Mercury: the Malevolent Messenger

Clover Kreger

Several years have passed since I embarked on a reasonably in-depth and seemingly interminable layman’s study of the various components which play key roles in the aetiology of M.E./CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), and, though the condition constitutes a multi-factorial illness par excellence, the most important fact brought to light through my own travail is that one insidious, and usually overlooked, element can play the role of a lynch pin upon which the chain reaction of effects which is the hallmark of M.E. is based. That element, the second most toxic known to man, is mercury.

My health saga consists of a long catalogue of contacts with immune system debilitating substances, and a stressful, if entrancing, lifestyle of world travel and short-term employment. It isn’t possible to estimate just how much damage any given substance or illness caused. The pill, courses of antibiotics, anti-malarial prophylactics, caffeine, indulgence in a sweet tooth, contact with pesticides in fruit-picking seasons, dengue fever, malaria, hepatitis, and, in the final year, a spontaneous abortion (another possible result of mercury poisoning), bronchitis, a divorce, a bladder infection and, finally, a walking tour of Brittany and the rounds of antibiotics that accompanied my health conditions during the time that CFS symptoms had begun to appear, all may have played a part. Meanwhile, obscured by all the other pernicious influences, mercury was hiding in my body’s cells and tissues, affecting my bone marrow’s ability to produce blood components, my endocrine system, my cell reproduction, my cognitive faculties, and other metabolic processes.

Many CFS sufferers can pin-point ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’: tegretol; caretaking dying relatives; painting a porch; university exams; Lyme disease; a series of vaccinations in the Ukraine . . . . however, the factor which precipitated their collapse was but the final coup de grâce hot on the heels of a long line of stresses leading to a decline in immune system vigour. Of those able to name the agent responsible for the onset of symptoms few, unfortunately, are aware of what may be the most destructive influence of all, which for years and years has been steadily accumulating in their teeth, organs, tissues and bone marrow, wreaking havoc and skewing their endocrine balance.
The prime culprits here are ‘silver’ amalgam fillings, normally composed of 52% mercury. And it doesn’t take many of them. With a mere one amalgam, placed in a molar at age 19, up to which time, as I recall, I enjoyed good health, I ended up, in middle age, with phenomenally high levels of the toxic metal I have dubbed ‘the malevolent messenger’.

One can even receive mercury ‘second-hand’, while biding one’s time in the womb. My living companion, possessed of pristine, cavity-less gnashers, also suffers from elevated mercury levels. His mother had fillings placed in her mouth early on in life. As did mine. It isn’t possible to say whether my mother’s corroding fillings had an effect on my mercury levels, but his is a clear-cut case of mercury crossing the placental barrier, as our doctor’s testing methods revealed both copper and silver amalgam in my partner’s bone marrow.
It took me years, a small fortune, and countless consultations with half a dozen different doctors to arrive at the belated conclusion that high mercury levels were sabotaging my periodic, frantic efforts to regain my former vitality. In the process I pawed over all the pertinent reading material I could get my hands on, and braved all the protocols claiming encouraging success rates, including: Dr Petrovic’s regime of high dosage supplements; magnetic therapy; dietary advice and supplements from a nutritionist; pulsed electromagnetic energy; 714X; acupuncture; coffee enemas; healing; pills prescribed by a local homeopath; Chinese herbs and naturopathic remedies. I experienced considerable initial improvement with diverse protocols: Dr Petrovic’s regime, 714X, glutathione shots and acupuncture combined with Chinese herbs, but in every case except acupuncture I nose-dived in days to months. The expense, and my comparatively weak response to acupuncture, plus my temporary status as a guest at my hospitable aunt’s apartment, conveniently located adjacent to San Francisco’s Chinatown, caused me to desist with that worthy treatment. The mystery of why all my heartbreakingly brief remissions inevitably plummeted into relapses was finally solved, after many years of experimentation and suffering, during my several months’ residence at a clinic for M.E. patients: all the initially helpful therapies (barring acupuncture and magnets) had sparked off allergic reactions. Which were begot by that ubiquitous heavy metal: mercury.

