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Mercury Toxicity: Identification and Testing with Beth Bundy

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Mercury Toxicity: Identification and Testing with Beth Bundy

Could you recognise the subtle signs of mercury toxicity in patients? Exposure to mercury might be more common than you think!

Today we welcome back functional pathology expert and naturopath, Beth Bundy, who shares some eye-opening facts about mercury exposure. She takes us through the different forms of mercury and the range of testing options available to practitioners to get a comprehensive understanding of a patient's mercury load. As always Beth is as entertaining as she is educational, listeners are sure to gain valuable insights as she shares some clinical examples from her own practice.

Covered in this episode:

[00:45] Welcoming back Beth Bundy
[01:54] How big is the issue of Mercury?
[03:29] What are the everyday sources?
[10:05] Seafood sources
[12:49] Bio-concentration
[14:28] Identifying Mercury-affected patients
[22:34] Limitations of testing 
[23:40] Not all Mercury is created equal
[29:24] Managing Mercury detox
[38:36] Red flags and warnings?
[42:35] Invitation for a follow up podcast

Andrew: This is FX Medicine, I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining me on the line today again, is Beth Bundy, who's a qualified naturopath of over 18 years, specialising in integrative and functional medicine. 

She worked previously as a technical consultant with Pathlab, one of Australia's original functional pathology companies, and currently trains healthcare practitioners nationally as clinical consultant at NutriPATH Integrated Pathology Services, where she's in high demand as an engaging and definitely informing speaker. She also works as a functional medicine practitioner in a busy and highly successful integrative medical practice. 

Beth, welcome back to FX Medicine, how are you?

Beth: I'm very well, thank you. I think my frequent flyer FX Medicine points must be finally getting me a flight to Sydney eventually.

Andrew: Good luck. Good luck with that. You might get from Tullamarine to Avalon. For our listeners, that's the two airports in Melbourne. 

Beth, today we're gonna be talking about mercury testing, and specifically about a Tri Test. Now, this is something I need a little bit of explaining, but I think we need to go back a little bit. 

When often we think of mercury poisoning, you know, we think of underdeveloped countries, we think of these disastrous industrial accidents like Minamata Bay which happened in Japan. So, just how big an issue is mercury poisoning or mercury toxicity in Australia?

Beth: Haha! I thought you might ask me a kind of ‘techo' question so I've brought my stats. All right, so interesting you mentioned the Minamata disaster, because in 2013 actually, I think it was about 160 countries got together for the Minamata convention which actually was an international treaty designed to protect humans from themselves, from the emissions and releases of mercury that they have created.

So, you know, the whole world's realising that there's a problem with mercury. And I've got some notes here from the Australian Department of Environment and Energy. Have put together a final regulation impact statement as of the end of 2016. And I stayed here, in Australia an estimated 18 tons of mercury is emitted into the air or released to land or water every year. So, on a per capita basis, Australia's mercury pollution is high at approximately double the global average.

Andrew: Wow! Wow.

Beth: Yeah, I know. That was like, "Oh, dear." Now, much of that comes from metal manufacturing so such as gold, the coal industry, and especially in making electricity, which I'm surprised.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Beth: And then the other one is from fungicide spraying, the product called Shirtan and they spray it on sugarcane, and it's got mercury in it.

Andrew: You're kidding?

Beth: Yeah, yeah. So, Queenslanders be on the lookout for this. 

Also you gotta remember now our new whizzbang energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs, are mercury. And, of course, they end up in landfill or you've gotta be careful if you break them, right?

Andrew: Yeah, I think that's the issue, yeah. And is it fluoro or the 50 watters?

Beth: Now, you're getting all blokey on me. You know, those curly-whirly ones that now you can fit into your...

Andrew: Yeah.

Beth: And also in this impact statement, they say that mercury is internationally mobile, which actually means that the emissions and releases anywhere in the world can harm Australia and vice-versa.

Andrew: The thing that interests me is the health advice given to pregnant women regarding fish, and they vacillate.

