Mercury poisoning, or Mercury toxicity, is a subject of concern for many people; so here in this article we’re going to take a quick look at the signs you can check out for yourself, to establish whether or not you may have become an innocent victim.
What is a heavy metal?
Mercury is what is known as a heavy metal. Generally speaking, a heavy metal is one that has a high density, specific gravity, or atomic weight, and that is toxic; this last element (toxicity) being the one that we are particularly interested in, here in this article on the subject of the signs of mercury poisoning. As far as anyone pursuing a holistic health lifestyle is concerned, (and indeed for anyone’s general health and well-being), the lesser the amount of toxins we allow into our bodies, the better.
Originally known as Hydrargyrum by the ancient Greeks, and often referred to today as Quicksilver, Mercury is a metal, which has the atomic number 80, and the chemical symbol Hg. It is famous for its liquid form at low temperature, and was until recently (until the effects of its toxicity became public knowledge) used in the thermometers, amongst many other measuring instruments such as barometers and manometers.
The Invasiveness of Mercury
One of the problems of our modern technical society today, is that heavy metals, (Mercury in particular), are getting into the atmosphere and via rains water, becoming more apparent in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air that we breathe, so much so, that Mercury for example, is now being found in products that were previously thought to be safe. The danger is that an accumulation of this heavy metal can poison our bodies to the extent that it can result in chronic illness.
The different types of Mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning in humans has 3 main sources; these are: Elemental Mercury: Inorganic and Organic Mercury, or Methylmercury. We’ll look at all 3 individually, how they might get into our body systems, and what signs might indicate they are there.
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 1 – Bad digestion
Thousands of people, (and in particular the older ones in our society) have Mercury fillings in their teeth. The natural action of chewing the food we eat before we swallow it, prompts the release of salivary enzymes, and these enzymes trigger the release of mercury from the fillings. Once the Mercury finds its way down into our digestive system, along with the food we chewed, it mixes with our digestive juices and forms mercury chloride. This mercury chloride can then damage our stomach linings, causing problems with your digestive system.
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 2 – Stomach ulcers
Another side-effect of mercury chloride being present in your digestive tract is that it can trigger the formation of ulcers. People used to attribute the formation of ulcers with worry and stress. This is however not the case. In the majority of instances they are caused either by taking NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), or a bacteria known as H-pylori; a bacteria that approximately 20% of all US adults under the age of 40 possess, and over half of US adults over the age of 60.
But because Mercury in its mercury chloride form can destroy the stomach lining, this too can cause ulcers. So in other words, if you have ulcers, it could also mean that you have Mercury poisoning.
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 3 – Candida overgrowth
As well as damaging our tissues, Mercury will also kill any friendly bacteria that it comes into contact with. The result is that by killing off lots of friendly bacteria, this creates an imbalance of bacteria in our guts, which can then lead to conditions such as Candida Albicans, or a Candida overgrowth. So beware; if you suffer from Candida overgrowth. It may not be a sign of your immune system malfunctioning, it could instead be a sign of Mercury poisoning.
The other likeliest source of elemental Mercury, is if it spills when the container it is in, (thermometer glass, barometer glass etc) breaks or cracks. Mercury will readily vaporize, and if it gets into an enclosed atmosphere where it can be inhaled, it may prove dangerous depending on the amount and duration of the exposure. Possible warning signs include:
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 4 – Tremors
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 5 – Mood swings (including shyness, and irritability)
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 6 – Insomnia
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 7 – Muscle atrophy (weakness or twitching)
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 8 – Headaches
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 9 – Reduced cognitive function
Elemental Mercury poisoning sign # 10 – Changes in nerve and sense responses
Inorganic Mercury compounds were used mainly in Mercury salts which were commonly used in things such as fungicides, antiseptics, and disinfectants. Since the recognition of Mercury’s toxicity, most of these uses have since been discontinued. However, small quantities of these compounds may still be contained in the form of preservatives in some medicines, a list of which is obtainable from the FDA. Inorganic Mercury can also be found in some skin lightening products and freckle creams.
The Signs of Inorganic Mercury poisoning
High levels of exposure to inorganic Mercury can damage your gastrointestinal tract, your nervous system, and your kidneys. Signs that you may have suffered high exposure levels to inorganic Mercury include:
Inorganic Mercury poisoning symptom # 1 – Dermatitis (and skin rashes)
Inorganic Mercury poisoning symptom # 2 – Rapid changes of mood
Inorganic Mercury poisoning symptom # 3 – Loss of memory
Inorganic Mercury poisoning symptom # 4 – Weakness in your muscles
Inorganic Mercury poisoning symptom # 5 – Reduced cognitive ability
Methylmercury is a form of organic Mercury that is found in fish and shellfish. For the majority of people, the risk of mercury poisoning by consuming fish, and shellfish, is a small one. In the rare circumstances that you somehow do develop or accumulate Mercury poisoning through consuming too much Methylmercury, the following symptoms may manifest themselves:
Methylmercury poisoning symptom # 1 – Chronic fatigue
Methylmercury poisoning symptom # 2 – Impairment to your peripheral vision
Methylmercury poisoning symptom # 3 – Pins and needles in hands, feet, and around the mouth
Methylmercury poisoning symptom # 4 – Losing coordination of movement
Methylmercury poisoning symptom # 5 – impaired speech
Methylmercury poisoning symptom # 6 – Impaired hearing
Methylmercury poisoning symptom # 7 – Muscle atrophy
Methylmercury poisoning and the danger to fetuses
Although the risk of Methylmercury poisoning is very small for most people, there is an acknowledged risk for pregnant moms, or those trying to become pregnant. Even small amounts of mercury in the bloodstream can be passed on to the fetus and do damage to the fetus’s mental development. But because fish is generally so good for health, it is important that those women carrying, or hoping to conceive should try and include small amounts of fish in their diet, as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, and you can follow this link through to their website, which will explain more.
Why a Mercury detox may be harder for some than others
The dangers of mercury poisoning are relatively small, but if you do acquire it, one of the first tell-tale sign is often chronic fatigue.
Although the chances of developing Mercury poisoning are small, they are nonetheless still real, especially if you inherit a gene that makes it difficult for your body to detoxify metals from your body.
A natural Mercury detox takes years
The only ways of expelling Mercury from your body are through your urine, your stools, your exhalation, and baby’s milk. If you are mom with a new born, and if you believe you have high levels of Mercury in your bloodstream, there’s no way you want to be feeding baby with mom’s milk; use formula.
Unfortunately, getting rid of any Mercury that gets lodged in the fatty tissues of your brain, liver, and kidneys can take up to 18 years. So if you want to pursue a holistic health lifestyle, you must do your best to ensure you don’t ingest too much Mercury in the first place.
Identifying Mercury poisoning is key
If you display any of the symptoms we’ve listed above, finding the source of the poisoning is key. Once the source is dealt with, your natural body processes should start to deplete the levels unless you’re affected by that nasty gene, in which case you need a have a chat with your doctor. But in any event, the sooner you start reducing the levels of Mercury in your body system, the better.
Originally published in Healthy Holistic Living written by Michelle Toole