In a recent edition of the UK television series The Food Hospital, the physician, Dr Pixie McKenna investigated the effectiveness of detoxification products.
Click to watch the report here (3 mins).
Turning to the nutritionist and biochemist, Dr George Grimble of Reading University, he advised that all detoxification diets were effectively 'fad diets' and contained the two time-honoured elements of self-sacrifice (no coffee, alcohol, etc) and purification.
Selecting one particular product, he identified the key ingredient as being magnesium sulphate and any therapeutic effect this product may have had he attributed to a laxative effect.
They then examined a pig's intestines and he pointed out the pancreas, gallbladder, and small intestine which he described as a formidable detoxification plant.
His advice was that there was no need to detoxify the body which 'can look after itself' and that 'detoxification couldn't turn the clock back or rejuvenate'. The report concluded with the admonition 'not to binge' from Dr Grimble and Dr McKenna wrapped up the report up by saying that there was little additional benefit to be gained from detoxification products above and beyond a healthy diet.
They offered absolutely no support for their assertions other than their credibility as highly trained medical health professionals. And we were left in no doubt that they were scientists because they were both wearing white coats and standing in a large technological laboratory.
Admittedly this was a short report, but between them they managed to dispatch the whole concept of the importance of diet and detoxification in just 3 short minutes.
I'm puzzled. Dr Grimble is evidently a nutritionist. And whilst some of what he said was true, it was irrelevant to the topic under discussion and some of what he said was downright misleading.
There was so much wrong with this short segment that I didn't know whether the participants were being deliberately disingenuous, can't see the elephant in the room or whether they genuinely believed what they were saying.
I respond below point-by-point to this short but nonetheless damning indictment of the value of detoxification.
Issue 1: Digestion not detoxification
Dr Grimble didn't address detoxification so much as the processes of digestion. He pointed out the pancreas, small intestine and gallbladder, which admittedly all play a role in breaking down the large molecules found in foodstuffs into smaller molecules that can be absorbed and used by the body.
The contents of the intestines are technically outside the body but are held in close approximation with the lining of this long tube in order that the body can secrete digestive enzymes onto the foods and also absorb nutrients from the foods consumed.
As such, the intestines are one of the biggest portals for the entry of various toxins, microbes and parasites and therefore 75% of the immune system is to be found in and around the intestines.
Issue 2: No mention of the liver or kidneys?
Surely in a segment examining the processes of detoxification the liver and kidneys deserved a mention?
The kidneys act as the major route of excretion for water soluble toxins by filtering 180 litres of fluids out of the blood each day of which 99% is then recovered under hormonal instructions as to what the body needs to retain and what can be excreted.
As such, the kidneys are very vulnerable to water soluble toxins and, according to the work of Murray Vimy et al at the University of Calgary, kidney function can be decreased by half within one month of placement of an amalgam filling as the body excretes the mercurous and metallic salts via the urine.
The liver too is one of the body's most under-rated organs, but your health and wellbeing are intimately tied to the health or otherwise of your liver.
The liver performs at least 500 different functions including producing bile which is then released into the small intestine after eating. The bile serves the dual roles of aiding the digestion of fats and also acting as a route of excretion for fat soluble toxins and particulate matter such as yeasts and parasites.
And many of the toxic chemicals to which our bodies are currently exposed are fat-soluble including PCBs, benzopyrenes, chlorinated pesticides, heavy metals, flame retardants and fluoride and these accumulate in the cell and mitochondrial membranes and the fat deposits of the body.
Fibre in the foods consumed should both aid passage of the intestinal contents and also act to absorb bile and the toxins it contains so that they can be eliminated in the stool. However, for most people eating a high-fat, low-fibre Western diet, these fats and toxins are reabsorbed into the body to steadily accumulate over time.
In addition, all substances absorbed from the intestines are routed directly to the liver which then detoxifies any toxins and apportions any nutrients. When the liver is working efficiently, it can clear 99% of the bacteria and other toxins during the first exposure or 'pass'. However, this ability can decrease dramatically as the liver becomes damaged, leading the body to store the toxins that it cannot detoxify.
The process of detoxification in the liver occurs in two steps. Phase I makes the substances water soluble (and potentially more toxic). And phase II (which is known as conjugation) combines the products of phase I with another molecule which render it harmless and enable it to be excreted from the body in either the bile or urine.
Significant quantities of free radicals are generated during phase I liver detoxification and these can cause damage to the liver cells. If the antioxidants required to mop up these free radicals are lacking or the toxin exposure is high, liver damage will result.
Also, if the nutrients required to process toxins through phase II are lacking then the toxic metabolites of phase I can accumulate and this is thought to be one of the causative factors in tumour formation. People who can process toxins through phase I but then have a sluggish phase II are known as pathological detoxifiers and this can be the root cause of a wide variety of chronic illnesses.
Conditions that have been proven to be linked with a failure to detoxify include inflammatory conditions (Rooney 1990), rheumatoid arthritis (Smith 1985), Parkinson’s disease (Steventon 1990), Alzheimer’s disease (Steventon 1989), cancer (Heerdt et al 1995) and CFS (Racciatti et al 2001).
