Toxins and the Brain

More and more people today are showing up in their practitioners’ offices with neurodegenerative autoimmune diseases triggered by environmental compounds. An example would be Multiple Sclerosis. So what do many of these practitioners do? They test for heavy metals and environmental chemicals, which always come back positive, and then chelate the patient using other chemicals such as DMSA, DMPS, or EDTA. I have seen this occur with many of my elderly patients, regardless of health condition!

Sadly, this mistake makes the patient worse. Why? Because research has clearly found that chelation pulls heavy metals out of the fatty tissues and enters them back into the bloodstream. As a result, the heavy metals, which were once stored away somewhat safely have the opportunity to redistribute into other target tissues such as the thyroid, the heart, and most certainly, the brain.

Loss of chemical tolerance underlies many chronic illnesses today. First is a breakdown in the body’s natural tolerance to chemicals and heavy metals. Next, an ordinary exposure to everyday smells (exhaust, fragrance, cleaning compounds) suddenly triggers a negative immune response. Over the years hundreds of studies have explored the effects of environmental compounds on our health, turning up many disturbing findings. Toxins are linked with cancers, obesity, thyroid disorders, skin diseases, Alzheimer’s, autism, and neurological breakdowns of all kinds.

The most obvious question is, “How can I prevent this and what can I do once it has already happened?” Although important, the liver is the wrong approach because it cannot detoxify heavy metals and many synthetic chemicals. Instead, the various systems we want to support include:

  • Glutathione levels and recycling
  • Immune barrier health (gut, blood-brain barrier, and lungs)
  • Balancing the immune system as a whole
  • Reducing inflammation in the body and the brain

In short, the most we can do to improve chemical tolerance, reduce the impact of chemical exposure and toxic load, and protect the brain, is to support the immune barriers, control inflammation, and down-regulate the immune system from its hyperactive (often autoimmune) immune state. Glutathione is the body’s most powerful antioxidant and is integral to a healthy defense. We prefer liposomal delivery and S-acetyl-glutathione, which the gastrointestinal system can effectively absorb.

The gut, brain, and lung barriers take a beating from environmental toxins, especially if the glutathione system is depleted. Current testing allows us to check for antibodies to the Top 10 U.S. Government Priority List of Hazardous Substances. The list includes chemicals and compounds from arsenic to polychlorinated biphenyls to mercury, and more. We can also test for body burden, the integrity of your blood-brain barrier, and how well your methylation pathways, including glutathione production, are working. This is all useful information for putting together a health program that protects the body and heals the brain.

One way to shore up your defenses against environmental toxins and support brain health is to dampen gut inflammation and repair a leaky gut. Leaky gut symptoms can include multiple food sensitivities, allergies and asthma, or chronic bloat and inflamed skin. Often, leaky gut symptoms aren’t always the easiest to identify, so in addition to screening for food intolerances, following an anti-inflammatory diet, and supporting the gut-brain health axis with required nutrients, we are able to monitor progress with an immune barrier integrity test which we check using state-of-the-art Cyrex Laboratories.

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For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.