How to Do a Mercury Detox: Your Ultimate Guide
BWB’s roadmap for detoxing your body and reducing your exposure to heavy metals in the future.
If you are wondering how to detox mercury and other heavy metals from your body, you are not alone. Concerns about mercury poisoning are becoming more prevalent every single day, and for good reason.
It is important first to understand the causes and symptoms of mercury poisoning. From there, BWB can give you a roadmap for detoxing your body and reducing your exposure to heavy metals in the future.
What is a Mercury Detox?
Heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, and aluminum, accumulate in the body over time. A mercury detox aims to remove mercury from your body and minimize its impact on your health. You can use a variety of home remedies to do a mercury detox. If you have been exposed to high amounts of mercury, a full detox may also require medications prescribed by your doctor.
How Toxic is Mercury?
Mercury is a type of heavy metal that is used in a variety of industrial products, such as thermometers and light switches. There are several different types of mercury, and some are more toxic than others.
The health effects of coming into contact with mercury depend on the severity and length of exposure, as well as the method of contamination. Research shows that inhaling metallic (elemental) mercury vapor is more likely to lead to serious health issues than swallowing it. When we swallow metallic mercury, our gastrointestinal tract does not absorb it as quickly as other types of mercury.
On the other hand, swallowing methyl mercury, which is commonly found in seafood, can be extremely harmful to your health.Ethyl mercury, found in certain vaccines, can cause similar problems but is cleared from the body quicker than methyl mercury.
Where Does Mercury Come from?
Unfortunately, small amounts of mercury can be found all around us in our air, water, and food. As a result, you need to be especially cautious if you live or work near an industrial site.
The production of certain items that contain mercury increases the trace amounts of the heavy metal found in the air.
Significant sources of mercury include:
- Light bulbs
- Cigarettes (and cigarette smoke)
- Old paint
- Dental amalgam
- Antiques (mirrors, pendulums, vases)
- Old appliances with mercury switches
- Sporting equipment (rifles, archery bows)
You will not get mercury poisoning simply by using these items, provided they have not been damaged.
However, if you break a mercury thermometer or another similar device, be very careful during the cleanup process.Never use a broom or vacuum to clean up the mess, as it will only spread the mercury further and pollute the air in your home.
The Symptoms of Heavy Metal Poisoning
Mercury poisoning can lead to a range of symptoms, including:
- Chest pain
- Behavioral changes, such as irritability or excitability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Loss of sensation
Mercury poisoning symptoms tend to appear slowly as mercury builds up in your body over time. However, if you have been exposed to high amounts of mercury, symptoms can also appear very suddenly.
Why You Should Do a Mercury Detox
Some people only experience mild side effects when they are exposed to mercury, while others suffer from intense headaches, fatigue, and behavioral changes. Even if you are among those who experience no symptoms, a mercury detox still may be beneficial for your long-term health.
If left untreated, the accumulation of heavy metals in the body can trigger dangerous conditions such as heart disease, thyroid problems, dementia, neurological conditions, autism, infertility, and birth defects.
How to Test Mercury Levels in Your Body
If you want to test your mercury levels, make an appointment with your doctor. Tell them about your exposure history and symptoms to help them choose the most effective test.
- Blood test. A blood test can show if you have been exposed to mercury in the last few days. The blood level of certain types of mercury decreases rapidly within 3-5 days.
- Urine test. A urine test may reveal the presence of mercury several months after initial exposure.
- Hair test. An analysis of hair can show long-term mercury exposure.
Who Needs a Mercury Detox the Most?
Blood mercury levels of 0 to 9 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ML) are considered safe.
A level between 10 and 15 ng/mL indicates mild exposure, while anything over 50 ng/mL may indicate heavy exposure to organic mercury and serious health issues to come.
Most people do not require an immediate mercury detox until blood levels reach 15 ng/mL. However, if you want to stay on the safe side and help your body filter out toxic substances, you can take certain measures to reduce your mercury exposure and slowly detox heavy metals from your body. Better safe than sorry!
How to Do a Mercury Detox
Consider chelation therapy
If the mercury levels in your blood are high, your doctor will recommend chelation therapy. The treatment involves using medications that bind to mercury in your body and help it leave your system more quickly.
Avoid amalgam fillings
Silver-colored amalgam fillings are usually made with mercury, which may break down and poison your body from the inside over time.
If you already have these types of fillings, consider talking to your doctor about replacing them with mercury-free alternatives.
Ask for mercury-free vaccines
Some vaccines, including flu shots, may contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal, which helps prevent vaccine contamination with potentially life-threatening microbes. Thimerosal-free vaccine alternatives are usually available but not advertised.
If you are worried about your mercury exposure, simply ask your doctor or nurse for a thimerosal-free vaccine.
If your blood mercury levels do not exceed the 15 ng/mL threshold, there are certain home remedies you can use to help your body detox from mercury and other heavy metals.
Reduce the risk of contamination
First, consider switching to natural body care products and makeup.
Not only will it help reduce your exposure to mercury, but it will also help you get rid of other harmful heavy metals and toxins. Check the label for any skin lightening, anti-aging, or other skin products you use.Stop using the product immediately if you see the words ‘mercurous chloride,’ ‘calomel,’ ‘mercuric,’ ‘mercurio’ or ‘mercury.’ You can also use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to check if your products are free from toxic chemicals.
Next, inspect any older model electronic appliances you have in your home. Some of them, including irons and space heaters, may contain mercury switches that turn the device on or off. If you own any antiques, such as old clocks or mirrors, inspect them for leaks and, if possible, replace mercury-containing components as soon as possible.
Try a detox diet
You can try a detox diet to help your body get rid of mercury and other harmful substances faster. Start by eliminating alcohol and tobacco from your diet, and try to limit caffeine.
Avoid buying non-organic produce whenever possible. Focus on eating fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water to help your body detox faster.
You can also try water-fasting for one to three days to remove any undigested food from your system and speed up the detox process.
Consider supplementing your detox diet with selenium (200-400mcg daily), vitamin E (400 I.U. per day), vitamin C, and glutathione.
Finally, pair your new diet with detoxifying activities such as hot yoga for quicker results.
How to Reduce Your Exposure to Mercury
Incorporate detox foods into your diet
Even if you are not looking to go on a detox diet, incorporate detox foods into your weekly menu. Focus on foods that are rich in fiber, such as fruits and whole grains.
Cilantro is the most important herb for mercury detox, as it has been found to displace heavy metals from deeper stores to connective tissue.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), cloves (Eugenia aromatica), garlic (Allium sativum), and turmeric (Curcuma longa) also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can be useful during the detox process.
Avoid mercury-dense foods
Avoid eating mercury-dense foods as much as possible.
Be especially careful when consuming seafood. Fish, especially larger and older fish, tend to absorb high levels of mercury from the water. Avoid eating tuna, swordfish, bluefish, king mackerel, or wild sturgeon. If you want to incorporate seafood into your diet, try eating more salmon, tilapia, flounder, or herring instead.
Watch out for pollution
Water and air pollution can be a major source of mercury poisoning.
To avoid excessive exposure to mercury, steer clear of industrial areas whenever possible. If you use a private water system, you are more likely to be exposed to mercury than if you use the municipal water system. In either case, consider filtering both your drinking and your shower water. You can use the filter-buying guide from the Environmental Working Group website to find filters that are a good fit for you and your budget.
Doing a mercury detox can help you eliminate inexplicable symptoms such as fatigue and headaches, as well as protect you against dangerous long-term health effects.
Want to get the latest scoop on beauty and wellness trends?
Sign up for our newsletter below!