The good news about this horrendous situation is that mercury toxicity IS reversible, if handled properly. The bad news, if you don't correct this problem, you WILL pass your toxicity onto your innocent children.....and their children! Can your fillings really cause all this damage, you bet your life they can.
by Terri L. Saunders
Remember the phrase "mad as a hatter"? In the 1800’s, hatters used mercury-based black paints on the brims of hats. While they worked they would breathe in the mercury fumes and lick the paintbrush to get a finer point. As a result, many hatters got mercury poisoning as the mercury went right to their brains, affecting their psyche. Is it any wonder that dentists have the highest suicide rate of any profession?
Research conducted as early as a decade ago reported that old fillings viewed under an electron microscope showed holes where the mercury had evaporated, releasing 40% of the mercury into the body over a ten year period. The U.S. environmental protection safety limits for mercury exposure are 10 micrograms per day, yet mercury released from fillings can contribute up to three times this amount, just from the simple acts of chewing, brushing the teeth, or drinking hot liquids. Studies show that the average person makes and swallows 1.5 liters of saliva a day. Yet, if they have as few as four amalgams present in their mouth, their saliva is so high in mercury they cannot legally spit into the toilet in the USA. In fact, amalgam that has been drilled out of teeth must be collected by a special toxic waste disposal company in three airtight metal containers locked one inside the other and labeled with a skull and crossbones. Yet this material is considered safe when placed in our mouths?
According to scientists Sharma and Obersteiner at Utah State University, mercury is even more toxic than aluminum, lead, cadmium or arsenic. They state that mercury is "a strong protoplasmic poison that penetrates all living cells of the human body. Mercury is a powerful biological poison with no necessary biological function." The harmful effects of mercury on the body are almost too numerous to count. In many cases it can take up to twenty-five years for disease symptoms from mercury poisoning to manifest.
Surface particles of elemental mercury from amalgams are acted upon by oral and intestinal bacteria to produce methyl mercury, an even more toxic form of mercury that targets the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, and the brain. Mercury rapidly absorbs across the blood-brain barrier and interferes with the transmission of nerve impulses to the rest of the body, causing tremors, shaking, tingling and numbness. Related effects on the nervous system are poor memory, inability to focus, anxiety, depression, irritability, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, and muscle spasms.
Multiple Sclerosis patients have been found to have eight times higher levels of mercury in their cerebrospinal fluid compared to neurologically healthy individuals. Researchers at the University of Kentucky have now concluded that mercury from amalgams is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. They are also investigating the theory that Parkinson’s Disease and Lou Gehrig’s Disease are related to heavy metal toxicity.
Mercury has an adverse effect on the immune system, inhibiting the body’s ability to fight infection. In the Coors Foundation study of 1995, conducted by pioneering mercury-free dentist Dr. Hal Huggins, the blood of 28 patients was tested before and after amalgam removals. Dr. Huggins found that high levels of white blood cells (the marker for a challenged immune system) came down after amalgam removal, while depressed levels came up. In his article in Alternative Medicine, Dr. Huggins recalls the case of an eight year old boy who was diagnosed with Leukemia due to an extremely high white blood cell count three days after receiving two mercury amalgam fillings. When chemotherapy was given and his white count declined to dangerously low levels, the boy’s grandmother took him to Dr. Huggins who removed the fillings, and his white blood cell count immediately returned to normal levels.
Mercury in the body inhibits the repair of DNA and alters the ability of cells to selectively allow materials through their membranes. It changes healthy molecules into nonfunctioning chemicals and alters the activities of enzymes necessary for all biological functions. Mercury can displace and deactivate vital minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and chromium. It interferes with the hormonal secretions of the endocrine system. Of particular concern is mercury’s lethal affect on the friendly bacteria in the digestive tract, preventing absorption of nutrients. Mercury signals antagonistic bacteria to mutate for self-preservation, creating new strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
Other symptoms related to mercury poisoning are allergies, bloating, high or low blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, fatigue, muscle weakness, back pain, colitis, headaches, ringing in the ears, metallic taste in the mouth or smell on the skin, skin disorders, canker sores, and problems with the heart, thyroid, reproductive system, urinary tract and vision. Autoimmune disorders such as Lupus and Fibromyalgia as well as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have all been linked to mercury poisoning from dental fillings.
