Textbook of Natural Medicine Second Edition Edited By

Download 0.99 Mb.
Size0.99 Mb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9


Over the millennia, several traditional systemic detoxification procedures have evolved: fasting, saunas, and hydrotherapy. Recent research has now not only documented their efficacy for many of the common toxins but also helped refine our understanding of how to better apply them.


Fasting is often used as a detoxification method as it is one of the quickest ways to increase elimination of wastes and enhance the healing processes of the body. Fasting is defined as “abstinence from all food and drink except water for a specific period of time, usually for a therapeutic or religious purpose” (see Ch. 47 for a full discussion of this useful therapy and specific instructions on its utilization).

Although therapeutic fasting is probably one of the oldest known therapies, it has been largely ignored by the medical community despite a substantial body of published research. Fasting has been studied in the treatment of:


chemical poisoning

rheumatoid arthritis





leg ulcers

the irritable bowel syndrome

impaired or deranged appetite

bronchial asthma




One of the most significant studies regarding fasting and detoxification involved patients who had ingested rice oil contaminated with polychlorinated-biphenyls (PCBs). All patients reported improvement in symptoms, and some observed “dramatic” relief, after undergoing 7–10 day fasts.[70] This documented efficacy with fat-soluble toxins also indicates the need for care when fasting patients with high levels of these toxins and impaired detoxification mechanisms. For example, the pesticide DDT has been shown to be mobilized during a fast and may reach blood levels toxic to the nervous system.[6]

Another challenge with fasting is the depletion of liver glutathione, which occurs after approximately 24 hours. This leads to impairment of free radical quenching from phase I and impaired glutathione conjugation. This has led to the development of “modified food fasts”.

Several products are now on the market to help aid the detoxification process. When used properly as part of a fast, these products initiate the same detoxification processes, albeit at a lower rate, while ensuring the availability of the critical nutrients needed to maintain energy and the liver’s detoxification processes. Especially important are glutathione, antioxidants, and botanicals like Silybum marianum.


Saunas are an age-old detoxification therapy. They are based on the concept that as the body sweats, toxins are released through the skin. Prolonged saunas (over an hour at a lower temperature) are thought to increase the excretion of fatty acids through the skin and thus fat-soluble toxins. There is some research that documents this method of detoxification. One group of researchers studied 14 firemen who had been exposed to highly toxic polychlorinated biphenyls in a transformer fire and


TABLE 50-18-- Effects of extended time, modest temperature saunas[72] [73] [74] [75]

Increases excretion of heavy metals (cadmium, lead)

Increases excretion of fat-soluble chemicals (PCBs, PBBs, and HCBs)

Increases excretion of trace minerals

Increases lipolysis, growth hormone

explosion and who subsequently developed neuropsychological problems 6 months after the fire. They underwent 2–3 weeks of experimental detoxification, which was a medically supervised diet, exercise, and sauna program. They were compared with firemen from the same department who did not participate in the detoxification program. Those who followed the detoxification program showed significant improvement in scores in three memory tests as compared with those who did not.
[71] Self-appraisal for depression, anger, and fatigue, however, did not improve. This was a very short period of time for eliminating such toxins, but the results do suggest potential benefit. Table 50.18 lists the detoxification benefits of extended time, modest temperature saunas. Note, however, that this procedure also increases the secretion of essential trace minerals.[72]

As valuable as saunas are, they must be used with care as greatly elevating body temperature can cause problems in some situations. Specifically, they are contraindicated in pregnant women in their first trimester, young children, adults with heart disease or seizure disorders, immediately after intense exercise, and after drinking alcohol or ingesting cocaine.[76]


Hydrotherapy, the application of hot and/or cold water to the various surfaces of the body, has been used for health promotion and detoxification throughout recorded history (see Ch. 42 for a full discussion). Some research is now documenting its efficacy in increasing the elimination of toxins, specifically lead.

A very interesting retrospective and experimental study evaluated the efficacy of the historic Bath General Hospital in treating lead poisoning. The hospital was established in 1741 to both treat patients suffering from lead poisoning (and other maladies) and objectively evaluate the efficacy of the therapies. Meticulous records were kept, and, considering the clear clinical picture of lead poisoning (colica pictonum), the diagnosis and evaluation, which were made by teams of doctors to limit bias, appear reliable. The researchers analyzed 120 years of documents which recorded the efficacy of the baths in 3,377 patients with lead poisoning. Their success was remarkable: 45.4% cured and 93% improved. As a control, they analyzed several other diseases for which the baths were used and found far lower success rates. The treatment protocol was composed of full-body (standing) immersion in 35°C water for at least 1.5 hours at least three times per week. In addition, the patients drank 1–1.5 pints of the Bath mineral waters a day. The average stay was 150 days.

