Shiny, Deadly Mercury

Everyone knows lead poisoning can kill you, but did you know mercury is many times more neurotoxic than lead? Various reports estimate the harm mercury does to the nervous system ranges from 10 to 1000 times greater than lead.


So why do so few people know about the risks of mercury? There are three main reasons: First, doctors rarely test for mercury levels because they’re not trained to be aware of how important it is to do so. Second, when symptoms appear, there’s seldom an obvious connection with mercury; it’s only those few trained in heavy metal detoxification who are likely to recognize the signs of mercury poisoning. Third, powerful and well-funded interests (ADA – American Dental Association) dispute the harm mercury does.


What is mercury’s effect on the body?

Mercury is the most toxic substance on the planet after radioactive plutonium. According to neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, MD, mercury inflicts very serious damage and is related to a wide range of neurological pathologies. For example, mercury:

  1. Poisons enzymes that are important for energy production
  2. Interrupts the process by which growing nerves develop protective covering (myelin sheath)
  3. Activates immune-excitotoxicity, which: 
  • Dramatically increases the generation of free radicals 
  • Accelerates atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) 
  • Generally depresses the immune system
  • Damages and kills nerve cells by increasing inflammation 
  • Lowers levels of glutathione (the good stuff)
  • Raises glutamate (the bad stuff) to toxic levels 
  • Severely damages the endothelia (lining), especially of blood vessels, which contributes to diabetes mellitus, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and coronary artery disease (which can lead to vascular dementia). 


All this activity in the vascular system limits blood flow to all organs and tissues of the body (including the brain), which diminishes both the nourishment and the natural daily housekeeping (detoxing) functions the bloodstream makes possible. For all but a few of us, mercury accumulates in the human body over time, where it interferes with function, maintenance, and repair, leading to heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, skin rashes, neurological diseases and a host of others. From this point forward, we will limit our discussion in this article to Alzheimer’s.  


What are the major sources of mercury poisoning?

Many people know that mercury is found in the fish we eat, in vaccines, and in atmospheric pollution emitted from power plants, especially coal plants. Not as many people know that according to the World Health Organization (1993) the most common cause of mercury poisoning worldwide by far is dental amalgam fillings, known more commonly as “silver” fillings. All “silver amalgam” fillings are approximately 50% mercury, and even the American Dental Association admits they all leach mercury into both the digestive system and the bloodstream.


Are vaccinations safe?

Many vaccinations contain Thimerisol, which contains minute amounts of mercury. Your doctors may well say they are safe, but though minute in quantity, the form of mercury in the vaccine is the most toxic form of mercury in existence. If you are concerned about your health, it would be wise to research the subject for yourself and avoid any unnecessary vaccinations, especially the flu, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines. 


Can mercury cause Alzheimer’s Disease?

Mercury has a strong affinity for the brain and cells of the nervous system. As you can see from the table below, mercury can produce the same major symptoms as Alzheimer’s. The two lists are identical. To see the original chart from which this information was adapted, visit the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) website, which can be found at


Does that mean Alzheimer’s and mercury poisoning are the same thing? We don’t know, but given these commonalities, it’s certainly a question worth investigating.

We are exposed to many sources of mercury daily and most of us accumulate it faster than we can remove it. Diet, lifestyle, and other environmental exposures play roles in determining if we will become toxic, how soon, and to what extent.


Do the new fluorescent bulbs still have mercury?

Absolutely. The new high-efficiency Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL)bulbs (the ones that look like they have a twisted tube in them), contain mercury, and the directions  for taking care of them if they break cover four single-spaced pages. In some areas, regulations call for bringing in a HazMat (Hazardous Materials) team for a cleanup. There is even some debate over how much mercury they leach into the environment before they break. We prefer to use LED lights, which have no mercury, last longer, don’t flicker, and are coming down in price.


How do we know mercury might cause Alzheimer’s/dementia? 


Apart from the indications in the comparison chart, above, and numerous studies from elsewhere in the world, two other pieces of evidence point to mercury as a cause of Alzheimer’s: 


Observations of mercury destroying a neuron. The graphic below is taken from a video of an in vitro experiment done by the University of Calgary in Canada. Notice that the mercury isn’t even touching the neuron; it’s just in the vicinity.


Documented cases of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia whose cognitive function returned upon removing the source of contamination and detoxing mercury.  Despite the anecdotal nature of such cases, it seems to us illogical to pretend they have no significance whatsoever. Is a fact invalid simply because no one is there with double blind control groups to prove it wouldn’t have happened in another subject? We don’t think so. Let the research follow to check it out, by all means, if you can find someone to be the control . . . but don’t pretend it didn’t happen. 


