Are We Being Toxically Limited?
by Mark Cammack April 1, 2019
Two very different houses with a mystery.
Suppose we are visiting with a nice person that we will call Surfer Dan. He is a marine biologist working with the local university. At his Florida house the weather is sunny and we have an enjoyable time. He gives us a tour of his beachside home and mentions that he owns another one for rent in town. We get in the car and ride over to see it. After briefly being inside the second house there is brain fog, headache, and low-level nausea. We do not notice any chemical fumes or scents. What happened?
For our brain and body to perform well we need the healthiest situations possible. We cannot afford to be toxically limited.
Many factors are needed to perform well as detailed in the book How To Double Brain And Body Power: A Remarkable Improvement Method. A crucial component is to have a clean quality environment. If the body has to deal with needless toxins, it can only slow us down mentally and physically. In one sense we are living chemistry and understanding this can help us live better.
The answer to our question regarding the homes mystery, a true story, begins with chemistry and the detoxifying pathways of the human body. We can learn more about this by beginning with an example of only one element.
In nature, sulfur in the right form and amount is our friend. Common foods such as eggs, meat, dairy products, onions, garlic, and cabbage contain it. One of my early teachers from grade school was also an herbalist. She mentioned that sulfur was thought of when a person was fatigued or showed signs of infection. Her claim was that persons on higher sulfur diets, or those using additional sulfur as a supplement, tended to resist sickness or get well faster than others. I wondered about this chemical curiosity. If it was true, how did it work?
Above is a representation of homeostatic detoxification scales - the equilibrium between toxins we are exposed to and the body's means of eliminating them. We may remain healthy when things are weighted in our favor or are at least allowed to be in balance. This means having as few toxins to deal with as possible, although even in nature we have some that occur. We do not need to add additional burdens to our bodies beyond what we would naturally have. In this illustration our friend sulfur is on the left. On the right is one of many potentially detrimental toxins.
Sulfur tends to chemically stick to specific substances that must be removed from our bodies. For example, the heavy metals such as lead or mercury can be damaging to the brain, nervous system, heart, and kidneys. Sulfur can play a role in their elimination. In reality, if one part is injured, all of our body may be affected. A part is part of the whole. We function as complete persons.
Nature strives to keep us healthy when possible. Life is often about ratios and ranges that give us the comfort of well-being. We need to be in certain temperatures to feel good. Our cells and their enzymes function well in limited ranges. If we get too cold or too hot, these lose efficiency and we do too. Some toxins or heavy metals can also affect our cells and enzymes causing us to lose efficiency. If the loss is great enough, illness can result.
Fish that can have high levels of mercury, such as tuna, survive in part due to the presence of selenium. Conversely, grazing animals such as cows or sheep sometimes come across high selenium plants such as milkvetch (Astragalus bisulcatus). If eaten, fatal alkali disease can result. Blind staggers, a seemingly disoriented state of selenium toxicity, can also occur. This is dangerous not only health wise, but also because a predator can come along and do away with the prey. To my knowledge, only certain humans intentionally put themselves in a similar state with alcohol or other chemicals. This is unwise for many reasons. Of concern are persons who do not do this intentionally but are experiencing brain fog and fatigue when chemically exposed. What do we do then?
Above is the antioxidant glutathione that can assist us with toxin removal and immune functioning. It is made from the amino acids glycine, L-glutamic acid, and L-cysteine. Sulfur is represented by the S at the top as part of a thiol group. It works with Vitamin C as part of an antioxidant pool - the body's total resources of oxidation inhibitors.
Detoxification is like pouring gooey sludge into a funnel. Toxic overload happens when a person's body is pushed beyond the capacity to deal with any more toxins. It similar to a funnel representing the liver and detoxification pathways. The images of sludge visually portray toxins as they enter the body. To the left, the black goo is being eliminated. Just because it is taken out of the body does not mean damage has not been done. In the center image the funnel and our ability is at a limit. We cannot pour any more goo into it without spillage. The last image reveals what toxic overload is like as we are beyond the limit. Black goo has overtaken the system.
What is important to consider include how fast the goo is poured, the toxicity and concentration of the goo, the size of the funnel and spout, and how fast the goo is cleared. We all have bioindividuality, our own chemical and physiological uniqueness that makes us who we are as a distinct person. One individual may be able to tolerate or need more than another, and the outcomes can differ between people. The tolerance or need level for each of us can vary in regards to types of stress, general physical or mental effort, specific types of exercises whether strength or endurance related, foods and nutrition, and toxin exposure. Jack is different than Jane, and Jane is different than the other Jane who lives down the street. It is possible that for one person the results of toxin exposure are unnoticeable to them (although others may see it) and another is incapacitated. There are wide ranges of effects based on individuality and toxin type, concentration, and exposure time.
