Peter de Ruyter, Contributor
The Role of Environmental Toxins in Disease
An ever increasing mountain of research is vindicating that environment toxins do play a major role in our modern ill-health issues. Yet, within medicine, there’s little focus on this aspect to any particular health challenge a person may be presenting with. Instead, medicine’s usual response is to only add to the already heavy toxic burden by solely offering a wide range of chemical solutions to those unwanted symptoms. Mostly, such treatments also only deal with the symptoms themselves, rather than the deeper causes creating those symptoms!
That begs the question as to why orthodox medicine still maintains such a myopic perspective on the hugely negative role toxins do play in our modern lives? One possible reason is the sad reality that far too often an incestuous and dysfunctional relationship exists between governments – supposedly protecting its constituency – and the many large domestic, as well as multinational corporations producing a staggering number of toxic substances and products with little to no governmental oversight or control.
Nowadays, politicians are inevitably and tightly linked to many lobby groups and their significant “donations”. Such lobby groups are equally inevitably sponsored by the type of large corporations mentioned above. This in turn may well explain why there is minimal incentive for politicians to “bite the hand that feeds them”, by instigating the necessary legislation for controlling the many disease-promoting products manufactured by such companies.
To expand on this subject, you might like to read about these concepts and realities in Fagin and Lavelle’s book: Toxic Deception – How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law and Endangers Your Health (Markowitz & Rosner. 2003.)
The Epigenetic Power of Toxins to Enhance the Process of Cancer
In contrast to the medical views about toxins, natural therapists do place a huge emphasis on the role that environment toxins play in creating ill-health. Research has long shown that many of the millions of chemicals we have unleashed upon ourselves, through our buildings, our food, our air, our water… are more often than not having serious and negative impacts on our immune system’s capacity to work at optimal levels – as just one example.
These toxins are a significant part of the epigenetic signaling phenomenon, influencing our genes. In layman’s terms… “these toxins mess with our genes, preventing them from working in a way that maintains health”. In other words, toxins are an important factor that can result in switching off genes that should be on, and switching on genes that should be off. Hence, it’s not so much about the “bad” genes we may have inherited, but has more to do with whether such “bad” genes are kept in a dormant state – or not. For instance, a person may have genes for a certain type of cancer – like breast, prostate, lung, or ovarian cancer – or any other disease for that matter. However, as long as those genes are not triggered into action, so too does that disease remain at bay.
This is what is meant by “epigenetics” – external factors above or beyond the genes, but factors which can have profound effects on the functionality of genes themselves. Hence, epigenetics is about the power of external factors to affect our genes from working positively or negatively. And, toxins are a major trigger in such genetic interplay. Knowing that epigenetics is now a scientifically vindicated reality, makes it even more staggering to realize that so many of the chemicals we use in our daily lives – already known to be carcinogenic – to breast; to bone; to bladder and rectum, nevertheless allowed to remain in our lives by the various authorities that should know better.
For instance, even way back in 2010, research acknowledged that environmental toxins do play a significant role in inducing cancer, and concluded that the degree to which such toxic burdens are involved in carcinogenesis – let alone other health issues – has been hugely underestimated. (10)
This 240 page Report, based on a study done by the US President’s Cancer Panel was released in May 2010. The advice from 45 authorities, drawn from a range of expertise, was to actively reduce exposure from carcinogenic substances, rather than just focusing on early detection of cancer – as important as this may be. Interestingly, the panel also suggested enhanced monitoring of potential carcinogenic effects of mobile phones and wireless technology, as well as the medical use of radiation in both treatment and diagnosis of various health issues.
The Report therefore affirms the need to become better educated about these chemical and electromagnetic toxins, be it the various chemicals found in plastics and pesticides, known to disrupt our endocrine (hormonal) system, or the wide range of radiations we humans now endure on a daily basis from all our electronic gadgetry. There is also the reality that the human body is already known to be loaded with a wide range of chemicals, validated via studies on umbilical cord blood. (36)
Further, this Panel also acknowledges that such toxins are not just those found in our environment, such as chlorine byproducts in water supplies; chemicals used in manufacture, or pesticides in agriculture (it is estimated Americans eat about 25 different pesticides daily through their diet (11) ), but ironically are also coming from medicine itself.
Here, they come in the form of diagnostic or ‘therapeutic’ radiation, with just two examples of the latter being the use of radiation in many people with hyperactive thyroid conditions, or the use of CT Scans – where, depending on the machines used, one chest CT Scan can be equal to about 10-20 X-ray mammograms! (41) That’s a lot of radiation in the name of obtaining a diagnosis – and radiation effects are cumulative; they don’t ‘wear off’.
