Detoxify Plastics (Phthalates)
I was invited to speak at a conference in Arizona hosted by one of our nation’s best physicians, Dr. Ben Lynch and one of the joys of the weekend was to attend the speakers’ dinner where all the 20 or so doctors that were giving talks gathered.
As conversations swirled around the long table that night and into the weekend of the conference itself I noticed two camps emerging, one being “gut first” and the other being “toxins first.” However, the gut folks certainly also focused on the toxin burdens we see now and the toxin crew equally so acknowledged the role of the gut. What struck me the most is that there really aren’t many sweeping issues we are facing in our current health crisis. We need to work on the gut and toxins.
I was trained as a “gut first” doctor and have shifted over the years to believe that toxins are the more pressing issue. Of course there are the counter arguments that toxins damage gut function and gut function generates toxins. Toxins damage neurons and the gut issues trigger brain inflammation. We’re back to our, “everything causes everything” scenario that is part and parcel of functional medicine.
In any case, this weekend had a profound influence on my view of health and healthcare and put me firmly in the toxin first group.Schedule a 15-Minute Phone Consultation
I think over the decades I’ve been practicing, things have changed dramatically. I’m a bit heavier, my hair is thinning and the toxic burden of patients worldwide has increased. As a result, maybe thirty or forty years ago gut issues were more predominate. Currently, I think toxin exposure in our times is the equivalent of the rat born plagues that struck Europe centuries ago.
At this point in time all of our patients have a toxic burden, and the question of how to get rid of toxins in your body comes up every day in practice. Whether it’s lead, mercury, aluminum, benzene, toluene or parabens and phthalates. It could be the tuna you just ate or the plastics around you. The question of the best way to get toxins out of your body continues to arise.
Testing Detoxification Pathways
There are several obvious methods and some not so obvious ways of assessing the issue. You can do a test for a specific level of a toxin phthalate testing for example or measuring mercury or lead levels.
Back in the day I did these tests on patients frequently. Now I have gotten more focused on the treatment side of all this and use testing to determine the functional status of detoxification pathways to determine how to detoxify the body. Many of us have a large toxin burden but no obvious symptoms and the lab testing can help determine in those cases whether there is an issue worth addressing or not. Also, in some cases the cause of the problem you might have, such as anxiety or depression, may ultimately be traced back to toxin exposure and the consequent problems with brain function from neurotoxins. Even though on the surface one may not assume that the complaint is toxin related at all.
Water Soluble vs. Fat Soluble Toxins
Therefore, my main method for treatment of toxin related problems is organic acids lab testing, which looks at detoxification pathways, antioxidant function and mitochondrial energy production.Schedule a 15-Minute Phone Consultation
If needed, I’ll accompany this test with heavy metal testing. There are in addition many non-lab based yet time tested methods for eliminating toxins. In general it’s helpful to break the types of toxins down into water-soluble and fat-soluble types. For the water-soluble toxins simply hydrating will flush them out and avoiding future exposure can reduce your risk for reacquiring them. It is shocking how little water most people drink and of course without water even a small toxic burden in the body can become problematic. As a friend of mine once said, “The solution to pollution is dilution.”
Then for the fat-soluble toxins we can force the body to dump them out by assisting Phase 1 and Phase 2 detox pathways. This can be done with food, i.e. at least one cup a day of green leafy veggies along with the crucifers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and so on. I can sit down and eat half of a head of cabbage myself, love the taste, cooked or raw and I go through 1-2 full heads of cabbage a week. Last night I made broccoli soup with a pound of broccoli in it and had it for dinner and today’s lunch. If you are past the point where food alone will handle the problem then liver support supplements can help, such as NAC, methionine and silymarin to name a few.
Getting in Touch with Our Roots or Ancient Healing Techniques
And then there are the ancient ways of healing, known for thousands of years. I often think we’ve forgotten more about healing and health than we know.
One always hears a cry for “more research” and more evidence for every little area of health as if we don’t know what we should do for all the health problems assailing people now. But I think we look forward too much and not back to older knowledge nearly enough. Sweat lodges, saunas and baths have been part of human culture, across the globe from Rome to the Native Americans for thousands of years. And that was back in the pre-industrial times before people had a fraction of the toxic burden we now suffer from. Current, i.e modern versions of this would include dry saunas, steam rooms, hot baths, anything you can do to flush toxins out of the system through sweating.
Of course it also makes sense to avoid new toxin exposure as much as possible, which is an impossible challenge now given the state of our air, water and food supply. You can choose to eat organic, avoid putting chemicals on your skin, avoid cleaning agents that are toxic and so on, but given that we all need to breath and that we have limited control over much of the air we take in, toxin accumulation is just a matter we’ll be dealing daily. I try to implement all these ideas in my own life. I test my own organic acids once a year, I already drank four quarts of water today and I am about to sweat quite a bit (riding my bicycle home up a large hill with a 1200 foot climb). I take my liver detox supplements pretty regularly too.Schedule a 15-Minute Phone Consultation