Since amalgams are a combination of different metals, they act like a battery inside the electrolyte and acid solution of the oral cavity, causing corrosion of the metals and creating electrical charges that negatively affect the brain and nervous system. Some people with amalgam fillings have even reported hearing local radio stations inside their mouths! This principle also holds true for gold fillings and crowns which are actually composites of several metals because gold alone would be too soft. Even porcelain dental material contains aluminum oxide and other metals. Metal-free dental materials are best.
In Dentistry Without Mercury authors Sam Ziff and Michael Ziff, DDS, note that the vast majority of people who have had their mercury amalgams replaced by non-metallic composite fillings have experienced improvements in their health. They cite studies that show 63% to 97% cure or improvement in all of the conditions mentioned above after amalgam removal.
Due to the overwhelming evidence regarding mercury poisoning from dental fillings, Sweden and some European countries have now officially banned amalgam fillings and are no longer teaching amalgam placement in dental schools. Other countries are quietly eliminating the practice without admitting liability. In Canada the issue has escalated into a class action lawsuit representing millions of Canadians who claim that they were not warned of the potential health risks of their mercury fillings.
In the United States, the American Dental Association (ADA) still stands by its story that mercury amalgams are safe. In fact, if a dentist in this country recommends that a patient remove his/her amalgam fillings in order to remove toxic substances from the body, that dentist is guilty of a breach of ethics and can lose his/her license to practice dentistry. This is actually what happened to Dr. Hal Huggins who wrote one of the most informative books on the subject, Uninformed Consent. Yet the ADA publicly absolves themselves of any liability in cases of dental mercury poisoning, letting the dentists fend for themselves. Recently on an Internet amalgam forum, it was reported that the ADA owns two patents on amalgams. According to this source, the amalgam manufacturing companies pay the ADA to put their seal of approval on their products.
If you choose to have your mercury amalgam fillings replaced by less toxic white composite fillings, it is important to go to a dentist that is familiar with safe removal procedures. For example, my dentist and his assistant wore gas masks during the procedure, while I was breathing pure oxygen. A negative ion generator and air purifier were in the room with a ventilation tube suspended above me pulling mercury vapors away as they worked. Though the impulse may be to have all of your fillings replaced at one time, if you have several fillings it is much easier on the body to replace one quadrant at a time over a period of a few months.
Once the fillings are removed, the next step is to detox the mercury that has been inside your body perhaps for many years. (Note by Jessica - you can see my many blog entries about safe chelation/detox here.)
Terri L. Saunders is an Herbalist and Certified Natural Health Professional in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she does private consultations, telephone consultations, and classes on natural healing. She can be reached at Sunrise Herb Shoppe, a unique holistic resource center for cutting edge natural health products and books. For information call 1-434-984-2665, or visit our web site at www.sunherb.com , or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Watch this 15 year old's experience with mercury fillings and how his health was rapidly damaged after the placement of just TWO amalgams.
So besides mercury fillings and fish, what other sources of mercury are there? The Rodale Institute has identified the top five mercury sources for us.
RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Warnings about mercury in fish and seafood have gotten plenty of attention in recent years. But where does all that mercury come from in the first place? Apparently, the largest sources of mercury emissions into our air and water are going all but unnoticed. A new study published in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring has found that mercury in the atmosphere is an oft-ignored form of air pollution, especially in urban areas where concentrations can reach dangerously high levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been lax in its enforcement of mercury-pollution standards over the past decade, exempting major polluters. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can harm the developing brains of children and infants; in adults, exposure can lead to memory loss and affect fertility and blood pressure.
Here are the biggest emitters of mercury into the environment:
1. Coal-fired power plants. Mercury exists naturally in coal, making coal-fired power plants the largest source of mercury pollution in this country. Coal accounts for nearly 50 percent of the electricity generated in this country—and almost 50 tons of mercury emissions annually.
