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Tox & Detox

We live in a toxic world. From heavy metals in our food supply, to mouldy buildings, and chemical-laden cleaning products, it’s impossible to avoid exposure. Over time, these elements can build up in your body and lead to chronic health conditions. 

In fact, so many of our modern-day woes are the same symptoms of toxicity:1-6

  • Metabolism: low energy, poor sleep, weight gain
  • Brain: headaches, brain fog, irritability, anxiety, depression
  • Skin: dull skin, redness, sensitivity, worsened eczema and/or psoriasis
  • Gut: food intolerances, stomach pain, constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Hormones: endocrine imbalances, sub-fertility, worsened PMS, hair loss

One of the reasons why toxins lead to so many symptoms, is their ability to displace our own nutrients like zinc, iron, copper, magnesium and others. Therefore, in order to thrive in our current environment, it’s wise and helpful to regularly employ detoxification strategies into our health regimen. Though our bodies are incredible machines that already have the tools to detox toxins and other chemicals from our cells, we need to optimise these processes to help our body maintain peak performance. 

WHERE DO ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS COME FROM?

Environmental toxins come in all shapes and forms, and they’re not just from toxic “man-made” products like paint and bleach. While our bodies are equipped to naturally detoxify ourselves from outside and inside toxins, the level of environmental contamination nowadays far exceeds what our bodies have been designed to handle. We can divide environmental toxins into two key categories: heavy metals and chemicals. 

Heavy Metals 

Heavy metals are one classification of toxins. These are elements (think of the periodic table from chemistry class) just like iron and zinc, but instead of them being needed for health, heavy metals are highly dangerous even in small amounts. They include lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, and cadmium to name a few. These insidious metals have worked their way into our water and food chains, as well as often being an additive to cosmetics, dyes, cleaning agents, and are still used in dental fillings despite their known health effects! 

Chemicals

Toxic chemicals are typically referred to as more complex molecules (unlike heavy metals). There is a disturbing number of banned or potentially dangerous chemicals found in our everyday products and food. 

Examples of common chemicals include:

  • Glyphosates: the widespread use of chemical pesticides like roundup has led to glyphosate contamination of almost all of our food and water cycles globally 
  • Phthalates: a common addition to cosmetics and skincare products like after-shave, make-up, nail polish, and hair spray. Also can be found in plastics, cleaning agents, and even printing inks like newspapers and even receipts. 
  • Xylenes: found in paints, lacquers, pesticides, cleaning fluids, fuel and exhaust fumes, and also in perfumes and fragranced products 

TESTING FOR TOXINS AND DETOXIFICATION 

Looking after your health should always start with understanding how our body works, what the current situation looks like, and what are the key targets for improvements. These questions can be answered with functional medicine testing to inform you of which are the best lifestyle changes and methods to bring your health back to optimal function. These tests can include: 

Essential & Toxic Elements Test

The essential and toxic elements test is used to evaluate exposure to potentially toxic elements and levels of nutrient elements. It’s necessary to test these values together because toxins will commonly leach nutrient elements from our bodies. A positive nutrient status can also help buffer the negative effects of toxicity. 

 This test compares urine element concentrations before and after administration of a chelator to estimate the body’s retention of toxic elements. These analyses can also be used to help demonstrate and monitor efficacy of metal detoxification therapy. 

Toxic Organic Chemical Exposure

The Toxic Organic Chemical Exposure test evaluates important categories of environmental pollutants including phthalates, benzenes, organophosphates and more. Many of these pollutants are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors (meaning they disrupt the normal balance of key hormones like estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, and insulin). 

Organic Acids Test

Organic acids are the products of all the chemical reactions in our body. These processes are collectively known as our metabolism, which gives our body energy and clears waste and toxins. The organic acids test includes specific biomarkers to take a snapshot of our current capacity for detoxification. It points to the function of our detox pathways and highlights areas for optimization. 

DNA Testing

Understanding our DNA backbone can be invaluable for informing personalized health choices. Detoxification is no different. Each of us are born with the same detoxification machinery (with rare exceptions), but the function of these pathways can vary greatly between people. Our DNA test features a comprehensive detoxification panel, which provides insights to 28 different genes affecting the various stages of detoxification. With these comprehensive panels, your doctor or healthcare practitioner can understand the big picture of your detoxification capabilities and how to best support you.

DETOX TREATMENTS

A ‘detox’ is often naively interpreted as simply stepping away from heavy foods, alcohol, sugar and overt toxic elements in our lifestyle to reduce exposure, or it can be a highly effective and beneficial functional protocol to proactively remove toxins in your system. 

Some helpful therapies and solutions include:

Nutritional Therapy

A proactive dietary and supplement regime is the most essential therapeutic intervention for supporting detoxification. It functions to supply essential nutrients needed for detoxification as well as encourage processing and excretion of toxins to alleviate toxic load. Moreover, regular consumption of processed, preservative/additive-laden food depletes the system of nutrients and adds toxicity, so addressing sources of daily toxic exposure through diet is also vital.  

