Toxicity:  Where does it come from?  What can I do about it?

Toxicity: Where does it come from? What can I do about it?

I admit, I'm somewhat "anal" about my diet--primarily organic, very little beef or pork (a lot of fish), absolutely no additives, preservatives, sugar, caffeine, nothing prepared.    While on vacation, though, I threw out all the rules (mostly out of necessity).   

But, eating as the natives eat left me feeling heavy and bloated.  Even returning to my normal routine and diet didn't get rid of that toxic-waste-dump feeling.

WHAT IS TOXICITY?  Toxicity is the degree to which a substance is able to damage an exposed organism. Toxicity can refer to the effect on a whole organism, such as a human or plant, as well as the effect on a substructure of the organism, such as a cell or an organ like the liver.

WHERE DO TOXINS COME FROM?  There are generally three types of toxic entities; chemical, biological, and physical.

  • Chemicals include substances such as lead, chlorine and gas; most medications, and poisons from living things.
  • Biological toxins include those bacteria and viruses that are able to induce disease in living organisms.
  • Physical toxins include things not usually thought of under the heading of "toxic" by many people: direct blows, concussion, sound and vibration, heat and cold, infrared and visible light, radiation as from X-rays and other medical tests, and everyday tension.   

Toxins can have more than one source.  Common mixtures include gasoline, cigarette smoke and industrial waste (smog).

FACTORS INFLUENCING TOXICITY

Toxicity of a substance can be affected by many different factors, such as the pathway of administration (whether the toxin is applied to the skin, ingested, inhaled, injected), the time of exposure (a brief encounter or long term), the number of exposures (a single dose or multiple doses over time), the physical form of the toxin (solid, liquid, gas), the genetic makeup of an individual, an individual's overall health, and many other factors.

Acute exposure:  a single exposure to a toxic substance which may result in severe biological harm or death; acute exposures are usually characterized as lasting no longer than a day.  

Chronic exposure:  continuous exposure to a toxin over an extended period of time, often measured in months or years can cause irreversible side effects.  

HOW DOES ALL THIS AFFECT YOU?  A central concept of toxicology is that effects are dose-dependent; even water can lead to water intoxication when taken in large enough doses, whereas for even a very toxic substance such as snake venom there is a dose below which there is no detectable toxic effect.

We live in an increasingly toxic world--from the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, we are constantly being bombarded with new toxins.  Add in the toxins created from the stress of daily living, from disease processes, from kids, bosses, co-workers, spouses, from cleaning products, treating your yard with pesticides and herbicides, and you can see how quickly toxicity levels can escalate.  Our grandparents, and some of our parents expected to suffer with aches and pains as they aged.  Today, we know that this simply isn’t necessary.  Those aches and pains are generally caused by unacceptable levels of toxicity in the body.   

I have a friend who has lived his life on his own terms, with a philosophy of “Work Hard, Play Hard”.  Now in his sixties, his level of toxicity has started to haunt him.  His colon is full of toxins from living that work-hard-play-hard existence, he’s begun to suffer with headaches, stomach problems, his stamina is reduced, his heart and lungs have been affected—but it’s the sciatic pain that bothers him most. 

This could be any of us unless we take steps to take control. 

HOW DOES THE BODY FLUSH TOXINS?   Our bodies are very good at detoxifying, given the right tools.  Very basically, your skin expels toxins through your pores, your blood stream gathers toxins in the body which are filtered through organs such as the liver and kidneys, the lymphatic system gathers “loose” toxins which are temporarily stored in lymph nodes until processed by the lymphoid organs, the respiratory system expels toxins with every exhalation, and the digestive and urinary systems flush toxins ingested or filtered through the organs. 

HOW DOES MASSAGE AFFECT TOXICITY IN THE BODY?   Massage breaks loose metabolic waste stored in your tissues and, by stimulating the systems your body uses to flush toxins, massage helps speed the flush of accumulated toxins from the body.  Drinking enough water on a daily basis helps enable the flushing processes.  You should be drinking 1 oz. for every two pounds of body weight.  For instance, if you weight 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day. 

HOW DO YOU DETOXIFY?  It doesn’t matter what avenue you choose to help your body detoxify; whether it’s becoming a gym rat (a little sports massage would help there), doing regular cleanses (you should be cleansing twice a year), learning Yoga and meditation, or having regular massage sessions (twice a month is recommended).  Whatever you choose, stick with it.  The effects are cumulative, as are the effects of stress and toxicity. 

How am I feeling now?  After several massages and participating in an herbal cleanse, I’m finally feeling all the benefits of a long vacation. 


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