It is said that if you breathe, eat and/or drink, you have toxins in your body from our polluted world. Even when testing the blood of newborns, they have found over 200 chemicals fresh from their umbilical cords. Our world is doused regularly with herbicides, pesticides, solvents, industrial chemicals, chemicals excreted from smokestacks, heavy metals in our water from mining, used in industrial production (such as arsenic in wood products); it’s endless.
Chemicals can be found in children’s toys, cosmetics, cleaning products, air fresheners, perfumes, furniture, vinyl flooring, carpets, new wood products like cabinets, plastic food containers, and even medical products.
The organs in our body involved in detoxifying the chemicals we are exposed to regularly include the liver, kidneys, bowels, lungs, and the skin. Let’s discuss them one at a time. Your liver has numerous detoxification pathways in it, many that run through the CYP450 enzyme system. This system oftentimes first makes a chemical more toxic, before binding it with a substrate so that it can now be allowed to be dumped into your intestines where it can bind to fiber and be excreted with your bowel movement. This means you need to have a good functioning liver, a healthy intestine with loads of beneficial bacteria and fiber in it, and good daily bowel movements.
Your kidney also detoxifies your body. Good kidney health requires plenty of hydration, by drinking fresh, clean water. Do not eat too much salt, either.
Your lungs exhale toxins and if you wake up with a coated tongue this is a sign that your liver is not functioning that well, you have too many “toxins” for it to clear, so they are breathed out during the night and coat your tongue.
Last, your skin is your largest detoxification organ in your body. Do not put chemicals on it via make-up, lotions, or other creams. Always buy organic topical toiletries. Sweating is fantastic for detoxification—chemicals and heavy metals are excreted via your sweat. So, work out regularly and wear enough clothes you sweat a lot, and also do saunas. Perhaps buy a sauna at home, as many are quite inexpensive now, if you do not belong to a gym which has one.
Some people have genetically better ways to handle all the chemicals we are exposed to day and night. Their liver detoxification pathways work better. For example, one cup of coffee may keep someone up at night and unable to fall asleep, while another person can drink a whole pot of it and fall asleep immediately. The latter person has a better capacity to detox than the former. Genetics does play a part in your liver’s capacity to detox everything you eat and drink and breathe and are exposed to in the world.
Diet and lifestyle play another role. A junk food diet, full of processed food, sugar, trans fat, fried foods, chemically laced in and of itself will work against your liver detoxification, by slowing down its detox pathways. However, a whole foods diet, loads of vegetables, some fruits, good proteins, whole grains, lots of fiber, eating in moderation, will enhance your liver’s functional detox pathway capacity.
When patients become “toxic” there are many and innumerable symptoms and signs which might develop. Patients can have:
- Coated tongue or bad breath
- Fluid retention
- Chronic sinus problems
- Skin conditions such as acne, rosacea
- Chronic fatigue
- Developing auto-immunity diseases
- Chemical sensitivity—coffee keeps you awake, one glass of alcohol makes you drunk, perfumes/tobacco/gasoline smells give you headaches or other symptoms
- Many seasonal allergies and asthma
- Hard to lose weight even when eating right and exercising
- Chronic constipation
- Brain fog, unable to focus, lack of concentration
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Chronic headaches
- Joint stiffness and/or muscle soreness
- Develop cancer
- Decreased sperm count
- High blood pressure
How do we medical analyze a patient to see if a proper detoxification is medically required? There are several good medical tests to analyze patients for how many toxins are in them:
- Fat biopsy—chemicals are stored in the fatty tissue, so taking a little bit of fat tissue via a biopsy and sending it to a lab for analysis is the gold standard. This is invasive, expensive and not practical for most medical practices.
- Whole blood—Two things can be discerned via whole blood:
- Volatile solvents profile
- Toxic metals (measures increased or recent exposure to toxic metals, not chronic exposure)
- Serum—Two things can be measured via a serum test:
- Chlorinated pesticides
- PCBs profile
- Urine test—
- The heavy metal urine test is the most commonly used by naturopathic physicians, including AIMS physicians. In this test a patient wakes up, collects their first morning urine, then ingests a chelating agent which will help pull heavy metals from their body cells, and then collects the next six hours of urination. Both samples are sent to a lab for analysis.
- Bisphenoal A
- Phthalates and Parebens profile
- Porphyrins Profile-elevated porphyrins indicate increased toxins in the body, but it is not specific to which toxin(s).
There are several main types of ways for patients to go through a detox protocol:
- Water fast—a water fast is the simplest way to detoxify your body. Just drinking fresh clean water for 1-7 days is very cleansing to the body. Due to changes which can happen in your body, it is not safe to do a straight water fast for longer than that. Even so, on a water fast for just a few days, the patient should not work, exercise, and should stay at home and rest, so it is limiting in that regard. There is a clinic by Oakland called “True North Clinic” which leads people through month long water fasts, which is remarkably healing and can even cure diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Doing enemas while on a water fast is discussed with patients. The reintroduction of food is carefully guided by AIMS physicians if the fast is more than three days.
- Vegetable Juice Fast—this is the fast that AIMS Physicians do the most. A vegetable juice fast is living off liters of vegetable juices each day. It is very healing and cleansing, but due to the fact the patient is getting in some nutrients and calories, they can still work and live life generally as normally as they do, although they should not do extensive exercise. A patient can also stay on a juice fast for much longer, even up to a month. AIMS physicians have reserves hypertension in patients doing juice fasting for only 10 days. Doing enemas while on a juice fast is discussed with patients. The reintroduction of food is carefully guided by AIMS physicians if the fast is more than three days.
- Food Replacement Powder Protocol—There are some companies which have whole food powders, and patients use the powders on a very clean detoxifying diet; little by little the powder is increased and the food is decreased until for several days the patient is living off the powder entirely and then food is added back in slowly, and the powder is decreased. This protocol usually goes for three weeks.
- Complex Heavy Metal Detoxification—For patients with heavy metal detoxification, a comprehensive protocol exists in naturopathic medicine that AIMS physicians are trained in. Using chelating supplements or IVs, patients rotate between taking the chelating medicine for several days and then rebuilding their bodies with minerals and nutrients, while eating right, doing saunas, getting colonics, and focusing on maximizing the function of the liver. This is a long-term protocol designed to remove the heavy metals from the body, while enhancing liver function, gut health, and nutrient status.
It’s likely that most if not all of us have many chemicals and metals in our body tissues. They may not be causing illness in us, or they may be. Working with a physician at AIMS will help you uncover if environmental toxicity is a concern you should address, and if so, will safely and effectively guide you through the most appropriate detoxifying protocol.