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Dental Amalgam Can Make You Mad As A Hatter!

Danny D. Steinberg
Ph. D. Experimental Psychology
Professor, Surugadai University

Classical Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning

Recently I read in the newspaper about the case of a professor who claimed that U.S. government "mind controllers" were able to read his thoughts and make him do bad things. He said that his mind is never clear and that he suffers memory loss, sleeplessness and poor concentration. Interestingly, he stated that the mind control and other symptoms occurred after he had had fillings inserted by a dentist in the United States. The professor is now suing the U. S. government for millions of dollars in damages.

Because the mental and physical symptoms cited by the professor are consistent with the classic symptoms of elemental mercury (Hg) poisoning, there is a possibility that he unknowingly suffers from this condition. Actually, I too have experienced many of those same symptoms and while I did not hallucinate I did have my share of horror and terror experiences. Mental disturbances often occur with mercury poisoning.

Thus, it is not for nothing that the phrase "mad as a hatter' came into the English language. (This was a century before of the appearance of the Mad Hatter in Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland.') Mercury can make one mad as it did hatters in 18th century England who used mercury to soften furs in the felting process. Unfortunately for hatters it wasn't until the late 19th century that mercury was posed as the cause of their condition and it was not until the 20th century when they became sufficiently aware so as to avoid this hazard.

Heavy Metal Poisoning From Dental Amalgam

In my opinion it is highly probable, and not a figment of the professor's imagination, that his problems are indeed related to his teeth. The cause of his problems? Dental amalgam, a material which is often misleadingly and euphemistically referred to as "silver". I say misleading because dental amalgam is typically composed of 50% mercury. Silver or other metals such as copper or tin are added to the mercury to form an alloy.

However, even though mercury, a heavy metal, is one of the most toxic substances known to science, dentists persist on using it in the belief that mercury forms a harmless stable compound, the advantages being it is relatively cheap and strong. Most do not realize that mercury vaporizes or decomposes in the mouth and enters the body through the mucous membranes, gums and respiratory system. Dentists do know that mercury is highly toxic for they are trained to take precautions in handling it.

Yet most dentists do not seem to take the risks of mercury seriously. For, research shows that dentists and dental assistants are particularly prone to suffering from mercury poisoning symptoms. Many dentists too have peculiar notions of risk. Consider what happened when my friend's wife (a Japanese) went to her dentist (a Japanese) in Tokyo. When she asked her dentist whether he had ever placed any, mercury in her teeth, he strongly denied doing so and righteously asserted that he only uses mercury in the baby teeth (milk teeth) of young children. His rationale was that they will fall out in a few years anyway! This dentist was totally unaware that young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of mercury.

My Crisis With Mercury Poisoning Following Dental Work

I myself suffered through an acute life-threatening and sanity-threatening phase of mercury poisoning when a mass of dental amalgam in my mouth was removed within a relatively short period of two weeks. During my crisis stage last year, I experienced a variety of terrible symptoms, many like those suffered by the Minamata disease victims in Japan who were poisoned by eating mercury-contaminated fish. I suffered paralysis of limbs, body aches, trembling, tachycardia, inability to sleep, high anxiety, extreme fatigue, depression, morbid thought obsessions, dizziness, inability to concentrate, hypersensitivity to sound and touch, poor vision, burning eyes, roaring in the ears and loss of taste, among other symptoms.

This condition continued for months but started to abate once detoxification therapy began taking effect. This therapy has mainly consisted of a monthly injection of a chelator (from Latin meaning 'claw'), a drug that is designed to grab or combine with mercury and then allow for the combination (with the mercury) to exit the body. Such a drug is necessary because mercury tends to remain embedded in the body tissues and does not leave the body easily or quickly by itself. (The chelator I use is called DMPS.)

My own crisis state began just days following the removal of all of the amalgam in my mouth. Despite elaborate precautions by my dentist, obviously there was leakage of mercury into my body. I had had mercury in at least five fillings and two root canal seals, as well as an undetermined amount in some other dental work as well. Removal of a mass of amalgam is a known danger and as such should have been done over a period of many months or years rather than weeks.

My Chronic Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning: Do You Have Them?

