Early Detection and Treatment of Digestive Disease with Dr. Scott Freeborn, ND (Complete Interview)
Dr. Scott Freeborn of Native Naturopathics is my Naturopathic Doctor in Ketchum, Idaho. Dr. Freeborn has practiced Naturopathic medicine for over 25 years. I was inspired to interview Dr. Freeborn about gut health and preventing digestive disorders after I was contacted from an old friend from high school – Pauline – who was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
Pauline’s story is similar to thousands of people – including their MDs – who are unaware of the early symptoms of digestive disorders. Nearly ALL digestive disorders and more advanced pathologies begin as candida overgrowth and/ or parasitic infection. Left untreated, candida overgrowth and parasitic infections develop into a chain of other digestive disorders, such as leaky gut, gastritis, acid reflux, food allergies, auto-immune disorders like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and eventually more serious pathologies like colon cancer. All of these conditions can be prevented with early insight, treatment, and implementation of dietary and lifestyle changes.
Sadly, MDs frequently misdiagnose and mistreat digestive disorders, inadvertently causing the condition to worsen because the root causes are not correctly identified and addressed, nor the correct dietary changes prescribed. In Pauline’s case, her MD misdiagnosed her with severe hemorrhoids and prescribed surgery. An early colonoscopy was “clean” and justified postponing surgery. Nine months later, with her symptoms far worse than before, Pauline desperately scheduled hemorrhoid surgery. A procedural colonoscopy confirmed she had only mild to moderate hemorrhoids – no reason for surgery – and ulcerative colitis had become visibly evident in her colon.
The tragedy of Pauline’s case is the auto-immune component of her digestive problems was preventable with appropriate insight at an earlier stage of her condition – like nine months ago when her symptoms were limited to blood and mucus in her stool, and fatigue.
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Why Digestive Disease Is Not Caught Early
There seems to be a huge gap between the early stages of a digestive disorder and its progression into an auto-immune condition like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Why do MDs have such a poor record of identifying digestive disease before it becomes an auto-immune condition or worse?
First you must consider, “What is the definition of a disease?” A disease in Western medicine requires either blood parameters or microbiological parameters to fall outside of normal. Alternatively, Naturopathic medicine is what we refer to as “functional medicine”. When a person comes in and says, “I’ve got something going on, I don’t feel right”, an MD may run blood tests, perform a physical or other exams and determine nothing is out of normal.
In the western model of medicine, diagnosis and treatment cannot occur unless some part of the system has gone into a failed state. The best tool of all for addressing health issues prior to reaching this failed state is the patient’s subjective assessment of their health, sleep, attitude, and emotions. Health is far more than the absence of a diagnosable disease. Western medicine views observations like, “I don’t feel right; something has shifted in the last four to five months;” “I don’t have the energy I used to have; I have anxiety, I am not sleeping well, and I am getting headaches;” as nebulous symptoms that could be the body’s response to hundreds of things. Other medical practitioners like acupuncturists, nutritionists, and Naturopathic Doctors can help those who are interested in resolving digestive issues at an earlier stage of development.
Gastro-intestinal (GI) health is the most significant factor to overall human health. In my practice, I mostly treat people with conditions that fall within the functional norm – they are not ideal, but they are also not in an advanced “diseased state” where a blood test has came back positive. My focus is on treating parasites and candida overgrowth, prescribing enzymes and probiotics, modifying diet, and moving people away from antibiotic- and hormone-laden animal products, and teaching people about good and bad fats.
In other words, MDs typically do not have tools with the sensitivity to identify digestive issues at a lower stage of decompensation.
Exactly. People can have an imbalance where they are not functioning ideally, where they feel symptomatically different, but they have not gone into such a state of dysbiosis of the gut that their parameters fall outside of the norm enough to become a “diagnosable disease”. Functional medicine assists in the early detection of chronic disease when it is more easily treated. In Western medicine, treatment cannot legally be offered unless something is objectively demonstrating a need for it. Treatment cannot be based on the patient saying, “I am gassier than normal, I have abdominal cramps, I am tired and have low energy, and I am getting frequent headaches.” If a doctor cannot demonstrate the presence of pathogenic organisms in stool analysis (which are notoriously inaccurate with false negatives), or advanced inflammation or nutritional depletion in any aspect of someone’s blood work, then they don’t know what to do.
