Hello, and welcome to our site. My name is Dr. George Georgiou and I would like to share my personal story with you. I believe that natural health and detoxification saved my life – now I want to help other people get healthy too...
Killing ourselves with toxic chemicals
In Chapter 4, we talked about general detoxification protocols for eliminating toxins from different organs and tissues of the body. This chapter has been written specifically to address the issue of heavy metal and xenobiotic toxicity, as well as outlining natural ways in which these can be eliminated.
I became interested in heavy metals, particularly mercury, when I inadvertently discovered back in 1997 – after running a routine Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) on myself – that I had severely high mercury levels in my system (see column ‘Hg’ in the reports below – this is off the scale). In fact they were about 10 times higher than the acceptable levels, that’s 1000 percent higher! This had occurred after removing about 10 amalgams with the help of a holistic dentist, here in Cyprus, who gave me chlorella as part of the detoxification protocol. I have since realised how misinformed the dentist was concerning toxic metal chelation protocols, as I learned many years later that chlorella is simply not enough to eliminate toxic metals from the body. There are many other dentists all over the world that are inadvertently poisoning people with mercury due to their ignorance. This chapter hopefully will highlight some of the adverse effects on health from mercury toxicity.
It was no surprise that I had many health problems in those days including hand tremors, memory loss, skin irritation, ataxia (poor balance), kidney pains and neurological disturbances. In fact, I was trying hard to keep some sort of balance to maintain my busy work schedule, not to mention bringing up a demanding family.
It took me many years of study to discover how to remove this mercury from my body and regain my health. In the last few years, I have been actively involved in developing heavy metal detoxification protocols that have been scientifically proven to work and I will be discussing these, with case examples, towards the end of this chapter.
Toxic chemicals, otherwise known as ‘xenobiotics’ (Greek: ‘foreign to life’) which are scattered all over our planet from the North Pole to the South Pole, are being constantly researched, and the conclusion is that they are extremely toxic to humans as well as wildlife. Even though some chemicals have been taken off the market, those that remain are even more noxious than the ones already banned. Bioaccumulation in soils, water supplies and the tissues of animals and humans is a real problem, which results in these chemicals lingering for many, many years even after they have being banned. DDT, for example, has been banned for more than 25 years in the Western world, yet it is still being found in the tissues of wildlife in the arctic, as well as humans in many different countries.
A recent study noted that only five organochlorine compounds as well as mercury were found in marine mammals in the 1960’s. Today over 265 organic pollutants and 50 inorganic chemicals have been found in these species.
Other recent research has focused on how chemicals affect the thyroid and pituitary systems. Some chemicals have been identified as endocrine disrupters because they can interfere with the body’s own hormones, which are secreted by the endocrine glands.
It is also emerging that endocrine disrupters can have many physiological effects not directly associated with the primary system. For example, the thyroid system is well known to regulate metabolism, but it is also a crucial component in foetal brain development in mammals, and too much or too little thyroid hormone at crucial points can do permanent damage.
The immune system is also vulnerable to hormone-mediated disruption. Chemicals can cause neurological problems, reproductive and developmental abnormalities as well as cancers. And researchers are only just beginning to disentangle the questions about the effects of chronic low-level exposure (as opposed to brief high doses of chemicals); combinations of chemicals and interactions between chemicals and other physiological and environmental factors.
Low dose exposure
Toxicologists studying chemical toxicity usually have a reference range of values which indicate the ‘safe levels’ of toxic chemicals. New research is showing, however, that even low-dose exposure of mercury for example, is accumulative over time and can lead to children having decreased performance in areas of motor function and memory. Similarly, disruption of attention, fine motor function and verbal memory has also been found in adults on exposure to low mercury levels. It is an occupational hazard for dental staff, chloralkali factory workers, gold miners and those of similar professions. Mercury has been found to be a causative agent of various sorts for disorders, including neurological, nephrological, immunological, cardiac, motor, reproductive and even genetic disorders. Recently heavy metal mediated toxicity has been linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, Lupus, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and even cancers. Besides this, it poses danger to wildlife. This low-dose toxicity and its effects on health will be the toxicologists’ next goal for future research.
We are all toxic
Heavy metal poisoning is now so common that it is literally impossible to avoid it. There would not be many scientists knowledgeable in heavy metals and xenobiotics (foreign chemicals), who would disagree with the statement that ‘We are all toxic.’
What is the proof? Even though I discussed this in Chapter 4, I will quickly recap for those that have not read this chapter – for those that have, there is a lot of new material mentioned here that is worth knowing. There are many studies that have found many of these heavy metals and xenobiotics in newborn babies. In September 2005, Greenpeace International, with the World Wildlife Fund, published a document entitled Present for Life: Hazardous Chemicals in Umbilical Cord Blood. The research was a real eye-opener as it convincingly demonstrated that newborns tested for hundreds of different xenobiotics, showed high numbers and levels of these toxins. Specifically, the blood tests showed that these newborns had an average of 287 toxins in their bodies – 180 of these are known carcinogens.
