A guest post by David J. Getoff, CCN, CTN, FAAIM on how to safely and healthfully detox our bodies.
Your body is loaded with poisons which have been accumulating since conception. What does the research show? What illnesses and health conditions are greatly increased by having various poisons in your body? Are there any safe ways to reduce your “toxic load” also referred to as “body burden”? Can reducing these toxins also reduce symptoms, extend life, and prevent disease? These questions and more are the reasons I have written this article.
According to the dictionary, a toxin is substance produced by living cells or organisms. In common usage, however, it is something which is toxic or poisonous in some way to our bodies.
I will therefore use the words toxin and poison interchangeably in this article. If I was submitting this for publication to a peer re-viewed scientific journal, I could not do this. Some toxins/poisons can cause death rapidly, such as a bite from an extremely poisonous snake or other venomous reptile, or breathing in the vapor of an extremely toxic poisonous gas in a high concentration. Most toxic substances to which humans are generally exposed are far more insidious and take years or even decades worth of slow continual exposure and accumulation before any noticeable symptoms begin to appear.
Poisons are always dose dependent. The same chlorine, fluorine or hydrogen sulfide gas that can kill someone in a matter of minutes, will cause far less harm and symptoms, from which a person can more easily recover, when exposure is at much lower concentrations. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is very poisonous in high concentrations, but in low concentrations and when mixed with adequate air or oxygen, has been used for decades as an anesthetic in the dental industry. The rotten egg smell which is observed with even minute concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas becomes extremely deadly when this gas is in inhaled at higher concentrations. Chlorine and fluorine gasses can easily blister or kill a person fairly rapidly at high concentrations. When they exist in water as they are used in the municipal water supplies of many cites in the United States, they will take decades before they show an increase in cancer rates of those who bathe in and drink these same poisons.
The second issue is that of exposure time. It is well documented that inhaling smoke from the chemically treated tobacco in commercial cigarettes may increase the risk of lung cancer. Will this risk increase if only one or two cigarettes have been smoked in a lifetime? I would highly doubt it. It takes many years of regular smoking before obvious damage becomes notice- able. Even after a decade, it is only seen in a small percentage of individuals and most often not in those with truly adequate intakes of protective nutrients. This is why the Japanese, due to their high consumption of nutrient dense seaweeds, have a much lower rate of lung cancer than the U.S. even though they have a much HIGHER per capita rate of cigarette smoking.
In addition to cumulative exposure, an even more important issue is interactive exposure of multiple toxins. In many cases, one poison may be only mildly toxic but when it exists in the body in combination with a second or third (or dozens) of other mildly toxic poisons, the effects become multiplied hundreds or even thousands of times. The best example of this was an experiment done with rats. The LD-1 of lead (the dose which would kill one rat out of a hundred) was mixed with the LD-1 of mercury, and these two combined to give a tiny lead and mercury dose which instead of killing just two rats out of 100, it killed the entire 100! This is why the few safety studies which have been carried out on cleaning products, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other chemicals, are almost totally useless. They always test only single chemical and never multiple exposures in the way we are exposed to them in real life. Let me just take a moment to say that one of the best independent web sites of a nonprofit “watchdog” agency, where you can read more about our body burden of toxins, is the Environmental Working Group. Please support them as they are monitoring the polluters and looking out for our health and the health of those we love.
A few well researched poisons and some of the places they may be found in our daily lives include:
- Chlorine--in our drinking water, our laundry and, and many household cleansers
- Chloramines-in some drinking water, in place of or in addition to chlorine (it is even worse)
- Fluoride--in our drinking water, tooth pastes, numerous foods that have been manufactured in cities with fluoridated water, and it is still used by less knowledgeable dentists
- Toxic chemicals in our air fresheners, deodorizers and “plug ins”
- Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides--in and on our fruits and vegetables and in our air
- Heavy metals such as the mercury in every silver amalgam dental filling
- Hormones, steroids and antibiotic residues- in our meats, dairy and farm raised fish
- Numerous toxic chemicals--in cleaners, polishes and solvents we use in our homes
- Hundreds of poisons in small amounts in the air we breathe which is worse indoors. This does NOT include ozone which IS NOT a pollutant but rather is a helpful gas produced by nature in order to help detoxify the pollutants.
- Toxic chemicals- in the stain repellents on our new upholstered furniture
- The chemicals that give that “new car” smell
- Formaldehyde which out-gasses from carpeting and press board in our homes
- Toxic vapors released from the toner in our copiers and laser printers
- Fire retardant chemicals in our furniture, mattresses, and children’s clothing and bed- ding
- Numerous different types of chemical “additives” in our foods and toiletries
The list above is just the tip of the iceberg, but I wanted to be sure you understand how extensive, pervasive and invasive these chemicals are in our homes and in our lives.
