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Mercury Toxicity

Mercury Toxicity And The Harmful Effects It Has On Our Health

Mercury toxicity can be caused by a variety of sources, including dietary intake, occupational exposure, and environmental pollutants. Mercury is a neurotoxin and can affect the nervous system, kidneys, skin, brain, heart, and many other organs in the body.

Mercury can be found in a variety of products, including fluorescent lamps, thermometers, thermostats, and electrical switches. It is also used in some dental amalgams as a component of the silver alloy. Presently, the most common form of mercury exposure comes from fish and seafood consumption.1 2

Read more about the toxicity of dental fillings.

Symptoms Of Mercury Toxicity

The symptoms of mercury toxicity include fatigue, headache, impaired motor function, insomnia, digestive disturbances such as nausea and vomiting, memory problems, irritability, anxiety, and depression. 

Long-term exposure to high levels of mercury can cause more severe symptoms like vision loss, hearing loss, kidney failure, and neurological problems. It can also cause permanent damage to the brain, nerves, kidneys, and other organs. People with existing health conditions such as heart disease are more at risk for experiencing more severe symptoms from mercury poisoning.3

Diseases That Stem From Mercury Toxicity

Mercury toxicity can lead to a range of health issues, including neurological and cognitive impairment, cardiovascular diseases, kidney damage, and reproductive system dysfunction. Neurological symptoms associated with mercury toxicity include headaches, vertigo, insomnia, memory loss, depression, irritability, and tremors.4 5

Cardiovascular symptoms may include chest pain and hypertension.6 7 Reproductive system dysfunction associated with mercury toxicity includes reproductive organ damage, infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects.

Mercury Toxicity

Kidney Dysfunction

The kidneys provide the body with many important functions, including filtering out toxins and waste materials from the blood. Mercury is a toxic substance that can accumulate in the kidneys if it is ingested or inhaled, leading to serious health issues such as kidney dysfunction. Signs of mercury toxicity and kidney dysfunction include fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.8

Cognitive Impairment

Mercury toxicity can lead to serious physical and mental health problems. Mercury poisoning can affect virtually any organ in the body, but it is especially dangerous for the brain and nervous system. Exposure to high levels of mercury can cause cognitive impairments, including memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty learning.9

Mercury And Autism

The link between mercury and autism is quite striking, as 74% of 91 studies determined that there is a link between high mercury levels and autism spectrum disorders.10

Nerve Disorders

Exposure to mercury can cause a wide range of neurological symptoms and conditions, such as headaches, dizziness, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. It can also lead to more serious issues such as tremors, incoordination, and paralysis. Long-term exposure to mercury can cause nerve damage, which can lead to nerve disorders such as paresthesia (tingling sensations in the skin) and peripheral neuropathy (numbness or numbness of the extremities).11

Mercury Toxicity And Fish

Autoimmune Conditions

Mercury toxicity is closely linked to autoimmune conditions and inflammation. For example, mercury can bind directly to cellular membranes and cause increased production of cytokines, the inflammatory molecules that are typically associated with autoimmune conditions. Mercury can also affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food properly, which can contribute to the development of an autoimmune disorder.12

Read more about what causes autoimmune conditions.

Hormone Dysfunction

Mercury toxicity can have serious implications on hormone health and balance. Mercury exposure can disrupt the body’s normal hormonal production, leading to a variety of symptoms including mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, depression, infertility, and irregular menstrual cycles.13

Mercury toxicity can also impair the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is responsible for releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. When this axis is impaired, the body may be unable to effectively regulate its own stress response, leading to further health issues.14

Read more about hormone problems.

The Link Between Mercury And Anxiety

One of the many mental health problems linked to mercury toxicity is anxiety. People with high levels of mercury in their bodies often experience higher levels of stress and worry, as well as fearfulness and panic attacks.15

Mercury Toxicity And Anxiety

Cardiovascular Function

The effects of mercury on the cardiovascular system are thought to be due to its ability to interfere with normal physiological functions. For example, mercury can disrupt the balance of essential enzymes and hormones in the body, which can affect many bodily processes including cardiovascular activity. 

