Fluoride and the Brain

As we have seen, the brain is one of the most metabolically active organs in the body, highly dependent on its energy supply for proper functioning. As a consequence, anything that interferes with energy production will interfere with nervous system function. Fluoride poisons the enzymes used to make that energy.

Because many toxicology studies amply demonstrated fluoride's toxic effects on cells in experimental animals, one of the chief questions that kept popping up was: what effect does fluoride have on brain function? Available evidence indicated that the effects can be quite severe and cumulative. A summary of several reports on fluoride toxicity of occupationally exposed workers found that 25 percent of the workers exposed to cryolite who developed skeletal fluorosis also showed signs of nervous system effects such as difficulty thinking, fatigue, and memory problems.134 Similar neurological effects were seen in other workers exposed to high levels of fluoride.

Other studies have described generalized progressive fatigue and a decline in mental acuity seen in persons living within three miles of a factory emitting hydrogen fluoride gas. Unlike cryolite workers, these individuals were exposed to much lower levels, emphasizing the extreme toxicity of fluoride. In another experiment, volunteers were asked to submit to a special psychomotor test in which they were to track a moving target before and after receiving a drop of water under their tongue, containing varying doses of fluoride (0.1, 1, 10 and 100 ppm).135 The fluoride resulted in an increased rate of errors in attempting the test. One unusual finding was that the two highest doses of fluoride actually increased response time, a phenomenon that may be related to excitotoxicity.

The Developing Brain

It is accepted that a baby's developing nervous system is much more vulnerable to toxins than the mature adult brain. China, which has areas with naturally high fluoride levels in the water, has supplied us with much information on the toxic effects of fluoride. One study compared two villages matched for population, one with 4.12 ppm fluoride in the water system and the other with 0.91 ppm fluoride. It was found that children born in the high-fluoride village had a statistically significant lower median IQ as compared to its sister city. Dental fluorosis was present in 86 percent of children in the high-fluoride village and only 14 percent in the low fluoride village. You may recall that the ADA, as well as the U.S. regulatory agencies, insist that at 4 ppm, fluoride is safe for children and pregnant women.

Other studies have confirmed the findings of the Chinese research. In fact, one study found that there was a ten-point drop in IQ in the medium-severe fluorosis areas compared to low fluoride areas.'36 It is important to realize that these effects conform to a bell-shaped curve, with the number of children having IQs below seventy increasing as much as 21 percent, as well as a marked decrease in the number of children having IQs in the higher range. So you have more severely impaired children as well as fewer highly intelligent children. Fluoridation represents nothing less than the chemical dumbing-down of future generations.

Two Critical Studies

Two fairly recent studies have demonstrated the brain toxicity of fluoride in animals. In both studies, fluoride concentrations in the brains of test animals were equivalent to those achieved in humans through fluoridation programs, other environmental fluoride accumulations, use in toothpaste and mouthwashes, and dental treatments. It is important to remember that these studies were concerned with total body accumulations. With time, just as we saw with mercury, the retained fluoride reaches a level where it is extremely toxic.

In the first experiment, reported by Dr. Phyllis Mullenix and co-workers, 532 rats were exposed to different doses of fluoride in drinking water during three stages of life: prenatal, weaning, and as adults.137 In the prenatal part of the experiment, researchers injected a fluoride solution under the mother rats' skins on the seventeenth through nineteenth days of pregnancy. When born, some of the baby rats demonstrated unusual hyperactivity. Strangely, only the males were affected.

The concentration of fluoride used in this phase of the experiment was comparable to that already seen in some parts of the country, and as the amount of fluoride increases in our environment due to widespread water fluoridation and contamination of foods, these levels will be increasingly more common. For example, humans ingesting drinking water containing 5-10 ppm fluoride will have similar blood fluoride levels as the animals used in these experiments. Plasma fluoride levels of 1.44 ppm, a level almost six times higher than the toxic levels seen in these experiments, have been found in children treated with fluoride gels in dentists' offices.138

In the Mullenix experiment, hyperactivity appeared to be caused by fluoride acting on the hippocampus of the temporal lobes of the brain, a part of the brain that plays a vital role in emotions, learning, and behavior. The reason only newborn males were affected can be attributed to gender-specific differences in brain development. We already know that many drugs act differently on males and females at this early stage of life.

Behavioral effects were different when animals were exposed to fluoride either soon after birth or as adults. The subjects in this case became sluggish, like human couch potatoes. Specific behavioral impacts depended on the timing of fluoride exposure during brain development. There was also a direct correlation between the level of fluoride accumulated in the brain (hippocampus) and behavioral effects in adult females, but not adult males.