The same researchers then conducted physiological experiments to determine if a rationale for this efficacy could be established. They found that full immersion increased cardiac output by 50% and increased urinary excretion of lead a remarkable 250%. The peak lead excretion was reached at 2.5 hours.[77]


Detoxification of harmful substances is a continual process in the body. The ability to detoxify and eliminate toxins largely determines an individual’s health status. A number of toxins (heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, microbial toxins, etc.) are known to cause significant health problems and their concentration in the environment continues to increase. Optimal functioning of the detoxification systems combined with periodic systemic detoxification are important tools for the health promotion-oriented physician.


1. Passwater RA, Cranton EM. Trace elements, hair analysis and nutrition. New Canaan, CT: Keats. 1983

2. Rutter M, Russell-Jones R, eds. Lead versus health: sources and effects of low level lead exposure. New York, NY: John Wiley. 1983

3. Yost KJ. Cadmium, the environment and human health. An overview. Experentia 1984; 40: 157–164

4. Gerstner BG, Huff JE. Clinical toxicology of mercury. J Toxicol Environ Health 1977; 2: 471–526

5. Nation JR, Hare MF, Baker DM et al. Dietary administration of nickel: effects on behavior and metallothionein levels. Physiol Behavior 1985; 34: 349–353

6. Editorial. Toxicologic consequences of oral aluminum. Nutr Rev 1987; 45: 72–74

7. Marlowe M, Cossairt A, Welch K, Errara J. Hair mineral content as a predictor of learning disabilities. J Learn Disabil 1984; 17: 418–421

8. Pihl R, Parkes M. Hair element content in learning disabled children. Science 1977; 198: 204–206

9. David O, Clark J, Voeller K. Lead and hyperactivity. Lancet 1972; ii: 900–903

10. David O, Hoffman S, Sverd J. Lead and hyperactivity. Behavioral response to chelation: a pilot study. Am J Psychiatry 1976; 133: 1155–1188

11. Benignus VA, Otto DA, Muller KE, Seiple KJ. Effects of age and body lead burden on CNS function in young children. EEG spectra. EEG and Clin Neurophys 1981; 52: 240–248

12. Rimland B, Larson G. Hair mineral analysis and behavior: an analysis of 51 studies. J Learn Disabil 1983; 16: 279–285

13. Hunter B. Some food additives as neuroexcitors and neurotoxins. Clini Ecol 1984; 2: 83–89


14. Cullen MR, ed. Workers with multiple chemical sensitivities. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus. 1987

15. Stayner LT, Elliott L, Blade L et al. A retrospective cohort mortality study of workers exposed to formaldehyde in the garment industry. Am J Ind Med 1988; 13: 667–681

16. Kilburn KH, Warshaw R, Boylen CT et al. Pulmonary and neurobehavioral effects of formaldehyde exposure. Archiv Environ Health 1985; 40: 254–260

17. Sterling TD, Arundel AV. Health effects of phenoxy herbicides. Scand J Work Environ Health 1986; 12: 161–173

18. Dickey L, ed. Clinical ecology. Springfield, IL: CC Thomas. 1976

19. Lindstrom K, Riihimaki H, Hannininen K. Occupational solvent exposure and neuropsychiatric disorders. Scan J Work Environ Health 1984; 10: 321–323

20. Talska G. Genetically based n-acetyltransferase metabolic polymorphism and low-level environmental exposure to carcinogens. Nature 1994; 369: 154–156

21. Gallagher JE, Everson RB, Lewtas et al. Comparison of DNA adduct levels in human placenta from polychlorinated biphenyl exposed women and smokers in which CYP 1A1 levels are similarly elevated. Terato Carcino Mutagen 1994; 14: 183–192

22. Campbell ME, Grant DM, Inaba T, Kalow W. Biotransformation of caffeine, paraxanthine, theophylline, and theobromine by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-inducable cytochrome P-450 in human liver microsomes. Drug Metab Disp 1987; 15: 237–249

23. Beecher CWW. Cancer preventive properties of varieties of Brassica oleracea. A review. Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 59(suppl): 1166S–1170S

24. Crowell PL, Gould MN. Chemoprevention and therapy of cancer by d-limonene. Critical Rev Oncogenesis 1994; 5: 1–22

25. Yee GC, Stanley DL, Pessa LJ et al. Effect of grapefruit juice on blood cyclosporin concentration. Lancet 1995; 345: 955–956

