Does NAC transport methylmercury to the brain?

I am confused and uncertain what to believe. I found two studies:


N-acetylcysteine as an antidote in methylmercury poisoning.


Methylmercury transport across the blood-brain barrier by an amino acid carrier. 



One of the signs of redistribution of mercury is depression. Well, I am depressed all the time.

What do you, guys, think?

Is NAC dangerous if we have amalgam fillings? My mouth is full of them, so now I am scared!




But Lala, the second paper is about L-cysteine, not n-acetyl cysteine, so I think you are worrying without reason...........................Sarah

A  Journey through Light and Shadow

Completed Stratton/Wheldon regime for aggressive secondary progressive MS in June 2007, after four years, three of which intermittent.   Still improving bit by bit and no relapses since finishing treatment.

Lala, what you have in your mouth is the compound of inorganic mercury (I have it either) and according to the text NAC doesn't react with inorganic mercury. The source of methylmercury (organic compound of mercury) is fish. 

MS for more than 30 years, WP since July 08, break Jan 09-March 09. NAC 2x600mg, Doxy 2x100mg, Roxi 2x150mg, Entizol in pulzes, LDN, supplements.Since May 2013 without abx.

It does not matter if it is L-cystein or n-acetyl-cystein:

Ingested methylmercury is readily and completely absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. It is mostly found complexed with free cysteine and with proteins and peptides containing that amino acid. The methylmercuric-cysteinyl complex is recognized by amino acid transporting proteins in the body as methionine, another essential amino acid.[10] Because of this mimicry, it is transported freely throughout the body including across the blood-brain barrier and across the placenta, where it is absorbed by the developing fetus. Also for this reason as well as its strong binding to proteins, methylmercury is not readily eliminated. Methylmercury has a half-life in human blood of about 50 days.[11]

Also inorganic mercury is easily methylated into the methylmercury by bacteria and yeast in the body.

Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

There is also concern about using ALA when one have amalgam fillings. Andy Cutler uses ALA in his protocol for chelation mercury from the brain.

Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

Great. Well, I have never gotten accustomed to NAC and was about to try it again. Perhaps I should go the Dr. Stratton route and kill eb's with amoxicillin.

PPMS-misdiagnosed 2001-diagnosed 2006. Probably caught cpn in birth canal but it didn't pass BBB until my 40s. Minocycline 7 mos.- resulting bronchitis 5 months.Go to private m.d. out-of-plan. Wheldon CAP 3/2/07 Stopped 12/12; resumed 12/13

Take care if you decide to go that route.  Check my blog for the summer of 2008 when I stopped reacting to the flagyl pulses and decided to add amoxicillin in a bid to "jump start" the process.  Amoxicillin kills lots of "friendly" bacteria in the digestive tract and their depletion can cause serious problems.  Even with a probiotic that contains numerous strains of bacteria, I found it very difficult to get my digestive tract back in balance. 

CAP for M.S. 8/2007 - 3/2009.  Twentieth pulse metronidazole + INH completed 3/12/2009.  Intermittent treatment thereafter until 11/20/2009.  

If you're worried about this, you can get a blood test for mercury, while on NAC. If mercury is really "mobilized" to any significant degree, it'll be in your blood.

But to me, this business about NAC making mercury poisoning worse just seems like something the mercury nuts say to excuse negative reactions to NAC. (Mercury nuts being the people who think a whole lot of diseases, including MS, are caused by mercury.) We have a much better explanation for the negative reactions, namely immune response to die-off of Cpn EBs. When I looked into what the mercury nuts were saying about NAC, the main thing they referenced was a study in heavily-poisoned mice. Probably none of us have been poisoned that heavily in the first place. If you don't have much mercury in you, you don't need to worry about it getting mobilized.

Now maybe some mercury nuts have done a study where they actually measured the mercury blood levels of people taking NAC, and due to my cynicism I just haven't noticed.

Speaking of "immune response to die-off": my husband, a scientist, has for years suggested putting us on the map of general scientific validation by conducting a simple blood test for  the 2 known or supposed endotoxins. It would not cost much and  labs to test the blood are readily available. Even 2 positive tests would suffice as anecdotal data. A study of 20 would determine statistical signifigance.

Why not? It will prove that bacteria are being killed.

