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How badly does mercury toxicity affect your brain? … Here we discuss mental health ramifications of mercury exposures from dental fillings to large fish consumption.

MindCheck provides weekly in-depth information on the orthomolecular approach to coping with mood, behavior and psychotic disorders.  This series by Dr. Ray Pataracchia N.D. is endorsed by the  Mindful Network – ‘A Better Future for Children’s Mental Health’.

Mercury Toxicity Revisited

Mercury Toxicity

Our January 2012 mercury blog covered several key topics on mercury toxicity.

Herein I have elaboration on the symptoms, sources, and mechanism of action of mercury toxicity.

Advisement by The World Health Organization

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been advising the world that mercury exposure from dental fillings is significant.  The WHO recommends that dentists not use mercury for that purpose.

Mental & Physical Health Ramifications

The consequences of amalgam fillings and other mercury exposures include mental and physical ramifications.

Mental health ramifications include memory decline, anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, OCD, psychosis (schizophrenia), irritability, and nervousness.

Physical complaints may occur suddenly at their onset, a hallmark of mercury toxicity. 

Physical health ramifications include premature fatigue, immune compromise, headaches, migraines, nausea, visual disturbances, decreased general well-being, weight loss, stomach aches, and increased susceptibility to allergies.  Other common physical symptoms include: skin discoloration on toes, fingertips, and cheeks (pink); pins and needles sensations (peripheral neuropathy) with or without burning, itching, or pain; peeling or shedding (desquamation) of skin; and swelling.

Affected children have been reported with loss of teeth, hair, or nails; increased light sensitivity; light red cheeks, lips and nose; muscle weakness; and rashes. Others have been reported with kidney dysfunction and mental health compromise including memory impairment, emotional fluctuations and insomnia.

Mercury Exposure

The list of mercury exposures include: dental amalgams, regular large fish consumption, immunizations, flu shots, and the recent H1N1 injection.  You can get a mercury tattoo from dental amalgams on nearby gums/mucosa and this is a source of mercury as well.

Testing for Mercury

New mercury testing techniques including mercury speciation which looks at the organic (fish) and inorganic (amalgam fillings) species of mercury and how efficiently the body is dealing with it.  I mentioned a clinical case(case 1) that was assessed and treated using mercury speciation methodology.

Mercury Elimination in the Body

The passive elimination of half of the body’s mercury load takes eighteen years.  By comparison six months of Orthomolecular Treatment can remove the majority of mercury toxicity when there is adequate thyroid function and an efficient route of removal (kidney and liver-bowel routes).

Mercury toxicity secondarily disrupts other body systems that often need correcting.  This reinforces the need to determine which body systems have been compromised by implementing targeted assessment and orthomolecular treatment.

It is not uncommon for example to find kids (and adults) with under-methylation and multiple heavy metals, poor thyroid function, and zinc deficiency  in a mercury toxic case.

Other Metals in Dental Amalgams/Fillings

Copper, nickel, silver, platinum and tin are heavy metals found in metal amalgams and are often seen in clinical assessment.  Gold fillings do not have as many associated health risks as silver mercury-based amalgams.  Nickel, silver, platinum and tin are somewhat easy to remove with zinc alone.  Copper on the other hand can and often does require greater efforts to remove.  Copper excess is common in women with PMS, but it is also very common in ADD/depression/anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Mechanism of Action of Mercury

Mercury strongly inhibits enzymes that are selenium-dependent and protective against mercury.  Fish are high in selenium and heavy fish eating societies, such as Japan, may partially compensate for mercury consumed by maintaining adequate selenium levels.