Mercury has been known to cause oxidative damage to cells in the cardiovascular system, leading to inflammation and cell death. Mercury toxicity has been linked to a decrease in red blood cell count, an increase in white blood cell count, and elevated levels of cholesterol, all of which can have a negative effect on cardiovascular health.16

Pulmonary Function

Mercury exposure can lead to impaired pulmonary function, which may include reductions in lung capacity and a decrease in forced vital capacity. It can also reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the bloodstream, leading to fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing, and wheezing. Long-term exposure to high levels of mercury lead to more serious health conditions, such as pulmonary edema, and chronic bronchitis.17

Fertility

Mercury toxicity not only impacts our health but can also affect fertility in both men and women. Exposure to mercury can lead to a decrease in sex hormones which may reduce fertility. In men, exposure to even low levels of mercury can cause damage to sperm cells, reducing their motility and viability. Men exposed to higher levels of mercury may experience changes in the shape, size, and structure of sperm.18

In women, mercury exposure can disrupt ovulation by impairing hormone receptor sites. This can cause irregular menstruation or even complete cessation of periods. In addition, mercury toxicity may affect a woman’s ability to produce eggs as well as her ability to carry a pregnancy to term.19

Obesity

The link between mercury toxicity and obesity has been the focus of ongoing research. Evidence suggests that people with higher levels of mercury in their bodies may be more likely to develop obesity-related health problems. Research shows that elevated exposure to mercury can increase fat storage, disrupt hormones, and impair metabolism, all factors that lead to weight gain.20 

Read more about how to lose fat.

Mercury Toxicity And Obesity

Epigenetic Methylation

Epigenetic methylation is negatively affected by mercury. Methylation is essential for the regulation of gene expression. However, when mercury is present, it causes DNA methylation patterns to become altered.22

This can lead to gene expression changes, which may result in impaired function of the nervous system and other organs. As a consequence, numerous genes are misregulated, leading to potential damage. Specifically, methylation-mediated damage can lead to atherosclerosis, kidney dysfunction, and myocardial infarction.23

DMSA Or DMPS Chelation Therapy

DMSA or DMPS chelation therapy is a very effective and safe treatment for mercury toxicity. DMPS chelation is an intravenous procedure, which binds to mercury and removes it from the body. To sufficiently remove mercury requires countless intravenous DMPS sessions. This is why I prefer DMSA chelation, as the use of DMSA is simpler, more consistent, and less invasive because it can be consumed orally.24

Oral DMSA chelation allows the chemical to bind with mercury and clear it from the body through the urine. DMSA chelation therapy typically requires many rounds of treatment. The number of treatments required depends on many factors including how much mercury is present in the body and how long it has been there.

Oral DMSA Chelation For Heavy Metals

Oral DMSA chelation is a safe, effective, and affordable way of treating heavy metal toxicity. It is taken in pill form and works by binding to heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and others.25

Heavy metal toxicity

How To Remove Mercury From The Body

The only solution to deal with mercury toxicity is to remove it from the body. Mercury toxicity was at the core of my health problems and it wasn’t until I removed mercury from my body and from my brain that I began to experience relief from autoimmune conditions and other idiopathic illnesses.

Realize that removing heavy metals like mercury from the body takes time, but patience is quite literally a virtue in this sense, as once these toxins have been excreted out of the cells and out of the body, the source of many autoimmune conditions will cease to exist.

Read more about detoxifying the body of heavy metals.

References

1 World Health Organization. International Programme on Chemical Safety. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 1991. Inorganic mercury: environmental health criteria 118.

2 Richardson M. The Safety of Dental Amalgam. Canada: Minister of Health; 1996. (ISBN 0-662-24873-2).

3 Bernhoft RA. Mercury toxicity and treatment: a review of the literature. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:460508. doi: 10.1155/2012/460508. Epub 2011 Dec 22. PMID: 22235210; PMCID: PMC3253456.

4 Pendergrass JC, Haley BE, Vimy MJ, Winfield SA, Lorscheider FL. Mercury vapor inhalation inhibits binding of GTP to tubulin in rat brain: similarity to a molecular lesion in Alzheimer diseased brain. NeuroToxicology. 1997;18(2):315–324.

5 Fujimura M, Usuki F, Sawada M, Takashima A. Methylmercury induces neuropathological changes with tau hyperphosphorylation mainly through the activation of the c-jun-N-terminal kinase pathway in the cerebral cortex, but not in the hippocampus of the mouse brain. NeuroToxicology. 2009;30(6):1000–1007.

6 Kim DS, Lee EH, Yu SD, Cha JH, Ahn SC. Heavy metal as risk factor of cardiovascular disease—an analysis of blood lead and urinary mercury. J Prev Med Public Health. 2005;38:401–7.

7 Fillion M, Mergler D, Passos CJ Sousa, Larribe F, Lemire M, Guimaraes JR. A preliminary study of mercury exposure and blood pressure in the Brazilian Amazon. Environ Health. 2006;5:29.

8 Han B, Lv Z, Han X, Li S, Han B, Yang Q, Wang X, Wu P, Li J, Deng N, Zhang Z. Harmful Effects of Inorganic Mercury Exposure on Kidney Cells: Mitochondrial Dynamics Disorder and Excessive Oxidative Stress. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2022 Apr;200(4):1591-1597. doi: 10.1007/s12011-021-02766-3. Epub 2021 May 31. PMID: 34060062.

