Science of Detoxification

Please view our entire April e-newsletter, here.

~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

Environmental contaminants are a significant contributing factor to chronic disease and pain. Science repeatedly links toxins to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, infertility, and cancer. Recent research also clearly links some environmental contaminants with obesity and difficulty losing weight. Though we may regularly choose to reduce our chemical exposure by eating organic food and using safer household cleaners, exposure in today’s world is unavoidable and it’s up to our bodies to successfully detoxify and eliminate these common chemicals. Is your body doing this as efficiently as possible?

Our body is in a constant state of detoxifying and eliminating the wastes it generates through normal metabolic processes. This is a highly evolved and complicated series of chemical reactions that require participation by nearly all body organs. These chemical reactions rely extensively on numerous vitamins and minerals called “cofactors”, such as magnesium, pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (active vitamin B6), and 5MTHF (active folate). When we’re deficient in a cofactor we risk slowing down detoxification pathways, including pathways that are critical for survival. This state has been implicated in many well researched theories of chronic disease, in which the body steals essential nutrients from less vital body processes in order to survive. The consequences of the body’s wise compensation are what we call “symptoms” of various illnesses, including possibly of diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, eczema, and asthma.

Many every day occurrences can cause deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals when experienced over weeks to years. For example, some common drugs taken on a daily basis, including birth control pills, pain medications, and some heart medications, require particular nutrients for liver detoxification each time they’re ingested. The same can be true when regularly exposed to environmental chemicals, including fumes from new household carpeting, occupational exposures, or pesticides on the golf course. Even chronic stress, which forces the body into a different state of metabolism compared to a healthier person, can require substantially more amounts of essential nutrients like magnesium, than can be acquired in a balanced diet.

Detoxification for the prevention of illness is not as simple as store-bought kits that force the bowels to empty. Thorough and medically-guided detoxification requires an understanding of your particular state of metabolism and corresponding nutrient deficiencies. It may include individualized diet plans, supplements, and elimination of toxic exposures in your home and workplace. At best, improperly executed detoxification plans are ineffective and, at worst, are unsafe, particularly for some individuals with pre-existing health conditions. Given the importance of optimal organ function and detoxification for the prevention and treatment of illness, it is worth seeking the guidance of a qualified medical professional.