Mercury-Caused Endocrine Conditions Causing Widespread Adverse Health Effects
B. Windham (Ed.)
As will be documented in this paper, the majority of the population receives significant mercury exposures and significant adverse health effects are common. Mercury has been found to be an endocrine system disrupting chemical in animals and people, disrupting function of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, thymus gland, adrenal gland, pineal gland, enzyme production processes, and affecting many hormonal and enzymatic functions at very low levels of exposure (5,12). The main factors determining whether chronic conditions are induced by metals appear to be toxic exposure and genetic susceptibility , which determines individual’s immune sensitivity and ability to detoxify metals (405). Very low levels of exposure have been found to seriously affect large groups of individuals who are immune sensitive to toxic metals or have an inability to detoxify metals due to such as deficient sulfoxidation or metallothionein function or other inhibited enzymatic processes related to detoxification or excretion of metals (5,12). Dental amalgam has been found to be the largest source of mercury in most people and includes methyl mercury since oral bacteria methylate mercury to methylmercury. Toxic metal exposures are common, and they often have additive or synergistic adverse effects. Most people with chronic conditions improve after proper toxic metal replacement [ in dental work and detoxification (32).
Everyone has toxic exposures and they are additive or synergistic , causing oxidative damage, neurological excitotoxicity, chronic inflammation, and endocrine system disruption (5,13)- factors in autoimmune disease. The liver, kidneys, skin, digestive system, and lungs all work together to rid our bodies of toxic substances, but sometimes they are overwhelmed by acute or cumulative exposures. 4 of the common factors causing autoimmune conditions that are commonly caused by toxic exposures are oxidative stress, endocrine disruption (5), dysbiosis, and genotoxicity. Some are more susceptible to chronic conditions due to genetic factors or past exposures or immune system status. Pesticides and toxic and endocrine-disrupting, and there is a strong link between Pesticides and autoimmune diseases . Millions of people are poisoned by pesticides each year (28), and millions of people are drinking water containing pesticides or pesticide degradates (28b). Studies have shown that farming with agricultural pesticides or herbicides or other chronic exposure to pesticides has been known to cause endocrine conditions such as Diabetes
Thyroid conditions are extremely common and adversely affect the health of millions of people, though most cases are undiagnosed (580,581). The thyroid gland secretes hormones which control the body’s metabolic rate, using iodine to create thyroid hormone. So, iodine deficiency is a common cause of hypothyroid condition (395). The hypothalamus secretes a hormone which triggers thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland to cause the thyroid gland to produce thyryroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) (produces mostly T4). T4 is then converted in the body to the active thyroid hormone T3. A problem with any of these steps can cause hypothyroidism. As will be seen, toxic metal exposures such as mercury can accumulate and block or inhibit any of these necessary processes, as can other factors. The hypothalamus also controls hormone secretions by the pituitary gland. Mercury has been found to commonly accumulate in the hypothalamus (303), affecting hormone secretions of the pituitary or thyroid gland and many bodily functions. Calcitonin is another hormone secreted by the thyroid gland that maintains blood calcium levels and prevents hypercalcemia and which can be affected.
Effects and Symptoms of Thyroid Deficiency : fatigue, nervousness, depression, increased allergies, cold sensitivity, skin problems, brittle nails, weight problems, constipation, infertility, memory problems, low immune function, carpal tunnel syndrome.
Tests for thyroid deficiency (580)): S tandard test is blood test for TSH level (concentrations chronically above 2.0 mU /L indicate thyroid problem and cause long term health effects).
Another sensitive thyroid function test is the TRH stimulation test . Another test is the Achilles tendon reflex test. A good home test is the Barnes Basal Temperature Test (put a thermometer in reach of bed, before getting up take temperature under arm shoulder joint (holding tight for at least 3 minutes). Below 97.8 degrees indicates you are T3 deficient. Repeat several times.
