Eliminate Toxins, Restore Your Health – The Power of Sweating

by Kimberly Duffels, BSc & Dr. Sharon Gurm

For years, natural health advocates have purported the benefits of sweating in both physical and spiritual cleansing. The primary and obvious function of sweating is thermoregulation, in which sweat (a composition of water and electrolytes) is excreted onto the skin’s surface where it evaporates, acting as a cooling system. For many species, including ourselves, certain metabolites and chemical substances (such as pheromones) are also excreted, giving other species or individuals of the same species, an indication of health, attraction, viability and even relatedness [1].

Recent studies substantiate the traditional therapeutic value of sweating. Research has shown that sweating facilitates the elimination of heavy metals, petrochemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), in addition to other toxins that accumulate in the body.

How Do Toxins Accumulate in My Body?

Ultimately, toxins accumulate because the body is unable to effectively process and excrete them. This may be due to heavy body burden of toxins from exposure to various sources (occupational, environmental, home renovations, mercury amalgams, smoking, poor diet – just to name a few), lack of antioxidants and cofactors (vitamins and minerals) to support our detoxification enzymes, or you may have one or several defective genes that compromise biological functions critical to the elimination of toxins from the body. The latter can be determined through specific genetic testing(available at our clinic).

Identifying your Toxic Load

Recent studies confirm that sweating is a mainroute for excretion of heavy metals, phthalates and Bisphenol-A (BPA) that are minimally, or not at all, excreted via urine [3,4]. BPA and phthalates are petrochemicals or Xenoestrogens, which are environmental toxins that interfere with hormone receptors in the body by mimicking natural hormones. They are known to disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system, affecting child growth and development as well as being linked to breast and prostate cancer and other hormonal ailments such as thyroid dysfunction and infertility. In addition to their stimulating effects on breast and prostate cells, the accumulation and interaction of these organic pollutants is amplified in breast and prostate tissue due to the vast lymphatic network supplying these tissues. BPA, despite its known detrimental effects, has not been removed from many products widely sold to consumers in Canada such as baby bottles, toys, thermal receipts, and cans [2]. Furthermore, our body is unable to process these chemicals, so they build up in our cells, causing oxidative damage and inflammation which contributes to the development and progression of many chronic diseases that are on the rise in our country, such as autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis and cancer [3, 4].

The conventional methods for analyzing the toxic load of heavy metals and petrochemicals are by sampling urine and blood. But, studies are indicating that, unless provoked or mobilized by powerful chelators , these toxicants are only being found in minute proportions (if at all!) in comparison to those found in sweat [3,4]. As well, a review conducted by Sears et al. confirmed that heavy metals such as Cadmium, Arsenic, Lead and Mercury are all showing up in sweat analyses as well. These metals, like BPA and phthalates, are hormone disruptors causative of many imbalances in the biological systems of our body that can ultimately lead to disease.

So, what does this all mean? It means there is no method of testing (whether of blood, urine, saliva or sweat) that can ultimately determine the totaltoxic load in the body. Rather, modern lab tests such as the urine toxic metals test, the nutritional and metabolic organic acids test and the detoxi-genomic profile, provide valuable insight into the types of toxic metals in the body and help identify critical cofactors and antioxidant deficiencies, genetic defects and degree of damage present in the body. These tests also indicate the individual’s elimination capabilities, allowing the physician to prescribe a precise, targeted and individualized approach to detoxification with the desired outcome of restoring functional health – in other words, the focus is on treating the cause of the disease not just symptoms.

Successful detoxification requires that we are able to mobilize and excrete toxins. Ultimately, we need to engage therapies that will effectively mobilize toxins from their deep storage sites (fat, brain and nerve tissue, organs) and subsequently support all the pathways to excrete these mobilized toxins – keeping in mind that the predominate routes of elimination are sweat, stool and urine. If detoxification is not performed carefully, problems can arise as toxins may be mobilized too quickly or ineffectively excreted (due to any of the problems discussed previously) and redistributed to other body compartments, effectively making the problem worse. That alone should be reason enough why you should avoid self-prescribed store-bought detoxes!

What can you do to reduce your toxic load?

There are many ways to reduce the toxic load in the body. Detoxification strategies used by our physicians may include chelation, diet, nutritional support, colon hydrotherapy and infrared sauna therapy. It can’t be overstated how important it is to have a program that is individualized and suited to your needs – there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to detox!

Is there anything you can be doing right now to get started? Absolutely! In addition to following an organic, whole foods diet, be sure to get your sweat on! Clearly, sweating is so much more than just thermoregulation – it is a way for our bodies to relieve itself of toxic loads that weigh us down from day to day that can also can have more serious repercussions later in life. One obvious way to induce sweating is through exercise and surely, we don’t need to tell you the numerous health benefits that come with daily exercise. Another option is a sauna, but for some, both saunas and exercising don’t cause them to ‘break a sweat.’

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Not breaking a sweat? Don’t sweat it! We’ve got a solution for you.

At our clinic we offer Far Infrared Sauna(FIR) therapy which has been proven effective in initiating the sweat response in those who have lost or have compromised ability to sweat, Improvements in sweating can be seen within 3-4 visits. Thisfurther promotes sweating during exercise, helping you optimize your workout and detoxify.

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Remember: Safety first!

If you choose to engage in detoxification, do so under the expertise and guidance of a naturopathic physician.

Please call us at (604) 949-0077 or email us at info@pmnaturopathic.com to learn more about how we can tailor a detox plan to help you unload your toxic burden and restore your health!

[pmn-author-bio]

1. Spehr M, et al. Essential role of the main olfactory system in social recognition of major histocompatibility complex peptide ligands. 2006 September 26; 1961:1970. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4939-05.2006. PMID16481428.

2. Johnson G. BPA for Dinner? Alive Magazine. 2012 February.

http://www.alive.com/articles/view/23387/bpa_for_dinner

3. Genuis SJ, et al. Blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study: monitoring and elimination of bioaccumulated toxic elements. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2011 Aug. 61(2); 344:57.

4. Genuis SJ, et al. Human excretion of bisphenol A: blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study. J Environ Public Health. 2012 ;2012:185731. 

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