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Easing Our Toxic Burden


Natural practitioners offer the steps—before, during and after cleansing—to restore health and well-being.

According to Walter J. Crinnion, ND, new studies are released constantly about the high level of toxicants present in the air. For example, he noted that recent reports have shown that if a pregnant woman is living in areas of high vehicular exhaust (especially diesel trucks), she can double her chances of giving birth to an autistic child. These same air pollutants also cause diabetes in mice.

“Other studies have shown that the amount of plasticizers in our urine is directly linked to our belt size. Further, bisphenol A (BPA, mostly from eating canned foods) has recently been linked to female infertility,” he said. “These studies just keep on coming, typically faster than one can really keep up.”

And Dr. Crinnion knows a thing or two about toxic burden. An educator, lecturer and author of Clean, Green and Lean, he’s devoted his career to the treatment of those with allergies and treating chronic health problems caused by environmental chemical overload.

“What we really need is cleansing or depuration, the removal of toxic compounds and their metabolites (the result of detoxification) from the body,” he stressed. “As the total load of environmental toxicants continues to increase day by day, the need to reduce our load through cleansing also increases.”

While Dr. Crinnion noted that the need for this removal remains high—critical in many cases—it is only surpassed by the growing recognition of that need by the general population.

A point with which Michael Shalhoub, DC, author of The Truth About Detox, agrees. “We know that the world is becoming more toxic by the day and this is becoming common knowledge,” he said. “People have access to the information as to the toxic levels of our environment as well as having access to the information regarding the benefit of getting these things out of their bodies. Varied sources offer diverse opinions regarding health and nutrition as it relates to toxicity. This causes motivated individuals to do their own homework, which is ultimately a good thing.”

It is this increased awareness and selfresearch that led the chiropractor and consultant to pen The Truth About Detox. According to Dr. Shalhoub, the influx of new cleansing products has caused a great deal of confusion, making practitioners’ roles even more important. “It gives people a simple explanation as to what is needed and why. People are beginning to understand that nature needs no help, just no interference, or ‘Nature Uninterrupted,’” he said. “As we remove the interference to the expression of life, our immune system has a chance to work at 100 percent again. The most effective and efficient approach to health is to maximize health, and the first step in doing that is to remove the interference.”


The first step of true cleansing, which is rarely done, is to reduce the intake of environmental toxicants, according to Dr. Crinnion. “This means taking steps to make the air inside of one’s residence as clean as possible by using high-quality pleated air filters for the furnace and getting a high-quality air purifier as well,” he said, noting that high-quality purifiers include both HEPA and charcoal filters.

Brenda Watson, founder of Florida-based Advanced Naturals and co-author of The Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps with Leonard Smith, MD, agreed with Dr. Crinnion. “Eliminating toxins from your home and workplace is extremely important. It’s best to use natural cleaning products when possible or you can make your own (I have several ‘recipes’ for household cleaners in The Detox Strategy using only natural ingredients),” she said. “Beyond the chemicals in household items, [help educate your patients] about chemicals in cosmetics and foods, and they’ll naturally make smarter choices about their exposure to chemicals.”

On the topic of food, Dr. Crinnion pointed out that by avoiding the “dirty dozen” (the 12 most toxic fruits and vegetables, an annual list designated by the Environmental Working Group), “one can reduce the level of their circulating toxicants by 50 to 80 percent,” he said.

From there, he suggested practitioners advise their patients to:

• Avoid farmed fish (except for tilapia) and the high mercury fish (tuna, halibut, Chilean Sea bass, etc.)

• Eat as many greens as possible—especially members of the brassica family

• Eat brown rice, or take a daily rice bran fiber

• Follow the basic concepts of an alkaline diet

• Avoid sugar, red meat and white flour products

• Drink green tea daily

Further, Katrina Wilhelm, ND, medical director of Professional Complementary Health Formulas in Oregon, cautioned that hydration is an important and overlooked foundation before a patient begins a cleansing program.

“If a consumer initiates a detox but remains dehydrated, harmful compounds are mobilized from storage only to circulate in the body, reigniting inflammatory responses. The toxins are then returned to storage, rather than being excreted,” she explained. “Proper hydration coupled with nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory dietary choices will aid any attempt to cleanse the body of unwanted compounds.”

Cleansing Programs

Dr. Shalhoub recommended that all patients start with a liver gallbladder flush, as this is the linchpin for our internal environment. “Your body’s alkalinity is dependent upon your bile and any congestion in that system will make the effects of a detox very shortlived,” he said. “Additionally, liver function is key in any detox effort as so many of the circulating poisons must be broken down via the liver. Denatured estrogens, lactic acid, etc., all need to be cleared from the blood stream as quickly as possible in order to maximize the detox effort.”

