Diseases that have been associated with exposure to environmental toxins include:
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Autoimmune diseases:
- Neurological diseases:
As Paracelsus, the father of toxicology, pointed out: "All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous." (Alle Ding sind Gift, und nichts ohn Gift; allein die Dosis macht, daß ein Ding kein Gift ist.) Thus, the question is not IF you are toxic ... BUT whether your accumulated toxic burden is a factor in your illness and is an obstacle to cure.
Common environmental toxins include:
- Solvents (benzene, xylene. hexane, etc.)
- Phthalates (found in plastics)
- Carbamates and organophosphates (insecticides)
- Organohalides (insecticides, solvents, dry-cleaning, byproducts of water purification)
- Formaldehyde (carpets, building materials, etc.)
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (combustion products)
- Inorganics such as cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum.
The effects of environmental toxins on the human body are determined by their Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion. All of these factors vary with the individual. The first point of control in environmental medicine is absorption. The goal is to minimize absorption. Avoidance is key. Sensitive individuals need to aggressively limit their exposure. Cleaning up the home environment is often critical. For example, eliminating furniture made of particle board, and replacing carpets with tiled flooring may be necessary.
The second point of control in environmental medicine is distribution. Once a toxin has been absorbed, its distribution within the body becomes important. Initially toxins tend to circulate in the blood. Some of the toxin is eliminated by the liver and kidneys, while some is stored in fat, bone, or even crosses the blood-brain barrier. The goal is to accelerate elimination while preventing storage.
The metabolism of toxins is where they undergo a variety of chemical reactions inside the body. These reactions convert the toxins to other compounds that are easier for the body to eliminate. Most toxins undergo what are called Phase I and Phase II reactions under the control of various enzymes in the body. Because of genetic variations in the enzyme structure, different people handle toxins differently. These enzymatic reactions are critically dependent on a variety of different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. While we cannot control our genetics, there is much that can be done using nutriceuticals to promote effective metabolism. In addition, certain foods, drugs, and herbs can have both positive and negative effects on these enzyme systems. Microbes in the gut can also facilitate or oppose proper metabolism of toxins. Finally, physical or emotional stress can interfere with proper metabolism.
After being metabolized, the toxins must be eliminated. This is sometimes called Phase III. Various routes of elimination include: expiration, perspiration, urination, and defecation. Various techniques can be used to increase the effectiveness of the elimination processes. Organs important to elimination include: the liver, kidneys, and intestines. Structural problems in the vertebral column can interfere with enervation of these organs. In some cases spinal manipulation can improve eliminative processes.
Treatments for environmental toxicity are determined on an individual basis, and may include clinical nutrition and herbs to improve metabolism, acupuncture and spinal manipulation to improve eliminatory organ function, colonics to help clear toxins, homeopathy, and stress reduction.
Dr. Weyrich has a Master's Degree in Chemistry from Duke University (1976), a Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from the University of Tennessee (1982), and is a graduate of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (2007). While at Duke University he studied pharmaceutical structure-function relationships in the research group directed by Dr. Pelham Wilder. He subsequently was a visiting scientist at the University of Georgia in the Artificial Intelligence Group (1989-90), where he participated in a project funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop computer models to predict the properties of environmentally significant organic pollutants in a project led by Sam Karikoff. At Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Dr. Weyrich studied under the tutelage of one of the premier specialists in environmental medicine, Dr. Walter J. Crinion.
For further Reading see "Results of a Decade of Naturopathic Treatment for Environmental Illnesses: A Review of Clinical Records." Walter J. Crinion, ND. Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, Volume 7 #2, pages 21-27.