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Healing cancer: giving your body a deep clear-out

Reading time: 10 minutes

Unfortunately, we are all living in a sea of chemicals. Several thousand toxic chemicals surround us daily, and studies continue to reveal these compounds’ potential toxic effects on our bodies. It’s no surprise that as these adverse effects occur, the number of people diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, cancer and other serious chronic diseases is rising. Simply put, these toxins are negatively affecting our health and well-being.

It’s not as doom-and-gloom as it sounds. We can all take proactive steps—starting today—to rid our bodies and environments of toxins that may make us more susceptible to cancer and other illnesses. Many of these strategies can easily be done at home. However, when it comes to more extensive therapies and treatments, you may need the help of a qualified integrative practitioner well versed in detoxification. An excellent resource for finding a physician in your area is the American College for Advancement in Medicine (acam.org).

Cancer-causing toxins: the usual suspects

An African proverb states, “The enemy you know is better than the enemy you do not know.” And several known toxins out there have been associated with cancer. Let’s look at some of the most common and important toxins and discuss steps we might take to reduce or eliminate our exposure to them.

Heavy metals

Mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium are some of the most common and damaging heavy metals linked to cancer. The problem is they’re everywhere.

Mercury, for instance, is found in the air, in our food and water supply, in personal care products, and in dental amalgams. And it’s the second-most-toxic substance in the world! Lead hides in an alarming number of beauty and self-care products, and you’ll find aluminum in nearly all antiperspirants.

Switching to household items and beauty products free of these toxic ingredients is a good start. And natural solutions like chlorella tablets are a great at-home option to use every day.

Still, to actually remove the heavy metals from your body, you will need the help of a qualified, experienced healthcare practitioner.

Pesticides

It’s not surprising that the chemical substances used to kill insects, plants and other animals are toxic and can threaten humans. These chemicals, used on most conventional produce, get transferred to our bodies when we eat chemically treated fruits and vegetables.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) has this to say about the link between pesticides and cancer: “Chemicals can trigger cancer in a variety of ways, including disrupting hormones, damaging DNA, inflaming tissues, and turning genes on or off. Many pesticides are ‘known or probable’ carcinogens and, as the US President’s Panel notes, exposure to these chemicals is widespread.” Pesticides are particularly harmful to children as their developing bodies can’t handle the toxic onslaught of these chemical substances.

PAN’s website (panna.org) offers a wealth of information about safe, natural ways to keep your home and garden insect- and pest-free and tips to keep these harmful pesticides from becoming problematic for your health.

Plastics

Plastic is likely the most prominent pollutant in our environment, and it’s hard to get away from. It’s abundant in everyday items such as water bottles, food storage containers and food packaging, and it lurks in places you may not suspect, like furniture, children’s toys and our cars.

Plastics disrupt the body in numerous ways. They have been shown to damage and even deactivate peroxisomes, which are cellular structures that help with detoxification. When peroxisomes are damaged or destroyed, toxins can build up and wreak havoc on health.

Plastics are also classified as xenoestrogens, chemicals that have estrogen-like effects on the body. While natural estrogen is beneficial, xenoestrogens disrupt the normal hormone balance and can cause cancer. Fortunately, infrared saunas do an excellent job of removing all types of toxins—including plastics—from our bodies (more on this therapy below).

Polluted water

Tap water can be full of potential cancer-causing agents, from chlorine, fluorine and lead to prescription drugs, parasites, microbes and other problematic chemicals. That’s why drinking filtered water is a must. Consider adding an alkalinizing or ionized water filter with a carbon block filter to your tap. If this option is too pricey, purchase spring water in glass bottles from your local health food store.

Another option is reverse osmosis or distilled water in 5-gallon bottles. (You can even purchase a distiller for your kitchen faucet to avoid the plastic bottles altogether.) At the very least, buy a Zero or Brita water filter. They are better than nothing if your resources are limited. Finally, consider drinking alkaline water whenever possible. Alkaline water helps neutralize acidity in the body, creating a less-than-favorable environment for cancer to grow and flourish.

Electromagnetic pollution

People today are drowning in a sea of electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Between all the EMFs emitted by electronic devices (smartphones, computers), power lines, microwave towers and appliances—to name just a few sources—this electropollution is taking a negative toll on our health. Ongoing exposure to EMFs creates cellular disruption, causing the cells to vibrate, divide more rapidly and mutate.

