A comprehensive detox program

Although we may live longer in these modern times, we are also facing an unprecedented epidemic of chronic illnesses that can be managed, at best, but not corrected using conventional medicine. Such illnesses span all age groups and range from allergies, digestive disorders, and conditions like ADHD and autism to chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer, as well as a variety of neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

Toxicity is a major factor in health today and other tools, aside from diet and supplements, are needed to achieve the best possible results with detoxification.

I have often written about the impact of toxins on health and plan to continue doing so. Interested readers can find past articles on this topic in my newsletter archives on my website. A good example of this topic comes from a just-released study in which researchers identified a cluster of lupus (SLE) and other rheumatic diseases among people living in subdivisions built near an oil field waste site, where levels of air mercury and other pollutants were well higher that those in surrounding neighborhoods (http://www.ehjournal.net/content/6/1/8).

If, as I believe, cases like these are becoming the norm rather than the exception, then detoxification is clearly a key to maintaining or regaining health. This observation, combined with years of experience overseeing various forms of detoxification, led me to develop an in-office detox program.

In summary, here is how it works:

• First we supply high-quality alkaline ionized water to dissolve toxins and provide a medium to carry them out of the body. This comes from a water filtration system called Akai Ionizer Plus. You can read about here: http://www.hightechhealth.comhtml/ionizer_main.htm.

• Next we normalize electrical charges at the level of each cell in the body using an electromagnetic mat called QRS. Normalizing electrical charges enables toxins to be efficiently released from cells. To learn more about the QRS I recommend starting at http://www.bodyfields.com/ and then going through some of the links it contains.

• Finally, we apply heat through the use of a far-infrared sauna so that the toxins can leave the body through perspiration using the entire surface of the skin as a conduit. Although there are various good quality saunas on the market, I selected one from http://www.sunlightsaunas.com/, which I believe to be the best for a number of reasons.

• In addition, I design a supportive supplement program tailored to each patient’s needs

The program works optimally over time and through repetition, although there isn’t a clear formula that everyone needs to follow. I believe there are different ways to achieve results, so in my program different session frequencies and lengths of time are offered. Once the desired results are effected, it may be advisable to repeat a detox cycle every few months for sustained long-term benefits. Anyone wishing to know more about how the program works and other details can call my office.

The remainder of this handout will discuss the reasons for developing an in-office detox program and provide more background information on its individual parts.

Dietary intervention plays a central role in my therapeutic approach and I have seen more “miracles” happening in people’s health when they changed their diets than with any other single intervention. Nevertheless, when it comes to detoxification, diet only plays an indirect role by limiting the intake of toxins, such as chemical additives, and reducing stresses on the body from eating the wrong foods.

Fasting, which people often associate with detoxification, is actually not helpful because detoxification is an active process that requires a steady flow of protein to the liver. As a result, natural detoxification processes in the body pretty much come to a halt during a fast, while exposure to toxins does not abate, and this results in a net increase in toxic load. Some people will undoubtedly object to my saying this because they feel so much better when they fast. However, this is invariably a short-lived benefit, and is probably a result of eating all the wrong foods when not fasting!

Supplements, and a few medications, can certainly be used for detoxification, and I have used them for years with many successes. There are, however, clear limitations to what can be achieved with supplements.

Supplements used for detoxification include products like magnesium, herbal extracts and fiber designed to cleanse the colon and liver. These products certainly have their place because constipation adds to the buildup of toxins throughout the body. My position has long been that with constipation there can be no successful detox, and I define constipation as anything less than daily bowel movements. To learn more about this topic you may enjoy the informative book “Detoxification and Healing” by Sidney MacDonad Baker, M.D.

Other supplements and a few prescription medications are designed to remove metals like mercury or lead from the body through a process called chelation. These products include DMSA, DMPS, EDTA and others. While they can be very helpful and have led to many improvements or recoveries from autism and other toxin-induced conditions, they also have limitations.

One such limitation is that these products remain in the extra-cellular fluids of the body, such as blood, and do not enter into cells where toxic metals are actually stored and do their damage. As a result, these products can only work if there are intact cellular mechanisms to “give up” stored metals. However, toxic metals will damage these very mechanisms and, ultimately, the most severely affected persons cannot be helped with treatments like chelation.