Hashimoto�s thyroiditis is chronic inflammation of thyroid caused by an autoimmune reaction to environmental factors such as mercury or toxic metals or gluten sensitivity or milk casein sensitivity (which is commonly caused by toxic metals blocking enzymatic process needed to digest gluten or milk casein ). (see later documentation) Thyroiditis is the most common thyroid condition (369). Symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry hair, depression, joint and muscle pain, infertility and often increased cholesterol�and research indicates that it is seven times more common in women than in men (1). It has been found that patients with AT and other autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus and atopic eczema, show increased lymphocyte reactivity in vitro to inorganic mercury, nickel and other metals compared to healthy controls. The important source of mercury is dental amalgam. Replacement of amalgam in mercury-allergic subjects resulted in improvement of health in about 70% of patients (369).
On the other end of the spectrum is Grave�s disease, marked by dangerously increased thyroid function (hyperthyroidism). Also, an autoimmune disorder, Grave�s disease results when your thyroid-stimulating antibodies begin to mimic thyroid-stimulating hormone boosting your thyroid hormone production as a result. Thus, many of its symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, heat intolerance, weight loss and frequent bowel movements are opposite that of hypothyroidism. But like Hashimoto�s , women are also at significantly higher risk (4).
Other common hormone problems are related to the adrenal glands . The adrenal medulla manufactures epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline and noradrenaline), the fight or flight hormones. Prolonged stress and anxiety commonly cause imbalances of these hormones, and also can be a factor in causing mercury to accumulate in the endocrine gland. Mercury tends to accumulate in body areas that are stressed or inflamed due to various factors (303). The adrenal cortex makes steroid hormones (cortisone, hydrocortisone, testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, pregnenolone, aldosterone, androstenedrone , progesterone. Some of these are also made in other parts of the body. The hormone aldosterone, together with the kidneys, regulates the balance of sodium and potassium in the body, which is commonly out of balance. Mercury can accumulate in the adrenal gland and inhibit proper function of any of these hormones. Both mercury and stress commonly cause imbalances that result in adrenal fatigue, which is a factor in chronic fatigue (303)
Besides imbalances of the various adrenal hormones that can cause effects, there are common chronic conditions that have been identified. Addison�s Disease is chronic adrenal failure, usually related to autoimmune attack on the adrenal glands, commonly caused by toxic exposures such as mercury (see more later). It usually results in chronic hypocortisolism , resulting in inability to properly deal with stress. This also affects blood pressure, insulin regulation, inflammatory response, and metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. (580) Symptoms of Addison�s Disease include: skin changes such as dark tanning on scars, skin folds, toes, lips, elbows, knees, knuckles.
Cushing�s Syndrome is overproduction of cortisol, usually related to tumor of pituitary or other organs. It is also common caused by prescription drug effects of steroid hormones, etc. Symptoms include: stomach fat, thin extremities, moon face, buffalo hump, excessive hair growth, irregular menstrual periods, infertility.
Adrenal fatigue can be caused by chronic anxiety or stress, poor nutrition, toxic metal accumulation, etc. The adrenals can become depleted leading to fatigue, weakening of immune response, disrupted sugar metabolism, etc. (580) Environmental toxic exposure such as mercury can block or inhibit any of the adrenal hormone processes and contribute to such conditions.
II. Common Exposures to Significant Levels of Mercury and Distribution in the Body
Dental amalgam fillings have been documented to be the largest source of mercury in most people who have several amalgam fillings, and most people with several amalgam fillings get daily exposure of mercury at levels well above U.S. government health guidelines (16,19,20,49,199, 211,501) which amount to about 4 to 8 micrograms per day (217). Mixed metals in the mouth such as amalgam dental fillings, metal crowns, and metal braces have been found to result in galvanic currents in the metals which drive the metals into the saliva and tissues of the oral cavity at high levels as well as systemically, with accumulations in the brain and hormonal glands (14,19,84,85,183,192,348,369, 381,500). Additionally, electric and electromagnetic fields from appliances, computer monitors, power lines, etc. cause electric currents in metals in the mouth which further increase exposures to mercury and other metals (28). Mercury and nickel, which are highly neurotoxic (19,84,217,372, 500) and immunotoxic (181,91,114ab,380b,369,383ab,405), are often found at high levels in tests of those with mixed metals in the mouth and are known to commonly cause DNA damage (296,458,114), immune reactivity (234,330,331,342,369,375, 383,405,91), and hormonal effects in animals and humans (13,50,84,104,105,369,382,459), including related reproductive effects. Government health agencies in other countries such as Health Canada and amalgam manufacturers have warned against using amalgam near other metals (209,500), but this is still common in the U.S. and several other countries. Children typically also get high levels of exposure to highly toxic organic mercury compounds such as ethyl mercury through thimerosal, used as a preservative in vaccines (160,409,476,555), and to methyl mercury from fish (2). Warnings to ban or limit consumption of fish have been issued for over 30 percent of all U.S. lakes, including all Great Lakes, as well as U.S. river miles and bays (2).