Ingestion of the proper macro and micro nutrients play an instrumental role in the body’s ability to detoxify adequately. During phase 1 of liver detoxification, the body transforms dangerous fat-soluble toxins into less harmful intermediates. This step requires key nutrients like B-vitamins and zinc, and can be encouraged by milk thistle, NAC and certain bioflavonoids. Meanwhile, phase 2 detoxification converts these intermediates into even safer water-soluble compounds for excretion. Phase 2 calls upon several key amino acids to function properly and can be supported by extracts from cruciferous vegetables.7 

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Chelation

A medical chelation treatment consists of introducing chelating agents that bind to toxins like heavy metals and excrete it from the body. Chelation is typically used for high toxicity and/or after acute heavy metal exposure. In addition to chelation, there are many other evidence-based therapies that can be easily incorporated into your weekly or monthly health schedule to make sure your body doesn’t get to a point of backlog and toxic fatigue.

IV Glutathione

Glutathione is a natural antioxidant produced in our bodies. But this isn’t any antioxidant. Glutathione is considered the “master antioxidant”, helping prevent and reverse cellular damage while regenerating other antioxidant molecules. Produced in the liver, glutathione supports detoxification to help the body safely neutralize toxins and prepare them for elimination from the body.8-9 The benefit of intravenous (IV) glutathione is that this delicate nutrient doesn’t have to pass through the digestive system to be absorbed into your bloodstream. In this way, your body is able to receive a higher dose directly to our cells for a better result. 

IV or Transdermal Ozone 

Ozone is a molecule of three oxygen molecules (O3). Oxygen is perhaps the most important nutrient of all. We think of oxygen as the molecule we need to breathe, but in fact oxygen is so important our bodies were designed to receive a constant and uninterrupted supply of oxygen. Ozone therapy has incredible benefits on our immune function, helping to upregulate healing, deactivate pathogens, and supporting clearance of cellular waste.10

Colonics

Colonics, also termed colon hydrotherapy, is a method of filtering the lower part of the large intestines. Over the years, waste can get trapped in the folds of our colon and build up along the walls. It hardens into a thick layer of mucoid plaque that blocks absorption of nutrients, allows toxins to accumulate, and promotes unhealthy bacteria to flourish. Colonics functions to wash out trapped waste, including toxic build-up, and reset our colonic health. 

Infrared Saunas 

Infrared saunas harness the power of natural thermal wavelengths to heat up the body’s core temperature and support detoxification processes. It can help initiate the release of toxic waste from cells and it also makes you sweat more efficiently than traditional saunas. By making you sweat, infrared saunas can detoxify the body of environmental chemicals and toxins, including heavy metals like mercury and lead.11

Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber (HBOT)

HBOT helps with the detoxification processes in body by opening up the circulation into damaged tissues and normalizing various enzyme systems. Then, a healed and metabolically healthy cell will be able to participate in the required chemical steps to detox the brain and help reduce cravings.

No matter how clean we live, we will always be exposed to toxins. Harbouring toxins in our system has a huge impact on the function of our health, both day-to-day and during the aging process. However, just because our environment is toxin-ridden, doesn’t mean we have to suffer the same fate. Our bodies are equipped with the machinery to safely clear all kinds of toxins including heavy metals and chemicals.

Detox treatments including IV Glutathione, colonics, and infrared saunas help to biohack our detox pathways to clear toxic build-up and bring us back to a healthy homeostasis. The first step in detoxification should be a functional test to evaluate your current toxic load, your body’s innate ability to detox, and pinpoint where your detox machinery may be in need of biohacking. 

References 
  1. Chen A, Kim SS, Chung E, Dietrich KN. Thyroid hormones in relation to lead, mercury, and cadmium exposure in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007-2008. Environ Health Perspect. 2013;121(2):181-186. doi:10.1289/ehp.1205239

  2. Tchounwou PB, Yedjou CG, Patlolla AK, Sutton DJ. Heavy metal toxicity and the environment. Exp Suppl. 2012;101:133-164. doi:10.1007/978-3-7643-8340-4_6

  3. Sukhn C, Awwad J, Ghantous A, Zaatari G. Associations of semen quality with non-essential heavy metals in blood and seminal fluid: data from the Environment and Male Infertility (EMI) study in Lebanon. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2018;35(9):1691-1701. doi:10.1007/s10815-018-1236-z

  4. Adams JB, Baral M, Geis E, et al. The severity of autism is associated with toxic metal body burden and red blood cell glutathione levels. J Toxicol. 2009;2009:532640. doi:10.1155/2009/532640

  5. Yang SN, Hsieh CC, Kuo HF, et al. The effects of environmental toxins on allergic inflammation. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2014;6(6):478-484. doi:10.4168/aair.2014.6.6.478

  6. Briffa J, Sinagra E, Blundell R. Heavy metal pollution in the environment and their toxicological effects on humans. Heliyon. 2020;6(9):e04691. Published 2020 Sep 8. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04691

  7. Hodges RE, Minich DM. Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. J Nutr Metab. 2015;2015:760689. doi:10.1155/2015/760689

  8. Pizzorno J. Glutathione!. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014;13(1):8-12.

  9. Uttara B, Singh AV, Zamboni P, Mahajan RT. Oxidative stress and neurodegenerative diseases: a review of upstream and downstream antioxidant therapeutic options. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2009;7(1):65-74. doi:10.2174/157015909787602823

  10. Elvis AM, Ekta JS. Ozone therapy: A clinical review. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2011;2(1):66-70. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.82319

  11. Sears ME, Kerr KJ, Bray RI. Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat: a systematic review. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:184745. doi:10.1155/2012/184745

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