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Do Antibiotics Contribute to Mercury Poisoning?

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Closeup on medicine on table and young woman in background Scientists are no longer even sure how antibiotics work. We have the latest research. Action Alert!

According to Dr. David Williams, antibiotics may prevent the body from excreting mercury, which is found in fish and in many vaccines. This was documented in a study by Boyd Haley, PhD, from the University of Connecticut Medical Center. Mercury is highly toxic. In animals studies, researchers can mimic the exact same physiological changes to the brain along with the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by simply adding mercury to the system. Williams reports that increased mercury levels are also a known causative factor in cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman discussed a recent review, presented by Robert Nash, MD, at the annual conference of the American Board of Metal Toxicology, of mercury-associated diseases, mechanisms, controversies, and therapeutic options. The review suggested that the toxic effects of mercury are spread across a broad spectrum of diseases including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, neurodevelopmental diseases, nephrotoxicity, and cancer. According to Dr. Nash, mercury toxicity and retention are enhanced by factors found in the diet, antibiotics, other toxicants such as cadmium and lead, and genetic susceptibilities.

We first learned of a possible connection between antibiotics and mercury metabolism and excretion from a 1984 study on mice. Scientists found that giving mice antibiotics suppressed the gut flora, which reduced fecal mercury excretion. Mercury concentrations in the tissues and various organs were increased in mice fed antibiotics.

A more recent study shows that the mercury resistance gene has often been found together with antibiotic resistance genes. Researchers analyzed different levels of mercury exposure and antibiotic resistance. Mercury-resistant E. coli was found significantly more frequently in the populations that had the highest carriage rates of antibiotic-resistant E. coli, and antibiotic resistance was higher in the population living in an environment with a high exposure to mercury.

None of this should be surprising. Mercury and antibiotic drugs are both antibiotics. In the 19th century, before the toxicity of mercury was understood, it was a principal antibiotic.

Importantly, scientists are just beginning to realize that they might not even have the full story about how antibiotics work. One leading theory is that antibiotics create a pro-oxidant effect. If this proves to be true, there may be a role for intravenous vitamin C to help make treatments more effective against antibiotic-resistant drugs. ANH-USA board member Dr. Jeanne Drisko agrees, but notes the lack of government funding available for research:

We know from many years of use of IV vitamin C (from 1940s onward) that there is definitely a killing of viruses and bacteria. This is a common tool in integrative doctors’ arsenals for infected patients. It was not until recently that my colleagues, Mark Levine and Qi Chen, showed that injected vitamin C forms hydrogen peroxide in the extracellular space, which explains the killing role. We do think it could be helpful for super infections.

We still cannot get NIH to fund any of our IV C proposals and remain dependent on private foundations, which do not have the same cache. But we keep going forward.

Supplementing or complementing antibiotics is important for another reason. As with all medicines, antibiotics may be beneficial to some while harmful to others. People with flavin-containing monooxygenases (FMOs, prevalent in Hispanics and African Americans) and cytochrome P450s (CYPs) may not be able to metabolize some sulfur-containing antibiotics properly producing a more toxic metabolite instead. This is why individualized medicine, especially in drug therapy, is so important.

Another reason to move beyond sole reliance on antibiotics is of course that two million people in the US annually are sickened by antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 people die. Meanwhile, the CDC estimates that half of all antibiotic use is unnecessary! We must turn to natural alternatives both to supplement and to complement antibiotics or pay the price of millions of unnecessary deaths when the big pandemics arrive, as they surely will in time.

Action Alert! Intravenous vitamin C could be a powerful, inexpensive, and safe tool in the battle against antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” as well as in chemotherapy. It is already being used in burn units across the country. Ask NIH and its National Cancer Institute to fund human trials on IV-C. Please take action today!

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