Mercury and other heavy metals detoxification

Chances are that whilst being exposed to multi-chemical assaults, your body is also amassing mercury (and other heavy metals) at a rate that should cause concern, giving your natural detoxification system a run for its money.

The two main sources of exposure to mercury and other heavy metals are dental amalgams (the black fillings) and consumption of seafood.  Other sources are vaccines containing thimerosal and coal power plants that emit mercury pollution.  There are other offenders, but mentioning them is beyond the scope of this article.

Dental amalgam is made of more than 50% elemental mercury, which over the years evaporates from the surface of the amalgam and is absorbed into the blood by inhalation. At that point it is converted to toxic inorganic mercury.  This tend to build up in the elimination organs (in fact it’s 100 times higher in the liver and the kidneys than in the brain), however when it reaches the brain the damage is irreversible.

A Double-Edged Sword: Inflammation and Toxicity

The level of impact of mercury on toxicity in people is different. That means that you can have high levels of mercury exposure and not become toxic whereas another person with a lower level of mercury exposure will become toxic. The reason lies in the person’s ability to detoxify naturally.  Some people are faster detoxifiers than others. The rate of a person’s detoxification depends on a several factors, such as exposure level, genetic makeup, genetic expression, and overall health. For example, if your progesterone levels are low, it will slow down your detoxification.

Our brain is a key target for heavy metals, which results in many neurological symptoms, including depression and anxiety, irritability and memory loss. Mercury overload can also lead to major neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

Other key targets are the kidneys, liver, heart, pituitary gland and thyroid gland.  There’s also an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.  Mercury, especially originating from dental amalgam, tends to accumulate in the digestive tract where it attaches itself to the epithelium (a type of tissues that lines the cavities and surfaces of blood vessels and organs throughout the body).

Amalgam immerses the Brain and Digestive Tract in Mercury

The biological damage from amalgams comes from:

  1. Mercury vapor discharged from amalgams passes readily through the cell membranes, across the blood-brain barrier, and into the central nervous system where it causes immunological, neurological, and psychological issues.

  2. Mercury leaking into saliva and being swallowed, making its way down the digestive tract where it causes inflammation and damages the immune system (because the frontline of the immune system is in the gut). This blocks the passage out of the gastrointestinal track, which is one of the body's major detoxification pathways.

  3. Mercury shuts off the ability of the liver and kidneys to move mercury into the gut for elimination.

 

Chances are that if you have a mouth full of amalgams and several unexplained symptoms, mercury is an underlying factor.  The only way to know for sure if you are accumulating mercury is to get tested. But before you do this, there are some important issues to be aware of.

Mercury Testing

Conventional testing such as hair, blood, urine, stool, implementation of chelating agents such as DMPS or DMSA all have certain drawbacks.  Primarily, these tests measure total mercury load (and not very accurately at that) but do not give any data about the forms of mercury in the body and the efficiency of the kidneys and liver in disposing of them.  Furthermore, no information is given about the source of the mercury (for example, seafood or amalgams).

Accurate mercury testing must measure:

  1. The overall level of exposure

  2. Elimination ability

 

A testing method called mercury speciation’ measures both these factors.  This test uses blood, urine and hair to give a more comprehensive picture of how the body is eliminating mercury and where the process may be blocked. This information is critical in preparing a successful detoxification programme.

The Body’s Natural Detoxification System

When we talk about toxicity not just the level counts. Another important factor is the individual’s body response to a toxin.  This depends on the efficiency of your detox system. How well your body detoxifies, depends on factors as age, genetics, diet, and overall exposure to toxins.  I call the body’s detox mechanism the Glutathione Detoxification Mechanism. Glutathione binds to heavy metals, but it doesn't do it solo — it requires the assistance of enzymes, antioxidants, and transport proteins.

Efficient detoxification depends on a series of chain reactions that bind toxins to shuttle molecules and "evacuate" them out through a series of passages. Specifically, in order for the glutathione detoxification mechanism to operate adequately, it requires the following three elements. A shortage of any one of these three key elements, may lead to cells losing their resistance to mercury, allowing it to accumulate and cause illness:

  1. Glutathione in the cells - The body has to manufacture most of its own glutathione (biosynthesis), so it needs suitable building blocks

  2. Glutathione s-transferase (GST) - An enzyme responsible for removing mercury from the cellular proteins, then linking it to the glutathione in the cell

  3. Transport proteins -  A series of transport proteins (multi drug resistant proteins, or MRPs) are responsible for getting the conjugated mercury out of the cells and into the blood, as well as from the blood into the liver and small intestine, and into other locations so it can be eliminated

Here Is Where You Should Start

Your diet is a critical factor in supporting your body's detoxification system.  You should start with a "pre-detoxification" phase, lasting for two to six weeks before starting the full detox.

The goal is to remove inflammatory and allergenic foods such as sugar (especially fructose/HFCS), processed and packaged foods, fast foods, most starch and grain. Your pre-detox phase should be low in carbohydrates, moderate-to-low in protein, and high in plant based saturated fats (as high as 50-70 percent). Proteins repair ‘skewed’ protein molecules and supply sulphur, and fats repair the cell membranes. This type of diet gets your body ready for detoxification as well as have the additional benefit of improving your insulin sensitivity and reversing type 2 diabetes.

IMPORTANT: You should keep reminding yourself that mercury detoxification is a long process.  In fact, you don’t want to be quick about it to avoid flare ups.  For the majority of people, a 6-month period is recommended but for some the process may take serval years.

