In Part One, we delved into some of the sources of everyday hidden toxins that may influence patients with chronic illness. This blog post discusses some strategies to 1) eliminate sources of toxins and 2) assist the body in removing toxins that have built up over time.
It’s very important that a patient addresses their concerns carefully with their healthcare team instead of attempting to “detox” without medical advice. If a patient does not control or manage their detoxification carefully and after repair to the necessary organs (particularly the gut, lymphatic system, liver and kidneys) in a particular sequence, more toxins can be unleashed than the body can safely process. 1 A guided stepwise approach is important, and the use of supplements can re-circulate toxins and make the patient sick if the vital organs are not prepared for the process.
Steps To Take To Reduce Exposure To Toxic Load
Perform as assessment of a variety of environments:
- Is my neighborhood clean?
- Are pesticides, insecticides or herbicides sprayed? Am I near chemical plants, sources of radiation or fracking sites?
- Is my home clean?
- Is there mold or water damage? Is there adequate ventilation and cleaning techniques in the bathroom to prevent mold/mildew growth?
- Are candles, air fresheners, dryer sheets or other scented products present?
- If the home is new-ish, is off-gassing of carpets, mattresses and furniture an issue?
- Are pets allowed on furniture (or in the bed)? (This can increase cross-contamination of triggers.)
- Are electronics that emit EMFs (including alarm clocks and cell phones) near the bed? Are laptops or TVs used in bed? Is it possible to turn off the wifi at night?
- Is my vehicle clean?
- Is the vehicle new? (Does it have off-gassing issues, or seat covers that were chemical-treated?)
- Is the vehicle old? (Does it potentially have invisible water damage?)
- Drive with the windows down periodically to reduce exposure to inhaled irritants within the vehicle (presuming that it’s not a scenario involving inhaling car exhaust).
- Avoid inhaling fumes when pumping gas. Consider delegating the task or using a mask and waiting for gas to pump from inside the vehicle.
- Is my workspace clean?
- Is there mold or water damage?
- If in an enclosed room, is there an air purifier?
- Assess lighting and ventilation factors.
- Is the location close to a wireless internet router or other EMF sources?
- Is my diet clean?
- Are groceries organic and free of additives, preservatives and chemicals? Avoid high-fructose corn syrup at all costs!
- Many patients find that elimination of processed foods, artificial sugar, alcohol, preservatives, dairy, gluten/grains, non-organic food sources, or foods that are exceptionally high in terms of histamine content (like cured meat) is helpful.
- Avoid farm-raised fish and fish that is high in mercury content. If you eat meat, go for the grass-fed organic options.
- Focus on energy-giving fruits and vegetables. Consider juicing and/or smoothies. If you can’t afford to buy all organic fruits and vegetables, try to prioritize organic for the “dirty dozen” that are most commonly laden with pesticides.
- Is my air clean?
- Are house plants present? Certain house plants are known for their ability to contribute to cleaner air. Consider going greener in a more literal sense.
- Invest in a HEPA-type air purifier with a carbon filter (or several, depending on the room/living area size). Do not relocate these from previously-contaminated environments. Replace the filter regularly (don’t clean it!)
- Is my water clean?
- Is the tap water filtered? A reverse osmosis or carbon filter may be advised to reduce exposure to heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, water treatment additives, bacteria/viruses and other potential water contaminants.
- Is shower water filtered? A filter to remove chlorine and other chemicals may be helpful.
- Ensure clean water adherence when out of the home. Use glass containers and avoid bottled water/beverages from plastic bottles!
- Are my health and beauty products clean?
- Does deodorant contain aluminum/other chemicals?
- Are feminine hygiene products free of chlorine, dyes, pesticides and other chemicals?
- Is hand soap laden with chemicals?
- Are additional shower, makeup and skin beauty products appropriate? Get out every single product used and do some research, aiming to eliminate and reduce the majority that are synthetic / chemical-based. There are apps that may help with this step.
Additional considerations for toxin prevention
- Is the environment cluttered, dark or unaesthetically pleasing? Living spaces may influence the human body. When clutter is reduced from the home or work environment and when the space is a place that generates peace, some believe that the body may also be better able to detoxify and heal.
- Are natural cleaners present? Consider replacing any chemical-based cleaners with something like lemon juice, probiotic solutions or distilled white vinegar mixed with water instead of traditional cleaners. Seek hypoallergenic latex free gloves and a facial mask for cleaning to minimize contact of irritants with skin pores and the respiratory system. Delegate house-cleaning tasks if possible and leave the house when they are performed. If you must clean, try not to do it all at once.
- Remove shoes before entering home to reduce cross-contamination. Vacuum often and consider delegating this task to other family members. Delegate additional house-cleaning tasks and leave the house when they are done, if possible. Try not to do all of the house cleaning at once and make sure to open windows/increase ventilation with fans.
