Steve Emerson


Mr. Emerson's Homepage (http://www.teleport.com/~semerson/) does not exist anymore. But he made an extra update which I am allowed to publish here in a mirror.

In all the years since it was published not the slightest proof showed up to demonstate that the claims in this text are true.

Au contraire, the sources given in this text one after the other was debunked and was shown to bullshit, lies, and/or fraud.

The only reason why this page is left online is to warn the public.


FMS/CFIDS: A Form of Mercury Toxicity

Updated Apr 30, 2000

© Steve Emerson 2000

This document presents the hypothesis that a subset of patients suffering Fibromyalgia/CFIDS are actually suffering from mercury toxicity. In my view, a change in medical paradigms is badly needed both in research and treatment. Resistance to this hypothesis is strong among patients, clinicians, and scientists alike, and this resistance in my opinion is not rational and not based on knowledge. The only way to overcome this resistance is to present the facts, logic, and reason which support the hypothesis. The aim of this document therefore is to raise public awareness and change scientific and medical opinion on the subject of mercury and exposure from dental amalgams, as they relate to FMS/CFIDS, so that this hypothesis will be studied, more specifically a fractionated porphyrin test or chelation challenge on a sample of patients be undertaken, so that the incidence of mercury toxicity in FMS/CFIDS will be known and these patients will be properly diagnosed and treated.

The Striking Resemblance

The symptoms of FMS/CFIDS and mercury toxicity are essentially the same. Also, mercury toxicity can cause both severe fatigue and reduced pain threshold. The variance in both symptoms and biochemical abnormalities across patients is also a feature of both diseases. There is no universal abnormality in both diseases (though recent research suggests porphyria as a possible universal biomarker for mercury toxicity), and FMS/CFIDS researchers have sought for years to find a salient biochemical abnormality without success. The match between the biochemical abnormalities between both diseases is remarkable. A cursory investigation reveals the following abnormalities which are documented features of both diseases.

The above abnormalities are well-known to FMS/CFIDS researchers. They are also well-known to scientists and clinicians who are expert in mercury toxicity.

The Heresy of Facts, Reason, and Common Sense

The heretical notion, now proposed here, is that dental amalgam, scientifically documented to be the largest non-occupational source of exposure in the population, in which such mercury from amalgam is scientifically documented to escape the fillings and enter such organs as liver, kidneys, and brain, and accumuate in those organs, in which the dose of exposure varies across the population by a factor of 10, is a common source of mercury exposure leading to mercury toxicity. Secondly, a population with documented deficiency in thiols, i.e. FMS patients, is likely more suscepitble to exposure, since thiols are part of the body's defense system against mercury. A deficiency of thiols suggests 1) susceptibility, and 2) mercury exposure, since mercury and thiols bind together.

A presentation by Sam Queen to the State of Colorado can be found at:

Many of the latest relevant findings on mercury amalgam can be found at:

A good scientific site, associated with nucleotide chemist Dr. Boyd Haley at the University of Kentucky, who has done much of the research linking mercury with Alzheimer's, can be found at:

Public opinion about mercury and its possible dangers have been mainly the product of information dispensed by establishment dental trade organizations and dentists. A good site covering some of the politics of amalgam, as it relates to the nature of information dispensed to the public, can be found at:

Scientific evidence in various amounts exists to suggest mercury toxicity as a cause of Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. There have been many FMS patient reports on-line of symptoms consistent with MS, and doctors who first suspect MS as the presenting disease in these patients, but who give the patient a diagnosis of FMS after MRI exam fails to show objective evidence of MS.

Answers to Skeptics

"The notion that medical science could have overlooked mercury toxicity as the culprit in FMS/CFIDS is ridiculous. This disease is studied by many medical scholars who have advanced training."

It is true that FMS/CFIDS is studied by many intelligent people, but scientists are social animals and medical culture is not without its own social peculiarities. First, toxic processes are typically not studied as causes of disease by medical academia, and this subject is often left to toxicologists. Rather, disease is studied as an error in biochemistry, which is either genetic or spontaneous, and which requires intervention with drugs or surgery. Second, the mercury amalgam issue has a strong social stigma attached to it (across the entire population), and the notion that mercury from amalgam is poisoning its owners is still considered ridiculous in most medical circles. So the subject is simply neglected.

"I have already been tested for mercury and the results are negative. Therefore your hypothesis is without merit."

