Heavy metal toxicity has proven to be a major threat and there are several health risks associated with it. The toxic effects of these metals, even though they do not have any biological role, remain present in some or the other form harmful for the human body and its proper functioning.
They sometimes act as a pseudo element of the body while at certain times they may even interfere with metabolic processes. Few metals, such as aluminium, can be removed through elimination activities, while some metals get accumulated in the body and food chain, exhibiting a chronic nature. Various public health measures have been undertaken to control, prevent and treat metal toxicity occurring at various levels, such as occupational exposure, accidents and environmental factors. Metal toxicity depends upon the absorbed dose, the route of exposure and duration of exposure, i.e. acute or chronic. This can lead to various disorders and can also result in excessive damage due to oxidative stress induced by free radical formation. This review gives details about some heavy metals and their toxicity mechanisms, along with their health effects.
The metallic mercury is a naturally occurring metal which is a shiny silver-white, odorless liquid and becomes colorless and odorless gas when heated. Mercury is very toxic and exceedingly bioaccumulative. Its presence adversely affects the marine environment and hence many studies are directed towards the distribution of mercury in water environment. Major sources of mercury pollution include anthropogenic activities such as agriculture, municipal wastewater discharges, mining, incineration, and discharges of industrial wastewater (Chen et al., 2012).
Mercury exists mainly in three forms: metallic elements, inorganic salts and organic compounds, each of which possesses different toxicity and bioavailability. These forms of mercury are present widely in water resources such as lakes, rivers and oceans where they are taken up by the microorganisms and get transformed into methyl mercury within the microorganism, eventually undergoing biomagnification causing significant disturbance to aquatic lives. Consumption of this contaminated aquatic animal is the major route of human exposure to methyl mercury (Trasande et al., 2005). Mercury is extensively used in thermometers, barometers, pyrometers, hydrometers, mercury arc lamps, fluorescent lamps and as a catalyst. It is also being used in pulp and paper industries, as a component of batteries and in dental preparations such as amalgams. Figure 4 shows the global usage of mercury for various applications (the GEF and Mercury: The Challenge By Ibrahima Sow, GEF Climate & Chemicals Team. Available from: http://www.thegef.org/gef/greenline/april-2012/gef-and-mercury-challenge).
The global usage of mercury for various applications (total in 2005: 3,760 metric tons).
Mechanism of mercury toxicity
Mercury is well known as a hazardous metal and its toxicity is a common cause of acute heavy metal poisoning with cases of 3,596 in 1997 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Methylmercury is a neurotoxic compound which is responsible for microtubule destruction, mitochondrial damage, lipid peroxidation and accumulation of neurotoxic molecules such as serotonin, aspartate, and glutamate (Patrick, 2002). The total amount of mercury emission into the environment has been assessed at 2,200 metric tons annually (Ferrara et al., 2000). It is estimated that 8 to 10% of American women have mercury levels that would induce neurological disorders in any child they gave birth to, according to both the Environmental Protection Agency and National Academy of Science (Haley, 2005). Animals which are exposed to toxic mercury have shown adverse neurological and behavioral changes. Rabbits when exposed to 28.8 mg/m3 mercury vapor for 1 to 13 weeks have shown vague pathological changes, marked cellular degeneration and brain necrosis (Ashe et al., 1953).
The brain remains the target organ for mercury, yet it can impair any organ and lead to malfunctioning of nerves, kidneys and muscles. It can cause disruption to the membrane potential and interrupt with intracellular calcium homeostasis. Mercury binds to freely available thiols as the stability constants are high (Patrick, 2002). Mercury vapors can cause bronchitis, asthma and temporary respiratory problems. Mercury plays a key role in damaging the tertiary and quaternary protein structure and alters the cellular function by attaching to the selenohydryl and sulfhydryl groups which undergo reaction with methyl mercury and hamper the cellular structure. It also intervenes with the process of transcription and translation resulting in the disappearance of ribosomes and eradication of endoplasmic reticulum and the activity of natural killer cells. The cellular integrity is also affected causing free radical formation. The basis for heavy metal chelation is that even though the mercury sulfhydryl bond is stable and divided to surrounding sulfhydryl consisting ligands, it also contributes free sulfhydryl groups to promote metal mobility within the ligands (Bernhoft, 2011).
How can I do a mercury detox?
There are a few ways to go about doing a mercury detox, depending on your level of exposure.
If you have mercury poisoning with a very high level of mercury in your blood, your doctor will probably recommend chelation therapy. This method involves using medications, called chelators, that bind to mercury in your body and help it to exit your system.
Chelators can be taken as a pill or injected. Be aware that this therapy can cause problems if your body has a problem with detoxing it. Because f the chelation free Mercury can come into your system and will place itself at other places. This means the Mercury s not out of your system but it's just moved position.
A quick internet search for mercury detox turns up several methods and products that promise quick results. However, there is not always much research to support the effectiveness or safety of these methods.
When looking at different home remedies for a mercury detox, keep these questions in mind:
Is the treatment safe?
What are the risks?
Will this help lower mercury levels in my body?
Is the source trustworthy and qualified to make these recommendations?
How expensive is the treatment? Is the cost in line with the benefits or risks of not doing a detox?
One of the best home remedies to detox your body from all kinds of heavy metals end other toxins is called CleanSlate. This product is based on the best natural sources and is using a Cliniptilolite derivate combined with natural minerals and vitamins. The company has a small range of products that are all helpful in reclaiming your wellness.
There are also some simple mercury detox opportunities without any special products:
Eating more fiber. Your body naturally gets rid of mercury and other potentially toxic substances through feces. Eating more fiber helps to move things more regularly through your gastrointestinal tract, resulting in more bowel movements. Try adding these high-fiber foods to your diet.
Drinking more water. Mercury is also eliminated in urine, so drinking extra water can help to speed up the process.
Avoiding exposure. The best way to get rid of mercury in your body is to avoid sources of it whenever you can. As you reduce your exposure, the level of mercury in your body will decrease as well.
How can I reduce my exposure to mercury?
If you’re concerned about mercury, follow these tips to protect yourself from unnecessary exposure:
Know your fish. Large fish, such as tuna and swordfish, live longer and absorb more mercury from the sea. Try to limit your consumption of larger fish and opt for smaller ones, such as salmon or shrimp. Learn more about the link between mercury levels and eating fish.
Avoid amalgam fillings. Many older dental fillings contain mercury. Over time, this mercury can start to escape the fillings. If you’re sensitive to the mercury from the amalgam fillings you have, talk to your dentist about replacing them with high-density tooth-colored resin. If you have a cavity that needs a filling, have your dentist use the tooth-colored resin.
Watch out for pollution. Air, water, and soil around industrial sites may contain higher levels of mercury than found elsewhere. Use water filters that specifically filter mercury. If you do a lot of gardening, wear gloves when digging in the soil to limit skin absorption.
The bottom line
During our life we are constantly exposed to all kinds of heavy metals, toxic chemicals and mold spores. Therefore it's important you take care of your body and wellness by eliminating the load of toxins in your body.
Avoiding as much as possible, drinking enough good quality water, exercise and resting are important things to work on your wellness. To support your detox process and wellness in an easy way you can take CleanSlate drops. This way you optimize your system to get better wellness overall.
Thanks to Monisha Jaishankar, Tenzin Tseten, [...], and Krishnamurthy N. Beeregowda
This blog makes no health claims in any way. If you have health issues always visit a qualified medical expert. Don't wait just do it now!