Beth: But for now they are because that is, you know, clearly a problem as is really the second major source is silver mercury dental amalgams or you know, the silver fillings that we know of. Which also contain tin and copper, apparently. Now, interesting, the amalgams have been...mercury amalgams have been phased out in several countries in Europe, but still widely used in the USA and many other countries. And you know, the NHANES study?

Andrew: Yep.

Beth: They did a risk analysis data from the NHANES revealing that the amalgams were a major source of mercury and that the risk analysis showed that mercury in urine, faeces, breath, saliva, blood, kidney, liver, brain, and pituitary glands increases with each filling you have.

Andrew: Wow.

Beth: So, you're compounding, compounding, compounding depending on how many of those things you've got in your mouth. And the other thing I found was even the manufacturer of, or a manufacturer of the amalgam says, and I am quoting this, "The use of amalgam is contraindicated in proximal contact to the similar metal restorations.” So, basically, if you've got gold in your mouth...

Andrew: Gold, yeah.

Beth: ...don't put a filling next to it. 

In patients with severe renal deficiency, which will make sense to us a bit later, you know, when I talk about how it all works. In patients with known allergies, and also children under six and in expectant mothers. 

So, you know, it's clear that it's a problem. And also, if they really want to get, you know, freaked out, because if you want to see something a little bit more real and slightly scary is you can Google a YouTube video of a tooth off-gassing mercury that you can actually see the mercury vapour coming out, and so this is especially important for those with fillings. Every time you chew and have a hot beverage it's going to help release that mercury vapour.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Beth: So, listeners just have to Google, "Mercury Vapor Video."

Andrew: Right.

Beth: And I'll put the link in for the show notes, yeah.

Andrew: There was also a very good YouTube...call it a video, but it's got some animation in there. It was very well done by the University of Calgary. That was over a decade ago. So, indeed, that nearly two decades ago, so it's 17 odd years ago that they put that out.

Beth: About the fillings?

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, and what it does, what mercury does when it's mobilised and what the risks are. So, it's not like it's a new issue, it's just being denied, that's all.

Beth: Oh, completely, and because of this Minamata Convention, of course, the government put it out there to relevant parties who would be interested in what they had to say about it before we ratified anything. Which by the way, Australia hasn't signed yet, but that's interesting. 

And so, what was promising, when I was looking up a little bit more on this is that many Australian dentists do seem to be no longer using the dental amalgam. However, the Australian Dentist Association does not see the need to ban mercury as it is a cost-effective option. The other thing about the amalgams is which, of course, the Dental Association says, "Well, it's not just us, you know?" Of course. But also you've got to think about when, you know, you drop off this mortal coil and you popped in the ground or you popped in the...what's the thing?

Andrew: Furnace.

Beth: You know, incinerator.

Andrew: Yep.

Beth: Fifty-four percent of the mercury from your teeth comes via crematoria.

Andrew: Right, wowee.

Beth: Yeah, so don't stand too close to, you know, when you're sending people off.

Andrew: Gosh.

Beth: I actually remember at one of the symposiums, Dr. Joseph Pizzorno who's, you know, one of the modern fathers of natural medicine. He was commenting that his mercury levels were elevated and he couldn't understand because he didn't have any fillings and he didn't eat seafood. So then he was determining that he must have been exposed via wind from industrial sectors in China blowing across to him on the West Coast of America. Or maybe he stood near a lot of crematoriums in Seattle, I don't know? But you know, that again is talking about the mobile aspect of the mercury floating all around us.

Andrew: Wow.

Beth: And another way is skin lightening. So cosmetics, and so, those skin lighting creams that you can use with mercury, a bit like old fashion, you know, they used to put lead on their face in the renaissance. 

So, you've got to be careful if you're using these products, where you're getting them from. And some medications, you know, ear, eye, nose drops, ointments have mercury in them. And the other biggy is your fish.

Andrew: Yep.

Beth: Okay so, and that's because the mercury is converted to methylmercury and consumed by us in our fish. Big fish are worse. So things like your shark or your flake, your swordfish, your orange roughy, your ling, your barramundi, tunas, your big tunas. 

