Dr Alfred Zamm

The standard conservative medical school textbook, The Textbook of Pharmacology by Goodman and Gilman, contains the following passage about mercury, "Doctors very rarely make the diagnosis of mercury poisoning because the symptoms are so varied. It comes in many disguises." To paraphrase the text: Mercury poisoning is like a ghost. You don't know it's there. It comes and goes, in different masks. Some years ago, I wrote an article called "The Removal of Dental Mercury--Often an Effective Treatment for the Very Sensitive Patient," and I listed probably 50 symptoms associated with mercury poisoning. The top three of the 50 would be fatigue, inappropriate coldness, and sugar intolerance. These patients will crave sugar and eat sweet things, and may or may not know that they will get sick. They may eat sweets on Monday and get sick on Tuesday. They may have all sorts of bizarre symptoms--muscle aches and pains, fatigue, headaches, personality changes. Remember, you don't have to have all of the symptoms to have mercury poisoning. You can have one, and sometimes it comes, and sometimes it goes.

Here are some other common symptoms of mercury poisoning: headaches, difficulty concentrating, difficulty with reading comprehension, forgetfulness, depression, and skin changes.

It is very difficult to prove mercury poisoning, except after the fact when the mercury is out and the patient feels better. Now taking a whole group of fillings out is not a minor issue. So I have devised some tests that people can do themselves in order to assess whether or not it is worth proceeding in this direction.

First of all, if you crave sugar and sugar makes you sick, and you are already suspicious about that, then take this test. First, try taking selenium, which is a mineral that binds with mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. If you feel better after taking selenium, it is a clue, not a diagnosis. About 20 years ago, when I started to investigate selenium, I realized that there was a paradox. Some people got better right away, some people took about three months, and some people got worse. I finally figured out that the patients who got worse were those who were most sensitive. They were the ones who were really sick--the ones who needed it the most but because of a peculiar intolerance to everything, including the things they needed, couldn't deal with the selenium. To overcome this, I had the very sensitive patients dilute chemically pure selenium down to very small dilutions. By starting with very small dilutions and gradually building it up over a period of three months, these very sick patients started to get better.

Aside from tying up these toxic substances--mercury, cadmium, and arsenic--selenium is also protective against cancer. A study was done by a man named Schroeder at Dartmouth. He investigated 50 cities in the United States, found their cancer rates, and rated them from highest to lowest. Then he also found out the selenium content of their water and lined them up. The cities with the highest selenium had the lowest cancer rate, and vice versa. Later on, this correlation turned out to be causally connected. Selenium does provide protection against cancer--probably due to its tying up of toxic metals like cadmium, arsenic, and mercury. Moreover, selenium is an atom that fits into a molecule called glutathionperoxidase, which helps to destroy dangerous, foreign chemicals that just don't belong in our bodies, such as petrochemicals, floor wax, and insecticides. So when you take selenium, you're not only knocking out mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, you are also helping to produce more glutathionperoxidase, which protects you from environmental contaminants. So if you feel better, it is not an absolute diagnosis of mercury poisoning.

Within pyruvate dehydrogenase dehydrogentated complex, there are three enzymes. The first one uses thiamine, vitamin B1. If you are tired all the time, and you take 25 mg of thiamine once or twice a day, which is a low dose, and you notice you feel better, that is another clue you might have mercury poisoning. Now you have the selenium and the thiamine clue.

The last thing is zinc. If you look at the periodic table that shows how the elements are arranged, you'll notice that there is a column containing zinc, cadmium, and mercury, in order from top to bottom. If you have too much cadmium and mercury in the body, they will replace zinc in the enzymes. Now our bodies have 50 to 75 enzymes with zinc in them. So if you have mercury knocking out your zinc, then you know why it is poisoning you. It is inactivating enzymes by knocking out the zinc, which is supposed to be there, and replacing it with mercury which doesn't work. This is cellular poisoning. You are not burning sugar, which is why you are cold and tired, and that's why you are sugar-intolerant.

Why do some people who have mercury in their bodies not get sick? In a speech I gave to the FDA in March 1991, I explained the reason. We are all different; some of us are small, some tall. It's the same thing with enzymes. We are genetically pleomorphic, meaning that some people have a lot of enzymes that work very well and some people don't have much of the enzymes and they don't work very well. Some of us who have mercury in our bodies will be able to deal with it, and there are others who won't be able to deal with it. Those who are just getting by, who were born with a slight deficiency, will just get through. But if, at age 12 or 13, people are poisoned by having mercury fillings put in their mouths, those who have strong enzyme systems may not notice much, but those who are marginal start to manifest symptoms, but usually not right away. After a few months, a child can't concentrate at school. Maybe he develops allergies, and nobody connects it with the filling that was put in six months before.

I have patients with a single filling who experience problems. One woman, a Russian emigrant who had no fillings, at age 20 got a single filling. She came to me at 22 with a shopping bag full of medicine. She didn't know what was wrong with her. She couldn't think. She was nauseated and sick all the time. When I asked her when it all started, she said it had been two years. I looked into her mouth, and saw the single filling, and asked her when she had gotten it. She said it had been put in two years ago. I asked which had come first, the filling or the illness. And she said, "Oh my God. It was three months after the filling was put in that I got sick." She was a very skeptical woman who didn't trust American medicine or anything. I told her she had to have it taken out. She was so desperate that she said, "I don't believe a word you are saying but I'm going to have it taken out because I'm afraid that I will die if I don't." She had the filling removed. In 17 days, she was able to start eating some foods that she couldn't eat before. It took about three months before she saw some substantial results and she came back and said to me, "I believe it." Now that was a single filling.

