Fairfield County Edition

Being Human in a Chemical Age

All of Us Benefit from Cleansing and Rebuilding

What is a detox? What are its benefits? Is it safe? This article will discuss the reasons a detoxification program is a good health strategy and why you should definitely be considering one (and maybe even more) this year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that humans have over 700 toxic chemicals in their bloodstream at any given time. The alarming part of their study was that 100 percent of the participating people were found to be toxic. Toxins have been found to cause and be linked to almost every disease we are experiencing today, from diabetes to cancer and Alzheimer’s to muscle pain.

In 1996, Dr. Horace Liang published “Clinical evaluation of the poisoned patient and toxic syndromes,” which included the top seven symptoms of chronic poisoning. These included fatigue, sleep disturbances, intestinal distress, headaches, allergy symptoms, confusion and anxiety. This list of symptoms will sound familiar to chiropractors, naturopaths and other practitioners as common reasons people first reach out to them to make an appointment.

Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and disease, insomnia, waking up frequently at night, migraines, neck pain, seasonal or food-related allergies, forgetfulness, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, stress, adrenal fatigue, depression, diabetes, cancer, acid reflux, gas, bloating... the list continues. These conditions and symptoms can all be linked to toxins in some way, either directly or indirectly. Many 21st century health problems and their symptoms seem to arise from chronic, and sometimes over many years, poisoning. Should this be a surprise? The answer is sadly no.

Over 54,000,000 registered chemicals are in existence. Nearly 78 percent of them have never been tested for toxicity. Some estimate only 900 have been tested for carcinogenic properties, or cancer-causing properties. The good news is that nutrition researchers have found and documented the ways in which the body detoxifies certain toxins (also known as xenobiotics). Even though many toxins have not been tested, understanding the ones that have allows us to trace respective detoxification pathways needed to support the elimination of these harmful chemicals. The human body detoxifies many toxins through the same pathways, like the cyctochrome P450 enzyme pathways in the liver. We know that when these pathways are supported, detoxification is increased and, in some cases, decreases cancer and disease risk.

If all of this isn’t reason enough to detox, another component of a comprehensive detoxification program is the rebuilding phase. Detoxification is the act of removing toxins from the body but another very important part of a good detox program is increasing organ reserve. It helps improve the health and function of organ, thus improving health and vitality.

In a groundbreaking article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980, Dr. James Fries wrote about organ reserve and what he called “the rectangularization” of the survival curve. When an organ runs out of its back-up stores, it shuts down and dies. Increasing organ reserve during youth and middle age through detoxing and nutrition would decrease time spent on health care at the end of life. Rectangularization to Fries meant that, instead of a steady decline in health—starting at middle age from depleted organ reserves—eventually leading to mortality, people’s health could decline just two to three years before mortality if they could keep their organ reserves fully replenished. Health then drops steeply at the end of life. For most, this is preferred when compared to the bell curve we currently see, health declining slowly beginning in middle age and continuing until the end of life.

A personalized comprehensive detoxification plan will increase organ reserve while also helping the body rid itself of toxins and other harmful substance accumulated through daily living. Detoxification strengthens the body by reestablishing balance. It accomplishes this by providing the body with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes to carry out detoxification and ultimately increase organ reserve. It gives the body what it needs to build up the reserve, all while facilitating the proper and healthy elimination of toxic substances.

Elizabeth Blackburn was a 2009 Nobel Prize winner for the co-discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that helps preserve telomeres. Telomeres are the tips of chromosomes; with each cell division, they get shorter until reaching a critical size when the cell can no longer function properly. At this time in a cell’s life, it enters senescence, a programmed cell death. Hundreds of studies have shown that health strategies like supplements, vitamins, stress reduction, healthy living, exercise and meditation can increase the length of telomeres. We can extrapolate from this that increased telomere length is a way of increasing cellular reserve, thus organ reserve.

A whole new area in healthcare called lifestyle medicine has been created with one of the major tenets being to promote healthy detoxification. One of the best ways to achieve maximum health is through detoxification and increasing organ reserve.

Kurt Waples, owner of Bluestone Health Group in Stamford, is a chiropractor who uses applied kinesiology and clinical or functional nutrition. Connect with him at BluestoneHealthGroup.com, 203-220-6488 or Info@BluestoneHealthGroup.com.

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