Researchers also examined seven different regions of test animals' brains after fluoride exposure and found the substance in all seven areas. This study is particularly valuable because previous researchers had insisted that fluoride could not breach the blood-brain barrier.13' It also proved that with long-term exposure, fluoride not only enters but accumulates widely in all areas of the brain.

The experiment is noteworthy not only for its scientific findings but also because the Forsyth Dental Research Institute, which commissioned it, attempted to destroy the research when it became obvious that the results would damage the fluoridation campaign. So who is Dr. Phyllis Mullenix? Her credentials are impeccable: she is considered one of the top toxicologists in the country, and at the time of her fluoride research held major research positions at Harvard University's Department of Neuropathology and Psychiatry and the Forsyth Dental Research Institute.

The design of Dr. Mullenix's research project was one of the most advanced and objectively based known. It used a computer pattern recognition system that removed usual human biases from interpretation of test results. For example, normal behavioral patterns of newborn and adult rodents were written into the computer program itself, producing a rigid standard for interpretation of results on all the test animals.

In one interview, she said the first portent that her findings had become unwelcome came when she was ordered to present her findings to the National Institute of Dental Research, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As she walked the Institute's corridors she began to realize that she was not dealing with objective, unbiased observers. The walls were plastered with posters extolling the "Miracle of Fluoride" and ridiculed those opposed to fluoridation. She was preparing to give a lecture on the dangers of fluoridation to fluoridation zealots!

She was quickly dismissed from her position at Forsyth after her presentation to the National Institute of Dental Research. Why? Because her research did not pertain to the dental field, they said. I ask: if fluoride toxicity doesn't pertain to the dental field, what does?

She was also pried for the name of the journal scheduled to publish her groundbreaking work. She refused, knowing inordinate pressure would be applied to the editorial staff of the journal to retract the article. Prior to the NIH's vicious attack on her character and the integrity of her science, she had submitted her research findings to one of the most prestigious journals in the field of neurotoxicology, the Journal of Neurotoxicology and Teratology. It had been immediately accepted for publication as a new and important finding in the field of toxicology.

Not long after her dismissal, the Forsyth Dental Research Institute received a quarter-million dollar grant from the Colgate Company, and before she could retrieve her specially designed equipment from their building it was destroyed by a mysteriously appearing water leak in the ceiling.

Following her dismissal from the Forsyth Institute, Dr. Mullenix received an unfunded appointment at Boston's Children's Hospital. In a moment of unguarded candor, officials there admitted they were frightened of the fluoride supporters' power to evaporate funding for "out of line" institutions.

Another vital piece of research involved a study of the brain effects of combined aluminum and fluoride exposure. This experiment is especially important because these two metals frequently occur together in foods and beverages. Aluminum occurs naturally to some extent in drinking water, but is also added as a clarifying agent. Given that fluorine and fluoride compounds are some of the most reactive substances known to man, this fact is of particular significance when we are talking about fluoridated drinking water and the aluminum containers in which so many drinks and food products are sold.

For this reason, any fluoride-containing product in an aluminum container, including fluoridated toothpaste in aluminum tubes, aluminum cans, aluminum cookware, and aluminum-containing foods mixed with fluoridated water, can potentially form the harmful aluminum fluoride compound AIF3.

Entry of aluminum into the brain past the blood-brain barrier often involves special carrier molecules or combinations thereof. For example, albumin can carry aluminum into the brain, especially when magnesium deficiency is present. Recently, it has been shown that when aluminum combines with fluoride there is increased transport of both into the brain.

In an attempt to further examine this process, and study the resulting brain toxicity of the mixture, Varner and co-workers gave twenty-seven adult male Long-Evans rats distilled water containing fluoride as either aluminum fluoride at 0.5 ppm or sodium fluoride at 2.1 ppm.140 Because relative fluorine concentrations in the two compounds differ, the doses were calculated so that both groups of animals received a comparable dose based on the form in which it was ingested.

While there were no differences in the body weights of the two groups, the animals who drank the aluminum fluoride water died in greater numbers. At the end of the experiment, researchers examined brain, kidney, liver, and spleen tissues, observing several important effects. First, the animals drinking the aluminum fluoride water demonstrated a progressive decline in appearance, with sparse hair growth, dry, flaky, copper-colored skin and a gener alized unhealthy appearance. This was thought to be secondary to the damaging effect on the animals' kidneys, since aluminum levels in the animals drinking the aluminum-fluoride water were nearly double that of the control animals and animals drinking sodium fluoride treated water alone.

Additionally, animals who drank the aluminum fluoride water had brain levels of aluminum higher than animals drinking the sodium fluoride water, and levels over twice as high as those drinking plain distilled water. Control animals had both aluminum and fluoride in their brain tissue. This was because the Purina Rodent Lab Chow that all the animals ate contained from 150-8,300 ppm aluminum, and also contained fluoride.