26. Nagabhushan M, Bhide SV. Curcumin as an inhibitor of cancer. J Am Coll Nutr 1992; 11: 192–198

27. Polasa K, Raghuram TC, Krishna TP, Krishnaswamy K. Effect of turmeric on urinary mutagens in smokers. Mutagenesis 1992; 7: 107–109

28. Hagen TM, Wierzbicka GT, Bowman BB et al. Fate of dietary glutathione. Disposition in the gastrointestinal tract. Am J Physiol 1990; 259: G524–529

29. Ketterer B, Harris JM, Talaska G et al. The human glutathione S-transferase supergene family: its polymorphism, and its effects on susceptibility to lung cancer. Env Health Persp 1992; 98: 87–94

30. White AC. Glutathione deficiency in human disease. J Nutr Biochem 1994; 5: 218–226

31. Peristeris P, Clark BD, Gatti S et al. N-acetylcysteine and glutathione as inhibitors of tumor necrosis factor production. Cell Immunol 1992; 140: 390–399

32. Witschi A, Reddy S, Stofer B, Lauterburg BH. The systemic availability of oral glutathione. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1992; 43: 667–669

33. Johnston CJ, Meyer CG, Srilakshmi JC. Vitamin C elevates red blood cell glutatione in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr 1993; 58: 103–105

34. Jain A, Buist NR, Kennaaway NG et al. Effect of ascorbate or N-acetylcysteine treatment in a patient with hereditary glutathione synthetase deficiency. J Pediatr 1994; 124: 229–233

35. Kleinveld HA, Demacker PNM, Stalenhoef AFH. Failure of N-acetylcystein to reduce low-density lipoprotein oxidizability in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1992; 43: 639–642

36. Quick AJ. Clinical value of the test for hippuric acid in cases of disease of the liver. Arch Int Med 1936; 57: 544–556

37. Frezza M, Pozzato G, Chiesa L et al. Reversal of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy in women after high dose S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) administration. Hepatology 1984; 4: 274–278

38. Gregus S, Oguro T, Klaassen CD. Nutritionally and chemically induced impairment of sulfate activation and sulfation of xenobiotics in vivo. Chem-Biol Interactions 1994; 92: 169–177

39. Barzatt R, Beckman JD. Inhibition of phenol sulfotransferase by pyridoxal phosphate. Biochem Pharmacol 1994; 47: 2087–2095

40. Skvortsova RI, Pzniakovskii VM, Agarkova IA. Role of vitamin factor in preventing phenol poisoning. Vopr Pitan 1981; 2: 32–35

41. Bombardieri G. Effects of S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) in the treatment of Gilbert’s syndrome. Curr Ther Res 1985; 37: 580–585

42. Birkmayer JGD, Beyer W. Biological and clinical relevance of trace elements. Arztl Lab 1990; 36: 284–287

43. Di Padova C, Triapepe T, Di Padova F et al. S-adenosyl-L-methionine antagonizes oral contraceptive-induced bile cholesterol supersaturation in healthy women: preliminary report of a controlled randomized trial. Am J Gastroenterol 1984; 79: 941–944

44. Flora SJS, Singh S, Tandon SK. Prevention of lead intoxication by vitamin B complex. Z Ges Hyg 1984; 30: 409–411

45. Shakman RA. Nutritional influences on the toxicity of environmental pollutants: a review. Arch Env Health 1974; 28: 105–133

46. Flora SJS, Jain VK, Behari JR, Tandon SK. Protective role of trace metals in lead intoxication. Toxicol Lett 1982; 13: 51–56

47. Wisniewska-Knypl J, Sokal JA, Klimczark J et al. Protective effect of methionine against vinyl chloride-mediated depression of non-protein sulfhydryls and cytochrome P-450. Toxicol Lett 1981; 8: 147–152

48. Barak AJ, Beckenhauer HC, Junnila M, Tuma DJ. Dietary betaine promotes generation of hepatic S-adenosylmethionine and protects the liver from ethanol-induced fatty infiltration. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1993; 17: 552–555

49. Zeisel SH et al. Choline, an essential nutrient for humans. FASEB J 1991; 5: 2093–2098

50. Hikino H, Kiso Y, Wagner H, Fiebig M. Antihepatotoxic actions of flavonolignans from Silybum marianum fruits. Planta Medica 1984; 50: 248–250

51. Vogel G, Trost W. Studies on pharmacodynamics, site and mechanism of action of silymarin, the antihepatotoxic principle from Silybum marianum (L.) Gaert. Arzneim.-Forsch 1975; 25: 179–185

