Non-Toxic Living

What is Modern Day “Mad Hatter Disease?”

By October 29, 2020No Comments

The History of Mad Hatter Disease

“Mad hatter disease,” a neurological disorder affecting the whole nervous system and causing odd symptoms like muscle pain, rashes, a metallic taste in the mouth, vomiting, stomach pain, a wet cough, and sleep disturbances originated during the Middle Ages.

Essentially it’s mercury poisoning.

Hatmakers during medieval times would cure felt using a form of mercury. The saying “mad as a hatter” comes as a consequence of being exposed to mercury vapor and suffering neurological damage. This continued for hundreds of years. In fact, even hat makers in the US were using this method of using mercury until 1941!

It’s also said that the decline of the Roman Empire was due to mercury toxicity in leaded water pipes. While studying the Roman Empire with my son, it was hard to identify a root cause as to why the Roman soldiers suddenly pulled out of Britain to “deal with problems at home.” This may have had something to do with it because their decline was soon thereafter.

Why bring this up?

Modern Day Mercury Exposure


If you’ve had cavities filled in the past, you may be walking around with a mouth full of metal. These silver fillings in your mouth contain 55% pure mercury! Each time you chew, you are off-gassing mercury into your system. This amounts to about one microgram of mercury every. single. day. per filling. More on this in a moment.


Another source of modern-day mercury exposure comes from our seafood. Wild-caught fish far outweigh any benefits of farmed fish, but the bigger the fish, the higher the mercury level. This happens due to the accumulation of eating smaller fish that have eaten smaller fish and so on. Sardines and salmon are the best options since they are lower in mercury but still remain high in omega-3’s.

Pregnant women are warned not to eat fish high in mercury because the ingestion of a neurotoxin like mercury on an unborn fetus can be very dangerous. I think it’s both interesting and very sad that these same women aren’t being coached to remove their amalgam fillings prior to conceiving for the same reason…but in this case, it’s even more important. The mercury levels that reach the fetal brain (mostly from silver fillings from the mother’s mouth) are 40% higher than that in the mother’s brain. The long term effects of this exposure are currently being researched as a reason for a recent overwhelming spike in neurological concerns in young children.


Thimerosal (mercury used in vaccinations as a preservative) was another source of controversial exposure. Thankfully, the United States has withdrawn all (or most) use of thimerosal from all childhood vaccines (for children under 6) as of 1999. However, levels of thimerosal up to 0.5 micrograms (which is considered a trace amount) are still allowed and justified because these amounts are leftover from the manufacturing process. So zero amounts of thimerosal may actually mean trace amounts of thimerosal. Also, be aware that only the vaccines on the recommended childhood immunization schedule have had the thimerosal removed. There are plenty out there (even ones given to children) that have high amounts of mercury in them. One being the flu-shot. A “thimerosal-free” alternative is available if you need to or want to get the flu shot, but prefer to get it mercury-free.

Effects of Mercury Exposure

So what happens when the human body is exposed to mercury? Some of this depends on the dosage. During the “mad hatter” days, exposure to mercury for this occupation was significantly higher than anything we would see today so the following symptoms and conditions are results of lower levels of exposure.

Some of our modern-day “Mad Hatter Diseases” present themselves as chronic conditions either caused by or exacerbated by constant mercury exposure. For example, hypothyroidism can occur because mercury exposure interferes with the ability to produce T3. IQ loss (even across populations) has been reported in scientific data as well as mounting evidence that autism and ADHD are highly correlated with excess exposure to blood mercury levels. Chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, and Alzheimer’s disease have also shown patients with higher than normal levels. Other symptoms commonly associated with mercury exposure (specifically mercury vapor from amalgam fillings) are: headaches, weight loss, kidney disease, insomnia, social withdrawal, immune system impairments, and respiratory problems.

Lowering Mercury Levels

The body is effective at removing many toxins via sweat. If you aren’t sweating profusely every day, a sauna is great at removing mercury. Other toxic metals that are detoxed via sauna are arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Replenish water and trace minerals immediately – and this may be obvious, but shower right away so you don’t recirculate any surface level toxins.

If you have silver fillings in your mouth, consider getting them removed. However, simply going to any dentist and allowing them to drill out an amalgam comes with the risk of ingesting high amounts of mercury, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and placenta barrier. Search for a dentist near you that is certified in safe amalgam removal. Using site is a great starting place for finding dentists plus more education about the safe amalgam removal process.

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