It is very difficult to say which came first, the yeast
buildup or the low-level mercury toxicity.
The most prevalent theory is that low level mercury toxicity
causes some degree of suppression of the immune system,
making it easier for the yeast to proliferate in the human
This process is especially true in the gastrointestinal
tract and in the vaginas of particularly sensitive women.
One small study did show that mercury decreased the ability
of the macrophages (a type of white blood cell of the immune
system) to kill yeast. What this means is that these important
cells of the immune system were affected by mercury in a
way that made the macrophages pass right by yeast without
engulfing and killing them. Macrophages kill bacteria and
yeast by engulfing them and then destroying them with their
unique chemical packages. While this was a small study,
it does affirm the idea that mercury can disrupt cellular
communication by binding to the many receptor sites located
on the all cells, essentially tying up the “phone
lines” so healthy messages can’t get through.
Here’s how the stage is set for a yeast-related illness
causes immune system suppression and communication problems;
take a round or two of antibiotics, especially tetracycline,
often prescribed for acne, which can actually promote
take birth control pills;
to this mix a major stressor in your life, such as a new
job, a divorce or the illness of a close family member and
perhaps exposure to toxins like outgassing new carpet or
exposure to cleaning chemicals at your workplace, this poisonous
soup might begin to look and feel like chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia.
It doesn’t always progress this way, but many alternative
medical practitioners see this as a typical scenario for
many of the patients they work with.
I have seen this story played out over and over again in
my patient’s histories. People who have seen numerous
other doctors for workups can sometimes find health and
energy again by treating the yeast, then removing the mercury
and other toxins from their bodies.
The goal is to restore balance to the immune, nervous, and
endocrine (glandular) systems of the body. Yeast, mercury,
other bacteria, viruses, and toxins all upset the natural
balances of the body. We all can handle and function with
some degree of imbalance but we all have a point where the
imbalance will begin to manifest as symptoms.
bottom line: Yes, at least clinically, there does seem to
be an association between yeast and mercury but it has yet
to be clearly defined.
I routinely test my patients for both. Several times now,
patients have come to my office for what they thought was
a mercury toxicity problem. After testing, I was able to
show them that yeast overgrowth seemed to be the biggest
factor. It is always important to remember that we are all
biochemically different, and what works for one person may
not work for someone else. Just because your friend got
better from one type of treatment, don’t assume it
is right for you. See a health care professional for a complete
workup and evaluation.
Mercury gets into the environment, and eventually into your
system, through industrial pollution of water, soil and
The reason large fish are so likely to concentrate mercury
in their body tissues is that mercury runoff from waterways
and from soil eventually finds its way to the sea, as do
airborne mercury particles from industrial emissions. Larger
older fish concentrate these pollutants in their body tissues,
partly by eating smaller fish with mercury contaminants
in their tissues. This then accumulates in human tissues
when we eat the fish.
Is it better to treat the yeast or the mercury first?
It’s probably a good idea to treat the yeast first
to help strengthen your intestinal health first. It’s
fairly complex, but bear with me while I explain why:
We all have bacteria in our intestines and that are essential
to maintaining good health. Most people who read about yeast-related
illness have learned about probiotics. These are the bacteria
people can take in supplement form to help support populations
of good gut bacteria/flora.
Most people don’t realize that stool is composed of
roughly 2/3 bacteria. Many think it is just food remnants,
but that is not the case, your stool is mostly bacteria
and that should help with the realization of how important
these gut bacteria are to good digestion and ultimately,
to your health.
Studies showed that mice with healthy populations of bowel
bacteria could consume higher amounts of mercury with fewer
adverse health effects than those with abnormal bacteria
or yeast overgrowth. Other studies show that abnormal bacteria
and yeast, such as Candida albicans, actually take the less
toxic form of mercury, the inorganic form, and convert it
into the more toxic methylmercury, the organic form. The
body absorbs the organic form of mercury much more easily.
The normal healthy gut bacteria do the opposite, they help
convert the bad methylmercury into the less toxic inorganic
form of mercury, which means less mercury is absorbed by
Thus it makes more sense to treat the yeast first and restore
the normal bowel flora before attempting any type of chelation
(removal) of mercury.
If you don’t treat in this order, the candida will
more than likely change more mercury into its most toxic
form, so you simply reabsorb the mercury you were trying
to get rid of.
This is the approach I use with my patients.
Treating mercury toxicity is done with a wide variety of
prescription drugs and supplements. The two most commonly
used substances are DMSA and DMPS, although other drugs
are often used and are the subject of hot debate in the
It is important to see a medical practitioner with experience
in this area. People will respond differently to the detoxification
drugs, so it’s important to be carefully monitored.
Can antibiotics make a mercury problem worse?
Yes. In one scientific study, mice given antibiotics before
they were exposed to mercury showed much greater levels
of mercury in their tissues than mice who did not take antibiotics,
but were given the same amount of mercury to ingest.
This goes along with the idea that normal gut bacteria are
help guard against the absorption of mercury. Antibiotics
kill the good gut flora at the same time they are killing
the harmful bacteria.
This information is especially important for anyone who
is eating mercury-contaminated food such as certain fish
right after or during antibiotic therapy. While antibiotics
can be lifesaving and are important drugs in today’s
world, they sometimes come with a cost. They can increase
mercury absorption as well as alter the bowel bacteria concentrations
thus setting the stage for a yeast overgrowth problem in
What are the most mercury contaminated fish?
Swordfish, shark, large tuna (sushi tuna, albacore), king
mackerel, and tilefish.
Canned tuna is a hit or miss situation. Sometimes when it
is tested it shows high mercury and sometimes is shows no
mercury. The difference is attributed to the size of the
fish and the place it was caught. The larger the fish, the
longer it has lived and the more mercury will have accumulated
in its tissues.
When Consumer Reports tested canned tuna they found that
albacore tuna was consistently higher in mercury than other
types of tuna. If you eat canned tuna, pick chunk light
or Tongol tuna, as this type was found to have lower mercury
levels. It is suspected this lower level is because they
are smaller forms of tuna and have not lived as long, thus
not as much mercury would have accumulated in their tissues.
Fogle, ND is a naturopath who specializes in environmental
medicine. His practice focuses on treating mercury and heavy
metal related conditions, allergy, cardiopulmonary medicine,
IV therapy, candidia and autoimmune problems. His practice
is located at the Center for Environmental Medicine in Portland,
Oregon. He also does phone consultations for patients in
other states. He can be reached at 503-552-1814. His web
address is www.hometown.aol.com/FogleND