Mercury poisoning is one of the most insidious health risks threatening those of us inhabiting the 21st century. The symptoms include skin discomfort, peeling of the skin, hair and teeth loss, personality changes, memory impairments, hypertension, tachycardia, insomnia, hypotonia (weakness), kidney damage and a number of other physiological and neurological ailments.
Mercury poisoning is one of the most common heavy metal poisonings. The most common form of toxic mercury ingested is methylmercury ingested from seafood. Annually, Americans consume around three pounds of tuna fish per person- it’s the second most common seafood product (behind shrimp) consumed in the US and the most popular fish. Unfortunately, tuna also happens to be a species of fish prone to accumulation of methylmercury, an accumulation that is transferred to everyday tuna consumers. Keep in mind the bigger the sea creature, the greater the bioaccumulation of mercury. Those species consistently highest in mercury content include swordfish, shark, king mackerel and gulf tilefish. Tuna, being the largest fish responsible for 37% of all mercury content in seafood, is also one to avoid.
What makes mercury poisoning insidious rather than simply alarming is the potential for subtle symptoms that can worsen with cumulative contamination and latent appearance of symptoms. For instance, in two of the higher profile cases – actor Jeremy Piven and actress Daphne Zuniga (star of Spaceballs) – were diagnosed with mercury poisoning after years of consuming seafood.
The saturation levels at which injury occurs can vary significantly from person to person. For example, toxicologists have found that a certain (small) percentage of the population carries a genetic mutation that doesn’t expel heavy metals form in the body after 30 or 40 days, as is usually the case, but allows them to linger for considerably longer (even 190 days in rare cases). As such, that minority is vulnerable to mercury doses that would be presumably harmless to the majority. The chief determinate variables are size and age. Age is particularly important. The younger an individual, the more susceptible they are to mercury toxicity at low levels, therefore, more permanent the damage
If you’re worried that toxic, worrisome or borderline mercury ingestion has already taken place, consider getting tested first. At the Salerno Center for Complementary Medicine, we test the levels of mercury in two different ways. First, the level of mercury is tested acutely in the blood through a blood test. This is then compared to a heavy metal challenge test that draws the mercury from different organs that accumulate it. The heavy metal challenge test is performed by an intravenous injection of EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) in addition to oral DMSA (Dimercaptosuccinic acid). This is then followed a six-hour urine collection. Once both the tests are performed and the results are obtained, chelation therapy, which is a chemical process of binding a chelation agent to another molecule, is begun.
Heavy metals saturate modern life, but they don’t have to make us suffer. They can be present in food, air, water, soil, cigarette smoke, pollution, and car exhaust. They can linger in and leach out of old paint and may be particularly present in any environment where an abundance of chemicals is present. Even the amalgams in some dental fillings can be contaminated. Considering the aforementioned predicament concerning an almost universal disagreement regarding how much heavy metal is dangerous, chelation therapy proponents may very well have a point. Those same proponents suggest that heavy metal toxicity plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, psoriasis, gangrene, and cardiovascular illness. All of which, many chelation specialists suggest, can be mitigated and/or improved with chelation treatment. Interestingly, an American Heart Association study released last November reported that chelation was as effective at improving heart health as frontline blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering drugs.
About the author
Adam Ghosh has over twenty years’ experience as a researcher in the medical field. In that time he has worked with allergists and vascular surgeons, and everyone in between. Now he supplements his early retirement by contributing to Weatherby Healthcare.