Inherited differences in the effectiveness of the different detoxification pathways have been shown to account for a five-fold difference between 'healthy' people. This may account in large part for the difference between some who seem to have strong constitutions that appear to take a lot of abuse without adverse effects and those who suffer a lifetime of low grade health.
The body requires a wide variety of vitamins and minerals for the processes of liver detoxification including the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, the minerals selenium, copper, magnesium and zinc and a variety of amino acids. If any of these are lacking then the associated detoxification pathway(s) will become sluggish or blocked.
The processes of detoxification also tend to decrease with age for a variety of reasons including the fact that most people accumulate gallstones with age which block bile flow, the activity of the enzymes involved decreases, the blood flow to the liver may be compromised and the fact that decreasing activity is often combined with an increasingly nutritionally deficient diet.
Issue 3: The sources of toxins
Dr Grimble seemed to assume that all toxins were consumed, but many toxins are either absorbed through the skin, or inhaled. There are 600,000,000 pounds of pollutants pumped into the air every year which we are all collectively inhaling. And women have been shown to apply 168 toxins in 12 personal care products daily on average, while men apply 85 toxins in the 6 products they use every day.
The incidence of Parkinson's disease, for example, correlates almost exactly with areas of high pesticide use. Whether this is through inhalation or absorption through the skin of the pesticides or consumption of the crops produced is less clear.
Pharmaceutical drugs too are a major source of toxins and can be are delivered in inhalers, via skin patches (HRT, nicotine, etc) and injected in addition to being consumed.
Issue 4: The majority of toxins are generated within the body
75% of the toxins the body is required to detoxify are produced internally through:
The processes of normal metabolism which generate breakdown products such as ammonia, urea, uric and oxalic acids.
The creation of energy as ATP in the mitochondria which produces large quantities of free radicals.
The intestinal microflora where inhabitants such as the yeast, Candida albicans are known to produce large quantities of a wide range of noxious toxins including alcohols and aldehydes.
So the vast majority of toxins with which the body has to deal are not consumed in any form.
Issue 5: 'The body can look after itself'
Indeed it can and it has been doing so for millions of years.
But here's the thing: We are not living the lives that even our great grandparents lived with unadulterated foods and a fairly clean environment. Our generation are exposed on a daily basis to the hundreds of thousands of toxins that have been released into the environment, included in our foods and household and personal care products without any meaningful safety testing - many of which are highly synergistic once within the human body.
Extraordinarily enough, the body has processes that are capable of dismantling a vast array of synthetic compounds created in laboratories that it would never have encountered during the course of evolution, but for this it needs serious nutrition. And whilst some of the food may look and taste the same, the nutritional value of our diet is at least half of that of just 50 years ago due to modern farming practices and food processing.
So that what we are seeing is a confluence of a massive overload of toxins combined with a deficiency of the nutrients needed to process them leading to the body steadily accumulating a toxin burden.
Issue 6: No mention of burgeoning toxin levels of synthetic chemicals
In 2004 the US Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted tests on the cord blood of 10 babies. They ran $10,000 worth of tests per sample testing for 413 chemicals. What they found was an average of 287 chemicals per sample. Worryingly, 212 of these chemicals were industrial chemicals that were banned 30 or more years ago.
Click to watch part 1, part 2 and part 3 of EWG: 10 Americans.
The chemicals found are listed below (note that many chemicals have multiple effects and so are listed more than once):
209 chlorinated biphenyls
186 chemicals known to cause infertility
154 hormone disrupting chemicals
151 chemicals associated with birth defects
134 cancer causing chemicals
130 immune system disruptors
76 volatile and semivolatile organic compounds
70 polychlorinated naphthalenes
36 organochlorine pesticides
18 polyaromatic hydrocarbons
17 chlorinated dioxins and furans
3 polybrominated diphenyl ethers
1 tobacco smoke
By definition, these babies had acquired this toxin burden over a the period of just a few short months after their mother's bodies had detoxified many of the chemicals to which they had been exposed. The results of this study are particularly concerning because these toxins are merely the ones that were able to cross the placental barrier and that had been directly tested for.
And also because of the vulnerability of the development of the baby whose blood-brain barrier is not fully formed so that these toxins are able to affect neurological development.
These toxins are thought to account for the massive increases in diverse childhood conditions including malformation of the penis, acute lymphocytic leukaemia, brain cancers, autism and precocious puberty.
Issue 7: No mention of nutrition
Other than a blanket conclusion that we should eat healthily, there was practically no emphasis on the importance of nutrition or the advice as to what to eat in order to obtain all the many vitamins, minerals and cofactors required for detoxification.
Some people's diets contain many more of the nutrients required for detoxification than others and many people have diets that are woefully inadequate leading to multiple nutritional deficiencies. Not only that, but many of their food choices are actually anti-nutrients in that they consume more vitamins and minerals in digestion that they yield leading to chronic deficits. The consumption of foods high in additives also taxes the processes of detoxification and leads to toxicity.
