Although our organization is focused on healing from mold, it has been my experience that the detox strategies used to heal from mold are extremely useful in reducing all forms of toxins and toxicants from the body.
JW Biava – ImmunoLytics CEO
Perhaps one of the finest perks of my work has been having access to many health care professionals from whom I have been able to glean suggestions and best practices that can be applied to my own health quest. This journey to healing has included the testing and tweaking of many detoxification strategies over the years. In this post, I offer my own health history as well as the detox strategies that have worked for me in an effort to help our customers and their families speed their own recoveries.
A History of Environmental Exposures
When I was 13 years old, I began working in my family’s environmental laboratory company as a way to be able to purchase my Grandfather’s old BMW. Although I can now look back and remember toxic mold exposures prior to this point, this is where I really began filling my “toxic bucket” with numerous exposures to chemicals, metals, biologics, and even radiation. Much of my work included continuous exposure to chemicals including Dichloromethane, Hexane, Benzene, Xylene, Freon 113, Ethyl Ether, Carbon Disulfide, Acetone, Acetonitrile, Toluene, Pentane, Methanol, Phenol, and consistently at least 200 others at lower levels. As a contractor for the Department of Energy (DOE), our lab analyzed decades worth of waste generated by our National Laboratories, which resulted in exposure to hundreds of unknown substances. As the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) for our organization, I was exposed to mainly gamma radiation, with some beta, in the receipt and screening of DOE samples, as well as through performing facility and personnel monitoring, laboratory analyses, and waste disposal activities. While my profession created an unusually high toxic burden to my body, many of us are exposed daily to environmental toxins in our workplaces and our homes. These ongoing, unrelenting exposures threaten long-term health and quality of life.
Toxic Exposure’s Burden to the Body
Around the time I turned 25, these toxic exposures resulted in significant health effects. Some of the symptoms resulted from my history of exposures in our lab and others were immediate reactions to acute events. For instance, I performed mold inspections on homes (yes, finding the source of mold in your home) that, while they were well taken care of, were loaded with mold. These types of exposures resulted in a sequence of symptoms that featured immediate heart palpitations, then flu-like illness, with a sinus infection following 5-7 days later, and a respiratory infection occurring between 7 and 10 days after the exposure. One large Stachybotrys exposure took me nearly 6 months to recover from. Ultimately, my ever-increasing sensitivities to mold resulted in my having to give up property inspections and onsite consultations to reduce these health threatening exposures.
As time went on, the chronic health effects included cyst-like fat deposits that I was told were my body’s mechanism of grabbing and storing some of the toxins/toxicants, constant allergies even on medication, weight gain, nearly constant mild headaches, a highly compromised immune system allowing me to catch on average 6 viruses per year, chronic fatigue, reduced cognitive function, decreased oxygen levels, strong reactions to fragrances and many chemicals (especially nail polish removers and adhesives) and eventually numbness on the left side of my face.
I spent years tracking various health “markers” via blood and urine testing, such as CRP, IgG, IgE, MMP-9, mycotoxins, IL-5, IL-13, etc., but found that my symptoms told me more than the testing could (and was far cheaper). The following detoxification strategies are derived from my own trial and error as I determined what worked best for me and my symptoms. While they are, admittedly, lacking in quantitative data, I have personally tried each one and found it to offer some level of benefit. While detoxing, my symptoms would include exhaustion and mild headaches. If the detox occurred at a more rapid pace, the side effects were much more severe, including feeling extremely ill and experiencing neuropathy (numbness and/or tingling) that would disappear 2 to 3 days after ending the detox. On the positive side, after a detox was complete and the symptoms subsided, I enjoyed increased energy, vastly improved clearness and efficiency in thinking, and improved sleep.
My Recommended Detox Protocol
While I gladly share my personal experience with detox, I also highly recommend reading the book “Toxic: Heal Your Body from Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and Chronic Environmental Illness” by Dr. Neil Nathan for a look at the broader picture of the health problems caused by toxins in our environment and ways to support the body for increased well-being. If you have a strategy that works well for you and would like to share your experience, we would love to hear it.
You must eliminate your toxic exposures. There is no way to fully and permanently improve health without eliminating the exposures. For instance, you can’t keep breathing mold and expect to heal. You can’t continue to be exposed to chemicals that set off sensitivities without taking a step back in the healing process. So, finding the source of mold in your home is key.
2. Elimination of Biofilms From the Sinuses and Gut
Biofilms are a collective of one or more types of microorganisms that can grow on many different surfaces. Microorganisms that form biofilms include bacteria, fungi and protists. Biofilms in the sinuses and gut may develop as a protective mechanism by these unwelcome microorganisms to keep them alive in a hostile environment, therefore eliminating them can be especially challenging. I followed CitriSafe’s “Cleaning the Sinuses- Nasal Irrigation” procedure to clear my sinuses and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Colonoscopy Preparation procedure to cleanse my bowels.
