By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/29/2020
Posted: 7/19/2010
Topics/Keywords: #EnvironmentalToxins #NaturalHealth #Toxins Page Views: 4085
I get the lab results detailing exactly how toxic I am.

Almost a month ago, I was tested for several types of environmental toxins: Pesticides and heavy metals. This morning I got the results.

The doctor in charge of all this is Walter Crinnion, who teaches at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. He is probably the foremost authority on environmental medicine in the world. I am actually seeing his students, as the clinic I go to is the student clinic of SCNM. However, today was my second visit and both times I got to see Dr. Crinnion in person.

My husband, Michael, is also a student at SCNM. He is just starting his third quarter, and is assigned to the clinic on Mondays. His shift started at 8 am, and my appointment was 8:30 am; so I brought him to the clinic and then waited to be seen.

It being a new quarter, there's a new crop of students. Normally that doesn't matter, as my charts would carry on. However, my main charts had been misplaced, possibly because I had switched to Dr. Crinnion from another doctor at the clinic. In any case, since my part of the paperwork (my residential and exposure history, and list of complaints) were all here in my blog, I was able to locate them and the new docs, a guy named John and a woman named Hadassah, could print them out.

Fortunately, my lab results were not missing.

To understand them, though, requires a brief trip to the year 1874, where in Strasburg, Austria, a young chemical student named Othmar Zeidler performed an experiment that produced a new chemical which he recorded in his notes as dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane. But he saw no use for it, and the formula lay dormant in the records of the Chemical Society for sixty-five years.

In 1939 Swiss farmers were bothered with an unusual number of insects and since there was a great shortage of the usual insecticides the Geigy Chemical Company of Switzerland began to look around for substitutes. One of their young chemists, Paul Mueller, resurrected Zeidler's old formula and tried out some of the dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane, abbreviated D.D.T.

Now, there's a lot of unanswered questions at this point. Did Mueller go through every useless chemical, trying them all as insecticides? If not, what made him guess that DDT would have that effect? In any case, the new substance showed amazing promise. It was instantly lethal to all insects—not just the ones attacking Swiss crops, but flies, lice, and mosquitoes. And when the war broke out, and soldiers began dying of malaria more than from bullets, DDT was rushed into mass production and used as a miracle cure for the "scourge of insects".

Paul Mueller won the Nobel Prize in 1948 for his discovery—not of DDT, but of its use as an insecticide.

DDT works by opening sodium ion channels in neurons, causing them to fire spontaneously, which leads to spasms and the eventual death of any insect encountering this molecule, whose effects are intense and long-lasting. Very long lasting: DDT molecules resist degrading; they maintain their integrity for a very long time; and even then, when they do degrade, it is into the form Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene, or DDE.

What people of the 1940s didn't realize, is that anything that kills insects can't be good for other species. And of special significance are compounds that are not biodegradable, such as DDT. By the late 1950s, some environmentally-aware scientists began to notice that something was changing: In the previous twenty years, eggshells were becoming more brittle, resulting in fewer baby birds being hatched. Not just those of chickens, but of all birds, causing an unexplained endangering of entire species, such as the bald eagle. Naturalist Rachel Carson reported meticulously gathered data on this phenomenon, finding a link between the widespread spraying of DDT and the reduced numbers of birds in her 1962 book Silent Spring.

Carson was violently assailed by threats of lawsuits and derision, including suggestions that this meticulous scientist was a "hysterical woman" unqualified to write such a book. A huge counterattack was organized and led by Monsanto Company, Velsicol, American Cyanamid — indeed, the whole chemical industry — duly supported by the Agriculture Department as well as the more cautious in the media.

It can be argued that DDT had the immediate, beneficial effect of saving perhaps hundreds of millions of lives from being lost to malaria by killing the mosquitoes that spread it. However, a common insect mutation would eventually have left us with a mosquito population immune to DDT. And because this chemical is so pervasive and long-lasting, it's unchecked use would have eventually destroyed the bird populations that are the mosquito's natural predators. Eventually, malaria would have bounced back, worse than ever.

Despite the worst efforts of the chemical industry however, in 1972 DDT use was banned in the United States.

But in the 1960s, it was being spewed from the backs of mosquito control trucks in places like Florida, where I lived, and where kids like me thought it was fun to run behind the trucks and inhale the fumes.

