man in blue shirt holding up 2D paper model of digestive system in front of abdomen
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
June 21, 2023 ·  4 min read

Probiotics May Help Detoxify Mercury in the Gut

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can accumulate in the body and cause various health problems. It is commonly found in seafood, dental fillings, and industrial pollution. Once mercury enters the body, it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually reach the gut. This can do a lot of damage to your digestive system and body. However, new research shows that probiotics might just be the superhero we need to detoxify mercury from our guts.

Probiotics May Help Detoxify Mercury in the Gut

The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These microorganisms play a crucial role in digestion, immunity, and overall health. Recent research suggests that probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can be consumed as supplements or found in certain foods, may help detoxify mercury in the gut. Not only will they block damaging heavy metals like mercury, but they could simultaneously promote the absorption of important minerals, such as iron. (1)

How Mercury Affects the Gut Microbiota

Mercury can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiota by killing off beneficial bacteria and allowing harmful bacteria to thrive. This can lead to gut dysbiosis, a condition characterized by inflammation, digestive problems, and weakened immunity. According to research, mercury exposure can also cause gut permeability or what is sometimes referred to as ‘leaky gut syndrome‘, a condition where the intestinal barrier is damaged and allows toxins and pathogens to enter the bloodstream. This can lead to autoimmune reactions or other chronic health conditions. (2, 3)

Mercury can also interfere with the gut’s ability to eliminate toxins and absorb nutrients. This can further exacerbate gut dysbiosis and increase the risk of chronic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and even cancer. The good news is that there are ways to prevent and remove mercury from your body. The first step is to avoid situations where you may be exposed—like eating fish that contain high levels of mercury or using products with mercury in them (such as certain types of dental fillings).

The second step is to remove any mercury that has accumulated in your body. There are many ways to do this, including using chelating agents like EDTA and DMPS. However, these can be difficult to find and use properly (especially if you don’t have a doctor or other health professional supervising you). This is what makes these recent findings about probiotics so exciting.

How Probiotics May Help Detoxify Mercury

Probiotics have been shown to counteract the harmful effects of mercury on the gut microbiota. They can help restore the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria, reduce inflammation, and improve gut function. 

For example, a recent study by a team at Pennsylvania State University found that probiotics could reduce the absorption of mercury in the gut. The researchers gave mice a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis and then exposed them to mercury. They found that the probiotics reduced the amount of mercury that was absorbed into the bloodstream and accumulated in the liver.

“It’s (lactobacillus) a perfect probiotic for this because we have previously shown it works in humans, and now we are engineering it to make it even better,” said study lead Daniela Betancurt-Anzola. “It is inside the gut, it grabs the methylmercury, then it goes out.”

Best Probiotics for Detoxifying Mercury

Not all probiotics are created equal when it comes to detoxifying mercury. Some strains have been shown to be more effective than others. Here are some of the best probiotics for detoxifying mercury in the gut:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus: This probiotic has been shown to reduce the absorption of mercury in the gut and improve gut function.
  • Bifidobacterium lactis: This probiotic has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve gut function, both of which can help counteract the harmful effects of mercury.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus: This probiotic has been shown to improve the elimination of mercury from the body and reduce inflammation. (4)
  • Saccharomyces boulardii: This probiotic has been shown to reduce gut dysbiosis and improve gut function, both of which can help detoxify heavy metals. (5)

The goal is to not just apply this new knowledge to mercury, but to all heavy metals.

“We are interested in studying how the entire microbial community reacts to different metals,” Betancurt-Anzola said. 

The Bottom Line

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can have harmful effects on the gut microbiota and overall health. Probiotics may help detoxify mercury in the gut by restoring the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria, reducing inflammation, and improving gut function. If you are concerned about mercury exposure, consider adding a high-quality probiotic supplement to your daily routine. As always, consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Keep Reading: Leaky Gut: What is it? Is it real? And 11 Common Symptoms to Look Out For


  1. A Probiotic Could Help Mitigate Mercury Absorption in the Gut.” ASM. June 18, 2023.
  2. Influence of toxic metal exposure on the gut microbiota.” Spandidos. Federica Giambò, et al. February 2, 2021
  3. Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis: Triggers, Consequences, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Options.” NCBI. Tomas Hrncir. March 2022.
  4. Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG Treatment Improves Intestinal Permeability and Modulates Inflammatory Response and Homeostasis of Spleen and Colon in Experimental Model of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Pneumonia.” NCBI. Ludmila Khailova, et al. December 2018.
  5. Comparing the Effects of Saccharomyces boulardii and Selenium-Enriched S. boulardii on Hematological Parameters and Total Antioxidant Capacity in Aluminum Induced Toxicity in Rats.” Brieflands. Shabnam Sadat Yaghchi, et al.