I have one patient, a young child, who had a filling the size of a pinhead and I didn't see it because it was in the back. You'd need a special dental mirror. And I said to the mother, "I don't understand this case. This child can't tolerate sugar, he is hyperkinetic." (Hyperkinesis, or hyperactivity, is one of the symptoms of mercury poisoning.) I said, "This has to be a case of mercury poisoning. This child was perfectly well until he was seven. But I don't see any fillings." She said, "Doctor, there is a filling there." So I got a dental mirror from a colleague of mine and looked. Sure enough, there was a filling the size of a pinhead. I couldn't believe it. I had the filling removed, and within three months the child was substantially improved. This child was genetically pleomorphic in the sense that he had a very inefficient oxidation process.

When you talk about genetically pleomorphic individuals who are sensitive, such as the Russian emigrant woman, they are going to have all the things that I have mentioned, including depressions, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. If you are not oxidizing, if you are not burning sugar, you are energy-deficient and you are going to be deficient in many other organ functions. Mercury poisoning from dental fillings is so elusive because it is turning down the valve of their lives. Each organ will express itself in its own dysfunction. That is why muscle aches and depression and all those things go together. But some organs are a little stronger than others so they won't manifest symptoms.

If a patient comes in and says, "I'm depressed," one of the causes is probably mercury poisoning. I once gave a lecture to a group of graduate students in psychology because the chairman of the department, who was my patient, was so impressed with the fact that you could get the patient better physically and affect the mental illness. The title of the lecture was "How I Would Like to Be Treated if I Were a Patient."

Here's what I said, in short: First, we have to make sure the patient is physically healthy. Let the patient be investigated by a good internist who gives a thorough physical examination, assuming nothing. Next, we want to make sure that the person doesn't have allergies. Third, we ascertain whether or not the person has biochemical disruptions, from exposure to toxic elements, including mercury. After we do steps 1, 2, and 3, we go to step 4, which is to recommend going to speak to a psychologist.

In the case of mercury poisoning, there may be enough oxygen, but the person's body can't burn it because the burning mechanism has shut down. In every case of depression, physical deficiencies and toxic poisoning should first be considered before resorting to therapy and psychotropic medications such as antidepressants. I have seen hundreds of these cases.

How is it possible that, in the 1990s, dentists are continuing to put a toxic substance in our mouths? We need some historical perspective on the issue. In 1826, a Parisian named Taveau discovered that if you took silver coins and filed them into dust and mixed it with mercury, and then squeezed the mercury out, this putty would harden quickly. Then you could take this puttylike material, push it into a cavity in someone's mouth, and it would harden like concrete. Other people realized that this wasn't such a good idea and there were arguments back and forth. Then, in 1833 in New York, two brothers went into the business of doing this process on a mass scale. It's a cheap filling. You don't have to be a good dentist to make a mercury filling.

The so-called silver amalgam filling is a lie. This "silver" filling is only 30 percent silver, but it is 50 percent mercury and 20 percent various other metals that can produce hardness. They call it a silver filling when the major ingredient is mercury. So I refer to it as a mercury filling.

The reason this date, 1826, is important is it's the first quarter of the 1800s, when the degree of ignorance, compared to what we know now, was incredible. In 1860, just to give you some more perspective, a man in Vienna said to doctors, "If you don't wash your hands before you examine pregnant women, you are going to spread disease." They didn't know about germs in those days. This man was thrown out of the medical society because he was impugning the reputation of physicians. It was not until 1875 that Louis Pasteur and others proved that germs were the cause of disease. Now 1826 was roughly 50 years before doctors understood germ theory, and yet we are still using that same dental technology today, about 175 years later.

How can mercury fillings still be considered to be safe? The answer: If you did it before, it's okay to do it again. For example, lead pipes were the standard for years, so they are still okay now. Luckily, we have finally gotten around to seeing that lead pipes weren't really safe, that the lead leaching into the water causes brain damage. So we've stopped using lead in pipes. We still have tobacco from when the colonists smoked it with the Indians hundreds of years ago. You still can't convince some people that it's not healthy to smoke. We continue to sell tobacco and other poisonous substances out of habit and the profit motive.

The same is true with mercury fillings. There is no proof that they are safe. Now, if you went out to buy a can of soup in the supermarket, it would be strange to have the clerk behind the counter say to you, "I'd like you to prove the safety of this can." You would say, "What are you talking about? I'm purchasing the can. The fact that you are selling it implies that you are saying that it's safe." But the clerk says, "Not when it comes to soup. When it comes to soup, it is the responsibility of the purchaser to prove that it is safe or not safe. We as the sellers don't have to do anything." That's the situation we're in with mercury fillings. No one has ever proved that mercury fillings are safe in human beings. They should prove it. But instead, the dental industry has turned it around and said, "No, you have to prove it is unsafe." They say it is safe but they haven't proven it.

We are continuing to use a 175-year-old anachronistic mixture of crude coin filings mixed with mercury. And we are walking around with this mixture in our teeth without any proof of safety. Charlemagne said, "If the populace knew with what idiocy they were ruled, they would revolt." That goes for some of the things that they do in dentistry.,

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