The Importance of Detoxification

There is little doubt that our environment is polluted with toxins and harmful substances. One of the keys of anti-aging is to identify useful ways to detoxify our exposure to toxic surrounding elements including our air, water and food. The reason is simple - the more toxins you ingest, the worse you feel and the faster you age.

The concepts of internal cleansing and detoxification have been around for centuries. Detoxification of the body refers to the cleansing of the bowels, kidneys, lungs, the liver and the blood, as these are the organs involved in the detoxification of chemicals and toxins from the body.

Toxins

A toxin is defined as any compound that has a detrimental affect on cell function or structure.

Toxins can damage the body in an insidious and cumulative way. Once the internal detoxification system becomes overloaded, toxic metabolites begin to accumulate. We also become progressively more sensitive to other chemicals, some of which are normally not toxic. It is this accumulation of toxins over a period of time than can wreak havoc on our normal metabolic processes thus causing numerous allergies and addictions.

Toxins include industrial chemicals and their polluted by-products, pesticides, additives in our foods, heavy metals, anesthetics, drug deposits, environmental hormones and secondary smoke. More than two million synthetic substances have been identified and 25,000 new toxins are added each year. About 30,000 are produced on a commercial scale. Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage is ever tested for toxicity.

Long-term exposure to toxins can result in metabolic and genetic alternations that can affect cell growth, behavior and immune response. This is because the molecular structures of toxins are carcinogenic as they interact with human DNA. The World Health Organization has implicated environmental toxic chemicals in over 60 to 80 per cent of all cancer cases.

Types of Toxins

  1. Heavy metal toxins
  2. Liver toxins
  3. Microbial toxins
  4. Protein by-products toxins

A. Heavy Metal Toxins

Lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel and aluminum are included in this category. These metals tend to accumulate in the brain, kidneys and immune system.

Up to 25 percent of the U.S. population suffer from heavy metal poisoning especially from lead, mercury and aluminum. Over 600,000 tons of lead is released into the atmosphere from industrial processes and leaded gasoline. The toxins could then either be inhaled or ingested after being deposited on food crops, fresh water and soil.

Heavy metal toxicity has been linked to several diseases including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and severe neurological disorders.

Other common sources of heavy metals include lead from pesticides sprays and cooking utensils; cadmium and lead from cigarette smoke; mercury from dental fillings, contaminated fish, and aluminum from antacids, cookware and soda cans.

Hair mineral analysis is a convenient and reliable screening test. Other tests utilize urine and blood. If toxic metals are suspected, using multiple testing protocols are helpful. Many toxic metals have a tendency to accumulate inside the cell where most of the damage is done. Serum toxic metal levels do not correlate well with intracellular toxic metal levels.

The early signs of heavy metal poisoning are vague or often attributed to other diseases. The early symptoms of heavy metal poisoning include headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, indigestion, tremors, constipation, anemia, indigestion and tremors. Mild toxicity symptoms include impaired memory and distorted thinking ability. Severe toxicity can lead to death.

B. Liver Toxins

The liver is the major detoxification center of the body. It acts as an "in-line" filter for the removal of foreign substances and wastes from the blood. Toxins that are cleared by the liver include alcohol, solvents, formaldehyde, pesticides, herbicides and food additives. Despite varying chemical toxicity, the liver has the function of reducing toxins into compounds that the body can safely handle and remove through the kidneys (as urine), skin (as sweat), lungs (as expelled air) and bowels (as feces). Optimal liver function is therefore essential for good health.

The symptoms of liver toxicity include psychological and neurological symptoms such as depression, headache, mental confusion, mental illness, abnormal nerve reflexes and tingling in the hands.

C. Microbial Toxins

Toxins produced by unwanted bacteria and yeast in the gut can be absorbed which can cause a significant disruption of bodily functions. Examples of such toxins include endotoxins and exotoxins from bacteria, toxic amines, toxic derivatives from bile and many carcinogens. These toxins have been implicated in many diseases including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, liver disease, psoriasis, lupus, pancreatitis, allergies, asthma and immune disorders.

In addition, antibodies formed against microbial molecules (antigens) can "cross-react" with the body's own cellular structure. This, in turn, causes autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, myasthenia gravis, diabetes and autoimmune thyroiditis.

D. Protein By-product Toxins

The kidney is mainly responsible for the elimination of toxic waste products from protein breakdown such as ammonia and urea.

Do You Need Detoxification?

Most of us cannot escape to a safe haven free from toxins and pollutants. The air that we breathe is polluted, the water that we drink is full of chlorine, the clothing we wear is made of artificial fabrics and chemicals, the lotions and shampoos that we use all contain chemicals. Once these chemicals are inside us, we can never fully eliminate them unless we undergo a detoxification process. As a result, most of us need some form of detoxification. It is one of the best ways to remain healthy in a polluted and toxic environment.

Our bodies are clearly designed to be self-cleansing and self-healing. The internal detoxification process is an automatic daily procedure of the major detoxification organs. In the past, detoxification was for reformed alcoholics and drugs addicts, people with severe allergies and cancer patients. Today it is common for healthy individuals to perform regular internal cleansing to maintain their body systems in pristine condition.

A weekly, monthly or even quarterly detoxification program can make a big difference in optimizing the bodily functions. In fact, it might even help prevent chronic opportunistic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, chronic fatigue and arthritis. Detoxification coupled with a healthy diet is an essential anti-aging tool.

Signs that a Detoxification Program may be Needed

  • If you have unexplained headaches or back pain
  • If you have joint pain or arthritis
  • If your memory is failing
  • If you are depressed or lack of energy
  • If you have brittle nails and hair
  • If you have abnormal body odor, coated tongue or bad breath
  • If you have an unexplained weight gain
  • If you have psoriasis
  • If you have frequent allergies
  • If you have a history of heavy alcohol use
  • If you have a history of natural and synthetic steroid hormone use
  • If you have had an exposure to cleaning solvents, pesticides, diuretics and certain drugs

Benefits of Detoxification

  • Digestive tract is cleansed of accumulated waste and fermenting bacteria
  • Liver, kidney and blood purification can take place that is not possible during regular eating patterns
  • Mental clarity is enhanced as chemical and food additive overload is reduced
  • Reduced dependency on habit-forming substances such as sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs
  • Stomach size is returned to normal as bad eating habits can be stopped
  • Hormonal system is enhanced which is especially true for growth hormone
  • Immune system is stimulated

Summary

Almost everyone needs detoxification, especially people who have been exposed to poor diet, excessive stress, industrial or environmental toxins. The degree of detoxification varies from person to person. A careful assessment of each individual will determine related symptomatology and detoxification ability to assure a safe and effective protocol.

At the Holistic Naturopathic Center, we utilize a wide variety of individualized detoxification programs to rid the body of toxins though the major detoxification centers of the body, namely the skin, lungs, intestines, kidneys and liver.


Holistic Naturopathic Center

Holistic Medicine, Alternative Medicine, Holistic Health Care, Naturopathy in New Jersey
256 Colfax Avenue Clifton, NJ 07013 P: 973-471-5758 F: 973-471-1776 E: NJnaturaldoc@aol.com

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