What you can do: Contact your electricity provider to see if buying green power is an alternative in your area. If it is, opt to get your energy from a less polluting source, such as wind, solar, or hydroelectric power.
2. Cement kilns. According to the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice, all the cement kilns in the U.S. combined pump out roughly 23,000 pounds of mercury every year. The mercury comes from coal, which is used to fuel the cement-manufacturing process, as well as limestone, another natural source of the heavy metal. The group released a report last July finding that, individually, some cement kilns emit nearly one and a half times more mercury than the most polluting coal-fired power plants. But because there are fewer kilns, they account for lower levels of atmospheric mercury overall than coal plants.
What you can do: Cleaning up this industrial process will take more political power than individual action, but you can lobby your local officials to put pressure on nearby cement kilns to clean up their acts. See if you live near a cement production facility by searching Earthjustice’s interactive map. If you do, support local environmental groups working for stricter mercury controls. You can also buy a water filter that’s certified to remove mercury from your drinking water, which will cut down on some of your exposure.
3. Chlor-alkali plants. Chlorine bleach, laundry detergent, cheap vinyl purses, shoes, and toys made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC)—making all these products required the use of chlorine gas at some point. The chlor-alkali plants that produce it use mercury to convert salt to chlorine gas, and to convert salt to caustic soda, or lye, which is then used in products like detergent, plastics, and bleach. The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says that while most modern chlor-alkali plants have switched to mercury-free technology, there are still seven plants in the U.S. that use it, and each one has roughly 200 tons of mercury on site at any given time. An unknown amount of that mercury gets lost during manufacturing, whether to the air or surrounding waterways; a 2006 report from NRDC found that operators at four of these plants could account for only 29 of the 159 tons of the mercury they used from 2000 to 2004. (As Rodale.com reported earlier this year, some of those plants also make the ubiquitous food ingredient high-fructose corn syrup, and may be tainting food products with mercury.)
What you can do: Avoid chlorine-containing products like chlorine bleach, as well as anything made from polyvinyl chloride, including cheap handbags and shower curtains. Also look for chlorine-free paper products; paper production is the sixth largest mercury emitter in this country. Buy unbleached paper towels, coffee filters, and office paper. For the latter, look for the “Totally Chlorine Free” or “Processed Chlorine Free” labels on the package.
4. Trash incinerators. Hazardous waste, medical waste, and regular garbage incinerators release 13.1 tons (or about 26,000 pounds) of mercury every year, according to statistics from the EPA. The mercury comes from common household items, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and thermostats, and from automobile scrap. Despite common perceptions that mercury is used in thermometers and blood pressure machines, the medical industry has switched to mercury-free versions of those tools, and medical waste now accounts for the smallest percentage of mercury emissions from incinerators.
What you can do: Visit Environment, Health and Safety Online to see if an incinerator is located near you. Support local efforts to implement stricter mercury controls, and filter your water.
5. Gold mining. According to those same EPA statistics, 11.5 tons of mercury each year are released from gold mining, often called the most polluting industry in the world. Historically, mercury was used to separate gold from mined ore, but in Nevada, which accounts for 80 percent of the gold mined in the U.S., the ore itself contains mercury. The mercury is released when gold is heated to separate the two. The nonprofit group Earthworks estimates that gold mines account for nearly 25 percent of the mercury emissions west of Texas, and it’s not just the existing mines that pose problems. Mercury can seep out of long-abandoned gold mines, most of which are in California, which continue to release mercury from underground pools of mine tailings, despite the fact that they’ve been closed since the end of the 19th century. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that mine waters and sediments in these areas today release hundreds to thousands of pounds of mercury every year.
What you can do: Some major retailers, such as Tiffany & Co., have pledged to use only responsibly mined gold, free of mercury and other pollutants like cyanide. But the greenest, and cheapest, thing to do is opt for antique or estate jewelry when you’re shopping for bling.