Ironically, the dentist who removed my amalgam in the U.S. (I was on sabbatical at the University of California-Los Angeles at the time) is a leader in the movement to ban the use of mercury in dental work. He was so aware of the dangers of mercury that on my first visit he had me fill out a health questionnaire even before looking into my mouth! The questionnaire seemed very strange to me at the time because I could not see what the medical questions had to do with the loose front tooth that I had come to see him about.

I reported in that questionnaire that for the past 15 years I had suffered a strange type of sleep disorder, a rapid heart rate even at rest, abdominal and back pains, colitis, constipation, skin disorders, aching knees and feet, and painfully cold feet and hands. I further told him that I had been to all sorts of medical specialists in Japan and the U. S. but no abnormality of any kind could be found. He then told me that it was likely that I was suffering from mercury poisoning and that by removing the amalgam in my mouth my symptoms could be relieved. This was a surprise to me because I didn't really know what mercury poisoning was all about. Although I was skeptical the diagnosis, I heartily agreed to the removal; I was excited at the possibility of ridding myself of those painful symptoms. How right his diagnosis and prognosis proved to be and I shall always be grateful to him for that!

Afterwards I began to realize that in years past the onset of symptoms came not long after dental work had been done in my mouth. (The dental work had been done in the U.S. and Japan.) It didn't generally occur to me to make the linkage. Only on one occasion, however, did I suspect a direct connection between dental work and body symptoms. That was in Japan about five years ago. I complained to the dentist who treated me about severe neck, shoulder and back pains, which I started to experience within just a few days of the dental work that I received. That work involved a great deal of metal particularly a reinforcing brace placed behind two teeth. I was told by the dentist that humans generally have weak necks and that the pain would go away in time. I doubt that it would ever have had I not undergone detoxification treatment. (I have since tried to find out a number of times from the head dentist of the office just what that metal was but my request has, always been rejected. In Japan dentists are not obliged to provide their- patients such information.)

Now, for me, after a year of detoxifying, almost all of the chronic and acute symptoms are gone! Only daily fatigue and some aches remain to be dispelled. I am well on the way to near recovery. I say "near" because research evidence indicates that a complete recovery is difficult to achieve. But that is good enough for me for I am better now than I have been for the past 15 years! It has only been during the past 10 years that it has been possible to scientifically measure mercury leakage from amalgams; this by placing a vapor-measuring instrument into the mouth. (Mercury Vapor Analyzer -the Jerome Co.) The findings have been shocking--mercury leaks out constantly in the form of vapor. This vapor is then absorbed into the body through the mucous membranes of the mouth and the respiratory tract. Vaporization goes on even when the teeth with amalgam are not stimulated, with the level of vapor increases ten-fold or more as the chewing of food starts!

Also, of great scientific importance has been the development of a laboratory method to estimate the level of mercury in the body. It has only been during the past decade have laboratories found a reliable method--by analyzing through atomic fluorescence spectrometry the content of mercury in urine samples. In this process, a chelator is necessary because, as was noted earlier, mercury tends to remain in the body unless it is "captured" by some other chemical. Without a chelator, a urine sample could contain little mercury and thus show a misleadingly small laboratory value.

In my own case, following the removal of amalgam from my mouth laboratory tests of my urine both in the U.S. and Japan showed that my level of mercury reached well into the high area on the U.S. mercury poison scale! (In Japan it seems you have to be near dead before you can be declared poisoned!)

A year ago, two weeks after all amalgam removal, my mercury value was over 6.0 micrograms (mcg) per liter (or ppb--parts per billion) without any chelator to bring mercury out of my body. With a DMPS chelator, my highest value about six weeks later was 9.8mcg/liter (ppb) over 24 hours. After about 10 months of DMPS chelation treatment, my latest laboratory results show that I am down to 4.2riicg (with a DMPS. chelation).

Clearly though that not all of the mercury that was in my body as shown by the laboratory tests got there solely as the result of amalgam removal. I undoubtedly had plenty of mercury in my body before amalgam removal began, for, I had already been suffering for years from chronic symptoms typical of mercury poisoning. It could be said though that the amount of mercury that was released into my body during removal somehow drove me over the top to put me into a crisis state.