At least with digestive disorders, the disconnect between Western and Naturopathic medicine seems to go beyond an MD’s toolbox being too coarse to catch these conditions at an earlier stage of disease, it also seems to be a basic lack of understanding of the GI system. Based on my personal experience overcoming digestive disorders, practitioners of Western medicine did not appear to possess even a basic understanding of the chain of events that occurs in the GI system starting with chronic fungal (candida) overgrowth. In my case – a very common story – my digestive disorders began as a chronic, unaddressed candida infection (caused by antibiotics), which made me more prone to parasitic infection, which then lead to gastritis, esophagitis, leaky gut, and then food allergies. Left untreated, this likely would have developed into an auto-immune condition such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis because only at that advanced stage would a colonoscopy pick up ulceration of the colon.
I tend to agree because Western medicine typically looks for the reductionist idea of the one cause. Human beings are so complex therefore chronic disease, like digestive disorders, is almost always multi-factorial. In addition to chronic fungal overgrowth, long-term environmental exposure to chemicals and heavy metals often gradually accumulate in the body to the point where the system experiences decompensation.
Are auto-immune digestive diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis preventable?
Yes, they are completely preventable when the root causes – almost ALWAYS candida overgrowth and parasitic infection – are identified and addressed early along with implementing lifestyle and dietary changes.
It seems like the term “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (IBS) is code for “I don’t know what is wrong with you”.
IBS is like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue – it’s a diagnosis by exclusion. Everything else has been ruled out and it’s the only thing we have left. IBS is basically a bucket term that someone falls into even though it almost ALWAYS starts out as a candida overgrowth and parasitic infection. These may develop into leaky gut, food allergies, and auto-immune disorders if left unaddressed. IBS – and all digestive disease – almost always begins as fungal overgrowth.
The Dominant Role of the Gut in Overall Health
We have known – for 2,500 years – “All disease begins in the gut” (-Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine). Our gastro-intestinal (GI) system is where we take in our nutrition and is technically an exterior of the body. The entire GI lumen (“lumen” refers to the inside space of a tubular structure, such as an artery or intestine) from the mouth to the anus is a hollow tube that for all intensive purposes is comparable to our skin since it is exposed to the environment. When we take in food and liquids, we absorb our nutrition from them, but we also interface with the external environment including the contaminants found in our food and water supply. Ninety (90) percent of the immune system centers in the tissues in and surrounding the gut, primarily because the majority of pathogens are introduced to the body through the GI system. The respiratory system and the sinuses also interface with the external environment and therefore are significant for immune response, but are secondary to the immune system centered in and around the GI system.
The GI system consumes enormous amounts of energy – seventy (70) percent of all the body’s energy – extracting, digesting, and processing the next meal, i.e., extracting energy from what we eat and drink. All other activities – exercise, working, using our brains – have only the remaining thirty (30) percent of energy to draw from. The functionality of the GI system (i.e., “gut health”) is the single most determining factor for near- and long-term health. An annual program for detoxifying the body and regularly promoting the functionality of the GI system should thus become a priority for ensuring the synthesis of enzymes, maintenance of the right balance of symbiotic bacteria throughout the gut, prevention of fungal overgrowths, and prevention of a wide range of inflammatory disease.
If people want to maintain digestive health, then clean eating and prophylactic, annual or semi-annual fasting and cleanses, like anti-parasitic and anti-fungal regimens, are essential for giving the digestive system a rest and letting it detoxify and regenerate. We live in a toxic world where our food supply has become increasingly industrialized. More than any other time in human history, we are exposed to synthetic chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals) in our food supply and environment as well as antibiotic residues in non-organic animal products. Every person can benefit from a proactive program for detoxifying heavy metals and other environmental toxins from our bodies.
