Article written by Dr Katya Mishanina
Toxin use in our world has risen astronomically over the last 200 years.
There are over 80,000 chemicals used today. Many of them have not been tested, yet are widespread in our environment and in our bodies. Rather than acute toxicity, here we talk about the toxic load we accumulate from long-term exposure to low-grade toxicity of our world.
How do they affect us?
- act as endocrine disruptors and affect our hormonal balance
- contribute to the inflammatory state of the body and alter the immune function
- interfere and damage DNA and modify gene expression
- damage cell membranes so they don’t respond properly
- increase pollen sensitivity
- and alter many other processes and functions!
Why are some people more sensitive?
There is an assumed effect threshold for each toxin. In reality, it is dependent on susceptibility. Susceptibility is determined by total load, sensitivity and the body’s ability to handle toxins. Overloading of detoxification and elimination routes with medications or alcohol can contribute to the problem.
When are you most susceptible?
The body is most susceptible to toxins during periods of fast development – pregnancy and puberty.
What are the common sources of toxins?
Some examples include:
- External air – chemicals from industrial processes, waste incinerators
- Internal air - outgassing from new carpets, furniture, paints, glues
- Food – colourants, additives, pesticides
- Water – micro plastics, chlorine, hormones
- Personal care products – heavy metals, phthalates
- Travel and recreation – pesticides and herbicides on the lawns, frequent air travel
- Dysbiotic gut – mycotoxins
Is it possible to test what is one’s toxic load?
Some people choose to test their toxic load. A number of private laboratories offer tests, ranging from hair to urine and stool tests. Tests vary in their purpose. Some look at heavy metal accumulation, some at non-organic toxic chemicals, others at mycotoxins from the gut dysbiosis. A careful history is needed prior to advising on which tests may be suitable for an individual.
Two things you can do about your toxic load:
Although it is impossible to completely eliminate our exposure to toxins, this is a great start:
1. Minimise your exposure to the toxins
- External air – avoid living next to toxic waste, industrial facilities.
- Internal air - choose ‘greener’ alternatives when renovating the house, avoid air fresheners, ventilate the rooms regularly, use minimal ingredient, fragrance free cleaning products for your home.
- Food – avoid processed foods, alcohol, buy organic
- Water – get a good quality water filter
- Personal care products – use minimal ingredient, fragrance free, natural products
- Dysbiotic gut – review your gut function and diet with a professional if you experience symptoms
2. Help your body to eliminate the toxins
- Sweat! Through exercise and saunas.
- Optimise your diet and gut function.
- Fasting may be beneficial for some but the type of fasting has to be chosen individually.
Do you need supplements?
Some people choose to take supplements. The recommendations would differ depending on the individual case after taking a careful history and possibly further testing.
What about psychological and social factors?
When looking at toxicity from the whole person point of view, it is important to think about toxic unresolved emotions, toxic relationships and activities.
For example, frequent suppression (anger-in) and frequent expression (anger-out) of angry emotion have each been associated with a wide range of health complications, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, musculoskeletal problems and pain disorders.
Cumulative Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), especially in the first 3 years of life, have profound and lasting negative effects on physical health, brain development, and mental health. The ACE studies demonstrated that early life intra-familial adversities (such maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence and parental mental health and substance abuse problems) on later-in-life risk-taking, unhealthy lifestyles, and disease. Good news is that as adults we can examine our adverse experiences as children and process the difficult emotions we might have locked away because we were to young to handle them.
Toxic marriages also pose health risks not just related to injury but because of other causes of illness (e.g. sleep disturbance, depression, eating disorders).
It is therefore very important to look at unresolved emotions and toxic relationships when addressing the toxic load.
We use a combination of nutritional, lifestyle, homeopathic and herbal interventions to support the patient with their symptoms and to address the underlying problem whenever possible. Please follow this link to read more about our approach
Who shall I see?
Currently Dr Katya Mishanina, Dr Patricia Ridsdale and Dr David Owen see patients wishing to discuss toxic load and ways to manage it. Request an appointment.
After your initial consultation, we recommend that you have regular check ups to monitor your symptoms.
Depending on your needs, your care may be shared with other practitioners at the natural practice or elsewhere. Whenever you permit us, we will write to your GP to ensure they are aware of our recommendations and follow up arrangements.
- Environmental working group website. It is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. You are able to find more information about the chemicals in the current products you use and lists of safer alternatives for sun creams, personal care and cleaning products
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) website
- Documentary “Our chemical lives” 2015 by ABC catalyst (Endorsed by NIEHS)
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