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The importance of mercury detoxification when treating Lyme Disease
(This article is an excerpt from this book)


lthough the liver grabs toxins out of circulation from the blood and processes them for elimination, some toxins can become so tightly bound to tissues throughout the body that they never even enter circulation. In addition, some toxins can have such a severely damaging effect on the liver that when they are in the bloodstream, the liver is unable to process them for elimination. In serious cases, these toxins can accumulate in and suffocate the liver, leading to liver damage or even death.

An example of this type of stubborn toxin is the heavy metal mercury. Although mercury is a fat-soluble toxin similar to the toxin produced by Lyme Disease bacteria, special therapies and procedures are necessary to deal with mercury poisoning because of the metal’s dangerous and problematic characteristics. For this reason, and because mercury poisoning can seriously complicate Lyme Disease treatment, a special section on mercury and its detoxification is included here. 

Mercury is one of the most harmful toxins on the planet and is a catalyst to infection. It is directly immunosuppressive. Although conventional medicine has yet to acknowledge its full potential for harm, mercury is one of the most common, dangerous toxins to accumulate in the body. Mercury poisoning is a BIG problem, not a small one. Once mercury is in the body it is difficult to remove because it binds very strongly to human tissues.

All people (sick or healthy) are exposed to this toxin. Some exposure occurs naturally because mercury is a part of our environment, some occurs through direct contact with mercury products (such as mercury amalgam dental fillings or thimerosal-containing vaccinations), and some occurs via inadvertent contact with mercury-contaminated locations or objects. Even someone careful to avoid such products and contaminated areas will find that mercury is present everywhere in the environment: in the air, water, food, all around us. 

So, mercury toxicity is not always a question of whether or not you were exposed to mercury—we all have been to one degree or another. It is more a question of how well your body eliminates the mercury it comes in contact with on a daily basis. Some people have the genetic ability to easily detoxify mercury and eliminate it from the body, while others are genetically susceptible to its accumulation even from low-level, everyday exposure. 

Mercury and Lyme Disease: partners in the destruction of your health

Mercury should be given utmost respect and requires entirely different approaches for removal than do other fat-soluble toxins. Mercury detoxification is a subject that deserves great attention in its own right, and it cannot be overlooked as part of a book on Lyme Disease therapies because the two conditions are often linked. Although not everyone with Lyme Disease has mercury toxicity, evidence has repeatedly shown that having Lyme Disease increases the probability of becoming mercury-toxic. This is the case even when a significant mercury exposure has not been identified―as we have said, mercury is in our everyday environment so a singular point of exposure is not necessary to accumulate mercury in the body. 

Why does mercury toxicity often accompany Lyme Disease? Below we will examine possible reasons why Lyme Disease and mercury poisoning frequently go hand-in-hand. We’ll also see how the two illnesses adversely impact each other.

Mercury catalyzes infections and severely weakens the immune system, so it is not a big leap to accept that people with mercury poisoning would be more susceptible to chronic infections like Lyme Disease. Conversely, Lyme Disease weakens the body’s ability to detoxify poisons, so it is not inconceivable to imagine that people with Lyme Disease are more susceptible to accumulating mercury (even from minuscule exposure). But in people with both Lyme Disease and mercury poisoning, which came first? Did the mercury come first, eventually allowing the Lyme infection to thrive, or did the infection come first, weakening the body enough to cause dysfunction in the mercury detoxification process? If mercury toxicity did come first, why did the person become mercury-toxic? 

Here are a few possible scenarios that explain how and why mercury toxicity and Lyme Disease are often companions:

  1. A person who does not have Lyme Disease may have a genetic susceptibility to becoming mercury-toxic because of a deficiency in liver function. Should this individual be exposed to mercury and become toxic, a suppressed immune system will inevitably follow, and infections will become established with greater ease. Therefore, if exposed to the Lyme bacteria, the individual would be more likely to develop full blown, chronic Lyme Disease than would someone not mercury-toxic.

  2. Or, the converse may happen: A completely healthy person, with no genetic predisposition to becoming mercury-toxic, may acquire Lyme Disease. The infection might weaken the body and its mercury detoxification abilities. The body would then no longer be capable of removing the mercury to which it is exposed on a daily basis. 

