|Heavy metal was fun to listen to in the '70s. Screaming guitars grinding out power chords over the crashing thrash of drums rarely left much residue other than a ringing in the ears. The only long lasting side effects of the genre seem to be the occasional retro band, Steppenwolf tunes on oldies radio and the dysfunctional detritus of an aging rock star's family highlighted on MTV.
But heavy metal in our environment is anything but rare earth. It's everywhere. The Feds pay big bucks to clean up junk that they let corporate quagmires accumulate over the years, the dividend of pork barrel deals. What we call the "Superfund" spends billions to clean up toxic leftovers from industry gone berserk with little regard for the planet.
Though heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium litter the landscape, they are only the beginning of the toxic buildup. Organic and inorganic pollutants pile up, filling soil and waterways. Petroleum based agricultural inputs stay and lay waste to fields and rivers. Synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and industrial pollutants are still being emitted at record rates. Chemicals that were banned in the 1970s persist in the environment alongside the ones we add every day.
Fortunately, there are well meaning (if sorely ineffective) watchdog groups and agencies to raise hue and cry over the environmental poisoning. Certainly, we shriek at the wrong we wreak on the ecology.
But what about the poisoning of our own bodies? Do we think we can lollygag around in a dirty sandbox and not get any on us? Unlikely, mon cher!
A very immediate problem is the internal ecology of our bodies and the resulting health issues brought by our own internal toxic waste. Conventional medical protocols have little effect and pay little heed to the overlooked problem of internal toxic overload. Some of the most confounding ailments go unanswered by typical medical responses. What they boil down to is a set of symptoms that may very well be the result of slow and long term internal poisoning. The toxic component is usually overlooked. It might even be the mercury fillings in our mouth!
"I read recently that since World War II, about 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been introduced into the environment," said Omaha osteopath James Murphy. "Most are untested for toxicity to humans. At any given moment, there's something like 400 synthetic chemicals in a person's body. There is no question that toxins in the body are the number one overlooked issue in health care today."
Toxins in the body play a role or are a major cause in any number of diseases that stupefy the old fashioned "give em a pill" therapies.
"The disease names have a wide range. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, recurrent asthma and allergies, headaches and infertility are some that come to mind right off the bat. Of course there is the cancer link. So many of the synthetic chemicals are known to be carcinogenic and our exposure is so high," Dr. Murphy said.
As an osteopath, a doctor and physician who recognizes the natural healing power of the body, Dr. Murphy often sees patients who have exhausted the more common means to remedy chronic ailments.
This detox program doesn't mean a trip to Betty Ford
"People coming to someone like myself to resolve this toxicity issue, have already tried various means; maybe homeopathic remedies, herbs or nutrition with only marginal success. If that's the case, it may be because their system is blocked by toxic overload. The blocking toxins could be chemicals, metals, herbicides or pesticides or any of the other synthetic toxins we're exposed to, even around the house," Dr. Murphy continued.
When a person has tried for a long time to remedy a chronic problem with little relief, often, internal toxins are to blame. With so many of them around, it's impossible not to be affected to some degree.
Dr. Shawn Schmidt has seen the problem at Nebraska Natural Health Center.
"Today we are seeing a massive influx of endogenous and exogenous toxins. There are toxins that the body or organisms in the body produce and ones that are introduced from the environment. It's becoming worse and what I've seen in the last 16 years of practice is that people are becoming basically just internally polluted. It happens to the point where the normal liver pathways are unable to remove those toxins," Dr. Schmidt said.
"There is a build up of toxins, regardless of the source, in the connective tissue and fatty tissue of the body. The musculo-skeletal system, the joints and the central nervous system all become at risk. What follows is a wide cascade of symptoms from migraines to allergies, arthritis and a wide variety of degenerative diseases. It's a progressive state. It doesn't just happen; it builds up," he said.
Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at www.HeartlandHealing.com
The body has natural garbage removal systems. Keeping those elimination systems open and functioning is vital, Drs. Shawn Schmidt and James Murphy emphasize. But the overload of modern toxins handicap the body's natural clean-up system.
"The key to the toxicity issue is the elimination from the body and the concept is one of drainage," Dr. Murphy reminded. "That means helping the body with its ability to eliminate or remove toxic buildups. Typical solutions may include homeopathy, herbal remedies or fasting. Fasting is one of the premier ways to eliminate chemicals from the fat tissue where it accumulates.
"One caveat is that before any type of elimination protocol, make sure that the exit routes of the body are open, for example the liver or the kidneys. The very chemical that you're trying to eliminate may be causing a blockage in those excretory functions. So if you start detoxing the body, you may be increasing the blockage unless you make sure those doors of elimination are functioning.
"With any kind of prolonged fast I think professional guidance is important. You get the most benefit," he added.
"If there is a specific source of toxicity identified, then of course that source should be eliminated," Dr. Schmidt reasoned. "Even internal sources yeast, parasites or bacteria. You have to address that.
"Secondly, you gradually encourage the body to go through the natural detoxification process. We must recognize the body as having a way of cleaning itself and assist it.
"We use nutritional protocols, homeopathy, herbal therapies and physical manipulation. Fortunately these protocols are cost effective and safe. One thing that a person must realize though is that these toxins have accumulated over a period of years. It's going to take some time to roll them back," Dr. Schmidt cautioned.
"Body work such as massage and lymph drainage are important. The lymph system is essentially the body's garbage dump and massage moves the toxins out of the tissue into the blood system. Colonic work can be of value, dietary alterations, et cetera. There is a wide array of protocols that can help. The key thing is to monitor and assess results. Ultimately, the body is going to have to step up and work to remove the toxins."
Dr. Murphy also shed light on the dramatic results that chelation therapy brings. Chelation began in the 1940s and was originally used to remove heavy metals from the body. A solution is introduced into the bloodstream in a medical outpatient setting. That medicine, known as a "chelator", locks on to metal molecules like a tiny claw and moves them out of the body through normal excretions. Various chelators can "grab" various pollutants. When it comes to herbicides, pesticides and the like, chelation's primary benefit is to help keep the pathways open and free of other obstructions.
"Chelation mobilizes the toxins but we always make sure that the person has open routes of elimination: intestinal, digestive, kidney, liver and so on," Dr. Murphy said.