A 2009 study found that inorganic mercury levels in women have been increasing rapidly in recent years (515). It used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Health Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) finding that while inorganic mercury was detected in the blood of 2 percent of women aged 18 to 49 in the 1999-2000 NHANES survey, that level rose to 30 percent of women by 2005-2006.
Studies have documented that mercury causes hypothyroidism (50,84,390,392,407), damage of thyroid RNA (458), autoimmune thyroiditis (369,382,91), and impairment of conversion of thyroid T4 hormone to the active T3 form (13,369,382,390,392,407,50d). The thyroid gland has iodine binding sites where the iodine needed for its function is obtained. For those with chronic mercury exposure the mercury occupies some of the iodine binding sites, blocking full utilization of iodine by the thyroid (394,395), in addition to the direct damage to the thyroid since mercury is highly cytotoxic (392,394,500, etc.). These studies and clinical experience indicate that mercury and toxic metal exposures appear to be the most common cause of hypothyroidism and the majority treated by metals detoxification recover or significantly improve (503,303).
The estimated prevalence of hypothyroidism from a large federal health survey, NHANES III, was 4.6%, but the incidence was twice as high for women as for men and many with sub clinical hypothyroidism are not aware of their condition(3a). Another large study(3b) found that 11.7% tested had abnormal thyroid TSH levels with 9.5% being hypothyroid and 2.1% hyperthyroid. According to survey tests, 8 to 10 % of untreated women were found to have thyroid imbalances so the actual level of hypothyroidism is higher than commonly recognized (508). Even larger percentages of women had elevated levels of antithyroglobulin(anti-TG) or antithyroid peroxidase antibody(anti-TP). Tests have found approx. 30% of pregnant women to have low free T4 in the first trimester(509b).
Thyroid hormones are of primary importance for the perinatal development of the central nervous system, and for normal function of the adult brain (10a). Hypothyroidism of the adults causes most frequently dementia and depression. Nearly all the hyperthyroid patients show minor psychiatric signs, and sometimes psychosis, dementia, confusion state, depression, apathetic thyrotoxicosis, thyrotoxic crisis, seizures, pyramidal signs, or chorea occur(10a). These hormones primarily regulate the transcription of specific target genes. They increase the cortical serotonergic neurotransmission, and play an important role in regulating central noradrenergic and GABA function.
Studies indicate that slight thyroid deficiency/imbalance (sub clinical) during the perinatal period can result in delayed neuropsychological development in neonate and child or permanent neuropsychiatric damage in the developing fetus or autism or mental retardation (10,509,511). Low first trimester levels of free T4 and positive levels of anti-TP antibodies in the mother during pregnancy have been found to result in significantly reduced IQs (509a-e) and causes psychomotor deficits(509f). Women with the highest levels of thyroid-stimulating- hormone( TSH) and lowest free levels of thyroxin 17 weeks into their pregnancies were significantly more likely to have children who tested at least one standard deviation below normal on an IQ test taken at age 8(509a). Based on study findings, maternal hypothyroidism appears to play a role in at least 15% of children whose IQs are more than 1 standard deviation below the mean, millions of children. Overt autoimmune thyroiditis is preceded by a rise in levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies. "Collectively, reports show that 30-60% of women positive for TPO antibodies in pregnancy develop postpartum thyroiditis," the researchers point out (561,8), calling it "a strong association." Without treatment, many of the women with thyroiditis go on to develop overt clinical hypothyroidism as they age and, eventually, associated complications such as cardiovascular disease. About 7.5% of pregnant women develop thyroiditis after birth( 8). Studies have also established a connection between maternal thyroid disease and babies born with heart defects(509h).