This is important because there is a strong link between brain aluminum levels and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Histological examinations of test animals' brains indicated that damage was concentrated in the left hemisphere of the brain, with a significant reduction in neuron density. This loss of brain cells was greater in animals drinking aluminum fluoride water than in those given sodium fluoride or distilled water. The damaged neurons exhibited clumping, enhanced protein staining, and destructive chromosomal changes. Similar damage was seen in the blood vessels supplying this part of the brain as well, a consistent finding in Alzheimer's disease.

This type of damage to the brain's blood vessels could lead to the same changes in the blood-brain barrier we see in Alzheimer's disease. Animals exposed to both aluminum fluoride and sodium fluoride showed a buildup of vascular R-amyloid in the lateral posterior thalamus. B-amyloid is a commonly seen inclusion in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease.

Especially frightening is that severe brain changes were observed following consumption of water containing only 0.5 ppm of the aluminum fluoride compound. You will recall that most communities are adding 1-1.5 ppm fluoride to drinking water. When combined with aluminum naturally found in drinking water, as well as numerous other sources of aluminum, an extremely brain toxic compound is formed. This brings into serious question the assurances being given by the ADA and the EPA that a fluoride level of 1 ppm in drinking water is safe. You must also take into consideration that the developing brain and the elderly brain are much more sensitive to such injuries.

Many conditions in the elderly make them much more susceptible. For example, they are more likely to be deficient in antioxidant nutrients, have long-term brain cell injury secondary to aging and disease, suffer from cerebrovascular disease, have other metal toxicities and low calcium levels. With aging, all of these conditions lead to severely weakened brain cells that are much more sensitive to injury by such toxins.

Other Effects on the Brain

An early change that has been observed in the brains of those developing Parkinson's disease is a significant reduction in the energy molecule, CoQIO. Animal experiments have indicated that chronic fluoride exposure at levels equal to accumulated concentrations high enough to produce fluorosis can significantly lower brain CoQIO levels,141 which may be the result of a dramatic increase in brain free-radical formation caused by the fluoride.

Fluoride, and especially aluminum fluoride, has been shown to interfere with brain cells' ability to form their normal skeletal structure (called a cytoskeleton).142 This process is vital during fetal brain development, and it also plays a significant role in the ongoing health of brain cells.

We know that cell membranes play a vital role in all cell functions, and their exact composition must be carefully regulated to preserve normal functions. One recent study found that rats who were fed fluoride for seven months experienced a 10-20 percent reduction in brain phospholipid contents, depending on the concentration of fluoride used.143 Fluoride when combined with aluminum was found to inhibit an important cell-membrane enzyme called phospholipase D. Interestingly, neither fluoride nor aluminum alone had any effect on the enzyme; it was inhibitory only when they were combined.

One of the most common sources of aluminum fluoride complexes is in liquids packaged in aluminum cans, a combination that is especially hazardous with acidic fruit juices and diet drinks. Acidic juices leach aluminum from the wall of the can and disperse it throughout the juice. Most canned fruit juices, especially grape juice, also contain added fluoride. Grape juice can contain as much as 6 ppm fluoride. Remember, the fluoride itself is highly reactive and will leach aluminum from the can as well. Soft drinks also present special hazards. While all soft drinks containing fluoride will leach aluminum from the can, diet sodas may be worse than regular sodas because the fluoride content, at least in one study, was higher in the diet drinks. Although most aluminum cans now have inner linings, the coating may be defective and can also be fractured during shipping.

To prevent local supplies from altering a soda's standardized taste, most water used in soft drinks is normally filtered of all impurities or is manufactured using distilled water. Ironically, the Coca-Cola Company bottles and sells water (under the name Dasani) purified by the reverse osmosis method, which removes fluoride from water, but their soda actually contains fluoride. Presumably, Dasani is the same water they use to make their soft drinks and it would make sense that Coke should actually be fluoride free. That it isn't would indicate that they are purposefully adding fluoride back in.

Furthermore, the longer a canned drink sits, especially at higher temperatures, the more aluminofluoride compound will be created in the drink. This would be a major consideration, for example, in the millions of diet soft drinks donated to soldiers in the Persian Gulf. These drinks sat in the blazing heat, over 105° F, for weeks. In addition, the drinks contained the toxic sweetener, aspartame, which in the heat breaks down very quickly into the carcinogenic compound, diketopiperizine, as well as formaldehyde and formic acid.

Another potential source of aluminofluoride is fluoridated toothpaste packaged in aluminum tubes. Toothpaste typically contains from 1,000-1,500 ppm fluoride, a very high concentra tion of fluoride. In fact, this much fluoride could easily kill a child or an elderly person with low calcium levels or a bad heart.

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