Managing Toxic Effects Without Taking Residence on the Moon
Toxins, toxins, everywhere!!
The topic of chemical exposure tends to create a divergent response of either hyper-diligence or a click the next button, right? You may think I’m becoming a playlist that is reaching its impending (delete) death on this topic, but not so fast.
I’m tempted to turn my head the other way as well sometimes!
Who wants to learn about all the sad stats and how our world is becoming more chemicalized and poisoned or that only 25% of the current chemicals in our environment are even tested for human safety?
However, I can’t ignore how important it is to keep in mind that what we are exposed to, sometimes through no fault or knowledge of our own, is causing or contributing to the rise in chronic disease diagnoses, brain disorders, and autoimmunity. I see this fact proven every day in my clinic. By addressing toxin exposure in my clients, they are able to reach a level of health that was previously in plateau or going downhill. This is why, during my time with clients, I always include questions of environmental exposure in their health history timeline.This allows me to do some detective work to see if these exposures contributed to their chronic health issue.
For example, just this week, I was working with a client who lived by an airport as a child. She reported that since she can remember she has suffered from low energy, mood, and fatigue. When I did my research, I found out how diesel fuel in airplanes is high in the toxic metal, lead. Furthermore, according to a 2008 article in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine:
- Diesel engines emit higher concentrations of toxins than gasoline engines. These include nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, ozone, formaldehyde, benzene, and smaller organic molecules as well as 26% of the total nitrogen oxides in outdoor air.
- Diesel byproducts have been shown to induce immune activity, inflammatory mediators, and cause histamine release, which is a potent coronary vasoconstrictor and blood clotting factor.
To top matters off, she had a history of metal fillings and root canals. Her body burden was becoming evident. Mercury and lead are both linked to chronic health conditions, especially with a nutrient poor diet and stress trumping a body’s ability to handle and rid itself of these heavy metals.
Interestingly, the day after I saw this client, I was continuing my dutiful listening to an amazing lineup of presenters and physicians on the online event, the Detox Summit. This event was sponsored by the Institute for Functional Medicine.It was a wonderful refresher course which helped jog my memory in regard to my detox training a few years ago and validated that, in order to get this client well, we had to look at her dental history and avagas (airplane diesel fuel) exposure.
Dr. Pizzorono explained that “silver fillings” contain one-half mercury by weight totaling one-half gram of mercury per silver filling. Each filling can leak out 1 mcg of mercury vapor. This is per filling, not per tooth. This means you could have three fillings in one tooth leaching out 3mcg of mercury vapor every time you brush, eat, or drink.
To complicate the matter, many people with mercury-filled cavities also have bacterial remnants from root canals which can lead to chronic inflammatory or systemic imbalances. For example, these microbial by-products (lipopolysaccarides) or mercury can cross-react with the body’s own proteins in a process called molecular mimicry. This means that the toxins can actually enter the bloodstream, attach to a vulnerable organ, tag it with a “foreign invader code” and cause the immune system to attack the organ in its attempt to clear out the invader. This can set the stage for autoimmune diseases
In fact, there is research that shows exposures to certain chemicals, such as mercury, pesticides, genetically modified foods, infections, and gluten are linked to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune hypothyroid), rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune joint condition), and various subtle symptoms such as digestive distress and mood imbalances. (See my blog for more on this concept at http://dr-lobisco.com/whats-the-deal-with-gluten-free/.)
Where to Start with Toxic Overload
Here are some of the take-home points from the Detox Summit and my experience on how to deal with toxic overload.
1. Detection First, Removal Second
You want to first find the source of toxic exposure in order to prevent “re-tox”. For example, if one has an overwhelming amount of mercury load creating an obstacle to health, detoxifying mercury with chelation won’t have lasting effects if the source of exposure (metal fillings or seafood consumption) continues.