False. Chances are that you were given a blood, unchallenged urine, or hair test. These are all unreliable tests. Doctors have been trained to test for mercury toxicity with blood or urine tests, but these are only reliable tests for poisonings from acute exposure. In the case of chronic exposure from amalgam, the daily dose is low, but the accumulation and retention may be high. Blood and unchallenged urine tests do not provide measures of mercury accumulation in various organs of the body. A DMPS challnge provides a much more reliable measure of mercury content in the body. The fractionated porphyrin test, acccording to Woods, provides porphyria measures which also correlate to amount of mercury in the kidneys. The porphyria test is based upon a newer philosphy of mercury diagnosis, in which, rather than seeking to assess the presence of mercury toxicity by examining mercury levels--which tell nothing about the degree to which mercury is altering someone's biochemistry--to on the other hand look for specific evidence of disturbed biochemistry known to be a conseqnuence of mercury toxicity. Altered porphyrin metabolism causing high levels of precoproporphyrin is one such abnormality. Other abnormalities include altered cholesterol metabolism, abnormal levels of albumin, veinous oxyhemoglobin, thiols, pyruvate, and DHEA. Unfortunately there is no universal biomarker for mercury toxicity. The safety of DMPS as a mercury chelator is currently a matter of debate. By the way, various alternative doctors across North America are finding high levels of mercury and other heavy metals in FMS/CFIDS via DMPS challenge. This document is simply an attempt to raise medical consciousness to these observations by adding scientific support and plausibility. A case report given by one such alternative doctor can be found at:

A site by another alternative doctor, with clinical reports of mercury toxicity in FMS patients, can be found at:

"I have suffered from fibromyalgia since age four, an age at which I had no amalgam fillings. Therefore there may be some people who are mercury toxic but I'm not one of them."

False. Mercury is transferred from the mother to the child both via the placenta and via breast feeding. A high sensitivity to mercury has been documented in a subset of the population. You may have been suffering from mercury toxicity ever since you were born. Children, especially the fetus, are considered by scientists to be the most susceptible to mercury exposure, for obvious reasons.

"If mercury toxicity were a common cause of FMS/CFIDS, then men would suffer this disease as much as women."

False. Women are more sensitive to mercury than men.

"If it were true that chronic mercury exposure from amalgam is poisoning the population, then surely it would be obvious by now."

False. The symptoms of mercury toxicity range from insomnia to depression to anxiety to emotional volatility to allergy to fatigue. These are highly common maladies. Second, there are degrees of mercury toxicity, and a low degree of mercury toxicity is now called micromercurialism. Overt neurological symptoms needn't be present.

"There is recent clinical research showing that people with FMS suffer nerve compression in the neck. Surgical relief of the compression clears their pain. This is clearly not a mercury problem."

False. Mercury can significantly increase CNS sensitivity to nerve compression in the body. The human nervous system is resilient. It can tolerate some nerve compression. But it has limits. Mercury is a neurotoxin that is attracted to nerve tissue. It can damage the myelin sheath. Irritation to the nervous system is additive. The nervous system may be able to tolerate some nerve compression in the spine, but not with the addition of a neurotoxin which is also attacking the myelin sheath. Or, an alternative explanation is that mercury reduces pain threshold, so that sensory input that normally would not generate a pain response now generates a pain response due to abnormalities caused by mercury. In any case, for the mercury toxic person with cervical compression, I argue that the CNS response is additive, and removing either the mercury or the compression can clear the pain and numbness. However, removing the compression will likely not clear many of the other FMS symptoms.

"I developed CFIDS and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) after my workplace was renovated. The new carpeting made me sick and I was forced to quit my job. This is obviously not a mercury problem."

False. Often the MCS is the result of mercury toxicity, and in this case the first exposure causing adverse symptoms did not cause the MCS. Rather, mercury toxicity causes the MCS, and the first adverse exposure is the first exposure to a substance which exceeds the person's tolerance. True, chemical sensitivity often increases after an exposure, but this dynamic, I argue, is made possible by mercury toxicity.

There are three kinds of chemical sensitivity, as loosely defined by myself: odor sensitivity, inflammatory sensitivity, and limbic sensitivity. In odor sensitivity, a person can smell chemical odors at levels which are below normal. No adverse physiological symptoms need be present. In inflammatory sensitivity, sensory cells in the body produce an inflammatory response upon exposure to normal levels of chemicals. Typical symptoms are red or burning eyes, sinus headache, irritated tongue, and irritated airway. Migraine and contact dermatitis may also be the result of inflammatory sensitivity. In limbic sensitivity, brain function deteriorates upon exposure to normal doses of chemicals. A person with MCS may suffer one, two, or all types of chemical sensitivity. Mercury toxicity, as postulated here, can cause all three forms. The symptoms produced by limbic sensitivity are often symptoms of mercury toxicity triggered by exposure to normal levels of chemicals. The symptoms can be changes in blood pressure, pulse, irregular heart beat, drowsiness, agitation, urinary urgency, rage/panic attacks, spasm, seizures, constipation or diarrhea, eye twitches, changes in vision, difficulty with thinking, memory, concentration, and orientation, fatigue, chills, bloating, and changes in taste. These are symptoms of mercury toxicity, and the hypothesis and observation here is that, in limbic sensitivity, mercury's disruption of brain function increases enormously upon exposure to normal levels of exogenous chemicals.

