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The Connection Between Mercury & Autism Explained

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In nature, toxic metals generally are bound with other elements rather than being present in their pure form. However, with the advent of large-scale industrial processes to extract metals from naturally occurring compounds, humans let the genie out of the bottle, contributing significantly to the distribution of mercury, aluminum and other heavy metals in the environment. When released from nature’s semi-protective hold, these “invariably toxic” metals wreak havoc on living systems, including humans, animals and plants alike.

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Modern-day scientists have been amassing evidence of mercury’s toxicity for decades, with a growing focus in recent years on the metal’s association with neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A new review article in the multidisciplinary journal Environmental Research pulls together a wide body of literature with the aim of summing up current research and emerging trends in mercury toxicology. Geir Bjørklund, the study’s lead author, is the founder of Norway’s non-profit Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine and has published prolifically on topics related to heavy metals, autoimmune disorders and ASD.

Multiple avenues of exposure

Exposure to mercurial compounds remains widespread, despite feeble attempts to ban some uses. Bjørklund et al.’s review covers all three categories of mercury: elemental, organic and inorganic. Exposure to volatile elemental mercury can come about as a result of occupational contact or vapor from dental amalgam fillings. Organic mercury—the most frequent form of exposure, according to Bjørklund and colleagues—exists as methylmercury (in fish) and ethylmercury (in the vaccine preservative thimerosal). Coal-fired power plants send inorganic mercury into the environment, where the toxic metal works its way up the marine food chain.

Because mercury plays no constructive metabolic role whatsoever, humans have not evolved effective mechanisms to excrete it. Children with ASD have a particularly hard time detoxifying and excretingmercury.

Interconversion between various forms of mercury also occurs. For example, elemental and organic mercury can cross the blood-brain barrier and bioaccumulate in the form of inorganic mercury. Studies also have described “mixed exposure” in the brain to both organic and inorganic mercury compounds. Because mercury plays no constructive metabolic role whatsoever, humans have not evolved effective mechanisms to excrete it. Children with ASD have a particularly hard time detoxifying and excreting mercury.

Multiple mechanisms of toxicity

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Mercury exerts toxicity through a number of different mechanisms and has effects at both the molecular and cellular levels. For their purposes, Bjørklund and coauthors zero in on eight interrelated mechanisms, although there are others. Every single one of the toxic mechanisms that they describe has a documented association with ASD.

  • Sulfur: A key and widely recognized fact about mercury is that it is “thiophilic,” meaning that it has an affinity for biochemically important sulfur compounds called thiols. Mercury binds to the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine (which contains a thiol group); this allows mercury to piggy-back into brain cells and other target cells through a phenomenon known as molecular mimicry (meaning that the problematic mercury-cysteine entity “mimics” the useful amino acid methionine). According to leading toxicologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mercury then “blocks or attenuates [the] protein molecule’s range of availability for normal metabolic function.” Mercury also reduces sulfate absorption. Individuals with ASD frequently have low levels of sulfate.
  • Immune activation and autoimmunity: Bjørklund et al. outline numerous mercury-related immune system effects, including “immunostimulation, immunosuppression, immunomodulation, delayed-type hypersensitivity…, and autoimmunity.” These effects occur largely due to mercury’s influence on immune cytokines—proteins that are important in helping cells communicate. Chronic elevation of inflammatory cytokines and other immune abnormalities such as activation of microglia (immune cells in the brain) are hallmarks of both mercury exposure and ASD.
  • Protein synthesis: Researchers have reported since the late 1960s that mercury inhibits protein synthesis (a fundamental cell process that involves both DNA and RNA), interfering with cells’ ability to build new proteins. Bjørklund and coauthors report that inorganic mercury is particularly disruptive in this regard. Investigators have postulated that dysregulated protein synthesis, which disrupts the balance between excitation and inhibition in brain cells, plays a causal role in ASD.
  • Brain microtubules: Neuropsychiatrist Jon Lieff describes microtubules as “the brains of the cell” and suggests that cerebral microtubules may be “the seat of consciousness.” Microtubules form the scaffolding required by axons (nerve fibers that transmit neuronal signals). Mercury preferentially targets axonal microtubules, leading to their “depolymerization and derangement,” according to the Environmental Research Moreover, mercury is unique among toxic metals in having these microtubule effects. Axonal disturbances and the altered brain connectivity that these disturbances promote are widely documented features of ASD.
  • Membrane transport: Cell membrane transport refers to the process whereby molecules (such as amino acids) pass into or out of a cell. Mercury can disturb amino acid transport and also “penetrate” across biological membranes. The authors note the need for “approaches to inhibit [mercury’s] transfer both at the placental border and at the blood-brain barrier.” An international research group recently described the relationship between ASD and impaired amino acid transport at the blood-brain barrier.
  • Glutathione: Numerous researchers have described how organic mercury, in particular, impairs glutathione activity, thereby lessening protection from oxidative stress and weakening the body’s detoxification capacity. The relationship is bidirectional, according to Bjørklund and coauthors, because when brain glutathione levels drop, the uptake of mercury in brain tissue increases substantially. Lowered glutathione levelselevated oxidative stress and a higher body burden of mercuryhave been repeatedly documented as core characteristics of ASD.
  • Metallothioneins: Metallothioneins (MTs), a family of proteins, are antioxidants and metal chelators that work to maintain metal homeostasis. MTs also play an important role in neuroprotection and regeneration. Although MTs are present to “protect the brain and gastrointestinal tract against overload by toxic metals,” Bjørklund and coauthors cite evidence showing that common genetic mutations and variations in MTs may increase some individuals’ susceptibility to mercury-induced neurotoxicity, including individuals with ASD. Studies have identified “a significant increase in both metal content and metallothionein expression” in autistic children.
  • Zinc and copper: Appropriate metabolism of zinc and copper is important for healthy neurological functioning. When mercury binds to metallothioneins, it can substitute for zinc and copper, “interact with [zinc] and [copper] availability” and thereby disturb the normal zinc-copper ratio. In a previous publication, Bjørklund described mercury’s role in disturbing zinc and copper metabolism and the typically low zinc-copper ratio in autistic children. Other researchers have measured the zinc-copper ratio in plasma as a biomarker for mercury toxicity in ASD children.

