Understanding the Environmental Influences of Neurotoxins on Your Brain: Mercury Poisoning

We live in a world where it is easier to break an atom than a preconceived idea. – Albert Einstein

The Ancient Greek Physician Galen (a great scientific researcher who advanced the disciplines of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, neurology and pathology), as well as the renaissance Physician Paracelsus, (the father of toxicology as a science), studied, practiced, and wrote in detail and at great length of their experiences with the neurological and physical toxicities of mercury exposure. Yet, two millennia later, medicine remains largely in the dark as to the role this poison plays in chronic, as well as acute, exposures.

Diseases of the nervous system are increasing at exponential rates. Neuroinflammatory illness such as autism, behavioral disorders, tremors and movement disorders, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s dementias, psychiatric disorders, depression and anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, insomnia, memory impairment, neuromuscular weakness, neuropathies, tinnitus and hearing loss, headaches, and acute and chronic pain syndromes, are all reaching epidemic numbers.  These illnesses are physically, emotionally, and economically costly, often causing long term disability and unnecessary suffering.

A number of environmental toxins have been well established causes of neurological disorders and brain dysfunction.*  The most neurotoxic of the list is the heavy metal mercury. All forms of mercury pose a significant threat to both the developing and adult nervous systems.* It has bio-accumulated throughout our aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and is now heavily entrenched in the food chain, with our nervous systems and bodies serving as deadly endpoints.

Neuroscientific research has demonstrated the neurotoxicity of mercury as causally related to a number of mechanisms. It is well established as creating deficiencies of such critical antioxidants as Selenium, as well as creating intracellular imbalances of other essential minerals in the brain, and it has been shown to cause disruption of neurotransmitters which are involved in the programmed cell death of neurons.  These processes all impose substantial oxidative stress on our nervous tissues, causing neurotoxicity and associated neuroinflammation. If left untreated, these potentially reversible and preventable processes lead to neurodegenerative disease and irreversible cell death.

Cases of childhood autism and multiple sclerosis, both rarities during my medical training and neurosurgical residency, as well as adult MS, ALS, dementias, cognitive dysfunction, and balance disorders, are increasing in all age groups. While acute mercury poisoning is more readily recognized by mainstream medicine as a cause of such neuroinflammatory illnesses, chronic mercury exposure typically is not. As we are initially exposed to toxic mercury in the womb, this is a critical oversight.  I measure every one of my patients’ mercury levels, including my pediatric patients, and I am acutely aware of the levels of mercury with which children are being born.

How might our approach toward neurological disease be altered? Firstly, mercury  fillings are entirely avoidable. As for industrial sources, the world stage is  Finally legislating tighter control of production, handling, and disposal of mercury, as has previously been targeted with the neurotoxin lead. For those stores of deadly mercury that have already found their way into our central nervous systems and bodies, your neurotoxic burden can be readily assessed and managed by a qualified licensed medical practitioner. Ongoing exposures can be addressed and corrected, including safe removal of mercury  fillings by a biological dentist.

In summary, neuroinflammatory illness can be prevented, halted, and reversed, when accompanied by a neuroinflammatory and neurotoxicity assessment and followed by a safe detoxification
protocol. Without this information, many patients suffering from neuroinflammatory illness are left with only a symptom-related diagnosis, with limited treatment options.

Understanding the Environmental Influences of Neurotoxins on Your Brain: Fluoride

A physician is obligated to consider more than a diseased organ, more even than the whole man — he must view the man in his world.
– Harvey Williams Cushing (1869-1939), Father of Neurosurgery

In my practice of holistic neurological medicine and surgery, I help patients identify and repair those issues causing damage or inflammation to their nervous and immune systems. That list can include potential structural issues, dietary stressors to the immune and nervous systems, infectious issues, as well as the exposure to an evergrowing list of environmental neurotoxins.

Added to the list is fluoride, which is indeed a neurotoxin. Extensive research studies dating back to the 1930’s* have shown its direct toxic effects on the central nervous system, as well as fluoride’s role in potentiating other neurotoxic heavy metals, such as Uranium, Lead, Aluminum, and Arsenic.

Fluoride is an environmental toxin that has absolutely no physiologic function in the body (only that of a poison/toxin), is sourced largely from industrial waste, and bioaccumulates in our bodies. We have no natural ability to excrete this toxin, therefore it accumulates in our tissues. Assessing the deleterious health risks of our exposure to fluoride must necessarily address the damage done by its accumulation from long term exposure.

In identifying and defining what is acting to poison our nervous systems, we can better understand and treat the escalating epidemics of neuroinflammatory illnesses. Fluoride added to our water or used as a dental treatment acts as a direct neurotoxin, potentiates the adverse effects of many other neurotoxins, and disables our cellular enzymatic systems. The known toxicity of this poison is sufficiently well established* to avoid
it in dental treatments, including as a drinking water additive.

We can no longer afford to ignore the issue as to what ends up in our air, water, food, and subsequently our brains. Adverse neuroimmunologic reactions to processed foods and their chemical contaminants, to indoor and outdoor air pollution with petrochemicals and radiation, have become epidemic. Such reactions are being misdiagnosed by mainstream medical practitioners, and therefore not treated effectively. We see these
reactions as epidemic rises in neuroinflammatory illnesses from autism to MS, ALS, dementias, the full spectrum of cognitive dysfunction, neuropathies, intractable pain syndromes and, developmental and attentional dysfunction in children and cognitive and mood dysfunction in adults.

In the seventies, we learned just how bad Lead was for us after having been exposed to it for more than fifty years. Now we’re adding silicofluoride to the tap water which, in the developing fetus, acts to draw lead into their bodies, concentrating in their brains and bones. In developing children and adults, fluoride bioaccumulates in the tissues and wreaks havoc on a multitude of enzymatic and cellular processes. You can measure these toxic elements in diseased bones, brains and bodies. (And I do, on every patient in my practice).

