Since coming across the "MELISA® Test For Metal Allergy", my eyes have been opened to new aspects, hopes and opportunities in the issue of dental metal caused chronic illness.
MELISA is a specialized "Lymphocyte Transformation Test" (LTT). Used in studying allergies for years, the MELISA variant of LTT has technical improvements important when studying metal allergens. An LTT test demonstrates immune memory cells forming lymphoblasts (cells that swell up and divide off more cells with the same memory) when stimulated with a target the cell has been programmed to "remember". If the immune system has no such memory, then lymphoblasts do not form, there is no dividing, and there is no proliferation of immune cells to confront the invader.
While organic allergens or haptens, are usually full-sized proteins, metallic haptens are molecular, even atomic in scale. Knowledge that mammal and human immune systems can detect and target such small adversaries is a fairly recent entry in the peer reviewed scientific/medical literature. MELISA is a diagnostic tool unveiling an important pathology for metal caused illness.
Symptoms from immune cell proliferation forming allergy, and symptoms of systemic toxicity from poisons such as mercury are not well delineated. It seems clear that at some concentration every person will achieve metabolic toxicity from a metal such as mercury, due to it's chemical interference with sulfur-hydrogen compounds and their chemical reactions. It also seems possible that some individuals would be able to achieve toxicity and yet have no immune response targeted towards the metal. Likewise, it seems apparent a person can be allergic to sub-toxic levels of metals such as mercury, and have all or most symptoms and complications resulting from the systemic immune response to the metal.
MELISA also reveals that people can be sensitive to other dental and environmental metals beyond mercury. Individuals have demonstrated immune programming against: Aluminum, Gold, Palladium, Lead, Cadmium, Silver, Nickel, Copper, Titanium Chloride, Titanium Dioxide, Tin, Platinum, Inorganic Mercury, Ethyl-Mercury, Methyl-Mercury, and Phenyl-Mercury. At Jewish National Hospital in Denver, Colorado, they regularly use a similar LTT test to demonstrate immune system programming against Beryllium, another poisonous heavy metal.
For people struggling to recover health lost to dental amalgam, the awareness of potential problems resulting from additional metals is a critical point. Removing one allergenic metal, and replacing it with yet another the body reacts against, will at best bring about mixed results.
An example is a friend of mine who took the MELISA test along with me. She had never had gold dental restorations before taking action against amalgam. After years of suffering from undiagnosable "mystery" health problems, she finally decided to have her amalgams out. She went to an avowed "mercury free dentist" who safely removed the amalgams, and replaced them with the purest gold alloys he could. Subsequently this friend developed bleeding gums in contact with her gold crowns, and could no longer wear her wedding ring, as it caused a skin rash on her finger. She continues to have kidney problems, but has made gains in overall immunity -- she doesn't get sick as often, and now has more good days than bad. Her MELISA results showed her blood forming significant lymphoblast counts and cell proliferation when stimulated with inorganic mercury and gold. She is allergic to her gold restorations. We believe she developed the gold allergy after her amalgams were replaced. A prospective MELISA test may not have demonstrated this sensitivity since she had never had gold in the mouth before the amalgam removal.
In Sweden they have found that people sensitive to one metal have a high probability of also being sensitive to another, or developing sensitivity to another. The practice of physicians and dentists using MELISA to diagnose and treat metal sensitive people in Sweden is to go completely metal free in the dental restorations. Metal-free composites and ceramics seem to be the best way to avoid further development and aggravation of metal allergies. (The other approach is to be just plain lucky, which seems to be my way! More comments on my good luck further on when I discuss my personal MELISA results.)
MELISA® Test For Metal Allergies is the best medical diagnostic I have encountered for determining whether a persons dental work is making them sick. I have high hopes that MELISA will eventually change the course of public debate on dental amalgam safety. The bullet list below summarizes why I think this way. MELISA® :
Visit the MELISA MEDICA FOUNDATION website for more information on the test, including scientific references/abstracts of the tests published articles. For more commentary on the test, and how it fits into understanding dental metal caused, and other mystery illnesses, visit the CFS Nutrition website.
From my very first days of writing this website I have speculated that there must be something different about people who get ill from dental amalgam, and those who don't. MELISA is a biomarker for this difference. People who are ill from amalgam are much more likely to have "mercury-specific lymphocytes" than those who don't. The most popular explanation of why some may be more sensitive than others is of course genetics. Added to the list of suspected differences is environment, diet, nutritional status, general health status, and even hormone status -- as women seem to suffer from CFS and dental metal illness at a significantly higher rate than men.
Until now the scientific issues/questions surrounding amalgam have been high centered, not moving anywhere off the sticking point of dose-size dependency. Until exposure levels reach acute, even life-threatening levels, there is not a consensus on mercury toxicity. In my read of the case reports concerning acutely exposed mercury miners, mirror factory, and chlora-alkalai plant workers -- there is a wide variation in outcomes even at high exposures of mercury. Some may approach death, suffering great morbidity, and others show no outward symptoms at all. MELISA moves the focal point of the question over amalgam safety away from dosage, to individual sensitivity. MELISA objectively demonstrates the individuals immune sensitivity to mercury and other metals.
The ADA has always said publicly that with the exception of rare cases of allergy, mercury in dental amalgam is safe, based on the low exposure rate (micrograms per day). Allergy to dental mercury has traditionally been diagnosed by contact dermatitis in relation to amalgam restorations, or by a skin-patch test by an allergy specialist. My own belief is that contact dermatitis is grossly under-diagnosed. From the dentist, a person with bleeding gums in relationship to a dental restoration is far more likely to receive a lecture on proper dental flossing, than they are concern over allergic reaction to the dental metals. Skin-patch tests are not reliable, and in Scandinavia at least, are feared to create immune sensitivity where none previously existed. Skin-patch false-negatives come about from the skin doing it's job, providing an effective protective barrier to external threats. Metals such as mercury are also irritants, causing local skin inflammation even in persons who are not sensitized, false-positives. MELISA is an unobtrusive means, being an "in-vitro" blood test, having objectivity, and reliability -- "lymphocytes don't lie or imagine their memories". MELISA squarely demonstrates the one pathology the ADA has allowed as a possibility for illness -- allergy to the metal.
With the "MELISA® Test For Metal Allergy", a true estimation of population sensitivity to dental metals can be determined. The current method of estimating population sensitivity to dental metal caused illness is to express ones opinion based on speculation, anecdotal experiences, and the version of reality one wishes to be the true version of reality. The early data indicates that the sub-population suffering from dental metal allergies indicated by proliferating memory lymphocytes is somewhere between 10% and 30% of the population with metal dental restorations.
As this introduction and discussion about MELISA has become a bit lengthy, reproduction and discussion of my personal MELISA test results are continued onto a second page: Jeff's MELISA Results.