Detoxification as a step toward optimum health has been popular for some time. As people search for relief from aches, pains, and other symptoms of chronic disease they become aware that an accumulation of toxins within the body may contribute to their illnesses, and they seek ways to eliminate these toxins. Many of these methods for eliminating toxins rely on "cleansing" or removing the toxins from the colon and other organs involved in the digestive process. They do not, however, address the deep, cellular toxins that contribute to many diseases and feelings of ill health.
Detoxification at a cellular level is more thorough and offers better results. Understanding the role of cellular toxins versus extra-cellular, gut-derived toxins in disease and learning about methods to eliminate the cellular toxins is an important step for practitioners.
Toxins are Everywhere
A toxin is any agent that is capable of producing a deleterious response in a biologic system. Toxins that adversely affect humans come from all sorts of sources: processed food, tap water, prescribed and recreational drugs, working environments, our homes, the air we breathe, amalgams in our teeth, even from our clothing and laundry detergents. Almost every known chemical substance has a potential to produce injury or lead to death of the organism. We are constantly challenged by compounds that are without nutritive value. These foreign materials are both the products of our modern industrial age as well as toxins that were present during the formation of the original cell.( 1)
Toxic substances are also referred to as xenobiotics.( 2) They are ingested, absorbed, and inhaled. Under ideal circumstances (perfect health), the body detoxifies and eliminates all toxins,( 2) performing the ongoing tasks of clearing and detoxifying. The primary organ for detoxification is the liver, and many toxins must be biotransformed by the liver from fat-soluble compounds to water-soluble compounds before they can be excreted by the kidneys.
Xenobiotics biotransformed by the liver are released into the intestine through the bile. The liver has at least four transport systems for active excretion of toxins into the bile.( 2) Once the bile enters the intestine, it can either be reabsorbed or excreted. Reabsorption can lead to very long half-lives for xenobiotics. Clearing and detoxification causes an increase in intestinal motility which leads to an increase in transit times. This suggests higher rates of excretion of toxins. All body secretions appear to have the ability to excrete chemicals; toxins have been found in sweat, tears, and breast milk.( 3)
People often mistake this normal detoxification process with symptoms of disease. Many common diseases are largely due to the adaptive response of the body to stress (emotional or physical) rather than to direct damage by germs, poisons, and life experience. The body's attempt to return to equilibrium or homeostasis depends on its ability to eliminate cellular toxins.( 4) Failure to clear the body of accumulating toxins leads, at some point, to the balance shifting in favor of the environment and against the living body. Disease is a fight for health.( 4)
This fight for health has been transferred into "symptoms" of "disease" that we often try to eliminate to make us feel better. The body's natural corrective cleansing measures can cause discomfort and, in efforts to treat this "disease" and make it go away, vital elimination functions are often suppressed. In suppressing "symptoms" (or cleansing responses), the body may become retoxified. Many autoimmune conditions may be the result of xenobiotic retoxification as toxins that should have been eliminated are suppressed and then re-incorporated into existing and newly formed tissues. These tissues are then tainted. They are recognized as foreign by the immune system and an autoimmune condition results.( 5)
Factors such as lifestyle, dietary habits, and stress play a role in affecting the body's ability to detoxify. Constant exposure to occupational and/or environmental toxins should also be considered. However, these factors can be changed at any time. Corrective measures with positive changes can work wonders.
Promoting Natural Detoxification
Changes in lifestyle that include stress reduction, increases in physical activity, and dietary changes are required to promote detoxification. Vitamin deficiencies (C, E, and B complex) and mineral deficiencies (copper, magnesium, and calcium) reduce the rates of xenobiotic biotransformation. Many of these nutrients are in short supply in today's highly refined and nutrient depleted diets.( 6) Low protein intake also has been found to increase markedly the toxicity of a number of xenobiotics.( 7)
Another important step toward detoxification is to eliminate sources of toxic exposure from the environment. This is often easier said than done.
To assist the body's elimination of both incoming and cellular stores of toxins, consider a program of cleansing followed by rebuilding. The cleansing phase is comprised of three steps: clearing, specific cellular detox, and support.