Another limitation is that these and other supplements only remove metals from the body and do not target environmental chemicals like plastic derivatives, PCBs, pesticides, and so on. Yet, as we are increasingly finding out, chemicals play an equal if not greater role than metals in causing chronic illness. Hence the need to develop a broader detox program.

My first priority in developing the detox program was finding a source of water that could truly hydrate the body and support detoxification. Water has been called the universal solvent because its ionic nature enables it to break chemical bonds of many other substances, thus dissolving them. There is no reason why water could or should not do this inside the body and effectively contribute to detoxification.

Years ago I read an interesting book entitled “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” by a British-trained Iranian physician whose name no one (including myself) can spell and which is usually abbreviated to Dr. Batman. This book presents interesting research on the essential roles of water in health, as well as the most common signs of dehydration and, chief among them, pain. Judging by the number of people who carry water bottles wherever they go, there is little doubt that most health-conscious individuals today understand the importance of water.

Yet I have seen countless people over the years with clear signs of dehydration, often including blood chemistry markers showing it, while at the same time drinking large amounts of water every day. This puzzled me and I classified it as an unsolved mystery until I understood the importance of water quality, a fact that Dr. Batman’s book does not fully address.

The fact is that there is a substantial difference between water from a spring – at the time it comes out of the ground – and the water we get either from bottles or jugs or from the tap. This explains why there are springs around the world with known curative properties and people who go to those springs often experience improved health, but when those same waters are bottled they lose their beneficial properties.

Aside from differences between plastic bottles (which clearly leach chemicals) and glass, when water sits in a static condition it forms large clumps of H2O molecules that limit the water’s ability to hydrate the body. When we drink this “clumped” water it does not reach throughout the cells where it is needed. Instead, it pretty much just flushes through.

In addition, water from certain springs has been shown to be alkaline and to possess antioxidant properties. Through exposure to air, these properties – as well as the alkalinity – are progressively lost as the water exchanges gases with ambient air.

The solution has come from a filter called the Akai Ionizer Plus, which you can find online at http://www.hightechhealth.com/html/ionizer_main.htm.

In addition to using advanced tap water purification to remove metals, chemicals, bacteria, and other potential pathogens, the Akai system ionizes the water, thus breaking down the water clumps I just described. In addition, it splits tap water into two streams: one used for drinking that is alkaline and has antioxidant properties, and another that is acidic and oxidized, which is discarded. This does not produce a “designer” or unnatural water like some of the waters in stores today; it simply reproduces the water’s beneficial properties as found at some springs.

This water truly hydrates the body and achieves the first step of my detoxification program: to provide a medium to dissolve toxins and eventually flush them out of the body.

Results from drinking this water are often seen within days of starting it as many signs of dehydration are readily corrected. People have also reported increased energy, improved sleep, better digestion, ability to tolerate more foods, decreased allergies, and even in some cases better focus and moods. However, it is important not to have unrealistic expectations. This water can help, but it’s not a magic bullet!

Some of my patients decided to buy this water purification system for use in their homes, and this is something I recommend as our best option for drinking water today. Unfortunately the system is expensive, but for some people, considering what they would save in water delivery, the investment has made sense.

The second part of the detox program takes into account the body’s electricity. Electricity is what enables the heart to beat, neurons in the brain to communicate with one another and, actually, every process of the body to take place.

At a more fundamental level, membranes surrounding every cell in our bodies possess what is called “membrane potential,” a difference in electrical charge between the inside and the outside of the cell. This membrane potential is what directs traffic in and out of cells, enabling nutrients to get into cells and toxins to get out.

Not only this, the membrane potential is known to have a very narrow healthy range and any disturbance in this range will cause cells not to function optimally. As we look up from smaller to larger, when cells don’t function well organs will be affected and, ultimately, overall health is compromised. In the final analysis we are an aggregation of trillions of cells and we can only be as healthy as our cells are!

Fortunately there is a tool designed to normalize the body’s electrical fields; it is called QRS (Quantron Resonance Systems) and was developed in Germany more than twenty years ago and has been researched ever since.

