In my last blog I discussed the Gut/Brain Axis. Once you have healed your gut lining it is safe to assess your body for heavy metals and get them out of your system. It can be dangerous to your health to chelate out heavy metals if your gut lining is leaky, because then the heavy metals simply recirculate in your body and that’s not good news!
“Mad as a hatter” is the phrase that we think of when we think of mercury poisoning which came from the use of mercurous nitrate used in curing felt to make top hats. Prolonged exposure to mercury vapors caused mercury poisoning, alluded to in the Mad Hatter character in Alison Wonderland. Mercury is the second most neurotoxic chemical on the planet, meaning it viciously attacks the nervous system, brain and kidneys.
Symptoms of mercury toxicity include:
- Neuropathy showing up as unusual sensations or unsteady gait Irritability
- Personality changes
- Weakness and fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Slowed mental response
- ADD in children and staring spells
Mercury also interferes with how our hormones function. Mercury does this by inhibiting methylation, which is the biochemical process that affects the production of many hormones and neurotransmitters. The particular enzymes that mercury blocks is the methionine synthase enzyme at very low levels. We need this enzyme in order to recycle and regenerate our hormones as well as brain chemistry. Mercury concentrates in glands, including the thyroid and the pituitary glands, where it blocks the enzyme that converts inactive thyroid hormone to active thyroid hormone. When your thyroid is blocked you may feel tired, lethargic, cold and have constipation.
What does the mercury actually do in the body?
Elucidated by Kris Homme author of “Your hidden mercury burden: A likely root cause of the other root causes of anxiety”:
“Mercury has a high affinity for sulfhydryl and binds it. The sulfur is everywhere in your body and is a common active site for many biomolecules including enzymes, receptors, ion channels, transport proteins, cytokines, other signaling molecules, DNA and RNA transcription factors and structural proteins. It interferes with disulfide bonds, which are the main means of stabilizing the three dimensional structures of large biomolecules, including enzymes. And, as you may know, in the body, everything is about biochemistry, and biochemistry is about enzymes, so altering their structure means that things don’t work.”
When the enzymes don’t work due to mercury toxicity, the transport of minerals into the cells is diminished. There is an overproduction of reactive oxygen species and impaired ATP production by the mitochondria. ATP is what energizes every reaction in the body so the end result is to feel tired. Mercury also depletes glutathione, which is a protective antioxidant in the brain and liver and blocks the enzyme that regenerates glutathione. Mercury also damages the tight junctions in the intestinal wall, which can lead to leaky gut and leaky blood brain barrier. Mercury also activates the phospholipase enzymes that break down membranes. Cell membranes can only withstand so much damage, but too much can cause them to die.
In addition to damaging cell membranes, mercury destroys other important barriers, including the gut lining, the vasculature, and the blood-brain barrier. It does this by destroying the “tight junctions” between cells, by activating an enzyme called MMP, matrix metalloproteinase. In blood vessels, mercury causes vascular endothelial dysfunction, which causes reduced blood flow to the brain and other organs. There is a lab test for MMP9 that can be done to see if this process is going on in your body.
As you can see mercury is wrecking havoc on your biochemistry and hormones. Many of the symptoms of mercury toxicity come from how mercury affects the brain. In the brain, mercury causes microglial activation – that’s an immune response – as well as neuro-inflammation in general. Mercury alters the redox balance within cells, pushing it toward oxidation rather than reduction. This redox balance is important because it determines the activity of many brain enzymes, meaning that, with mercury, your brain is always “on” and it doesn’t get enough rest. Key brain neurotransmitter that helps us naturally calm is called GABA. I call it our natural “chill” molecule, it’s also what Ativan, Valium or a nice glass of wine raises in your body to help calm you down. Mercury disrupts GABA in the brain in several ways. It blocks the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase, or GAD. That’s the enzyme that synthesizes GABA. Mercury also blocks certain GABA receptors and causes a selective loss of Purkinje neurons in the brain which produce GABA.
It’s advisable to detoxify twice a year and the best time is during the Spring and Fall.
Consider making an appointment by calling 415-945-3213 to assess your gut lining and heavy metal levels and to get support in lowering your heavy metal levels.
If you feel your gut is healthy (you are already abiding by a diet that is organic and fresh and don’t suffer any gas or bloating, diarrhea or constipation) then consider doing your own safe gentle heavy metal cleanse. This cleanse is as easy as it gets. It has a booklet with a menu plan, shopping list and recipes, a clear outline of how much medical food to take and it’s own shaker cup! This cleanse is not designed to definitely reduce all your heavy metals, it’s an aide along the way and ultimately it’s best to have your metals measured so you really know what’s going on, but this will help cleanse your liver and will help lower some of your metal burden.
If you’re ready to do your detox now purchase here: