Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan Salt Debunked

If I see one more advert for the magical health benefits of 84-element Himalayan Pink Salt I’m going to vomit.  No, really.  I mean it.  It’s time somebody debunked this garbage.  Every charlatan and snake oil salesman on the planet is pushing this salt, and it’s time for a take-down.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, I’m looking at you.

mercola's pink salt

I’m actually going to let Dr. Mercola debunk himself in this article.  We’ll simply present the ingredients he claims are in his salt,1 along with his own “research” on those same elements.  The truth of the matter is, Mercola unequivocally states that his own product is full of poisonous elements.  (The full ingredient list, provided by Mercola, is provided in the References section at the end of this article.) 1

Before we begin, let’s be clear on something.  We’re talking about trace elements: quantities so minute they’re hard to detect.  But, in Mercola’s quotes, please pay attention to his pathological obsession with how even the lowest levels of “toxic” chemicals are unacceptable.  For example, here’s some Dr. Joe hyperbole on mercury:

“In fact, it [mercury] is SO toxic that entire buildings have been evacuated for a mercury spill smaller than a standard dental filling” 2

If Mercola wants to change horses in midstream and say that the trace elements are not dangerous, then he’s left in the unenviable position of explaining why he’s touting their very presence as the reason his salt is supposed to be healthier than regular table salt.

So, without further ado, let’s let Dr. Joseph Mercola describe ten toxic elements in his Himalayan salt, in his own words:

 

MERCURY
Mercola’s Himalayan salt contains mercury.  His opinion?

“Mercury is one of the most potent neurotoxins known to man.”2

“In fact, it’s SO toxic that entire buildings have been evacuated for a mercury spill smaller than a standard dental filling.”2

“There Is NO Safe Level of Mercury Exposure” 2

Dr. Joe goes on to fear monger over mercury in vaccines3 and lists it as one of his five most toxic metals to avoid.5

Smacking your head yet? I know I am. But how about…

 

ALUMINUM
Aluminum features prominently in Mercola’s salt.  How does he feel about the most common metal in the earth’s crust?

“Aluminum has been long known to be neurotoxic, with mounting evidence that chronic exposure is a factor in many neurological diseases, including dementia, autism, and Parkinson’s disease.”4

Just as with particles in the environment, once aluminum is in your tissues, your body has a difficult time releasing it. This toxic metal serves absolutely no biological purpose, so the less of it you ingest, the better.4

Aluminum also makes Mercola’s list of the five most toxic metals to avoid.5

 

LEAD
A star player in Mercola’s list of the 5 most toxic metals,5 his feelings on exposure to even low levels of lead are quite clear. So why is he selling it?

“Studies have found that there is no safe level of lead, and since it does not break down in your body you will accumulate it for a lifetime” 10

 

“Lead is known to cause damage to your brain and nervous system. Even small amounts can be dangerous, as lead builds up in your body over time.” 11

ARSENIC
Arsenic, the favorite poison of the Brewster Sisters in the classic film Arsenic and Old Lace, pops up in this salt.  Mercola’s expert opinion on exposure to trace levels of arsenic?  Well:

“Exposure to low levels of arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of “pins and needles” in hands and feet, and over the long term can cause darkening of the skin and the appearance of small “corns” or “warts” on the palms, soles, and torso.” 5

 

CADMIUM
You’ll find cadmium in Mercola’s salt.  Although after writing the following, he probably wishes you didn’t look too closely at his ingredients list:

” It is a known human carcinogen that appears to act in two ways: it harms DNA directly and disturbs a DNA repair system that helps to prevent cancer.” 5

 

POLONIUM
Polonium made news in 2006 when Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with a particular isotope, polonium 210.9   No word on which of the 33 radioactive isotopes of polonium are present in Mercola’s salt, because his company won’t release the information (claiming it’s “proprietary”). Regardless,  radioactive polonium in any form is not what you want to ingest.  Dr. Mercola, please educate us on polonium:

“It  [research] also showed that polonium, specifically, causes cancer in laboratory animals.” 13

 

“The [carcinogenic] factor I’m talking about is polonium-210—a highly radioactive element that releases alpha particles as it decays. It’s also chemically toxic. While alpha particles cannot penetrate deeply into your body, they can cause serious damage to cells they do come into contact with.” 6

 

URANIUM
Uranium is found in Mercola’s salt?  Yes, according to the list provided by his company.  If the doctor is worried about his followers eating radioactive substances, this one should be a no-brainer.  But the doctor tells us:

“Uranium and radium are two known carcinogens found in fluorosilicic acid used for water fluoridation” 6

 

RADIUM
Mercola flagged radium as dangerous along with uranium in the previous paragraph. Yet radium is found in his pink salt.  Remind us again about radium, please, doctor?