Do we (cpnhelp) have funds to run even a small study? And wouldn't it be worth our while to show the results to otherwise obstinate doctors?

PPMS-misdiagnosed 2001-diagnosed 2006. Probably caught cpn in birth canal but it didn't pass BBB until my 40s. Minocycline 7 mos.- resulting bronchitis 5 months.Go to private m.d. out-of-plan. Wheldon CAP 3/2/07 Stopped 12/12; resumed 12/13

It would be interesting to see the results of blood testing for endotoxins. It wouldn't definitively prove anything, either way, though, since the immune system can react to endotoxins even without them getting into the bloodstream, and since even if endotoxins were detected, there would be no guarantee that they came from bacteria that were actually causing a problem.

Also, endotoxin tests seem more like a specialty lab item, or maybe something that only researchers could do; I don't find them on Labcorp's web page, or Quest's, or the Mayo Clinic's -- except for the "Limulus Amebocyte Lysate Assay", which is a very generic test for endotoxin from gram-negative bacteria. Maybe I just don't know the right search terms; but if endotoxin is getting out into the bloodstream, DNA from the germ probably is, too; so PCR could be used. And PCR is a lot more sensitive, and also a lot more able to tell you exactly which germ you're dealing with.

Norman, no one suggested MS is caused by mercury on this site. And also do you think after 6 years on cap I am trying to avoid reactions to NAC? You are surely joking.

I just try to weigh pro and cons, try to find some true, which is very hard. Everybody on cpnhelp is on high dose NAC and often for years. So the question about NAC and mercury is fully relevant. 

Perhaps you do not have high mercury burden in your body, but I have. 

NAC clearly is a powerful antidote for mercury, but does it move mercury to the brain in some significant and dangerous degree? I do not know and it will not be clear to me, even if I go to blood tests. 


Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

This excerpt is from 

Vitamin C, Glutathione, or Lipoic Acid Did Not Decrease Brainor Kidney Mercury in Rats Exposed to Mercury Vapor… 



There have been reports about the effectiveness of N-acetyl-cysteine for treating mercury intoxication (27). In our studies, it neither decreased mean brain nor kidney Hg concentrations. For the brain, NAC appeared to have increased the mercury concentration as compared to saline-treated control rats that inhaled mercury vapor. 

Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

Looking at the numbers behind that statement about "NAC appeared to have increased the [brain] mercury concentration", it's really not talking about a serious increase. The way I would read that bar graph (on the lower right of the fourth page of the article) is that none of the treatments they tried did a damn thing to brain mercury levels. Oh, the NAC bar is slightly higher than most of the others, and it might even be statistically significant -- though probably not after Bonferroni correction. But even if statistically significant, it isn't a big enough difference to worry about.

In any case, I wasn't accusing anyone here of being a mercury nut; mercury is a neurotoxin, and it's probably worth avoiding even at levels below those which produce poisoning symptoms. But there are people here who sometimes listen to mercury nuts, and it looks to me like this particular objection against NAC comes originally from the mercury nuts.

As for having a high mercury burden, how do you know that? Are you just talking about having amalgam fillings?

It is not just NAC, which has been suspected to increase uptake of mercury, but ALA and high dose B's too. ALA is the major chelator in Andy Cutler's protocol. Cutler warns against using ALA when one have amalgam fillings and ALA is on our list of important supplements.

It is hard to find any creditable data about NAC, ALA and mercury in the brain. For a layman it is very difficult to distinguish the true, so that is why I posted.

I did not have my mercury burden measured. I have 14 old amalgam fillings.

Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

Well, the article you posted a link to seems like a good source; and according to it, alpha lipoic acid didn't do much of anything for mercury: it didn't help, and didn't hurt.

Having 14 amalgam fillings doesn't necessarily give a big body burden. But I suppose it could, if the fillings were poorly mixed; if I recall correctly, you're in Eastern Europe; and communist dentistry often left much to be desired.

I calculated the dose of ALA they used for treating the rats in the below mentioned paper and it is twice as high as we use on cap. So from this point of view our ALA dose should be safe. 

But they also reported that different forms of mercury are differently affected by chelations agens and they tested only vapoured elemental mercury. 