The conditions for which there is published research documenting the connections be- tween some of these poisons and diseases include cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and many neurological diseases of “unknown origin”. The MD, PhD experts at the scientific conferences I attend each year continue to mention a very important disease link. They keep saying that almost every degenerative disease, autoimmune disease, mental or emotional condition and a plethora of others, are most likely caused or greatly aggravated by the numerous toxins in our bodies.
These same toxic substances are the ones which our industrial society continues to generate more and more of every year. These same poisons are the ones which most of us unknowingly (or knowingly) use in our homes and businesses as well as on our bodies and in our mouths every day.
Luckily, it is possible to reduce our risks by reducing our body burden of these chemicals through whole body detoxification. In most cases, I, and numerous other informed and trained professionals around the world, have seen untold symptoms reduce or vanish completely as the individual’s toxic load is gradually reduced by proper detoxification.
Remember, in most people, these toxins have been accumulating for a very long time. Even though the symptoms may have begun only in the last couple of weeks (or years) this is simply due the body finally becoming so overloaded that it could no longer handle the poisonous burden that had been building up for a life- time. It is because of this, that detoxification MUST BE DONE SLOWLY! Imagine never cleaning your home for the last 20-50 (or more) years and then having someone with a commercial vacuum cleaner move through the house. You would stir up so much dust that you would have to stop immediately and would be coughing for hours. In the case of detoxifi- cation of the human body, it might even send you to the hospital. Detoxification MUST be done correctly and slowly. The body must be “prepared” for the detox process. This is done by using special formulas to help support and cleanse both your liver and kidneys for a month or more BEFORE you begin to actually pull toxic chemicals from your tissues, into your blood, for elimination through these two organs. I always make it VERY CLEAR to my patients and students that the goal is to NEVER rush but to keep moving forward. The direction (forward=less toxic) is what is important, not the speed. If you try to build a house in a month, you will have a mess and not a house.
There are so many benefits to reducing our toxic load that they are almost endless, but a few can include (everyone is different); more energy, better elimination, less or no more headaches, better and more recuperative sleep, improved memory, pain reduction, reduction or elimination of various skin conditions, reduced tingling in body parts, regulation of irregular heartbeat, better hearing, improved smell or taste, and many others. The single most important benefit for many is the huge reduction in the risk of developing numerous degenerative and possibly even fatal diseases.
If we continue to expose ourselves to all of the same toxins every day, then it will be a great deal more difficult (and slower) to rid the body of those which have already accumulated in our tissues. Learning where these poisons come from and what must be done to begin the detoxification process is not an extremely complicated educational endeavor. The education will take a bit of time and a commitment on your part just like any important thing you have ever decided to learn. The application of this important knowledge can extend your life, reduce your risks of numerous extremely undesirable health conditions and make you a much happier healthier person. I have even seen the detoxification process save marriages and relationships as it can make huge differences in emotions as numerous emotion-disrupting poisons are slowly eliminated from the body.
Detoxification Process #1
The first job is therefore to slow down the amount of incoming poisons. This means you have to switch to non-toxic toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, cleansers, detergents, waxes, air fresheners, pesticides, foods, deodorants (NEVER antiperspirants), etc. I have added some of these product recommendations to my website.
DETOXIFICATION PROCESS #2
The second task (or maybe the first or at least a tie) is to eat healthier, fresher, less overcooked foods with less additives.
DETOXIFICATION PROCESS #3
The next job is generally to work on one to four months of slow but adequate liver and kidney support. There are hundreds of pretty bad products on the market and a handful of really good ones. Use whatever you have found to work best for yourself, your clients or your patients. If you want all of my procedures and product recommendation for both this task and then next one, they are clearly covered, along with printouts, on my two hour Detoxification: Your Path to Better Health DVD, available from PPNF.org. If you wish to carry any of my DVDs in your office, contact me through my website for wholesale pricing and minimum order requirements at Naturopath4You.com.
DETOXIFICATION PROCESS #4
The next step is the one which is carried for form an extended period of time. The greater your interest in disease prevention, the longer this process will continue. Personally, I intend to live to be a happy, healthy 100-120 and so I will never stop this next step.
After you have done AT LEAST 30 days of your liver and kidney support, continue the support but you can now begin to actually pull poisons out of your other cells to eliminate them from your body. There are many products which can do this, from herbs, to activated charcoal to detoxification homeopathics. I have found the appropriate homeopathic products to do the best job and to be able to target the poisons I wish to target.
I would wish you good luck, but it is my expert opinion that luck has little to do with better health. Proper and valid knowledge combined with correct and orderly application of that knowledge are the keys to attaining almost every goal in life. Improved health is no different and so I wish you the desire to improve your health and the necessary effort to carry out this important desire.
David Getoff is a Board Certified Traditional Naturopath, a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, a Fellow of the American Association of Integrative medicine, an elected member of the American College of Nutrition and the International College of Integrative Medicine and the vice president of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.
David is board certified in integrative medicine, has developed and produced over a dozen educational holistic health DVD’s on topics including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and detoxification and is the co-author of Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally.
This post originally appeared in the Fall 2010 edition of The Nutritional Therapist.