There is no reason why any of us M.E.-afflicted individuals should take the oversight of what might be at the root of our health issues to heart. After thirty-some years of treating CFS sufferers, the head doctor at the residential clinic where I attempted to upgrade my health for seven weary months still insisted, time and time again, that he felt sure that some agent other than mercury was at the heart of my lack of response to his therapies. When the results of my heavy metal analysis were returned from the lab, his reply to my taunt that my mercury level was completely off the chart was to splutter that he’d seen higher levels at the clinic. Not many, I’d guess: he only came up with one example. Even when all the evidence is stacked against us, we let go of our belief systems, and beloved theories, reluctantly.
I owe a great deal to the clinic’s other doctor, and my native tenacity, without which I’d never have filled in the missing pieces of the puzzle.
During this interlude I also had the luck to stumble on the one book about M.E. which truly covers all the angles, and clarifies all the issues.
The, hands-down, best book on our devastating illness is titled, ‘Alternative Medicine Guide to Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and Environmental Illness,’ and it’s printed by Future Medicine Publishing.

The major error of many doctors working with the syndrome is that they concentrate on the effect angle, rather than the cause. The doctor in charge of my case centred his attention on the adrenals. Granted, adrenal stress comprises an integral element of the syndrome, but the adrenals have a tough time recovering their strength when they are permeated with an infamously poisonous heavy metal. It isn’t surprising that I floundered despite frequent spikes of improved energy. My antibodies were clocking the foodstuffs and remedies passing through my gut lining in the form of improperly digested particles as antigens, not only cancelling their therapeutic effects, but further taxing my metabolism with allergic reactions. The more remedies I was prescribed, the more reactions took place, until my whole system was weighted down with multitudinous sensitivities.

I’ve no idea how much of this is likely to be familiar to the average person with M.E. Perhaps a small synopsis of current (in the alternative medicine camp) theories relating to the biological processes involved in M.E. is in order.
First off, despite allopathic (conventional) medicine’s advocates’ claims to the contrary, tests exist which can affirm that the symptoms do indeed correspond with what falls under the umbrella term ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’.
The Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) is foremost among these, and reveals the peaks and falls of cortisol levels, as well as one’s DHEA level. Combined with the ‘tilt table’ blood pressure test, easily measured without a tilt table by taking the patient’s blood pressure in three consecutive positions: lying down, sitting up and standing, it gives an unequivocal profile of CFS (one’s blood pressure drops upon sitting up and recovers slowly). The sodium/potassium ratio of the M.E.-afflicted is also indicative of the illness, as are various clear diagnostic tests listed on a separate sheet at the end of this article. My empirical knowledge lends me to hazard that the majority of M.E.-plagued mortals harbour subnormal body temperatures (a reflection of their thyroid’s poor performance), sub-normal cholesterol and various nutritional deficiencies.

Meanwhile, a short sketch of the typical metabolic dysfunctions. Beginning with a downward spiral initiated by one, or several, pernicious agents (’flu, stress, an accident, pharmaceuticals of certain types, chemical exposure, a course of broad spectrum antibiotics, vaccinations, dental work) and possibly terminating in multiple sensitivity disorder and utter collapse. In an overview of a number of patients we would surely come cross: candidiasis; parasites; heavy metal toxicity; enzyme deficiencies; viral infections (CMV, herpes, Epstein-Barr); nutritional deficiencies; glandular involvement (adrenals, thyroid, pancreas, thymus, hypothalamus, etc.); toxic loads and allergies. The multiple sensitivities kick in as the illness advances in years. (After almost eight years since the start of my condition, my reactions became so tenacious that the only viable treatment option left was homeopathic drops. Being largely H²O they circumvent the Catch-22 effect of allergic reactions, wherein remedies and supplements exacerbate the very problems they generally alleviate).

