The American Medical Association estimates that 80,000 to 100,000 people will die unnecessarily every decade because of our government’s failure to respond quickly enough to the harsh EPA rollbacks that occurred during the Trump administration. Things are getting better but not quickly enough.
For example, just a few days ago The Guardian uncovered documents about the pesticide industry’s efforts to hide the toxic effects of the herbicide Paraquat when it was found to cause Parkinson’s Disease. During the years Paraquat was owned by the Swiss company, Sygenta, the policy was to “Deny Everything!”. When Sygenta sold it to Chevron, they suggested that customers avoid exposure because the product was indeed toxic (one teaspoonful taken orally will kill you in 30 days), but to this day they deny that it causes Parkinson’s. In the meantime, Paraquat is banned in the European Union, the UK and China even though it is manufactured there and shipped to the U.S., where Parkinson’s Disease has been on the rise for the past four decades. Farmers still literally bathe in the mist and we are bringing it home into our corn and soybean products.
So, if we talk a lot about chemicals found in our food, in our air, and in our water, we also wonder what we can do. The total number of chemicals is mind boggling: we intentionally add 2,500 chemicals to our food as additives, preservatives, and coloring agents. These are the “GRAS” chemicals (“Generally Recognized as Safe”). But then, 12,000 more chemicals find their way into our food supply by processing, packaging, pesticide residues, and medications given to animals. Over 700 chemicals have been found in drinking water, and don’t even ask about air, especially in urban areas and near factories, or what we inhale from our furniture, auto fumes, sprayed herbicides and pesticides, plastics, treated wood, and formaldehyde in everything from flooring to pillows to mouthwash to furniture polish. In addition, we’re seeing more problems with naturally occurring toxins, like mold biotoxins–people getting sick from water damaged buildings.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome
A most interesting phenomenon, is why some people get quite ill (“Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome”) and others don’t notice anything. What we don’t know, of course, is if this symptom-free group might suffer shortened life expectancies because they aren’t getting any warning signs of daily symptoms.
The irony about all this is how the medical profession may do a lot of hand wringing about environmental pollution of air, water and food, but there’s actually very little progress in how this affects patients. If you’ve been feeling chronically ill and have been told “your tests are negative”, have you ever been tested for your accumulated environmental pollution or your accumulated food additives? These tests are available, unfortunately not covered by your insurance (but not expensive considering your health is at stake). Anyway, if you ask your doctor, you’ll probably be told some variation of “we don’t know what to do with the results anyway”.
This is because conventional doctors are taught virtually nothing about detoxification. However, Functional Medicine Practitioners know a lot about pollution exposure, testing, and detox.
Some people are certainly affected more than others. Some get disabling chronic illnesses, others nothing at all. This leads to a real mess among genuine victims who are disbelieved by doctors, coworkers and family members. Physicians can be especially hard hearted, insisting the victim is “just depressed” or “seeking financial reimbursement”.
The reason for this disparity is an increasingly recognized genetic susceptibility in detoxification pathways. Every doctor, with a lick of common sense, knows that Patient A will do just fine on one medication and Patient B will suffer nausea, mental confusion or even failure of major organs like the liver or kidney. Tests are also available to uncover these susceptibilities.
An increasing number of patients have been found who start out with sensitivities to one or more relatively innocuous substances but get more and more sensitive with the passage of time, adding newer chemicals and more intense reactions. This is termed the “spreading effect” of the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (a/k/a Environmental Illness Syndrome).
Symptoms of environmental illness (EI) and multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) can affect any and every organ in the body. The most common symptoms are neurological (fatigue, lethargy, headaches, insomnia, brain fog, blurred vision), musculoskeletal (muscle aches, joint pain), gastrointestinal (nausea, vomiting), heart/lung (chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing), ENT (sore throat, hoarseness), dermatologic (rashes, flushing, dry skin), and immunologic (increased susceptibility to viruses, swollen lymph nodes, candida).
Functional Medicine Tests
Here are some Functional Medicine tests we use in the process of diagnosing and treating EI and MCS:
- Genova Labs (examines your genetic susceptibilities),
- Vibrant Wellness Additives (your body’s levels of 57 food additives),
- Great Plains Lab Tox Profile (levels of 172 common chemical pollutants),
- Doctors Data Oxidative Damage Assay (measures environmental damage).
If you’ve never done any detoxification, especially if you live in a city or suburban area, or even a rural one where pesticides and herbicides are popular, I suggest a rapid detox using infusions of glutathione and phosphatidyl choline followed by oral versions of these twice daily for three months.
Reduce Indoor Pollution
Here are 17 immediate steps for everyone to reduce indoor air pollution:
1. Avoid smoking indoors (quitting smoking is the best answer for overall health),
2. Use craft supplies in well-ventilated areas,
3. Make sure your gas stove is well-ventilated,
4. Minimize clutter,
5. Remove carpeting if possible,
6. Use a dehumidifier and/or air conditioner to reduce moisture,
7. Keep trash covered,
8. Remove shoes at the door,
9. Have car emissions tested regularly,
10. Minimize air freshener use,
11. Test your home for radon,
12. Use carbon monoxide detectors,
13. Fix water leaks to prevent mold growth,
14. Dust surfaces and vacuum frequently,
15. Wash bedding weekly in hot water,
16. Make sure exhaust fans are functioning in your bathrooms and kitchen,
17. No more scented candles.
Once you’ve completed your first Detox, it’s important to do Maintenance Personal Detoxification. Read this excellent article from HealthLine on the immediate steps you can take. Most interesting–there is really no specific “detox eating program” (except of course to buy ‘organic’ and avoid all foods with additive, chemicals, etc.) to eliminate your current toxic load. Your body can get rid of most of them, (a) if you don’t keep adding more and more toxins, (b) you provide support to your natural organs of detoxification.
There are really just two extremely useful maintenance supplements to facilitate detox, so don’t go buying a lot of stuff you’ll never take. First being, Detoxication Factors (Integrative Therapeutics), two capsules twice a day for one month if your lab tests show a large toxic load, then reduce to one, twice a day. As a city dweller myself, I have been taking Detoxification Factors for years. Second, take Liposomal Glutathione, one teaspoonful daily.
Also, since you should be taking a good antioxidant already, just rotate them monthly (Green Tea Extract, UBQH, Lycopene, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Ultra Resveratrol). But you knew this already. When you are working on a personal detoxification, you’re basically strengthening your own detox systems, especially liver and gut.
You can schedule ten infusions of ozone followed by a “push” of glutathione and phosphatidyl choline over a period of 6-8 weeks at our Clybourn location. It might also do you well to meet with our nutritionist, once you’ve met with a functional medicine provider and had testing, to review what you are eating and learn about what you should be eating.
David Edelberg, MD