You also want to make sure your air quality at home is purified to allow for a “break” from the environment. This is also why I’m also a big fan of HEPA filters and diffusing Thieves ® essential oil to purify air quality indoors.
2. The Power of a Rainbow of (Organic) Foods
One of the most empowering themes interwoven throughout the summit was the key role of a healthy diet to protect our body from exposures. Almost all of the experts recommended including “a rainbow of colors” on one’s plate. This “rainbow diet” consists of a plate loaded with a variety of organic (pesticide, hormone, antibiotic-free) plant foods surrounded by healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. By eating in this manner, an array of different phytonutrients, high in plant flavonoids, would be provided that help to prevent damage to our cells through toxic exposure.
Lise Alschuler, ND, a naturopathic oncologist, discussed how these different colors of plant flavonoids protect our cells from the oxidative stress that cause negative immune and health effects of toxicity. You can also add essential oils high in flavonoids like lemon, orange, or mandarin to your water to boost flavonoid exposure.
Furthermore, you don’t want to chase chemicals with chemicals. In other words, if you’re trying to decrease total toxic load, why would you eat kale ridden with pesticides? Eat organic as much as possible and use the Environmental Working Group’s website for a list of healthy personal care, household cleaners, and low pesticide fruits and veggies.
3. Individualize Supplements and Nutrient Needs
Detoxification is a “costly process,” and you need a wide array of amino acids from proteins, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals to effectively accomplish cleansing without a backlash of a “healing crisis.”
Different people have different deficiencies, and it’s best to find out what is specifically needed for each person with an individualized plan. Otherwise, taking supplements not needed could create more imbalances and deficiencies in other key nutrients in order to process the excess.
4. Repair and Release- “Poop Before Goop”
I reviewed this in my post on toxic mold. You want to do a “4 R” approach to gut health before a liver cleanse:
- Remove any infections or gut disturbances
- Repair the damage to the intestinal lining
- Re-inoculate the gut with healthy microbiome balance
- Replace depleted enzymes for digestion and assimilation
Never try to detox the liver with a clogged drain (the colon) or the nasty toxins will just recycle back up through the system like an overflowing toilet. Enough said.
Read my blog or watch my summary video to learn more about this topic on my homepage.
You can also read about how I specialize in optimizing cleansing.
Fun fact: Trees Save Lives
According to the USDA Forrest Service:
In the first broad-scale estimate of air pollution removal by trees nationwide, scientists have calculated that trees are saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms. The study considered four pollutants for which the U.S. EPA has established air quality standards: nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in aerodynamic diameter.
The Detox Summit. Hosted by Deanna Minch in Collaboration with the Institute for Functional Medicine. August 4-11, 2014. http://thedetoxsummit.com/
Miranda ML, et al. A geospatial analysis of the effects of aviation gasoline on childhood blood lead levels. Environ Health Perspect 119(10):1513-1516; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1003231.
Environmental Health Perspective Podcast: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/december-podcast-2/
The Toxicity of Diesel Exhaust: Implications for Primary Care. J Am Board Fam Med January-February 2008 vol. 21 no. 1 55-62. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2008.01.070139.
Mercury Exposure and Children’s Health. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. Sep 2010; 40(8): 186-215. doi: 10.1016/j.cppeds.2010.07.002.
Adams, C. Arthritis Linked to Gingivitis Bacteria.GreenMedInfo.com. May 19, 2013.
Yeoh N, Burton JP, Suppiah P, Reid G, Stebbings S. The role of the microbiome in rheumatic diseases. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2013 Mar;15(3):314.
Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease. Clinical Medicine & Research October 1, 2007 vol. 5 no. 3 184-192. doi: 10.3121/cmr.2007.738.
Markers of potential coeliac disease in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Eur J Endocrinol April 1, 2002 146 479-483. doi: 10.1530/eje.0.1460479.
USDA Forest Service – Northern Research Station. Trees save lives, reduce respiratory problems. Science Daily. July 25, 2014.