How Do I Know if I am Toxic?
by Mike Bauerschmidt, MD, CCT
I have had many people ask me, “How do I know if I am toxic?” The correct question, however, is, “How toxic am I?” We are surrounded by, quite literally, tens of thousands of chemicals that are in everyday use (80,000 in this country alone by last count). Of the 3,000 “high production” chemicals, less than half have been tested for their effects on human beings. Furthermore, a study done on the cord blood of infants demonstrates that our children are being born with over 200 separate toxic chemicals already in their bloodstream! Many of these chemicals were out of production before the mother was born! So, I think it safe to say that we are literally awash in a sea of chemicals. We can’t tread water, or in this instance toxic soup, indefinitely, so why do we care and what can we do about it?
WHY DO WE CARE?
We are basically a giant, walking, talking biochemistry set. The basic equation that provides us with the energy to walk and talk is the Reduction-Oxidation Equation, ReDox for short. On the Reduction side we have things that can donate an electron: these are commonly called nutrients or antioxidants. On the Oxidative side are things that need an electron, also called free radicals or toxins. Under normal conditions for our body, when the electron is exchanged, we generate our energy molecules. So, the good news is that we are perpetual energy machines as long as we keep a balance of Reducing agents to Oxidizing agents. But what happens when we artificially introduce Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), like chemicals, into the mix?
We have now raised the number of things that need an electron. In short, our oxidative stress has now been artificially increased. This requires us to utilize our nutrients or antioxidants without increasing our energy production. So, we are now using up valuable resources without any benefit. Anybody have a hundred dollar bill they want to just throw on the fire? Increased oxidative stress has been linked to all the diseases of modern man: heart disease, cancer, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, COPD, asthma, allergies, ADHD, the list can go on and on.
I don’t know about you, but I hate wasting energy! Especially when it is going to cause me (notice I did NOT say “might cause me”) problems down the road by shortening my life or putting me in a nursing facility for the last 10 years or so of my life.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are things you can do for yourself and there are things that, as a doctor, I can do to help you. The most important thing you can do is practice the Principle of Avoidance.
Avoid pesticide- and herbicide-laden foods by buying organic as much as possible. If you cannot afford organic, remember that peeling a fruit or vegetable eliminates 100% of pesticides and herbicides. What, you don’t want to peel your strawberries? Well then, rinse them in this easily made solution of:
- 1 Tbsn white vinegar
- 1 Tbsn lemon juice
- 8 oz filtered water
With this mixture you will be removing about 85% of those pesky chemicals. And, by the way, you should equate GMO (genetically modified organisms) with poison.
Avoid the chemicals in your water supply (including pharmaceuticals that people flush down the toilet) by investing in a good water filtration system. There are many on the market that can range from a counter top model for around $240 to a whole house system for several thousand dollars. Just remember, while the pitcher size charcoal filters or the in-line refrigerator systems are better than nothing, they are not going to filter the vast majority of what you are trying to get rid of. Pure spring water delivered to your door in glass bottles is the best way to insure a pure drinking and cooking water supply.
Avoid indoor air pollution. This is actually harder to do than avoiding outdoor air pollution! We have surrounded ourselves with chemicals in the home: plug-in air fresheners, fire retardant laden bedding and furniture, VOC paints, carpeting, carpeting pads, recovered cushions, pressboard in our furniture, stain resistant carpeting, permanent press clothes, dry cleaning, Teflon pans, deodorants, shampoos, antiperspirants, perfumes. The list can continue here as well. Bottom line—get rid of known POPs where you can and invest in a high quality charcoal plus HEPA filter air cleaner. Be sure that when you invest you get one large enough to handle the total cubic feet of the room 3 times an hour. So, if you have a 10x10x10 room you want a 3,000 cf/hour or 50 cf/minute unit.
WHAT YOU MAY NEED HELP WITH
Of course there may be instances when it is useful to know how you will respond to any depuration (cleansing). When I try to help anyone figure out what their total body burden of toxins may be or how they might respond to cleansing, I find a few questions helpful. These questions are designed to get a sense of how your body responds to toxic loads.
The first is your reaction to coffee or caffeine. Do you get jumpy or irritable, or if you have caffeine in the afternoon, do you have trouble sleeping that night?
The second deals with alcohol. In your past or present experience, do you find that 1 or 2 drinks leaves you feeling unusually giddy or hung over the next morning?
Third is a bonus question for women. What has your experience been, if any, on birth control pills? Did you gain weight, feel nauseated or have headaches?
Any answers to these questions which indicate a poor tolerance suggests a problem with how your liver handles the POPs. We all have certain mutations in our genes that may make it difficult for us to adequately “dump the toxins.” These mutations can often be bypassed with the appropriate use of nutritional supplements.
Finally, the $64,000 question: How do you respond to smells?
If you answer this particularly with, I can’t stand them…they give me a headache…I get nauseated…or simply I have to leave the room immediately, you have a serious total body burden of POPs that needs further investigation by a qualified Environmental Physician.
A qualified Environmental Practitioner can offer you a comprehensive program of evaluating your toxic load as well as designing a personal program to help you eliminate the toxins you have accumulated over your lifetime. This may include lymphatic drainage, IV nutrient support, chelation, saunas, colonics, as well as nutritional advice on how you can help your body cleanse itself.
Do you want a life lived to its full potential, free from disease or debilitating illness for as long as possible, or are you willing to take a shot at being a member of the “I got real lucky” club? (You have a better chance at winning Powerball.) The choice is yours.