Alice in Wonderland…
Alice sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, ‘than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’ ‘If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, ‘you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’ ‘I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice. ‘Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. ‘I dare say you never even spoke to Time!’ ‘Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: ‘but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.’ ‘Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. ‘He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!’ (‘I only wish it was,’ the March Hare said to itself in a whisper.) ‘That would be grand, certainly,’ said Alice thoughtfully: ‘but then – I shouldn’t be hungry for it, you know.’ ‘Not at first, perhaps,’ said the Hatter: ‘but you could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked.’
The expression mad as a hatter and the character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland reflect a widely known phenomena of the 19th century. The term comes from an occupational disease in the manufacturers of top hats who used mercury compounds in the stiffening products for the felt. It has been known for many years that mercury is a cumulative poison causing, kidney and brain damage, with symptoms of trembling (known at the time as hatter’s shakes), tooth loss and tooth decay, loss of co-ordination, difficult speech, anger, irritability, memory loss, depression, anxiety, paranoia and other personality changes. This was called mad hatter syndrome and is basically the symptoms of mercury poisoning.
We of course have the much more publicised issue of the mercury content of vaccines. The mercury is in an antibiotic compound called Thiomersal added to vaccines to stop unwanted bacteria growing in the vaccine medium, it is used in the preparation and storage of some vaccines, (DPT, Tetanus, Hep.B, Flu, and Men.C, A vaccines).
Vaccine Side Effects due to Mercury
It has been implicated as one of the major contributory factors in the many side effects of vaccines, and in some countries it has now been reduced from some childhood vaccines, (though not completely removed as is often stated, it remains in concentrations that are still toxicological). And there has been no attempt at reduction in the Flu, Men A, C and Tetanus vaccines, where the thiomersal still remains in much greater concentrations.
Similarly the use of thiomersal continues unabated in most developing countries by the World Health Organisation, due to the higher cost of producing the less harmful mercury-reduced vaccines.
Like aluminium, mercury is also a neurotoxin: When chemists subject nervecells in Petri dishes to minute amounts of thiomersal, these cells die. The effects of mercury as a neurotoxin have in fact been known for many years.
Kamila K Padlewska, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Warsaw Medical School, Poland has this to say about ‘Acrodynia’, a syndrome common until the 1960’s:
Now a rare disease, ‘acrodynia’ primarily affects young children. The symptoms of irritability, photophobia, pink discoloration of the hands and feet, and polyneuritis (inflammation of the nerves) can be attributed to chronic exposure to mercury.
The most frequent sources of mercury prior to the legislated removal of the heavy metal from these preparations were calomel-containing anthelminthics, laxatives, diaper rinses, teething powders, fungicides in paint, repeated gamma-globulin injections, termite-protected wood (mercury bichloride), watch batteries (ie, via ingestion), mercurial antibacterial ointments, mercurial skin-lightening creams, and dental amalgam. The legislated removal of this heavy metal corresponded to the virtual disappearance of acrodynia…
Because the metal can be stored in the body to some extent and intolerance may develop long after exposure, morbid symptoms may appear weeks or months after the exposure or drug administration, with its cause escaping recognition.