A Defense Against Our Toxic World
by Dr. Arturo M. Volpe
Evidence that toxic chemicals have permeated our environment and are affecting our health continues to mount.
As an example, studies show a strong correlation between exposure to phthalates and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Biol Psychiatry, 2009 Nov 15;66(10):958-63). Phthalates are chemicals that are common in today’s environment – they are found in toys, cleaning materials, plastics, and many ordinary personal care items such as shampoos. Other studies correlate ADHD with exposure to pesticides (Pediatrics published online May 17, 2010; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-3058).
Most of us have seen or read news reports relating to the dangers of Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical found in polycarbonate bottles, which used to be considered the “safe” plastic bottles. Even low levels of this chemical in the body have been shown to disrupt hormone function (Environmental Health Perspectives, 2009; 117(9):1368-1372).
Immediately upon publication of these findings, companies started to market BPA-free plastic bottles and many of us assumed they were safe. However, shortly thereafter news broke that another chemical contained in these BPA-free bottles has even more damaging effects (see Science News – Another plastic ingredient raises safety concerns). For virtually thousands of other chemicals, we simply don’t know their effects on health, and they are everywhere.
Recently in a study reported on CNN researchers found dangerous concentrations of toxic chemicals in the placentas of pregnant women. View the CNN report here: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2010/toxic.america/. These chemicals are known to affect neurological development, hormones, and immune health, and their presence is likely to explain, at least in part, the current health crisis we are seeing in children.
Overall evidence is mounting that if you suffer from fatigue, ADHD, chronic pain, thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, even anxiety and depression, the chemicals stored in your body play a role in causing your condition.
Almost all of these chemicals are fat-soluble meaning that they are stored in the fat cells of the body and that they trickle out from there over long periods of time. In fact some of these chemicals will stay in our bodies for our entire lives, while continually affecting out health.
It is very difficult – if not impossible – to eliminate fat-soluble chemicals from the body with something that is taken by mouth or injected in a vein. Most of these products are not fat soluble and will not even interact with chemicals. If fat-soluble these substances are likely to also be stored in fat without affecting the harmful chemicals.
However, sauna therapy is an effective way to detoxify chemicals from the body and thus help reestablish good health. The reason is that a large portion of the body’s fat is located under the skin and that perspiration induced by sauna draws chemicals out of the body.
This benefit of sauna therapy has been known for decades and was proved again in dramatic fashion after the tragic events of 9/11 in New York City. First responders were exposed to high levels of chemicals and, as a result, developed a range of symptoms that included depression, anxiety, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, reflux, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, and more.
A non-profit organization was set up to offer first responders sauna detoxification programs free of charge. The outcome for those who took advantage of the program was a dramatic improvement in health documented by before and after lab tests and symptom surveys.
You can read about this entire program and the results that were achieved with it in the April 2006 issue and the Townsend Letter (N.273) available from www.townsendletter.com.
The most detoxifying and safest types of saunas are Far-Infrared Saunas (FIRS). These saunas have panels that emit far-infrared light frequencies, rather than a heating unit. FIRS provide a penetrating heat and induce the most detoxifying type of perspiration. People have commented that when in the sauna their perspiration is oily and very often has a strong chemical odor.
FIRS are effective at much lower temperatures than common health club saunas, 110-140 degrees compared to 200 or more. This makes them safe for small children, most heart patients, people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and so on.
The safety of far infrared light has been clearly established. In fact this is considered as the safest heating source and it is used in hospitals to warm premature babies.
Research about the benefits of FIRS can be found at www.sunlighten.com, the company that manufactures the sauna available at my office.