Reducing mercury toxicity

Bjørklund and coauthors also devote several paragraphs to a discussion of the essential trace element selenium, which plays an important antioxidant role, among other functions. The authors note that mercury is highly “selenophilic,” binding to selenium “with an extraordinarily high affinity…when compared with the affinity for sulfur.” The welcome implication spelled out by the authors—which has been known to researchers for nearly half a century—is that selenium has a “high capability…to reduce the toxicity of [mercury] compounds.” The authors list several mechanisms whereby selenium can minimize mercury-induced toxicity, such as by improving mercury’s excretion or sequestration and strengthening antioxidative activity. Autism researchers have identified “a significant elevation of [mercury]…together with a significant decrease in the [selenium] levels in [red blood cells] of patients with ASD when compared to…healthy controls.” These researchers agree that selenium has an important role to play in reducing mercury toxicity in ASD patients. 

Translating research into action

It has been over a decade and a half since a seminal publication in Medical Hypothesesdescribed autism as “a novel form of mercury poisoning” and showed how “every major characteristic of autism has been exhibited in…cases of documented mercury poisoning.” Ten years later, Kern and colleagues published a detailed consideration of “parallels between mercury intoxication and the brain pathology in autism” in Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis. A 2017 publication in Molecular Neurobiology by autism expert Dr. Richard Frye and others reviews “associations between mercury exposure and ASD subtypes,” even “at doses well below the current reference levels considered to be safe.” Thus, Bjørklund and coauthors are far from alone in synthesizing the evidence base and drawing attention to the global public health epidemics of mercury toxicity and autism.

The CDC authors concluded that there are “many commonalities [and] similarities in the mechanisms of toxic action of methylmercury and ethylmercury,” particularly regarding their association with neurotoxicity and neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD.

Last year, CDC toxicologists published a comprehensive review that specifically focused on the two forms of organic mercury. The CDC authors concluded that there are “many commonalities [and] similarities in the mechanisms of toxic action of methylmercury and ethylmercury,” particularly regarding their association with neurotoxicity and neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD. Both forms of organic mercury cause DNA damage (or impair DNA synthesis), affect cell division, decrease glutathione activity and increase oxidative stress, among other similar effects. These findings are particularly noteworthy in light of Bjørklund and coauthors’ observation that “co-exposure with [ethylmercury] and [methylmercury] might induce more adverse neurotoxic effects than each agent alone.” Bjørklund’s team calls on researchers to actively investigate these additive toxicological effects.

