The Day the Water Died: Detoxing after the Gulf Oil Spill

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The excitement of the season had just begun, and then we heard the news: oil in the water, lots of oil killing lots of water. It is too shocking to understand. Never in the millennium of our tradition have we thought it possible for the water to die, but it is true.

Chief Walter Meganack
Traditional Village Chief
Port Graham NativeVillage, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
(National Wildlife Federation, 1990)

Psychopaths Rule Our World

We are now part of a giant experiment on massive chemical toxicity exposure, where insanity, wishful thinking, denial, and outright lies run the show. Where our leaders are completely out of touch with reality and rather than guidance, protection and healing, they offer us disinformation and manipulation. How on earth did we allow this to happen? Then again, what do we expect in a world where psychopathic corporate interests dominate almost every area of life?

An invasive cancer has spread throughout our global society. Mother nature too has succumbed to the effects of this destructive ideology and now carries the seeds of ecological disaster in her womb. Despite all their machinations and carefully laid plans, the hubris and supreme self-interest of the psychopaths that rule our world have set humanity on a course for extinction. Who benefits when there are no people left to rule and control?

In the words of psychologist Andrew M. Lobaczweski:

[W]hat happens if the network of understandings among psychopaths achieves power in leader-ship positions with international exposure? Goaded by their character, such people thirst for just that […] They do not understand that a catastrophe would otherwise ensue. Germs are not aware that they will be burned alive or buried deep in the ground along with the human body whose death they are causing.

If such and many managerial positions are assumed by individuals deprived of sufficient abilities to feel and understand most other people, and who also betray deficiencies as regards technical imagination and practical skills–faculties indispensable for governing economic and political matters–this must result in an exceptionally serious crisis in all areas, both within the country in question and with regard to international relations. -Andrew M. Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes.

It is often said that if we don’t learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it, and it saddens me to have to say that, as a species, humanity today finds itself on the evolutionary cliff-edge once again. But times of great crisis and tragedy also present an opportunity to finally wake up to the reality of the world around us and the forces that would prefer human beings to go quietly and ignorantly into the cold, dark night of oblivion. Knowledge therefore is crucial, but to acquire and use knowledge, we must first ensure that we have healthy bodies, minds and emotions through which that knowledge will be expressed. It is for this reason that there has been a concerted effort by our political and corporate leaders to ensure that humanity remains caught in the grip of physical, psychological and emotional illness.

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

The Exxon Valdez disaster spilled millions of gallons of oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1989. As tragic as it was and still is, it pales in comparison to what happened this year in the gulf. It has been estimated that the BP oil spill poured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill every 8 to 10 days. What most people don’t know is that federal records show a steady stream of oil spills between 1964 and 2009 that dumped 517,847 barrels of petroleum – which would fill an equivalent number of standard American bathtubs – into the Gulf of Mexico. The spills killed thousands of birds and soiled beaches as far away as Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Altogether, they poured twice as much oil into U.S. waters as the Exxon Valdez tanker did when it ran aground in 1989. Now with the Gulf Oil Spill we are facing a disaster of epic proportions and consequences, an event that represents a point of no return.

Riki Ott, PhD is a marine biologist and toxicologist, author of Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, a very enlightening read with multiple eyewitness accounts and her own direct experience of that disaster. Ott’s book confirms the serious medical consequences of massive chemical exposure from oil spills and serves as a dire warning that the Gulf oil spill is likely to affect our planet and its population in catastrophic ways:

I believe that much of the environmental science (and social sciences as well) is being held hostage by powerful interests vested in oil, petrochemicals, the auto industry, and other corporations that grow rich on polluting our commons—the air, water, and soil we all share freely. It is not in corporations’ best interest to have science educate society about the true risks—the threat to life on earth—posed by side effects of their businesses. So these corporations buy scientists, university professors and others, to spin counter stories, create public confusion, and stall unfavorable policy changes.

“Whose truth are we talking about, your truth or my truth?” public relations specialist, John Scanlon, retorted to a reporter who had asked him whether he served his clients or the truth. Until science deals with its Achilles’ heel of advocacy science, it cannot meet society’s needs to protect life and we will continue to pollute our soil, air, and water, ourselves, and other life on this planet. Like lemmings,we are all racing towards the cliff. -Riki Ott, PhD., Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

The Never Ending Toxic List


In an oil spill there are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or oil vapors (benzene), oil mists, carbon monoxide (diesel exhaust), hydrogen sulfide (decomposing oiled debris and carcasses), airborne oil polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which imitate human reproductive hormones and cause immunosuppression. Chemicals associated with exposure to crude oil and oil dispersant solvents like Corexit include 2-butoxyethanol, trimethylbenzenes, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, 2-methylpentane, 3-methylpentane, and n-hexane. Trimethylbenzenes and some methylpentates (solvents) are some of the most difficult pollutants to eliminate from the body.