When DDT does break down, it becomes DDE. DDE is a fat soluble molecule; it is also toxic in its own right. Because it is fat soluble it finds its way into our body stores of fat, where it simply stays. Mother's milk is a fatty substance, of course; mothers with a toxic burden of DDE pass it on to their nursing babies. But unless something heroic is done, it tends to remain in the body, just as it persists in the environment.

According to my lab results, I carry a significant load of DDE, as revealed by gas chromatography and mass spectrography of lipids (fats) contained in the blood sample they took from me.

In addition to contributing to body fat directly (the body fills in adipose tissue with fat specifically as a go-to place for fat-soluble toxins), DDE is associated with diabetes and low-testosterone, both of which conditions I have. I don't have Alzheimer's (I think!) but that is also a condition associated with DDE. I don't have Alzheimer's (I think!) but that is also a condition associated with DDE.

Another pesticide, that was banned in 1983, is Chlordane. It was used primarily on crops, but also was used against termites by tenting houses and filling them with Chlordane gas. And in 1973, I worked as a pest control technician. Although I didn't personally tent houses, the office from which I worked was used to store the tents; and the guys who did tent came in and hung around, still wearing the uniforms they'd worn while working with the pesticide.

A breakdown chemical of Chlordane is trans-Nonaclor. I also carry a significant amount of that.

I predicted that I was going to be oozing every heavy metal in the heavy metal test, but actually I wasn't that bad. Of significance were:

  • Cadmium, probably accumulated from the shrimp I love to eat.
  • Lead, probably from the lead water pipes in our old house in Vermont when I was a kid, plus the fumes of all those leaded gasoline engines on the road before 1978.
  • Mercury, from the kids' toys I played with in the 1950s and early 1960s. We used to break the toys apart to play with the mercury drops within. Plus, I have had a lot of mercury fillings in my teeth.
  • Uranium, which as an amount didn't seem to cause so much concern but I have no idea where or when I was exposed to any.

So, how do we get rid of this stuff?

Not all at once, to be sure. I've had nearly six decades to accumulate these toxins and they won't disappear overnight.

One of the body's primary methods of detoxing itself is a substance called glutathione. To understand what it does, you have to know what a "free radical" is.

Basically, a free radical is a type of toxin. It is an atom with a missing electron (another name for this is "positive ion") that roams the body, stealing electrons from any place it can, thus turning healthy cells into slightly defective cells, and even damaging our DNA. The word for this is "oxidation". The antidote to free radicals are thus antioxidants, which are big in the news (and on food labels) these days.

Glutathione is the most powerful, super-duper antioxidant there is.

But the act of scooping up a free radical destroys a molecule of glutathione. Fortunately, we can make our own. Any cell in the body can create glutathione. However, the liver produces most of it.

What can happen though, and may have happened in my case, is that a serious toxic burden can both impede the liver from producing enough glutathione, and also of course neutralize what is made. Moreover, glutathione cannot be taken as a supplement; studies have investigated this but the glutathione is simply digested and broken down into its component amino acids.

So, what I was told to do was to take supplements that would boost my liver's ability to create glutathione, and others that would help usher out any loosened toxins.

I also gave another blood sample, from which to obtain a "baseline" reading of my glutathione levels. I'm not sure how baseline it will be, really, since I've been taking glutathione-boosting supplements for a month now. But we did it, anyway.

And then I picked up, from the clinic's medicinary, the supplements aimed specifically at the toxins and metals I tested high in.

  • Clean Phase CGL-Detox, a daily fiber supplement to support elimination of persistent toxins. I am to take a tablespoon of this stuff in a small cup of water before each meal. That's probably not going to happen with lunch, but before breakfast and dinner is easy. (The label says 1-3 times a day, so skipping lunch should be okay.) I've had my first dose, and it doesn't taste bad—faintly of cinnamon, which is one of its ingredients.
  • Green Phase CGL-Detox, which promotes the production of glutathione and the scavenging of fat-soluble toxins. The ingredients of this include turmeric, milk thistle, and broccoli, all of which I was taking already; but also several other herbs. I take three capsules about an hour after dinner.
  • Lean Phase CGL-Detox, which helps to to properly metabolize dietary fats. This is one capsule with each meal.
  • NAC, also known as N-acetyl-L-cysteine, a naturally-occurring substance that is a powerful supporter of the liver production of glutathione.

Interestingly, nothing was said—yet—about intravenous or hydrocolonic treatments. But my instructions did say to follow the nutritional advice from Dr. Crinnion's book, which means I may have to cut out those mini-churros I've been getting from Jack-In-The-Box every morning.

But…we'll see.