In Naturopathic medicine, three systems in the body are in intended to work like the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of our federal government – independent of each other but interactive and they enact “policies” everywhere else in the body: 1) the central nervous system, the brain-spinal cord-autonomic nervous system, 2) the immune system, and 3) the endocrine/ hormone system.
Western medicine often does not look broadly enough, in part because that kind of screening is expensive and not financially accessible to most people. Instead of spending one to two weeks at Scripps and spending $25,000+ on angiograms, MRIs, CT scans, and every bloodwork known to man, we can take advantage of some very simple tools for preventive and maintenance care. My initial attraction to Naturopathic medicine is because of this focus on functional medicine by recognizing life is going to produce wear and tear on our bodies along with build-up of toxins. Just like one’s car, which requires tune ups and oil changes, fluid flushes, etc., our bodies need annual programs to cleanse the body and fasts that allow the GI system to rest and repair itself.
If we value our bodies like we do our cars, then we start to practice preventive maintenance on our bodies by incorporating daily practices such as adequate water intake, consumption of probiotic foods, adequate rest, and regular exercise. Most importantly, we begin to pay attention to the foods and beverages we are putting into our mouths.
Do heart disease and other forms of chronic inflammation originate in the gut?
Absolutely. Inflammation is the enemy. Cancer, dementia, and neurologic disease all start in the gut. There is no other system more important to address than the gut and that fact has been known for a long time. Health = gut health = what you eat. The general public has bought into the idea it is normal to die of cancer and heart disease, like we are victims of an inevitable outcome due to genetics. In reality, this belief is part of a cognitive dissonance reinforced by general medicine where early symptoms of decompensation are ignored.
The biggest challengers of this system appear to be mothers because of their heightened sense of intuition, drive to raise healthy children, and are the first to note the disconnect between what they are told is suppose to be their kids experience versus what it actually is. It seems to be easiest for the mothers to understand intuitively the fundamental influence of diet since it’s the most pervasive outside input of our lives. Mothers are also forced to experiment when others might not be.
You are absolutely right. By and large more mothers are challenging the system based on the fact they see their kids having issues or problems despite what they are being told. Mothers become receptive to different approaches when they reach their wits end of seeing their child suffering more frequently and more severely.
I frequently see small children whose parents report having tummy aches all their lives and poop only every other day. Their MD brushes these symptoms away saying this is how the child’s body works and it is normal. No, that is not normal. Digestive disease starts in childhood and when early symptoms are left untreated for decades, these children reach their 30’s and have a variety of menstrual issues, mood issues, and depression that has been decades in the making. Digestive disease is not normal and it starts very early.
People need to trust their instincts and understand if their kid is complaining of tummy aches and poop only every other day, it is not OK just because an MD says so. It is critical to address these symptoms early on. I see kids who are under one year of age and on their sixth round of antibiotics with chronic ear infections. Now they are ready to put tubes in. All health and disease starts in the gut. It starts with formula that is dead food, mothers that didn’t nurse, not enough water, poor diet, bleached/ processed white flour, sugar, hydrogenated oils, and fast food. These kids will end up with eczema, allergies, and headaches, and it all starts in the gut and almost from the minute they are born.
What you Eat = Gut Health = Overall Health
Out of curiosity how many hours of nutritional science did you receive in your training as a Naturopath Doctor?
I would have to go back and check, but it was on the order of at least 120 credit hours.
Are you aware of how many hours of nutritional science MDs receive in their training?
Virtually zero – unless they decide to take an elective of 5 to 10 hours! I have old syllabi from John Hopkins, Mayo Institute, Harvard and Stanford Universities and nutritional science was not mandatory for any of them.
It hasn’t changed since you were in school. I recently asked a final year student of Radiology how many hours of nutritional science he received in his program and his answer was 5-10 hours.