Eliminating the Source of the Exposure

It’s all about helping the body’s natural detox mechanism to function better.  We start by removing the source of the mercury exposure, whether it’s amalgams, seafood or both.  This is the point when you should get tested.  The test I recommend is the one mentioned above but if you do not have access to it or cannot afford it than you should consider a conventional blood/urine test.  (The two main forms of mercury accumulate differently in your body, and are eliminated through different pathways. For example, mercury levels in the hair only reflect the mercury from the fish consumed. However, mercury levels in the urine reflect the mercury coming from amalgam fillings (plus some of the fish-based methylmercury that has broken down into inorganic mercury). The only accurate way to determine if there is a problem is to compare hair and urine levels with levels in the blood.)

Once you’ve determined the level and the source of the exposure you can start reducing your exposure. For example, avoid consuming contaminated fish and sea food and start the process of replacing your amalgams. 

Removing amalgams must be done with special care and by specialised biological dentists who used a specific protocol to remove the amalgams.  Not using the services of a biological dentist who follows a special protocol is likely to exacerbate your problem and cause serious damage to your organs.  Finding the right dentist can be a bit of a challenge and the availability may depend on your location.  But don’t take a short cut on this issue.

Now that the source of mercury is been reduced or eliminated we can start the actual detox protocol.

 

This protocol has 3 phases:

  1. Increasing Glutathione Production

You can’t have an effective mercury production without increasing glutathione levels.  Most orally consumed glutathione supplements are noneffective because they don’t survive the digestive process.  However, if you eat food containing glutathione precursors (specifically, cysteine-rich foods), the body will make more of it.  The best source is organic whey protein but you mustn’t over consume it.  Another goo good source is liposomal glutathione, which is a supplement that is actually well absorbed and I recommend using it. 

 

   2. Mobilising Mercury

Now that glutathione levels are rising, we star reconstructing the other parts of the glutathione detox mechanism. Specifically, enzymes and transport proteins.  We do this with the help of superfoods, especially from the cruciferous family (cabbage, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, radishes, wasabi etc.) which are rich in sulphur (because glutathione is a sulphur based molecule).  Garlic in the form of oil of garlic  is particularly powerful detoxifier. 

 

Other recommended compounds are:

  • Sodium R-lipoic Acid  - also good for increasing insulin sensitivity and treating type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and mitochondrial dysfunction

  • Pine Bark Extract - most potent polyphenolic antioxidants which has been found to prolong the activity of vitamin C; good as an aide to vitamins C, E and lipoic acid

Taking these compounds should ideally be done with the assistance of a healthcare professional trained in heavy metal detox who will be able to help you decide on the optimal dose and schedule. In principle, the approach with these compounds should be to gradually titrate the dose upward to a high therapeutic level, then reverse it down. It's best to "pulse" the treatments because our body can't sustain upregulation for very long. Shorter bursts at an appropriately stout therapeutic dose are likely to be more productive. This means taking the treatments for a few days, followed by a few days off. I recommend cycling your treatments on the schedule of five days on, two days off (to start), working up to 10 days on, four days off. approach with these agents should be to gradually titrate the dose upward to a high therapeutic level, then back it down. It's best to "pulse" the treatments because your body can't sustain upregulation for very long. You will be more productive with shorter bursts at an appropriately stout therapeutic dose. This means taking the treatments for a few days, followed by a few days off. Dr. Shade suggests cycling your treatments on the schedule of five days on, two days off (to start), working up to 10 days on, four days off. He instructs, never go more than 10 days on when upregulating your detoxification system. Never continue for more than 10 days on when upregulating your detoxification mechanism.

   3. Catching and Eliminating Toxins with Intestinal Binders

Once mercury has been mobilised to the intestines, we need to make sure there’s an ‘escape route’ out of the body.  For this we require agents that will bind to it and extract it from the intestinal wall. We call these agents ‘intestinal binders’.  They assist in carrying out the mobilised toxins, preventing them from building up in the bloodstream.  The binders also help prevent intestinal inflammation (which is a likely cause of bringing the process to a halt due to the shutdown of the transport proteins).  Inflammation will cause the toxins to reverse into the liver, kidneys and bloodstream and dysbiosis.

There are several types of intestinal binders, but only a couple of them work well for binding to mercury:

  1. Thiol Resins –  Has a powerful attraction to mercury and is the most specific to heavy metals (mercury, lead and arsenic) and produces high rates of excretion.

  2. Chlorella – I suggests working up gradually to 3-6 capsules per day, which is a lot of chlorella. If you haven't yet had your amalgams removed, you may find rinsing with a binding agent helpful. Chlorella, activated charcoal, or N-acetyl cysteine can be prepared as a mouthwash where it binds to the mercury coating your mouth. Levels of mercury can be very high in this rinse, so don't swallow it.

  3. Beneficial Bacteria - One of the most potent detoxifiers of mercury and heavy metals. Their cell membranes tend to bind very effectively to the metals and they are typically excreted in the stool. One of the best ways to provide your body with this resource is with fermented vegetables or good quality probiotics.

 

Other binders you'll hear about are clay/zeolites, and pectin. For mercury, these bind very weakly, and you would have to take enormous quantities for many years to see any benefit so I don't recommend them.

In addition to the diet and compounds mentioned above, you should consider the following for added support:

  1. Take a potent multivitamin

  2. Drink plenty of water

  3. Exercise regularly for enhance metabolism and other benefits.

  4. Magnesium Citratemagnesium helps keep your intestines moving.

  5. Vitamin C – is a powerful detox agent

  6. Reduce stress and anxiety -  I recommend Heartmath therapy which I’ve been coaching and mentoring for several years with fantastic results.

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