“Uranium and radium are two known carcinogens found in fluorosilicic acid used for water fluoridation” 6

 

“Alpha particles: Emitted from uranium, radium, plutonium and thorium, alpha particles are a type of ionizing radiation.  The federal public health goal (maximum contaminant level goal, or MCLG) for alpha particles is zero. […] While they can’t penetrate deeply into your body, alpha particles can cause serious damage to cells they come into contact with.” 12  (emphasis mine)

 

THALLIUM
Mercola links thallium and other “heavy metals” to cancer, memory loss, cardiovascular disease, reproductive issues, lung damage, and neurological problems. 7

Perhaps the good doctor can explain why thallium is found in a food product he’s selling.

If you think your favorite lip gloss or eye shadow is “safe” because it doesn’t list lead or arsenic on the ingredients label, think again. A new report revealed that virtually every cosmetic product tested contained a potentially dangerous or proven toxic heavy metal.

[…]

None of the products tested contained mercury, but lead was detected in 96 percent of the products, arsenic in 20 percent and cadmium in 51 percent. Nickel was found in all the products tested, beryllium in 90 percent, thallium in 61 percent and selenium in 14 percent. 7 (emphasis mine)
7

Call the doctor:  if thallium is dangerous in cosmetics, how is it safe in his salt?

 

ANTIMONY
Antimony, an element found in Dr. Joe’s Himalayan Pink salt, scares him so badly he’s actually afraid he’ll absorb it from sleeping on mattresses.  I’m not making this up!

Antimony is a metal that may be more toxic than mercury and formaldehyde.

[…]

Your mattress may be of particular concern, as many contain not only PBDE’s, but also toxic antimony, boric acid, and formaldehyde.8

I can’t escape the mental image of a doctor sleeping in a bio-hazard suit to protect himself from antimony in his mattress, then salting his eggs with antimony at breakfast.

 

Conclusion
So there you have it. Ten elements Dr. Mercola purports to be highly toxic, even in minute doses, but all found in his “healthy” Himalayan salt.  There are far more examples, but let’s not beat a dead horse.  If the trace elements are there in sufficient quantities to provide the claimed benefits, then they certainly exist in amounts sufficient to be the poisons Mercola warns about.  Especially when he’s making risible claims such as evacuating entire buildings because of a mercury spill the size of a tooth filling. 2

It would be wonderful to have an explanation from the doctor, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’m reminded of the old Alice Cooper song:

“I want to love you but I better not touch
I want to hold you, but my senses tell me to stop […]
You’re poison, running through my veins”

–Alice Cooper, “Poison”

 

Revision History
On September 16, 2015, additional Mercola quotes and citations were added for lead and radium.

On December 3, 2015:  For more on this story, see the Forbes article I co-wrote with Kavin Senapathy: “The Toxic ‘Chemical Hypocrisy’ Of Food Babe, Joseph Mercola And Mark Hyman

References

(1) Himalayan Crystal Salt Mineral Analysis
in response to my query
  #(MER-784356F2DDQJ)
Mercola.com customer service, 9/13/2015

Note: I repeatedly queried Mercola’s support team as to the source of this analysis.  Was it a scientific study they could cite?  I was rebuffed with comments like this:

“At this time being we are unable to provide a certificate of analysis for the Himalayan Salts as this remains proprietary information.  For your personal reference the manufacturer of our Himalayan Salts is WBM International”

Regardless, this is what Mercola says is in his salt:

 Hydrogen — 0.30 g/kg
 Lithium — 0.40 g/kg
 Beryllium — under 0.01 ppm
 Boron — under 0.001 ppm
 Carbon — under 0.001 ppm
 Nitrogen — 0.024 ppm
 Oxygen — 1.20 g/kg
 Fluoride — under 0.1 g/kg
 Sodium — 382.61 g/kg
 Magnesium — 0.16 g/kg
 Aluminum — 0.661 ppm
 Silicon — under 0.1 g/kg
 Phosphorus — under 0.10 ppm
 Sulfur — 12.5 g/kg
 Chloride — 590.93 g/kg
 Potassium — 3.5 g/kg
 Calcium — 4.05 g/kg
 Scandium — under 0.0001 ppm
 Titanium — under 0.001 ppm
 Vanadium 0.06 ppm
 Chromium — 0.05 ppm
 Manganese — 0.27 ppm
 Iron — 38.9 ppm
 Cobalt — 0.60 ppm
 Nickel — 0.13 ppm
 Copper — 0.56 ppm
 Zinc — 2.38 ppm
Gallium — under 0.001 ppm
 Germanium — under 0.001 ppm
 Arsenic — under 0.01 ppm
 Selenium — 0.05 ppm
 Bromine — 2.1 ppm
 Rubidium — 0.04 ppm
 Strontium — 0.014 g/kg
 Ytterbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Zirconium — 0.001 ppm
 Niobium — under 0.001 ppm
 Molybdenum — 0.01 ppm
 Ruthenium — under 0.001 ppm
 Rhodium — under 0.001 ppm
 Palladium — under 0.001 ppm
 Silver — 0.031 ppm
 Cadmium — under 0.01 ppm
 Indium — under 0.001 ppm
 Tin — under 0.01 ppm
 Antimony — under 0.01 ppm
 Tellurium — under 0.001 ppm
 Iodine — under 0.1 g/kg
 Cerium — under 0.001 ppm
 Praseodynium — under 0.001 ppm
 Neodymium — under 0.001 ppm
 Samarium — under 0.001 ppm
 Barium — 1.96 ppm
 Europium — under 3.0 ppm
 Gadolinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Terbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Dysprosium — under 4.0 ppm
 Holmium — under 0.001 ppm
 Erbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Thulium — under 0.001 ppm
 Ytterbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Lutetium — under 0.001 ppm
 Hafnium — under 0.001 ppm
 Tantalum — 1.1 ppm
 Wolfram — under 0.001 ppm
 Rhenium — under 2.5 ppm
 Osmium — under 0.001 ppm
 Iridium — under 2.0 ppm
 Platinum — 0.47 ppm
 Gold — under 1.0 ppm
 Mercury — under 0.03 ppm
 Thallium — 0.06 ppm
 Lead — 0.10 ppm
 Bismuth — under 0.10 ppm
 Polonium — under 0.001 ppm
 Astat — under 0.001 ppm
 Francium — under 0.10 ppm
 Radium — under 0.001 ppm
 Actinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Thorium — under 0.001 ppm
 Protactinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Uranium — under 0.001 ppm
 Neptunium — under 0.001 ppm
 Plutonium — under 0.001 ppm

 

(2) Europeans Face Same Hurdles as Americans in Banning Mercury Amalgam
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/09/mercury-dental-fillings.aspx

(3) “Mercury Detoxification Protocol”
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/13/mercury-detoxification-protocol.aspx

(4) First Case Study to Show Direct Link Between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/22/aluminum-toxicity-alzheimers.aspx

(5) Five Common Toxic Metals to Avoid, and Where You’ll Find Them
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/12/27/toxic-metals-part-one.aspx

(6) Radioactive Fertilizer—The Surprising Primary Cause of Lung Cancer in Smokers
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/10/radioactive-fertilizer.aspx

(7) New Study Finds Major Toxins in Many Cosmetics
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/04/new-study-finds-major-toxins-in-many-cosmetics.aspx

(8)  Even if You Do Everything Else Right – This Frequently Overlooked Threat can Destroy Your Health
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/08/30/is-your-house-making-you-ill.aspx

(9) Alexander Litvinenko: Profile of a Murdered Russian Spy (BBC)
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-19647226

(10) Poison Lead in Lipstick
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/08/09/poison-kiss-lead-in-lipstick.aspx

(11) Lead Exposure in Children
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/18/children-lead-exposure.aspx

(12)  Water Filters May Reduce Radiation Exposure
http://water-filters-may-reduce-radiation-exposure.aspx

(13) Smoking Side Effects
http://articles.mercola.com/smoking-side-effects.aspx

Image Credits
Dr. Mercola screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

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