MDs learn about saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats in biochemistry, but then that is it. From that point on, basic physiology and chemistry goes out the window and becomes irrelevant. I can’t tell you how times cancer patients of mine have been told by their oncologist, “It doesn’t matter what you eat; eat whatever you want”. Any individual who has had basic physiology and chemistry ought to be able to discern that of course it matters what you eat, given you eat three times a day every day of your life! As the most prevalent and constant source of external input in everyone’s life, food is the most pervasive and powerful substance you put into your body – whether for long-term health or disease. Organic, ripe, fresh, nutrient-rich food is the medicine of the future just as Genetically Modified (GM), chemical- and antibiotic-laden, processed, nutrient-poor food is the underlying source of today’s degenerative disease.
The vast majority of people need to focus on parasites, candida, adrenal exhaustion, heavy metal toxicity, and lifestyle factors. Most of us push our bodies way too hard. Many feel they should be able to go 18 hours per day at 100 miles per hour; if we aren’t then we should drink Red Bull or take some form of speed.
If a person who is struggling with their GI tract wants to take prophylactic measures, then they must first and foremost change their diet. They may not have ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, or duodenal ulcers, but they may experience some level of constipation and feel burpy, gassy, and bloaty, all of which are indicators of imbalance and stagnation in the GI system.
Eating properly is not convenient, fast, or easy and requires spending time in the kitchen prepping and cooking food. Taking control of what we eat by preparing our food ourselves is a priority for straightening out GI issues, but problematically most people are only allowed 30 minutes for lunch. Many people want breakfast and dinner to take only 10 minutes. Since nearly all disease starts in the GI system, eating becomes the most important activity of the day. Stuffing one’s face with a TV dinner while sitting on the couch watching TV will not provide the nutrition the body requires for maintaining health and preventing disease.
Digestion begins the second you place food in your mouth; being present with eating, tasting and properly chewing one’s food aids in digestion along with not drinking too many fluids during one’s meal that can dilute the digestive process. If the transit time from eating a meal to excreting waste is too slow or takes too long then matter begins to putrefy and rot. Rotting matter in of itself adds a toxic load to the body, an added strain. The target transit time is 18 hours from the time something is eaten to the time it is pooped out. If a person eats dark red beets, they should see those beets come out in their stool in less than 24 hours. Transit times longer than 24 hours indicate stagnation because of innervation or blockage of the peristaltic nerve action in the gut, which can be a side effect of heavy metal toxicity, a lack of good bacteria, an overgrowth of yeast and fungi, too much food reactivity and inflammation in the gut, or a combination thereof. When something is swollen from inflammation, it doesn’t want to move – it’s the same with the gut.
Getting Real on When Real Change Occurs
One of the biggest problems we run into in our modern society is the unrealistic expectation on when we ought to perceive change. When making diet-based changes for reversing chronic conditions, we are not talking about achieving results in two to three days. Unless we are treating some acute condition like giardia infestation where we eliminate diarrhea through proper treatment, turnaround times in days are unrealistic and almost never happen. Deep underlying problems accumulating over years due to poor lifestyle habits are not rectified in three, seven, or ten days. It takes three to six months for implementing lifestyle changes to have a meaningful effect.
This unrealistic idea of seeing change in a matter of days is one of the biggest obstacles Naturopathic practitioners have to overcome. We have to tell people, “Look, you have to re-adjust your timeline, you have to consistently implement lifestyle changes and give yourself 90 or 120 days. Only after three to four months of consistent application will you begin to make physiologic change in how your cells are chemically and structurally built so they can begin to behave differently in the long term.”
Believing an intensive seven to ten day cleanse will rectify years of poor lifestyle and dietary habits is naïve and incorrect. Eating garbage 355 days per year and expecting to undo the year’s poor eating in 10 days isn’t going to happen.
