by David M. Newirth
The concepts of internal cleansing
and detoxifying have been central to naturopathic philosophy for over
a century and practiced in various forms since as early as the Romans.
The problem of “toxicity” has grown as the number and quantity of
poisonous compounds in our air, water, and food supply have steadily
increased. A substantial and growing body of research now supports the
significant impact on health of acute and chronic exposure to a
variety of toxins in our daily environment.
As we are continually exposed to these toxins, our detoxification
system becomes overloaded: toxic metabolites accumulate and
sensitivity to other chemicals, some of which are not normally toxic,
become progressively greater. This accumulation of toxins can wreak
havoc on normal metabolic processes and may be expressed through the
symptoms of disease. Detoxification and cleansing are ideally suited
at each change of the seasons, for acute and chronic conditions, and
can be tailored to individual needs and goals.
Some Components of Detoxification and Cleansing
Constitutional Hydrotherapy treatments stimulate
healing by enhancing the oxygenation and circulation of the blood and
lymph, promoting better digestion and absorption of nutrients to the
cells, increasing the oxidation and elimination of toxins,
strengthening the general defenses of the immune system, and by
assisting in the restoration of nervous equilibrium. Patients of all
ages can benefit from these treatments.
Hydrotherapy works through the mechanism of applying alternating
hot and cold towels directly to the skin. This facilitates the
movement of increased blood circulation to the skin and other organs
of elimination/detoxification. The reverse direction of circulation
facilitates enhanced re-oxygenation at the cellular level, promoting
oxygen delivery coupled with the removal of carbon dioxide and waste.
A typical session lasts about 60 minutes and can be used for both
acute and chronic conditions. Examples of what might be treated
include: asthma, arthritis, bronchitis, colds and flus, Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, headaches and sinus infections.
Far Infra-red Sauna is a technically-advanced system
that operates at temperatures of 110 to130 degrees Fahrenheit (versus
conventional saunas that typically operate between 180 to 220 degrees
Fahrenheit). The infra-red rays penetrate 11/2 inches below the skin,
causing the body to sweat at 110 degrees, versus the conventional
sauna temperature of 200 degrees. In addition to the
detoxification/cleansing effect of the sauna, additional benefits
Pain Relief: Infra-red heat can help relieve pain by
dilating blood vessels, which causes increased blood circulation and
allows more oxygen to get to the injured area. This helps to reduce
pain and facilitate the healing process. Infra-red heat has also been
used extensively in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism and muscle
Weight Control: Use of infra-red sauna can augment weight loss
and weight management by facilitating an increase in heart rate,
cardiac output, and metabolic rate, which consumes considerable energy
(or, calories). Weight loss is possible because body fat becomes water
soluble at 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and the body can sweat out fats,
toxins, and heavy metals that become lodged in our fat cells.
Fasting is the third leg of the triad for detoxification
and cleansing. Fasting is defined as abstinence from all food and
drink, except water, for a specific period of time, usually for a
therapeutic or religious purpose. This process spares essential tissue
(e.g., vital organs) while utilizing non-essential tissue (e.g.,
adipose tissue, digestive enzymes, muscle contractile fibers, and
glycolytic enzymes) for fuel. There are certainly many variations of
this type of fasting that are popular and in use today. In the context
of a “spring cleanse” type of protocol, the fasting period would
be of a short (1 to 3 days) duration.
Toxins Targeted for Elimination
A toxin is defined as any compound that has a detrimental effect on
cell function or structure. Some common toxins include heavy metals,
such as lead, mercury, nickel, cadmium and aluminum; chemical
toxins, such as prescription drug residues, alcohol and tobacco; microbial
compounds, including bacteria and yeast; and industrial
compounds, such as solvents, pesticides, and herbicides.
Goals of Detoxification
The goals of detoxification and cleansing are to promote health and
wellness on many levels of our lives. This might include: increased
energy; improved mental clarity and function; improved digestion and
elimination; enhanced immune system and resistance to infection or
illness; improved blood circulation; healthy skin; improved libido and
sexual function; and improved mood and sense of well-being.
Detoxification and cleansing have an important place in the role of
preventive healthcare to promote health and wellness, as well as in
the treatment of acute and chronic conditions. A detoxification and
cleansing program can be designed for an individual’s specific
health condition and wellness goals through a knowledgeable provider.
David M. Newirth, ND can be
reached at the Alaska Family Wellness Center, 561-9444.
Ins and Outs of Colon Cleansing
by Amie Mosley
problems affect the entire body.
Why Colon Cleanse?
