Last year senior Monsanto scientist Dan Goldstein attempted to quell fears over the mega company’s chemical pesticide RoundUp poisoning people’s bodies over time. He said, “It is a common misunderstanding that pesticides, in general, accumulate in body fat. While this phenomenon may occur with some older compounds…pesticides that bio-accumulate to any significant degree have been removed from use or are highly restricted.”
But after Reuters reported this week that tests found residues of the active RoundUp herbicide glyphosate in an astounding 41 of 69 honey samples, 10 of 28 samples of soy sauce, three of 18 breast milk samples and six of 40 infant formula samples, Monsanto is singing a different tune.
“According to physicians and other food safety experts, the mere presence of a chemical itself is not a human health hazard. It is the amount, or dose, that matters,” said Monsanto senior toxicologist Kimberly Hodge-Bell.
Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University warns on the GM education web site that glyphosate in human breast milk, which may be 100 times the level thought safe, is far from the only environmental toxin accumulating in the human body.
“Bisphenol A (BPA, a plastic component), PBDEs (used in flame retardants), perchlorate (used in rocket fuel), perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs, used in floor cleaners and non-stick pans), phthalates (used in plastics), polyvinyl chloride (PVC, commonly known as vinyl) and the heavy metals cadmium, lead and mercury” are also found in the human body, especially breast milk, reports the New York Times.
Older chemicals, especially pesticides, also remain in the human body — like DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin, heptachlor, chlordane, Aldrin and Dieldrin. They impair the endocrine, reproductive, circulatory, immune, and central nervous systems.
The truth is Monsanto and its biotech/Big Ag cousins have not just hijacked the food supply and food economy; poisoned plants, animals and the environment; annihilated small and independent farmers, and created genetic drift, resistance and new diseases — they have created alarming new risks to human health too. In addition to their deadly chemicals, studies note Monsanto’s GMOs increase human allergy susceptibility, suppress the immune system and possibly cause autism and cancer. In 2009, a temporary ban on glyphosate was sought in Argentina after a high incidence of birth defects and cancers was reported in people living near crop-spraying areas, as Scientific American reported. And just last month, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer published a report which concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Luckily scientists and clinicians have identified some ways in which these unwanted toxins can be removed or lessened in the body. Perhaps the most overarching way to prevent the build-up of toxins is to pursue a detoxified lifestyle — that is according to Dr. Robert Zieve, an integrative medicine expert and medical director of Partners in Integrative Cancer Therapies, in Prescott, AZ.
“How do we engage in this lifelong process of detoxification? As a foundation, this involves eating healthy food. This means organic, GMO-free food,” he said in an email interview. “Herbs such as cilantro help us to eliminate metals such as lead and mercury,” he said. “Herbs like turmeric and garlic help to lower the levels of inflammation that are often the underlying causes [of chronic diseases.]”
To guard against endocrine disruptors, which can cause hormonal imbalances, osteoporosis and increase cancer risk, Dr. Zieve told Reset he recommends “adaptogenic combination of herbs such as combinations of high quality forms of Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola, and others similar herbs,” as well herbs such as milk thistle and dandelion root, urtica/nettles and cruciferous vegetables.
Colon hydrotherapy, far infrared saunas when used correctly, clay baths and castor oil packs applied to the liver can also be useful, he said.
Philosophically, Dr. Zieve said, “Detoxification is a lifelong process. The body already knows how to do this. We just need to get out of the way and support it in doing what it already knows how to do.”
Reset also caught up with Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Foods to ask her opinion of living toxin-free lifestyle. While Dr. Shanahan confirms that endocrine disrupters like PCBs and DDT can “stay in the body for a long time,” she is not a big fan of supplements or chelation. Even fasting has its limits, she said, and is mostly valuable “for brief periods and only in conjunction with other modalities that optimize metabolism.”
Dr. Shanahan says a healthy, balanced diet “rich in a variety of fresh, ideally organic/biodynamic vegetables with healthy fats, prepared by steaming or fermentation, is your best bet.”
An overall lifestyle change is a great baseline, but there are also some specific plants and natural therapies that can amp up your detoxifying capabilities. While some doctors, like gastroenterologist Nasir Moloo believe the kidneys, liver, lungs and skin of healthy people provide sufficient detoxification without the help of preparations and aids, as he told NBC News, medical literature contains studies that suggest there are indeed specific methods to help your body more efficiently remove toxic byproducts.
Here are 10 detoxifying techniques which have solid science behind them:
1. Indian Gooseberry (also called Phyllanthus emblica Linn and Indian amla)
In studies in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology and Food and Function, the gooseberry/amla, an ingredient in some detox preparations, has been shown to be effective in preventing and lessening the toxic effects on the liver of alcohol, heavy metals (including “iron overload”), medications which can be toxic to the liver, and environmental pathogens or fungi. The “hepatoprotective” actions of gooseberry/amla appear to be “mediated by its free radical scavenging, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and modulation of the xenobiotic detoxification process and lipid metabolism,” says the Food and Function study.
Chlorella, a single-cell green algae belonging to the phylum Chlorophyta plant, has long been thought to have beneficial effects in the human body — whether against inflammation or disease risks. A recent study in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology confirms chlorella’s ability to detoxify heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — carcinogens that are created when dripping meat fat is burned — in the human body. The National Cancer Institute warns against cooking meat over open flames and barbecues because of the dangers of these compounds.
