Incidence of Allergy or Immune Reactivity to Mercury, and Mechanisms of Causality- documentation from the medical literature

                        B Windham (Ed) 


Dental amalgam is documented by many thousands of medical lab tests and confirmed by Government agencies to be by far the largest source of mercury in most people who have amalgam dental fillings, FS4

Mercury is documented in the medical literature and from clinical experience to have widespread adverse health effects due to both its extreme toxicity in addition to its immune reactive or allergic effects.  Mercury is documented to be cytotoxic (kills cells at very low levels of exposure,FS1), neurotoxic (accumulates in neurons of the brain and CNS and damages or kills neurons,FS1), endocrine disrupting(accumulates in hormone glands and disrupts hormonal functions including reproductive processes at very low levels of exposure,FS2), and immunotoxic(damages the immune system and causes immune reactive or allergic conditions,FS3).  Conditions involving allergies, chemical sensitivities, and autoimmunity have been increasing rapidly in recent years (405).  


Mercury is documented to commonly cause immune system damage resulting in allergies, asthma, eczema, lupus, scleroderma(468),chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS),and multiple sensitivities(MCS)  (8,17,26,35,45,46,52,60,75,86,87,90,95,97,101,128,129,131,132,154,156,168,181,212, 226,228,230,234,265,267,296,313, 342,375, 388,445,446/272) and neutrophil functional impairment(285,404,467/59,etc.).


Of the over 3,000 patients with chronic conditions tested for lymphocyte reactivity to metals(342), the following were the percentages testing positive: nickel- 34%, inorganic mercury- 20%, phenol mercury- 13%, gold- 14%,    cadmium- 16%, palladium- 13%, lead-11%.   For people with autoimmune conditions such as CFS, Fibromyalgia, or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, the percentage testing immune reactive to mercury was much higher-  28% percent were immune reactive to palladium, 26% to gold, 23% to inorganic mercury, 23% to phenyl mercury, and 12% to methyl mercury, as compared to less than 5% for controls.  Of 98 patients who had amalgam fillings replaced, 76% had long term health improvement and significant improvement in MELISA scores.  Lymphocyte reactivity is a chronic form of allergic reaction often resulting in autoimmunity. Other studies have also found relatively high rates of allergic reactions to inorganic mercury and nickel (81,35,445,456).  For groups with suspected autoimmune diseases such as neurological problems, CFS, and oral lichen planus(313); most of the patients tested positive to inorganic mercury and most of such patients health improved significantly and immune reactivity declined after amalgam removal.    In a group of patients tested by MELISA before and after amalgam removal at a clinic in Uppsala Sweden, the patients reactivity to inorganic mercury, palladium, gold and phenyl mercury all had highly significant differences from the control group, with over 20 % being highly reactive to each of these metals(342).

            Patch tests for hypersensitivity to mercury have found from 2% to 44% to test positive (87,154,156, 178, 267), much higher for groups with more amalgam fillings and length of exposure than those with less.  In studies of medical and dental students, those testing positive had  significantly higher average number of amalgam fillings than those not testing positive(and higher levels of mercury in urine(132,156).   Ina group of dental students with 10 or more fillings at least 5 years old, 44% tested allergic. Based on these studies and statistics for the number with 10 or more fillings, the percent of Americans allergic to mercury just from this group would be about 17 million people especially vulnerable to increased immune system reactions to amalgam fillings.       However, the total would be much larger since patch tests have been documented to greatly understate the numbers allergic or immune reactive to mercury, and do not measure the total population getting toxic reactions from mercury.   The most sensitive reactions are immune reactions, DNA mutations, developmental, enzyme inhibition, nerve growth inhibition, and systemic effects (34,38,61,149,175,186,226,263,264,270,272,296,305,410-412/149,357).


Toxic/allergic reactions to metals such as mercury often result in lichen planus lesions in oral mucosa or gums and play a roll in pathogenesis of periodontal disease.  Removal of amalgam fillings usually results in cure of such lesions(60,75,78,82,86, 87,90,94,101,118,133,168,192bcf,313).  

            A high percentage of patients with oral mucosal problems along with other autoimmune problems such as CFS have significant immune reactions to mercury, palladium, gold, and nickel (46,60,118,313,81,90,212,313,342,369,375,456,468), including to mercury preservatives such as thimerosal.  94% of such patients had significant immune reactions to inorganic mercury(MELISA test) and 72% had immune reactions to low concentrations of HgCl2(<0.5 ug/ml).  61% also had immune reaction to phenylHg, which has been commonly used in root canals and cosmetics (313,468).   10% of controls had significant immune reactions to HgCl and 8.3% to palladium.   Other studies of patients suffering from chronic fatigue found similar results(369,468,342).  Of 50 patients suffering from serious fatigue referred for MELISA test(369), over 70% had significant immune reaction to inorganic mercury and 50% to nickel, with most patients also reactive to one or more other metals such as palladium, cadmium, lead, and methyl mercury.


Most people who have such conditions and replace their dental amalgam fillings recover or significantly improve from the condition.  Patients with systemic neurological or immune symptoms such as arthritis, myalgia, eczema, CFS(60,342,369), MS(369,170,35c), lupus(369,405), ALS, diabetes(501,35), epilepsy(5,35,229,309), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis(369,382), Scleroderma(353), etc. also often recover or improve significantly after amalgam replacement (thousands of cases- see section VI).  Of  a group of 86 patients with CFS symptoms, 78% reported significant health improvements after replacement of amalgam fillings within a relatively short period, and MELISA test found significant reduction in lymphocyte reactivity compared to pre removal tests(342,369). The improvement in symptoms and lymphocyte reactivity imply that most of the Hg-induced lymphocyte reactivity is allergenic in nature.  Although patch tests for mercury allergy are often given for unresolved oral symptoms, this is not generally recommended as a high percentage of such problems are resolved irrespective of the outcome of a patch test(87,86,90,101,168,etc.)  Also using mercury in a patch test has resulted in some adverse health effects.  A group of patients that had amalgams removed because of chronic health problems, were able to detect subjectively when a patch test used mercury salts in a double blind study(373).   



