Mercury Toxicity pt2 - The Silent Marauder

Mercury Toxicity pt2 - The Silent Marauder


Why is mercury a problem?

In part 1 of this series on Mercury, we looked at where mercury comes from, here we start to explore why it can be a problem for the body.

Mercury is a problem because it has a very strong ability to mess up your body systems. However, it can be very difficult to pin down mercury toxicity by the symptoms because it can disturb your body’s complex interactions in so many different ways, hence the “Silent Marauder”.

1. It disrupts all body systems by interfering with the enzyme reactions needed for the body to function. All your body systems, not just the digestive processes, rely on enzyme reactions. Enzymes are proteins that speed up the rate at which chemical reactions occur in the body. Many of these enzymes have a metal such as zinc, copper or magnesium at their core, and often have a sulphur group attached. These sulphur groups have a great love affair with mercury and bind to it, inactivating the enzyme and disrupting the biochemical pathways. For example, these sulphur groups have a billion times higher affinity for mercury than zinc, so the mercury will replace the zinc and the enzyme cannot do it’s work. For example, digestive enzyme require zinc so if mercury inactivates them you cannot digest food properly.

2. It can damage cell membranes. Mercury from amalgam fillings travels though the gut, irritating and damaging the gut wall which affects the transport of nutrients through the gut wall. Mercury will also bind to the sulphur groups on cell membranes which then alters the arrangement of the membrane. Research is looking at how mercury can affect the cells in the walls of the blood vessels and make holes in them, which the body will then patch up with cholesterol. Some forms of mercury will also cross the blood brain barrier. It may even be linked to Alzheimer’s disease as when nerve cells (neurons) are exposed to mercury they accumulate neurofibrillary tangles that are the same as those formed in Alzheimer’s.

3. Mercury can damage the immune system (our defences). 60 to 80 percent of the immune system is in the gut. Mercury is a poison that can create imbalance in the gut microbiome (known as dysbiosis) by influencing the types of bacteria and organisms that live there. The immune system reacts to the toxins produced as a result and can create a continuing overactive inflammatory state. Mercury can turn down the body’s detox system and at the same time create potential immune system problems.

4. Mercury can affect the way insulin is used in the body. Insulin is necessary for the regulation of blood sugar. The insulin receptors on cells contain sulphur groups, which attract 5 of 6 metals such as mercury, and then become inactivated. The insulin molecule also contains sulphur which again attracts the mercury, and as a result become polymerised (bound together in a long chain) and cannot be effectively used.

5. Mercury can affect the thyroid and lead to weight gain, fatigue and slow metabolism. The thyroid is also a target for mercury where it blocks the conversion of the thyroid hormone thyroxine T4 into the active form triiodothyronine T3 which regulates your body's temperature, metabolism, and heart rate. If the thyroid hormones are inhibited, this can lead to fatigue, possibly weight gain and again slowing down metabolism.

6. It can create anxiety. Mercury can also affect the brain in ways which produce high levels of anxiety. There are two important neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) working together, GABA is a calming neurotransmitter and glutamate is an activating neurotransmitter. Mercury toxicity causes glutamate to be over expressed which leads to overstimulation and high levels of anxiety. You become stuck in a rut where the body can’t relax, repair, or digest.

The many ways in which mercury can disrupt the body’s systems is one of the reasons that it is so hard to establish mercury as a cause of, or contributing factor to, any symptoms. Additionally, the resulting symptoms of exposure can occur several months or years after exposure.

As an example, after a brief single exposure to dimethylmercury the clinical manifestations of brain damage occurred after 150 days (Weiss, Clarkson and Simon 2002). In an outbreak of methylmercury poisoning in Iraq, the signs of poisoning did not appear until weeks or months later, after the exposure had stopped. And in a population of nonhuman primates, exposure to low chronic doses of methylmercury may not have produced observable behavioural effects for several years. The authors draw parallels with other diseases that affect the central nervous system, such as Parkinson disease and post-polio syndrome, that also reflect the delayed appearance of central nervous system damage.

In Part 3 you can find out about the different ways you can test for levels of mercury in your body. 

If you would like to learn more about Maria or to book in with her to explore your relationship with Mercury and how it could be effecting your health, contact her through her Centre Profile


image atribution: 

Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

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About the Centre

The Centre for Integral Health was started in 2013 by director Ben Calder after studying Integral theory since 2011 and over 10 years of professional practice of kinesiology and Bowen fascia Release Technique, coupled with the desire to explore the application of the Integral Model in relation to health.

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