Today we are being exposed to tens of thousands of harmful or potentially harmful compounds from the air, water, soil and food. They include pesticides, herbicides, solvents, petrochemicals, heavy metals, and plastics. Many of these substances are fat-soluble and can therefore persist in adipose tissue “fat” indefinitely. In 1982, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that a total of 20 toxic compounds were found in 76%–100% of adipose tissue samples from cadavers and elective surgical patients from all regions of the United States.[i]
We have a number of mechanisms to remove toxic substances from our body, or at least to metabolize them in ways that make them less harmful. Tissues and organs that play a role in the body’s response to toxic exposures include skin, kidney, liver, lungs, and bowel. Whether or not toxic exposures will cause illness depends both on the level of the exposures and on the body’s ability to detoxify. A toxin poisons its host only after it reaches a concentration within the host that interferes with its biochemical, physiological or other essential life processes. There is evidence that Parkinson’s disease and other motor-neuron diseases may be caused in part by the combination of exposure to neurotoxic environmental chemicals and impairments in the capacity to detoxify these chemicals.[ii] Chronic exposure to environmental toxins might also play a role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, various other autoimmune diseases, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease,[iii] and certain other chronic conditions.
The following are ways to support Detox:
Detox by skin:
Detox the bowel: Anything less than two bowel movements per day is a type of constipation. Waste backing up in the bowel can create toxic bowel. “All disease begins in the large intestine.” Ne Ching: the Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine.
Detox the lymph:
When cleansing, using antioxidants helps to protect the body from free radicals. The following are foods with antioxidants:
Testing: A number of commercial laboratories offer testing to assess exposure to or body burdens of pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, solvents, heavy metals, and other toxic substances.[iv] Work with a good integrative medical doctor to have testing done.
The goal of detoxification is not to rid the body of all toxins. The goal is to decrease the toxic load of the target system or organ so that it can function without interference from the various toxins inhibiting the functions of that organ, gland or tissue and to re-establish optimal function. Start this New Year with a Happy Detox. Your body will thank you!
[i] Crinnion WJ. Results of a decade of naturopathic treatment for environmental illnesses: a review of clinical records. J Naturopathic Med 1997;7(2):21–27.
[ii] Steventon GB, Heafield MTE, Waring RH, Williams AC. Xenobiotic metabolism in Parkinson’s disease. Neurology 1989;39:883–887.
[iii] Steventon GB, Heafield MTE, Sturman S, et al. Xenobiotic metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 1990;40:1095–1098.
[iv] Laboratories that offer testing for environmental toxins include Metametrix Clinical Laboratory (http://www.metametrix.com) and Doctor’s Data, Inc. (http://www.doctorsdata.com).