Let’s do a more detailed exploration of just some of the toxic sources and exposures that inundate our daily lives:
- Homes and offices – (out-gassing from carpets & furnishings, lacquers, sealants; room deodorizers; anti-cockroach/ants/flies/fleas/mosquito sprays, or other surface chemicals; toxic cleaning agents, etc.)
- Outdoor environments – (pollution via air & water; pesticide and weedicide chemicals used in our gardens, parks, golf courses, bowling greens, etc.)
- From our foods – (pesticide & weedicide residues in our foods & drinks, let alone all the preservatives, colorings, gelling agents, humectants, flavorings and other chemicals added to our foods. Then there is the fluoride and chlorine in our water – the latter two known to negatively affect our thyroid gland function, as they compete with iodine, etc.)
- Medically – (the massive amounts of chemical drugs a large majority of Western people are routinely prescribed; diagnostic procedures (CT Scans/X-rays/Dyes – the latter being definitely chemical, and often radioactive), dental amalgams (these leach mercury, a particularly lethal substance even in small doses)… and so much more.
- Then there is the issue of a person’s past history of infections, and their treatments – we tend to forget that illness itself, let alone the treatment for those illnesses – such as heavy amounts of antibiotics – can result in damage to our mitochondria, liver or kidneys, as well as creating ecologic havoc within our gut flora. The latter in turn results in such problems as fungal infections [Candida], or other ‘bad’ bugs taking over within the gut (e.g. E. coli)
- EMF pollution – this is another form of toxicity – (still heavily denied by the various industries supplying our electronic gadgetry and its infrastructure) – that nevertheless bombards us on a daily basis within our modern societies… and is getting worse by the month, as ever increasing numbers of mobile devices; internal Wi-Fi stations, as well as external “repeater towers” keep popping up everywhere.
Many of the above factors, by weakening our Lifeforce (also known as Chi or Prana), will inevitably result in a destabilized immune system. Such vulnerable immunity can subsequently cause us to fall prey to more colds and flus each year, or other infections. Yet, each time this occurs, it usually leads to more prescriptions for antibiotics, which in turn cause more gut ecological mayhem… and so the vicious cycle continues.
Hence, from a more naturopathic perspective, when helping the body to better deal with ill-health, there is a major focus on detoxifying the system via a wide range of techniques. Another important aspect to such detoxification is to provide the body – and especially the liver – with the nutrients it needs in order to break down various toxins we ingest and accumulate in our bodies.
For instance, in order to allow the liver’s Phase I detox pathways to function at optimal levels of efficiency, we need to have adequate and constant supplies of Vit. E and C, as well as Glutathione. To enhance the liver’s Phase II detox pathways, we need sufficient amounts of nutrients such as Glycine, Glutathione, Cysteine, Taurine, B6, Folate, B12, Glutamine, Methionine, etc.
None of this is rocket-science – most of this is information which is already long known by medicine; simply not applied!
Is There Anything We Can Do About All This Toxicity?
So, what’s to be done about the tsunamis of toxins we allow ourselves to be exposed to on a daily basis? The reality is that unless you choose to remove yourself entirely from modern society, you don’t have any choice about whether toxins are a part of your life or not.
Samples taken from around the world validate that the entire globe is now polluted, even down to the Poles. Hence, there is no longer anywhere to escape to. However, you do still have a choice in regard to becoming more aware of this modern toxicity issue, and then, using that knowledge, to make more constructive choices about how you create or engage with various toxic environments – be they external or internal environments – thereby at least limiting your exposure to toxins.
You can also choose to do several therapeutic things that can either limit the amount of damage done by those toxins to your system, or you can do even relatively simple things to help your body better eliminate at least some of those toxins from your body.
For instance, you can choose to do a complete review of what you eat on a daily basis, and then eliminating – as much as you can – all those foods that have been processed or modified in some way. This will definitely start limiting the amount of toxic exposure in your daily life!
Replacing such processed foods with real food; food grown on organically fertilized soils, and not exposed to a wide range of agricultural chemicals, will hugely increase the supply of nutrients you’ll need for your liver and kidney to more efficiently detox all these poisons from your system.
Even This Simplistic Herbal Detox Remedy Can Make a Difference
Just about every reasonably stocked health food store will have the following 3 herbs:
- Red clover flowering tops (Trifolium pratense)
- Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) – unroasted !!! (the roasting process makes for a good coffee alternative, but destroys the active ingredients)
- Burdock root (Arctium lappa)
These very common, cheap, safe and effective herbs cover a range of areas in our bodies, inevitably involved with processing toxins, namely, the:
- Immune system
But, What if I Can’t Buy These Herbs in My Country?
