21st August, 2013
Fatigue, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, reproductive disorders, mood swings, recurrent infections, allergies and autoimmune disorders, are just some of the symptoms and conditions you may suffer with, due to an accumulation of environmental and microbial toxins in your body. Toxins are eliminated by the body either by directly neutralising them, or excreting them in the faeces or urine. The liver, kidneys and intestines are the main organs of detoxification. However if these organs are under-functioning and become impaired due to illness, heavy toxic loads, and poor diet, it may be worth looking at ways to support your digestive system and liver function.
A toxin can be described as any compound that has a detrimental effect on cell function and structure.
Toxins can be classified as:
Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and aluminium.
Liver toxicants such as chemicals, alcohol, drugs, solvents, pesticides, and food additives.
Microbial Compounds produced by yeast and bacteria in the gut, toxic amines, and toxic derivatives of bile.
Protein metabolites such as ammonia and urea are toxins that the kidneys are responsible for eliminating .
Heavy metals and liver toxicants can both give rise to a range of psychological and neurological symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, depression, mental confusion and poor coordination (Murray and Pizzorno, 2003).
Microbial compounds have been implicated in psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, allergies, asthma and immune disorders (Murray and Pizzorno, 2003).
Ionising Radiation effects (flying and X-rays), have been shown to contribute to abnormalities of sperm and ova, causing chromosomal damage and foetal malformations such as Down Syndrome (Naish, 2000). According to Naish an international flight or high altitude domestic flight is equivalent to one X-ray through your whole body. Naish suggests Reiishi and shitaki mushrooms, Burdock, Astragalus, Siberian Ginseng and B5 to aid recovery from exposure.
Other factors that contribute to the need to detoxify the body are
Poor dietary choices such as high sugar diets and junk food
Slow gut transit time due to highly processed foods and low fibre
Poor peristaltic function which slows down the elimination of stools
Testing for toxicity
Heavy metals – the most reliable measure is hair mineral analysis.
Toxic chemicals – a detailed case history is essential and possibly blood and fatty tissue analysis. To measure the effects these chemicals have on the liver, a clearance test is useful and can measure compounds such as caffeine and benzoic acid when a specified amount is ingested (Murray and Pizzorno, 2003).
Signs and Symptoms Indicating Poor Liver Function
The following list will also indicate if your liver is functioning under par and needs work to help support detoxification:
Diabetes, gallstones, 10 kilos overweight, psoriasis, a history of heavy alcohol use, anabolic steroids, oestrogens and oral contraceptives, history of viral hepatitis, and high exposure to certain chemicals or drugs such as pesticides, diuretics, antibiotic, NSAID, thyroid hormone (Murray and Pizzorno, 2003).
Why is it important to undergo detoxification in preparation for conception? What dietary, herbal and nutritional steps can be advised to support the body in this process?
Intestinal and liver detoxification should occur four months prior trying to conceive to ensure positive results and to ensure your major organs of elimination are working efficiently. This way accumulated toxins won’t interfere with your hormone levels and health of your reproductive organs.
Having a healthy, functioning body primed with all the required vitamins and minerals to support a pregnant woman, with all the increased demands for iron, calcium, iodine and B vitamins and a growing foetus, is highly desirable to increase your chances of conceiving.
It is important to undergo intestinal detoxification to help reduce the absorption of toxic substances. This is achieved by supporting the barrier function of the bowel, ensuring proper bowel elimination, and destroying harmful pathogens which may adversely impact on the health of the foetus and mother.
According to The Practitioner Guide to Integrated Detoxification by Meatagenics (2004) endotoxins from dysbiosis and excess levels of oestrogen have a dysregulating effect on the Hypothalmic Pituitary Adrenal axis which may result in derangements of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Gonadal axis with subsequent reproductive problems.
Initially if inflammatory conditions are present such as allergies, eczema, psoriasis it may be beneficial to eliminate wheat and dairy from the diet and other known allergens as they may damage the gut wall and cause dysbiosis. Wheat and dairy are the most common offending food allergens (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003).
Fibre is able to bind to toxins in the gut and promote their excretion. Water soluble fibres are best such as a large variety of fruit and vegetables especially apples and pears, guar gum, and psyllium husks. In addition cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage inhibit the carcinogenic effects of chemicals, increase the healing of the gut wall and increase the rate in which the liver changes oestrogen into the water soluble form which can be excreted in the faeces. High fibre reduces the amount of oestrogen able to re-enter the bloodstream, which helps prevent hormonal imbalances.
Probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus increase healthy bacteria in the gut, act as immune system modulators and prevent the colonisation of the gastrointestinal tract by variety of pathogens due to the production of antimicrobial substances such as lactic acid, acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide (Braun & Cohen, 2005).
According to Naish (2000) probiotics will help eliminate the precursors to oxidants which are damaging to a baby’s DNA, proteins and other essential nutrients.
Glutamine acts as fuel for intestinal mucosa and lymphocytes, improves gut immunity by increasing IgA levels, supports gut mucosal growth and promotes healing and bowel rescue (Osiecki, 2002).
Zinc resolves intestinal permeability problems which will aid in the reduction of toxic absorption and is essential for specific and non specific immunity (Braun & Cohen, 2005). It also restricts endogenous free radical production and is a possible scavenger of free radicals (Braun and Cohen, 2005).
I hope this helps those who are interested in detoxing. In the next couple of weeks I will post Part 2 which will include liver detoxification and some general dietary and herbal advice to aid detoxification. If you need more specific advice to help with detoxing or you are suffering from any of the conditions and symptoms I mentioned throughout this article don’t hesitate to call me on Ph 0432 540 996 to book in for a detailed consultation.
Bone, K. 2003 A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs, Churchill Livingstone, USA
Braun, L, & Cohen, M. 2005 Herbs and Natural Supplements An Evidenced Based Guide, Elsevier, Australia
Meatagenics Article Preconception and Pregnancy Care May 2004 Metagenics Product Guide 2005
Naish, F. 1999 The Natural Way To A Better Pregnancy, Transworld Publishers, Australia
Naish, F, & Roberts, J. 2000 The Natural Way To Better Babies, Preconception Health Care for Prospective Parents, Random House, Australia.
Naish, F. 2000 Natural Fertility, Sally Milner Publishing, Australia
Osiecki, H. 2002 The Nutrient Bible, Bio Concepts Publishing, Australia
Pizzorno, J & Murray, M. 1998 Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, USA