In addition, some foods such as the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts) contain chemical constituents that stimulate liver detoxification and other foods such as grapefruit juice inhibit the processes of detoxification.
Issue 8: 'You can't turn the clock back or rejuvenate'
Allopathic medicine insists that - other than occasional acute mostly accidental exposures - toxicity is not an issue in health. However, it also singularly fails to explain the causation of disease, and the increase in morbidity, birth defects and decreasing fertility with age which are all factors associated with toxicity.
In fact, both ageing and illness are functions of toxicity and whilst allopathic doctors may not witness rejuvenation, naturopaths certainly do!
The images below show wrinkling before detoxification using EDTA and after. As you can see there has been a dramatic 'turning back of the clock'. This is because almost everything we think of an the inevitable consequences of ageing ie: deteriorating hearing, eyesight, stiff joints, achy muscles, poor memory, age spots, etc are the consequence of toxicity.
WRINKLING BEFORE AND AFTER CHELATION THERAPY
In addition, there are tens of thousands of documented cases of recovery from all sorts of conditions with effective detoxification and probably millions more undocumented cases. Refer to the Research page for documentation of recovery from a wide range of conditions with effective mercury detoxification.
Most allopathic doctors will never have seen a cure and when confronted with one either typically show a remarkable lack of curiosity or dismiss it as spontaneous remission, but people practising natural medicine see recoveries every day.
An example of this was a television interview I saw featuring Isobel Lloyd Webber, the daughter of the composer Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. She had suffered with hypothyroidism in her early twenties after her degree and wanted to publicise this overlooked problem.
She had been to see a natural medicine practitioner and had successfully managed to rehabilitate her thyroid gland. The doctor who had been invited on to the programme to comment patently couldn't understand this concept, and dismissed her recovery as 'luck'.
She interrupted him to explain that it hadn't been luck and that she had taken a lot of nutrients including a lot of 'green' supplements and had worked hard at recovery over a period of a couple of years. At which point he reiterated that she had been lucky again and she obviously abandoned her attempt to convince him that such a thing was possible.
Recovery from such conditions is indeed beyond most doctors' experience or comprehension - which is why they dismiss the possibility out of hand. They will never witness it, because they are never addressing the cause and so they think it is not possible which is also why natural medicine practitioners are not allowed to talk about 'cures'.
Issue 9: Increasing stress and trauma
We are also under an unusual amount of stress and pressure to be active and do not take the periods of down-time that are required to restore the body. And traumas - both large and small - also temporarily suspend the processes of detoxification and over time this too leads to an accumulation of toxins.
Remember that emotions, thoughts and relationships can be toxic too and stress is probably the most underrated toxin of them all.
Issue 10: Detoxification products are worthless
I can't speak to all detoxification products and I don't know which products they had selected, but a good detoxification product will provide a balance of the all the nutrients that have been shown to be required in order to detoxify efficiently.
A bit like having got into financial debt, to not only learn to live within your means but also to pay off your credit cards takes a concerted and sustained effort. And so it is with these liver detoxification products. Once you have actually accumulated a significant body burden of toxins, it takes a serious long-term campaign of use to not only maintain daily health and prevent further toxin accumulation but also to clear the toxic debt.
The problem is that most of us are very toxic and it will take more than the occasional half-hearted three day detox to make serious inroads into our condition. Which is why some people - including members of the allopathic medical profession - may conclude that detoxification doesn't work.
The symptoms of toxicity
Symptoms of toxicity include:
Muscle and joint pain
Digestive problems including constipation
Irritability and mood swings
Allergies and chemical sensitivities
Cardiovascular irregularities and
Hormonal problems such as premenstrual syndrome
These are all early warning signs of growing toxicity that will eventually manifest as some diagnosable disease. Allopathic treatment of all these conditions will most likely involve pharmaceutical treatment which does nothing to address the underlying toxicity, instead further burdening the body with toxic chemicals.
I know that the refusal of allopathic medicine to look at the true cause of disease has personally caused me untold suffering and deprived me of the ability to lead a 'normal' life. When I started training as a naturopath I was genuinely shocked - and not a little angry - when I first witnessed people recovering from chronic ailments that allopathic medicine had insisted (and I had believed) were incurable.
Look around you. None of what we are witnessing is 'normal'. The obesity, the depression, the cancer, the childhood disorders. None of this is found in societies where they live according to nature's principles and none of it was found just a generation or two ago in the West.
Now, many of us descend into chronic illness in mid-life such that 60% of the population have at least one chronic illness and from there it is a slow decline into debilitating conditions and an early death. Our babies are being born with a significant toxin burden too which is only set to increase throughout life.
The advice from allopathic medicine is not to try and do anything about this massive toxic overload.
It is perhaps worth remembering that it was those who trusted and obeyed the authorities in the 9/11 disaster and aboard the Titanic that perished. And those that trusted their own instincts and common sense that survived.