  3. Another possibility is based on the fact that, as part of its life cycle and survival mechanism, the Lyme Disease organism itself accumulates and sequesters mercury. Many researchers have observed that some infective organisms, once established inside the human body, store or use mercury to create a living environment, a niche within the body, inside which the body’s defenses are compromised and weakened due to the presence of this heavy metal. Because mercury is an immunosuppressant, it is feasible that the Lyme Disease spirochete sequesters mercury in the body as a tool for continued survival in the host environment. The spirochete would do this by grabbing onto minuscule amounts of mercury circulating in the body due to regular (small) daily mercury exposure. After time, the Lyme Disease organisms would store up more than just a minuscule amount. Significantly increased body burden of mercury would result.

  4. Yet another scenario exists when an individual is unknowingly exposed to a large amount of mercury (such as mercury from an old thermometer or use of old, banned mercury products). This might cause mercury toxicity (even without a genetic predisposition) and thus allow a chronic Lyme infection to become more easily established due to the immunosuppressive effects of mercury poisoning. 

Individuals who discover that they have both chronic Lyme Disease and mercury toxicity find it nearly impossible to unravel the mystery of which came first. Regardless of how it happens, mercury toxicity often accompanies chronic Lyme Disease, so many Lyme Disease sufferers must undertake mercury detoxification. Most people who have Lyme Disease complicated by mercury toxicity do not experience significant improvement in their Lyme symptoms until the mercury is removed.

Testing for and treating mercury toxicity

How do you know if you have mercury poisoning and how do you get rid of it? Such topics are subject of great controversy. Dozens of books have been written about testing for and treating mercury toxicity. Mercury “experts” vehemently shout all kinds of contradictory information at each other on a regular basis.

Testing for mercury toxicity is one of the most complicated and controversial aspects of dealing with mercury poisoning. Dozens of different testing methods are advocated. Most of the more common methods do not provide truly useful information about just how mercury-toxic someone is. Urine, stool, and blood tests do not give an accurate indication of the total body burden of mercury, because these methods measure only what are called “shallow” body pools of mercury. 

One of the most reliable, painless and convenient methods is hair testing, because it measures a much longer mercury excretion period. But even hair testing is not completely accurate. Sometimes normal or low mercury levels in the hair may not indicate that a person is mercury free, but instead the converse: that the individual has been poisoned so severely that the body can no longer eliminate mercury through the hair. Interpreting hair tests properly is a skill most health care practitioners do not have. For these reasons, mercury toxicity should not be ruled out even if one or several tests show safe levels. People who suspect mercury poisoning but do not have positive mercury tests might reasonably try a mercury removal program to see if their symptoms improve. For more information on interpreting hair tests, see Andrew Cutler’s newest book, Hair Test Interpretation: Finding Hidden Toxicities. 

Mercury detoxification treatment is no less complicated or controversial than testing. Most techniques actually do more harm than good and result only in worsening of symptoms and minimal mercury excretion. Mercury is very difficult to eliminate from the body. Most substances and programs claiming to remove mercury, if they do anything at all, actually just stir it up and redistribute it to critical areas like the brain and liver where it can do serious damage. Using a mercury removal protocol that has a high propensity for redistribution is a very bad idea.

Eliminating mercury from the body is accomplished properly by a special type of chelation therapy. Chelation therapy is a method of binding heavy metals for removal from the bloodstream. Chelators are substances used during chelation that circulate throughout the body, bind to mercury, and are then eliminated along with the mercury they are attached to. In Greek, “chelate” means “claw”—the process of mercury removal is so named because chelators metaphorically claw out toxins from where they are bound in the body. There are many different schools of thought and ideologies about how to properly accomplish mercury chelation. Most methods are dangerous and incorrect. Below we will examine three main problems occurring in most common mercury chelation protocols and appropriate solutions for each. 

  1. The first problem that can render chelators nonproductive and dangerous is that the chelator used does not bond strongly enough with mercury to remove it. Instead, the mercury is merely dislodged from its resting places in the body and sent into circulation, where it quickly bonds to tissues elsewhere. This is called mercury redistribution. It can have seriously damaging effects and can dramatically increase symptoms of toxicity. Body tissues themselves have a high affinity for mercury. If the chelating agent used creates only a weak bond, the mercury will be dropped by the chelator and grab onto other body tissues on the way out of the body. An ideal mercury protocol minimizes redistribution. Substances that are not proven to be appropriate chelators (even though they are quite popular) include cilantro, chlorella, and MSM, to name a few. These substances are not ideal mercury removal agents. Nor are many of the “mercury detoxification” herbal preparations sold in health food stores and by various healthcare practitioners. In some cases, these substances and products can be very dangerous and often do more harm than good. Such substances and products typically create a strong enough bond to move mercury around in the body and cause mercury redistribution, but not a strong enough bond to actually usher mercury out of the body.