At the same time, people should be able to develop a sensitivity for what is improving their condition and which targeted supplementation and foods are helping them. If I had known 12 years ago what I know now, I could have reversed my issues and solved my health problems in 3 months instead of 2 years of groping around in the dark struggling with conflicting information. Also (speaking from experience), you can get overwhelmed with supplements. [That’s true]. Some supplements are “must-haves” and others are “nice to haves”; if you are on a budget, it is important to know the difference. Lastly, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was huge for me, especially with the liver issues I was having since western tools were too gross to pick up anything “diagnosable”. So I agree with you about needing three to six months for meaningful change with the caveat that discernible progress is perceivable within a few weeks: “I know I am not there yet but I am starting to feel better, I can sleep at night, and my emotions are not all over the chart.”
The majority of people – nine out of ten people – do not understand how relatively easy it is to complete a yearly one-month parasite cleanse and maybe treat a little candida simultaneously – and how much better they will feel because of it. An annual parasite cleanse combined with modifying the diet over 90 to 120 days, promoting elimination with magnesium, extra fiber, and or increasing water, and consuming the good fats like those found in MELT to lubricate the bowel, will help anyone improve how they feel and how they function. I find it commonly amazing at how poorly people generally feel, but don’t know any better because that is how they have been living their entire lives. They do not realize how poorly they actually feel until after they have committed to basic dietary and lifestyle changes.
Probiotics are Medicine
Could you speak about the potential for a much broader recognition of the role of probiotics in human health? It seems much broader than what is understood in the mainstream. I recently discovered +70% of the body’s serotonin is in the gut (NOT the brain), which was a revelation – shouldn’t anyone who is suffering from mental illness or depression at least start with gut health as an eliminating factor? [Yes.] Also, why are we focusing on brain levels of serotonin for treating depression when it’s a minor part of the serotonin system? Contributing to the treatment of depression seems to be just one potential application of probiotic supplements and fermented foods. Why isn’t this front page news on the New York Times?
It is true general medicine does not recognize the role of probiotics in human health, but if you look at the specialty sciences where the academic research has been conducted, the value of probiotics in human health has been substantiated and proven.
It takes an average of 25 years for research validated at the academic level (i.e., placebo-control, double-blind, randomized studies) to make it to mainstream medical practice where it is recognized as safe and implemented at the policy level of HMOs and insurance companies. Mainstream medical practice is way behind the curve.
I am surprised the timeline is that short; I would have thought it was closer to 60 years, given examples like the FDA deciding to ban hydrogenated oils in 2014 after research beginning in the 1940s showing they are toxic to human health.
That is an interesting statement. Back in the 1920s when Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the Merck manual used to recommend restorative probiotic therapy following antibiotic treatment. Since so much of immunity centers around the gut, antibiotics were recognized from the very beginning to cause fungal overgrowths, which if left untreated without probiotic therapy resulted in dysbiosis. Older doctors commonly recommended probiotic restorative therapy following antibiotic treatment. This practice fell by the way side in general medicine and still remains the case with most practitioners. Most doctors do not prescribe or recommend probiotic therapy following an antibiotic treatment even though it is a necessary part of recovery. Most MDs have lost their sense of basic physiology and biochemistry because they get their information on the drugs they prescribe from people employed by the pharmaceutical companies. They are not taking the time or interest to look back at foundational physiology, biochemistry, anatomy and how the body works.
Fasting programs need to be tailored to the individual according to percent body fat, lifestyle and diet, genetic variation, health conditions, age, and previous experience with cleanses and fasts. Most people have never been taught about fasting from the time they were a child. If practiced from an early age, a person is much more tolerant to fasts. Someone who is 50 years old with GI issues, advanced candidiasis, and parasitic infection will not tolerate a big, intensive cleanse. These individuals need to start small, even if it means only taking one afternoon per week where they consume fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and beet kvass, take some probiotics and extra enzymes for digestive support and lay off the red meat, sugar, and alcohol.
Many people know how their body responds to a fast. Some cleanses and fasts are harsher than others, but what is one man’s meat is another man’s poison. I have completed extensive fasts on nothing but water for seven to ten days. Many people cannot tolerate a water fast, which reflects other weaknesses in the system. All kinds of genetic variation influence what people can tolerate. Percent body fat plays a significant role in an individual’s tolerance to fasting; people with less than 15% body fat will not have the caloric reserves for an intensive fast. The bottom line: it is possible to achieve a decent cleanse whether it is a daily practice of consuming probiotic foods like beet kvass and sauerkraut or simplifying one’s diet for a while eating greens and high-fiber vegetables.