There is a multitude of sources of toxic fluoride, from toothpastes and dental treatments, to our fluoridated tap water, to additives in soft drinks, etc. Identifying what you’re consuming at all times has become imperative, as you often do not excrete the toxic components, nor absorb the healthful ones. Your brain and body serve as the store houses, as these toxins prematurely age and damage your nervous and immune system, as well as the body.

Once aware of the underlying causal link of environmental toxin to neuroinflammatory illness, what comes next? The next step is to identify your toxic burden, and become aware of those sources of greatest exposure, then find qualified care in the remediation of your burden and any damage done to your health.

*Please see my links section for a fluoride toxicity reference list.

If you’d like a brain health/neurotoxin burden evaluation and an individualized, comprehensive treatment protocol, please contact my office at 505-503-8325.

Eating For Your Best Brain Health

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”   Thomas Edison, 1902

While the biochemical and cellular mechanisms of neuroinflammatory disease have been well identified, the underlying causes and subsequent treatment options have been severely lacking. A critical mechanism of intervention in neurologic disease exists in addressing heavy metal toxicity, as well as a wide array of other environmental toxins, including those found in our food and water.

Such neuroimmune toxins contribute in a critical, yet largely unrecognized manner, to inflammation and subsequent degeneration of the nervous system. When diet is considered as part of a comprehensive, integrative neuroimmunological approach, you can transcend a diagnosis of neurological dysfunction, and your nervous system can thrive as a result.

As both adult and pediatric neurologic diagnoses reach epidemic proportions, it has become increasingly important to recognize the deeper causal issues at hand. Neuroinfl ammatory disorders (ranging from brain fog to dementias) contribute to everything from difficulties with balance to movement disorders, ringing in the
ears and hearing loss, acute and chronic pain syndromes, lack of energy due to lethargy, depression and anxiety, tingling or numbness of the skin to advanced neuropathy or MS, or delayed development to full spectrum Autism in children. All reflect potentially reversible states of neurologic illness. As the majority of our
immune system resides in our guts, and our immune system is responsible for protecting our nervous systems, examining what we ingest is therefore a necessary component of manifesting neuroimmunological health.

1. Organic diet: Eating organic food is critical in the fight to avoid our brain’s exposure to the highly neurotoxic GMO’s, pesticides, hormone and antibiotic-laden foods.
2. Whole foods: Avoid processed foods full of neurotoxins and depleted of nutrition.
3. Eat a balanced diet with adequate nutrition for the brain: Choosing safe, healthy, bioavailable sources, with the proper macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates)
and micronutrients (essential vitamins and minerals), is necessary for the brain to survive and thrive in our increasingly toxic world.
4. Gluten and wheat-free alternative grain sources: The adverse effects of gluten and wheat on the brain are well established, so choosing good, alternative grain sources
is imperative for good brain health.
5. Dairy: (Animal milk) products stress the gut and immune systems and contribute to neuroinflammatory illness. Finding animal-free (vegan) sources of milk
products is necessary for a healthy functioning brain.
6. Good, clean water source: Used for drinking and cooking. Consuming it free of heavy metals and other environmental toxins is vital.
7. Avoid radiated food: Microwaves are close in neurotoxicity to X-ray radiation and should not be kept in your home nor used to prepare your food. Convection or toaster ovens offer a convenient and much safer, manner of preparing food.
8. Omega-3 rich oils: Good quality organic coconut oil and healthy sources of wild caught salmon provide critical nutrients for your brain health. Brain tissue is partially composed of omega-3 fatty acids, so including adequate sources of these in your diet allows the brain to repair itself, to reduce brain and body inflammation, and is a necessary part of normal brain development in children.  Note: Seafood sourced from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is toxic with mercury as well as radiation from nuclear leaks (Fukushima power plant). Farm-raised seafood is full of infectious and environmental toxins, necessitating a search for healthier sources of seafood, such as wild caught Alaskan Salmon.
9. Sugars and glycemic index: High glycemic foods, including all processed sugars and ‘natural’ forms such as Agave syrup, Sucanat, and Turbinado, act to directly cause inflammation. Processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup, as well as processed grains, whose simple carbohydrate rapidly content converts to sugar, are well-documented sources of inflammation and lead to degenerative disease states. High glycemic index foods cause immune imbalances and adverse inflammatory reactions that directly affect the brain.
10. Alkaline pH: A diet comprised of whole, organic foods, with a majority of alkaline foods, promotes a healing environment for the cells and the brain. The average American diet is extremely imbalanced and contains significantly more acidic foods than alkaline foods. An acidic environment creates inflammation and disease states, where an alkaline one promotes healing. An acidic diet places constant stress on the body and the immune system. To bring the blood pH back into balance and stay in better balance, eating an alkaline diet is key. This does not mean we should eliminate acidic foods from our diet altogether; it simply means we need to shift from the typically acidic diet to a more alkaline diet. A good ratio is maintaining 70-80% of our diet from more alkaline foods, and 20-30% more acidic foods.

Optimal brain and body health comes from optimal nutrition, including a balanced diet of organic whole foods. Furthermore, it is imperative not to attempt to nourish
your body with supplements to compensate for eating a nutrient-poor processed diet. An awareness of the dietary toxins to avoid and which sources of nutrition support
good brain health provides a safe road to recovery and maximal brain health.

For a comprehensive dietary analysis to support your best brain health, call (505) 503-8325 in Albuquerque for an appointment with Dr. Costello. http://www.drpamelacostello.com