The following is a real life example. A woman was exposed to mercury vapor released from two thermometers broken by her children. The proper response in this instance is to evacuate the house and call the fire department for toxic waste disposal. Instead the mother cleaned and disposed the mercury herself. Two weeks later the woman suffered an "episode" in which she smelled a putrid chemical coming from outdoors. She subsequently suffered an acute drop in blood pressure, heart rate, and suffered the chills. She went to the ER, and the ER medical personnel diagnosed her problems as the result of an anxiety attack. It be should noted here that high blood pressure and pulse--not low--are features of anxiety attack and the fight/flight response. Her symptoms are consistent with mercury toxicity, not anxiety disorder. This is an example of how medicine dismisses MCS with hypotheses and thinking that are quite poor. A much better hypothesis is mercury toxicity with odor and limbic chemical sensitivity.

Episodes in persons with severe MCS can be as disabling as full CFS. For example, the mere exposure to new carpeting for several hours can produce a "flare" consisting of weakness, dizziness, spasm, difficulties with thinking/memory, muscle ticks, ringing in the ears, pain/numbness, changes in immune function, and suicidal depression. It is as if the person were presently being poisoned by mercury.

Further support for this hypothesis can be found in the neuropsychological studies of MCS researcher Dr. Iris Bell, who has found that, in addition to affective disorders such as anxiety and depression, MCS sufferers also score highly in the shyness trait. This is significant as introversion/lack of self-confidence/shyness are well-documented mental symptoms which commonly develop in mercury toxicity.

Factors relating to mercury toxicity, which may contribute to the development of MCS, are: impaired Phase II liver detox, low ATP/impaired cellular function, compromised blood-brain barrier, impaired glutathione synthesis--all due to mercury. Other factors which may play a role in the loss of glutathione status include: age, sick buildings (i.e. environments which tax glutathione status), smoking, alcoholism, diet. Once glutathione status becomes compromised, then the rate of mercury accumulation would thereby increase. Once a critical level of mercury accumulation is reached, the person may find herself in a paradoxical trap, in which glutathione synthesis is impaired due to the presence of mercury, and the mercury cannot be detoxified due to the absence of glutathione. We already know that the toxicity of mercury in the body is not a constant, and is a function of the presence of antioxidants such as selenium and glutathione. Thus, MCS, viewed as symptoms of mercury toxicity significantly worsening upon chemical exposures, does have a hypothetical explanation rooted in Science, namely, that antioxidants, which are already at a low level, are sequestered to detox the arriving chemical in the brain and elsewhere, thus causing an increase in mercury toxicity and worsening symptoms. This same dynamic may occur with other heavy metals as well.

"I have found MSM to be the most effective treatment for my Fibromyalgia. What does this have to do with mercury?"

Mercury and sulfur substances have an affinity for each other. The reason why the nervous system is one of mercury's targets is because the nervous system contains sulfur. The MSM may replenish organic sulfur substances in the body depleted by mercury or it (or one of its metabolites) may bind to the mercury itself. MSM may also be useful for detoxification of other sulfhydryl-reactive metals such as cadmium, lead, and arsenic.

"I had my fillings removed and my FMS worsened!"

The dental patient is exposed to mercury vapor during filling removal. Those persons who already suffer mercury toxicity typically worsen after amalgam replacement. Removal of fillings is done to eliminate the continuing exposure. It does not remove mercury from the body. A program of mercury detoxification is typically undertaken after removal, and the process of detoxification can take years. There are specific protocols recommended for reducing mercury exposure for the patient during amalgam removal, and these protocols are typically not followed by most dentists. It is important that those who suspect mercury toxicity as the cause of their illness employ dental services which will follow the strictest procedures for minimizing exposure. Counsel and supervision by a knowledgeable physician is also recommended for specific decision-making on how these issues should be addressed. Professional help and information on filling removal can be found at the site of the Preventative Dental Health Association:

"CFS clearly has an infectious onset, with symptoms of chronic infection and immune activation, and mercury toxicity is not a persuasive hypothesis for this disease."