9 Milioni ALV, Nagy BV, Moura ALA, Zachi EC, Barboni MTS, Ventura DF. Neurotoxic impact of mercury on the central nervous system evaluated by neuropsychological tests and on the autonomic nervous system evaluated by dynamic pupillometry. Neurotoxicology. 2017 Mar;59:263-269. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2016.04.010. Epub 2016 Apr 16. PMID: 27090823.

10 Kern JK, Geier DA, Sykes LK, Haley BE, Geier MR. The relationship between mercury and autism: A comprehensive review and discussion. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2016 Sep;37:8-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2016.06.002. Epub 2016 Jun 2. PMID: 27473827.

11 Echeverria D, Heyer NJ, Martin MD, Naleway CA, Woods JS, Bittner Jr. AC. Behavioral effects of low-level exposure to Hg° among dentists. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 1995;17(2):161–168.

12 Pollard KM, Cauvi DM, Toomey CB, Hultman P, Kono DH. Mercury-induced inflammation and autoimmunity. Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2019 Dec;1863(12):129299. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2019.02.001. Epub 2019 Feb 10. PMID: 30742953; PMCID: PMC6689266.

13 Siblerud RL, Motl J, Kienholz E. Psychometric evidence that mercury from silver dental fillings may be an etiological factor in depression, excessive anger, and anxiety. Psychological Reports. 1994;74(1):67–80.

14 Schreier HM, Hsu HH, Amarasiriwardena C, Coull BA, Schnaas L, Téllez-Rojo MM, Tamayo y Ortiz M, Wright RJ, Wright RO. Mercury and psychosocial stress exposure interact to predict maternal diurnal cortisol during pregnancy. Environ Health. 2015 Mar 27;14:28. doi: 10.1186/s12940-015-0016-9. PMID: 25889585; PMCID: PMC4377006.

15 Kern JK, Geier DA, Bjørklund G, King PG, Homme KG, Haley BE, Sykes LK, Geier MR. Evidence supporting a link between dental amalgams and chronic illness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and suicide. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2014;35(7):537-52. PMID: 25617876.

16 Salonen JT, Seppanen K, Nyyssonen K, et al. Intake of mercury from fish, lipid peroxidation, and the risk of myocardial infarction and coronary, cardiovascular, and any death in Eastern Finnish men. Circulation. 1995;91(3):645–655.

17 Miao J, Feng S, Dou S, Ma Y, Yang L, Yan L, Yu P, Wu Y, Ye T, Wen B, Lu P, Li S, Guo Y. Association between mercury exposure and lung function in young adults: A prospective cohort study in Shandong, China. Sci Total Environ. 2023 Mar 11;878:162759. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162759. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36907407.

18 Bakir F, Damluji SF, Amin-Zaki L, Murtadha M, Khalidi A, Al-Rawi NY, et al. Methylmercury poisoning in Iraq. Science. 1973;181:230–41.

19 Bjørklund G, Chirumbolo S, Dadar M, Pivina L, Lindh U, Butnariu M, Aaseth J. Mercury exposure and its effects on fertility and pregnancy outcome. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2019 Oct;125(4):317-327. doi: 10.1111/bcpt.13264. Epub 2019 Aug 8. PMID: 31136080.

20 Cho KY. Association of Blood Mercury Levels with the Risks of Overweight and High Waist-to-Height Ratio in Children and Adolescents: Data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Children (Basel). 2021 Nov 25;8(12):1087. doi: 10.3390/children8121087. PMID: 34943283; PMCID: PMC8700710.

21 Kim H, Lee J, Woo HD, Kim DW, Oh JH, Chang HJ, Sohn DK, Shin A, Kim J. Dietary mercury intake and colorectal cancer risk: A case-control study. Clin Nutr. 2020 Jul;39(7):2106-2113. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2019.08.025. Epub 2019 Aug 31. PMID: 31522783.

22 Gruenwedel DW, Lu DS. Changes in the sedimentation characteristics of DNA due to methylmercuration. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 1970;40(3):542–548.

23 Khan F, Momtaz S, Abdollahi M. The relationship between mercury exposure and epigenetic alterations regarding human health, risk assessment and diagnostic strategies. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2019 Mar;52:37-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2018.11.006. Epub 2018 Nov 14. PMID: 30732897.

24 Bose-O’Reilly S, Drasch G, Beinhoff C, Maydl S, Vosko MR, Roider G, et al. The Mt. Diwata study on the Philippines, 2000-treatment of mercury intoxicated inhabitants of a gold mining area with DMPS (2,3-dimercapto-1-propane-sulfonic acid, Dimaval) Sci Total Environ. 2003;307:71–82.

25 Aposhian HV. DMSA and DMPS—water soluble antidotes for heavy metal poisoning. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology. 1983;23:193–215.

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