Do You Need A Detox? Assessing Your Toxic Load
We are all living in an exceedingly toxic world.
Every day we are exposed to literally hundreds of chemicals, many of which have the potential to affect our health negatively. Toxic chemical exposures have been linked to various chronic health conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, infertility, mood disorders, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, memory impairment, and cancer.
While avoidance is always the best, escaping exposure is nearly impossible.
This constant exposure is resulting in an ever-increasing body burden or toxic load of chemicals. Some toxins, such as smoking and plastics, are rather obvious, but others are lurking in our food, water, and skin care products.
The Centers for Disease Control began monitoring human exposure to chemicals in 1976. Unfortunately, no one knows how many chemicals are in use today. The EPA has more than 85,000 chemicals listed on its inventory of substances that fall under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). A more recent study published in Environmental Science & Technology in February 2020 estimated that the total number of chemicals in the global market may exceed 350,000 – nearly 2.5 times the upper range of previous estimates. This is an alarming global problem. Sadly, very few of these are regulated by the EPA. They are lurking in our food, water supply, personal care products, and air. Despite studies that have noted up to 287 chemicals found in umbilical cord blood and over 300 toxins in average adults, we are fighting a losing battle.
So how do you know if your health concerns are related to a heavy toxic burden?
Functional Medicine practitioners approach each patient with toxicity concerns through an individual assessment. Two tools used for evaluation include the MSQ (Multiple Symptom Questionnaire) and the Toxin Exposure Questionnaire. The MSQ is a useful tool to assess baseline status and monitor progress. The higher your symptom score, the more severe your medical condition. Symptoms can include unexplained fatigue, sluggish elimination, skin irritation, allergies, bloating, fluid retention, and mental confusion.
The test is then scored to assess a degree of impairment that can be monitored over time.
- 20 or less is not clinically significant
- 20 to 49 indicates mild toxicity
- 50 to 99 indicates moderate toxicity
- 100 and above indicates severe toxicity
MSQ Scores give information about the body systems involved in the disease and how badly they are affected. This helps the providers prioritize critical systems when planning the healing process. The Toxin Exposure Questionnaire explores potential areas of toxin exposure, including food, water, home and work environment, and medical and personal care products. Patterns and potential toxic exposures are identified and evaluated to ensure a comprehensive strategy to ultimately reduce those exposures and promote detoxification through appropriate biological pathways.
Fortunately, our bodies have been designed with many systems which help to support the detoxification process.
Understanding toxicity and taking practical steps to improve biotransformation are essential to improving your health and well-being. Detoxification practices have been part of many cultures around the world for centuries. These practices involve resting, cleansing, and nourishing the body. More personalized treatments may include lifestyle modifications, elimination diets, and focused nutritional support that reduces the toxic load. By removing and eliminating toxins, fueling your body with wholesome nutrient-rich food, and detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimal health.
The liver plays the primary role in detoxification by processing these toxins for elimination.
The body utilizes the kidney, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, lymphatic system, and skin. Supporting all of the systems is vital in reducing the total toxic burden. Reducing your exposure is foundational to the process as well. This can include eliminating alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, refined sugars, saturated fats, and inflammatory foods. A detoxification process will also look to minimize using chemical-based cleaners and personal healthcare products. Stress management is also vital to a detoxification process.
The long-term goal is to maintain optimal health by limiting your toxic exposure as best as possible while at the same time supporting your body’s organ systems to do their job. We welcome you to take the attached questionnaires to assess your potential toxic exposures and establish a baseline symptom score. If you find that you score highly on these, it would be prudent time to consider a focused detoxification process.