In many cases, emphasis on infectious onset is placing the cart before the horse. Immunodeficiency in CFS is already documented, and mercury toxicity can produce immunodeficiency. CFIDS research has found that a large percentage of patients are low in glutathione. Dr. Paul Cheney, a leading CFIDS researcher and clinician, believes that low glutathione is a fundamental problem in CFIDS, leading to immunodeficiency and impaired cellular function, causing a whole host of CFIDS symptoms. Mercury toxicity is already known to cause a depletion in intracellular glutathione. Mercury toxicity can also produce severe, debilitating fatigue. Dr. Patrick Stortebecker, in his book Mercury Poisoning from Dental Amalgam: A Hazard to Human Brain, describes the fatigue documented in mercury-poisoned miners as "An enormous weakness, a lassitude with complete depletion of strength...." and later "...There is a total lack of every initiative, as the patient is incabable of starting any kind of 'new' events, together with his inability to finish earlier projects." Second, the immune activation, characterized by sore throat and tender lymph nodes, may not be a response to an infectious agent such as a virus, but rather a response to the presence of mercury itself. This immune response, suggested by engineer and former CFS sufferer Jeff Clark, may indeed have a sudden onset.

Furthermore, the various neurological symptoms in CFIDS do not support the infectious onset theory, since surely all viral infections which cause immune activation and fatigue do not necessarily cause encephalitis. Rather, they support the theory of the assault by a cytotoxic and neurotoxic poison that is documented to cause profound, overwhelming weakness and fatigue. Nor should viral infections cause magnesium deficiency and high pyruvate and hypoxia and damage to the mitochondria. What is also likely in mercury toxicity is that patients are often "teetering on the brink", and various incidents such as infection or trauma can sharply worsen health status. This is not to take away from the problem of chronic infection. In chronic, worsening mercury toxicity, new problems can develop in a domino effect. Hypothyroidism/hypometabolism, nutrient deficiency, allergy, disordered sleep, and chronic infection are a few of the significant dominoes.

In his book The Cerebellum Synthesis, PR Celsus makes the convincing argument that dysfunction of the cerebellum plays a significant role in the etiology of CFIDS. His argument is based partially on the findings of orthostatic hypotension in CFIDS via Tilt Table tests at John Hopkins University. Second, studies have found that 60-70% of persons with CFIDS suffer symptoms of dizziness/vertigo. These symptoms, according to Celsus, are clear evidence of cerebellar dysfunction. Cerebellar dsyfunction in CFIDS brings us once again to the common thread of mercury toxicity, as both animal and human studies (including the Minimata accident) have found that organic mercury concentrates highly in the cerebellum and cerebellar cortex. Various mechanisms by which metallic mercury from dental amalgam may be converted into organic mercury have already been identified.

The frontal brain is particularly vulnerable to mercury in vapor form. Studies by both Stock and Nylander have shown that mercury from vapor exposure highly concentrates in the olfactory lobe and pituitary gland. This is due to their proximity to the nasal/sinus cavity, which is the primary pathway by which inhaled mercury is absorbed and transported to the brain. The mercury, according to Dr. Patrick Stortebecker, is transported along olfactory nerves to the pituitary and hypothalamus in the frontal brain. Mercury from amalgam is also transported to the brain via nerves of the teeth.

Autopsy studies on amalgam bearers confirm that, not only does mercury from dental fillings accumulate in the brain, but the amount positively correlates with the number of fillings in the mouth. Nylander et al in 1985 studied mercury content in occipital cortex, cerebellar cortex, and trigeminal ganglion, finding mercury in all three regions. Stock in the 1930's and 1940's found that the mercury concentration was much higher in the frontal brain than in other parts, especially the olfactory lobe and pituitary (he did not examine content in the hypothalamus). His findings led him to conclude that mercury vapor from dental fillings does reach the nasal cavity and is absorbed there, from which the mercury distributes to the frontal brain.

It should be noted that CFS first emerged in the 19th-century, at approximately the same time when mercury amalgam was introduced to the population as a dental filling material. In the 1860's Dr. George Beard named the syndrome neurasthenia, believing it to be a neurosis characterized by weakness and fatigue. Since mercury toxicity commonly causes anxiety, particularly in the female gender, FMS/CFIDS has also been labelled by medicine as a form of hysteria. Medicine's fondness for pseudoscience and Freudian psychobabble, in its attempt to explain CFS/FMS, has been an unfortunate reality for the past 150 years.

High pyruvate, low ATP, low magnesium, hypoxia, damage to mitochondria, various neurological symptoms including difficulties with balance, abnormalities in taste, hearing, vision, autonomic function, changes in sensation including pain (all depending on which part of the CNS is affected), overwhelming fatigue, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, HPA-axis dysfunction, food allergy, immunodeficiency, hypocortisolism, sleep disorders, et al are all documented effects of mercury toxicity. No FMS/CFIDS researcher has to date provided a hypothesis, other than mercury toxicity, which persuavely explains these abnormalities. The best hypothesis should be studied, and it is time that mercury body burden in these patients be scientifically assessed.

Key words: fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS, CFIDS, MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Environmental Illness, DMPS, DMSA, mercury poisoning


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