Toxicity – Who Has It? And How to Detoxify Safely?

By Dr. Jane Murray

The concept of people having “disease” may be all wrong! Much of the chronic “disease” we see today results from the effects of toxins in our world on our intricate internal biochemistry. Our bodies want to maintain balance at all times. Some of the health problems we know are related to toxins, are actually our body’s way of trying to maintain balance, but those important balancing systems are being disabled by toxins. So – the person isn’t flawed, the environment is!

Illness is very often related to problems of the digestive and liver detoxification systems and their influence on immune, nervous and endocrine functions. Supporting these crucial functions can really help our bodies deal more effectively with toxins.

Where do toxins come from?
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s) include PCB’s, BPA, Phthalates, Polybrominated diphenyl esters, perfluoro-compounds (eg Teflon), and organotin compounds. These POP’s are associated with type 2 diabetes, and they poison the insulin receptors in the body. BPA (bisphosphenolA – present in the lining of canned foods, many plastic bottles, etc.) stimulates mammary duct cell growth and is associated with breast cancer risk. Phthalates, such as those found in many plastic containers are endocrine disruptors, and affect cell reproduction and elevate toxic estrogen levels. PCB’s found in pesticides adversely affects many cell functions. POP’s, endocrine disruptors and other toxins are now being associated with the epidemic of obesity and autoimmune disease we see in westernized countries.

Heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, etc.) are everywhere in the environment – especially the air we breathe. Mercury can be in older dental fillings, cadmium is released in cigarette smoke, lead is a toxic by product of coal-fired power plants. The biggest polluter in this arena is China – and be aware that their polluted air goes everywhere in the world!

A person’s lifetime exposure to environmental toxins increases risk of chronic disease. All these toxins actually poison the mitochondria in our cells – the little machines that make energy – and create problems with fatigue, rapid consumption of internal anti-oxidants that results in lots of inflammation and cell stress.

How can we detoxify?
To a large extent, diet and lifestyle choices can help overcome the effects of living in a toxic world. Choosing organic fruits and vegetables, especially those that are treated with large amounts of pesticides in conventional farming practices can significantly decrease our exposure to PCB’s. Avoiding meat, poultry and dairy produced laced with hormones and antibiotics is crucial. Nutrients such as riboflavin, selenium, n-acetylcysteine, folic acid, vitamin B12 can all help in supporting processes of detoxification in the liver. Certain supplements can increase the body’s ability to detoxify and clear heavy metal poisons. Heavy metal toxicity can be associated with foggy brain, bruising, hair loss, increased chemical and medication sensitivities, chronic fatigue, neurological disorders and many other health problems. Alkalinizing the diet (by eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and red meat) can help the body’s detoxification processes.

To address detoxification we need to be sure we are eliminating properly. Drinking plenty of water and urinating well are important, as is addressing constipation. Sweat is another avenue of toxin release, so saunas and sweating with exercise can be another helpful activity. Getting rid of emotional toxins is also crucial – meditation, yoga, relaxation breathing, adequate sleep and nurturing relationships help us greatly.