Treatment of patients who attribute their environmental illness to mercury from amalgam fillings is largely experimental. On the Symptom Check List, overall distress, and somatization, obsessive-compulsive, depression, and anxiety symptom dimensions, were increased in 50 consecutive patients examined, and Eysenck Personality Questionnaire scores suggested less extroversion and increased degree of emotional lability. Succimer (meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid) was given at a daily dose of 30 mg/kg for five days in a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Urinary excretion of mercury and lead was considerably increased in the patients who received the chelator. Immediately after the treatment and 5 to 6 weeks later, most distress dimensions had improved considerably, but there was no difference between the succimer and placebo groups. These findings suggest that some patients with environmental illness may substantially benefit from placebo.
From the Department of Environmental Medicine, Odense University, Odense, Denmark (Dr Grandjean, Dr Guldager); the Department of Periodontology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (Dr Larsen, Dr Holmstrup); and the Department of Clinical Biochemisty, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark (Mr Jørgensen).
Address correspondence to: Philippe Grandjean, MD, Department of Environmental Medicine, Winsløwparken 17, Odense University, DK-5000 Odense, Denmark.