Parasites and Candida (Fungal) Overgrowth
I am a big fan of a mild anti-parasitic herbal cleanse performed annually with the classic black walnut, wormwood, and clove combination taken with plenty of probiotics.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 89% of Americans have some form of parasitic infection and an average of two to three pathogenic bugs. The definition of a parasite is an organism that does not have any symbiotic relationship in the body; these organisms are not necessary for maintaining health. Pathogenic bugs do not always manifest the classic symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, etc. Whether or not they cause an imbalance to the point of becoming symptomatic, parasites are detriment to the system because they deprive the body of nutrients, contribute toxic waste from cellular metabolism, and are stressors to the body. People commonly ask “Why would I do a parasite cleanse? I had a stool sample analyzed and nothing was found.” Stool sample tests are notoriously inaccurate and have a poor record for diagnosing the presence of candida overgrowth and parasitic infection. Even if you do not have a parasite, there’s no harm in doing a cleanse when using just herbs and diet.
I am a big fan of complementing a yearly mild parasitic cleanse with a simplified diet –no sugar, hydrogenated oils, or non-organic protein sources. I also like to take a break from protein for a short time because it requires a lot of energy and enzyme function to digest (as do fats). Vegetables and fruits are much easier to digest and one’s easiest nutritional source to process, especially when ripe, organically grown, and free of chemicals. Some bulking fiber from vegetables and fruit is advantageous. I am not a big fan of psyllium seed but beets, squash, and carrots naturally have indigestible fiber in their whole food form.
Why is the candida cycle so hard to break? Why – in spite of all of my self-education and pro-active efforts – do I still experience recurring infections where other people don’t seem to?
Part of the reason is candida overgrowth is not an infection in the classic sense – candida is an organism naturally present in all of us. The objective is not killing it off and getting rid of it like we would pneumococcus in the lungs or strep in the tonsils. This is where we get back to the fundamental difference between the western model of disease, which is the germ theory of disease, versus the naturopathic model of disease, which is not really about the germs or the presence of the germs. The germs are dependent on the environment in which they find themselves and whether or not they thrive. You are never going to eradicate your body of systemic candida and different species of yeasts, mold, and fungi because keeping it in balance becomes the goal. Our modern food supply with added sugar, hydrogenated oils, antibiotics, etc. promotes an environment in our GI system that favors the overgrowth of candida.
I am pretty on top of dietary factors that favor the overgrowth of candida. I avoid antibiotics and antibiotic residues in non-organic animal products and I consume two to three probiotic foods per day – beet kvass, Redwood Hill Goat Milk Kefir, and homemade sauerkraut. I am disciplined in limiting sugar, caffeine, and alcohol (which seem to be my biggest triggers), so the question remains why do I have recurring infections where other people do not. Is it because the intestinal lining just has not healed enough between infections to better repel candida overgrowth, or is it some other causal factor like heavy metal toxicity? After working on this problem for 10+ years, you would think I would have it figured out by now.
It is all of those things – your recurring candida overgrowths are multi-factorial. Long-term recovery occurs from 1) removing heavy metals and toxins out of the body, 2) constantly flooding the body with good bacteria and probiotics and the foods that feed them (i.e., pre-biotics), 3) taking specific nutrients like MSM, l-glutamine or gamma-oryzanol, slippery elm, etc. that help the gut rebuild it’s integrity, and 4) balancing the endocrine system to control the modulation of the immune system and what a person gets reactive to. Full recovery from chronic disease is not a simple process and can take years for some people who have genetic propensities or weaknesses to those systems in the body. With that said, I believe persistent, consistent application of what I have mentioned will yield long-term health improvements that are not possible through other means.
Heavy Metals Detoxification Program.