Do I have mercury in my body?

The odds are that you do, whether or not you’ve developed symptoms yet. Recent studies of large populations in the USA, Japan, Eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, and the UK have shown that most people have mercury levels in their tissues that exceed the safety limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. 


Why should I worry about my levels of mercury, lead, and other heavy metals if I have no symptoms?  

Mercury and other heavy metals are a ticking time bomb, because they adversely affect every tissue and organ in the body. What can’t be excreted tends to accumulate at different rates in various body tissues where it interferes with major body function, often without anyone knowing about it. Certain genetic types have more difficulty than others in excreting heavy metals. 


There is a widespread belief that when the body’s bones, muscles, and organs can no longer accommodate additional toxins, the body has reached its “body burden,” a point beyond which mercury ingested will spill over into the bloodstream, travel through veins and arteries and begin generating symptoms. 


However, Howard Hindin, DDS, explains that serious effects can show up much earlier than the body burden point because of the way the body absorbs mercury. Mercury is absorbed by fatty tissues, including the nerve linings, the brain, and the cell membranes that line every cell. At the cell membrane level, mercury blocks receptor sites, restricting cell nutrition and function—this is especially damaging for people who are on poor diets to begin with. In addition to curtailing nutritional intake, mercury appears to alter cell membranes in such a way that the person’s immune system no longer recognizes those cells as part of them and therefore attacks those cells as foreign, enemy bodies. 


Ultimately, Dr. Hindin says, the amount of mercury may be less important than: (1) the time it’s been in the body, (2) where it has settled, and (3) what other factors are at work. For example, a stressed person with highly active nervous and immune systems and after a long exposure to a small amount of mercury may mount an autoimmune attack and do it sooner than someone with less active nervous/immune systems who has had twice as much mercury in the body for only a short time.


This impact of mercury over time is disquieting news, since the CDC has recently published news that the incidence of toxic mercury blood levels in the U.S. rose from 2 percent of the population in 1999 to a whopping 30 percent in 2006, just 7 years later. And that was 7 years ago, which would suggest it’s a lot higher today. 


Why don’t doctors test every Alzheimer’s/dementia patient for heavy metals? 

Doctors simply aren’t aware that heavy metals are a problem. The education of medical doctors in the United States and Canada focuses on pharmacological solutions to illness. They receive little to no training in nutrition, vitamin supplementation, measuring environmental toxins, or the best ways to detoxify the body.


Since the majority of Alzheimer’s patients today are very likely to have had silver amalgam dental fillings at some point in their lives, we believe everyone with dementia should be tested for heavy metals as a possible factor for their dementia.


If I have the Alzheimer’s gene, will I get Alzheimer’s no matter what I do? 

Not necessarily, although your chances are higher. The fact is, there is no “Alzheimer’s gene” that carries the disease. The correct label for that gene is “the APO-e4 gene,” and it reduces our ability to excrete mercury and other toxins naturally. But many people who have the APO-e4 still do not get Alzheimer’s. In other words, if you avoid mercury and detox mercury and other heavy metals, you can very possibly avoid mercury-related Alzheimer’s.  If you have a higher risk, you should practice preventive care even more rigorously. 


Here’s how this gene works: We inherit one APO-e gene from each parent. If we are lucky enough to receive an APO-e2 from each parent, then we have the highly protective APO-e22 gene and are very unlikely to get mercury-related Alzheimer’s. If on the other hand we get an APOe-4 from each parent and consequently carry the APOE-e44, we are far more likely to get Alzheimer’s at an early age.


Can I be tested for mercury, lead, and other heavy metals? 

A holistic doctor or dentist can order a heavy metal test for you. (If they don’t normally do that testing, you can use or another reputable lab.) One of the most reliable tests to start with is a 6- or 24-hour heavy metal urine DMSA “challenge” test. The cost of this test ranges from $50 to $165. Other tests for heavy metals include blood, hair, saliva, and stool, but these generally provide less accurate indications of true mercury levels (see The thing to remember here is that interpretation of these tests is neither simple nor obvious, so you need a knowledgeable person to interpret them. The same numerical outcome can mean 2 or 3 different conditions.


For information, including lists of peer-reviewed journal articles relating mercury to Alzheimer’s and other diseases, please see the IAOMT detailed position paper:


For further information and names of dental and detoxing experts, visit the following websites: The Institute for Functional Medicine International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology American College for Advancement in Medicine


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