Clearing: An initial activation of eliminative organs prepares the body for detoxification. This primes the pump to facilitate the removal of toxins. The homeovitic (homeo = same; vitic = energy)( 8) approach to clearing works energetically.( 9, 10) The development and application of the homeovitic approach has its roots in the early medical teachings of Hippocrates. Hippocrates taught that the "cause is the cure."
The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS) describes a class of homeopathic preparations (isodes or detoxodes) that form the framework for the homeovitic approach pioneered by HVS Laboratories. Isopathy, or the use of isodes, is the administration of potentized (basic homeopathic preparation procedure) substances from the patient's surrounding environment. These may include xenobiotics such as chemicals and heavy metals from food, air, or water. Xenobiotics are cleared energetically on a cellular level by homeovitic formulations. The literature has begun to establish this concept as valid. (A list of specific references to homeopathic detoxification is included at the end of this article.)
Detox: Specific cellular detoxification is started after 12 days of clearing. Homeovitic formulations are available for specific toxic exposures and accumulations. Following the precepts described by Hippocrates, these formulations provide a micro-dose stimulation to help the body release accumulated xenobiotics from cell storage sites and subsequently send them to the kidney, liver, or other organs of elimination.
The choice of the appropriate homeovitic detoxifier depends on the patient's exposures, age, nutritional status, and current health. This choice can be confirmed by many diagnostic techniques including blood, saliva, and urine analysis, applied kinesiology, questionnaire, electroacupuncture, and live-cell microscopy.
Support: Biogenic support is recommended during both clearing and specific cellular detox. During this time, the homeovitic approach is suggested, rather than molecular substances (such as herbs and nutritionals), to minimize the body's expenditure of energy required for digestion, assimilation, and elimination of these molecular substances. Homeovitic support will also minimize free radical production that may occur as a result of toxin release during clearing or specific cellular detox.
After this cleansing phase, the rebuilding phase begins. A good supply of cellular nutrition is needed for the body to have adequate building blocks to sustain the healing response and stress release. Supplementation with proper food, nutritionals, and herbals is an essential part of rebuilding organs/systems. The homeovitic approach of clearing, detox, and support creates a strong foundation upon which to rebuild.
Homeovitic formulations are available to complement herbal/nutritional supplements in specific clinical situations. These include conditions of immune system suppression, reduced kidney and liver function, and circulatory problems related to xenobiotic toxification. It is well known, for example, that cadmium is preferentially stored in the kidney and in blood vessels. Cadmium is ubiquitous in the environment and is almost impossible to avoid. Many people who suffer from high blood pressure can find its cause in cadmium toxicity.( 11-13)
The Common Toxins
Chemicals and metals are the two most pervasive and deepest cellular toxicities. Currently more than 100,000 chemicals are in commercial use: 25% are known to be hazardous.5,14,15 Recent reports from the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrate that 100% of samples of human body fat contained toxic doses of chemicals including styrene (Styrofoam), 1,4-dichlorobenzene (mothballs, house deodorizers), xylene (paints, gasoline), and DDT which was banned in 1972. The five most toxic trace metals are cadmium, mercury, lead, beryllium, and antimony. These metals are involved in at least 50% of the deaths in the US and much of the disabling diseases.( 12)
A specific detoxification for these substances employs homeovitic formulations for chemicals and for metals, one at a time after clearing, combined with homeovitic support. Many clinical problems occur secondarily to these two primary toxicities. For example, chronic candidiasis often results from mercury (amalgam) toxicity due to constant immune suppression. Clinical results show that yeast infections often clear without any specific protocol for yeast clearance since heavy metal and/or chemical detoxification corrects the underlying immune suppressive toxic body burden which led to the yeast infection. These results are consistent with the views postulated by Béchamp more than 100 years ago that suggested that an imbalance in the biological terrain was at the root of many of man's illnesses in contrast to the view held by Pasteur.( 16)
Viral toxicity is a close third behind chemicals and metals. Many residual viral problems are often secondary to deeper, chemical/metal body burdens. Viral particles may result from internal cleansing by the body as snippets of DNA/RNA are released during genetic repair mechanisms at the cellular level.( 17-19) Again, because the body is always trying to heal itself, many viral infections may actually be "release responses" due to normal, cellular repair and detoxification.