The dispersants used in oil spills act as liquid soap to break up surface oil into droplets that are later carried by the wind and waves into the water column (under the sea surface). Basically it is the psychopathic corporate way of sweeping everything under the rug and out of everyone’s sight. The problem is that the combination of dispersants and crude oil has also created a new, previously unknown, health hazard:

Mists and aerosols are the route by which non-volatile components of crude oil (both fresh and weathered) enter the body and give rise to toxic responses. Weathered oil is oil mostly free of volatile organic carbons, containing metals and other pollutants probably capable of supporting bacterial colonization. It contains PAHs such as chrysenes, benzopyrene, and benzanthracene which cause skin, lung and bladder cancer.

Pressurized hot water washes release the weathered oil (PAHs) into the air which then is carried into the lungs or skin, causing bronchial inflammation and spasm. The concentration of chemicals with a droplet is extremely high, so aerosols tend to be extremely toxic.

In 1999, the U.S. EPA identified twenty-two PAHs as “persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic (PBT) pollutants” (U.S.EPA 2001). PBT pollutants are ‘the worst of the worst’ known human health hazards—the list includes mercury, dioxin, PCBs, DDT, and now PAHs. The EPA (2000) states that PBT pollutants are “highly toxic,long-lasting substances that can build up in the food chain to levels that are harmful to humans and ecosystems. ” In other words, they are persistent  and they are bioavailable; that is they are able to spread throughout the ecosystem. Further ,“PBTs are associated with a range of adverse human health effects,including the nervous system,reproductive and developmental problems, cancer, and genetic impacts. Reducing risks from PBTs presents a challenge because of the pollutants’ ability to travel long distances, move easily from air to water or land and linger for generations in people and the environment. -Riki Ott, PhD.

Then, there is also the problem of potential synergistic effects of multiple exposures of various aromatic hydrocarbons.

Ophthalmologists are seeing more and more conjunctivitis in the gulf area and some are actually recommending people to wash their hands appropriately – completely unaware that this is not an infectious conjunctivitis outbreak in the gulf area, but a toxic one!

Hydrogen sulfide:

Acute effects from high or accidental exposure: produces paralysis similar to cyanides.
Chronic effects from relatively low exposure: conjunctival irritation, chronic bronchitis, recurrent pneumonitis. [Gulf Oil Spill Truth]

Gulf Oil Spill Flu

Main exposures in oil spills include skin contact with weathered crude oil and inhalation of VOCs or “oil vapors”. Usually these are expected to evaporate and dissipate quickly into the air, although pressurized hot water wash creates crude oil mists and particulates which are a health hazard.

A graphic summary of clinical data during the Exxon Valdez oil spill showed that 300 to 500 workers were treated EVERY week of the cleanup for 5 consecutive months for upper respiratory infections with cough and flu-like symptoms. This is a total of 6,722 reported cases, yet during the cleanup, Exxon claimed a near zero work-related illness rate. They didn’t consider (or covered up) the fact that oily vapors, mists, and aerosols are potential sources. They attributed it to a virus, even though epidemiologists reported that the state’s lab never found a unique influenza virus in the region. Gulf oil spill flu anyone?

Mainstream doctors are incredibly ill-equipped for this disaster as they don’t have a formal and appropriate education in environmental toxicity, nutrition, and psychology. This fact is so utterly saddening in a world where toxicity is pervasive and unavoidable and accounts for numerous diseases and ailments.

Detoxify or Die

We are exposed to 6 million pounds of mercury and the 2.5 billion pounds other toxic chemicals each year. There are currently more than 80,000 chemicals in consumer goods, with little or no safety information about their impact on human health. The average newborn baby has 287 known toxins in his or her umbilical cord blood, 217 of which are toxic to the brain and nervous system.
15 percent of American women of child-bearing age have toxic levels of mercury in their blood. That means that 15 percent of the 4 million children born in the United States each year, or 600,000 children, are exposed to toxic levels of mercury in the womb.

