Just an hour’s drive southwest of Calgary lies a slice of paradise unrivalled anywhere else on earth. “We can see 65 miles of mountain,” says a smiling Sidney Cook as he greets visitors to his ranch on a sunny spring afternoon.
Sid and his wife Marge have enjoyed the views here for the better part of four decades, riding and training horses and tending to their herd of 120 cattle. “It’s what I always wanted to do,” says the smiling, soft-spoken cowboy as he offers a tour of his nearly 200 hectares of land, his old border collie Buddy following closely behind.
There was a time, though, when life was anything but blissful for the energetic 71-year-old cowboy. In the summer of 2007, a collision with one of his horses sparked a two-year health crisis. “We were in real tall grass and it looked like there was a big hole,” says Sid, who was out riding.
The horse stumbled and they collided. “The horse’s head came back and mine came forward.” A few weeks later, Sid began to experience troubling symptoms. “I had a funny sensation in my neck, then it just got worse and worse,” he says. The early fuzziness turned into pain. He visited doctors and dentists, but none could figure out the cause. An oilman friend of his put him in touch with Allan Markin, founder and chief accountability officer of Pure North.
Markin’s not-for-profit organization was recently up and running, providing a tailored and measured approach to helping people improve their overall health and wellness. Markin was already advocating for the removal of silver fillings — a dental amalgam made of half mercury and a metal alloy. In a 2005 policy paper, the World Health Organization stated: “Recent studies suggest that mercury may have no threshold below which some adverse effects do not occur.” In other words, there is no safe level of mercury.
Mercury amalgam fillings have been used for more than a century by dentists because they are strong and cheap. However, their presence slowly releases mercury vapour, which is then released into the bloodstream, and can cause severe neurological, autoimmune, chronic illness and mental health issues.
A 2014 Pure North-facilitated longitudinal study found that removal of mercury amalgam fillings increased the likelihood of self-reported symptom improvement (such as less reported fatigue, memory loss and stomach problems), in comparison to people who retained their mercury amalgam fillings.
Today, Pure North’s dental clinic understands that the health of our gums and teeth influences the health of our entire bodies. It can also affect other aspects of our health and well-being, so it plays an important and intrinsic role in the pursuit of optimal health. With mercury amalgam fillings being the most common exposure to mercury, Pure North recommends their removal.
Sid was tested for mercury, and his levels were found to be alarmingly high. After the safe removal of his mercury amalgam fillings he underwent heavy metal reduction therapy — a chemical process in which a synthetic solution is injected into the bloodstream to remove toxins from the body. He was also referred to a physician, who discovered a benign tumour behind his jaw, in front of his right ear.
“The pain had been unbearable,” he says of the doctor whose treatment, which included antibiotics, healed him.
Sid also found that after the removal of his mercury amalgam fillings some interesting aspects of his general health improved. “I could tell when I read the cows’ tags; I used to ride away and then have to go back and look again at the tag number,” he says. “My memory definitely improved.”
He also found his annual bouts of influenza weren’t returning, either. “I haven’t had the flu now for nearly 10 years.”
Today, Sid continues with Pure North’s program of vitamins and supplements, working with its multi-disciplinary team to help keep him at his best health.
“I believe it saved my life,” he says of both having his mercury amalgam fillings removed and being an ongoing Pure North participant. “I can still keep up with the 20-year-old guys who come riding with me.”
- Roberts and Charlton. 2009. The release of mercury from amalgam restorations and its health effects: a review. Operative Dentistry. 34:5.
- Dutton et al. 2013. The association between amalgam dental surfaces and urinary mercury levels in a sample of Albertans, a prevalence study. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. 8:22.
- Zwicker et al. 2014. Longitudinal analysis of the association between removal of dental amalgam, urine mercury and 14 self-reported health symptoms. Environmental Health. 13:95.