The 4 Best Ways to Test for Mercury Toxicity
Weakness. Irritability. Headaches. Trouble sleeping. While these are symptomatic of several illnesses, if you've tried — and failed — to come up with a diagnosis that completely fits your symptoms, you may be suffering from mercury poisoning. People who have had amalgam fillings at any point in their lives are at a particularly high risk for poisoning from this heavy metal. Other significant mercury exposures include thimerosal through vaccines, consumption of high mercury fish like tuna, playing with an old broken mercury thermometer, and many more.
Mercury toxicity doesn't always show up in laboratory tests, making it tough to definitively point to as the cause of symptoms. That's because mercury is capable of strongly bonding to the cells inside organs, where it won't show in blood, urine, or hair tests. You can be highly mercury toxic — and it won't be apparent in the basic tests your doctor orders. The most mercury toxic individuals tend to have the lowest mercury readings on laboratory tests.
So how to determine whether you are sick with mercury?
Fortunately, there are reliable methods for diagnosing mercury toxicity even without having to bother a doctor or send your samples to a laboratory. These are the best and safest four options for determining if your body is struggling under the burden of mercury exposure. (The order in which the tests are listed here may vary in individual cases.)
1. Trial rounds of chelation.
This is a clinical approach and it is the definitive method to determine if you have mercury toxicity.
It is based on Dr. Andrew Hall Cutler’s research. Dr. Cutler was a professional chemical engineer with a Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton who discovered that mercury was the cause of his own health issues. After studying hundreds of similar cases and a number of trial and error approaches during which he risked his own health, he wrote “Amalgam Illness: Diagnosis and Treatment”. Since then the book has become one of the most widely quoted and applied references about mercury toxicity and how to properly treat it.
How is the test performed?
The test is performed by doing rounds of chelation according to the Cutler method. You need to perform at least 10 rounds or until you reach high dosages of the chelator.
You can perform the test using alpha lipoic acid (chelates mercury and arsenic), DMSA (chelates mercury and lead), or DMPS (chelates mercury and arsenic). ALA is the only chelator which can cross the blood brain barrier and can chelate mercury form inside the brain and other organs. DMSA and DMPS will only chelate mercury in the blood and extracellular space.
If your mercury exposure has ended a long time ago, most of your mercury will be inside your organs and none in the blood. Hence, it is best to perform the test with ALA.
A round consists of at least 72 hours during which you take the chelator in low oral dosages according to its half life around the clock, day and night. (During his later years, Dr. Cutler modified the minimum length of a round to 64 hours. Since longer rounds are preferable to shorter ones and since 72 is a better number to work with, I mostly use that.)
What is a half life?
A half life is the time after which only half of the original dosage is detectable in the blood.
Simplified Example: The half life of ALA is 3 hours. If you take 20 mg of ALA at 12pm, three hours later at 3pm there will be only 10 mg of ALA detectable in your blood.
The half life of ALA is 3 hours.
The half life of DMSA is 3 to 4 hours.
The half life of DMPS is 6 to 8 hours.
THIS TEST CAN ONLY BE PERFORMED AFTER ALL THE AMALGAM AND OTHER MERCURY EXPOSURE HAS ENDED AT LEAST 3 TO 4 MONTHS PRIOR. DO NOT CHELATE WITH AMALGAMS!
Example of a “standard” 72 hour chelation round with ALA:
In between rounds you take breaks of at least 3 days.
If after doing 10 such rounds or if after reaching high dosages of 150 mg you have not experienced any spike or fall in symptoms, you can exclude mercury poisoning as the culprit of your problems.
If you have experienced any reaction during or after a round, this confirms mercury toxicity.
If you can reliably anticipate a reaction with the beginning of each round, mercury is present. The more rounds you perform, the more confident you become in your diagnosis.
A reaction can be an improvement or worsening of your symptoms or the emergence of new symptoms. The worsening indicates mercury is being drawn out of your organs and “re-exposing” you to its toxicity before it is flushed out of your system.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is also valid for any type of chelation method or the administration of any agent which mobilizes mercury. If you have experienced a spike in symptoms or the emergence of new symptoms after the administration of glutathione IV, DMSO, MSM, cilantro, chlorella, or EDTA, this counts as a positive test for mercury toxicity. These methods should never be performed because of the extremely high incidence of often traumatic side effects and sometimes permanent damage they can cause.
