Jane E. Henney, M.D., Commissioner
Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 1471
Mailstop: H F-1
Rockville, MD 20857
Re: Fluoride Allergy
Dear Dr. Henney:
I realize that this letter is long, but I do not simply ask, I plead that you give me some of your very precious and valuable time.
I have a very simple question: why is it that the potential allergic/side effects of fluoride are not well known facts? Other than the fact that consuming more toothpaste than used for brushing is potentially poisonous, an amount which is consumed every day if you live in a community where the water is fluoridated. I never knew it was possible to be allergic to fluoride until two weeks ago, which was two years too late for me. I am allergic to fluoride.
You see, I took a secretarial position with a company located in Media, PA in October of 1997. Within two months of starting that position for the first time in my life, at the age of 32 and in excellent health, I began to suffer from insomnia. It became impossible for me to fall asleep no matter how exhausted I was. I attributed this to the fact that my marriage of 14 years was disintegrating. In August of 1998 I separated from my husband and moved from my home in Drexel Hill, PA (a non-fluoridated town) to an apartment in Media, PA (a fluoridated town) to be closer to my job.
By December or January of 1999 my insomnia was a fact of life. The only way I was able to fall asleep was with a sleeping pill. In addition I was developing what I thought was acne on my chin and jaw (something else I'd never before had in my life, even in my teenage years. My skin has always been, and remains to this day, very dry). These were not common pimples, but very large, angry red, tender raised lumps that would appear and remain for upwards of two weeks before retreating. Since January of 1999 to the present time I have not gone five consecutive days without having at least one of these lesions on my face, and usually there are two or three at a given time. However, at the time I attributed both the insomnia and "acne" to the stress of the divorce. When I consulted with my family physician he confirmed this as a probability. Perhaps I didn't emphasize to him just how severe the insomnia had become or how unsightly and demoralizing I found the "acne" to be, but nevertheless my doctor assured me that these symptoms were probably the result of a stressful personal and professional life.
In the first half of 1999 I decided to "live with" these problems. The "stress" diagnosis seemed confirmed when I developed daily heartburn/indigestion that started near the end of the day and gradually worsened toward evening. I was sure that I was developing ulcers, which my father had suffered from. I was convinced that my problems all stemmed from stress.
I won't bore you with the details of my search for an answer. Suffice to say my entire life and the life of my family was turned upside down: I changed soaps and shampoos repeatedly until I found the least irritating combination because I suspected a chemical component was causing an allergic reaction. I changed my diet and added different nutritional supplements thinking there was a nutritional component lacking or perhaps a hormonal imbalance involved. I've spent hundreds of hours on the internet researching herbs, homeopathic and holistic remedies. I was determined to find the solution myself and without "bothering" a doctor, who would tell me I was simply stressed out. I confined my foods to organic fruits and vegetables, drank only juices and filtered water and I STILL BROKE OUT AND COULDN'T SLEEP!!! My fiancee was very patient through all of this but convinced I was becoming obsessed and creating a self-perpetuating situation.
Having reached the end of every potential "natural" solution I nearly called a doctor about a month ago with the idea of having a full battery of allergic/metabolic tests run to find the source of my problems. I was 35 years old, felt terrible and felt that I looked horrific. I decided that, before I drove my fiancee away, I would demand help from the medical community until I found an answer. I decided to begin my quest for a solution when I returned from vacation in July Despite NO lifestyle changes during my vacation (food, drink, soaps, etc.), other than actual location, MY SKIN WAS CLEARING UP and the heartburn was GONE! I had my first major skin breakout in a week the afternoon after I returned home ... two hours after washing my face.
Stress DOES NOT work that fast. I felt that I finally had my answer, which I have proven to myself since. There was something in the water in Media, PA that was not in the water in Cape Hattaras, NC. I felt it reasonable to assume that the same component that was lacking in North Carolina's water was also probably lacking in Drexel Hill's water, since my problems started when I got the job in Media and were exacerbated when I moved to Media. As you know, from the beginning of my letter, and as I discovered just two weeks ago, Media's water is fluoridated and Drexel Hill's is not.
When I did internet searches on fluoride I found that these three seemingly unrelated conditions, dermatitis, insomnia, and heartburn, are apparently linked. Dr. Jennifer Luke has proven that fluoride concentrates at a higher rate in the pineal body (Effect of Fluoride on the Physiology of the Pineal Gland, J. A Luke, Caries Research, Vol. 28, p204, 1994). As you know, the pineal body is believed to regulate melatonin production. Fluoride has been proven to cause gastric mucosal lesions (Muller P, Schmid K, Warnecke G, Setniker I, Simon B, Gastroenterol, 1992 April, 30:4 252-4). Finally, an allergic reaction to fluoride in toothpastes can cause a rash like condition known as perioral dermatitis around the mouth and chin (Dr. C. Everett Koops own web site http://www.koop.com). All of this information is readily available on the internet, but without the key word "fluoride" I was unaware of the link.
