By Dr. Mercola
It is likely you are accumulating mercury and other heavy metals at a disturbing rate. This is occurring at a time when your body is already bombarded with multiple chemical assaults, making it harder to keep its natural detoxification system working smoothly and efficiently.
The two primary sources of mercury exposure are dental amalgams (mercury-based fillings) and seafood consumption, followed by thimerosal-containing vaccines and mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants.
Other significant environmental offenders are chlor-alkali plants (which make products like chlorine bleach and PVC), trash incinerators, cement kilns, and gold mining1. These industries are loading our environment with inorganic forms of mercury that are then converted in the soil and water to a type of mercury called methylmercury (MeHg) — which then accumulates in the fish you eat.
Dental amalgams are comprised of 50 percent elemental mercury. This form of mercury evaporates from the surface of the amalgam and is inhaled, absorbed into the blood, and then converted to inorganic mercury, the most toxic form of mercury to cells. Inorganic mercury builds up far more in your organs of elimination — it's 100 times as high in your kidneys and liver than in your brain. But when it does make its way into your brain, it's far more damaging than any other form.
Dr. Christopher Shade, a mercury and glutathione expert from the University of Illinois, explains how your body's natural heavy metal detoxification system works. It's a lengthy lecture — about three hours. But if you truly want an in-depth understanding of this topic, he gives an excellent presentation of the latest science about the human biochemistry of mercury. I also previously interviewed Dr. Shade about mercury detoxification, which you can listen to here:
Additionally, you may want to try liposomal glutathione. Liposomal glutathione is a relatively new form of oral glutathione that is actually well absorbed and eliminates nearly all the concerns previously mentioned with oral glutathione. It's encapsulated into extremely tiny phospholipid particles, which increase its bioavailability 100-fold.
II. Mobilizing Mercury by Boosting Enzymes and Transport Proteins
Now that your glutathione levels are up, you can work on building up the other parts of your glutathione system — specifically, enzymes and transport proteins. Your natural production of these factors can be augmented with superfoods.
Plants contain thousands of natural chemicals (phytochemicals) that help your body to work properly, including production of enzymes and antioxidants. One group of phytochemicals is the polyphenol group, which actually helps activate health-promoting genes.3 Polyphenols are abundant in a wide range of fruits and vegetables.
Sulfur-based phytonutrients are particularly important in supporting your glutathione system, since glutathione is a sulfur-based molecule.4 Therefore, you should consume vegetables from the cruciferous family (cabbage, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, radishes, wasabi, etc.), which are rich in sulfur. Fermenting these vegetables is the most nutritious way to consume them.
Garlic is especially powerful, but it's the oil of the garlic that supports detoxification, not the allicin (which is the compound known for its antimicrobial effect). And you want the smelly kind of garlic — deodorized garlic is useless for detox! Either eat the garlic raw (yes, you have to chew it up), or purchase a garlic oil supplement. Some of the other compounds recommended by Dr. Shade include:
- Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) extract5: An Ayurvedic fruit used extensively in Tibetan medicine, called the "King of Herbs;" it has potent effects on your glutathione system and on expression of other intracellular antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD)
- Sodium R-lipoic Acid 6 : The most bioavailable and active form of alpha-lipoic acid; also good for increasing insulin sensitivity and treating type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and mitochondrial dysfunction
- Lumbrokinase7: a enzyme derived from earthworms
- Pine Bark Extract8: One of the most potent polyphenolic antioxidants; has been found to prolong the activity of vitamin C in your body; good as an adjunct to vitamins C, E and lipoic acid
Your approach with these agents should be to gradually titrate the dose upward to a high therapeutic level, then back it down. It's best to "pulse" the treatments because your body can't sustain upregulation for very long. You will be more productive with shorter bursts at an appropriately stout therapeutic dose. This means taking the treatments for a few days, followed by a few days off. Dr. Shade suggests cycling your treatments on the schedule of five days on, two days off (to start), working up to 10 days on, four days off. He instructs, never go more than 10 days on when upregulating your detoxification system.
Ideally, this should be done with the assistance of a healthcare professional trained in heavy metal detoxification who can help you decide on an optimal dose and schedule. If you begin to feel worse, you may be titrating up too quickly.
III. Capturing and Eliminating Mercury with Intestinal Binders
You do NOT want to mobilize mercury without making sure it has an escape route out of your body!
Once the mercury is in your intestine, you need something to bind it and pull it away from your intestinal wall, and for this we use something called an intestinal binder. Intestinal binders help carry the mobilized toxins out, which prevents them from building up in your bloodstream where they can end up making you sicker.
Binders prevent you from absorbing or reabsorbing the toxic agent, but they also help prevent intestinal inflammation. If your intestine becomes inflamed, the traffic stops because the transport proteins are shut off. That causes toxins to back up into your liver and kidneys, and blood. Removing mercury from your gut will also help prevent dysbiosis, which is at the root of a mind-blowing array of health problems.
There are several types of intestinal binders, but only a couple of them work well for grabbing mercury. Dr. Shade's favorite binder is thiol resin, because it's the most specific to heavy metals (mercury, lead and arsenic) and produces high rates of excretion. Thiol resins have a powerful attraction for mercury.
Another good binder for heavy metals is chlorella. Dr. Shade suggests working up to 50 to 70 tablets per day, which is a lot of chlorella. Please work up to that level gradually. Other binders you'll hear about are clay/zeolites, and pectin. For mercury, these bind very weakly, and you would have to take enormous quantities for many years to see any benefit so I don't recommend them.
If you haven't yet had your amalgams removed, you may find rinsing with a binding agent helpful. Chlorella, activated charcoal, or N-acetyl cysteine can be prepared as a mouthwash where it binds to the mercury coating your oral epithelium. Levels of mercury can be very high in this rinse — make sure you don't swallow it.
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride believes that one of the most potent detoxifiers of mercury and heavy metals are beneficial bacteria. Their cell membranes tend to bind very effectively to the metals and they are typically excreted in the stool. One of the best ways to provide your body with this resource is with fermented vegetables
Other Factors to Consider Adding to Your Regimen
In addition to a healthful diet as discussed earlier, the following supplements and other measures will enhance and support your body's detoxification ability:
✓ A good whole food multivitamin that includes the full spectrum of B vitamins
✓ A good mineral supplement (consider Thorne Citramins II, citrated minerals without copper or iron)
✓ Fermented foods and probiotics
✓ Astaxanthin, to protect your cell membranes from free radical damage
✓ Vitamin C, a powerful detox agent
✓ Plenty of fresh, pure water daily
✓ Flax seeds (ground) to keep intestines moving
✓ Regular exercise
✓ Address your emotional issues (I recommend EFT)
✓ Address malocclusions and cranial trauma