The product Dr. Shalhoub recommends most for his patients is the 7 Day Liver Detox from California-based CEV. After the 7 Day Liver Detox, there are two straw packs to consume, one after lunch and one after dinner, which Dr. Shalhoub sees as the key to the positive results his patients are experiencing. “Patients report increased energy, improved metabolism and an almost euphoric experience as they return to the level of health and well being they were designed to live in. A major reason is the two-a-day Trio straw packs contain a sixstrain probiotic, prebiotics, 10 plant-based digestive enzymes, and highly alkaline supergreens with vitamins and minerals,” he said. “This is the most complete formula I have seen in my 30 years.”

According to Advanced Naturals’ Watson, who founded the only line of professional supplements specializing in digestive care and cleansing at the request of the practitioner audience, to achieve the very best cleansing results, in addition to cleaning up the home, workplace, lifestyle and diet where possible, people should first complete a general totalbody cleanse, then a microbial cleanse and then an enhanced targeted cleanse. Advanced Naturals’ most popular general total-body cleanse is CleanseMAX, which is a 30-day, two-part, herbal internal cleanse. Following that is its ParaMax and YeastMax, which are both seven-day programs, and then LiverMax, which is a 30-day program.

“To complete this process thoroughly, it takes more than two months, which may test the patience of some patients,” Watson admits. To that end, the company has developed Total Body Detox, a 14-day program, and Total Body RAPID Detox, a seven-day program. “Both should likely be followed by a microbial and targeted detox, but our clients have reported great progress using these products alone. In other words, the impatient can make great progress in only seven days.”

For more than a quarter-century, Professional Complementary Health Formulas has been committed to advancing the use of natural medicines, which Dr. Wilhelm said are most effective when used under the guidance of a trained practitioner. Accordingly, its full range of therapeutic agents is exclusive to professional practitioners for use with their patients.

“Proper detoxification begins with understanding the body’s regulatory mechanisms and assisting or strengthening those mechanisms in very specific ways,” said Dr. Wilhelm, explaining that at the outset, it may be necessary to relieve a patient’s symptoms or enhance mitochondrial function. Detoxifying also causes stress on the body and may result in temporary worsening of symptoms, so it may be necessary to strengthen a patient’s system in advance to prepare it for the resulting stress. “It is critical to enhance or support the body’s natural methods of excretion via the kidneys, liver, blood, lungs, lymph, skin and digestive tract; Once these pathways are open, the immune system is mobilized to draw out the toxic compounds. Finally, after detoxification, the patient’s previously stressed systems should be restored and re-strengthened.”

Essential detox products from Professional Complementary Health Formulas include Dglucarate, which supplies 250 mg of complexed calcium D-glucarate with 100 mg of Curcuma longa per capsule; and High Potency Omega Plus, which supplies 360 mg EPA, 240 mg DHA, 500 IU D3 and 50 mcg K2. “Together these products facilitate mobilization and elimination while protecting the tissues exposed to environmental contaminants,” said Dr. Wilhelm.

In his practice, Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, and Lac, founder of California-based EcoNugenics, Inc., said he frequently sees people with multiple persistent symptoms such as fatigue, digestive problems, suppressed immunity and chronic pain, which aren’t responding to conventional therapies. “A gentle detox program, alone or combined with other therapies, can often reduce symptoms dramatically or entirely.”

The programs Dr. Eliaz recommends to his patients can last from three to 21 days, or longer with modifications to complement long-lasting lifestyle interventions. While coupled with a nutrient-dense, cleansing diet foundation, his top recommendation is EcoNugenics PectaClear, a clinically researched blend of modified citrus pectin (MCP) derived from the pith of citrus peels blended with low viscosity alginates derived from seaweed and kelp. This formula, as well as MCP alone, has been shown in published clinical studies1 to remove heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium from the body without effecting essential minerals. Further, according to Dr. Eliaz, these ingredients are also shown to reduce the absorption and lower body burden of radioactive particles and environmental toxins.

“Regular pectin is digestible and is not absorbed into the body systemically,” Dr. Eliaz explained. “MCP is modified to a specific molecular structure to allow absorption into the bloodstream and bioactivity throughout the body. MCP binds to heavy metals and toxins and allows the body to safely excrete them, without affecting levels of essential Minerals as harsh chelation agents such as DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) do.”

In addition, EcoNugenics offers Detox Complete, which Dr. Eliaz describes as a more in-depth detox formula containing vitamin C, calcium, zinc, selenium, N-acetylcysteine, alpha lipoic acid, dandelion, milk thistle, garlic, cilantro, L-carnitine, gingko, astragalus, Oregon grape root, goldenrod flower, Chinese salvia and other botanicals and nutrients.

“These ingredients work synergistically to support the release of toxins from organs and tissues; support the body’s natural detoxification systems such as liver, kidneys, skin, digestion and lungs; support vital energy; reduce inflammation and increase immune activity— all important functions for overall health and especially during detoxification,” he said.