- Avoid exposure to paint, and if the house needs to be painted, ensure that low or no-VOC paint is used. Consider hardwoods floors and rugs as opposed to carpet. Change the house furnace filter quarterly.
- Is there a designated allergen-friendly space for food preparation? Use color coding for cutting boards, knives, and cooking materials that are specific for the MCAS patient, if needed. Make sure there’s a designated separate sponge as well. Is there a designated allergen-free section of the fridge/freezer? Is there adequate ventilation in the kitchen (fans, windows?)
- Is glass-only food storage (and non-plastic eating/drinking sources) being used? Avoid plastic Tupperware, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc. and avoid re-heating plastic kitchen components in the dishwasher or microwave.
- Are there plastic containers (or bags) holding food or beverages in the fridge? Mesh bags are a good alternative to plastic storage of produce, and glass bottles and containers should replace any plastic kitchenware. Are the bags in the trash can odorless?
- Is dirty laundry stored in a separate area from the bedroom? This may reduce reactivity. Remove dryer sheets and scented detergents from use. Is the dryer filter checked regularly? Do clothes contain fabrics pre-treated with anything? Waterproofing materials (like Goretex) and clothes exposed to bug treatments should be avoided.
- Is bedding hypoallergenic? Also, consider the use of hypoallergenic pillow covers and a hypoallergenic mattress encasement. Is anything made out of memory foam? Memory foam and other special bedding/pillow material may possibly emit toxins. Is the mattress new? It’s likely been treated with a chemical to retard flames and may experience some off-gassing.
Considerations to Facilitate Healing From Built-up Toxins
Disclaimer: The following information is not intended to be medical advice, nor should it be attempted without the assistance of a medical professional.
Basic Detoxification Strategies
- Strategies such as colonic (enema) therapy, massage, beverages that promote liver cleansing (such as lemon water), focusing on certain foods, avoidance of certain products and environmental factors, and “gentle” sweating (with special attention to heat flare-up considerations for patients with MCAS) may be appropriate. Some practitioners recommend specific types of therapies such as infrared sauna or ionic footbaths for detoxification.
- Techniques to enhance lymphatic drainage may also be useful for patients with MCAS. Skin brushing, lymphatic drainage with a trained professional, reflexology, light repetitive physical activity, abdominal lymph-specific hula hoops, and rebounder exercises may assist the lymphatic system.
- Strategies to improve mitochondrial function may assist in detoxification efficiency. Antioxidant and polyphenol-rich foods may boost the mitochondria. Some patients experiment with a high-fat diet, intermittent fasting, cold showers, and high-intensity interval training to support mitochondria, though the jury is still out on the efficacy of some of these strategies.
- For patients with chronic constipation, strategies should be employed to maintain bowel regularity. A foot step-stool may assist in reducing strain while on the toilet. Hydration and specific supplements to maintain regularity should be discussed with one’s medical team.
- Adequate hydration and proper attention to a healing anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant rich diet cannot be emphasized enough. Some patients also finding that juicing and fasting practices can be built into their healing plans to assist with detoxification.
- Regular physical exercise that induces sweating has been shown to improve the body’s ability to detoxify. Breathing exercises that foster engagement of the parasympathetic nervous system (as opposed to the sympathetic, or “fight or flight” system) may also be helpful. Heart rate training may also reduce sympathetic nervous system tone, and exercises to stimulate the Vagus nerve (such as singing and gargling) may enhance the body’s baseline of function.
- Supplement considerations that may assist the body in the detoxification process should be discussed with one’s naturopath and medical team, including
- Binders – substances that may trap toxins to facilitate swifter elimination. Binders generally need to be taken away from medications and other supplements.
- Herbal support of detoxification organs – many food and herb-based remedies exist that may boost the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, lymphatic system, and other important organs of detoxification.
- Enema (colonic) therapy substances – certain things may be added to the liquid used in colonic hydrotherapy to facilitate enhanced detoxification.
- Detoxification strategies should be performed carefully and slowly and short-term flare-ups in symptoms may be expected for patients with MCAS as well as the general population. Massive detoxification reactions should be avoided. A full personalized plan of strategies should be agreed upon with one’s medical team.
Useful Links: Websites to evaluate safety of household products and foods
Safe Foods https://www.ewg.org/key-issues/food
Safe Cleaning Products https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
Safe Air www.scorecard.org
Assessment Tools, Recipes and other resources www.thetoxinsolution.com
- Pizzorno J. The Toxin Solution: How Hidden Poisons in the Air, Water, Food and Products We Use Are Destroying Our Health. Harper Collins. 2017.
This content is Copyright © Mast Cells United and is not intended to diagnose or treat anyone. Always consult your medical professional for any health guidance or advice.