Responses from Detoxification
"Release response" or "clearing response" describe the positive signs of the cleansing phase. A 12-day clearing is completed prior to specific cellular detox to minimize release responses by activating and supporting the organs/systems of elimination. If responses do occur, they are usually mild, transient, and self-limiting. A change in bowel function, headache, or flu-like reaction with lack of energy are associated with detoxification. Patients should be reassured that such responses are positive signs of action.
Case Study #1
Ms. AB came to the office complaining of bowel problems diagnosed medically as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). AB also complained of gas/bloating, and menstrual problems of seven to eight years' duration. Medical diagnosis included the possibility of a descending uterus. Yeast and kidney/bladder problems with frequent urination were reported along with chronic abdominal pain. Medical treatment was ineffective; ibuprofen 1,000 mg/day was provided also without relief.
Homeovitic protocol was initiated with clearing for 12 days followed by a specific homeovitic formulation for fungi and yeast along with a homeovitic support formula. During the first 12 days, the chronic abdominal pain gradually diminished. Sneezing and scratchy throat occurred days 3-5 with one day of fatigue requiring leaving work early and taking a three-hour nap. All release responses disappeared within 15 days. Objective questioning using the Ellis Improvement Scale(R), which evaluates the clinical response of the patient to their initial symptoms, indicated an overall 63% improvement after homeovitic treatment. Individual symptom changes were: IBS was relieved by 50%, menstrual problems relieved by 90%, and constipation by 80-90%.
The next 24-day period included homeovitic detox of metals for 12 days which was followed by detox of chemicals for 12 days. Homeovitic support was continued during this full 24-day phase. Release responses included a 2-day period of low back and joint pain during metal detox and skin itching and headaches during chemical detox. The patient was encouraged to deal with release responses as just that: homeovitic responses which the patient should welcome. The patient was instructed that these responses were not a disease that needed treatment by suppressive methods.
During the next phase, the patient detoxified for bacteria and viruses. On day 3 the patient reported mild flu-like symptoms with a slight fever of 100 degrees F. This cleared rapidly. After a total of 60 days the patient reported freedom from all IBS symptoms, menstrual problems, yeast and fungus, and constipation. Energy level was 60% improved. The patient is now completing a rebuilding program to increase energy and support the immune system.
Case Study #2
Ms. RY reported to the office with extensive eczema. The patient was six years old and eczema was first noticed at 6 weeks of age. She was the fourth generation in her family to have eczema. The eczema spread gradually, during the first six months of age and eventually covered 98% of the skin surface of the body. Medical intervention began at a major metropolitan university hospital with intensive treatment which was finally supervised by the pediatric dermatology division of the children's hospital.
Over the years, multiple treatments included skin ointments and steroid treatment. Steroids remained the therapy of choice. Skin lesions would reduce for short periods only to reappear after discontinuation of steroids. The parents finally discontinued all medication and sought alternative methods.
The patient was started on clearing, detox, and, support. Specific cellular detox began after clearing (days 1-12) with a homeovitic formulation for chemicals (days 13-24). This was followed by a homeovitic formulation for metals (days 25-36) and one for bacteria and one for viruses (days 37-48). Within the first 24-days the patient cleared the eczema from the feet and back. The foot conditions had been so poor that the patient often placed a carpet between her toes and rubbed it vigorously between them to reduce the itching.
During the first week of detox, extreme itching began on the seriously open wounds at the wrists, anterior and posterior knee area, and ankles. Sleep was difficult as the patient scratched through the day and night. Some additional improvement in the skin was noted at about 30 days with cyclic healing and then re-opening of the sores as a result of detoxification responses. Inflammation was reduced and less surface area was inflamed as the process continued. Skin weeping was so extensive that the child could not participate in outdoor activities because bugs and gnats would land and stick to the open wounds.
Welting of wide areas of skin subsided by day 48. The dermatologists attributed the welting to scratching by the patient. It decreased, however, while scratching continued unabated. Rebuilding began after clearing, detox, and support with emphasis on complex herbals for eczema, lymphatic support, and organ rebuilding including liver, kidney, and adrenal gland tissue extracts. Open wounds slowly began to heal but itching continued.