Scientific research has now established that mercury vapor passes through the mucous membranes in the mouth and travels into the lungs and bloodstream so as to settle in the brain, spine, liver, kidneys and other parts of the body. Mercury is so devastating to the central nervous system that researchers now regard mercury as the cause of symptoms similar to those of arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's and other diseases; it also causes memory defects and other disabilities in children. It can result in birth defects, as well, since mercury can pass from the placenta of the pregnant mother to the fetus.

How To Protect Yourself Against Mercury Poisoning

1. Allow Only Safe Materials Into Your Mouth
Do not allow any dentist to put mercury or other toxic metals such as chromium, nickel, tin or aluminum into your mouth.

The safest metals, although costly, are pure gold and pure platinum. Newly developed dental metals like titanium and palladium may be safe but their long-term effects are as yet unknown. It is advisable to have all of one metal in the mouth, such as gold, since than reduces the possibility of different metals interacting to cause harmful electrical galvanic 9 effects on the body. Electric shocks may be experienced, for example, when fillings in the upper and lower jaws make contact. (I used to experience unpleasant sensations when eating with the contact of a metal fork or spoon.)

The safest non-metallic material is "composite," a relatively new type of hard plastic. 'Conquest' is one composite brand that is now beginning to be widely used. (I now have that in my mouth.) It should be noted that porcelain may not be safe if toxic dyes or toxic strengthening agents are mixed with it. Aluminum, in the form of aluminum oxide, for example, is a typical additive to porcelain that should be avoided or allowed only in small amounts.

2. Watch Out For Seafood And Certain Products
Do not eat foods high in mercury such as tuna and swordfish; salmon, lobster and shrimp from certain areas, too, may be contaminated. Do not use products containing mercury such as: contact lens solutions with thimerosal (merthiolate), laxatives with calomel, Mercurochrome, certain hemhorroidal preparations and certain skin lightening creams and mascaras.

On Removing Amalgam From Your Mouth

Removal is not without risk but the benefits for a suffering patient may be the difference of a life worth living. According to the Swedish Association of Dental Amalgam Patients (an association with thousands of members) and according to my reading of other scientific literature, amalgam removal should be done slowly. No more than one or two fillings or root canal seals should be removed within a six-week interval. This will minimize the risk of developing acute symptoms.

Removals should be done by a dentist who is competent in toxic material removal. Removal can be dangerous and needs the utmost care. Since just ordinary chewing causes the fillings, seals and other dental work in your mouth to release toxic mercury vapor, you can imagine how much mercury vapor would be released by a dentist who carelessly drilled around those amalgams in order to remove them. Good suction is necessary to extract the vapors not only to protect the patient but also to protect the dentist, who should be properly masked.

In addition to amalgams, all chromium, nickel, tin, copper, aluminum and other toxic materials in the mouth should be removed so as to improve health benefits.

Detoxifying If You Have Mercury Poisoning

For general mercury detoxification, particularly in the months following removal of dental work, doctors recommend the following:

    a) Drink lots of water daily (12 or more glasses) so as to help cleanse the kidneys and the colon of accumulated mercury and other toxins.

    b) Make sure your colon is cleansed. Take a laxative if you do not have a regular bowel movement. It is estimated that 50% of the toxic materials, which need to be excreted from the body, gather in the colon. The other 40% of the toxins can be disposed of through the urine and the tissues of the skin. Get colon hydrotherapy once a week or so if it is available.

    c) Take supplements of selenium and of zinc, magnesium and calcium. (Some persons who are mercury poisoned may have a bad reaction, to selenium--if so, lower the dose.) Such essential elements for body health become depleted when mercury leaves the body. Vitamin supplements too are beneficial: the B vitamins of Si, B6, B3-and B12 as well as Vitamins E and C.

    d) Take a hot bath or sauna daily, if you can bear the effects. (I used to get unpleasant effects such as dizziness and an itchy skin rash from a hot bath.) Mercury is released through the sweat pores.

    e) No alcohol should be taken since alcohol places a burden on the liver which needs to function for cleansing. No caffeine (coffee, cola, chocolate) since caffeine intensifies symptoms. (I used, to become highly anxious after drinking a cup of coffee.)

    f) For persons with significant mercury poisoning. This would be persons who have over 2 or 3 mcg (micrograms) per liter of mercury in their urine over a 24-hour collection period. Only a urine sample will do because blood does not show mercury and hair samples are very unreliable.