Note: The bowel cleanse takes 1-2 days to complete, depending on your current bowel health, and is best done when you do not have to work or be active inside or outside of the home, as you may spend a fair amount of time in the bathroom while your body expels the contents of the bowels.
3. Sauna with Niacin
Since sweat is one of the body’s major detoxification pathways, the more you safely sweat, the more toxins you’ll expel from your body. A far infrared sauna produces sweat with a higher percentage of toxins than a traditional steam sauna, including cholesterol, fat-soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals, sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia, and uric acid. I found regular infrared sauna use was helpful but boosting its effectiveness with a niacin protocol produced results that were many times greater. Check out the Facebook group “Sauna Detoxification Using Niacin” for the DIY procedure. One caution…this procedure is almost too effective and must be done SLOWLY!
4. Epsom Salt Foot Baths
The Epsom salt foot bath procedure consists of mixing 1.5 – 2 cups of Epsom Salts (without scents) in a five gallon bucket with 2-3 gallons of hot of water (as hot as you can stand) and soaking your feet for 30 minutes. Although some of our clients report that they like to lay in full Epsom salt baths, I definitely prefer the foot baths. I only do these baths before bed, as they would completely wipe me out to the point where I barely had the energy to climb into bed. They are a great way to relieve stress from the day, prepare for sleep, and detoxify while you do it.
5. Percussive Massage Gun
A percussion massage gun is a handheld device that applies pulses of concentrated pressure deep into your muscle tissue for results much like a deep tissue massage: release of tension/knots and improved blood flow to muscles. Lightly going over my entire body with the massage gun on high really seemed to help mobilize toxins. I found that I could only do this 2-3 days in a row or the neuropathy would start, and I could only use the gun before bed due to resulting fatigue. I bought mine off of Amazon.
Binders are substances that bind, that is attract and trap, toxins to help move them out of the body. This can be an article in itself, but for the sake of brevity, here are my favorites (in order):
• CitriSafe Acetyl-Glutathione Balm – I experience better results transdermally than with oral glutathione, but I do use both.
• CitriSafe Oral Acetyl-Glutathione – I have used over a dozen glutathione brands and this is absolutely my favorite due to superior bioavailability and delivery technology. It is most effective when taken by dissolving the powder from the pill directly inside of the lip pocket or under the tongue.
• BioRay NDF (Natural Detox Formula): a heavy metal detox tonic
• BioRay Liver Life: a revitalizing liver tonic
• Activated Charcoal
Note: Although some of our clients swear by it, I hate Cholestyramine. Also, Zeolite and Chlorella did not produce noticeable improvements, but you should discuss these options with your health practioner.
Three additional supplements I find to be very important (in order)
• Magnesium – I take 5,000 mg/day
• Vitamin C – I take 5,000 mg/day
• Vitamin D – I take 10,000 iu/day
8. Ion Foot Baths
An ionic foot bath is a foot soak that uses water charged with positive and negative ions – electrolytes – to help draw toxins in your body out through your feet through a process of exchange between the positive and negative ions in your body, and their opposite ions in the water. Although controversial, I did benefit from doing an ion foot bath 3-5 times/week. However, I do not believe that they were significantly more helpful than the Epsom Salt Baths, and the Epsom Salt Baths are far cheaper.
9. Weight Loss
Since the body stores toxins in its fat cells, losing weight is a simple, low-cost method to expel toxins from the body. But for some people, the increased toxin levels in the blood may affect them negatively. For instance, during past efforts at weight loss, when I shed about 15 lbs, my resulting symptoms were too much for me and I would end up having to stop dieting. I now believe that I have reduced my toxic loading to the point where I can start losing weight again. I plan on posting an update in about a year. While there are many different weight loss programs out there and any number of them are effective, options like AutoImmune Paleo (AIP), Paleo, GAPS, the FreeDiet by Dr. Rofrano (similar to AIP), and Whole30 are often highly effective for weight loss while also eliminating a number of common allergens, which decreases the load on the body’s immune system while it is dealing with a toxic burden.
10. Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber where the air pressure is increased to a greater level than normal air pressure. Under these conditions, your lungs can mobilize much more oxygen than would be possible breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure, allowing your blood to carry extra oxygen throughout your body to improve physiological functioning and promote healing. I was able to do several HBO treatments locally at a business that used chambers pressurized at 1 atm (Standard atmosphere pressure unit). Although there were benefits, I believe higher pressures are necessary for effective treatment, and the higher pressure chambers are hard to come by for this type of treatment (most often used for the bends, severe burns, and healing of other wounds). HBO treatments are way down on my list due to this lack of availability and affordability.