When the elimination channels of the body (bowel, kidneys, lungs,
lymph and skin) become overworked, they become inefficient and fail to
carry toxins out of the body. Toxins are then forced into the
bloodstream and settle into those organs and tissues which are the
weakest in the body and have the least resistance to toxic material.
The body is always generating waste material as a by-product of
metabolic processes. Other waste is derived from food residues that
have no use to the body, such as salt, artificial colorings and
preservatives, processing by-products and other additives. Significant
levels of toxins also accumulate in the body tissues as a result of
environmental pollution – not only from air, water, and chemicals,
which are consumed or contacted directly, but also from pesticides and
industrial waste, which spread through the food chain from the air,
water and soil to the plants, fish and animals that end up on our
The build-up of toxins in our body tissues and bloodstream is the
pathway to lowered vitality and disease. Intestinal stasis is in
particular implicated in a wide range of illnesses, including fatigue,
headache, asthma, hypertension, degenerative ocular changes,
arthritis, and degeneration of the muscles, liver, kidneys, lungs,
ovaries, prostate, nerves and, indeed, the whole body.
Why Does Colon Health Affect Body Health?
There is a relationship between the tissue of the bowel and the tissue
of the rest of the body. When we look at embryology (the study of the
developing fetus), we see the “gut tube” is the first to develop.
When gestation is complete, the “gut tube” has become the large
intestine. Essentially, every cell in our bodies developed from the
How Do I Colon Cleanse?
There are numerous ways to cleanse the colon. Some people do well with
just herbs, while some need both herbs and colonics, whether
professional or at home. The following is an explanation of different
colon cleansing methods.
Herbs – There are many individual herbs and herbal
formulas that cleanse the colon. These may include: turkey rhubarb,
cascara, buckthorn and senna. Many herbal recipes contain bulking
agents such as psyllium or seeds and carminatives for relaxing the
bowel to reduce flatulence and griping. Other recipes add astrignets
to tone the bowel and prevent fluid loss; alteratives to balance
metabolic processes; anti-inflammatories to sooth mucus membranes; and
anti-spasmodics to promote smooth and regular peristalsis. If one is
mildly constipated, then a balanced herbal formula will probably be
Enemas – This process consist of a 2-quart bag, tubing and
tip. Enemas are administered while lying on the floor, often on the
left side and sometimes with massage to help move the water along. For
evacuation, the tip is removed from the rectum and the fluid is
expelled in the toilet. This procedure is repeated until all the water
is used. There are two drawbacks to this method: (1) it can be messy,
if you don’t make it to the toilet in time, and (2) the procedure
only flushes the last section of the large intestine. This in itself
is beneficial, but cleansing of the whole large intestine would be
Professional Colonics - Professional colonic systems vary;
however, most operate by flushing the bowel quickly and efficiently
with water pressure. With the individual lying on a table, the Colon
Therapist inserts the rectal speculum. Water is then flushed through
the large intestine under gentle pressure and evacuated through a
tube. One can actually see what is being flushed. This is known as a
closed system; there is no smell and no exposed fecal matter.
Professional colonics may be cost prohibitive ($60 plus per session)
or unavailable because of office hours, while the home system is
available for repeated use at your convenience.
Colonic Or Colema Boards For Home Use – The Colonic or
Colema Board is designed to flush the large intestine with the ease of
a one-time insertion and continuous evacuation without the removal of
the tip. A 5-gallon bucket of water and/or solution is dispensed at
will without getting off the Board to expel. Any evacuation material
will fall into the toilet. The procedure usually takes from ˝ to 1
hour to exhaust a 5-gallon container. The rectal speculum is half the
size of the little finger and inserted yourself about 2 inches into
the rectum. In my opinion, home colonics are just as effective as
professional colonics and, because you are in the privacy of your own
bathroom, a more comfortable experience.
Will Friendly Flora Be Washed Away?
Residential bacteria live in colonies in the gastrointestinal tract as
well as in the mouth and vaginal tract. Friendly bacteria including
lactobacillus acidophilus, bifido-bacterium bifidum, and lactobacillus
bulgaricus are the body’s first line of defense against potentially
harmful microorganisms that are inhaled or ingested. Actually, most of
us are deficient in friendly flora due to antibiotic therapy,
imbalanced diet or even stress as well as poor colon health. One of
the functions of the first half of the colon is to gather the
intestinal flora needed for the colon. When the accumulation of feces
in the bowel leads to fecal encrustation, the glands in the lining
cannot produce the necessary intestinal flora. The resulting lack of
lubrication intensifies a state of constipation and generates toxemia.