– This method will tell you with certainty whether you are mercury toxic, independent of how much mercury is actually present. (Measuring mercury levels doesn't work for people who are extremely sensitive; even if you could do it accurately, amounts that cause symptoms in one person may not in another.)
– You can perform this test at home, without the help of a doctor and without undergoing multiple laboratory tests.
– It is safe. It does not cause redistribution of mercury into sensitive tissue.
– You must have removed any source of mercury exposure, like amalgam fillings or amalgam containing root canals (rare). If you have crowns, they may have to be lifted in order to check for hidden amalgam. If you had amalgams removed a long time ago without the necessary safety precautions, you may have to get bite-wing x-rays to check for amalgam left-overs. If you are very sick, or if your funds are limited, this can be stressful and costly.
– Mercury toxicity symptoms usually fluctuate, even without undergoing chelation. If you're not well tuned into your body, you may struggle a bit to understand whether your symptoms are changing due to the chelators. The solution: You can increase the dosage until you do have a concrete reaction. The risk is that you may then have a dramatic spike in your symptoms from too much mercury being flushed out in a short time period. It is also recommended to keep a journal.
– If you use a very low dosage, you may not have a reaction at all. If you don't follow the trial round until the end, you may arrive to the wrong conclusion that you are not suffering from mercury toxicity.
– The test is not recognized by health insurance companies.
2. Lab tests and physical exams.
The use of various lab tests paired with Dr. Cutler’s questionnaire is another indirect yet reliable way of diagnosing mercury toxicity.
Apart from causing mineral malabsorption as laid out under point 4, mercury can cause a number of other changes in the human body. Those can be measured through blood, urine, EKG, or other tests. One can use the knowledge about damages mercury can cause and utilize it for diagnostic purposes.
In “Amalgam Illness,” Dr. Cutler outlines the lab tests for blood, urine and hair he found helpful in reaching a diagnosis. By studying hundreds of tests and aligning them with specific patients, he identified combinations of test results that point to mercury toxicity.
The tests and other physical exams are explained starting on page 56 of the book. Some are standard panels that your doctor might run as part of a regular check-up, while others include evaluations of more unusual nature, like your DHEA or SOD levels. One single test (except for fractionated urine porphyrins; if this result is elevated there is a very high correlation to mercury toxicity) usually cannot give a definitive answer, but the combined results of several tests can shine light on whether mercury is responsible for your health issues.
Here is a list of tests from “Amalgam Illness”:
- prolonged QT time on EKG
- hair calcium, lithium or mercury over a certain amount
- urine mercury over a certain amount
- elevated 3-methyl histidine, sarcosine or coproporphyrin levels in urine
- generalized aminoaciduria
- erythrocytes on routine urinalysis during your illness or 1 year before
- High IgE levels
- Low IgG, IgG subclass, total T cells, CD8 suppressor T cells, or NK cells
- blood serum osmolality over a certain amount
- elevated ALT, AST, venous carbon dioxide or subnormal venous carbon dioxide, venous oxygen, hematocrit, MCV or MCH
- high serum triglycerides
- high total cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol or low PRL
- low testosterone in men or estrogen in women without elevated LH and FSH
- low T3, T4 or TSH or inappropriate ratios
- low serum DHEA-S or DHEA or salivary DHEA
- low cortisol
- decline in cortisol or ACTH after stress/intense exercise
- low SOD
- low serum iron in men
There are up to 34 useful laboratory tests your doctor can run. Together with Dr. Cutler’s questionnaire on pages 56 of his book “Amalgam Illness” you can then diagnose mercury toxicity with up to 99.9% probability. You won't need to do every of the 34 tests to get a picture of whether mercury is causing you problems. Depending on the results and which tests you ran, 7 to 10 might be enough.
– It is safe. No mercury mobilizing agents are used.
– The use of multiple tests increases the probability of an accurate diagnosis.
– You don't have to remove the source of mercury before doing the tests.
– You can identify through medical testing that a problem exists, which shows in black and white that you are mercury toxic. This may lead to increased help from medical professionals who are well informed about mercury toxicity.
– No single test actually looks for mercury toxicity directly, so you will still have trouble proving the cause of your health issues to health insurers and medical professionals which are not experts in chronic mercury toxicity.
– Most of the tests require a blood draw and are invasive. People with autism or fibromyalgia may have issues with being poked.
– You need to have a medical professional on board who will order the tests, and you may have to go to great lengths to convince the doctor to do so.
– Once you have the test results, you must use Cutler's table on page 61 of “Amalgam Illness” to tally it up, which may seem complicated.