I remember Dr. Chris Shade who does a lot about mercury and detoxing. He said salmon and sardines are okay. However, though the farmed fish have less mercury, they are much higher in other pollutants. So, we’re kind of… you know, we might have to ban fish at some stage, I don't know? 

And shellfish, yes they have less mercury. But apparently, they are higher in cadmium and arsenic, so I don't know, we have to…

Andrew: Pick your poison.

Beth: Pick your poison. 

Now, interestingly, Chris mentions that the mercury in the fish is not in the fat, right? So, we know a lot of toxins are in the fat. But he says it's actually in the proteins, and this is mainly due to cysteine. Which you know, is the amino acid, and has this sulfhydryl group that has a high affinity for mercury. So, what happens is the methylmercury sticks to it and then you eat it, and when you digesting the proteins, you're hydrolysing that into the amino acid, and then you have this free cysteine that’s got a mercury stuck to it.

Andrew: Right.

Beth: Yeah, so apparently what happens is because it looks to our body, this looks a lot like methionine. And with molecular mimicry, we then absorb this through our amino acid transporters in the gut, and so this is why the mercury from fish, you're looking at about a 95% absorption rate, because of that fact. So, that's, you know, a little bit disturbing. 

And also the other things that bind mercury stronger than sulfhydryl groups are the selenol groups which is about selenium, yeah? So, it's important to ensure we have enough selenium in the diet to help, you know, get that mercury out, kind of, what do you call it? Connected and out. And it's because if we don't have enough, then we're more susceptible to the mercury toxicity within us.

Andrew: Okay, so, of course, there's with regards to fish, there's the issue of bio-concentration. And I think the thing is...forgive me if this is boring to listeners. I just hope somebody out there maybe hasn't heard of this term or isn't familiar with it, but the whole concept is that one fish doesn't just absorb a little bit of mercury and then gets caught. They have to live, they have to breathe, they have to grow. And during that time they're eating, so they're not eating one meal but you know, multiple meals, each of which contains a tiny bit of mercury.

Then that fish gets prayed upon by a bigger fish, so then all of the mercury and other toxins that are in that fish get absorbed into that bigger fish. But that bigger fish doesn't eat just that meal, it eats multiple meals. And then that bigger fish is eaten by an even bigger fish. And that fish again eats multiple meals. Each of which have these toxins, that's call bio-concentration.

Beth: Yeah, which I guess that's the thing is like, a big worry is the shark.

Andrew: That's right.

Beth: You know, when we eat Flake because that's one of the bigger fish and that's all it eats.

Andrew: Yeah, I just found it interesting that people they don't seem cognisant of the way that bio-concentration happens.

Beth: It's layer upon layer upon layer.

Andrew: Layer upon layer of multiple meals. 

Women, particularly will not use one skin lightening treatment or cosmetics. They'll use them every single day. So, it's this compounding, this compounding effect. And then you team with that same issue with poor chelation or poor biotransformation and clearance out of the body, and then you've got a pool that's happening, haven't you?

Beth: Absolutely, absolutely. And that's what kind of makes the hardest thing is to actually determine if mercury is the patient's problem?

Andrew: Yes.

Beth: Because it can mimic, like mercury toxicity versus poisoning, so that's kind of differentiation too you need to be mindful of is, that long-term chronic accumulation becomes toxic. And it can mimic all sorts of diseases. And most of the lists that you'll find, you know, on Google are more related to mercury poisoning.

Andrew: So, let's talk about that. What are the major sort of signs and symptoms? And one of my issues is how would you...when would you suspect or be suspicious of mercury toxicity as opposed to some other, any other of the myriad of causes of these symptoms? So, can we go into that?

Beth: Yeah, well this is the trouble. They are kind of non-specific and varied with the chronic toxicity. So, you could look at things like... So, like the nervous system is one of the main targets of mercury. So you know, if patients are irritable they're talking about memory loss or you know, brain fog, insomnia, depression, anxiety, tingling of the extremities or slight tremors, a disturbed sense of smell or taste, and they might talk about a metallic taste. Burning sensations or numbness, pain, headaches, fatigue.