This upsets the normal acid-alkaline balance and stunts the growth of
friendly bacteria. Cleansing the colon will help bring the
acid-alkaline ratio back into balance. In this environment, the
friendly bacteria will again thrive and disease causing bacteria will
find it difficult to develop.
Is Anything Added to the Water?
Distilled or pure water is recommended. Some additions to the water
Coffee – the caffeine activates the gall bladder and liver bile
Garlic – kills parasites and bacteria;
Aloe Vera – soothing and healing;
Flora – adds friendly bacteria;
Catnip – calming;
Slippery Elm – soothes and neutralizes acids.
Do I Need Colon Cleansing?
Ideally, bowel movements should happen without effort and grant a
complete emptying of the colon two to three times per day. A
nonconstipated person produces stool that is between one to two feet
in length, two to three times daily. The color of the stool should be
brown with a green tinge. A nonconstipated person does not produce
stool that is light yellow, gray or dark green, have regular diarrhea,
small, thin, short or hard goat pill stools, or have mucous,
undigested food or blood in their stools. Bowel movements should be
firm like a banana and sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Common symptoms of those that could benefit from colon cleanse
include fatigue, constipation, excess weight gain, stomach bloat, gas,
bad breath, coated tongue, body odor, skin problems, lower back pain,
depression, poor memory, weakened immune system, lethargy, etc.
Simple Help For Your Other Eliminatory Organs…
Kidneys – drink plenty of pure water;
Lungs – be careful what you breathe;
Skin – brushing, saunas; avoid congesting lotions and oils;
Lymphatic System – moderate exercise;
Rest – your body is repaired only when you sleep. If you are not
getting your sleep, it may be due to an overabundance of toxins
created by constipation.
Remember: Because a congested bowel weakens the
entire body, it can be the cause for any illness. For your health,
keep your colon clean!
Note: Detox programs and colon cleansing are not for the
purpose of addressing any specific condition, but rather is intended
only to help the body to do its natural activities of detoxification
and elimination. Please work with your health care professional.
Iridologist and Colon Therapist, offers colonics and Iridology at her
Anchorage Office. For more information, see her web sites: www.coloncleanse.info,
call (907)561-3469. Visa & MC accepted.
by Sandra Talt
simply, you feel great, sleep better, have more energy
and an improved outlook on life.
Ionic detoxification baths are a
pleasant, non-invasive way for most people to detoxify the body. A
computer program runs varying amounts of positive or negative current
through a water bath. All you do is put your feet into the water and
relax for 20 to 30 minutes.
While you are relaxing, the water will start to change color, and
in a short while, you will see sediment accumulating. Believe it or
not, this sediment and discoloration is coming out of your body! How
is it so? The negative and positive ions attract toxins, and pull them
out of you via osmosis. That is, when the water has a higher negative
charge than your body tissues, positive ions will be pulled out of you
and into the water. This is good, because heavy metal toxins have a
positive charge, and this is a very effective way of cleansing
yourself from heavy metal and other toxins. After a few minutes, the
polarity switches to positive, and negatively charged toxins will be
pulled from your body.
Different people produce different colors and sediments. With
repeated treatments, you will see different colors and sediments
coming from yourself. Sometimes an oily residue also appears on the
The benefits of this type of footbath include detoxification,
stimulation and balancing of the body’s energy meridians, and
increased cellular metabolic rates and ATP production. ATP is a
natural body chemical that extracts energy from your food and makes it
available for numerous physiologic functions in the body. Put simply,
you feel great, sleep better, have more energy and an improved outlook
on life. In addition, aches, pains, and other conditions may be
greatly alleviated. If you see the sludge that this treatment
produces, you will have no doubt about the effectiveness of this
Certainly, some color and sedimentation appears in the water
without a person’s feet in the footbath. However, comparisons show
there is a remarkable difference in the colors and sediments seen in
the water after treatment of just water, and water and feet! To learn
more, visit the website www.4ebr.com to view comparison lab testing.
You can have your sediment tested locally by SGS Labs, 200 W.
Potter Dr., 562-2343. They can test for metals, petroleum-based
substances, and volatiles such as benzene, toululene and xylene. One
sample I had tested validated that there was a high amount of lead in
the footbath water after the detox footbath. This was important to the
client because he had worked at Red Dog Mine, and had high exposure to
lead and zinc. Other testing options are before and after hair
analysis and blood testing, to track changes in your toxin levels.
Ionic baths are contra-indicated for people with pacemakers or
other electrical devices implanted in the body, people with
transplants or on medications that regulate heart rate, or leave you
at serious risk if the blood level of the medication drops due to
detoxification. This might include medication for seizures,
phychotropic drugs, and others. If you are pregnant or lactating, I
believe it is best to forego serious detoxification, including ionic
baths, since any form of detoxification will leave some toxins stirred
up in your body, and toxins can cross the placenta and harm a
developing baby, and cross into breast milk. People who are in
weakened condition may need to use shorter time in the footbath.