Since mercury does not easily exit the body, a chemical that captures mercury, a chelator, should be taken prior to the urine collection so as to get a good indication of how much mercury is in the body. The chemicals DMPS (dimercaprol-propane sulfonic acid, also known as Dimaval) or DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid, also known as Succimer and Chemet) are effective in this regard. The formerly widely used drug BAL (British anti-lewisite, Dimercaprol) should not be taken because it is not effective and has toxic side-effects.

DMPS or DMSA are available in some areas in the U.S., in German and Russia. It should only be taken under the care of a physician. A word of caution is in order here; because of the similarity of the various drug names--all begin with "dimercaprol'--it is easy to confuse the drugs. One of my doctors actually made such an error and was about to inject me with the dangerous BAL thinking it was DMPS. Fortunately I noticed it in time!

Banning Amalgam

Awareness of the dangers of amalgam is growing and it has already or will soon be banned in Sweden and Germany. At the very least patients should be made aware of the risks of amalgam. This has happened in the state of California where there is a law (being challenged at present by the dental association) that requires dentists to inform their patients of the potential risks of dental amalgam. Still, informing patients of the risks of amalgam should not absolve the dentist of any liability should the patient become poisoned. For, other safe alternatives to amalgam exist and are readily available.

At present there is much resistance from the American Dental Association, British Dental Association, Canadian Dental Association and other dental societies to the abandonment of amalgam. One obvious reason is possible lawsuits from poisoned patients. Million dollar lawsuits, such as the one by that professor who may be amalgam poisoned could become commonplace once victims realize the source of their suffering.

At the very least, the limits proposed in a recent (Nov. 1995) Health Canada government report should be adopted. These are: l filling for children, 3 for teens, and 4 for adults. Such a standard would be a great advance over the present situation, where most countries have no restrictions of any sort. I, for one, strongly advocate a total ban for I agree with the declaration by the UN's World Health Organization that there is no safe level of mercury for human beings!

Information On Mercury Amalgam Poisoning

For more information, one may check medical and dental library references. I recommend the following publications and sources:

Bio-Probe, Inc. 5508 Edgewater Drive, Orlando FL 32810 (1-800- 282-9670). Bio-Probe is an excellent source of publications on a variety of amalgam poisoning topics. A monthly newsletter is also available from Bio-Probe on amalgam issues.

ABC on Mercury Poisoning From Dental Amalgam Fillings (1993) Stockholm: Swedish Association of Dental Mercury Patients. Translated from Swedish and available in English in the U.S. from Bio-Probe.

Berglund, Fredrik. (1995) 150 Years Of Dental Amalgam (245 case reports from the medical and dental literature relating amalgam to mercury poisoning symptoms) From Sweden and available in English in the U.S. from Bio-Probe.

Hanson, Mats. (1992) Mercury Bibliography 3rd ed. (12,000 citations with annotations including symptoms relating mercury and dentistry. From Sweden and available in English in the U.S. from Bio-Probe.

Ziff, Sam. (1994 ed.) Silver Dental Fillings: The Toxic Time Bomb. Aurora Press: Santa Fe NM. (First published in 1983.) Available from Bio-Probe.

For the "more research is necessary" view of mercury amalgam, I would recommend the article: "The release, absorption and possible health effects of mercury from dental amalgam: a review of recent findings," by Eley, B. M. & Cox, S. W., in the British Dental Journal, Sept. 11, 1 933, 161 - 168. For the pro-mercury amalgam establishment side, see the British Dental Association official view in "Amalgam Questions and Answers" on pages 1 53-4 of the same issue of that journal.

Two fine TV programs on the deleterious effects of dental amalgam are available. One is 'Poison in Your Mouth", a BBC Panorama special which originally aired on July 11, 1994. The other is a Dec. 16, 1919 on CBS 60 Minutes special which is titled "Is There Poison in Your Mouth?"