Toxins in newborns
This study also quantifies the antibacterial agent triclosan in human blood, which was found in almost 50% of the samples. DDT, the notorious pesticide that is banned for
agricultural use worldwide but which is still used in some places to control malaria, was still found in virtually all blood samples. Similarly, the organochlorine by-product and pesticide hexachlorobenzene – also subject to a global ban – was found in the samples. Perfluorinated compounds like PFOS and PFOA, used to make non-stick pans and water repelling coatings, were present in all but one maternal blood sample. PFOS was detected in all cord blood samples, and PFOA in half of them.
We could make the assumption that this study was conducted in America where the level of toxicity is probably higher, as compared with other countries. In order to address this
question let’s examine a similar study conducted on pregnant women living in the North Pole, which most people feel is a clean part of the earth! The research was published in The Science of the Total Environment journal and was entitled, Organochlorines and heavy metals in pregnant women from the Disko Bay area in Greenland.
Toxins in the North Pole
This study showed high concentrations of heavy metals – such as mercury – and organochlorines in the blood and fatty tissue of the Inuit people. This is attributed in particular to their high consumption of the meat and blubber of marine mammals.
In this present study, 180 pregnant women and 178 newborn babies were studied, amounting to 36% of the total number of births in the Disko Bay area during 1994-1996.
The pesticides found in the highest concentrations in maternal blood were DDE – 4.8 μg/l wet weight, trans-nonachlor – 1.6 μg/l.and hexachlorobenzene – 1.2 μg/l; while the total concentration of PCB (Aroclor 1260) was 19.1 μg/l. Calculated on a lipid basis, concentrations were slightly higher in maternal than in cord blood. The mercury concentrations were 16.8 μg/l in maternal blood and 35.6 μg/l in cord blood. In a linear regression analysis, the concentrations of organochlorines, mercury and selenium increased with maternal age. Concentrations of mercury and cadmium increased with the consumption of marine mammals, and cadmium was associated with smoking.
Toxins in wildlife
Similar studies have also shown that wildlife in the Arctic, is also being reduced/wiped out due to high levels of toxic chemicals in their environment, and that several Arctic mammal and bird species showing signs of chemical exposure are likely to have their health adversely affected. Some of the effects seen are potentially quite serious (e.g. immune suppression, hormone disturbances, as well as altered behaviour).
Toxic contamination through the generations
Another fascinating study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund set out to explore whether there was any relationship between the types and levels of contamination
found in 3 generations of families, and to examine possible links between contamination and a family’s lifestyle, consumption patterns and everyday products. The report entitled, Contamination: The Next Generation summarises the findings of the analysis of 104 different chemicals in the blood of 33 volunteers from 7 families living in England, Scotland and Wales.
The volunteers in each family spanned three generations, generally comprising the grandmother, mother and two children. The volunteers comprised 14 children, 13 adult parents and six grandmothers. The ages of the volunteers ranged from 9 to 88 years.
All three generations tested, including the children, were contaminated by a cocktail of hazardous man-made chemicals. The results reveal that every child, from as young
as 9 years (none younger were tested), was contaminated by the same range of hazardous chemicals: organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, brominated flame-retardants, phthalates and perfluorinated (‘non-stick’) chemicals. Five chemicals found in each parent and grandparent was also found in every child.
While it might be expected that the chemical burden increases with age, the above study has shown that this conventional assumption is not always true: children can be more contaminated by higher numbers and levels of certain ‘newer’ chemicals than their parents or even their grandparents, despite being exposed to these chemicals for only a fraction of the time. These ‘newer’ chemicals include brominated flame retardants (used in sofas, textiles and electrical appliances) and perfluorinated chemicals (used in the manufacture of non-stick pans, coatings for takeaway food packaging and treatments for carpets, furniture, clothing and footwear).
The results also show that chemicals used daily were found in the families tested in the survey, including the children. For example, fifty seven per cent of the 7 people found to be contaminated by deca-BDE, a brominated flame retardant, were children. Of the volunteers tested, 82 per cent were contaminated by one or more perfluorinated chemicals. The perflourinated chemical, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) was found in more than a third of the children tested. A related chemical PFOS (perfluorooctane sulphonate) was found in 5 of the family members tested.
There have been similar studies in the USA too – in July 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published a 475-page document entitled, Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals which clearly indicates the growing number of chemical toxins present in all age-groups in the USA. The American Council on Science and Health published a document in May 2003 entitled, Traces of Environmental Chemicals in the Human Body: Are They a Risk to Health? This research looked at the different types of xenobiotics found in US citizens, as well as their quantity. While chemicals that have been banned for many years are still being detected, generally there is a downward trend with up to 90% reduction in the last few decades of toxins such as DDT and lead.
Let’s take a brief look at some of these more common xenobiotics chemicals that have detrimental effects on humans, as well as wildlife.