Most people who try the ionic detox baths feel better. Why not try
it for yourself!
|Here is a list of
practitioners I know who offer
ionic footbaths in the Anchorage area:
Ty Azeltine 563-2929 (Tudor and Lake Otis area)
Bob Como, D.C. 258-1764 (Spenard area)
Jerry Lizer, D.C. 694-9535 (Eagle River)
Sandra Talt, D.C. 337-6770 (East Tudor)
Sandra Talt, D.C.,
incorporates classic chiropractic with low-force adjusting techniques
and energy healing (great for kids, adults and everyone in-between!)
along with NAET allergy elimination, cranial adjusting and ion
detoxification. Call 337-6770.
by Sandra Talt
It is important to understand that
detoxification involves two parts: 1) loosening toxins from the
body’s tissues, and 2) expelling toxins from the body.
If you accomplish part one (loosening toxins from your body’s
tissues) without accomplishing part two (expelling those toxins from
your body), you are prone to cleansing reactions. This means that you
may feel sick or tired when following a detoxification regimen. It is
unfortunate some people then think that the detoxification has made
them sick or tired, concluding that detoxification is bad. However,
this simply isn’t so. Rather, these sick and tired people did not
succeed in detoxification – they only rearranged where the toxins
Different products and regimens target different aspects of an
overall detoxification program. It is wise to choose a program that
accomplishes both steps mentioned above, loosening toxins and
Part I: Loosening Toxins
Many excellent detoxification products accomplish the first step of
loosening toxins from the body’s tissues. This category includes
lemon juice with maple and cayenne; Calli tea; ginger; chlorophyll;
juice fasts; vegetable fasts; apple cider vinegar; homeopathic
remedies for detoxification, and many others that are readily
available through books found at your favorite local health food
store. I also include massage and lymph brushing and chelation (a
process that uses a chemical to pulls heavy metals from the
bloodstream) in this classification, since they loosen toxins, but
don’t expel toxins.
Part II: Expelling Toxins
Now that you have stirred up the toxins from where they were living
with one of these cleanses, you have to get the toxins out of your
body. This brings us to the important part of expelling toxins from
the body. Therapies in this category include colonics; enemas;
ioncleanses; saunas; and the use of bentanite, activated charcoal,
psyllium or other bulking and roughage products.
(A further word on bentanite, activated charcoal and psyllium and
other roughage products: Bentanite and charcoal work by capturing
toxins in your intestinal tract, and carrying the toxins out in your
stools. Psyllium and roughage agents absorb water in the bowel, giving
the bowel more bulk and moisture to work with, thus increasing the
action of the bowels. You must drink more water than usual when using
any of these, so that your bowels can continue to work smoothly
without getting constipated. Combining increased roughage with
bentanite or charcoal to increase absorption of toxins gives you the
best of both worlds for bowel action.)
They Really, Truly, Work Best Together!
Obviously, part two therapies will be able to expel more toxins, if
you also use a part one treatment to first loosen toxins from your
body’s tissues. Conversely, toxins loosened from your body’s
tissues can actually be expelled, if you do some type of part two
therapy. However, they really, truly, work best together! Yet so many
people are confused about the two parts of detoxification that they
select a detoxification treatment that only provides one part and then
wonder why it isn’t as wonderful as they have heard.
A Quick Primer
Can you name the four primary organs or systems in your body that
expel toxins, without reading the next line?
The answer is: bowels, urinary tract, lungs and skin. (We might
note that the liver detoxifies the bloodstream, though it doesn’t
expel toxins from the body.)
We’ve already looked at the bowels as an organ system for
detoxification. The urinary tract is also clearly for detoxification,
and this is why most detoxification products urge you to drink more
water, since both the bowels and urinary tract need water to expel
When listing the four systems that eliminate toxins from the body,
a lot of folks overlook the lungs and skin. But both the lungs and
skin throw off many of our bodily toxins. It’s important to see that
exercise helps detoxification not only by stimulating the urinary
tract and bowels, but also by increasing breathing and sweating.
Saunas make the list for expelling toxins because saunas make us
sweat, thus, using the skin to detoxify.
Look for the Warning Signs
If your body is overloaded by more toxins than your bowels, urinary
tract, lungs and skin can dispose of, you will see more skin
eruptions, mucous from your nose, and crusty or gooey stuff in your
eyes in the morning. You will have worse breath and perspiration
odors. These are some signs from your body that it is time to get
going and detoxify.