I believe any sort of pain, eruptions on the skin, bloating, swelling, distention, and discomfort, means in the simplest of terms the body is retaining too many toxins, which impede nutritional absorption and proper digestion and are linked to any disease, whether it is gastro-intestinal, neurological, or endocrinological. Retaining toxins facilitates the wrong kinds of microbes, which leads to some form of indigestion, which then congests and compounds the elimination of waste and becomes a spiraling cycle.
Based on research by neurologist Dr. Blaylock, I use a combination of chlorophyll, R-Lipoic acid, and cilantro as a simple, effective, gentle program for detoxing heavy metals. If someone is in a more acute state where the immune system is highly reactive or not reacting at all, more aggressive measures can be undertaken including rectal EDTA chelation suppositories, DMPS injected intramuscularly, or intravenous chelation.
Any person can benefit from proactively addressing heavy metals. We are all exposed to heavy metals at levels unprecedented in human history whether it is from mining, technology, chemicals used in agriculture, amalgams, some vaccinations, etc. Like smoking cigarettes, heavy metals are not typically a problem with the first exposure; most of us begin to manifest symptoms only after several decades of exposure and accumulation in the body.
Heavy metals are toxic to human systems because the human body is notoriously inefficient at eliminating them so metals accumulate over time. Once heavy metals have accumulated to a level that is significant, they begin to manifest an impact on the three master systems – the immune system, the endocrine system and nervous system. The nervous system is the number one tissue in the body absorbing and accumulating heavy metals because of its high concentration of sulfhydryl groups, which love to interact with mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, etc. In my opinion, people should incorporate into their daily diet, even just once per day, some chlorella, cilantro, and alpha R-lipoic acid, but they need to be consumed consistently and daily to be effective.
I thought if you get too aggressive with it, a heavy metal detoxification program can be rather uncomfortable and unpleasant. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
Whenever you read about someone’s bad experience detoxing heavy metals on the internet, it is usually because their emunctory drainage is impeded, i.e., their bowel is not moving and they are not opening up liver and kidney function. Their lymph system may also not be moving. People with adverse reactions are mobilizing heavy metals out of their tissues and cells, but the body is unable to eliminate them properly. I have only rarely had anyone experience difficulties because I will not put them through a heavy metals detox program unless their bowel, liver, kidneys, and lymph glands are functioning. I use homeopathics and herbs to open up drainage one month before promoting the mobilization of the metals so the body has a way to get them out, which minimizes negative side effects. You also do not need to start aggressively, you can begin with the simple oral stuff first.
The liver has the lion’s share of ridding the body of heavy metals and is responsible for the two major detoxification pathways – glutathione production and methylation – that eliminate heavy metals. Glutathione production and methylation are the two primary mechanisms for neutralizing and eliminating microbial, metal, and chemical toxins. Adequate sulphur-containing amino acids like cysteines and its precursor acetylcysteine are required for both processes.
The point at which someone becomes symptomatic varies from person to person. One person with excellent glutathione production may never become symptomatic even with a mouth full of amalgams – that is clearly not everyone. It is like someone saying their grandfather drank and smoked their entire lives and lived to be 105. We know those inputs are detriments, so imagine if he had quit how much longer he would have lived or the quality of his life in his later years. Statistically, we have proven smoking promotes disease, cancer, and poor health; the same is true for heavy metals. Some people “do not buy that” and claim they are as healthy as a horse with a mouth full of amalgams and eat fish full of mercury. The bottom line is heavy metals are a proven detriment to physiology.
We are always excreting some heavy metals, but the question is whether input exceeds output. There are very few people in today’s toxic world that output everything being put in. We all are all gradually accumulating metals, which works to our detriment. Different people have different capacities to tolerate stress. Some people eliminate heavy metals more easily than others. Some have faster elimination through the GI system, while others may be better at drinking water and have higher kidney function. Clearly, variation in genetic capability exists. However, adding toxic burdens such as chronic exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides to the body will certainly begin to alter how the immune system responds.