There's question marks about Alzheimer's and Parkinson's being, you know, mercury being involved in that. And mercury is also known to stimulate the NMDA receptor, and therefore can cause elevated glutamate levels which then can cause those sort of, neuro issues. 

So, I had a patient recently who came to see me. Mid-40's, highly, highly anxious. Was also smoking because she was anxious and that made her feel better. Even though we did discuss that it does make you more anxious.

But she was coming to me saying, you know, "I'm so anxious. I'm so anxious." And, you know, on examination, you could tell she was this like rabbit-in-a-headlights sort of person. And then she was talking about scalp numbing. She goes, “Aww, my scalp feels numb and I have this funny taste in my mouth and my tongue burns. I get these like little tingly bits in my body and got this funny part on my leg."

Andrew: Wow.

Beth: And I was just going, "Mm-hmm." Yeah, so I was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." And then I just kind of went, "How many fillings have you got, love?" And she said, "Oh, a heap." And I said, "Like, how many? Open your mouth." We counted 10. And I said, "You know, do you think maybe...could we maybe go down this pathway?" And so, in this instance, I actually, because it was wholly and solely in her mouth, and as per usual, money was an issue. I did a saliva methyl test where they chew and then they spit, and they can do that. And mercury came off the scale.

Andrew: Wow.

Beth: So, the next test we are doing on her is to Tri Mercury Tests.

Andrew: Gotcha.

Beth: But that was a kind of a really...well, it wasn't really obvious, it was just these weird symptoms that I don't see a lot of people kind of having a numb scalp. And I even talked to the chiropractor that works with us. And I said, "Oh, is this some sort of neurological thing if they're talking about this?" And he was like, "Oh, not off the top of my head." So, the mercury thing that was something I can connect to her neuro sort of symptoms, yeah?

But otherwise, they could have not been related to that at all. It could've been something else. The other thing that you have to consider is immune system. So if someone is getting chronic or frequent viral or fungal infections, okay, Chris Shade talks about Candida being very relatable to mercury fillings. And I guess that would make sense. It's in your mouth and then you're swallowing that and it's in your gut. 

Skin conditions and I have definitely seen that with IV chelation. If you go too hard and fast people's skin reacts, you know, comes out via their skin, so that's a strong one.

The other thing we need to remember is metals as a general rule, metals are endocrine disruptors, and mercury has been associated with thyroid issues. So particularly, Hashimoto’s and some infertility and adrenal issues. The gut is a big thing because you swallow it. So irritable bowel symptoms. Again, I had another patient who he was really concerned because he was pooing 14 times a day.

Andrew: Gosh.

Beth: Which would be concerning. He couldn’t, you know, he had to plan his travels everywhere. He had to know where all the public toilets were on his travels because of his bowels. He had been checked out, he didn't have ulcerative colitis, he didn't have Crohn’s. He had no macro reason for this. He went Googling and came to me saying, "Look, this is my situation, I think it's mercury." We tested him, did a urine test, and yes, again, his mercury was off the scale. He got treated with detoxication and chelation, and I saw him about four/ five months later and I said, "How's it going? How's the visits to the…[toilet]” You know? I mean it's his... And he just put up two fingers.

Andrew: Wow.

Beth: He just went, "Twice a day." And I was like, "Wow." You know, it was just such an irritant to his gut and bowel. That was causing this diarrhoea.

So, even all those things, all those symptoms I've commented on they go, "Well, they could be anything, they could be dysbiosis, they could be, you know." So, it is tricky. 

So, you really need to do a thorough case history to determine if there's been exposure, so you need to ask about fillings, you need to ask about, you know, did they play this, the insides of the old thermometers when they were kids. Which I've had people say, "Yeah, I used to play with that. It was cool." Because, you know, liquid mercury. You know, mercury kind of rolls around like little ball bearings.

Andrew: Little balls, yeah.

Beth: Yeah.

Andrew: Thankfully, our science teacher, Mr. Visser, was very aware of the toxicity of mercury and was paranoid about it. I got to say...

Beth: That's where your paranoia comes from, love.