52. Wagner H. Antihepatotoxic flavonoids. In: Cody V, Middleton E, Harbourne JB, eds. Plant flavonoids in biology and medicine: biochemical, pharmacological, and structure-activity relationships. New York, NY: Alan R. Liss. 1986: p 545–558

53. Valenzuela A, Aspillaga M, Vial S, Guerra R. Selectivity of silymarin on the increase of the glutathione content in different tissues of the rat. Planta Med 1989; 55: 420–422

54. Sarre H. Experience in the treatment of chronic hepatopathies with silymarin. Arzneim.-Forsch 1971; 21: 1209–1212

55. Canini F, Bartolucci, Cristallini E et al. Use of silymarin in the treatment of alcoholic hepatic steatosis. Clin Ter 1985; 114: 307–314

56. Salmi HA, Sarna S. Effect of silymarin on chemical, functional, and morphological alteration of the liver. A double-blind controlled study. Scand J Gastroenterol 1982; 17: 417–421

57. Boari C, Gennari P, Violante FS et al. Occupational toxic liver diseases. Therapeutic effects of silymarin. Min Med 1985; 72: 2679–2688

58. Ferenci P, Dragosics H, Frank H et al. Randomized controlled trial of silymarin treatment in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. J Hepatol 1989; 9: 105–113

59. Flora SJS, Jain VK, Behari JR, Tandon SK. Protective role of trace metals in lead intoxication. Toxicol Lett 1982; 13: 51–56

60. Hsu HS. Interaction of dietary calcium with toxic levels of lead and zinc in pigs. J Nutrit 1975; 105: 112–168

61. Petering HG. Some observations on the interaction of zinc, copper and iron metabolism in lead and cadmium toxicity. Environ Health Perspect 1978; 25: 141–145

62. Papaioannou R, Sohler A, Pfeiffer CC. Reduction of blood lead levels in battery workers by zinc and vitamin C. J Orthomol Psychiatry 1978; 7: 94–106

63. Flora SJS, Singh S, Tandon SK. Role of selenium in protection against lead intoxication. Acta Pharmacol et Toxicol 1983; 53: 28–32

64. Tandon SK, Flora SJ, Behari JR, Ashquin M. Vitamin B complex in treatment of cadmium intoxication. Annals Clin Lab Sci 1984; 14: 487–492

65. Bratton GR, Zmudzki J, Bell MC, Warnock LG. Thiamin (vitamin B1 ) effects on lead intoxication and deposition of lead in tissue. Therapeutic potential. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1981; 59: 164–172


66. Flora SJS, Singh S, Tandon SK. Prevention of lead intoxication by vitamin B complex. Z Ges Hyg 1984; 30: 409–411

67. Ballatori N, Clarkson TW. Dependence of biliary excretion of inorganic mercury on the biliary transport of glutathione. Biochem Pharmacol 1984; 33: 1093–1098

68. Murakami M, Webb MA. A morphological and biochemical study of the effects of L-cysteine on the renal uptake and nephrotoxicity of cadmium. Br J Exp Pathol 1981; 62: 115–130

69. Cha CW. A study on the effect of garlic to the heavy metal poisoning of rat. J Korean Med Sci 1987; 2: 213–223

70. Imamura M, Tung T. A trial of fasting cure for PCB poisoned patients in Taiwan. Am J Ind Med 1984; 5: 147–153

71. Kilburn K, Warsaw RH, Shields MG. Neurobehavioral dysfunction in firemen exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Possible improvement after detoxification. Arch Envir Health 1989; 44: 345–350

72. Cohn JR, Emmett EA. The excretion of trace metals in human sweat. Ann Clin Lab Sci 1978; 8: 270–275

73. Schnare DW, Robinson PC. Reduction of the body burdens of hexachlorobenzene and polychlorinated biphenyls. IARC Sci Publ 1986; 77: 597–603

74. Tretjak Z, Shields M, Beckmann SL. PCB reduction and clinical improvement by detoxification: an unexploited approach? Hum Exp Toxicol 1990; 9: 235–244

75. Lammintausta R, Syvalahti E, Pekkarinen A. Change in hormones reflecting sympathetic activity in Finnish sauna. Ann Clin Res 1976; 8: 266–271

76. Press E. The health hazards of saunas and spas and how to minimize them. Am J Publ Health 1991; 81: 1034–1037

77. Heywood A. A trial of the Bath waters: the treatment of lead poisoning. Med Hist Supl 1990; 10: 82–101

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page