long-term safety of using thimerosal in vaccines. In fact there are actually studies showing the opposite.

In a 2003 study by the Department of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine they concluded that thimerosal in micromolar concentrations rapidly induces cell membrane and DNA damage and initiate caspase-3-dependent apoptosis in human neurons and fibroblasts. [8]

In a study done comparing autism cases reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, it was observed that there was a significantly increased risk ratio for the incidence of ASD reported following the Thimerosal-containing DTaP vaccine in comparison to the Thimerosal-free DTaP vaccine. In phase II of the study, it was observed that cases diagnosed with an ASD were significantly more likely than controls to receive increased organic-Hg from Thimerosal-containing hepatitis B vaccine administered within the first, second, and sixth month of life. [9]

In a review of the half life of mercury within the human brain, it was found that mercury accumulates and stays in the brain anywhere from several years to several decades. [10] This is a cause for concern since animal studies have shown that exposure to Thimerosal-Hg can lead to accumulation of inorganic mercury in the brain. [11]

Another study from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurolology in Warsaw, Poland found that numerous neuropathological changes were observed in young adult rats which were treated postnatally with thimerosal. Their findings document neurotoxic effects of thimerosal, at doses equivalent to those used in infant vaccines or higher, in developing rat brain, suggesting likely involvement of this form of mercury in neurodevelopmental disorders. [12]

It is also worth noting that some people have genetic mutations such as the MTHFR mutation which affect their body’s ability to detox heavy metals and toxins. Autistic children have abnormal plasma levels of ethylation-related metabolites and exhibit higher frequencies of genetic mutations that affect this pathway. These genetic risk factors make them less able to detoxify thimerosal and also increase their sensitivity to its mechanism of toxicity. The 20% lower levels of cysteine and 54% lower levels of glutathione in autistic children will adversely affect their ability to detoxify and excrete heavy metals and thimerosal. These two compounds directly bind inorganic and organic mercury and help direct them to the kidneys for excretion. As a result, these toxic materials will reach a higher free concentration in the future bloodstream of autistic children, will have an increased potential for transfer to tissue compartments such as the brain, and will remain in the body for a significantly longer period of time, as compared to their counterparts who have normal levels of cysteine and glutathione. These differences begin to define the subpopulation of children who are more vulnerable to thimerosal and heavy metal exposure. [13]

Limiting your exposure to mercury in vaccines by opting for thimerosal free vaccines is a start, but I wouldn’t be surprised if after I share more information and research with you all exposing the risks of other heavy metals used in vaccines such as aluminum, you opt out of vaccines all together. Even if you do choose to continue vaccinating both yourself and your children, I hope this has at least opened your eyes to the importance of detoxification.

How Can You Detox Heavy Metals From Your Body?

There are many ways to detox heavy metals from the body:

  1. Cilantro & Chlorella: In 2018, a three year research study to determine a cost–effective and safe metal chelator that can be used on a mass scale in metal foundries, as well as by the general population, was published in the International Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine. It has clearly shown that Chlorella, cilantro & cilantro growth factor to be effective natural chelators for Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, Nickel, Uranium, Bismuth, & Mercury. [14]

  2. Bentonite Clay: Bentonite clay has been shown to act as a detoxifying agent. This property is referred to its poly-cationic nature, which leads to absorption of negative charge toxins. In animal studies, bentonite clay was shown to decrease the levels of toxic metals like cadmium, copper, and lead. [15]

  3. Zeolite: Zeolite is a negatively charged mineral formed in nature when molten lava meets water. It’s unique cage-like structure entraps positively charged heavy metals and toxins. Anecdotal reports of its use have resulted in dramatic improvements in neurological health, especially in children suffering from ASD. Not only has zeolite been shown to detox heavy metals like lead in animal studies, but it also boosts key hormones such as glutathione that are necessary to the natural detox functioning of the body. [16]

I hope that this has given you some insight on the risks of mercury. If you would like to try zeolite to detox, you can purchase natural, fulvic zeolite here. Use the code “naturalmindedliving” for $50 off your purchase. I will continue this series on heavy metal toxicity with a post on Aluminum next.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395437/

  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320563.php

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3514465/

  4. https://www.epa.gov/mercury/how-people-are-exposed-mercury

  5. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/thimerosal.htm

  6. http://www.emdmillipore.com/US/en/product/msds/MDA_CHEM-817043?Origin=SERP

  7. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1399-3038.2010.01075.x

  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12773768

  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3878266/

  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/24368178/

  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21350943/#fft

  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21225508/?i=3&from=/24675092/related

  13. http://www.whale.to/a/deth.pdf

  14. https://medcraveonline.com/IJCAM/IJCAM-11-00409.pdf

  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5632318/

  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3877486/

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