While it’s not realistic to ask people to stop using these devices altogether, you can take measures to reduce your exposure to the dangerous electromagnetic emissions that come from these gadgets and appliances. Start by keeping your phone in airplane mode and away from your body while you’re not using it. Use the “speakerphone” mode while talking. Laptop computers should be used on battery power rather than plugged into the wall. And, if possible, you should use a hardwired connection to the internet instead of Wi-Fi. At night, turn off all the electrical appliances in your bedroom—or turn off circuit breakers completely.

You can also practice grounding, which literally connects your body to the earth. The easiest way to do this is to take a walk outside barefoot. This technique is considered beneficial because the natural energetic frequencies within the earth help negate the harmful effects of EMFs in the environment.

Countless products are available to partially block EMF effects in your home. Search for EMF-protective devices online or gain a wealth of information about EMF pollution from Dr Kerry Crofton’s book on this topic, A Wellness Guide for the Digital Age: With Safer-Tech Solutions for All Things Wired and Wireless (Global WellBeing Books, 2013).

“Sick building” syndrome

If your home or workplace contains high levels of mold, radon, lead-based paint or carpet laced with formaldehyde, you have the potential to be affected by “sick building” syndrome.

If toxin levels are high, you may need the help of a building biologist who works to create healthy, sustainable and attractive buildings and can educate you on remediating the building. To find one, visit buildingbiologyinstitute.org. If that’s not an option, you may need to consider finding different living or working arrangements.

Ionizing and nuclear radiation

Some diagnostic tools, such as CTs, PET scans and chest X-rays, emit ionizing radiation, and nuclear radiation is released from nuclear power plant accidents. Both can cause cellular mutations and DNA damage, which can lead to cancer, so it’s best to avoid or limit your exposure whenever possible.

Do only imaging tests that are deemed absolutely necessary by your healthcare practitioner and avoid any area where nuclear accidents have occurred. A handful of supplements—iodine and zeolite, specifically—can bind with and remove radioactive elements from the body. (See the section on toxin-binding agents on page 47 for more on this topic.)

Other environmental toxins

It would be impossible to dive deeply into all the thousands of toxins that surround us daily. That said, we’ve discussed many of the top cancer-causing pollutants and how you can reduce or eliminate them from your environment. Now, let’s look at how you can jump-start the detoxification process.

Proven therapies for detoxification

Our bodies use seven primary channels to remove toxins: the blood, bowels, skin, kidneys, lymphatic system, lungs and liver. Many of these detox strategies can be done from the comfort of your own home.

* If you have cancer, please get clearance from your oncologist before beginning these therapies and treatments.

Lymphatic drainage treatments

The lymphatic system is one of two parts of the circulatory system that is responsible for waste elimination. I use this analogy a lot: your blood delivers “groceries,” aka good nutrients, to your cells, and your lymphatic system takes out the “garbage,” aka toxins. Simply stated, this complex system helps deliver health-promoting immune cells throughout the body and flushes out all the “gunk.”

Unlike the blood, which moves through the body with the assistance of a beating heart, lymph needs a little help flowing throughout the circulatory system so it doesn’t get stagnant. When it slows down or gets blocked, your infection-fighting immune cells can’t be delivered where they are needed, and infectious diseases can run rampant. The following three lymphatic drainage therapies can help stimulate lymph flow and aid detoxification.

Dry skin brushing  In this DIY technique, you use a long-handled, soft, natural-fiber brush to brush the skin in long, broad strokes toward the direction of your heart. You brush both sides of the body, including your arms, legs, abdomen, chest, back, hands and feet. The sweeping motion created by the brushing stimulates lymphatic flow and breaks up any blockages. Dry skin brushing needs to be done for only five to 10 minutes per day to be effective.

Rebounding  Another manual technique for breaking up lymph blockages and stimulating lymph flow is rebounding. Gently bouncing up and down on a mini-trampoline or a large rubber ball for as little as 10 minutes a day is extremely effective.

Manual lymph drainage  If you have the resources, find a massage therapist who does manual lymph drainage using gentle, light-touch bodywork. This type of massage stimulates the entire lymphatic system and can drain stagnant fluids, promote relaxation, reduce stress and improve sleep. It’s excellent for detoxification and relaxation.

Oil pulling

Detoxification via oil pulling comes from ancient Ayurvedic healing. The simple act of swishing a healthy oil around in your mouth for a minimum of five minutes can help remove toxins from your mouth and bloodstream as the oil binds to the unwanted agents and removes them when you spit out the oil.