Infants of women with hypothyroxinemia at 12 weeks' gestation had significantly lower scores on the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale orientation index compared with subjects(10b). Regression analysis showed that first-trimester maternal free thyroid hormone T4 was a significant predictor of orientation scores. This study confirmed that maternal hypothyroxinemia constitutes a serious risk factor for neurodevelopmental difficulties that can be identified in neonates as young as 3 weeks of age.
Mercury (especially mercury vapor from dental amalgam or organic mercury) rapidly crosses the blood brain barrier and is stored preferentially in the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, hypothalamus, and occipital cortex in direct proportion to the number and extent of dental amalgam surfaces (14,19,85,99,273,274,407), and likewise rapidly crosses the placenta and accumulates in the fetus including the fetal brain and hormone glands at levels commonly higher than the level in the mother(20,22-27). Milk from mothers with 7 or more mercury amalgam dental fillings was found to have levels of mercury approximately 10 times that of amalgam free mothers(22b). The milk sampled ranged from 0.2 to 57 ug/L. In a population of German women, the concentration of mercury in early breast milk ranged from 0.2 to 20.3 ug/L (26) . Cadmium and mercury was detected in 100% and lead in 87% of breast milk samples from Norwegian mothers (22d). Maternal seafood intake alone explained 10% of variance in mercury exposure, while together with amalgam fillings explained 46% of variance in Hg concentration in breast milk. For Hg concentration in breast milk, number of amalgam fillings and high fish consumption were significant predictors of mercury level (22). A Japanese study found that the average mercury level in samples tested increased 60% between 1980 and 1990 . The study found that prenatal Hg exposure is correlated with lower scores in neurodevelopmental screening, but more so in the linguistic pathway (25). The level of mercury in umbilical cord blood, meconium, and placenta is usually higher than that in mother's blood [23-25].
Alterations of cortical neuronal migration and cerebellar Purkinje cells have been observed in autism. Neuronal migration, via reelin regulation, requires triiodothyronine (T3) produced by deiodination of thyroxine (T4) by fetal brain deiodinases (407). Experimental animal models have shown that transient intrauterine deficits of thyroid hormones (as brief as 3 days) result in permanent alterations of cerebral cortical architecture reminiscent of those observed in brains of patients with autism. Early maternal hypothyroxinemia resulting in low T3 in the fetal brain during the period of neuronal cell migration (weeks 8-12 of pregnancy) may produce morphological brain changes leading to autism. Insufficient dietary iodine intake and a number of environmental antithyroid and goitrogenic agents such as mercury, soy, and peanuts can affect maternal thyroid function during pregnancy (395).
Mercury can have significant effects on thyroid function even though the main hormone levels remain in the normal range, so the usual thyroid tests are not adequate in such cases. Prenatal methylmercury exposure severely affects the activity of selenoenzymes, including glutathione peroxidase ( GPx ) and 5-iodothyronine deiodinases (5-Di and 5'-DI) in the fetal brain, even though thyroxine(T4) levels are normal(390de). Another mechanism by which mercury exerts such effects is mercury�s effects on selenium levels which are required for conversion of T4 to T3(392,390d). Gpx activity is severely inhibited, while 5-DI levels are decreased and 5'-DI increased in the fetal brain, similar to hypothyroidism. Thus normal thyroid tests will not pick up this condition.
Mercury reduces the bloods ability to transport oxygen to fetus and transport of essential nutrients including amino acids, glucose, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and Vit B12 (43,96,198,263,264,338, 339,347,392,427); depresses enzyme isocitric dehydrogenase (ICD) in fetus, causes reduced iodine uptake, autoimmune thyroiditis, & hypothyroidism. (50,91,212,222,369,382,394,407,459,35). Because of the evidence of widespread effects on infants, the American Assoc. of Clinical Endocrinologists advises that all women considering becoming pregnant should get a serum thyrotropin test so that hypothyroidism can be diagnosed and treated early(558,7b). Since mercury and toxic metals are common causes of hypothyroidism, another test that should be considered is a hair element test for mercury or toxic metal exposures and essential mineral imbalances.