A ‘typical case scenario’: mercury’s presence in the body sparks off candida overgrowth in the digestive tract as candida proliferates in an attempt to absorb the mercury; this inhibits the small intestine’s ability to regenerate its lining, leading to ‘leaky gut syndrome,’ in which undigested food particles enter the blood stream and are typecast as foreign bodies, or antigens. The antibodies couple with the particles, forming circulating immune complexes, which lodge in tissues, setting off inflammation responses and overburdening the body’s detoxification mechanisms. This, along with general toxicity from waste products of parasites, candida and so forth, and poor digestion, leads to metabolic liver dysfunction. Parasites haven’t been kept in check by the body’s natural chemical balance and digestive flora, and so proliferate, and nutritional deficiencies develop due to poor digestive responses and sensitivities (allergic reactions) to the micro-components of food (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, bioflavonoids). The overstretched thyroid cannot maintain proper body temperature, which drops to subnormal, and enzymes, which require normal body temperatures to develop, are in short supply. (Enzymes are vital in many metabolic processes, such as cell reproduction and digestion). Glucose metabolism is also impaired, and hypoglycaemia results. The adrenals cannot produce adequate amounts of energy hormones and the person suffers fatigue, or, if in the early stages, mania coupled with fatigue. Meanwhile, mercury lodged in the bone marrow alters the composition of the blood, which may now be low in T-cells and lymphocytes, abnormal in viscosity and show candida cells among its cellular components, as well as other abnormalities. Toxins, poor nutritional status, mercury, low hormone levels, parasites, low or high blood pressure, mineral imbalances, depressed levels of lymphocytes, metabolic liver dysfunction, brain dysfunction, and the resultant symptoms (insomnia, anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity to noise and light, malaise, stomach pains, weakness, dizziness, cognitive problems) – no wonder we feel terrible. What amazes me is that professionals still have the effrontery to label CFS as a ‘psychiatric illness’.

If we feel ‘poisoned’ it is because we are being poisoned. Whether by mercury, toxins, parasites, candida or allergic reactions, we are flailing under the toxic burden. So what happens to the average case scenario? He or she finally meets a reasonable doctor, but that doctor is in no way aware of the interplay of all the factors involved, and a vital element of the workings of the syndrome is overlooked. I was a case in point. At the American clinic I visited they focus on strengthening the adrenals via special electromagnetic machines and adrenal hormones, keep tabs on one’s progress via blood pressure readings, and treat candida overgrowth, nutritional deficiencies, digestive problems and PMS with specific remedies. After months of ingesting and applying many remedies, such as natural progesterone for PMS, a castor bean oil based capsule for candida, acidophilus to balance digestive flora, multiple vitamins for nutritional deficiencies, ox-bile as a digestive enzyme, liver rinse for liver toxicity, electrolytes for electrolyte imbalances and so forth, my over-burdened system began reacting to amino acids, all vitamins, all the remedies, my own intestinal tissue, most foodstuffs, many types of material, grass, perfumes, isopropyl alcohol and even the electromagnetic frequencies of the machines! I was living in a room with shrinking walls – every day there were less substances I could eat, repair to as remedies, wear, and tolerate in my vicinity. Even my reactions were aggrandizing into wild variations on the theme: one type featured diarrhoea and stomach aches, another nervous irritability and insomnia, and the most potent sent me straight into the land of Nod for a couple of hours. When I awoke the residual grogginess would carry on through the remainder of the day. And so I’d be rendered incapable of functioning, and all the projected activities for the day would have to be axed, because I’d eaten, for example, a couple of benign-seeming lettuce leaves!

My situation wasn’t helped by the polarization of therapies at the clinic. On the one hand I was officially the patient of a doctor, the guiding light of the clinic, who gave short shrift to allergic reactions, unscientifically dubbing them ‘lack of adrenal adaptive response,’ and who was unconvinced of mercury’s often pivotal role in the syndrome, and on the other I was being helped by the resident kinesiologist, who taught me how to muscle-test for allergic reactions, and responded sympathetically to my increasingly desperate verbal attempts to remedy my plight. His theory was that allergic reactions are caused by something ‘poisoning the soil,’ i.e. the body’s metabolism. We both concurred that mercury was the most likely candidate as the underlying causative agent. The hair analysis, however, showed only small amounts of mercury; that is, within the reference range, so it wasn’t until I heard of the DMPS heavy metal post-challenge urine test, said to be the ‘gold standard’ of heavy metal tests, via gossip bandied about among fellow patients and clinic staff, that I fixed on what would finally clarify the issue. (Indeed, much of the best information I gleaned came from other patients and clinic staff, a resource we overlook at our peril). Such was my fame as a long-term, belligerent patient, and such is word of mouth, that four members of staff, but not the principal doctor, knew my heavy metal results before I did. The friendly receptionist’s comment was, ‘Isn’t it funny how all the patients who don’t respond to treatment have high mercury levels!’ And yet the DMPS post-challenge heavy metal test wasn’t included in their treatment programme as a prerequisite analysis. Nor had there been any attempts that I know of to follow up on prior patients’ current health status or to compile statistical evidence of patients’ test results. No wonder that, despite the doctor’s thirty years of experience treating M.E., patients I knew, who later turned out to have high mercury levels, were still leaving the clinic having had no heavy metal tests done, or relying solely on inaccurate hair analysis results.
The extreme frustration engendered by observing fellow patients drop out of the CFS health programme through lack of funds or improvement (some showed signs of better health; most didn’t) gave me the impetus needed to pursue research into the subject of mercury toxicity and to beg all the patients I was still in contact with after leaving the clinic to pass on to me the results of their heavy metal tests. And the outcome?
The DMPS heavy metal post-challenge urine test rates the ‘acceptable range’ of mercury as up to 3. Not that mercury is a necessary element for human metabolic functioning: far from it, being considered second only to radioactive substances in toxicity. The results of fellow CFS sufferers’, who didn’t make much headway at the clinic and who kept in touch with me afterwards, are as follows. At the head of the list are my boyfriend’s results. He suffers from multiple allergies, migraines and sleep disorder, but is not an M.E. patient. My results, alas, are the highest. 18, 45, 4,8 66, 73, 84, 96