– Many of the tests might not be covered by your health insurance and can be costly.
– The test is not recognized by health insurance companies.
Still confused about what to do? Don't despair, I will explain.
3. Check your symptoms against Dr. Cutler's questionnaire.
In Dr. Cutler's book, “Amalgam Illness,” he includes a detailed checklist that can help you determine with up to 99.9 % probability if your health problems are caused by mercury.
The entire checklist, which starts on page 56, has 58 points. Depending on your results, you may only need to check off 7 points to confirm mercury toxicity with a certainty of 99.9 percent. In most cases, just checking off the first 12 to 13 first questions can give a reliable answer about your mercury status.
Reading the description a typical mercury history on pages 25 to 29 can be also very valuable — you may find that the symptoms mirror your own closely.
– You don't need to remove the source of your mercury. No removal of amalgam fillings is necessary.
– You can use Dr. Cutler's book on your own, and you don't need to work with a doctor.
– This evaluation is very safe. You don't need to take any chelators or mercury mobilizing agents.
– The table in the book that helps you tally up your answers can be a bit complicated to understand.
– You may need to subjectively assess your symptoms. For example, you may have to determine if your irritability has increased over time or if you simply have a nervous personality. Outside factors can play a role, too — mercury may not be causing your chronic constipation, but instead a poor diet is to blame.
– You'll need to be able to recall your health history over time. Some people may not remember details about when they were younger, such as when they entered puberty.
– This test is not recognized by any health insurance.
4. DDI hair test combined with the application of Cutler's counting rules.
One thing that mercury does which no other metal is known to do, is block the absorption of beneficial minerals like manganese, magnesium, calcium, and so on. Checking to see how these good minerals appear on your hair test can help you see if you have malabsorption, or what Dr. Cutler calls, “deranged mineral transport.”
The presence of deranged mineral transport on a hair test confirms mercury toxicity.
After he studied hundreds of hair tests and compared them to symptoms and mercury history from the patients, Dr. Cutler created five counting rules for analyzing the good minerals present in the hair samples. Their specific patterns on a DDI test can show mineral malabsorption and consequently mercury toxicity.
A hair test needs to meet just one out of five counting rules in order to be positive for mercury toxicity.
In order to use this method, you need the DDI toxic and essential elements hair test, available here. Only a hair test from the Doctor's Data Inc. laboratory displays the results in a way that allows for correct interpretations. You also need either Dr. Cutler’s book “Hair Test Interpretations” or someone who knows how to apply the counting rules.
– Apart from mercury toxicity, the DDI hair test can also give you an indication about the status of your adrenals or about your body's ability to manage carbohydrates. In cases where minerals are not deranged, it can also give you valuable information about other good minerals or other toxic metals.
– The hair test is safe. You don't need to take any chelators or mercury mobilizing agents.
– Testing your hair is non-invasive; unlike a blood test, there is no poking involved.
– You don't have to remove the source of mercury before the test.
– According to Dr. Cutler the hair test and its analysis is only around 90 percent accurate. Mercury exposure that ended a long time ago can still cause symptoms but it may not register in your hair. Or, you may be taking supplements that lead to inaccurate results and false negatives.
– Your hair cannot be dyed — if it is, you'll need to grow it out first.
– You may need help to understand Dr. Cutler's counting rules. There are online groups that can help, but the process can be a bit complicated. Even seasoned Cutler admins have sometimes difficulties in applying the counting rules correctly.
– The test is not recognized by health insurance companies.
If your symptoms and health issues are leading you to despair, it's important to find a way to definitively conclude whether mercury could be to blame. These four tests are the best ways to get an accurate diagnosis, whether positive or negative. Through the use of Dr. Cutler's research into mercury toxicity and his knowledge of how to prove the presence of mercury in your body, you may be able to get a handle on your issues and begin the path to healing.
About the author:
I’m Paola the Crazy Old Ozone Lady behind The Power of Ozone. I’m a licensed naturopathic practitioner, natural health consultant, ozone therapy enthusiast, researcher, and ozone therapy analyst. I hold certificates in ozone therapy, hyperbaric ozone applications, Oxyvenierung, and the Andrew Cutler chelation. I own several ozone generators including a German hyperbaric 10 Pass machine. I have been using ozone for over 13 years, I’ve chelated with the ACC program for close to 5 years and I’ve been carnivore for nearly 1.5 years. This website serves as a resource for those who are interested in ozone therapy and other approaches to successfully manage chronic conditions.
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