The QRS is the second step in my detox program. In the first step the body is hydrated, then with QRS the electrical activity of cells is brought into an optimal range so that toxins can truly begin to flow out of the body.

The QRS is a mat that is plugged in to an electrical outlet and can be set to produce pulsed electromagnetic fields at different intensity levels while a patient lies or sits comfortably on it. These electromagnetic fields are sub-sensory, meaning that people cannot feel them, except very slightly at the highest settings. Most people find this therapy to be very relaxing.

The fields produced by the QRS readily cross through the body because tissues, including bone, are not resistant to their flow. As they cross the body they have a normalizing or “resetting” action on cellular electricity and membrane potentials. Research has also shown that the QRS increases oxygen delivery to cells, improves flow of mineral ions in and out of cells, and leads to better blood circulation. Although there are many informative sites that cover this topic, a thorough and understandable explanation of what the QRS does at a cellular level can be found here: http://www.quantronmedicine.com/about_qrs/electromagnetic_fields/electromagnetic_fields_main.htm.

Much of the German research has shown benefits of the QRS for recovery from injury or surgery, and in pain management. It seems that while US researchers were hard at work developing drugs later found to be deadly, including Vioxx and Celebrex, their German counterparts were finding that normalizing electrical activity of cells throughout the body led to effective pain control!

I plan to cover QRS research in detail in future articles. For the time being I will just point out that, aside from its detox benefits, the QRS is used successfully as adjunct therapy for a variety of chronic conditions, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and more. The benefits always come from improved function at the cell level and result from frequent repetition. In more severe cases experts recommend slowly building to three thirty-minute sessions every day, which can only be done by acquiring a unit for home use, though the unit at my office can be used on a trial basis or as part of the detox program. For anyone interested in further researching this topic I recommend starting out at this website: http://www.bodyfields.com/ and then exploring some of the links it offers.

In my practice we have been noticing that children typically respond to the QRS faster and more dramatically than adults, often showing increased focus, better behavior, reduced hyperactivity and other positive changes within just a few sessions, to the point where schools inquired on whether a child had changed medication when QRS was in fact the only change.

The final – and probably the most powerful – step in my detox program is a far-infrared sauna (FIRS). FIRS refers to a type of sauna that uses far infrared panels instead of a heating unit. Far infrared is a non-visible fraction of the sun’s light spectrum that carries heat. Basically it is what warms you up when you go out in the sun. Safety of far infrared has been clearly established, so much so that it is used to warm up babies in hospitals.

The advantage of FIRS over regular saunas has to do with the fact that far infrared rays convey a penetrating form of heat that produces profuse sweating at far lower temperatures than conventional saunas. This is much safer, especially for people with health challenges and for children.

Although there are several good-quality FIRS units on the market, after extensive research I selected one from this manufacturer: http://www.sunlightsaunas.com/. In making this choice I looked for the best possible quality, as well as the most thoroughly researched, hypoallergenic and chemical-free sauna. For other units there isn’t any independent data showing no release of chemicals in the sauna, and the only choice is to believe what we are told, whereas in this case there is a detailed independent study performed by a licensed environmental laboratory.

After putting together this three-part program I did a preliminary trial with an autistic child. I ordered a urine test to measure levels of various environmental chemicals and repeated it after two weeks of daily sauna treatments. Every chemical tested was significantly lower on the second test. The ones that had been abnormally high normalized, and also the ones that had been within reference ranges were lower on the second test. This is significant, because with chemical pollutants less is always better than more! At the same time the child showed improvements in speech, showed more appropriate behaviors and, based on his parents as well as school reports, achieved a level of function not seen previously.

There are numerous good studies on the benefits of FIRS and I plan to review them in future articles. A good sampling of these can be found here: http://www.sunlightsaunas.com/hb.htm.

Of special interest is a recent study performed on New York City’s 9/11 first responders. As I am sure you can imagine, these brave individuals were exposed to extreme concentrations of poisons released from the towers, particularly given the high temperatures reached. Toxins to which they were exposed included asbestos, mercury, lead, PCBs, benzene, and many more.