Studies have also established a clear association between the presence of thyroid antibodies and spontaneous abortions (511,13). Levels of recurrent abortions in a population with positive levels of thyroid antibodies in one study were 40%, 5 times the normal rate (511). Hypothyroidism is a well- documented risk factor in spontaneous abortions and infertility (9,511,13). Another study of pregnant women who suffer from hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) found a four-times greater risk for miscarriage during the second trimester than those who do not (511), and women with untreated thyroid deficiency were four-times more likely to have a child with a developmental disabilities (509f-h,13) . Mercury through its effects on the endocrine system is also documented to cause other reproductive effects including infertility, low sperm counts, abnormal sperm, endometriosis, PMS, adverse effects on reproductive organs, etc. (5,9,12,13,50,104,105,390,500,559).
Mercury blocks thyroid hormone production by occupying iodine binding sites and inhibiting hormone action even when the measured thyroid level appears to be in proper range (13,390,394,35). The thyroid and hypothalamus regulate body temperature and many metabolic processes including enzymatic processes that when inhibited result in higher dental decay (35). Mercury damage thus commonly results in poor bodily temperature control, in addition to many problems caused by hormonal imbalances such as depression. Such hormonal secretions are affected at levels of mercury exposure much lower than the acute toxicity effects normally tested (50,390,84), as previously confirmed by hormonal/reproductive problems in animal populations (104,381c,50d). Mercury also damages the blood brain barrier and facilitates penetration of the brain by other toxic metals and substances (311). Hypothyroidism is also known to be a major factor in cardiovascular disease (510,509h,5,13).
The pituitary gland controls many of the body endocrine system functions and secretes hormones that control most bodily processes, including the immune system and reproductive systems. One study found mercury levels in the pituitary gland ranged from 6.3 to 77 ppb (85), while another (348) found the mean level to be 30ppb- levels found to be neurotoxic and cytotoxic in animal studies. Some of the effect on depression is related to mercury effect of reducing the level of posterior pituitary hormone(oxytocin). Low levels of pituitary function are associated with depression and suicidal thoughts, and appear to be a major factor in suicide of teenagers and other vulnerable groups. The pituitary glands of a group of dentists had 800 times more mercury than controls (99). This may explain why dentists have much higher levels of emotional problems, depression, suicide, etc. (500, Section VIII.). A study by a neuroscience researcher found a connection between the levels of pituitary hormone lutropin and chronic mercury exposure (515). The authors indicated that inorganic mercury binding to luteinizing hormone can impair gonadotrophin regulation affecting fertility and reproductive function, as well as immune function and has been found to accumulate in the brain and stay there for years, which may help explain the mercury link to neurodegenerative disease.
Amalgam fillings, nickel and gold crowns are major factors in reducing pituitary function (35,50,369, etc.). Supplementary oxytocin extract has been found to alleviate many of these mood problems (35), along with replacement of metals in the mouth (107,500-Section VI.). The normalization of pituitary function also often normalizes menstrual cycle problems, endometriosis, and increases fertility (35,9,500).
Mercury accumulates in the adrenal gland and disrupts adrenal gland function (84,369,381). In general immune activation from toxics such as heavy metals resulting in cytokine release and abnormalities of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis can cause changes in the brain, fatigue, and severe psychological symptoms (369,375,379-383,107) such as depression, profound fatigue, muscoskeletal pain, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal and neurological problems as are seen in CFS, Fibromyalgia, and autoimmune thyroiditis. Such symptoms usually improve significantly after amalgam removal (503,303). Such hypersensitivity has been found most common in those with genetic predisposition to heavy metal sensitivity (342,369,375,382) such as found more frequently in patients with HLA-DRA antigens (375,381,383). A significant portion of the population appears to fall in this category and adrenal problems have been increasing significantly in recent years (570).
Mercury (and other toxic metals) has been found to accumulate in the pineal gland and reduce melatonin levels, which is thought to be a significant factor in mercury�s toxic effects (569). Melatonin has found to have a significant protective action against methyl mercury toxicity, likely from antioxidative effect of melatonin on the MMC induced neurotoxicity (567).