Two caveats: use an organic oil (coconut or olive oil preferably) and ensure you don’t swallow any toxin-filled oil.

Epsom salt baths

Epsom salt baths are an easy and inexpensive detox tool. Comprised of magnesium and sulfate, Epsom salts are highly effective for cleansing your body of waste products from the comfort of your own home. Magnesium helps reduce inflammation and improve nerve and muscle function, while sulfates help flush toxins from the body and enhance nutrient absorption. Add a cup of Epsom salts to a warm or hot bath and soak for 20 minutes.

Castor oil pack therapy

Castor oil has been used as a healing treatment for centuries, and when you combine this therapy with heat, it helps improve circulation to the liver and pull toxins out through the skin. Several step-by-step tutorials online can walk you through making these packs (without making a mess) and explain how to employ this treatment most effectively.

Juicing

One of the most gentle and effective detox therapies available is juicing or blending green vegetables. You can find hundreds of tasty and healthful green juice recipes online.

Toxin-binding agents

A handful of natural nutritional and chemical substances can bind with certain toxins and remove them from the body. Called toxin-binding supplements or agents, they mop up all kinds of toxins and reduce symptoms associated with toxicity, such as brain fog and pain. Two common toxin-binding agents are zeolite and chlorella. Use as directed.

Coffee enemas are a powerful and important detox therapy. These special enemas stimulate the production of glutathione S-transferase (GTS), an enzyme generally recognized as the body’s “master detoxifier.” The GTS binds with toxins in the body and flushes them out during the enema process. Benefits of coffee enemas include (but are not limited to):

  • Improved bile flow
  • Increased protective enzymes in the liver and gut
  • Better movement of food through the digestive tract and colon
  • Chronic pain relief
  • Boosted energy levels
  • Improved clarity
  • Better mood
  • Liver detoxification

Liver flush cleanses

Liver flush cleanses can help dissolve gallstones and rid the liver and gallbladder of toxins. Gallstones, made from cholesterol, bilirubin, and other components of bile, have been linked to several health concerns, so getting rid of them can benefit your well-being in various ways.

You can find detailed instructions for coffee enemas and liver flush cleanses online, but make sure you consult with your physician before undergoing either of these therapies.

Infrared sauna

One of the detoxification therapies I recommend most to my patients is the regular use of infrared saunas. The skin is the body’s largest detoxifying organ, and sauna therapy utilizes heat and the subsequent sweating to flush out toxins. Infrared sauna therapy has been proven to do the following:

  • Detox hard-to-eliminate toxins like pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), drug residues, acidic waste and heavy metals
  • Deliver oxygen to the tissues
  • Enhance nutrient delivery to cells
  • Boost immune function
  • Improve cardiac and pulmonary function
  • Reduce inflammation and edema
  • Relieve stress

Infrared saunas are available at some medical clinics, spas and gyms, or you can purchase your own. This treatment is considered generally safe for most people; however, it’s always best to consult your doctor before undergoing a new treatment.

Colonic irrigation/hydrotherapy

Often referred to as a “colonic,” colonic irrigation or hydrotherapy flushes out and cleanses the colon with warm, filtered water. To find a practitioner in your area, type “colon hydrotherapy” along with your town or city into your internet search engine.

Detox for a healthier life

I often tell my patients that if they must choose just one health tool to aid them in their cancer battle, it should be detoxification therapy. After all, these treatments have been proven to increase energy, decrease pain, improve sleep, boost cognitive performance, and reduce other cancer and cancer-treatment-related symptoms. Even if you aren’t fighting a serious illness, taking these steps to detoxify your body can ward off other diseases and help you feel healthier and stronger overall.

Resources

You can visit perfectlyhealthy.com to view a wide range of air and water purification products along with EMF protection devices and infrared sauna options. Look under the Healing Home section to learn more.

 

Leigh Erin Connealy, MD, is the medical director of the Cancer Center for Healing and the Center for New Medicine in Irvine, CA. Dr Connealy’s multidisciplinary treatment protocols, team of healthcare professionals, and holistic approach to health and healing have made the Centers the largest integrative/functional medicine clinic in North America, visited by more than 64,000 patients from all over the world. Author of The Cancer Revolution and Be Perfectly Healthy and a sought-after speaker who has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, webinars and podcasts, Dr Connealy has been named one of the Top Functional & Integrative Doctors in the US.

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