    This article is an excerpt taken from the above book.

    DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid), DMPS (dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonic acid), and ALA (alpha lipoic acid) are three effective, appropriate mercury chelators that create a bond strong enough to successfully usher mercury out of the body and not just redistribute it. These substances have a long, established track record, and also have a great amount of supporting research. DMPS and DMSA are water soluble, while ALA is fat soluble. In a mercury removal program, both a water soluble and a fat soluble chelator should be used.

    DMPS is a better choice than DMSA. DMPS or DMSA (DMPS is preferred) can be combined with ALA as part of a comprehensive mercury treatment plan. Oral DMPS capsules are much safer and more effective than the commonly administered IV/injected form of DMPS, reasons for which will be explained over the next several paragraphs. Oral chelators are always preferred over IV chelators. Oral DMPS capsules are fairly difficult to locate but can be purchased with a prescription in compounded form from The Falls Pharmacy, Snoqualmie, WA,, (877) 392-7948. The Falls Pharmacy offers mail order prescription fulfillment. DMPS dosing should be approximately 10mg-30mg, every eight hours, as described in the book Amalgam Illness: Diagnosis and Treatment written by Andrew Cutler, Ph.D. This book also provides instructions for combining DMPS or DMSA with ALA to build a comprehensive mercury treatment plan. More information about this book will be provided in a few pages. 

  2. Another problem commonly encountered in an inept mercury removal program is that the chelator is not dosed with sufficient frequency to ensure that a consistent supply of it is available in the blood to “sop up” the mercury knocked loose by the last dose of chelator. Because even proper chelating agents (DMSA, DMPS, and ALA) do not create perfect bonds with mercury, they sometimes drop the mercury on its way out of the body. Thus it is essential to have a constant, fresh supply of chelator in the blood to pick up the dropped mercury and carry it the rest of the way out. Proper mercury chelating substances have a short half-life in the blood which necessitates frequent dosing (sometimes requiring middle-of-the-night doses) to maintain blood levels. A valid chelation schedule requires dosing several times per day. Improper and inappropriate dosing schedules include:

  1. Schedules in which a large dose of chelator is taken infrequently, such as a DMPS injection or IV once every week or month.

  2. Schedules in which a full dose of chelator is taken only daily or every other day. 

  3. Schedules in which mercury chelators are taken on an irregular basis, such that there is no consistent dosing pattern.

  1. Even if a proper chelating agent is used on an appropriately frequent schedule, a mistake often made is using too large a dose. It is not uncommon for mercury chelation protocols to use doses that are 10 times higher than they should be. The reason for using very low doses of chelator is that the eliminatory system of the body can handle only a small amount of mercury at a time. Mercury is highly toxic, and as you remove it you must ensure that the body has to deal with it in very small portions. If you take large doses of a chelator, lots of mercury gets mobilized, but only a small amount gets excreted. The rest gets redistributed and attaches to other tissue in the body, causing damage and increased symptoms. Larger doses do not get the mercury out faster, they simply make you more miserable during the process. A proper chelation protocol uses a small dose of chelating substance so that the amount of mercury knocked loose is easily handled by the eliminatory system instead of being simply redistributed throughout the body.

To summarize, productive and beneficial chelation protocols use small doses of proper chelators taken frequently. Dangerous protocols use large doses of inappropriate chelators taken infrequently. Productive chelation campaigns result in mercury removal and symptom improvement. Improper, dangerous protocols result in mercury redistribution and damage to the body with very little mercury removal or symptom improvement.

These principles of mercury chelation were discovered by Andrew Cutler, Ph.D. His book, Amalgam Illness: Diagnosis and Treatment, is the source from which to learn more about how to safely remove mercury from the body. Cutler’s approach to mercury testing and removal relies on sound science and has been used successfully by dozens of Lyme Disease sufferers. The book explains exactly how to remove mercury safely. I personally used Dr. Cutler’s methods to successfully cure my own severe mercury poisoning after several other popular mercury programs failed to heal me. My hair test mercury levels were the highest my health care practitioner had ever seen. 