The metal allergens mercuric chloride and nickel sulfate were found to stimulate DNA synthesis of both immature and mature thymocytes at low levels of exposure, so chronic exposure can have long term effects(513b). Also, micromolar levels of mercuric ions specifically blocked synthesis of ribosomal RNA, causing fibrillarin relocation from the nucleolus to the nucleoplasm in epithelial cells as a  consequence of the blockade of ribosomal RNA synthesis.  This appears to be a factor in deregulation of basic cellular events and in autoimmunity caused by mercury.     There were specific immunotoxicand biochemical alterations in lymphoid organs of mice treated at the lower doses of mercury. The immunological defects were consistent with altered T-cell function as evidenced by decreases in both T-cell mitogen and mixed leukocyte responses. There was a particular association between the T-cell defects and inhibition of thymic pyruvate kinase, the rate-limiting enzyme for glycolysis(513c).   Pyruvate and glycolysis problems are often seen in mercury toxic children being treated for autism(409).  L-arginine restored thymulin activity, TEC proliferation, NKT cytotoxicity, cytokine profiles and nitrite and nitrate plasma levels both in vivo and in vitro(513a).  

A direct mechanism involving mercury’s inhibition of cellular enzymatic processes by binding with the hydroxyl radical(SH) in amino acids appears to be a major part of the connection to allergic/immune reactive conditions such as autism(408-414,439,464,468,476,33,160,251c), schizophrenia(409,410), lupus (234,330,331,468,260e), Scleroderma(468),   eczema and psoriasis (323,342,385,419,455,33), and allergies (26,46,60,95,132,152,156,271,313,330,331, 445,446,468). For example mercury has been found to strongly inhibit the activity of dipeptyl peptidase (DPP IV) which is required in the digestion of the milk protein casein(411,412) as well as of xanthine oxidase(439). Studies involving a large sample of autistic and schizophrenic patients found that over 90 % of those tested had high levels of the milk protein beta-casomorphin-7 in their blood and urine and defective enzymatic processes for digesting milk protein(410).  Elimination of milk products from the diet has been found to improve the condition.  Such populations have also been found to have high levels of mercury and to recover after mercury detox(413,60,313).  As mercury levels are reduced the protein binding is reduced and improvement in the enzymatic process occurs.


Mercury caused adverse effects on both neutrophil and macrophage function and after depletion of thiol

reserves, T-cells were susceptible to Hg induced cellular death (apoptosis).(226,272,355)   Interferon 

syntheses was reduced in a concentration dependent manner with either mercury or methyl mercury as well 

as other immune functions(131), and low doses also induce aggregation of cell surface proteins and 

dramatic tyrosine phosporlation of cellular proteins related to asthma, allergic diseases such as eczema and 

lupus (234,260e,323,35), and autoimmunity(181,314,405). Porphyrins are precursors to heme, the oxygen 

carrying component of blood. Mercury inhibits the conversion of specific porphyrins to heme.  

(84,35,201,260,539)  Mercury and other toxic metals block coproporphyrin and uroporphyrin which is a 

marker in using the porphyrin test for lupus diagnosis and treatment(260e).   One study found that 

insertion of amalgam fillings or nickel dental materials causes a suppression of the number of 

T-lymphocytes (270), and impairs the T-4/T-8 ratio.  Low T4/T8 ratio has been found to be a factor in 

lupus, anemia, MS, eczema, inflammatory bowel disease, and glomerulonephritis.  Mercury induced 

autoimmunity in animals and humans has been found to be associated with mercury’s expression of major 

histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II genes (314,181,226,425c). Both mercuric and methyl mercury 

chlorides caused dose dependent reduction in immune B-cell production.  (316) B-cell expression of IgE

receptors were significantly reduced (316,165), with a rapid and sustained elevation in intracellular levels of 

calcium induced (316,333).  Both forms are immontoxic and cytotoxic ant very low levels seen in 

individuals. Mercury also inhibited B-cell and T-cell RNA and DNA synthesis.  The inhibition of these 

functions by 50 % occurred rapidly at very low levels, in the range of 10 to 25 ug/L. All types of cells 

exhibited a dose dependent reduction in cellular glutathione when exposed to mercury, inhibiting 

generation of GSH by lymphocytes and monocytes (252).  Among a group of patients testing positive as

allergic to mercury, low level mercury exposure was found to cause adverse immune system response, 

including effects on vitro production of tumor necrosis factor TNF alfa and reductions in interleukin-1. 



For additional documentation on the mechanisms of mercury’s common causality of allergic or immune reactive conditions, see FS3 or FS5


(FS1) Mercury exposure levels from amalgam and mechanisms of causality for over 30 chronic health conditions, and documentation on recovery from these conditions after amalgam replacement by approximately 60,000 clinical cases.

(FS2) Mechanisms by which mercury from dental amalgam causes endocrine disorders,

(FS3) Immunotoxicity related to mercury from dental amalgam,

(FS4) Documentation of levels of exposure to mercury from amalgam fillings,

(FS5) Mechanisms by which mercury causes inflammatory conditions,

Other references- see references in: