Amalgam Toxicity Case History
by Carol Ward, Vice President, DAMS
My history began at the age of seven or eight when the first silver/amalgam filling was placed in my mouth. Up to that time, I had been a physically normal child, though quite susceptible to colds. A few months after the first dental work, my mother took me to a doctor to have me checked for a vaginal discharge diagnosed as "Monila."
Carol Ward (left), Vice President of DAMS with Linda Cifelli, DAMS Coordinator from Virginia
I noticed at around the same age that I had to get up at least once a night to use the bathroom, after retiring. In the succeeding years I had many cavities due to excessive consumption of sweets. By the age of 12, I developed dark patches on my shoulders after the rest of my suntan went away. My period arrived at the late age of 15. Also at 15, I had an accident on a bike and broke 3 teeth. The dentist installed 3 crowns, containing mixed metals and undergirded by mercury. I developed nervous problems, beginning around this time. Two weeks after the crowns were put in, while playing in a young peoples' concert, I experienced 20 minutes of continuous palpitations. This had never occurred before or since. The following summer I felt very weak, suffered from continuous insomnia and strange headaches. I lost my self-confidence, acquired many fears, and became convinced that something was seriously wrong with me. My family felt my problems were emotional. I felt they were physical.
As a college student, I noticed an acceleration of my nervousness which couldn't be accounted for in any logical way. I was outwardly in fine health, in a beautiful campus environment, having a wonderful experience with courses, fellow students, and teachers. At the age of 19, I developed a tendency to hyperventilate if exhausted or under intense pressure such as exams.
In my early 20s, I went through a stage of eating so many sweets that I was faced with having a raft of new fillings. The dentist I had at that time humorously remarked that my crowns were the best teeth in my mouth. After getting the fillings, I came down with a virus and did not seem to recover in the normal length of time. Instead I was tremendously sleepy, falling asleep at a moment's notice in cars or buses. This was a dramatic change over a 3-month period, from my former vitality and health.
At the age of 24, I worked in a dry cleaning establishment where the cleaning was done on the premises. The odor from the solvents was very strong. I noticed after a while that I was emotionally very low, tending to cry frequently, and have some suicidal thoughts. While I had some personal reasons for this depression, it seemed out of scale. I quit this job after 10 months and went back to my home in another state to regroup. I didn't expect to fall ill for the next several months of a mysterious problem that robbed me totally of energy and carried with it intense depression. It was as if 1000 weights were dragging me down; I could not even iron a piece of clothing without forcing myself to do it. An immense tiredness filled my days though by early evening, I experienced some improvements. Friends who saw me socially during that period claimed that I appeared to be "drunk." That is how I felt in one respect --stupefied. My fingers were often cold and almost numb. My family's solution to my problems was to get me to go to group therapy sessions 3 times a week.
Feeling that I was getting nowhere, I returned to the state where I had begun my graduate studies, prior to working in the laundry. The change proved helpful, removing me from a stressful home environment. I completed my degree, and got a job in a large city. The only unusual health problems I had in those years, by now my middle 20s, were a long-lasting ear infection, low blood pressure, and reactive hypoglycemia. One position I held involved an inordinate amount of overwork and stress; this was when the hypoglycemia developed but it was treated and I did not have to stay on the diet more than 1-2 years. However, the stressful work situation caused arthritic types of joint pains and chest pains. These symptoms disappeared when I transferred. I realized at around that time that I was sensitive to chemicals as the building I worked in was painted; as it was unventilated, the full force of the paint smells was overpowering. I developed asthma after many bouts of bronchitis.
Desiring to build myself up, I began taking an interest in the outdoors. At the age of 30, I joined a hiking club and found that I was a natural hiker. I used to hike at least once a month for 10-12 miles. Being out in beautiful, secluded places and exercising I found to be the best method for alleviating stress and building endurance. At the age of 37, I took up jogging and kept this up for many years, as well as the hiking. My jogging led to my participation in a 5-mile marathon in 1978 in the 85-degree heat.
My health problems recurred at the age of 37 with hepatitis. It took me a full year to recover any degree of energy but exercising seemed to help build my endurance. However, I found that after the hepatitis, I used to wake up from naps with cold arms or legs. Also I could never again drink more than 1/2 glass of alcoholic beverages without stomach distress and a sensation of discomfort in the liver area the next day.
At the age of 39, I experienced a time of great personal stress but I noticed that the symptoms I experienced seemed too quick and so severe that it didn't make sense. I became much more sensitive to the cold. Out of the blue, my mind seemed to race and to develop obsessions of a melancholy sort. I began a 2 1/2 year battle with depression; finally realizing I needed professional help, I consulted a depression clinic and was put on lithium. The strange part of this depression was that there were other, unaccountable symptoms that went with it. I began to experience minor, but annoying short-term memory loss that took the form, initially, of forgetting whom I was calling if a distraction occurred at work while I was making a telephone call. Sometimes I literally could not remember even on hearing the person's voice and I would have to hang up. These problems were worse if I had slept poorly the night before. I began having a lot of insomnia, with agitation.
My working day at that time involved a heavy commute with frequent waits in traffic. I began to notice that while under stress in traffic, I would feel an inner trembling or nervous weakness of major sort. This nervous reaction tended to happen more when I was tired; I began to sense that my immune system was playing a key role here, most of the time, keeping the symptoms under control. By the spring of '83, I fell while on a hike. This seemed ominous to me as I had never been clumsy in my life. However, most of the time I hiked with my normal strength and my life went on as usual.
By the fall of '83, I was putting additional stress on my system by commuting an hour after work to see a friend regularly, going to class two nights a week and launching several other projects. I experienced weakness when crossing the street after work; it got so bad that there were times I wondered if I would make it across. In conversation with a friend who is knowledgeable on health issues, I happened to mention these symptoms. As she talked about hypersensitivity to amalgam fillings, I felt a dull sensation of horror right down to my toes as if I knew subconsciously that she was right. But I wasn't ready to deal with it.
Paralleling these events, I had begun to have urinary frequency and my waistline kept expanding. I put on 12 pounds in one year, which was totally unlike my naturally thin physique. My expanding waistline and bloated stomach seemed do to go with increasing digestive problems. A routine medical check-up revealed nothing unusual except a mild mitral valve prolapse.
In February of 1985 I contracted a flu. It seemed like any other routine flu except that afterward I became so weak I could hardly open a window. When that cleared up, I got the first of a series of four urinary tract infections. The diagnosis was cystitis but the symptoms seemed more serious than that. I had low grade fever and discomfort in the lower back. The antibiotics didn't work and the doctor changed my medication. The infection cleared but in a few days, another would take its place and I grew steadily weaker. By June of '85, I had switched to an urologist and was told to get a kidney x-ray. I could barely walk from my car to the hospital for the x-rays. The urologist told me I had no kidney involvement. The 4th infection found me in a state where I could hardly breathe. I stopped taking the antibiotics, knowing of my tendency to be allergic to them. By early July, I was a complete physical wreck. My mind was buzzing, I could not read even a 1- page newspaper article, and I could not remember something I had done two minutes ago. I was confused, distracted and depressed--the sensation was that of a "devouring depression."
I could no longer work even part-time. I was so weak that eating a meal was an effort and my head had to be supported from behind by a high-backed chair. When I had a massage, the person noticed that my kidneys were outlined in red. I had a metallic taste in my mouth; I had almost constant kidney pain. My legs were cold as ice and strangely enervated. When I woke up in the mornings, my eyes were virtually crossed for the first ten to twenty minutes. I had problems with balance, especially if I had to get up at night. It took 1 1/2 hrs for me to get myself going in the morning. I found that strong sunlight made me very uncomfortable. I was dizzy a good deal of the time; I could not comfortably ride even as a passenger in a vehicle because I felt I would keel over nor could I drive for more than 5 minutes at a time. It was difficult to walk one city block.
The five doctors I consulted from May through August '85 did not know what do do for me; their diagnoses varied from depression to sympathetic nervous system dystonia. At this point I was no longer able to work or to do housework. I was having migraines and my blood pressure was high. A friend, active in the holistic health movement, heard of my dilemma; she arranged for me to see a nutritionists, renowned in the city for dealing with serious cases. I saw him on August 18, 1985. After filling out a very thorough questionnaire of my medical history, my case was diagnosed as hypersensitivity to mercury in my amalgam fillings and severe candidiasis. I even had candidiasis outbreaks on the outside of my body. Blood tests later showed that I had a score of 195 on the Candida antibody test. I went on a nutritional regime designed to protect my system from the mercury and to counteract the toxins produced by the candida. I was allowed virtually no carbohydrates. I was on several amino acids before the meal and a raft of vitamins and supplements with it. Also, I was on very high doses of ascorbic acid for my residual urinary symptoms.
Within 3 days I was able to do a few things at home. In 10 more days I was back at work, albeit pale and somewhat weak. The next step was to have my fillings removed; they had already been tested at the dentist's by an Amalgameter. The reading on the worst quadrant of my jaw was a minus 25. My first appointment was Sept. 17; the dentist removed the quadrant of amalgam fillings with the highest reading. Two weeks later the next quadrant was done. By mid-November the 13 fillings were replaced by ceramic fillings (Herculite), including 3 crowns with mercury underneath. As each group of fillings were replaced, I had more energy and a feeling that I could "see" more clearly. I had had some visual field problems during the summer and these disappeared. I began taking walks with something like enjoyment though I still had occasional leg cramps and unpleasant nerve enervations in the legs. My migraines became infrequent, as did my fits of irritability and temper.
In November I consulted a physician for candida testing and for tests prior to having chelation. I was put on Nystatin for several months, then switched to Nizoral. From the end of January on, I had chelation weekly 'til spring, then bi-weekly since then. After the first treatment, I felt more creative and alive, mentally. After the 2nd treatment, I was able to walk up the large hill below my house without the sensation that my legs were filled with lead. There were times I would feel too weak to go to the chelation treatment but would feel better after it. My blood pressure soon went down to 110 over 70 and has remained there. My memory loss, which had been very severe, reversed itself substantially over the next few months. I began to go on 2 hr. hikes in the spring of '86 though after I went on Nizoral, I had somewhat less energy. The Nizoral seemed to improve my urinary problems markedly, however.
As the chelation treatments drove the mercury out of my body, I began to recover a measure of my lost self-confidence. In May '86 I made my first long trip for a weekend though my energy was limited and I still had to go to bed by 10 P.M. By Sept. '86 my color had returned to my face. The only new symptom I had was numbness of the toes, technically referred to as "paresthesia." I began taking thyroid in December '86 and my body temperatures went up to nearly normal.
One year and nine months since I began being treated for mercury hypersensitivity, I have made dramatic strides but still have some health handicaps. My energy fluctuates greatly from day to day; I have much greater susceptibility to colds and flus than the average healthy person. My sleeping pattern is fragile and the great effort required by my way of life (strict dietary regime, large numbers of supplements) is at times depressing and is always costly. I have to admit that my recovery on any basis seems miraculous. The very best medical care on the part of experts was responsible, in large part. Also, my utter determination to follow their directions down to the last detail... and the loyalty of my fiancÚ. It is hoped that in the future, people can learn from the example of someone like me and choose safe dental technology, unprocessed foods, clean water, and what ever else is necessary to insure the health of their children.
Printed with permission of Carol Ward, February 2003. Carol is one of the Pennsylvania state coordinators for DAMS.
This article originally appeared in Health Consciousness Magazine in August 1987. Editor Roy Kupsinel, M.D.
I was very happy to meet Carol Ward in person at the Congressional hearings on mercury May 8, 2003. I asked her how she was doing now. She said that she had recovered from mercury toxicity. However, she did feel that her immune system has been affected. People in Pennsylvania may contact Carol at 610-649-0465 or firstname.lastname@example.org for dental help in Pennsylvania.
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This information is provided for educational purposes only, and does not replace a personal consultation with the health care professional of your choice.