There is also evidence that mercury affects neurotransmitter levels which has effects on conditions like depression, mood disorders, ADHD, etc. There is evidence that mercury can block the dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH) enzyme (571). DBH is used to make the noradrenaline neurotransmitter and low noradrenaline can cause fatigue and depression. Mercury molecules can block all copper catalyzed dithiolane oxidases, such as coproporphyrin oxidase (260) and DBH.
Thyroid imbalances, which are documented to be commonly caused by mercury (369,382,459,35,50,91,212), have been found to play a major role in chronic heart conditions such as clogged arteries, mycardial infarction, and chronic heart failure (510). In a recent study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers reported that subclinical hypothyroidism is highly prevalent in elderly women and is strongly and independently associated with cardiac atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction(510c). People who tested hypothyroid usually have significantly higher levels of homocysteine and cholesterol, which are documented factors in heart disease. 50% of those testing hypothyroid, also had high levels of homocysteine ( hyperhomocysteinenic ) and 90% were either hyperhomocystemic or hypercholesterolemic(510a). These are also known factors in developing arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Homocysteine levels are significantly increased in hypothtyroidpatients and normalize with treatment(510efg).
The thymus gland plays a significant part in the establishment of the immune system and lymphatic system from the 12 th week of gestation until puberty. Inhibition of thymus function can thus affect proper development of the immune and lymphatic systems. Lymphocyte differentiation, maturation and peripheral functions are affected by the thymic protein hormone thymulin . Mercury at very low concentrations has been seen to impair some lymphocytic functions causing subclinical manifestations in exposed workers. Animal studies have shown mercury significantly inhibits thymulinproduction at very low micromolar levels of exposure(513a). 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 immunotoxic and 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. Mercury caused increased immunoreactivity for glial fibrillary protein at 1 nanamole (0.2 ppb) concentration, and microglial response at even lower levels (175). 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).
A direct mechanism involving mercury�s inhibition of hormones and 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/autoimmune conditions such as autism/ADHD (409-411,439,464,468,476,5,33,160), schizophrenia(409,410), lupus (113,126,234,330,331,33,468), Scleroderma(468), eczema and psoriasis (323,375,385,419,33), and allergies (271,313,330,331,369,375,468). Mercury and other toxic metals also form inorganic compounds with OH, NH2, CL, in addition to the SH radical and thus inhibits many cellular enzyme processes, coenzymes, hormones, and blood cells (5,405,409,500,555). 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 neurotoxic milk protein beta-casomorphine-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. Similar results have been seen in similarly but lesser affected patients with other pervasive developmental conditions such as ADHD. Such populations have also been found to have many with high levels of mercury who recover after mercury detox (409,413,369,160). As mercury levels are reduced the protein binding is reduced and improvement in the enzymatic process occurs. Additional cellular level enzymatic effects of mercury�s binding with proteins include blockage of sulfur oxidation processes (33,114,194,330,331 ,412), enzymatic processes involving vitamins B6 and B12(418), effects on the cytochrome-C energy processes (43,84,338c,35), along with mercury�s adverse effects on cellular mineral levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and lithium (43,96,333,338,160,500). Thus some of the main mechanisms of toxic effects of metals include cytotoxicity; changes in cellular membrane permeability; inhibition of enzymes, coenzymes, and hormones; and generation of lipid peroxides or free radicals- which result in neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, impaired cellular respiration, gastrointestinal/metabolic effects, hormonal effects, and immune reactivity or autoimmunity.
Mercury has been found to cause hormonal changes which cause hair loss and greying of hair. In a large German study where 20,000 were tested, allergies and hair-loss were found to be 2-3 times as high in a group with large numbers of amalgam fillings compared to controls (199,9). Levels of mercury in follicular fluid was significantly higher for those with amalgam fillings (9,146). Based on this finding, a Gynecological Clinic that sees a large number of women suffering from alopecia/hair loss that was not responding to treatment had amalgams replaced in 132 women who had not responded to treatment. 68 % of the women then responded to treatment and alopecia was alleviated (187). In other studies involving amalgam removal, the majority had significant improvement (40,317,503). Higher levels of hormone disturbances, immune disturbances, infertility, and recurrent fungal infections were also found in the amalgam group (13). The results of hormone tests, cell culture studies, and intervention studies agree (9,146). Other clinics have also found alleviation of hair loss/alopecia after amalgam removal and detox (40,317). Another study in Japan found significantly higher levels of mercury in gray hair than in dark hair (402).