An Ongoing Process

Preparing a patient for what he or she will face during a cleansing program is important, but helping them to implement the appropriate changes is imperative to keeping them on the road to better health. For example, while diet is certainly the foundation of a successful detox program, as Dr. Eliaz noted, it can be modified after the program is completed, to continue offering long-term support.

Dr. Shalhoub offered that an important lifestyle change to recommend to patients is moderate exercise. “I am often asked what the best exercise is and the answer is whatever you enjoy because that’s all you will do anyhow,” he said. “Walking is great, exercise in the pool is great and, if you are in good enough shape, jumping rope is excellent. But the bottom line is it has to be something that you enjoy.”

Further, mind-body relaxation methods such as meditation, yoga, even “laughter therapy” can “support detox by allowing for the release of afflictive thoughts and emotions, which are shown to fuel inflammation and chronic illness,” said Dr. Eliaz.

And while the cleansing process and the changes that stem from it should be ongoing for the patient, learning to provide the best care for patients is a continual process for practitioners, according to Monica Leibacher, BS.ED, LMT, CST, an aromatherapist And licensed massage therapist practicing at Rosewood Holistic Health in Celebration, FL. She expressed that it’s important that practitioners and therapists get additional training in the services that they offer. “Simply reading an article is not always the best training. Getting the treatments yourself is not only good research, but in receiving the treatment, one learns a lot of do’s and don’ts for administering it,” she said, noting that she’s happy to tell her new clients who ask if she gets massages, that she does every week.

In conclusion, with the intake of more chemicals into the body, the need for detoxification will only continue to rise. One question that Leibacher gets asked pretty regularly is, “If I do this for a while will I be all cleaned out inside and finished?” “I respond by saying, ‘Only if you stop breathing!’”


1 Eliaz I, Weil E, Wilk B. Integrative medicine and the role of modified citrus pectin/alginates in heavy metal chelation and detoxification—five case reports. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Dec;14(6):358-64.

A Hands-On Approach

Monica Leibacher, BS.ED, LMT, CST, an aromatherapist and licensed massage therapist practicing at Rosewood Holistic Health in Celebration, FL, said that an often-overlooked detoxification strategy is the message. “The effleurage strokes used in massage are wonderful for moving toxins that may have become stagnant in the soft tissue through the system and out of the body,” she explained.

Beyond massage, craniosacral therapy is a specific type of bodywork that has shown great promise over the years for helping the body move toxins, in particular heavy metals, out of the system.

“Heavy metals have a propensity to reside along the spine and in the brain, and craniosacral therapy is a light touch manipulation of the craniosacral system,” said Leibacher, noting that children who have been diagnosed with autism or others who have reason for a high concentration of heavy metals, environmental exposures, etc., do very well with this treatment. “Clients benefit most when they experience sessions closer together rather than far apart because the treatments—just like any type of bodywork—build up in the system so to speak. When a system is first healing, treatments need to be consistent and frequent because they are supporting the healing taking place. As the client moves into the healing process, treatments can be adjusted to the need at that time.”

While Leibacher has seen that the traditional, Western side of medicine does not always give much credence to the act of detoxing—“They don’t think it will affect much”—she attests that a dietary adjustment and detoxification bath regime can change blood work results.

At Rosewood Holistic Health, the ionic detox footbath is a core therapy. “It is a 40-minute foot soak in water with a pinch of salt and transformer ionizing the water and facilitating toxin release thought the soaking feet,” Leibacher explained, noting that footbaths should not be done more frequently than every other day.

Further, she will give her clients Epsom salts infused with essential oils that they can take home and put in their bath that night. “I am a huge proponent of a good old Epsom salt bath,” she said. “Not only is it relaxing, but it is highly effective for detoxing the body.”

When it comes to detoxing, oregano essential oil is very good for anti microbial, fungal, cleaning, etc. Beyond that, Leibacher cautioned that different oils have affinities for different areas of the body and knowing a little more history is important to providing good information.

Healthy Take Aways

. By avoiding the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” most toxic fruits and vegetables, one can reduce the level of their circulating toxicants by 50 to 80 percent.

. Hydration is an important and overlooked foundation before a patient begins a cleansing program.

. Craniosacral therapy has shown great promise for helping the body to move toxins, in particular heavy metals, out of the system.

. Mind-body relaxation methods can support detox by allowing for the release of afflictive thoughts and emotions, which are shown to fuel inflammation and chronic illness.


. Advanced Naturals, (800) 690-9988, www.advancednaturals.com

. CEV, www.cevhealth.com

. EcoNugenics, Inc., (707) 521-3370, www.econugenics.com

. Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org

. Professional Complementary Health Formulas, (800) 952-2219, www.professionalformulas.com

. Rosewood Holistic Health, (407) 566-8852, www.rosewoodmassage.com