My name is Dr Alison Adams and I am a UK and US trained dentist who got mercury poisoning. As a result, I had to sell my dental practice and quit dentistry and it was only when I retrained in natural medicine that I began to piece together how my health had totally collapsed in just 4 short decades.
I am going to share with you some of what I figured out about my own descent into chronic and debilitating ill health because perhaps your story – or the story of someone you know – is a bit like mine. I shan’t go into the specifics of mercury toxicity here but please refer to Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning, A History of Mercury Poisoning, Mercury Toxicity, Mercury Toxicity Questionnaire, Mercury Poisoning From Dental Amalgam and The Trouble With Amalgam Fillings for more information.
Mercury: The perfect poison
Mercury is, in fact, the perfect poison because the vapour is odourless, tasteless and invisible and so most people – and most of the doctors they consult – never consider the possibility that they might have been mercury poisoned.
In order to make sense of the following you need to understand that mercury is an extremely potent toxin that accumulates in the body not only over a lifetime, but through generations. In fact, between one-third and two-thirds of a mother’s mercury burden is passed to her offspring via the placenta in the womb and after birth in the breast milk.
We have some exposure to mercury from natural environmental sources such as volcanoes and atmospheric pollution (mostly from coal-fired power stations). We are also exposed to mercury in the fish that we eat, some household items such as fabric conditioners and floor polish, personal care items such as some contact lens solutions and other pharmaceuticals and other chemicals used in medical applications.
Mercury has been used in tonics and medicines for several centuries and the alchemists often used mercury to try and make gold since it is just one atomic weight heavier and no doubt were not as careful as they should have been.
However, mercury-containing dental amalgam fillings were introduced 180 years ago and are extensively used to this day. They represent the biggest source of exposure to mercury for most people (as determined by the World Health Organisation).
The nails in my coffin
Each of the events I am going to list was – I realise in retrospect – another nail in my coffin so we will take them one at a time.
Nail 1: Genetics
I come from a family with a big history of autoimmune diseases where the women in particular tend to be infertile, chronically sick and die relatively young. I wanted to solve my own health problems but also wanted to understand why genes that had – by definition lasted for millennia – should suddenly falter in the space of just two generations. I now understand that this relates to an inherited inability to excrete toxins in general and possibly mercury in particular.
Nail 2: Having an older mother
I was born to a mother who, at the age of forty and with teeth heavily filled with dental amalgam, had accumulated 40 years of toxins and in particular – mercury. There was a ten year gap between my birth and that of my older brother so that my mother had had a decade to accumulate toxins during which she undoubtedly had some more amalgam fillings. It is perhaps also not surprising that my mother had serious lifelong mental health problems!
Nail 3: Dental treatment while pregnant
My mother had amalgam fillings done whilst pregnant with me. Even in countries where there is currently no amalgam ban, placing amalgam fillings in pregnant women is now strongly advised against because the mercury is incorporated directly within the developing foetus.
Nail 4: A stressful childhood
I had a stressful childhood for a variety of reasons. During periods of trauma or chronic stress the normal processes of detoxification are suspended and toxins accumulate within the system. This is often a unifying factor in many people who become chronically, seriously or terminally ill decades later.
Nail 5: Vaccinations
I had all the recommended vaccinations and boosters which in those days nearly all contained the mercury preservative, thimerasol. Over a lifetime I must have had several dozen vaccinations as I had all the recommended vaccinations, the hepatitis B vaccinations and boosters required of health workers, and regular seasonal flu vaccinations, in addition to a number of other vaccines for foreign travel.
Nail 6: Amalgam fillings
I had approximately 20 dental amalgam fillings by adulthood – 13 of which were placed in the space of a few months when I first went to dental school and it was found that my dental health had been neglected by my hometown dentist.
Nail 7: Wisdom tooth extractions
I didn’t develop any lower wisdom teeth (developmentally absent teeth are actually an indication of poor nutrition) but I had my upper wisdom teeth extracted when I was about 20 years old. In many such extraction sites the bone never heals properly and what is called a cavitation can develop within the bone which can harbour microorganisms and produce noxious toxins. For more on this topic refer to Dental Cavitations.
Nail 8: Having gold and metal crowns
Although I never experienced any more dental disease after my teens, one by one my back teeth split or fractured and this is mostly a function of amalgam fillings which swell with heat more than the tooth and cause fracturing over time. For some of these fractured teeth I required metal-based crowns of different compositions. Placing gold in the mouth in the presence of amalgam fillings is known to accelerate mercury vapour production by a factor of 50.
Nail 9: Having root-fillings
Other amalgam filled teeth split through or close to the pulp or nerve of the tooth and required root fillings. I ultimately had 7 root fillings done starting when I was in my mid 30s. The structure of the tooth is porous and acts as a breeding ground for potentially hundreds of microorganisms. For more on this topic see Problems with Root Fillings.
