By Adrian Baume, L.Ac, MSTCM
We live in a world that is both brimming with breathtaking beauty and wonder and at the same time a source of exposure to toxins and chemicals. While I believe it’s important to cultivate a positive attitude as we enjoy interacting with the world around us, it’s equally necessary to gain a healthy awareness of potential threats to our health coming from the air, food, water, and medications our bodies are exposed to. For this reason, I find it’s become necessary for each of us to engage in a daily detoxification routine of some kind in order to ensure good health into the future.
The Daily Detox
Even if you don’t feel any major symptoms (fatigue, migraines, mood issues, or digestive problems such as food sensitivities, allergies, Candida overgrowth, nerve pain or numbness, etc.), we are exposed to a wide range of toxic substances consistently. Sources vary from heavy metals to pesticides to pharmaceuticals in the water supply, and so on. Some bodies are more effective than others at preventing accumulation, but given time and exposure, even the healthiest among us would benefit substantially from moderate efforts now to ensure reduced toxic burdens later.
For a symptom-free person detoxifying on a maintenance level, a daily detox might be as simple as taking some gentle binders before bedtime every few days, such as activated charcoal or bentonite clay. This serves to eliminate numerous toxins through our waste and to prevent metals, molds, mycotoxins, and others from being reabsorbed and continually recirculated throughout our bodies.
Other natural supplements can be used to normalize the intestines and address inflammation that results from toxic metals, molds, organic pollutants, and such. I’d suggest adding a hair mineral/metal test at regular intervals so I can point out any emerging changes in toxin accumulation or nutrient deficiencies that will make your body more susceptible to retention of toxins. It’s a beautiful thing to catch these trends before they result in a major health crisis, and we have the tools to do just that.
When Toxins Cause Chronic Symptoms
Some clients I work with are already suffering from nagging health issues that are greatly affecting their enjoyment of life. In one such case that is typical of many others, the testing on a client whom we’ll call Vanessa showed elevated levels of mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. Mercury (depending on the “species” or form) often comes from amalgam dental fillings, eating lots of fish, and vaccines containing a mercury-based preservative. Arsenic can come from some water sources, pesticides/herbicides, and certain foods such as rice products when overconsumed. Cadmium can accumulate in our bodies from exposure to automobile exhaust (particularly for people living very close to busy highways and roads) and from cigarette smoke.
Pre-Tox So You Can Detox Safely
For Vanessa, the combination of three different toxins acting synergistically was causing major fatigue, migraine episodes, and constantly increasing food sensitivities leading to IBS-like symptoms. Her body had become so sensitive to foods and supplements that jumping straight into a full detoxification protocol caused symptoms to worsen. In such situations, it’s important to first prepare by doing what I call a “pre-tox.” The purpose of the pre-tox is to clear the filter organs for optimal function (namely the liver and kidneys, as well as the digestive tract and skin). Another goal with the pre-tox is to soothe intestinal inflammation caused by the toxins. The inflammation impairs the body’s ability to naturally rid itself of the toxins, and it also leads to bacterial imbalances, Candida, food allergies and sensitivities, and so on.
After a month and a half of the pre-tox, Vanessa was doing much better—reduced digestive bloating and urgent trips to the bathroom, the migraines were nearly gone, and her energy level was about 40 percent better. Obviously, she still had work to do to reach full health, but these signs told us she was ready to gradually resume the full detoxification program and start moving the heavy metals out of cells and through the filter organs for elimination. Keep in mind that it took us a number of years to accumulate these toxins, so it’s not realistic to expect a safe and thorough detox to happen in a week! This process requires time and being patient with yourself, but I assure you, the results are well worth it!
GI Inflammation, Immune Dysregulation, and Toxin Retention
GI (gastrointestinal tract) inflammation is the starting point that can lead to a range of diseases and health conditions, from mercury toxicity to chronic fatigue and food allergies. For example, mercury from amalgam dental fillings affects the flora of the GI tract, commonly leading to increased proliferation of yeast. The mercury is also a direct irritant to the intestinal mucosa (lining of the intestines), causing inflammation. Heavy metals and other toxins can normally be eliminated either via the stool or the urine. But GI inflammation will stop either of these processes from working effectively.
Also, inflammation in the GI tract sets off what we call “leaky gut” (increased intestinal permeability occurring when the tight junctions in the gut, which control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don’t work properly. This lets substances leak into the bloodstream). Leaky gut then allows transport of lipopolysaccharides (a toxin made inside our gut that causes strong immune reactions) from the gut into our circulation. This process eventually creates havoc on the whole body if not addressed.
The Big Picture
To take a step back and summarize the big picture, we see that toxicity leads to immune system dysregulation, which then leads to chronic infection both in the GI tract and on an intracellular level. The immune dysregulation also leads to food allergies and hypersensitivities. This further exacerbates inflammation, which slows detoxification processes. So we end up with even more retained toxins—not good!
To reverse these issues and begin correcting health at the root level, I begin most clients with a hair mineral/metal test and analysis. After toxins and deficiencies are identified, we can determine how severe a condition is and tailor a detox program to the client’s specific needs—this allows us to make the quickest progress for each person, minimizing setbacks and reactions along the way to health. Are you ready to begin your path to restored health?
Adrian Baume, L.Ac, MSTCM, practices clinical detoxification, nutrient testing, and acupuncture at his office in Chico as well as via telemedicine. Visit his website www.beyondfunctional.com, or call 530-965-2875.