At the end of the day, as noted by mercury expert Philippe Grandjean, there is a need to move beyond simply generating “endless replications” in the form of “thousands of toxicology publications every year” on mercury and other well-understood toxic metals. The Bjørklund team’s broad review of over 200 studies—including recent findings as well as articles dating back several decades—shows that we already know more than enough about mercury’s hazards to take decisive action.

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This Super Simple Breathing Technique Can Help Alleviate Anxiety & Depression

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Small study finds breathing technique can help treat major depressive disorder and anxiety.

  • Reflect On:

    The answers to our challenges are much simpler than we thought, we have everything we need inside of us. Great alternative to prescription anti-depressant medication, or other substances.

The breath is one of the most underrated and under-utilized methods of healing. Breathing comes naturally to us, we do it without thinking, which is why it is not something we generally think of as a way to connect deeply with ourselves, calm our anxieties or even reach higher levels of consciousness. Something as simple as breathing can help those who suffer from severe mental conditions and those who have survived global disasters.

There are many forms of breathwork, there is the well-known Holotropic Breathing, made popular by the Iceman himself, Wim Hof. There is another technique known as transformational breathwork and the featured practice of breathing that will be featured in this article, resonant breathing or Coherent Breathing, which is a trademarked term.

This specific style of breathwork came from years of studying the ancient breathing practices of indigenous people all over the world including those from African, Hawaiian, and Native American traditions.

Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, Patricia Gerbarg, studies the technique with her husband, Richard Brown, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We wanted to identify a short program that could be given quickly to people, that they would have immediate relief within five or ten minutes, and that over time would produce long-term changes,” Gerbarg told Vice.

The Study

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine in 2017 led by researchers from Boston University asked 30 people with major depression to practice the breathing technique regularly as well as Iyengar yoga. After 3 months, results from a standard depression inventory test showed how the depressive symptoms had significantly declined.

Even though the study size was very small, it is comforting to know that something as simple as breath alone could help to alleviate symptoms of severe depression. No pills needed. This technique is especially powerful because it can be practiced anytime, anywhere. The process involved taking regular breaths in and out of the nose, at a pace of 5 breaths per minute, each breath in and out taking around 6 seconds. When starting out, it is recommended that this be practiced with the eyes closed, but once you get it under control you can easily do it with your eyes open, meaning while you’re driving, while in a meeting, anytime during the day that you may find yourself feeling anxious, stressed or down. Gerbarg says, “It’s totally private. Nobody knows you’re doing it.”

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The breath should be calm and gentle because the goal is to balance the sympathetic — fight or flight with the parasympathetic — rest and digest areas of the nervous system. Interestingly, when the couple first began looking into the power of the breath, the first thought was that this must send extra oxygen to the brain that we may have otherwise been lacking. However, they knew that there must be more to this to explain the profound effects they had been seeing in those who practiced the breathing technique. Not to mention, some types of breathwork actually decreases the amount of oxygen going to the brain.

Why Does This Work?

Gerbarg and Brown believe that the reason this technique works is thanks to the vagal nerves, those connecting the brain to the body and what tell the organs when to beat, digest, breathe and all other functions, have been found in recent years to send even more messages in the opposite direction from the body to the brain. “These ascending messages strongly influence stress response, emotion and neurohormonal regulatory networks,” stated in a book written by the couple, Yoga Therapy: Theory and Practice.

According to Gerbarg, “Respiration is the only autonomic function we can voluntarily control,” it’s easy to see how changing the breathing pattern can shift the messages received by the brain.

The calm and even breaths send messages of safety, according to Gerbarg, this can reduce anxious or depressive thoughts and makes way for more loving and connected emotions to be felt. Adverse reactions are generally rare, but those with asthma or other breathing conditions should only try this practice under the guidance of a trained professional.

We really do have everything we need inside of us. Our human bodies are magnificent, and if something as simple as breathing can help alleviate symptoms of depression, then we should certainly be studying this more. If you are skeptical about this information and feel it’s too good to be true, give it a shot next time you find yourself feeling down or anxious and see if it helps!

Much Love

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It’s Not New: Pictures Show The Fight Against Vaccines Is Well Over 100 Years Old

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The struggle against vaccination, especially compulsory vaccination mandated by a government/industry coalition, was met with fierce resistance from people during the early history of vaccination over a century ago.