Andrew: But I've got to say, he was very respectful of safety and I always admire him for that.

Beth: Well, good.

Andrew: He was a good teacher. He was a great teacher.

Beth: That's good. Obviously, dentists, you know, we've tested a lot of dentists with the Tri Test since it's come to Australia. And also, I would be suspicious as I mentioned for those in Queensland that are dealing with sugarcane farmers.

Andrew: Absolutely.

Beth: Knowing about this fungicide.

Andrew: Didn't know about that one.

Beth: No, well neither had I. So, at least, you know, those are really obvious. And then otherwise, perhaps he would consider general heavy metal testing if you've got little to go on, which you can do via hair or urine. And then depending on what you see in that, you may consider further mercury specifically.

Andrew: Right, right.

Beth: Yeah, but still I want everyone, all the listeners to remember that all tests have their limitations of awesomeness. And for example, measuring in the blood, unless they're overtly toxic, it just won't show up because, you know, the body’s going to put it through the blood and then through the kidneys and the gut and either get rid of it or stick in your fatty tissue in your brain.

Andrew: And this to me, answers in part at least, the denial. If it's not there, it's not there. What are you looking at? It's not there, we don't see it. We don't have toxicity issue. Why? Because we did a blood test. Well, it's not there in the blood, you know, so relevant testing has got to be employed in all cases.

Beth: Yes, and we need to remember to use it as an indication rather than an absolute.

Andrew: Ah ha, good. Good stuff. So, what sort of tests are available? You said hair, urine, serum, and then you've got the Tri Test.

Beth: And the Tri Test. So, which looks at blood, hair, and urine. Surprise, there's the three. If I can just back up and actually talk about the different forms of mercury because we've just gone mercury, mercury, mercury…

Andrew: Ah, of course, yes, yeah, yeah.

Beth: You need to know there's different forms because that matters. 

So, we have the elemental mercury which is found in your amalgams and it can be found in a liquid and a gas form which is the vapour, and approximately, 80% of that can be absorbed via the lung, right, via inhalation. 

Then, you have your inorganic mercury which is formed by the oxidation of elemental mercury, and this can happen in the blood and the mouth, right, with your filling, and it's swallowed and then obviously goes through your gut into detoxification and elimination channels but there could be a problem with that.

Methylmercury, which is the one that's found in the fish and as I mentioned is highly absorbable in the gut because it attaches to the cysteine. And this methylmercury readily crosses into the blood-brain barrier, so this is the problem with it getting into your brain. And then it could also demethylate to form back to inorganic mercury, which can be a problem for those over-methylators. Okay, because they're de-methylating constantly and regulating that. 

And then the last form of mercury is ethyl mercury, and this is the one that's sounding vaccination still, in some vaccinations. Cosmetics, this is the skin lightening creams and some other cosmetics. And medications, so your ear, eye, nose drops, and good old mercurochrome if you remember that?

Andrew: Yeah, I remember that. I remember that.

Beth: Mum used to paint on you? Yeah, don't be doing that to your children, please.

Andrew: It was taken off the market years ago.

Beth: Yeah, and as we mentioned, mercury in the blood unless acute is not going to come up because most blood detection limits or most of the machines, they can't read it until the limit is too high, they can't read down low, low, low, low, low. And they measure for total mercury, they measure for all of those lumped in a bag together. It doesn't differentiate or what they call speciation. They don't specify or tell you which species of mercury you're dealing with.

And that's kind of where the Tri Test comes in. So, what you need to know is in blood, what you're reading in blood is predominantly methylmercury, right? And you get a little bit of inorganic. 

In the hair, you're mainly reading methylmercury, so this is the fish mercury, yeah? So, when you do a hair analysis of, let’s just, we’re just talking mercury today, you're going to get a picture of what their dietary intake is, more so.

Andrew: Right.

Beth: With urine, you will get more about the inorganic mercury and a little bit of methyl. And when you do provoked urine or a challenge with an IV chelating agent, which is things like DMPS, DMSA, or EDTA. You will pull both methyl or fish mercury and inorganic - amalgam mercury out. 