The Red clover, Dandelion root and Burdock root are usually the best and easiest detox herbs to find in local stores. However, alternative detox herbs include:
- Echinacea – (E. purpurea or angustifolia)
- Clivers – (Galium aparine)
- Chickweed – (Stellaria media)
- Fenugreek – (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
- Sarsaparilla – (Smilax officinalis)
Nevertheless, the strong suggestion is to stay with the original 3 recommendations, and only use one or more of the other suggestions to replace what you are not able to obtain locally.
How To Blend The Chosen Herbs Into a Simple, Herbal Detox Tea
Once you have bought the first 3 herbs mentioned, in a dried format, then measure out equal portions of each (per volume, rather than weight).
The Dandelion and Burdock will come as small, hard bits of dried root, while the Red clover will come as fluffy flowers. It is important to first break those Red clover flowers down to a smaller size by rubbing them between your palms – but beware you don’t stick yourself with any sharp bits!
Once that has been done, now blend equal portions of each herb together in a large bowl or glass jar. This becomes your “Herbal Detox Blend”, and should be stored in a glass jar, in a dark, cool cupboard – never in the fridge!
How To Brew The Herbs
To make the detox tea itself, is as simple as making a normal cuppa tea!
- Use 1 generous teaspoon of the “Herbal Detox Blend” per cup of boiling water.
- Make 2-6 cups’ worth at a time, in a porcelain, glass or stainless steel teapot – never aluminium!!
- Let stand overnight, or at least a good 6-8 hours – which allows for all the “goodies” to be drawn out of the herb bits
- Next morning, stir the pot; strain off the amount desired, and then briefly reheat that amount of tea – but never in a microwave! (nukes the “goodies” to smithereens!)
- After straining off a dose, what’s left in the teapot can now be stored in the fridge – (remember, never the dried herbs, but the liquid tea, yes)
- The tea will stay good for up to 3-4 days, stored this way in the fridge – once it has had the initial overnight, or 6-8 hrs of steeping
- The full dose is eventually 1 cup twice daily – before, during or after food.
Some Hints to Ensure a Gentle Detox
- Firstly, understand that there are no “standard” doses, simply because I’ve yet to meet a “standard” person! Everyone is different, and nowhere is this more important to keep in mind than when trying to rid your body of what are often extremely toxic chemicals
- Hence, always start on just a small dose, once daily – say, 1⁄4 cup, or even less – at least initially
- Do that dose for a few days, and if all seems comfortable within your body – (please see below [###], outlining what a “detox reaction” looks and feels like) – then you can start slowly increasing the dose, till you get to 1 full cup twice daily
- Initially, re-heating just 1⁄4 cup’s worth of strained tea is a bit hard! So, all you need to do is to strain off the 1⁄4, 1⁄2, or 3⁄4 cup’s worth, and then simply add some boiling water to fill the entire cup. The tea doesn’t need to be piping hot; just warmed.
- Once you get to a full cups’ worth of the tea, then it does need to be heated in a non-
aluminium pan, on the stove-top – (again; not in a microwave!!)
- The tea will taste relatively bland, but if you really can’t handle the taste, then you can add a touch of good quality honey
How Often Should I Detox?
Initially, do at least a good 4-6 weeks of drinking this tea on a daily basis. Once you’ve found yourself able to manage that part of the simplified detox program, then you could consider doing 2-3 weeks of using something like this “Herbal Detox Blend”, every 2-3 months. You can of course also do it for longer, such as taking just 1 cup daily for 5-6 months at a time, after which take a break for a couple of months, and then repeat that particular cycle.
Is That All There Is To Detoxing?
Well… not quite! However, it is a good start, using a relatively simple program, and very safe herbs. Keep in mind that surviving in today’s toxic world is a bit like trying to manage a bank account, from which to pay all your bills. To ensure that there is enough in such an account to pay for the auto-payment deductions, it is also important to ensure that the debits and credits into that account are such that – overall – the account is never allowed to fall into any long-term, or significant debit status.
Metaphorically, and in a flip-sense, so too with the toxin status in our bodies. Here, we are aiming to keep our toxin account in a deficiency, or debit status. In other words, the levels of “toxins in” versus “toxins out” needs to favour keeping the overall “toxic account” levels as low as possible! And, frequent bouts of detoxing can help in this regard.
Hydration & Nutrition
To help the body eliminate the toxins more efficiently, make sure you are having at least 2 L of filtered, or other good quality water daily – and noooo…. unfortunately, tap water in most parts of the Western world is not good quality water at all; it’s full of all sorts of chemical nasties! Precisely the sort of crud you’re trying to remove from your body!
If drinking this amount of water is a challenge for you, try adding to each litre of water a dash of good quality apple cider vinegar (not from supermarkets!); a dash of lemon or lime juice (fresh!), or a pinch of natural sea salt (Celtic or Himalayan Salt). Do not use the “usual” salts available from supermarkets! There’s a massive difference between “regular” salt sold in most supermarkets and similar outlets, compared to genuinely natural, unprocessed, raw salt.