III. Treatment of thyroid conditions .
As previously documented, for those with amalgam fillings or toxic metal exposure amalgam replacement and detoxification usually bring about significant improvement in thyroid function, including thyroiditis.
Conventional treatment of hypothyroidism is Synthroid or Unithroid or Levoxyl (synthetic T4). Clinical experience has found Armour Thyroid (desiccated thyroid gland of pig) and Cytomel (synthetic T3) and Thyrolar (synthetic T4/T3 mix) to often be more effective than the conventional treatments. (580)
Nutrient supplementation found by clinical experience to benefit hypothyroidism include complex vit B, vit C, E, A, CoQ10, L-Carnitine, and minerals magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. The B vitamins riboflavin and niacin act as cofactors in the production of your cellular energy (ATP) and in the conversion of iodide into iodine within your body(418b). Studies show that supplementation with these B vitamins can reduce thyroid hormones (including T4 and T3) without inducing hypothyroidism or any of its negative symptoms(418b). The amino acid L-Carnitine is essential to proper energy metabolism, and reduced levels may be behind the muscle weakness seen in patients with both underactive and overactive thyroids. Studies show, however, that once thyroid function is normalized, muscle carnitine levels and carnitine excretion in the urine both normalize in response.( 580c). Clinical research also reveals that L-carnitine supplementation can minimize even severe cases of hyperthyroidism. Deficiencies of any of these can prevent conversion of T4 to T3 and should be corrected. (580,581).
Iodine is the primary mineral requirement for thyroid function and deficiency can cause hypothyroidism and other problems. It is found in kelp, seaweeds, sea salt, and iodized salt. S tatistics show that as our country�s median iodine intake has dropped, our risk of autoimmune disease has steadily risen(395b). Clinical trials show that daily iodide supplementation can reduce levels of harmful antibodies in patients with Hashimoto�s thyroiditis(395c). Iodoral is an iodine supplement that commonly cures or improves hypothyroidism. (395 ac) Selenium assists in removing toxins from the body and deficiency has been found to result in some cases of hypothyroidism. Found in asparagus, grains, garlic, mushrooms- except the soil in some areas is deficient. Tyrosine is a necessary precursor of thyroid hormone and the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine. A deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism and low adrenal function as well as mood disorders. DHEA is a hormone that affects other hormone levels and metabolic function and is commonly found low in hypothyroidism. Levels can be determined by blood test. Raw cabbage, cauliflower, or turnips contain low levels of goitrogens, though cooking inactivates them. (580)
Natural treatments for adrenal fatigue include vit C (3 gm/day),DHEA (50 gm/day) L-theanine (100-400 mg/day, vit B5 (1500 mg/day), Phosphatidylserine (300 mg/day), Licorice (no more than 1000 mg), Melatonin (300 mcg to 6 mg at bedtime). Limit processed foods, alcohol, smoking. (580)
Natural treatments of Addison � s Disease or hypocortisolism includes DHEA, Licorice, pantothenic acid (B5), and L-Theanine (green tea extract). A physician should be consulted to test for DHEA levels and high doses of licorice should be used long term only under care of a doctor. DHEA deficiency is common in the aging population, and chronic conditions like Addison � s make this more likely. Clinical studies found significant benefit in the majority. Licorice helps to break down the amount of hydrocortisone broken down by the liver, reducing the workload of the adrenal glands. Vit B5 activates the adrenal glands. L-Theanine works by increasing GABA levels, which helps modulate stress and mood. (580)
Natural treatments for Cushing � s Syndrome that have demonstrated benefits include DHEA, Vit C, Phosphatidylserine (PS), and Melatonin (nightly) (580).
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