In the stool, we can also measure. You'll get both mercuries. And the saliva, you'll predominantly getting that mercury from the amalgam. Yeah? And that's inorganic mercury, so this is why Dr. Chris Shade who you've interviewed previously on the podcast created the Mercury Tri Test because it measures the blood, hair, and urine. So, we get, we can more specify which mercury and we can see how they're working together.

Andrew: Right, and tailor treatment?

Beth: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you can see whether it is mainly the food, so you need to cut that out or amalgams or what have you. 

So, what you get from that it's a graphic representation. You get a little pretty picture of a graph with coloured bars. So you can determine to what degree, and it goes, you know, it measures sort of smaller quantity and then can go up to, you know, scary levels if someone is scary and I have seen a few of these test results thus far and it's quite interesting. And it's interesting about detoxification pathways because I've seen quite a few dentist results and there's a few dentists that I have gone, "Hey, you need to watch what you're doing with mercury."

And others that are really quite, you know, mobilising and detoxing really well, so it is quite helpful. And so what we’re doing, when we're doing the blood versus hair, it's showing how the body’s can mobilise the mercury more related to their liver processes. And when we're looking at that inorganic mercury in blood against urine, we can then see how they're excreting relating to their kidney elimination.

Andrew: Right.

Beth: You see? So, we get an idea about the kidney and liver/gut because this affects, you know, mercury will affect your elimination channels because it kind of like blocks it up or clogs it up or you know, gets overloaded.

Andrew: Yeah, so I guess one of my issues is you know, like if you've got a steady outflowing. This steady drip if you like, of excretion of mercury in the kidneys or through the kidneys and the liver. Then that's fine, but then you go and detox and liberate mercury from tissues, from organs around the body. You've now got a dump a load of that and that's got to be handled. That's a real area of problem, you know, that causes problems, or might cause problems if you don't handle it properly.

Beth: Absolutely.

Andrew: So, what's the best way...

Beth: Because it'll move to one or the other. So, like if you've got gut... So, you use gut and kidneys to excrete, yeah? Via the liver to the gut then the kidneys. 

But if you've got say gut inflammation like our mad pooer man, then because you're not moving it through the intestine problem, you're going to have to then shunt it more to the kidneys and increase your kidney load. And then you can get retention of these toxins because the kidneys then start packing up as well. Now, I don't mean renal failure, but I mean that they're not being adequately able to eliminate these toxins.

Andrew: It'll just recirculate, yeah.

Beth: Absolutely. hepatic recirculation is a real problem. And it's how they come through. They'll all come via the gut or kidney, you know, through the lungs. And then they're going to accumulate as you mentioned, in liver, kidney, brain, what have you. 

So, you do need to get this out. Like you said, the slow drip. So, hard and fast is not the way to do this. You really want to start with all the drainage organs first, so you want to make sure that your patient's kidney, liver, and lymphatics are working adequately. Now, we can do this via herbs, homeopathic, liposomal nutrients. And so, rather than going straight to the detox, we talk about this being our pre-tox or our pre-detox, yeah?

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Beth: So, you might look at things like diuretics for the kidneys, bitters, and cholagogues for the liver. So you can use things like globe artichoke, burpleurum, gentian and then what we call in the herbal world, blood cleansers for your lymphatics such as cleavers, burdock, yellow dock, movement, exercise, massages good for your lymphatics. And looking at fibres and gentle laxatives for your gut because obviously, you've got to make sure people are pooing, just not excessively. And don't forget the skin is also an elimination channel, so as I said, I've seen reactions to chelation coming out through the skin, so you know, the far-infrared saunas?

Andrew: Ahh, Yes.

Beth: Can be beneficial to help people kinda sweat things out providing they wash it straight off. The good old Epsom salt bath, okay, is very drawing. Yeah, it's very drawing. 

And another big thing I need to mention too is sometimes we don't know where the toxicity's coming from. Where the gut inflammation is coming from or what have you. So, you need to determine whether you're dealing with an infection and/or such as a parasitic infection or say SIBO, the Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. And you may have to treat that first before you look at detoxing. Because if you've got, you know, say SIBO where the gut's really having a major issue and then you go, "Hey, let's detox your mercury filling." You've got gut problems already.