And, from a different type of heavy metal test: mercury 98% percentile (cadmium 97th, copper 95th). Impressive, if scanty, statistics, given that the reference range is up to 3. My level was totally off the chart. More’s the pity, but identifying the culprit lurking behind all my ups and downs, all those years of remissions and relapses, rapid improvement and sudden collapse into near-delirium, did not mean that I was out of the woods. Oh no.

Mercury proved as hard to eradicate as its symptoms were to spot. And mercury chelation is an inexact science; and highly controversial to boot. When I began chelation, the most standard route was via DMPS capsules ingested at 2-6 week intervals, and I gave that an attempt. DMPS, however, supposedly binds with both mercury and mineral molecules, so any chelation therapy involving DMPS requires follow-ups with intravenous minerals and vitamin C. After less than two months of DMPS every two weeks, reactions to glutathione, minerals and vitamin C drove me straight into bed after the I.V., so, as allergic reactions render such treatments largely inefficacious, I frantically began to cast around for other alternatives. (I was further discouraged by being told that DMPS would take six months to five years to clear high levels of mercury, a known carcinogen. And by my reactions to other popular chelation agents such as PCA and chlorella).

At that point the kinesiologist, witness to six months of horrendous see-sawings, fervent attempts to run to ground elusive therapies, and frequent bouts of depression, took pity on me and recommended a specialist in another state who treats toxicity via homeopathic remedies. And another chapter opened in my life.

My current doctor’s theory is that degenerative disease conditions, and allergies, are caused by underlying toxic conditions. As these, the ‘spanners in the works,’ as I call them, are cleared the patient improves. He tests for toxins using bioenergetic testing (a specialised form of Applied Kinesiology) and uses homeopathic drops to remove those virulent agents while supporting the endocrine system with glandular extracts. Herbal remedies for parasitic infections, multi-mineral capsules and vitamin C are other supplements which enjoy his patronage. Besides mercury, other toxins, that is, lead, silver amalgam and copper, tobacco smoke, CMV, malathion (an organophosphate pesticide approved for home use), benzene, candida, parasites and influenza, have come up as issues affecting my, or my companion’s, health.
The good doctor’s conversion to what was to become his own brand of highly evolved alternative therapy was a result of the pilgrimages he made to many health care practitioners in his efforts to rectify his young son’s declining health. Allopathic medicine’s coffers of drugs and therapies had nothing to offer which alleviated his progeny’s poor health. Nor, indeed, did the vast majority of alternative treatments. Homeopathy was among the leading lights, but some mysterious blockage was rendering inefficacious remedies once thought veritably miraculous. By evolving a precision method of diagnosing the underlying toxins interfering with the efficiency of homeopathic protocols, honing in on the location of these toxins hidden in the client’s tissues, and stripping away aforesaid noxious substances, layer by layer, in a carefully orchestrated series of treatments, he was able to construct a highly successful therapy which synthesizes much of what he judged to be the best in alternative medicine’s considerable repertoire.

