The prevalence of persistent toxins associated with human activity that accumulates in our food and our environment is a growing concern for the health of our planet and our human bodies. Many of these toxins are extremely difficult for our bodies to eliminate. When our body is unable to eliminate toxins, it does its best to store them away in our tissues. Different toxins tend to accumulate in different tissues – often our fatty tissue, organs, bones or brain. They can create a burden on our organs of elimination and our immune system. When this burden becomes too great many different health concerns may arise, such as: difficulty losing weight, allergies, accelerated aging, hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalance, poor immunity and even cancers.
In 2016 the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice published a study3 that concluded that it is more difficult for adults to maintain and lose weight today than it was 20-30 years ago, despite similar quantities of calories consumed and exercise performed. Yes – the struggle is real, and environmental toxins and a less diverse gut microbiome are thought to play a role. As mentioned above our bodies accumulate certain toxins in our fatty tissue, and if we are unable to properly eliminate those toxins then our body may be resistant to releasing fat, thereby also releasing toxins into our circulation. As a result people may have greater difficulty losing weight to begin with, and this may sometimes be a factor in the dreaded weight loss plateau. As for the poorer diversity of good bacteria in our gut microbiome, clean urban living, antibiotic exposure and the consumption of a narrower variety of foods are thought to be at least partially to blame. Several studies have linked the lack of certain gut bacteria to obesity, but we still know relatively little about the intricacies of the gut microbiome for this knowledge to translate into the development of proven probiotic supplements for weight loss.
There are many measures that we can take to reduce our exposure to at least some toxins, such as2: eating a broad variety of organic foods, using a quality water filter, avoiding storing or heating foods in plastic, avoiding toxic cleaners, air fresheners and scented candles, ensuring that we have regular bowel movements (or otherwise addressing digestive concerns), avoiding artificial sweeteners (e.g. aspartame), and sweating regularly (infrared saunas are especially great for supporting detoxification via sweat). Nevertheless, we cannot avoid all toxins all the time, and addressing toxins that we have already accumulated often requires some additional support. Taking time to actively detoxify at least twice a year may be supportive of our overall health. Naturopathic doctors are knowledgeable in this area, and after a full assessment of an individual’s health history and concerns they can provide guidance on whether you may benefit from detoxification support. This support may come in many different forms, some examples of which are the following:
Glutathione: this is a powerful antioxidant that is found in many different tissues, and especially in the liver and the lungs. Our bodies use it to prepare toxins for elimination, and it may become depleted if we are exposed to certain toxins (it is especially deficient in the lungs of smokers, for example), or if we lack the nutrients we need to replenish it. Some people are also genetically predisposed to a relative deficiency in glutathione. Naturopathic doctors sometimes prescribe nutrients that help the body to produce more glutathione, and it can also be administered intravenously or in a nebulizer for inhalation.
Herbal detox helpers2: there are many herbs that support the function of our organs of elimination (e.g. liver, kidneys), such as milk thistle, schisandra, rosemary, dandelion leaf and root, to name just a few. Not every herb is safe for everyone, so it’s important to seek guidance on the use of herbs before trying them out.
Cellular drainage remedies: these are gentle but powerful liquid remedies that are little known outside of Europe except among naturopathic doctors and homeopaths. Each remedy targets a different tissue, e.g. liver, kidneys, gallbladder, glands, skin etc.
We all have a unique body and different individual needs. Always seek guidance from a healthcare practitioner before implementing any new treatments. If you have questions about detoxification, come speak with one of our knowledgeable naturopathic doctors. Call 250-590-7809 to book your appointment, or book online.
- Crinnion, W. Clean green and lean: get rid of the toxins that make you fat.Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. 2010.
- Jackson, E. et al. Adipose tissue as a site of toxin accumulation.Compr Physiol. 2017 Sep 12; 7(4): 1085–1135.Available at doi: 1002/cphy.c160038. Accessed March 28, 2019.
- Ruth, E. et al. Secular differences in the association between caloric intake, macronutrient intake, and physical activity with obesity. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2016 May-Jun;10(3):359-60. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orcp.2015.08.007. Accessed March 28, 2019.