An insidious way to unease and decreasing performance and happiness is through incremental change. We tend to detect sudden changes well. If we are playing tennis we watch the ball and respond quickly to stay in the game. If the ball was magically moving slowly toward us over weeks to months, we might not bother responding or playing. Since the action is so sluggish, we would place our attention where things are more exciting. It would be time to get a faster ball, another court, or different game. One way our senses are overridden is by gradually altering things so that they are not immediately noticed. If we are in environments with increasing chemical exposure over time, we may ultimately find ourselves somewhere we do not want to be. It would be like having multiple slow moving tennis balls coming at us from all directions. Only when they are everywhere and preventing healthy movement would we begin to suspect something went wrong. Ironically, if this happened over many years or generations, we might think it is normal.
In life many unhealthy things are not so easily noticed. We may not always smell or see the toxin, but we can experience the effects. Some health results can be immediate while others take years to develop. Being unaware will not protect us from the outcome.
We often have more than one toxin to deal with. This has the potential to become complex as the effect can be additive or even synergistic. A general rule is that if it binds with glutathione, leave it alone. In short, if our body's resources have to be used to detoxify something, it is done for a reason. It makes sense not to have it to begin with. Ideally, we are in a healthy environment with minimal harmful substances or persons. When toxins enter the body, multiple systems are at work to help us. Energy is required to maintain health and eliminate undesirable things, and is one reason fatigue sets in.
All disease processes involve inflammation was the axiom heard repeatedly during physiology talks. Conversely, inflammation can be our friend was also present to a lessor degree. It is a stage we experience as the body tries to heal. What we do not want is to trigger this response needlessly. If chemical exposure triggers inflammation, and it lingers or recurs in specific parts of the brain or body, it is possible that functioning and that body part may deteriorate over time. This is not aging (which may be considered as a disease in itself), it is chemical destruction.
Let us return to our initial mystery of the two houses brain-teaser. Have you guessed what the answer is yet? Here is the solution: In the first house, all is fine while there. We have a happy conversation with Surfer Dan. There are no chemical scents or reactions. The second house also seems to be fragrance-free with nothing unusual going on. However, within minutes of being there, headache, low level nausea, some dizziness, brain fog and a general flu-like feeling set in. While going outside to be in the fresh air, Surfer Dan says that the house was recently sprayed with various cleaning agents and wood floor treatments. The products used were not strongly scented. They were not detected by smelling the air, but were still present and inhaled. There was a reaction because there were chemicals to react with. The story is true, only Surfer Dan's identity was changed and exact home location in Florida omitted.
These events are not uncommon. They reveal the difference between environments. It is not the way a person thinks that counts here. It is not all in their head. Inflammation and specific reactions would not be produced if that were the case. It is what is in the environment that matters. What is present are often chemicals that should not be in the human body, the scales are toxically tipped, and our funnels are overloaded. Nature has limits.
I like science including chemistry and chemists. The interest was stimulated while reading Dr. Linus Pauling's works and watching the BBC's Doctor Who as a youth. What we need is an intelligent win-win situation for us all using wisdom. This approach may reduce human suffering and days out due to sickness. It might bring greater happiness, wellness, and performance. If businesses, schools, and individuals realize that they can increase the potential for performance and health, this can mean a positive outcome for everyone. Who would not want to have a more efficient enterprise or better educational and athletic aptitude?
One answer is to use natural products that can be healthier. As cleansers, simple baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide can do well. There are unscented hypoallergenic detergents for dishes, laundry, and cleaning. The artificial air scents can mask problems and may be considered a form of pollution themselves. These can be replaced with fresh air from the outside when possible, cleanliness, toxin and odor absorbing carbon air filters, or again baking soda when needed. Pest control may be done with agents that are non-toxic to us as well.
By not having unjustified toxins to deal with initially, we are freeing up our body's systems and preventing possible damage. This can save energy, inflammation, and perhaps lives.
Beach House And Spooky House photo is a derived work and © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.
The original works are courtesy of:
Beach house: Nikon D1x Spooky house: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Homeostatic Detoxification Scales with Sulfer and Toxin is © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved. The scales original image is courtesy of: sivvus and openclipart.org
Glutathione image is from: Edgar181 and wikimedia.org
The Toxic Overload with Sludge in Funnels image is © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved. The funnel original image is from: wpclipart.com
© Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.