A good detoxification regimen will pay off for you with many
physical benefits, such as a stronger immune system, better digestion,
better skin and more energy. Emotionally, you will be less irritable.
Spiritual benefits have long been recognized also. The benefits go on
and on. Why not give detoxification a try?
Sandra Talt, D.C.,
incorporates classic chiropractic with low-force adjusting techniques
and energy healing (great for kids and adults!) along with NAET
allergy elimination, cranial adjusting and ion detoxification. Call
337-6770 or email email@example.com
Cleaning, Inside & Out
by Kaycie Rosen
we are sweeping out what is unnecessary to allow for greater
ease of movement and growth.
of my favorite activities this time of year is to hike up the back of
Peak 3 after work for an evening ski.
For me, it is not only a beautiful way to catch the sunset, but
also a wonderful illustration of the juxtaposition of seasons.
I have a distinct memory from my first spring here of catching a
whiff of willow buds as I glided to the bottom of the hill.
It was my first scent of spring, just a hint of the wild growth
that would come in a couple of months.
After a stunning yet long winter, this new scent was thrilling,
an awakening to my senses. It
was a reminder that as the winter snow recedes, signs of life are
already pushing their way to the surface.
we know, our bodies mirror the changes exhibited in nature.
For example, if you hang around my dog in mid-April, you will
experience the miraculous process of what seems like bushels of fur
rapidly leaving her body (and landing on my clothes, carpet, couch,
etc.). Pink skin reemerges on her belly, readying her for summer.
Similarly, this is the time for us to shed our winter layers.
Wintertime is a time of accumulation: our bodies naturally crave
richer foods; we sleep more; and often we put on a few pounds to protect
ourselves from the cold. As
springtime approaches, we shed what is unnecessary to prepare the body
for activity and new life.
history, humans have always used this time to celebrate transformation.
, the first month (corresponding to March-April) was called Adukanaiša,
which means "Irrigation-Canal-Cleaning Month.”
You may feel free to draw whatever correlation you like to the
human body, but the point is that we are sweeping out what is
unnecessary to allow for greater ease of movement and growth.
is the time of year for what many people would call a “detox” or
detoxification; for the purposes of this article, I prefer to call it a
“spring cleaning.” I
make this distinction very deliberately.
Often, detoxification is thought of as a process of purging the
body of toxins. The sense is that the body is somehow unclean and must
be purified. This sets a
tone of self-deprivation and punishment.
The focus in spring cleaning is, instead, on supporting our
natural cycles, sweeping away what we do not need and nourishing the
body so it can transition to the next season gracefully.
body has several systems of elimination, all of which can and should be
supported during a spring cleaning regimen.
Before speaking more specifically about how we can support our
bodies during spring cleaning, I want to emphasize that each person has
individual needs, and it is important to have your program monitored by
a licensed professional. In
this way, you can make sure you are getting the best treatment possible.
year at this time we spoke about the many amazing and essential tasks
our liver performs as our primary “processing plant” in the body.
The liver looks at everything that comes into the body, decides
whether it is necessary or toxic to the body, packages it accordingly,
and sends it on its way—either to the site where it is needed or out
of the body via the kidneys. In
Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is associated with springtime
and the changes that take place during the season. Thus, it is
appropriate to focus on this organ during spring cleaning.
We can assist the liver in many ways, either by speeding or
supporting its function. There
are many foods that support the liver, including carrots, beets, and
leafy greens. Similarly,
there are many herbs that can support liver function, including
dandelion and milk thistle.
the liver is central to the spring cleaning process, it is necessary to
support all our pathways of elimination during this time.
The skin is our largest organ, and the sweat and sebaceous glands
are an important yet undervalued part of our eliminatory process. Using
techniques to accelerate and optimize this function of the skin—such
as saunas and skin brushing—can greatly increase the effectiveness of
a spring cleaning regimen. The
kidneys are important as they filter water-soluble wastes and send them
out of the body via the urine. While
kidney function does not necessarily need to be modified in a relatively
healthy person, it is important during this time to support the kidneys
by drinking plenty of water and avoiding substances that may put stress
on the kidneys such as alcohol and other non-food substances.
final, yet vital, aspect of elimination that needs support during spring
cleaning is the digestive tract. The
role of the digestion in spring cleaning is twofold in that it is a
primary route of elimination as well as absorption.
For this reason, we support the digestion in two ways.
First, by making sure it is free of irritation and is intact for
optimal absorption of nutrients. Avoidance
of allergens and irritants such as caffeine and alcohol is key in
supporting digestive function. If
the ability to break down and absorb food is compromised, that should be
supported as well. Secondly,
it is crucial to support elimination via the digestive tract.