  • Reflect On:

    What does the pictorial evidence of opposition to vaccines from early in the previous century tell us about today's vaccine industry?

In the foreword to the book by Doctor Suzanne Humphries and Roman Bistrianyk entitled ‘Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,’ Dr. Jayne L. M. Donegan sums up the vaccine ‘landscape’ that she and all MDs enter into as they become doctors:

Despite questioning the safety and efficacity of vaccination by reputable medical men since its introduction, debate has been, and is, increasingly discouraged. Information published in scientific journals is used to support this position, other views being regarded as “unscientific.”

It was a received “article of faith” for me and my contemporaries, that vaccination was the single most useful health intervention that had ever been introduced. Along with all my medical and nursing colleagues, I was taught that vaccines were the reason children and adults stopped dying from diseases for which there are vaccines. We were told that other diseases, such as scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, typhus, typhoid, cholera, and so on, for which there are no vaccines at the time, diminished both in incidence and mortality (ability to kill) due to better social conditions.

You would think–as medical students who are supposed to be moderately intelligent–that some of us would have asked, “But if deaths from these diseases decreased due to improved social conditions, mightn’t the ones for which there are vaccines also have decreased at the same time for the same reason?” But we didn’t.

The medical curriculum is so overloaded with information that you just have to learn what you hear, as you hear it: nonvaccinatable diseases into the social conditions box and vaccinatable diseases into the vaccines box and then onto the next subject.

What this book especially brought to light for me was not just that open ‘debate’ on vaccination is systematically stifled, but the gruesome early history of vaccination itself is hidden, suppressed, and denied. For me, just knowing the early history of vaccination has been enough for me to see that all along this phenomena has fundamentally been about power and money, in complete and abject disregard for human health. I believe an open-minded reading of the book mentioned above will lead you to the same conclusions.

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Early Resistance Against Vaccines

The early history of vaccines is fraught with egregious trial-and-error ‘science’ on humans treated as guinea pigs matched with strong-arm tactics at compulsory vaccination. But even though they were dealing with human populations that were not as educated as we may be today, the illness and deaths of children resulting from vaccination were not lost on parents–and in some cases, before the medical establishment had full control over their doctors’ muzzles, were admitted to by doctors. Here are a few among many pictorial examples and their heart-breaking stories:

Public Gatherings

At a time when mainstream media, government, and the medical establishment were not the well-oiled machine of elite propaganda they are today, public outrage and attempts to mobilize against compulsory vaccination were squarely in the public eye:

Anti-Vaccine Literature And Images

Like today, there were professionals and researchers speaking out against the dangers of vaccination, and probably suffered from the same lack of funding to proliferate their message.

Comparisons With Today

One would imagine that if the early vaccine industry actually cared about public health, that even the death or crippling of ONE CHILD that occurred directly after vaccination would cause them to shut down operations until they could verify that this death was not caused by vaccines. Alas, these pictures demonstrate otherwise. And if it did not happen then, it certainly is not happening now.

The outright lie found on government medical websites that ‘vaccines are safe and effective’ belies the fact that a special fund and a special court was set up by the government to issue compensation to sufferers of vaccine injury that has already paid out over $3.7 billion dollars. The fact is that this court was set up to prevent people from being able to sue vaccine companies directly, because it was forecast that all the vaccine manufacturers would go bankrupt if they were not protected from being sued. That’s how ‘safe and effective’ vaccines have proven to be.

Sure, today there is less of a push towards compulsory vaccination–but that is in part due to the awesome and tireless work of enraged citizens at the turn of the century as evidenced in these pictures! All that happened was that the vaccine industry realized that they could better ply their trade by focusing not on forced vaccination and the obvious resistance it generates, but rather by controlling the narrative with well-funded propaganda through coordinated efforts of the medical establishment, government, and the media. Part of this effort is hiding the history from us that we see in the pictures featured here.

If we are to become clear as a collective about the big picture of what is going on behind government and industry policy today, sometimes a brief look at history is all it takes.

 

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10 Ways To Boost Serotonin Levels Without Medication

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Millions are diagnosed with depression every year, and people can begin feeling better without medication by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Some lifestyle changes and food adjustments can help solve this.

  • Reflect On:

    Is your diet truly helping you feel good? We sometimes think 'we only live once, I should eat what I want!' but how do you want to feel while you're alive: Vital or foggy?