A word of warning: his system is no lightning-quick, pain-free magic bullet, although it is not as prohibitively expensive as many long-term therapy options. Like all mercury detoxification procedures, it is slow and arduous. The days when mercury is chelated out of the tissues tend to bring forth an exacerbation of symptoms, and detoxification must go forward in a piecemeal fashion so as not to overwhelm the body’s detoxification organs, particularly the kidneys. I’d guess that for those with high mercury levels there may be no way around the marked symptoms of detoxification; it is a complaint levelled against DMPS chelation, as well. My boyfriend’s symptoms are briefer, and milder, and consist mainly of fatigue and anxiety, plus the need for increased periods of rest. Mine are so overwhelming that any activity beyond reading is frequently out of the question.

To be fair I must add that the inventor of NDF, a blend of nanonised chlorella, probiotics and cilantro, claims that it causes no washout symptoms. It is the most popular chelation agent on the alternative medicine scene and I correspond with a CFS patient who swears by it. My allergies to all its ingredients render its use an impossibility, though my partner plans to experiment with it, and my taking an NDF homeopathic remedy would be a possibility.

Besides the discomfort of the type of mercury detoxification I use there’s a further rub: electromagnetic energy fields (EMFs) must be avoided. Television, computers, telephones and fluorescent lights, and driving motor vehicles, are taboo for up to ten days. Still, it is one way to catch up on one’s reading, as long as one shops wisely in advance.

Given that so many people believe that simply having their fillings replaced will rid their system of mercury, it’s no wonder that many people don’t improve after dental work. My mercury level was assessed six months after my one filling was removed and was 96! The mercury becomes imbedded in one’s cells, having a special affinity for the endocrine system.

Following months of homeopathic detoxification I finally felt well enough to begin researching the mercury issue, combing the local library and internet for information on the subject, as well as reading the classic exposé on mercury toxicity, ‘The Toxic Time Bomb,’ and an enlightened dentist’s view, ‘Uninformed Consent: the Hidden Dangers of Dental Care.’ The subject is controversial for reasons easily fathomed: dental associations fear massive litigations. ‘Silver’ amalgams, approximately half mercury, are thought to be the most widespread source of mercury among the general population. They corrode with age, slowly leaching mercury into the system. Even a healthy individual detoxifies mercury at a hopelessly slow rate. Individuals possessing severely compromised immune systems gravitate towards an accumulation of mercury. The mass media ‘take’ on the issue shunts the blame of high mercury levels sometimes encountered in human tissues onto fish and seafood. Alternative medicine veers towards the credence that dental ‘silver’ amalgams are responsible in the majority of cases. And its view is backed up by many scientific studies and the World Health Organisation.

Now that tobacco and asbestos litigations are leaving the limelight, perhaps mercury’s time has come. Companies manufacturing vaccinations containing mercury (as a preservative) have been the first to have come under the scrutiny of the courts. (See ‘Class action lawsuit,’ ). If dental amalgams were given similar status, the potential court cases could be limitless.

Of course, besides amalgams, seafood and vaccinations, there are a plethora of other sources of mercury. I have included these on a separate page.

Space does not permit including all the print-outs on mercury-related topics, but I will list website addresses at the conclusion of this article. I perused medline and used google search, typing in phrases such as ‘ “mercury toxicity” AND “degenerative diseases” ,’ ‘chelation therapy,’ and ‘ “dental amalgams” AND mercury’. Above and beyond its connections with CFS, mercury is linked with an impressive number of disease states, which I have listed on the page also containing sources of mercury.
How does mercury affect the body? It crosses the blood-brain barrier, instigating cognitive dysfunction. The ‘mad hatters’ of Victorian times, familiar to lovers of that wonderfully quixotic classic ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ were exposed to large numbers of mercury treated pelts (although no doubt most weren’t quite so mad as to take bites out of saucers). Scientific research tells us that ‘the malevolent messenger’ alters cell membrane permeability, the genetic code, and enzyme function, interferes with nerve impulses, inhibits DNA repair, interferes with endocrine function and oxygen transport by red blood cells, and contributes to autoimmune diseases and antibiotic resistance, among other deleterious effects.

It is also stored in the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thyroid gland, adrenal glands and occipital cortex, which could account for the endocrine dysfunction so integral to M.E.
But read up about it yourself. And luck. Who needs it more than we, the unhappy victims of modern technology? Time to put technology to work in our favour.

Contact: Clover Kreger,
Address: Rockview, Cappagh Road, Barna, Galway, Ireland

Potential Everyday Sources of Mercury
Proof of Burden
Mercury Fillings - the Hidden Cause of Chronic Fatigue
Bill Passed To Ban Mercury Fillings in California