Extra cholesterols and fat-soluble toxins are secreted into the
digestive tract, and elimination rather than reabsorption can be
optimized by soluble fibers which will bind these substances.
Additionally, the digestion can be gently stimulated to ensure
that elimination is regular and thorough.
we transition from winter to spring, we have the opportunity to emulate
the natural world by making that shift in our bodies.
While we get out the brooms and mops and start to go through the
stack of boxes in the garage to clean the world that surrounds us, we
can start to affect that process on the inside as well.
By making a conscious effort, we can support our whole selves to
become ready for growth in the season that lies ahead.
Good luck and happy spring cleaning!
Dr. Rosen practices family medicine at Total Health, and will be
offering two classes in March to assist with spring cleaning and
detoxification: a lecture on March 7th and a cooking class on
March 21st. Call 907-563-2929 for more details.
the Lead (and More) Out!
by Renae Blanton
up space in your body’s tissues that may be burdened with
toxic material is a good starting point to help energize
yourself, prevent development of illness, or help an illness you
may already have.
Looking for a “new” you?
What about shifting the “old” you to one who isn’t so
tired, overwhelmed or depressed? This year, freeing up space in your
body’s tissues that may be burdened with toxic material is a good
starting point to help energize yourself, prevent development of
illness, or even help an illness you may already have.
are many toxic elements we are exposed to, this article will discuss
the impact of heavy metals on our lives and to our health.
The most common heavy metals we find in testing and treating
patients is mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium.
These metals are known carcinogens and are poisonous to our
We can be
exposed to toxic heavy metals in an acute way—for example,
accidentally eating some poison containing arsenic.
For most of us, though, our exposure comes from chronic
frequent contact. Sources
of exposure include our water supply, work and industrial exposure,
the paint and piping in our homes, and hobbies.
The term ‘heavy’ refers to the weight of the metal.
Heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium are at
the ‘heavier’ end of the periodic table.
These four metals are non-essential for our bodies and are
harmful in excessive amounts. Healthy
heavy metals, in trace amounts, include cobalt, copper, iron,
manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, strontium, and zinc.
exposure can come from mining operations, paper industries, chlorine
and lye plants, thermometers, vaccines, and dental amalgams
accumulates in the brain, kidneys, lungs, and fatty tissues.
It is a poison that kills cells and damages our central nervous
system. Many believe
mercury is linked to autism and many autoimmune disorders, such as
multiple sclerosis. (Mercury
toxicity and mercury content in vaccines and dental fillings is a vast
topic. For more, see “Mercury and the Brain” at http://www.alaskawellness.com/Mercury&Brain~Archive.htm
or any of the 15 articles Alaska Wellness has published on
widely known as a key ingredient in rat poison, but it is also
involved in the smelting process of copper, zinc, and lead. It is used in the manufacture of chemicals and glass and is
found in pesticides, fungicides, paints, and as wood preservatives.
Here in Alaska, I encourage my patients to have their water
tested, and very sadly, arsenic is commonly found in toxic amounts.
Most of us
with children know that our babies get checked for anemia. This was
instituted as a screening tool for lead poisoning. Usually an anemic child then gets tested for lead poisoning.
Lead exposure can come from the flaking lead-based paints in
older houses or furniture. Lead is found in water pipes, drains, soldering material,
battery manufacture, fuel additives, PVC plastics, crystal glass
production, fishing lead weight production, and is in pencils and
When we hear
cadmium, we think of batteries, like the ones used in our cell phones.
Exposure to cadmium can also come from cigarette smoke, from
the mining and smelting of lead and zinc, PVC plastics, paint
pigments, and is in sludge, fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides.
Many of the
symptoms of heavy metal toxicity overlap; for the purposes of this
article I have grouped them together. Symptoms of heavy metal toxicity
can include: high blood
pressure, anemia, a metallic taste in the mouth, gingivitis, fatigue,
memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, tremors,
hypothyroidism, digestive problems, depression, irregular heartbeat or
rhythm, allergies, ringing in the ears, excessive perspiration,
unexplained skin rashes, anxiety, dementia, abdominal pain, diarrhea,
garlic odor on the breath, headache, vertigo, numbness or shooting
pains in the hands and feet, paralysis, kidney failure, blindness,
mottled skin, eyelid swelling, reduced reflexes of the limbs,
arthritis, constipation, weakness, seizures, loss of libido or
impotence, gout, insomnia, anxiety, disturbing dreams, vomiting,
inability to defecate fully, liver injury, and bone loss (increasing
one’s risk for fracture).
accumulate in our tissues, including our organs, muscles, and fat.