As defined by psychologists, a person has a major depressive episode when he or she has symptoms of major depressive disorder, including depressed mood or feelings of emptiness, hopelessness or irritability, that last for two weeks or more.  And, according to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), the number of people diagnosed with depression has increased by 450% since 1987.

It is often recommended that we start taking a medication to reduce symptoms. However, medication often comes with sometimes dangerous side-effects. Here are some simple ways to feel happier without needing to take a pill.

1. Get Enough Vitamin B6

Foods like spinach, turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, and non-factory farmed fish (especially tuna, halibut, salmon, cod and snapper) can be great sources.

2. Eat Brain Boosting Seed Grains Instead of Wheat

This includes: Amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa are seeds with grain-like taste and properties. These are healthy, high-protein carbohydrates and small amounts of the right carbohydrates are critical to boosting serotonin.

Not only will you improve your mood, you will Sleep better too. A nice dose of serotonin in the early evening will help you sleep better at night.

These grain-like seeds also provide important B vitamins. As just mentioned B vitamins play a critical role in brain health and in the manufacture of all your neurotransmitters including serotonin. Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) as well as vitamin D, folic acid and selenium plus calcium, and magnesium are needed to make serotonin.

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For protein meals: focus on digestion and food combining – Eating foods that are high in protein – and specifically have a higher percentage of tryptophan (like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds), will provide much-needed tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin. But beware: because research shows that eating protein with carbohydrates actually works against your ability to make serotonin. 

Good to know: Plant-based protein helps to create more serotonin than animal protein does.

To boost your mood and immunity naturally, protein and probiotics – is the delicious natural answer!

3. Include Fermented Food & Drinks In Your Diet

Fermented foods and drinks greatly assist in digestion and assimilation of all the important nutrients you need for serotonin. Additionally, they boost the nutrients in your food by at least a hundredfold.

4. Get Massages & Other Forms of Body Work

We’ve heard about the healing power of touch, but now research backs it up! A study conducted by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine shows that massage increases serotonin by 28% and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) by 31%.

5. Have Fun in the Sun

Early morning sunlight is more intense and this can boost your body’s production of melatonin in the evening. Serotonin converts to melatonin for a great night’s sleep. Getting outside for a 20-minute walk in the early morning sunlight can boost your mood and improve your sleep!

6. Remove Toxins From Your Health That Interfere With Brain Health

Eat foods like dandelion and citrus fruit to help detox daily. Detoxing is about increasing the effectiveness of your detox pathways so unnecessary toxins don’t get stuck in your body. Although the medical field keeps saying detoxing is a myth, lack of proper detoxing is a common challenge.

7. Reduce Stress

Prolonged physical or emotional stress produce adrenaline and cortisol, which interfere with serotonin. Shifting your lifestyle and adding more relaxation into your week can make a huge difference. Focus on Emotional Healing – Reducing stress and focusing on spending more time relaxing is a first step to boosting serotonin. You can take this even further by taking action in key areas to remove negative emotions like fear, guilt and anger. Meditate & do yoga!

8. Exercise

A comprehensive review of the relation between exercise and mood concluded that antidepressant and anxiolytic effects have been clearly demonstrated. In the United Kingdom the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which works on behalf of the National Health Service and makes recommendations on treatments according to the best available evidence, has published a guide on the treatment of depression.

9. Eliminate Processed Sugar (or at least drastically reduce it)

If you have low serotonin, you may have intense cravings for sugar. This is your body’s way of trying to increase serotonin because eating sugar produces insulin, which helps tryptophan go into your brain. However, too much sugar can eventually cause addiction to sugar, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes.

Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way with pure maple syrup, coconut sugar or pure honey.

10. Give More Hugs, Love More & Fear Less

Human connection, living in the heart, being connected to self. All of these things are natural to us and yet we have become quite disconnected from it all in our modern world.

Listen to CE Podcast episode Treating Autism Naturally w/ Jennifer Kozek


To receive more info on how you and your family can overcome ADHD, apraxia, anxiety and more without medication SIGN UP HERE or purchase my book Healing Without Hurting.

Get Your FREE In Depth Numerology Reading

Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.

With the ancient science of Numerology you can find out accurate and revealing information just from your name and birth date.

Get your free numerology reading and learn more about how you can use numerology in your life to find out more about your path and journey. Get Your free reading.

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