Nail 10: Occupational mercury exposure
In addition to all the above, I also had a total of 25 years of occupational exposure to mercury vapour as both a dental student and a practising dentist. I also lived in my dental practice at one stage for 7 years and so was unwittingly exposed to mercury vapour 24/7 for the duration.
Nail 11: Accidental mercury spill
My dental assistant failed to put an amalgam cartridge in a mixer properly at one stage and the capsule flew out, hit the wall and shattered spilling droplets of liquid mercury which we could never locate. I had no idea how serious this was at the time as I continued to work in the centrally heated atmosphere for some time afterwards. With the benefit of hindsight I can now date my total health collapse back to this event.
Nail 12: Being female
Last, but not least, I am, as you may have already gathered – female – and the evidence indicates that women are disproportionately affected by this issue compared to men. In fact, it suggests that women may be up to nine times more likely to suffer harm than men as a result of mercury poisoning.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning
Here are just some of the symptoms I suffered from as a result of my cumulative mercury exposure:
- Chronic fatigue
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic insomnia
- Weight gain
- Partial deafness
- Hypoglycaemia (poorly controlled blood sugar)
- Deteriorating vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Menstrual irregularity
- Severe period pains and/or PMT
- Multiple miscarriages
- Multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS)
- Food intolerances
- Chronic infections
- Poor memory
- Low blood pressure and heart rate
- Digestive problems
- Poor stress response
- TMJ (jaw joint) dysfunction
Mercury poisoning is a truly horrendous affliction and because it poisons all body systems causing multiple symptoms not only is the cause rarely diagnosed, but the sufferers are treated as hypochondriacs or neurotics and given antidepressants.
Over 3 centuries ago the Italian physician Dr Bernardino Ramazzini was moved to establish the speciality of occupational medicine when he witnessed the extreme suffering of workers occupationally exposed to mercury.
“Very few mercury exposed workers reached old age, and it was said that even if they did not die young, their health was so terribly undermined that they prayed for death.”
Dr Bernardino Ramazzini, The Founder of Occupational Medicine
Of course, mercury isn’t the only toxin that we are exposed to, but it is one of the most devastating to human health and the one to which many of us are most exposed. It also exerts a disproportionate effect as it potentiates many other toxins so that one part of mercury and one part of another toxin such as aluminium can exert one hundred fold the effect of either toxin alone.
Having retrained as a naturopath I have managed to reclaim my health using the methods I share in my book The Natural Recovery Plan, but, and I shan’t lie to you, it has been a long gruelling and expensive process requiring lots of determination and persistence, but the alternative was undoubtedly an early grave – like many of my female relatives.
Solving the problem: The illness business?
What is known is that over the last 30 years the incidence of many diseases has risen stratospherically and the medical profession is left scratching its head while the problems get worse. They call for more research funding while ignoring the obvious and provable fact that illness is toxicity.
It was never a good idea to implant the second most toxic non-radioactive substance known to man in time release form into people’s mouths. The fact that this started 180 years ago is almost forgivable (given the understanding at the time). The fact that we are still doing it now when there are alternatives available is, in my opinion, a crime against humanity and makes all of the other human folly pale into insignificance.
When confronted with this issue most dentists will parrot what they were taught at dental school which is that there’s no evidence to support the toxicity of amalgam. I’ll be honest, I used to believe that too, but I can categorically state, that having spent the best part of 10 years looking at the evidence, that they simply don’t know the information and worse, they don’t know that they don’t know. It’s a case of “My mind’s made up – don’t confuse me with the facts.” even when it is their own health which is most at stake! For more on this subject please refer to the Research section.
The powers that be – the universities, big pharma, the scientific establishment when it comes down to it are all businesses which are heavily invested in maintaining the status quo. For this and other reasons there is a recognised (and in this case particularly tragic) lead time of at least 30 years for ideas to reach a critical mass. The amalgam issue has become a political rather than scientific issue and there is a huge amount of money and some rather large egos at stake along with a big measure of face saving (having insisted it was safe for so long).
The list of ‘nails in my coffin’ supplied here is not exhaustive and there are, of course, many other factors. Finally it is ironic that I was poisoned not only by my own occupational exposure to mercury but also by the very dental procedures I practised so diligently.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
What is needed is a paradigm shift in our approach to health and disease and I can tell you this now: it won’t be coming from pharmaceutical medicine which only stands to profit from your misery.
Don’t leave it to the powers that be. You need to take this issue into your own hands, but it is also really important that you know what you are doing because you are dealing with a very potent toxin. Although my book was specifically aimed at those who have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, in my mind neither of these diseases exist per se – they are for the most part mercury poisoning (For more on this topic see There are no diseases). And it is this and how to remedy the issue that my book, The Natural Recovery Plan addresses.
In my opinion everyone in the developed world has some degree of mercury toxicity, whether and when this becomes problematic is and how it manifest is the only unknowable factor.