Mercury Poisoning: The Symptoms and 3 Easy Detox Tips

fish being cleaned on a cutting board
July 29, 2014 (Updated: August 16, 2018)
Lily Moran

I thought I had seen everything as a doctor. But nothing prepared me for Anne (not her real name) and her mercury poisoning. When I met her in the examining room, her hands were shaking like a Parkinson’s patient, even though she was not yet twenty years old. As we talked, she complained about extreme fatigue, horrible brain fog, and problems with vision. Even her speech was off, slurred and a little slow.

I learned that Anne was a student at the local college. She had gone to the health services people there with her problems, but they had no idea what was wrong with her and suggested she find a doctor outside their system.

Long story short, after a series of tests, I determined that Anne had been exposed to high levels of mercury due to eating a steady diet of sushi, because it was quick and easy. Unfortunately, it was also destroying her health.

Eating fish used to be one of my standard recommendations because it was an excellent way to get more omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), one of my top recommendations to patients.

No more! Waterways are polluted with a long list of toxic substances, including heavy metals that are absorbed by fish.

An occasional fish dinner is fine for most people. But a steady diet of seafood is virtually a guarantee there will be problems down the road. (In fact, polluted seafood is why I created my own omega-3 product.)

Heavy metals damage your mitochondria, the body’s tiny energy factories. As I’ve written before, mitochondrial dysfunction is likely at the root of many modern diseases.

In fact, that may be why heavy metals have been linked to so many health problems, including neurological disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive disruptions, difficulties with weight loss, autoimmune diseases, cancer, inflammation, sleep issues, and chronic pain.

And mercury isn’t the only harmful heavy metal you should avoid.

Lead, cadmium, aluminum, arsenic, and others accumulate in the body over time. Like Ann, you may be unaware that you’re constantly exposed to these substances.

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But you are. And ridding yourself of heavy metals starts with being aware of the sources of these toxic substances.

Mercury is a good example. It’s not just found in fish. It’s common in fabric softeners, dental fillings, cosmetics, fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, water-based paint, and even some drugs. In other words, mercury is everywhere –including our bodies, where it should not be.

Some so-called health experts claim there are “safe levels” of these substances. I beg to differ.

Actually, the idea that there’s a “safe level” for anything that damages vital organs, like the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as the brain misses the point.

How to Detox from Mercury Poisoning and Heavy Metals

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to avoid all heavy metals. But you can reduce your exposure, and you can also cleanse your body by detoxing regularly. The first step is to get tested for metals. Checking for heavy metals – via hair, urine, toenails, or blood – is the first step in detoxing. Then follow these additional steps, which will improve your health, regardless of the heavy metal situation:

1) Go Organic

Start by eating more organic food to reduce your body’s toxic load. Focus on real, whole foods. This means nothing with ingredients you can’t pronounce. And avoid as much refined sugar, flour, and salt as possible.

2) Eat More Cilantro

An herb used in Mexican cooking, cilantro (sometimes called coriander) has a distinctive taste that grows on you. And that’s a good thing, because this humble plant has an impressive ability to remove heavy metals.

Add cilantro leaves to salads, scrambled eggs, stews, and soups for a big flavor boost. Other helpful herbs include dandelion root, ginger, and curcumin, a favorite of mine due to its many other health benefits.

3) Sweat it Out

New research shows that simply working up a sweat can remove toxins. Exercise is my number one recommendation when it comes to sweating, but you can also use saunas to get the same effect. You just won’t get all the health benefits of exercise in a sauna.

Using these techniques, Anne was able to clear the mercury from her system and restore her health. “I had no idea something like this could make me so sick,” she told me later. “It’s such a relief to wake up and feel like getting out of bed for a change!”

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