We are constantly being exposed to various toxins from our environment, such as heavy metals, chemicals, radiation, and acids. When these toxins enter our body, they may exert adverse effects which can result in symptoms or disease. As a result of our unique identity, called “biological individuality,” each of us reacts differently to a toxic exposure. Those who remain unaffected are called resistant; those who are affected are termed susceptible.
In order to understand resistance and susceptibility, we need to be familiar with the system designed to protect us and prevent disease. This system is composed of three sequential parts:
1. Identification: The Immune System carries out this process.
2. Neutralization: The Detoxification System performs this task
3. Elimination: The Elimination System colon and kidneys work to remove toxins.
Since the health of the individual is crucial to his or her survival, the body uses these three systems. It also provides a back-up or “fail safe” plan in the event one part fails. The back-up not only assists the individual parts, but allows these parts to assist other systems. We refer to this as “compensation.”
Xenobiotics (foreign toxins such as heavy metals, chemicals and other agents) can place a great deal of stress on the entire system. Because of the complexity and toxicity of xenobiotics, the system may break down during the identification and processing stages. If the body successfully manages these stages, the elimination process can be equally as challenging. Excessive or unprocessed toxins in the liver may cause inflammation, autoimmune disease, and cell injury or death. In turn, they would limit the liver’s ability to regenerate and compensate, rendering the body more susceptible to breakdown.
The kidneys, which also possess some regenerative and detoxification ability, would be subject to injury, too. Possible injuries include autoimmune glomerulonephritis (caused by mercury, heavy metals, pain killers and other agents) and nephrotoxicity (actual pathology of the structure and function due to the same agents listed above). Remarkably, when elimination is compromised and the body is burdened with excessive xenobiotics, the system will still attempt to compensate. For example, xenobiotics that cannot be processed can be stored in the lymph system and tissues of various organs. It’s impossible, however, to determine by conventional means whether these storage sites are safe. Another example is that the body can excrete some toxins by extraordinary means, such as through the skin (as lesions and excessive sweating) and through the gut (as vomiting or diarrhea).
In the face of such evidence, how can a diagnosis of toxicity be determined? First, the question of xenobiotics must be resolved. What specific toxins are there, where are they located, and to what extent are they affecting the body? Second is the overwhelming question of breakdown in the three part system: Identification, Detoxification, Elimination. No biomarkers or laboratory tests exist to reveal the origin or extent of the system’s problem. Added to these challenges are the individual variations as a result of nutrition and genetics. Is diagnosis even possible? Frustrated physicians offer patients medications to numb the pain or numb the mind. Where, then, can the toxicity patient get diagnostic or therapeutic assistance?