When our tissues are burdened with these heavy metals, they
can’t make energy or function very well.
Our immune system is greatly hindered by these heavy metals.
Over time, our body systems fail and illnesses such as cancer,
high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, chronic fatigue,
thyroid problems, hormonal problems, memory problems, and autoimmune
disorders such as multiple allergies, lupus, and multiple sclerosis
So, how do you
find out if you are toxic? First
of all, seek out a practitioner who is knowledgeable in heavy metal
testing and treatment. Different
kinds of tests include blood, urine, hair, or cell response assays.
Be aware, however, that hair mineral analysis does not always
provide accurate information. First of all, treated (permed or
colored) hair can’t be tested.
An inch of hair only evaluates the last month’s release of
metals. Healthy people
detoxify through hair, skin, and nails.
Therefore, a person can have an elevated hair analysis,
reflecting a healthy release of toxins without any toxic tissue
burden, but an elevated analysis could also reflect toxicity.
With that said, a person can have low levels in their hair
analysis and because of an inability to properly release tissue burden
of heavy metals, be quite toxic.
Bottom line, the test is inconclusive and is a waste of time,
money and haircutting.
One of the
most reliable and easiest ways to test for heavy metals is through the
urine. This is done two
different ways, with each revealing different results.
An “unprovoked” test is when a patient collects their urine
for 24 hours. The urine
is then sent off for analysis. This
“unprovoked” sample is good for testing for acute exposure of
heavy metals—for example, when one accidentally or unknowingly
ingests arsenic or is exposed to lead while making fishing weights or
disadvantage to this test is that it doesn’t reveal what your body
has stored in your tissues. This
is discovered by a “provoked” urine challenge.
“provoked” urine test, a person is given a medication that helps
bind and pull out heavy metals from the tissues.
Then, they collect their urine for 24 hours. This “provoked” test will reveal a more realistic picture
of what is going on inside your body.
Both tests are important to do as knowing if you are being
acutely exposed to a metal can lead to the identification and removal
of the source of poisoning and avoid further exposure.
The provoked test will reveal tissue burden of the toxins and
monitor the body’s releasing of found toxins during treatment.
is completed, you and your practitioner can use this information to
decide how to best help your body rid these toxins. Your program can include prescribed medications that help
pull the toxins from the tissues and excrete them out of your body.
It will most likely also include vitamins and supplements that
help aid this process as well as support your immune system and the
body’s detoxification abilities.
frequently asked if many of the problems created by heavy metal
toxicity are reversible. It
is clear that the answer to that depends on the level of burden; i.e.,
how poisoned one is, and for what length of time a person is toxic.
With that said I take joy in seeing patients grow healthier and
in watching many of their complaints disappear with the removal of
these unhealthy toxins. For
this New Year, I encourage you to “get the lead”—and all other
unhealthy heavy metals—out!
MSN, ANP, is a Family Nurse Practitioner providing holistic
integrative care to families at Comprehensive Medicine, LLC. She can
be reached at 344-7775.
Is Your Body Toxic?
by Greg Sternquist
person does not need to spend years being exposed to
environmental pollutants to be affected...
Is your body toxic? Unfortunately, the
most likely answer is yes. Thanks to decades of “better living
through chemistry,” we are now in the era of “pollution in people.”
We are soaking up chemicals that we may be hard-pressed to spell or
pronounce, if we could even find out what they were. Worse,
exposure-related health issues such as allergies, fatigue, mood
swings, thyroid imbalances, cholesterol imbalances, vascular
disease, autism spectrum disorder, lung and airway disorders, skin
rashes, too many to list… have increased exponentially in the last
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 100,000
synthetic chemicals in use in consumer products today, with 1,000 to
2,000 added to the list each year. We breathe these chemicals
through our lungs, absorb them through our skin and ingest them in
the food we eat and water we drink. Our children's bodies are like
sponges—they breathe in more air proportionally than adults, leaving
their developing organs more vulnerable to the effects of airborne
toxic chemicals. Chemicals travel through our water supplies and air
to the most remote areas on Earth.
Industry spokespeople argue there is no proven link between this
staggering proliferation of toxic chemicals and a long list of
health affects. But, “no proven link” really means “we haven’t
Only a handful of chemicals have been tested to determine their
effects on our health. Most have not been screened for even one
adverse health effect! In truth, it is nearly impossible to
adequately test for health effects resulting from combinations of
very low levels of multiple toxic chemicals. Although a single
chemical may be safety tested at specific exposure levels, how would
one check the real-world scenario of exposure to small amounts of
thousands of synthetic chemicals in manufactured consumer products?