I have, apparently, developed an intense allergic reaction/hypersensitivity to fluoride since moving to a town with a fluoridated water supply. I cannot tolerate fluoridated water in any form, I cannot eat any food made with fluoridated water, even something seemingly innocuous such as baked products. I cannot bath in fluoridated water, which precludes showering in my own apartment. I cannot brush my teeth with regular toothpaste, I had to go to a health food store to find a toothpaste made without fluoride.
This letter has run far longer than I intended, but I truly want you to grasp the significance of what I'm saying. These conditions existed outside of my knowing about the fluoride in the water. I saw absolutely NO connection between them, attributing them to stress in my life. Yet my skin, slowly, is clearing. I have heartburn only rarely now and, most importantly, for the first time in over two years I can usually fall asleep naturally and only wake up two or three times a night.
I've never had reactions like this in my life. I can only assume that, since the kidneys are only able to excrete 50% of the day's intake of fluoride, drinking fluoridated water in addition to its being in so many dental and food products put my body over the limit when I started my job in Media, which was when the insomnia started. Even if I had never moved out of Drexel Hill, I would probably still be having the same problems I do now, just at a later point in my life.
I suspect my face will carry permanent scarring because of fluoride. I may never again have a solid night of uninterrupted rest and occasionally may need the aid of a sleep agent. I cannot go to a restaurant in a town where the water is fluoridated. I have had to give up consuming anything non-organic made with grapes due to their high fluoride content from the fertilizers. For the rest of my life I must check in advance to find out if a town is fluoridated before I can eat or bath there and I must buy bottled water for bathing and consumption until I move out of Media.
I consider myself a reasonably well educated lay person when it comes to health and nutrition and yet I believed fluoride to be something like calcium, a beneficial element without side effects unless taken in gross excess. Now I believe that, while fluoride may have it's place for topical application, the government and water companies are putting a very potent and potentially dangerous chemical element into our water supplies.
I certainly do not believe that any agent as powerful as this should be given to the public from a water tap with impunity. If it truly is a necessary element, fluoride needs to be dispensed under medical supervision only. Even given under medical circumstances, as you know, fluoride has proven fatal.
The public deserves to be better informed of potential side effects and allergies to fluoride. I would have been able to save myself almost two years of emotional and physical trauma if I had known there was such a thing as side effects to fluoride. If I had stopped drinking fluoridated water as soon as the first allergic reactions started I might have avoided the scarring and restless sleep I now suffer from. Perhaps I could still shower in my own apartment. The public deserves to know the truth.
I would like to thank you dearly for your time and consideration of this matter. Finally, please consider that over twelve countries have banned, rejected or altogether stopped mandatory water fluoridation.
I must emphasize, I am not against fluoride, nor do I consider myself to be a crank, but I am VERY ANGRY and DISILLUSIONED that I was, and still am, subjected to an element I am highly allergic to and the only way I can avoid this element is by avoiding the most basic element of life - water.
Dr. Henney, I've written to you because the FDA has classified certain fluoride supplements as unapproved new drugs. Why not dust off the fluoride file and look at it with the studies and tests that have been performed in the past five or ten years instead of studies dating from the 1930's and 1940's!? May I ask, would you want someone you love to undergo a treatment or consume a drug that had been unchanged, and perhaps has never been tested with the proper scientific methods, for approximately 70 years?! How many people were killed by tryptophan before it was pulled permanently from the market? How many people, truly, have been harmed by fluoride and it's by-products? I know of two cases of fatality the first being a little boy who died from a fluoride treatment at the dentist's in the early 1970's when his dentist told him to spit and he swallowed. The other was directly related to ingestion from a public water supply in Alaska when the fluoridation equipment failed. The gentleman in question literally drank himself to death with tap water owing to fluoride poisoning's symptom of chronic thirst. Isn't it reasonable to assume that if he had been informed of the side effects of fluoride he might have suspected that he had a problem and sought treatment? Those are just cases that come immediately to mind. I would suspect that there are thousands more, if you include industrial accidents. And how many cases of fluoride poisoning that don't result in death are called into the Poison Control Center or end up in hospital emergency rooms?
I ask one question, Dr. Henney, why are potential allergic effects of fluoride a secret? I can't be the only sensitive individual out there. I've always known that you could potentially be allergic to bee stings, peanuts, wheat, milk, soy, shellfish, strawberries, etc., but never fluoride, so I never suspected it. I don't feel that it's fair that I wasn't provided the same information that I would be for anything else I ingest on a daily basis. I was only able to determine that fluoride allergy is possible after perusing several academic studies. Why aren't the potentially poisonous allergic effects listed on the side of the toothpaste box, or on your kitchen water tap??
Harriet A. Beitzel