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Measurement of mercury in the urine is the recommended method of diagnosing metallic and inorganic mercury poisoning. Organic mercury cannot be measured by urinalysis because it does not leave the body in urine. If the urine collection cannot be done over 24 hours, spot urine samples should be collected at the same time each day.
Extent of exposure to organic mercury, including methyl mercury, as well as metallic and inorganic mercury can be measured by a blood test. Unexposed people usually have less than 2 MICROg/100mL of mercury in their blood. Early effects of toxicity are indicated when the blood concentration exceeds 3 MICROg/100 mL.
It is worth noting that some herbal and folk treatments for health problems can be a source of mercury. The herbal preparations listed under the "Description" heading above are known to have large concentrations of inorganic mercury. A person prescribed a Chinese herbal ball preparation may want to ask the practitioner about mercury and be alert for symptoms of mercury exposure. Some Mexican skin creams and stomach remedies may also be sources of mercury.
Fish oil supplements are a popular non-prescription treatment used by many people who hope to lower their risk of heart disease, lower their cholesterol, and improve mental function. Because in the United States, the manufacture of nutritional supplements is not regulated like pharmaceuticals are, fish oil supplements may vary greatly from maker to maker and so exposure to organic mercury from fish oil supplements is not readily quantifiable. It makes most sense for a person taking fish oil supplements to determine—if necessary by contacting the manufacturer directly—what kinds of fish are used for the oil, and if mercury levels have been tested for that brand.
Alternative treatment—by a naturopathic physician, a holistic M.D. or osteopathic physician, or a homeopathic practitioner—is based on physical examination, biochemical testing, and an extensive history, including family illness. After evaluating all of this information, treatment may include a comprehensive diet tailored to the individual patient; vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and or homeopathic remedies tailored to the individual; removal of toxics from patient's environment and diet; removal of amalgam fillings; necessary chiropractic adjustments; counseling; supplementary physical treatment; stress reduction and proper exercise; a stress-free home with help, if needed; a detoxification program; use of a sauna; and chelation, a recognized treatment for heavy metal poisoning, the intra-venous injection of ethylenediamine tetraacetic (EDTA) that will chemically bind the heavy metal and allow it to be removed from the body in the urine.
Author Info: Ruth Ann Carter, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2005This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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