3. Milk Thistle (silymarin)
Milk thistle is a flowering herb in the ragweed family which some studies have shown is effective in helping the liver detoxify from dangerous elements. In the journal Acta medica Hungarica, workers exposed to the industrial toxins toluene and xylene “significantly improved” when given concentrated Milk Thistle (Legalon) compared to untreated workers. The journal, Investigational New Drugs, wrote that silymarin in mice “markedly protects against chemically induced renal cancer and acts plausibly by virtue of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative activities.”
4. Pomegranate Bark (also called Punica granatum, producing Punicalagin/PC)
The bark of the pomegranate fruit exerts detoxification processes according to several scientific studies. “We have demonstrated antioxidant and antigenotoxic properties of Punica granatum,” wrote researchers in the open access journal BioMed Research International. Pomegranates contain ellagic acid which can inhibit the breast cancer-linked enzyme aromatase, an article on About.com about breast cancer says. “Pomegranate bioactives” inhibit the DNA damage done by Benzo[a]pyrene (BP), an extreme carcinogen found in coal tar, report the researchers. Pomegranates also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects according to the Journal of Medicinal Food.
5. Cilantro (also called Coriander)
Several studies have demonstrated that the well-known cooking herb cilantro, also called coriander, can be useful in reducing liver toxicity — called hepatotoxicity — by inhibiting undesirable oxidation processes. A study in the journal Toxicology and Industrial Health for example finds “treatment with coriander leaves and seeds helps in improving the adverse effect… [of] hepatotoxicity” in animals. The Journal of Pharmacy And Bioallied Sciences says cilantro “possesses hepatoprotective activity which may be due to the antioxidant potential of phenolic compounds.”
6. Sulphur-Containing Foods
Foods that contain sulfur, like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale, are valuable for two reasons. Their sulfur releases a substance that activates potent antioxidant and detoxification enzymes according to the Needs.com website. Meanwhile, another substance in such cruciferous plants, indole-3-carbinol, helps deactivate potent estrogen metabolites, which may protect against cancers caused by the hormone-mimicking endocrine disrupters according to the journal, Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. The sulfur-related compound MSM is also useful in detoxification according to some practitioners on the website Food Matters.
For decades, natural clinicians have recommended chelation, the administration of substances like porphine and EDTA, to trap and usher toxic metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury out of the body, according to the web site Livestrong. But chelation’s acceptance in the scientific community has been slow in coming. Recently, a large federally-funded chelation trial, known as TACT, showed positive results and scientists are giving the metal reduction method a second look. A study in Scientific World Journal says in describing how it works that peptides “chelate both essential and toxic elements as they are sequestered, transported, and excreted…enhancing natural chelation detoxification pathways.” A related metal binding therapy uses zeolites, aluminosilicate minerals, that can absorb and catalyze toxins including lead says the journal Biological Trace Element Research.
8. Wolfberry (also called Lycium barbarum polysaccharide, LBP)
Ingredients found in the wolfberry plant called LBP has demonstrated antioxidative, antiaging properties and antitumor activities in scientific studies. A study in the Journal of Drug Design, Development and Therapy says “LBPs protect the liver from injuries due to exposure to toxic chemicals or other insults” and “reduce irradiation — or chemotherapy-induced organ toxicities.” The wolfberry agents are also thought to protect against “neuronal injury,” amyloid-related harm and factors thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, says the article.
9. Intestinal Treatments
Colonic cleansing routines including coffee enemas have been the basis of many natural detoxification methods for years including the Gerson regimen. Though they no longer have medical standing, coffee enemas were found in the doctors’ Merck Manual until the mid 1970s. Suzy Cohen, a.k.a. “America’s Pharmacist™” says coffee enemas “jumpstart your liver and gallbladder” and cause bile to flow. To cleanse the gut, health practitioners also recommend cascara sagrada, burdock root, psyllium husks and other fiber containing plants. An article in Drug Metabolism and Disposition cites the value of activated charcoal in gut cleansing and probiotics to replenish a “microdome“ compromised by toxins.
Clay treatments, taken internally or externally as baths or skin treatments, like the “living, swelling clays” calcium bentonite and montmorillonites, are used in detoxification regimes. An article in the journal Chemosphere speculates that “adsorption on the clay can reduce the extent of the DNA damage caused by heavy metals” such as cadium and mercury.
Dr. Miriam Jang, M.D., says: “I have put a huge number of patients on these clay baths and the levels of heavy metals — mercury, lead, arsenic, aluminum, and cadmium have come down dramatically.” Dr. Jang describes one patient with high levels of mercury whose levels came down after three months of bath treatment, supporting “the theory that mercury is sequestered in different areas of our body and it takes time to get it all out.”
Garp Bralund says
Clay may lead to too high amounts of aluminum in our bodies: Diatomaceous earth on the other hand has got the same chelating properties as clay, without leaking aluminum. More on the topic here: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/mad-as-a-hatter/
But diatomaceous clay has scary amounts of aluminium in it too. How do you know it doesn’t leak it out
Garp Bralund says
I was not aware of the content of alumina (2-4%), and I can’t be sure about how much aluminium that leaks out, if any. Alumina is quite inert, but I wouldn’t know what happens in contact with the stomach acid. As you may know it is an chelating agent, and it is used as an additive to flour. But no guaranties from me.
how to you test the level of heavy metals in the body? There are blood tests/urine tests ?
Blood test by your doctor called a heavy metal panel.