Parental frustration was at a peak and the mother felt that treatment had been on-going for six months with little improvement. Actually, only two months and one week had passed since the initiation of treatment and this was pointed out. The mother expressed fears of psychological damage and raised the question of returning to steroids. No one in the family was sleeping. Herbals for insomnia were recommended to both parents and all four children.
At approximately 91 days of treatment the child came down from the upstairs and asked her parents to look at her. Her skin was completely clear of all open sores and only small areas of patchy, dry scaly skin remained. The family was ecstatic. By the following office visit at 94 days some of the areas opened again and were scabbed over. All skin redness had subsided. The rebuilding program continued, emphasizing meat and eggs to increase liver glutathione and metallothionein content, lots of water, continued with herbs and glandular extracts, and a multi-vitamin/mineral complex. Eventually, the wounds healed completely, and when the skin was fully clear, the liver and kidneys could handle all the child's daily detoxification needs.
As one can see from these case studies, the entire cleansing phase requires the direct supervision of a practitioner acquainted with the positive effects of clearing and specific cellular detox. Often, an unsupervised detoxification with release-can upset the unprepared individual who misinterprets the responses as an illness. It is possible that the flu-like symptoms are the flu. However, homeovitic philosophy suggests that these responses are a release or attempt by the body to restore balance. This opinion is shared by researchers such as Hans Selye.( 4) Experience with thousands of subjects indicates this to be true as symptoms left un-treated are self-limiting and the patient heals to a higher level of health than before the homeovitic procedure. In short, symptoms are expressed rather than suppressed. During clearing and specific detox, the homeovitic approach adds energy to the body which assists it during these processes. Homeovitic support is also recommended to minimiz e the releasing responses.
Frequency of Detoxification
The major factor in this decision is the source of the toxicity. Has the source been eliminated? Have lifestyle challenges been addressed? Has occupational or environmental exposure to toxins been minimized? A cleansing program should be at least an annual event with rebuilding after, if necessary. If toxic exposure is still a consideration, then more frequent specific cellular detox will be required. Some practitioners use homeovitic formulations on a preventative basis, i.e., a once weekly dose for those who still have amalgam fillings, in a effort to minimize toxic buildup.
In my experience, homeovitic detoxification has had excellent results as a first step to health improvement. It may be wise to counsel patients against the use of multiple nutritionals, herbals, and major dietetic changes during the 48-day cleansing phase of the program.
Practitioners may also wish to educate their patients about the importance of detoxification and encourage them to welcome release responses as positive signs of healing. This instructional process reduces patient confusion when responses do occur.
Clinical experience shows that without proper instruction, a patient may misinterpret the release responses as a "disease" reaction. Because most patients have been taught to expect immediate relief and improvement from their "symptoms," this misinterpretation may lead the patient to use inappropriate symptom suppressive therapy. Initial counseling often eliminates the apprehension that a patient may feel during this "response" phase of the treatment.
Today, as more people are taking responsibility for their health, they wish to be a partner in the process of health maintenance. Professional supervision is a prerequisite for successful cellular detoxification. Practitioners do their patients a great service when they are informed and understand the process of clearing and detoxification. This is a prelude to positive change in which the body's own function is enhanced to promote health and speed recovery in a natural and effective manner.
Outline of the Program
Cleansing Phase (48 Day)
Clearing: An initial (12 day) activation of eliminative organs/systems using homeovitic formulations.
Detox: Cellular toxicities, i.e., chemicals, metals, and viruses, are then homeovitically released in three 12-day sequences by specific homeovitic formulations.
Support: Biogenic support during both clearing and detox.
Nutrition: A program of specific dietary supplementation to strengthen compromised organs/systems. Herbals, nutritionals, protomorphogens, etc., are suggested as appropriate dietary supplements.
Support: Biogenic support during the entire clinical nutrition program. A homeovitic formulation will energetically complement all of these supplements.
Gregory S. Ellis received his PhD in physiology from Temple University School of Medicine. His dissertation was on the energetics of metabolism. Dr. Ellis is one of the first individuals to be certified by the American College of Nutrition as a Nutritional Specialist (CNS). His research in clinical nutrition has been presented at meetings of the Federation of the American Society of Experimental Biology.
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Article copyright Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.
By Gregory S. Ellis