Placebo Response in Environmental Disease. Chelation Therapy of Patients With Symptoms Attributed to Amalgam Fillings

J Occup Environ Med. 1997 Aug;39(8):707-14. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199708000-00004.


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 liability. 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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Denmark
  • Dental Amalgam / adverse effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Environmental Illness / drug therapy*
  • Environmental Illness / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood
  • Lead / urine
  • Male
  • Mercury / adverse effects*
  • Mercury / blood
  • Mercury / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebo Effect
  • Succimer / therapeutic use*


  • Chelating Agents
  • Lead
  • Dental Amalgam
  • Succimer
  • Mercury