In the days and months following these events many of the responders developed symptoms in just about every aspect of health. Symptoms commonly reported included depression, anxiety, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, reflux, respiratory illness, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, and more. In most cases these problems had not been present prior to exposure.

Of particular interest to me is that these are the very same conditions we see all around us, giving us more than a hint of what might be the real cause of these conditions.

Funds were raised to offer responders a sauna detox program that included daily sauna sessions, dietary supplements and exercise at no cost. Duration of the program for individual participants was variable, but lasted a matter of weeks rather than months. The program remained available to from September 2002 to September 2005, and a total of 484 individuals participated over that period.

All participants answered detailed health questionnaires before and after the program and before and after lab tests were also performed. Based on the questionnaires that were filed, all participants felt dramatically better at completion of the program. Although this may seem too good to be true, it is further confirmed by the fact that more than 80% of those on medications to control symptoms were able to discontinue their drugs, and this included medications for depression, anxiety and other symptoms that had previously been explained as being due to post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Read the full story in the April 2006 issue of the Townsend Letter (N.273) available from www.townsendletter.com.

A word (or two) about ionic foot baths
When I decided to develop a detox program at my office I had no idea that “detox” centers would spring up all around town like wildfire!

All these centers only offer so-called “ionic footbaths” and claim that these are a way to remove toxins from the body and reestablish health. Basically these footbaths use salt water in a small tub in which a mild electric charge is run between two metal electrodes. People put their feet in the tub and over a period of approximately thirty minutes the water changes color to a rusty brown, which is supposedly unquestionable evidence of toxins leaving the body. These centers appear to charge around $50 for each thirty-minute session although they run special offers.

Two things seemed strange to me right off the bat. First, that the feet would be a good conduit to detoxify the entire body. We know that the liver and the kidneys have the primary role of detoxifying the body. The skin can also do so, as for example in a sauna, but feet offer relatively little skin and are quite remote to areas where toxins might be stored.

Second, why would toxins in the body have this rusty color? I would have thought they might be mostly colorless, but if they had a color, then wouldn’t it be different for every person?

I checked out the website of one of these local centers. Their literature says that the program is “science based”, so I immediately checked out their science pages. The first one of these offers a “study” showing bathwater analysis. However, there is no explanation of how the study was performed, who were the participants, or anything else for that matter, just a series of almost illegible bar charts with no suggestion as to what they mean. OK, so I thought that maybe the next science page might be more informative.

However, it was only downhill from there as the remaining pages only offered “studies” performed using muscle testing or bio-meridian analysis, two clearly subjective methods. It’s pretty much like someone doing a study, but then using intuition instead of a lab test to find the results. Besides, I am sure that people will recognize that intuition (or muscle testing) can be swayed easily with the right type of incentive!

Next I went to the site of a manufacturer of these ionic footbath machines. It’s not that I was so impressed I wanted to buy a unit; I just wanted to see what type of studies they might be offering. Find the site here: http://www.aquadetox-international.com/research.html.

It seems that the manufacturer has a bit more at stake and doesn’t want to be caught making blatantly false statements, so on this site there is no mention of toxins coming out of the body and into the water. The best study I could find on this page is one that used a “heart rate variability indicator” (whatever that is) and showed that after the footbath people had less variability in heart rates. I got it: the bath helped them relax!

However, the idea of the water changing color was still bothering me. After searching around a bit I found that it bothered other people as well. Apparently these baths originated in England, but let’s not blame the British too quickly. It appears that the inventor of this machine has a mail-order degree as doctor of naturopathy (ND) from a US institution!

I found that the London newspaper The Guardian has a “bad science” editor (as opposed to a bad “science-editor,” of which we have many outstanding examples right here at home). Apparently it didn’t take this “bad science” guy long to figure out the trick behind the color change. He ran the machine with no feet in it, and lo and behold the color changed all by itself! As it turns out the color change is a result of the metal electrodes reacting with salt water. Of course dirt and dead skin on people’s feet can add different tones to the water, which I understand is quite the topic of conversation at these “detox” centers. You can find the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/badscience/story/0,12980,1294819,00.html.

Here’s my bottom line: take the footbaths if you find them relaxing. Myself, I’d rather see a good movie and have a glass of wine!

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