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Assessment and Treatment of Toxic Burden: Detoxification Program

Support of Detoxification and Reduction of Toxic Load

All traditional health care systems have believed that toxin accumulation is a contributor to health care problems. Therapies that support cleansing and detoxification are a part of most traditional healing traditions. Over the last 100 years, there has been growing scientific evidence to support this concept.

When talking about toxic load, we are referring to the accumulation of chemicals or molecules that are foreign to our biological systems. These products are referred to as Xenobiotics. Xenobiotics may originate externally from toxic chemicals in the environment. They may originate internally from foods we eat or medications or supplements we take. We may absorb xenobiotics from the living organisms in our gut when there is Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut Syndrome.

The issue of toxic load contributes to many health problems. A scientific article from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggested that more than 75% of cancer is caused by diet and environmental factors. In addition toxic exposure is a contributing factor to cardiovascular diseases (heart attack), cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease) and immunologic diseases (arthritis, thyroiditis, chronic infections). Environmental pollutants stockpile in the body contributing to the chronic diseases. Toxic burden slows metabolic rate and contributes to obesity. Toxic impairs biologic processes resulting in an acceleration of aging and a loss of vitality.

Common intoxicants include:

  • Heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which come from diesel exhaust and jet fuel
  • Plastics are ubiquitous in our environment. Many scientists believe that plastic molecules compete with the hormone binding sites of cells. This may be a contributing factor to infertility, precocious puberty and cancer.
  • Electromagnetic fields such as those within a house or from cell phone towers
  • Neurotoxins, which can come from chronic infections (Lyme Disease), industrial pollution, foods and exposures (molds)

Signs and Symptoms of Toxic Load:
The signs and symptoms of toxic load are all inclusive. The patient and the clinician must have a high index of suspicion. When normal people subject themselves to a biopsy of fat tissue, toxic chemicals are always present. Simply stated, we are all intoxicated, some of us are more symptomatic than others. Some of us handle the intoxication better than others. Ultimately, to optimize health we must attend to reduction of the toxic load.

Testing for Toxic Load:
1. Metals:

  • The best test is a Urine Heavy Metal Challenge test.
  • A baseline test is done first. Following this, the person is given chelating agents, which remove the heavy metals from blood and tissue. Urine is collected for 6 hours.
  • Hair Mineral Analysis is a useful screening test but can often give misleading information.
  • Routine serum tests for metals are useful for acute exposure but do not help with assessing chronic body burden.

2. Non-Metal Industrial Pollutants:

  • This group is vast. There are more than 70,000 industrial chemicals in use today. Only about 10,000 have been assessed for their potential health impact.
  • A urine toxic pollutant profile is a good screening test. It looks for a variety of volatile organic compounds and plastics.
  • There is a more comprehensive test that looks for chlorinated pesticides, PCBs and volatile solvents in the serum and blood. This is a more expensive test.

 3. Neurotoxins:

  • The Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test is the way we look for Neurotoxins.

Treatment of Toxic Load:
The first strategy is to reduce exposure to additional toxins in the environment. Simple measures include a good water filtration system, the consumption of organic foods when possible, and food preparation practices that do not create carcinogens (barbecuing is an example).

The removal of toxins is aided by supporting the detoxification systems of the liver and the gut with appropriate diet, nutritional supplements and herbal products.

There are two well-understood stages to the detoxification process. They are characterized as Phase I and Phase II detoxification. The process takes toxic molecules, which are difficult to remove from the body, and transforms them into molecules that can be removed more easily. It is important that Phase I and Phase II are balanced. In the process of transforming toxic molecules there is a step where the transformed molecule is highly reactive (toxic). This occurs with Phase I detoxification. Phase II detoxification takes these highly reactive intermediary molecules and complexes them with a second molecule. This creates a new molecule that is not reactive, water soluble and easily excreted by the liver into the gut or by the kidney into the urine. When Phase II is deficient relative to Phase I, toxic intermediary molecules are produced. These molecules can increase oxidative stress and result in injury to tissue through inflammation. This can result in symptoms of such as fatigue, weakness, pain, cognitive dysfunction and depression. Unbalanced detoxification, oxidative stress and the creation of free radicals (toxic molecules) is believed to be a contributing factor in many chronic disease process including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis and cancer.

There are specific strategies to help reduce the toxic burden. These strategies are based on the particular toxins identified and the unique aspects of the person in need of detoxification.

Toxin burden has an adverse effect on all biological processes. Therefore, assessing the toxic burden and helping the person reduce that burden is essential to improving and maintaining health and vitality.

We are always here to help out in whatever way we can.