The methods described in Amalgam Illness: Diagnosis and Treatment are not only effective in removing mercury from the body and reducing side effects during the process, but are also fairly affordable and can be used at home with minimal help from a physician. Anyone considering mercury detoxification should read Dr. Cutler's book before decisions are made. Even your trusted alternative medicine doctor, whom you see for all your needs, is probably wrong about mercury chelation. Mercury chelation is one of the riskiest and most complicated medical therapies you can undertake. Mistakes can cause serious suffering and sometimes permanent damage. 

Although the methods described in Amalgam Illness: Diagnosis and Treatment will help remove mercury from the body, the process can take months or years. Anyone embarking on a mercury detoxification program needs to know what to do, and what it feels like, in the meantime. 

Concurrent mercury toxicity and Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease sufferers need to be aware that having mercury poisoning and Lyme Disease at the same time can be a confusing, frustrating,

The above book is recommended for learning how to interpret hair tests to determine whether mercury poisoning is present.
The above book is our recommended resource for learning more about diagnosing and treating mercury poisoning that occurs with Lyme Disease.

 scary experience. As mentioned before, there is evidence that the Lyme Disease organism intentionally stores and sequesters mercury. This activity results in increased mercury concentrations in and near Lyme Disease colonies in the body—mercury and Lyme Disease are together in close quarters. For anyone afflicted with both mercury toxicity and Lyme Disease, the experience can be a frightening roller coaster ride. The following factors contribute to this experience:

  1. Mercury symptoms can be very similar to Lyme Disease symptoms. Because the Lyme Disease bacteria and mercury typically occupy the same places in the body, the symptoms of each are very difficult to distinguish. Someone with Lyme Disease may not be aware that they have mercury poisoning and thus assume that all of their symptoms are Lyme Disease-related, when in reality, some are mercury symptoms. A person who knows they have both mercury toxicity and Lyme Disease finds that the next challenge is to separate the symptoms and determine which are caused by which problem. 

  2. The confusion is compounded by the fact that as mercury chelators mobilize mercury, the Lyme Disease organism reacts. The presence of mercury in the living environment of the bacteria is advantageous to the bacteria. As the mercury-rich environment is altered, the infection responds with self-protective activities. This means that anyone undertaking chelation treatments will not only experience the symptoms and side effects of mercury mobilization and removal, they will also experience the effects of altered Lyme Disease symptoms.
    To make matters even more complicated, when Lyme Disease organisms are being killed or attacked, mercury symptoms may be altered as well. As you manipulate the Lyme bacteria’s living environment and kill Lyme Disease organisms, mercury is mobilized and released. Sometimes mercury is actually stored inside a spirochete or bacterial colony itself.

  3. When that colony is disrupted or eradicated (with antibiotics or rife machines or some other anti-Lyme treatment), mercury is released. This results in an outbreak of both herx reaction symptoms and mercury mobilization symptoms. In fact, many herx symptoms commonly experienced by Lyme Disease sufferers are actually symptoms of mercury mobilization. Because dying Lyme Disease organisms can release mercury, it is important to use a mercury detoxification protocol while undertaking anti-Lyme therapy to sop up the mercury that is released during the killing of Lyme Disease bacteria.

  4. Mercury is a very strong immunosuppressant, and its presence in the body may mask inflammatory Lyme Disease symptoms. Lyme Disease patients may actually feel that their Lyme Disease symptoms are better when they are mercury-poisoned because the inflammatory response to Lyme Disease is reduced. When mercury is removed from the body, an individual may experience increased Lyme Disease symptoms and herx reactions because the immune system has begun to function properly again.

These are just a few of the confusing elements involved in experiencing mercury toxicity and Lyme Disease (and the treatment of both) simultaneously. Further details are beyond the scope of this book, but by recognizing that the subject can be very complicated and by treating it with respect, you have taken the first step toward figuring out what is taking place in your body and what you can do about it.

