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Mercury Toxicity


Lately, there has been a lot of concern surrounding mercury, it’s toxicity, and the unfortunate negative implications on your health.  Let’s take a minute to learn what mercury is and why it is so toxic.

Mercury is a heavy metal that is naturally found in the earth.  It is found in several forms:

  1. Methylmercury (found in fish)
  2. Elemental Mercury (found in dental amalgams (fillings), thermometers)
  3. Inorganic Mercury (found in exposure/inhalation to burning coal)

Unfortunately, our modern day living has tremendously increased the amount of mercury to which we are exposed. Most common causes of mercury toxicity are from the fish we consume, dental fillings, and occupational hazards (such as with dentists and miners). These common places of exposure can have a severely negative impact on your health, especially in the areas of cognition, mood, hormonal balance, and energy.  At Natural Balance, we can help you take proactive steps towards eliminating or minimizing your exposure prior to safely removing it from your body.

Why is Mercury toxic?

Mercury is a neurotoxin. Yikes! I know, I just threw a scary word out there, but this means that in high levels, mercury can affect how your brain functions. This can lead to symptoms such as depression, brain fog, fatigue, and anxiety.  Mercury’s toxic effects are limited not only to the brain, but it can also impair how your digestion, kidneys, muscles, and lungs work, particularly by poisoning your mitochondria. If it’s been awhile since you have had a biology class, the mitochondria are the energy producing organelles found in your cells. Since energy is required in almost every aspect of our physiology, from digestion and detoxification to proper brain and muscle function, you can see that by poisoning them it can impair the body’s ability to function optimally.

How do we test for Mercury Toxicity?

You will have an evaluation with one of the physicians in our clinic who will determine your toxic load or total body burden of mercury using detailed functional medicine testing. Listed below are three tests we look at to determine your level of mercury toxicity:

  1. Mercury Tri- Test- This test is a combination of a hair, urine, and blood samples (this may have already been done by your biological dentist)
  2. Fecal Mercury Test- This test looks at how much mercury you are eliminating in your stool
  3. Urine Mercury Challenge Test- This test is done with the chelating agents DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid) and DMPS (dimercaptopropanesulfonic acid) to determine your total body burden of mercury.  You will have two urine samples taken during this test; one as a baseline urine measurement and one after 6 hours after you take the chelating agents.  This tells us how much mercury you are able to pull out of your tissues with the chelating agents.

Looking at mercury in your body in these several angles not only gives us an idea of how toxic you are with mercury, but also which pathway to emphasize while removing it from your body.  This personalized approach ensures that we make the detox process for you as safe, effective, and comfortable as possible.

What symptoms does our clinic look for?

Common symptoms associated with mercury toxicity include but are not limited to:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Mood changes such as anxiety and depression
  • Insomnia
  • Memory issues
  • Numbness
  • Tremor
  • Headache
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Metallic taste in mouth
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Digestive complaints

What is the mercury detoxification process?

The detoxification process that we have chosen for our patients is a slower, safer method with the oral chelating agent DMSA for its gentle abilities to bind to mercury and eliminate it. This is to minimize the uncomfortable symptoms associated with heavy metal detoxification which can include but are not limited to headache, nausea, dizziness, irritability, and fatigue.

After your physical exam and evaluation, you will start the detox process in several phases.  You will meet with us at each phase to ensure that you are effectively detoxing.

  1. Phase 1- Loading with fiber and antioxidant support.  We want to make sure that you are eliminating properly to ensure an effective detox process. If you are not, we will need to optimize this phase with other supplements prior to moving on to the next phase.  This is to ensure that you do not reabsorb the mercury we will eventually be chelating.
  2. Phase 2- DMSA orally 250 mg for three consecutive days.  After three days, you will take the next 11 days off of DMSA to allow for the mercury to move from areas of high concentration (tissues) to low concentration (blood).  This allows us for effective removal.
  3. Phase 3- Every 4 months you will re-do the initial urine challenge test to ensure that we are indeed decreasing your mercury load.

The total time for mercury removal should be approximately 1 year but the time may vary a bit depending on your total body burden.

You may wonder why we do not do IV chelation therapy for mercury removal.  Many clinics offer it, however, this can be a very intense and not-so-pleasant process for patients due to the severity of side effects. This includes dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, headache, diarrhea, burning at the injection site of vein, breathlessness and decrease in blood pressure.

We have chosen to do a safer, gentler detoxification process orally.  You may experience some detoxification side effects such as headache, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, nausea, and loss of appetite but not to the degree you would with IV therapy.  We take a lot of measures prior to chelation to ensure that these side effects are minimized.  Our goal is to keep you safe while you work with us through your mercury removal process.  We know you all live busy lives and understand that you want to remain as functional and healthy as possible through this removal.

Of special note, if you have mercury amalgams (fillings) and are interested in removing them from your mouth and body, it is very important to work with a biological dentist and physician who understand safe removal techniques and proper detoxification methods. Improper removal of mercury amalgams can cause serious negative health consequences and exacerbate the symptoms mentioned above. We work closely with Ann Arbor’s Dentist in mercury amalgam removal to ensure our patients have a safe removal process prior to the detoxification process with us. (link to their website)

If you are interested in removing mercury from your body, please contact our clinic and we would be more than happy to walk you through this process.

To schedule your appointment, please contact our office at 734-929-2696, extension 11 for new patients!  We look forward to working with you!