Andrew: Yeah, that's right.

Beth: Yeah, because it's not necessarily the toxicity that's the issue, it's the toxin load on that person. Because what you can cope with and what I can cope with might be two different, you know, you can deal with playing with the...no, you can’t, play with the thermometers, but you can deal with eating more fish than I can per se before you know, it's toxic a level for me and it's affecting me.

And this is going to relate to the patient's detoxification capabilities, what the inflammation they've got going on, what their genetic detoxification capabilities are? Because we know a lot more about genetic detox pathways now, too. 

We look at intestinal binders, so things like chlorella, but you need lots of it to get adequate detox. Activated charcoals, your zeolites, your clays. You can use cholestyramine if you’re a prescribing doctor, which is an old cholesterol medication. And this is to bind up anything floating about, so we minimise that and enterohepatic re-intoxication. And then phytonutrients such as your green tea and ellagic acid from pomegranate.

Sulfur compounds, so your veggies, alpha-lipoic acid is very helpful. If patients have a trouble with sulphur, like with those vegetables you can look at supplementing with molybdenum that helps with sulphur. Glutathione is a must, right, or supplementing with precursors. The liposomal form of glutathione is definitely a better option than standard oral if you're not using intravenous. 
NAC, N-Acetylcysteine and whey protein can offer the precursors to glutathione because glutathione and alpha-lipoic are better are detoxing mercury specifically. Yeah, but NAC can be used, but you would need to use mega doses versus you would use for liposomal glutathione.

Andrew: Yum, yum.

Beth: Yeah. 

You can use also bitters for your drainage support. Those things would be burdock, gentian again, dandelion, etc. And this, your pre-tox that we talked about would probably go for, you know, numerous weeks. Four to six weeks, because you've really got to make sure they're eliminating okay. Then you can detox, and it's important to not just go. You need to cycle this therapy to give the body a rest.

So, depending on their strength of detoxification capabilities, you would do say five days on of your therapy and then give them two days off. And you might do this for a month or two. Then you can up-ramp that to 10 days on therapy and 4 days off if the patient's handling it. So, you've got to really watch your patient because you need to know that detoxification effects. So, if they go, "I'm feeling nauseous, I've got a skin rash, I've got headaches." You don't go, "Excellent, you're detoxing fabulously." No, you're not. Even Chris Shade talks about doing his own detox and causing himself all sorts of troubles because he decided to just go hard and fast. And then he couldn't even remember what his name was.

Andrew: It's one of the biggest lessons I've learned is this heroic dosing. Yeah, I've learned those lessons the hard way as well.

Beth: Yeah, you've got to be careful. And this is where the binders are important too because as you're, you know, starting to detox, you need to bind them and help get them out of the system. Not float back around again. 

So, you know, and we instigate things like selenium and vitamin C. And CoQ10 and B12 which you can also get in lipsomal forms to assist with the energy that's required to keep this detoxification going, yeah? 

And on the off days you need to support people with their activated B’s and vitamin C and adrenal tonics. Because especially if someone's chronically ill, you really need to determine whether A), you're gonna detox them and at what level? You really need to go slow, with small doses and work your way up. You just can really make them you know, really sick and have horrible detox pathways. And definitely, the glutathione needs to be used quite a bit throughout, so they don't then re-tox themselves you know, later, yeah? And antioxidants are important in that aspect, too.

Andrew: Just as a quick wrap up question, Beth, what sort of red flags do you have to be aware of? I know we've mentioned a few but what sort of real ringing-in-the-ears should you be listening to when your patient, you know, comes back on the second or third visit whilst going through these detox procedures. Are there any sort of, uh-oh signs and symptoms that you might go, "We need to retest and need to look at what's happening."?

Beth: Well, definitely major detox or what we would call a Herxheimer reaction, you know, so major skin rashes, major nausea, major headaches or neurological symptoms. So, they're starting to, you know, get kind of you know, weeded out in the brain or highly anxious or things like that. These are not good. It does not mean your detox is working, it means you are really hurting your patient. You need to abort, abort! And a rescue mission is needed, you need to really woo it up.