Establishing a traditional symptom-cause relationship is not
straightforward, and the practicing physician is usually not
familiar with the ever-increasing diversity of chemicals and their
effects on health. A person feels ill, but the typical tests for
infectious disease are negative. And don’t forget that drugs and
medication are foreign substances that have their own toxic effects.
As Plato once noted, “We have made of ourselves living cesspools,
and driven doctors to invent names for our diseases.”
One thing is for sure: chemicals stay in our bodies. Persistent
(meaning they do not break down) and bioaccumulative (meaning they
tend to build up in living things, particularly areas of the body
rich in fat—fatty tissue, brain and liver, for example) chemicals
have been found to contaminate not only wildlife and the
environment, but people, breast milk and unborn children. In fact,
human fat tissue sampled in the United States contained 700
contaminants that have not been chemically identified. Human-made
chemicals spread through our water, air and soil, are taken in and
stored in the tissues of fish and animals, thus becoming
concentrated as they eventually reach the top of the food
In 2003, the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine tested the blood and urine
of eight volunteers for 210 chemicals used in consumer products and
found in industrial pollution. Of the 167 chemicals discovered, 94
are toxic to the brain or nervous system, 76 are carcinogenic
(cancer-causing) and 79 are linked to birth defects. The researchers
chose subjects who did not work with chemicals in their jobs or live
in industrial areas. Studies of animals in remote regions of the
Arctic Circle show they, too, have accumulations of chemicals used
in industry or consumer products.
Retention in the body makes chemicals capable of negative health
effects in a number of ways:
1. Our bodies use a complex system of natural hormones known as the
endocrine system to coordinate and orchestrate many essential bodily
functions. Many drugs and toxins mimic substances naturally found in
the body but often cause effects very unlike the substances our
bodies normally make. For example, a similar key may fit into your
front door lock, but it won’t always turn the bolt; or, sometimes it
is used to turn the bolt by an invader that then creates an
undesired effect. Chemicals that mimic hormones can operate in
concentrations of parts per trillion, a quantity infinitesimally
small. Even at these very low concentrations they may directly
enhance, reduce, or block normal hormone function.
2. Retention of toxins in key organs may directly impair organ
health and function. Many health issues are related to a slow
build-up of chemicals. At some point, our body’s normal means of
elimination can’t keep up with the onslaught of new exposures. Body
tissues involved in eliminating toxins require certain nutrients.
Nutrients used to detoxify are then not available for other
processes, thus creating local (affecting only a specific part of
the body) deficiencies. The longer this remains unaddressed, the
more likely the drain on nutrients begins to negatively affect the
3. Over the centuries, our bodies have evolved the means to detoxify
and eliminate contaminants that result from natural processes such
as forest fires and volcanic eruptions. However, many of the
newly-invented synthetic chemicals cannot be broken down and
eliminated. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a great example.
Used widely as an electrical insulator, PCBs were banned in the late
1970s when their hazards were recognized. Old buildings and
electronic equipment still contain this highly toxic chemical,
however, and nothing in nature will make them into a less hazardous
substance. PCBs persist in our fat tissues, mimic the hormone
estrogen and disrupt our endocrine system.
There are several ways to chemically test for residual chemicals in
the body. The most quantitative methods, done at specialty
diagnostic or forensic labs, are expensive, and require hair, blood,
urine, stool or fat samples.
A non-invasive, precise, inexpensive method called Direct Resonance
Testing can be used to determine which of the stressors inside your
body are related to the symptoms you are feeling. The Biological Law
of Identical Substances states, “If there is an identical substance
outside the body as there is inside the body, a stress reaction in a
muscle is created.” The presence of toxic substances and/or
intracellular organisms that are hidden from most tests are thus
revealed. In the same manner, we can test to determine the precise
homeopathic or nutritional method to eliminate these stressors. As
well, we determine the exact regimen of nutrients that will support
the body, replenish any deficiencies and permit your body to heal.
The average person does not need to spend years being exposed to
environmental pollutants to be affected—nor does the average child.
We can probably all agree that none of us should have synthetic
chemicals in our bodies. The best thing to do is take preventive
measures: buy organic foods, drink clean water and be mindful of any
pollution you create. The other thing to do is take steps to
eliminate those contaminants, natural or otherwise, that are
affecting your health.
Dr. Greg Sternquist, a
Chiropractor for 20 years, is Alaska’s only advanced clinician in
Direct Resonance Testing, Nutrition Response Testing™, and Designed
Clinical Nutrition™. Visit