They also warn against use of high dose vitamin C, folate and B12.:

Vitamin C treatment of people with high levels of
inorganic Hg is not without hazard. In experiments with
guinea pigs injected with mercuric chloride, the ingestion
of vitamin C along with mega doses of vitamin B12
and/or folate synergistically increased the tissue
concentrations of methyl mercury (36). Biomethylation
of mercuric ions to methylmercury via methyl B12
has been established in bacteria (37).

Now the question is how much is this increasement significant and whether the benefits of high dose C, B12 and folate does not outweigh the negatives....

After reading the paper I wonder if Cutler is really nut, too?

My oldest fillings were mixed by hand, the newest ones by machine ( I suppose it is the same in western countries), so the oldest ones are most dangerous and eventually should be replaced first. (Yes I am from former communist country- Czech).

Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

Lala so have your old amalgam fillings changed for  without amalgam ones. I did so 3 years ago and it was in the course of 1,5 year. They are not changed all. I have maybe half what I had and I think I was somehow better after changing and now I don't think I have too many amalgam fillings. I think that body can manage some amount of amalgam fillings without any risk but if it's too much than it may be problem. Now I don't feel my amalgam fillings are problem but before I  felt they were problem. If you feel them to be problem so reduce the amount of the amalgam fillings. It is recommended to drill the amalgam filling out not more than 2 fillings at a time because when drilling the filling out the most amalgam is released into body. It is also recommended to take large amount of the activated charcoal just before the drilling. I think 6-7 capsules is enough. And the next drilling should be not sooner than in 4-5 months the best in 6 months. 

MS for more than 30 years, WP since July 08, break Jan 09-March 09. NAC 2x600mg, Doxy 2x100mg, Roxi 2x150mg, Entizol in pulzes, LDN, supplements.Since May 2013 without abx.

Interesting.  I take 500 mg bid Amoxicillin, have done so for sixteen months, and am never bothered at all.  I also take (every day) Rifampin, Doxy, Azith, and flagyl.  I do take lots of probiotics (Acidophilus), and drink fresh raw goat milk.


3/9 Symptoms returning. Began 5 abx protocol 5/9 Rifampin 600, Amox 1000, Doxy 200, MWF Azith 250, flagyl 1000 daily. Began Sept 04 PPMS EDSS 6.7 Now good days EDSS 1 Mind, like parachute, work only when open. Charlie Chan  In for the duration.&am

When it comes to tooth fillings, there's another factor to consider besides mercury, which is the possibility of reservoirs of infection under the filling. As shown by this report, such reservoirs can cause chronic diseases, or at least make them a lot worse. There was actually an era in medicine in which doctors were quite vigorous about searching out and destroying such "foci" of infection. It eventually became discredited and went out of fashion, but probably wasn't entirely wrong. (I don't know if ordinary fillings can lead to such problems, though; the report linked to above was of infection on the root of a tooth that had had a root canal procedure done on it.)

Some antibiotics can chelate heavy metals, too, e.g. penicillamin:

The problems with fillings is what to replace by them.  Composite is not long term solution as it has short durability and "white" fillings are toxic too because they contain aluminium. 

Ceramic inlays/onleys seem to be good to me, they are non toxic and highly durable, but I am not sure what dentist does when tooth is infected under the filing. Must ask my dentist.



Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

Oh, aluminum isn't something to worry about at all. There's loads and loads of aluminum in the environment; it's very common and you eat it all the time. Aluminum compounds are generally insoluble, so it isn't absorbed.

Durability, on the other hand, is definitely something to worry about.

What a dentist does when he knows a tooth is infected is to replace the filling, cutting away the decayed (infected) part of the tooth as he does so. But the question is of infections that are hidden, and that the dentist doesn't notice.


Aluminum is established as a neurotoxin, although the basis for its toxicity is unknown. It recently has been shown to alter the function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which regulates exchanges between the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral circulation. The BBB owes its unique properties to the integrity of the cell membranes that comprise it. Aluminum affects some of the membrane-like functions of the BBB. It increases the rate of transmembrane diffusion and selectively changes saturable transport systems without disrupting the integrity of the membranes or altering CNS hemodynamics. Such alterations in the access to the brain of nutrients, hormones, toxins, and drugs could be the basis of CNS dysfunction. Aluminum is capable of altering membrane function at the BBB; many of its effects on the CNS as well as peripheral tissues can be explained by its actions as a membrane toxin.

Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

Some white fillings contain barium and some fluoride, which is not healthy at all. Dr. Powell warns against fluoride use. Some fillings contain plastics.

We do not know exactly what happens with this mix in our mouth, but I do not want to find out that I just changed one toxic metal for another after years of paying for better health to my dentist.

Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

That "link" is epidemiological; there can be all sorts of other confounding factors. The article you linked to, whose title asks if exposure to aluminum is a "risk factor", and ends "yes", is part of a point-counterpoint exchange, with another article linked on the same page with the same title, but ending "no". And even "risk factor" just means that there is a correlation, not that either thing causes the other.

As for acid releasing aluminum, chips of alumina (aluminum oxide) are commonly used as boiling chips, in chemistry. This site, for instance, sells them:

and describes them as "Good in all boiling operations, except those with strong alkalis, or concentrated sulfuric acid." And "good", to chemists, means that they don't dissolve and contaminate the solution.

Aluminum, according to Wikipedia, "makes up about 8% by weight of the Earth's solid surface". One can't avoid eating it and inhaling it; there's lots of it in dirt and in the air we breathe.

As for aluminum being neurotoxic, yes, if it gets into you that far, in a high enough concentration. Which generally it doesn't. From what I've read, the main exception is in dialysis patients, and even there the problem is usually the dialysis machine adding aluminum to their blood (from contaminated dialysis fluid).

Aluminum was found in brains of people with Alzheimer and was involved in neurological damage, so it must got into the brains somehow.

Though its role is still unclear, I would prefer rather ceramic fillings, free of heavy metals and other suspicious ingrediences.

 Btw: There is a nice summary of current knowledge:  

Question: I have heard that aluminum may be involved in the development of Alzheimer's Disease. Does use of aluminum cookware and drinking from aluminum beverage cans place me at greater risk for developing this disease.

Answer: Aluminum is one of the most abundant elements found in the environment. Therefore, human exposure to this metal is common and unavoidable. However, intake is relatively low because this element is highly insoluble in many of its naturally occurring forms. The significance of environmental contact with aluminum is further diminished by the fact that less than 1% of that taken into the body orally is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.

The average human intake is estimated to be between 30 and 50 mg per day. This intake comes primarily from foods, drinking water, and pharmaceuticals. Based on the maximum levels reported in drinking water, less than 1/4 of the total intake comes from water. Some common food additives contain aluminum. Due to certain additives, processed cheese and cornbread are two major contributors to high aluminum exposures in the American diet. With regard to pharmaceuticals, some common over-the-counter medications such as antacids and buffered aspirin contain aluminum to increase the daily intake significantly.

Over the last few years, there has been concern about the exposures resulting from leaching of aluminum from cookware and beverage cans. However, as a general rule, this contributes a relatively small amount to the total daily intake. Aluminum beverage cans are usually coated with a polymer to minimize such leaching. Leaching from aluminum cookware becomes potentially significant only when cooking highly basic or acidic foods. For example, in one study, tomato sauce cooked in aluminum pans was found to accumulate 3-6 mg aluminum per 100 g serving.

Certain aluminum compounds have been found to be an important component of the neurological damage characteristics of Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Much research over the last decade has focused on the role of aluminum in the development of this disease. At this point, its role is still not clearly defined. Since AD is a chronic disease which may take a long time to develop, long-term exposure is the most important measure of intake. Long-term exposure is easiest to estimate for drinking water exposures. Epidemiological studies attempting to link AD with exposures in drinking water have been inconclusive and contradictory. Thus, the significance of increased aluminum intake with regard to onset of AD has not been determined.

Question answered by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

Stratton/Wheldon protocol 02/2006 - 10/11 for CFS and many problems 30 years

Okay, maybe aluminum has something to do with Alzheimer's disease but we aren't sure of that because there are lots of studies about the disease. The latest online issue of Molecular Psychiatry contains a brand new study that indicates that Alzheimer's disease may actually result from an infection. As an infection, Alzheimer's may also be contagious. Such has been the suit in studies with mice. Here's a proof: Alzheimer's disease may be contagious, study suggests.