Eliminating Avoidable Toxins
by Jini Patel Thompson
Imagine your typical day: You get up in the morning and brush your teeth with toothpaste. Then you have a shower; you use shower gel or soap, shampoo, conditioner and shaving cream. After you've dried yourself off, you apply moisturizer to your skin, makeup to your face and perhaps some hair gel, mousse or hairspray. A final spritz of perfume or cologne, an application of deodorant, and you're ready for breakfast. You have your usual breakfast of cereal with milk and grab an apple for the road. You're feeling pretty good and refreshed, you're clean, you smell nice and you've just kicked off your metabolism for the day with a nutritious and healthy breakfast. Well, that's one way of looking at it. What you're probably not aware of is the phenomenal amount of toxins you've just absorbed or ingested in your body within your first hour of waking.
The skin is the body's largest organ and it is very efficient at absorbing and transporting to the blood and cells whatever it comes into contact with. Barbara Griggs, the author of "Green Pharmacy: The History and Evolution of Western Herbal Medicine" (Healing Arts Press, Rochester, 1991) tells this story of healing via poultices applied to the skin:
"This hot aromatic poultice of stimulating and antiseptic herbs very probably did the trick - and reminds us that until only very recently, poultices and foot-baths were very common ways of applying medicine, not just because of their local heating or counter-irritant value, but because their virtues are absorbed through the skin. Mustard foot-baths - piping hot - have always been a popular remedy for coughs, colds and chestiness in my family - a folk-remedy of hundreds of years' standing which we have always found highly effective. Research by the German firm Madaus has recently revealed a rationale for this treatment: mustard seeds contain a powerful antibiotic, which is absorbed directly through the particularly sensitive skin of the feet" (pg.92-93).
When you realize how very efficient the skin is at absorbing and integrating into the body anything it comes into contact with, you might also want to take a second look at exactly what elements you're introducing to your body via your skin. Every single product that you've used during your sample morning outlined above likely contains toxic and carcinogenic elements - from your toothpaste to your deodorant. In addition, many of the products available in North America contain chemicals that have been completely banned in numerous other countries. It's beyond the scope of this article to go into exactly what each of these chemicals are and which products they're found in, but rest assured if you didn't buy all your toiletry products from a reputable health pharmacy, you're likely absorbing toxic and carcinogenic elements from every single product you use.
Then there's the supposedly healthy breakfast you ate. But what about the secondary hormones, antibiotics, and pesticide residues in the milk? Your cereal packet was likely sprayed with BHA or BHT: "Researchers report that BHA in the diet of pregnant mice results in brain enzyme changes in their offspring including a 50 percent decreased activity in brain cholinesterase, which is responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses. BHA and BHT also affect the animal's sleep, levels of aggression and weight." (Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, by The Burton Goldberg Group, pg. 169)
Maybe you sweetened your cereal with Aspartame, which is banned in numerous countries and has the longest list of complaints the FDA has ever received. Then there are the pesticide residues found in the cereal itself and also on and in your apple. Your supposedly "normal" morning routine is beginning to look like a toxic nightmare. We have to wonder why childhood cancer rates are up several hundred percent from the 1970's. What exactly is causing all these auto-immune diseases like lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn's, multiple sclerosis, etc? And why is it that the incidence rate of cancer in America is now 1 in 3? Could it be that between our diet, environmental pollutants, household cleansers, cookware, toiletries, water supply, synthetic materials, building materials and other supposedly "normal" elements, we are slowly and synergistically poisoning ourselves?
"The EPA does not have a scientifically acceptable method for determining the risk for multiple chemical exposure. Yet when scientists have done studies on multiple chemical exposure, it seems quite clear that the chemicals act synergistically. In one 1976 study, a scientific team used three chemicals on a group of rats. The chemicals were tested one at a time on the rats without ill-effect. When the scientists gave the rats two at a time, a decline in health was noted. When the rats were given all three chemicals at once, they all died within two weeks." (Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, by The Burton Goldberg Group, pg. 168)
There are currently over four hundred pesticides and two thousand food additives that have been approved for use in America. Over 69 million Americans live in regions that exceed smog standards and most drinking water contains over seven hundred chemicals. As many as ten thousand chemicals enter our bodies in the form of solvents, emulsifiers and preservatives used in food processing and storage. What on earth makes us think our bodies can withstand such a chemically saturated environment without breaking down? And where do we go from here, how do we progress from feeling depressed and overwhelmed by our current toxin load to a healthier, less toxic state of being?
If you already suffer from a serious or chronic illness, it would be well worth your time to do some research on various methods of detoxification. There are many books and articles available on detoxification therapy, or a visit to your naturopathic physician could give you an overview of what's available. If you're not currently ill and more interested in preventive maintenance, a periodic cleansing diet or juice or water fast should serve to rejuvenate your body and prevent disease.
Dr. Leon Chaitow ND, DO of London, England says, "A body with a healthy immune system, efficient organs of elimination and detoxification, and a sound circulatory and nervous system can handle a great deal of toxicity. But if they have been damaged from chronic exposure to environmental pollutants, restoring these functions, organs, and systems can be accomplished only through detoxification therapies, including fasting, chelation, and nutritional, herbal, and homeopathic methods, which accelerate the body's own natural cleansing processes. These therapies will dominate medical thinking in the years ahead." (Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, by The Burton Goldberg Group, pg. 157)
You can also start becoming aware and simply take notice of the number of chemicals you're ingesting, absorbing or otherwise exposing your body to. Start reading the labels on products you buy, the food you eat, and toiletries you use. Fortunately, there are non-toxic, environmentally-friendly versions available of nearly every product or food you currently use. Start shopping at organic food stores and health pharmacies. You can eliminate a tremendous amount of daily toxins simply by changing your personal hygiene, household cleaning and dietary habits. Yes, it's more expensive, but would you rather pay the price with your health or your pocketbook? Eliminating the avoidable toxins from your lifestyle and diet will relieve a great deal of stress from your body; leaving it free to use its energy to process the unavoidable toxins and pollutants in our environment.
© Jini Patel Thompson
Jini Patel Thompson was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 1986. She has remained drug and surgery-free for over a decade by using natural healing and treatment methods. She is the author of the recently published Listen To Your Gut: Natural Healing & Dealing with Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Irritable Bowel Syndrome.