These additions will slightly alter the taste of the water, making it more palatable. Additionally, it also changes what’s called the “osmotic pressure” of the water. This simply means the water is now better able to get inside your cells, thereby truly hydrating your entire body, rather than just making it more water-logged – or edematous (which happens when water accumulates around and outside cells – the extra-cellular matrix).
Equally, ensure that your nutrient status is as optimal as possible – via a combination of good, organic foods, as well as using a range of high quality nutritional supplements – which will also enhance your body’s ability to deal with toxins.
Firstly, we need to recognize and accept that:
- we are living in extraordinarily toxic times
- there is virtually nowhere left on this planet of ours that has not been touched by toxins – even to a minor degree
- and that these toxins absolutely do have a profoundly negative impact on our ability to live healthy lives.
Accepting this, our modern day reality, we then need to start to learn where all those toxins specifically come from within our lives, and using that knowledge, start making choices to minimize such exposures. Having done that, we can then use a range of detox methods – with the simple herbal tea described above being just one of them.
Equally, we can explore our present lifestyle choices – what we eat and drink; what chemicals we choose to use around the house and garden; in our personal care products; what “recreational/relaxation” choices we might make (alcohol, cigarettes – even eCigarettes! – rec-drugs, etc.) – and then start making more nutritious and less toxic choices.
Without radically changing the multitude of ways in which we, as a species, presently have chosen to live our collective lives, a “perfect solution” to our modern toxicity dilemma would be hard to come by.
Nevertheless, the ideas explored in this article should at least offer you a more empowered platform from which to live with a greater sense of health and well-being, despite living in these extraordinarily toxic times. Until, we as a species, make the challenging but critical changes to how we have chosen to toxify our lives, via all our supposedly wonderful inventions and technology – chemical or electromagnetic – then, aiming for “harm minimization” rather than finding a “perfect solution” may be the more viable approach for now.
Although the detox tea discussed in this article is remarkably safe, nevertheless, it is still possible to detox too fast by using too large a dose too soon. Such excessive detoxing is unlikely to be dangerous – unless you are extraordinarily weak and ill – but can certainly be uncomfortable, possibly causing:
strong body, stool and urine odor
aching glands in neck/groin/underarms; etc.
irritability or moodiness
If these occur after starting the detox tea, then this can also be a sign that you do indeed have a lot of toxins on-board; are stirring up too much too soon, and hence need to cut back on the dose – or frequency of dose. This is important, because, experiencing such detox symptoms also means you are forcing your body into a too rapid detox mode, beyond what it can comfortably handle.
Think of a room which has not been dusted or cleaned for the last 30-60 years. Yes, you could open all the doors and windows, and start to use your brooms and dusters in a very vigorously manner, but all you’re likely to accomplish is to mobilize all the accumulated dust out of its nooks and crannies… and into the air! In turn, this will only cause you to sneeze and cough and choke on all that dust you’ve suddenly released from where it had lain all those years.
Far better to slowly and methodically start the cleaning process, while also using things like damp cloths to ensure the dust has minimal chance of being stirred up into the air. Although it may take a bit longer this way, ultimately, it will still allow you to end up with a clean room, but with far less discomfort created for yourself in the process. So too, you’ll find the above analogy to be very apt when you attempt to “clean your body”!
5) Townsend Letter.Nov.’94.136.p.1213-1214
6) Townsend Letter.Nov.’01.220.p.20
7) Townsend Letter.Oct.135.p.1128
8) International J. of Alternative & Complementary Med. Jan.’96.14.(1).9
9) Townsend Letter.Oct.’93.123.p.1027-1032
10) Townsend Letter.Aug/Sept.’11.337.338.p.60
36) Environmental Working Group. July 14. 2005. Body burden – the pollution in newborns: A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood.
41) Townsend Letter.June.’01.215.p.148
About the Author
Peter de Ruyter is a Registered Nurse who has worked in Pathology. This provided a comprehensive experience in a multitude of orthodox diagnostic procedures. This background produced an excellent base from which to enter the Naturopathic arena. It was during the latter years of his Nursing career that Peter became increasingly interested in Alternative or Complementary approaches to true healing. This desire lead him to undertake courses in Reiki, Homeopathy, Iridology, Bach Flower Therapy, Tissue Salt Therapy, Diet, Massage and finally to major in Medical Herbalism, in a Diploma Course conducted by the renowned herbalist, Denis Stewart, at the Southern Cross Herbal College, Australia. Over his three decades and more of consulting with thousands of clients, Peter has accrued a vast amount of knowledge and expertise in a wide range of holistic health and wellness-related fields. Check out his website,Holistic-Hypothyroidism-Solutions.com.