Andrew: So, what sort of things would you use as a rescue? The binders or?

Beth: The binders and really just up-regulating those channels. And you've just got to slow down, you know? 

The other thing is if you're detoxing someone and they've still got lots of amalgams in their mouth, you are chasing your tail a little bit. And it's very important that if someone... So, with my lady who's got the 10 fillings and all these symptoms have come up very positive, I have certainly recommended, and I do not do this very often, that she couldn't see having them removed. Because it s a very costly process because you have to go to a dentist who...

Andrew: Specialises in that.

Beth: ...is very well-versed in that and very safe. 

The skin thing. I have seen the skin thing happen because I work in a clinic where we do IV chelation, so we use those chelating agents. And if someone hasn't had their drainage channels dealt with sufficiently then I have seen that they really do feel quite sick. And they can go backwards. So, instead of them saying, "Oh, I feel so much better." They say to you, "I feel so much worse."

That is not the way to do it. I have another lady who's so sensitive I actually...she's my first guinea pig on the liposomal detoxification process. And she has done excellently because she's gone slowly and titrated up to how she's managed. She's had no symptoms, whereas when she was using an oral chelating agent, at even the… she was breaking open the capsule and using a bit of it that way. She was reacting. So, the gentle way can be really great for the super sensitive, or they have genetic variations that cause their, you know, which might be something is someone is really ill you need to maybe look at their gene detoxification to see whether they can cope with that.

The other thing is also, your methylation SNPs, so your methylation genetic variations can kind of show... so, what will happen is, if someone's got a lot of methylation issues, genetically, when we get their Tri Test, they'll look like they don't have any mercury in their system. But Chris Shade says it is impossible to not have any mercury in your system. Even if you don't have fillings, as we mentioned, we're exposed environmentally to it. So, he says that if there's no...if there's such low, low, low levels, you have to suspect a methylation issue, and so you would investigate that and treat that, not go, "Oh, you're fine. You have no mercury."

Andrew: This sort of thing is obviously so involved. I think it requires us to look at this in more detail with specific patients and see what their story...what story evolved whilst they're undergoing therapy. 

So, Beth, I've gotta thank you so much for at least opening that Pandora's box. The Mercury Tri Test… Look, it's this...

Beth: Yeah, that can of fish.

Andrew: Yeah, that's right. This is so, so involved that, you know, we're really just touching the surface by doing one podcast on this, so I'd love to have you back and delve further into this if that's okay with you.

Beth: Yeah, cool. And I'm sorry if I blew people's minds a little bit.

Andrew: Well, it does.

Beth: It is a lot.

Andrew: It does. And it's something that I think we need to be really respectful of when we are detoxing something like this because it's not something that you can just sweep under the carpet. It's a metal, it won't disintegrate, it's a metal, it retains, it remains.

Beth: And it is serious, yeah.

Andrew: Yeah.

Beth: And it's a serious issue and I think sometimes we use the word detox a little bit kind of...

Andrew: Flippantly.

Beth: A bit flippantly, yeah.

Andrew: So, well done, and thank you so much for taking us through the issues and the opportunities I guess for the Mercury Tri-Test and indeed other tests.

Beth: Cool. Always a pleasure in speaking with you, and to the listeners. And we'll talk again soon.

Andrew: Done. This is FX Medicine. I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook.

Additional Resources

Beth Bundy
NutriPATH Integrative Pathology Services
Mercury Tri Test
Minamata Convention on Mercury
Australian Department of the Environment and Energy
NHANES: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
YouTube: Mercury Vapour Video
YouTube: University of Calgary: How Mercury Destroys the Brain
Dr Joseph Pizzorno: Exogenous Toxins
at the 3rd BioCeuticals Research Symposium
Dr Christopher Shade

Other podcasts with Beth include:


The information provided on FX Medicine is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health care professional in the event something you have read here raises questions or concerns regarding your health.


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