Mercury Chelation for Autism

by Amy Holmes, M.D.

Most professionals agree that autism appears to be caused by a combination of biological predisposition and early environmental insult. New evidence makes a strong case linking autism with mercury toxicity. What if those neurological, gastrointestinal, behavioral, language and other symptoms of autism were really signs of mercury poisoning? I believe this to be the case.

How does mercury invade a fetus or an infant?

Mercury is ubiquitous. We unknowingly ingest it in seafood and drinking water. This already considerable daily exposure is far exceeded by mercury in dental amalgams and vaccines containing thimerosal, a preservative that is 49.5% mercury.

When a pregnant mother inhales mercury vapor released from amalgam fillings, it can effect the developing fetus. Newborn babies receive additional mercury directly into their blood streams through Hepatitis B, DPT, and Hib vaccines. Coincidentally, the incidence rate of autism soared in the 1990‘s after the Hepatitis B and Hib vaccines, both containing thimerosal, were made mandatory.

Why do some children develop autistic symptoms from mercury?

Children with autism have impairments in at least one of four liver detoxi´Čücation pathways. Affected children‘s livers are simply unable to excrete the mercury in their systems.

How to tell if my child has mercury poisoning?

Mercury is present in the blood only for a few weeks before migrating to the liver, kidney, G.I. tract, and brain. Very little mercury will show up in the blood, urine, or hair, if more time has elapsed. Biopsy of the organs (not recommended) is the only way to ascertain the exact amount of mercury present.

The real issue though is not how much mercury is present, but how mercury-toxic the patient is. No simple, easy, reliable test for mercury toxicity is available. While everyone excretes some mercury in urine, blood, and stool analysis, those with the highest toxicity may have the element so tightly bound in essential organs that little will be detected by the tests. It is better to rely on laboratory measures of other indirectly involved abnormalities such as mitochondrial dysfunction, high calcium levels, and low glutathione in urine, hair, and blood. Signs of mercury toxicity apparent in physical examination include dilated pupils, sweaty hands and feet, very brisk knee jerks, esotropia (an eye turn), rashes, and elevated heart rate.

How can I eliminate further exposure to mercury?

  1. Eliminate mercury from the diet by drinking only pure water and consuming no seafood (salmon being a possible exception).
  2. Replace dental amalgam fillings with white composite material.
  3. Use only thimerosal-free vaccines.
  4. Avoid ear and eye drops containing thimerosal.

Are there treatments for mercury poisoning?

Chelation, a procedure that causes a metal ion to react to and bind with another, is the treatment of choice. The resultant product is eliminated via urine and feces. Removing all the mercury from a system requires oral administration of chelators in two steps:

  1. Remove loosely bound mercury. The agent of choice for this step is DMSA (dimercaptopropane sulfonate), an excellent chelator of heavy metals and one that has FDA approval for children. However, because DMSA does not cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) it cannot remove mercury that has already become tightly bound in the brain.
  2. Remove tightly bound mercury, including that in the brain. The agent for this step is lipoic acid, which is able to cross all cell and mitochondrial membranes and the BBB.

Provide nutritional support to alleviate side effects while mercury is being moved around. Run lab tests to gauge the amount of mercury excretion and to monitor organ function during the process.

Is mercury removal safe?

Mercury chelation is a complex process requiring strict and constant professional supervision. Agents are prescribed in very precise dosages with precisely timed on and off periods. Used inappropriately they can cause disastrous side effects such as seizures. When used appropriately however, treatment by chelation is safe and effective.

What improvements are possible with mercury chelation?

Scientists report complete reversal of neurologic disorders in toxic adults upon mercury removal. For children current data suggest that prognosis is related to age, with a more optimistic outlook for younger children. In some cases mercury detoxification has lessened and eliminated symptoms of autism. Areas showing improvement with this treatment include language, social skills, and problem behaviors including aggression and self-stimulation.

This article is a condensation of a longer paper available online

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 6, Number 2 - Fall, 2000]

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