Hydrargyrum (Hg), more commonly known as quicksilver or mercury, is one of the most toxic elements on earth. Exquisite to behold when flowing around Alexander Calderâs Mercury Fountain in Barcelona, itâs not quite so beautiful when residing two inches from your brain.
The phrase âmad as a hatterâ directly describes the mercury-induced psychological and neurological ills that beset hat makers who used mercury solution to stiffen felt. Nowadays, industrial materials, grain fungicides, contaminated fish and âsilverâ amalgam fillings can all cause mercury poisoning.
Chronic mercury toxicity can cause a bewildering array of symptoms that doctors often attribute to other causes. The variety of symptoms depends (a) on which organs have been affected by mercury poisoning and (b) on the affected personâs inherent weaknesses. Typical problems include diminished short-term memory, brain fog, left-sided migraines, depression, candida, skin that is grey, rough or red, hostility and an angry temperament (mercurial, perhapsâ¦?). Symptoms of mercury poisoning have at times been diagnosed as Alzheimerâs, MS and myasthenia gravis, among other serious illnesses.
Many of us have reclined stiffly in our dentistâs chair while the white-coated one has filled our teeth with squeaky globs of amalgam. Cheap, durable and easy to insert, silver amalgam is a mÃ©lange of mercury, silver, tin and other metals. It has been used in dental restoration for over 100 years, in spite of both initial and more recent concerns as to its safety.
Dental schools have long taught that once mercury is bound with other metals in âsilverâ amalgam, it is relatively stable and unlikely to cause health problems when placed in the mouth. But more recent research findings dispute that claim and argue that highly toxic mercury vapour leaches from amalgam fillings with relative ease. It only takes a bit of chewing, brushing, tooth grinding or knocking back a few hot coffees to encourage it to flow. And if you consider that a euphemistically named âsilverâ amalgam filling typically contains over 50% mercury at time of placement, thatâs a lot of vapour to go round. Perhaps they should be called quicksilver amalgam fillings instead.
Amalgam is so toxic that manufacturers and dentists treat it as hazardous waste when creating, placing and disposing of it. It is not, however, considered hazardous waste in your mouth! Once in situ and subjected to daily heat and abrasion, advocates of amalgam regard it as relatively harmless.
Does that make any sense?
The Swedish and Norwegian governments think not. They have banned the use of amalgam in dentistry as unacceptably unsafe, especially when healthier alternatives are now available.
If you suffer myriad (or even a few) inexplicable but worrying health problems, it may be worth researching the issue of dental amalgam. If you decide to have your fillings removed, it is imperative that you choose a dentist who knows his or her stuff. Amalgam removal is highly specialised. Incomplete or careless work can cause an increased intake of mercury vapour, making matters a lot worse.
Check out the following web sites for information on mercury poisoning, differing points of view and where to start looking for help:
http://www.el-essawy.com: Dr Hesham El-Essawy, a London-based practitioner of mercury-free dentistry. Check out his documents and videos.
http://www.fluoridealert.org/BBC-mercury.htm: Transcript of a BBC Panorama programme highlighting different points of view on mercury amalgam fillings.
http://members.aol.com/lynrennick2000/Page16.html: A list of typical symptoms of mercury poisoning.
http://members.aol.com/lynrennick2000/Page11.html: A list of mercury-free dentists practising in the UK and Ireland.
http://www.pamshelpline.com/: Mercury amalgam poisoning helpline established by Pam Clayton, who was seriously poisoned by amalgam fillings.
http://commons.ucalgary.ca/showcase/curtains.php?src=http://apollo.ucalgary.ca/mercury/movies/Lor2_QTS_200kb_QD.mov&screenwidth=320&screenheight=256: This video shows frightening evidence of what mercury can do to brain cells in snails â apparently human cells are virtually identical.
A nice little twist: according to http://www.quackwatch.com, the word âquackâ originated during the Renaissance when quicksilver was a popular remedy for syphilis. Wandering peddlers, known as âquacksalversâ, sold mercury ointment with the claim that it would cure all ills. The term was later shortened to âquacksâ and quacks became a symbol of evil medical practice.