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Detox 101: The Solution to Pollution is Dilution

by Michael Cheikin, MD

Organic foods and caution with vaccines are examples of how we try to decrease the input of toxins into our body. But what about the toxins that have already got in, or continue to sneak in? The concept of "detoxification" requires learning some chemistry regarding how our bodies outputs toxins, not always a favorite form of entertainment.
The only choice we have as individuals is to deal with our toxins directly by detoxification, or indirectly by "managing" the medical conditions that are caused or exacerbated by toxicity.

The Dose Makes the Poison
Toxins poison various processes in our body. They either prevent the production of necessary compounds (cyanide prevents the release of oxygen), or cause the accumulation of other compounds that eventually crowd out or overwhelm other systems. For example, in Alzheimer's Dementia, there is an accumulation of "tau proteins" which eventually kill brain cells.
The body also makes toxins (endo-toxins) during its normal processes. For example, alcohol is not toxic itself, but one of the intermediates that the body makes to eliminate the alcohol is highly toxic. If the liver is not working well, or the person takes too much Tylenol, then this compound can accumulate, killing the liver.
Each toxin has a limit of tolerance within the body.  Even water can be toxic if too much is consumed. Certain toxins such as nuclear waste are toxic at minute amounts and can persist for tens of thousands of years.

Oil and Water Don't Mix; Nor Do Their Toxins
Toxins fall into two categories: water-based and fat-based. Water-based toxins are relatively easy to remove through urine, feces and sweat. Fat-based toxins are processed by attaching them to chemicals called emulsifiers that enable them to mix temporarily with water. Soap is an example of an emulsifier that we use to remove fatty substances from our frying pans and clothes. Bile serves a similar purpose in the body. Constipation is a toxic situation because the bile is re-circulated rather than eliminated.
Many of our plastics, pesticides and industrial compounds are based on petroleum, an oily substance. Heavy metals such as lead and mercury are naturally occurring and water-based but we are releasing excessive amounts into the environment. 

The Solution to Pollution is Dilution
The obvious and natural approach to dealing with toxins is keeping them dilute. When we began dumping toxic wastes into the earth, ocean or air, the hope was that by diluting these substances they would be less toxic. However, the planet, and our bodies, can only handle so much. Certain compounds are toxic at very low doses, and continue to accumulate as the earth's population increases with its demand for modern products and even plane flight.
The body (and the planet) have never seen many of these compounds, or these levels over the 3.5 billion years of evolution, and therefore mechanisms to eliminate these compounds are limited or don't exist. Once they get in they can't get out. "Bio-accumulation" not only occurs in an individual, it occurs as smaller organisms are eaten by larger ones. This is why tuna, a large fish, is more toxic than sardine, a small fish. "Body burden" is the total collection of toxins, some of which are deep in our bones (lead), brains (lead and mercury), fat (petro-chemicals), and which is hard to measure from the surface. 
Some of the fatty toxins that the body can't eliminate are stored in fat, not much different from our landfills and nuclear waste depots. As the load increases, to keep it dilute, the body increases its capacity--by increasing fat. We all know people who eat only 1000 calories a day and burn 400 of them with exercise and don't drop a quarter pound. This is in part because the body's wisdom doesn't want to release the stored toxins. This phenomenon is supported by research and throws a big wrench on the "diet and exercise" model of weight gain and loss. Many people get sick when they lose weight for this reason.

The Cocktail Effect
The cocktail effect refers to the fact that the compounds we accumulate synergize in ways we can't know. Even fetuses and newborns have a proven load of toxins. Approval of these compounds is based on testing single compounds on lab animals. There is no research that can measure the effect of accumulation of hundreds of these compounds over decades, and how they synergize. For example, lead and mercury when present together magnify each other's toxic effect by more than ten times.
Just as there is a negative cocktail effect, there is a positive one as well: by combining good sleep with good nutrition, balanced exercise, love, laughter, connection and sense of purpose, we can begin to detoxify. 

Despair or Encouragement
Watch the news nowadays and try not to despair. However, as individuals, families and communities we can begin to clean ourselves. As we feel better, physically and emotionally, we validate these principles and gain the knowledge and energy to help others. In order to detoxify safely, before beginning, it is best to assess the toxic load and the deficiencies of minerals and other nutrients necessary to escort the toxins out. Working with an experienced practitioner is often required to strategize a plan and interpret the body's responses. Detoxification can be challenging but is it is our best and only choice.

1. This educational material may not be used to influence medical care without supervision by a licensed practitioner. 
2. These contents are ©2015 by Michael Cheikin MD and may not be reproduced in any form without express written permission.
3. . Cheikin's website has related articles and references such as “Anti-Nutrients”, “Seeing the Obvious” and others.

Michael Cheikin MD is a holistic physician, Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation ("Physiatry"), Pain Management, Spinal Cord Medicine and Electrodiagnostic Medicine and licensed in Medical Acupuncture. Dr. Cheikin has extensively studied yoga, diet and metabolism, Ayurvedic, Chinese and energy medicine and other alternative modalities for over 30 years. He specializes in obscure, chronic and severe problems that have not responded satisfactorily to other methods of healing.   www.cheikin.com                          

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