As a final point before closing this mercury discussion, it should be noted that mercury chelators are not able to reach mercury stored inside Lyme Disease organisms until the organisms are killed and the mercury is released into circulation. Therefore, as long as there continues to be an active Lyme Disease infection, it is also likely that additional mercury is sequestered throughout the body. For this reason, mercury detoxification should not be considered to be finished until all Lyme Disease bacteria are completely eradicated. A mercury removal program is often needed for quite a long time, sometimes even years.

Lyme sufferers should consider carefully the possibility of mercury poisoning and that any stagnation in their healing progress may be, at least partially, a result of the presence of mercury in the body. It is essential first to find out if mercury is a problem, and then decide how to get rid of it. Most cases of Lyme Disease will not show satisfactory improvement (regardless of which anti-Lyme therapies are used) unless mercury toxicity is addressed. Lyme Disease and Rife Machines includes a helpful chart that provides additional mercury detoxification resources, including contact information for a health-care practitioner who is willing to work with Lyme Disease sufferers toward the task of mercury detoxification.

Fish, mercury, and omega fatty acids

Seafood is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. It has served as a staple food for numerous cultures around the world. It is rich in many important nutrients, the most important of which are omega fatty acids, which play an important role in numerous body functions. Of particular note is the crucial role omega fatty acids play in modulating inflammatory processes, strengthening the immune system, maintaining brain and nerve health, and healing or reversing toxic/chemical imbalances in the brain that can lead to a plethora of psychiatric symptoms.

Because Lyme Disease has deleterious effects on all of the organs and body systems mentioned above, omega fatty acids are critical in the recovery process. Not only do they facilitate deep healing in the body, they also provide relatively fast symptom reduction and increased energy. Omega fatty acids can reduce depression, promote brain healing, and bolster the immune system in fighting Lyme Disease.

Unfortunately, getting your omega fatty acids from fish has become a dangerous game of Russian roulette due to the fact that a large percentage of commercially available fish is contaminated with the toxic heavy metal mercury. Although some types and sources of fish have a lower risk of being contaminated with mercury, it can be difficult or impossible to tell which fish is safe and which is contaminated. Even a small amount of mercury can cause serious, long-term damage and increased symptoms. As we have seen earlier in this chapter, mercury itself causes major damage inside the body and even worse, it helps Lyme Disease bacteria survive and proliferate. The potential damaging effects of mercury poisoning are just too serious to ignore. Regrettably, the best course of action is simply to avoid fish consumption until recovery has been fully achieved. In some cases, maintaining a state of recovery may require forgoing fish consumption for the rest of your life.

An additional reason to avoid fish is that most fish has very high Vitamin D levels. As you can see by reading Chapter 2, Vitamin D can be very damaging to the Lyme Disease healing process.

The problem with avoiding fish in your diet (other than the obvious fact that you will simply miss it!) is that it can be difficult to consume adequate quantities of omega fatty acids without eating fish. There is, however, a workable solution. Flax seed oil, which is derived from the flax plant (also known as linseed) and is a completely vegetarian product, is rich in omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids, and can be used in the diet as a substitute for fish. Flax seed oil can be purchased at most health food stores and some grocery stores. It must be kept refrigerated. It has a strong taste and can be consumed alone but is more palatable when used as part of a recipe (note, though, that flax oil cannot be heated). One tablespoon of flax seed oil per day provides ample supply of omega fatty acids. One way to get your daily dose of flax seed oil is to use one tablespoon of it mixed with lemon juice as a salad dressing. Flax seed oil does not replace all the nutrients in fish, but it does supply the important omega fatty acids.

In addition to fish, it can be important to avoid other sources of marine mercury. Glucosamine chondroitin is one supplement that may be contaminated with mercury because it is made from shellfish shells. If you look around you can find safe, vegetarian glucosamine chondroitin supplements without seafood ingredients. Chitosan and chitosan oligosaccharide supplements, which were discussed in my first book, are also derived from the shells of shrimp and other sea crustaceans, and may carry the risk of mercury contamination. Chlorella, a popular supplement for mercury removal (which in my research is still unproven for this purpose) may also be contaminated.

One Lyme Disease sufferer recently told me that he knows of several brands of Omega fatty acids which claim to be heavy-metal free. If these supplements are indeed clean, they may be appropriate for use. The difficulty, I believe, is in verifying the veracity of such claims.

As a precautionary note, Dr. James Schaller has observed that in some individuals, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids can increase inflammation; so, be alert for this possible side effect.


Watch a video about what mercury does to your brain

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