Mercury is a trace component of all fossil fuels including natural gas, gas condensates, crude oil, coal, tar sands, and other bitumens – Mark Sircus

Then there are the 3,500 different chemicals that are added to our food, and the more than 3,000 chemicals found in our homes.
The average American consumes literally pounds of hormones, antibiotics, food chemicals, additives, artificial sweeteners, and MSG each year. Each one of these toxic chemicals has been shown to harm the brain.

On average we consume a gallon of neurotoxic pesticides and herbicides each year by eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, and that’s just the people who eat much less than the 8 to 10 servings that are generally recommended. The reason that pesticides work so well is because they are neurotoxic to pests – they are specifically designed to attack the nervous system.

Petroleum-based chemicals are in all of us, even if we are not working around chemicals. Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals are now everywhere in our world. The chemicals that are commonly found in human beings are toxic to the nervous system, immune system, and the hormonal system, and while individual tolerances to chemical exposures vary (as do the symptoms), there is an association between these chemicals and increased rates of asthma, allergies, cancers and autoimmune disorders.

Just to give you an idea, up to 40 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease [Stephen Edelson MD and Deborah Mitchell, What your Doctor May Not Tell You About Autoimmune Disorders]. Of that number, about 75% are women, making it the fourth largest cause of disability in women. Autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women in all age groups up to 64 years of age. Researchers have identified 80-100 different autoimmune diseases and suspect at least 40 additional diseases of having an autoimmune basis. These diseases are chronic and can be life-threatening.

What I’m trying to say with all of this is that we don’t need a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to compromise our health in a significant way. Adding the toxic oil spill disaster on top of the already existing toxic load in our bodies is the proverbial straw, and human beings are the camel’s back. At this stage in our evolution, we are faced with a stark choice; we literally detoxify or die. If we do not, we are guaranteed to experience a sharp increase in chronic degenerative health problems as the body’s detox system becomes unable to cope with the toxic burden of some of the hardest chemicals to clear out from the body.

Toxins that are water soluble are rapidly cleared out of our bodies, but toxins that are fat-soluble enter and get stored in our bodies. Fat stores are a key source for fuel, tissue integration, hormones, etc. Fat soluble chemicals permeate all biological membranes. Fat is essential for life, but toxic fat is a host for disease. Solvents are lipophilic, which means that they are attracted to fat and dissolve into fatty tissue and nerves which are insulated with myelin – a fatty layer. So it is no surprise that solvents affect the autonomous nervous system, especially the breathing centers, manifesting itself in labored breathing and respiratory distress. Solvents also attack the brain and central nervous system, affecting thought processing, particularly memory and concentration, but also causing changes in mood and personality.

Many solvents evaporate in the air at room temperature and are then easily inhaled, they penetrate the skin, and they cross the placenta, accumulating at higher doses in the fetus. In addition, solvents are found in breast fat and breast milk, sometimes at higher concentrations than in maternal blood. Solvents in water enter the body through skin absorption and inhalation in the shower, as well as through drinking. Some solvents like synthetic hydrocarbon-based (organic) ones get stored in fatty tissues. Organic solvents include aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene, chlorinated hydrocarbons such as trichloroethylene, and glycol esters such as 2-butoxyethanol. They can cause skin, liver, central nervous system, lung and kidney disease. Certain solvents inhibit blood cell production, and most of them are carcinogenic. Glycol ethers can cause birth defects, testicular damage, infertility, and failed pregnancies. Exposure to solvents, especially through inhalation, can lead to systemic symptoms. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the oil, dispersants, and degreasers warn of acute symptoms such as dermatitis (skin rashes), headaches, dizziness, nausea, and central nervous system problems. Chronic symptoms include anemia and other blood disorders such as leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells), fetal defects, liver and kidney damage, and toxic systemic effects. MSDS warn that exposure to vapors and aerosols should be avoided, and that such products should be kept out of sewers and watercourses (including the ocean!).

Prolonged exposure to oil, the dispersant Corexit 9527, or in combination could alter the ability of intestinal microfauna to break down toxic chemicals. This could explain the high incidence of gastrointestinal distress claims reported.

Overexposure to oil through skin contact can cause cancer (epitheliomas), endocrine disruption (hormone imbalances), and immune suppression, which weakens one’s ability to fight disease, infection,and chemical poisons. Overexposure to [oil dispersants] through skin contact can cause dermatitis. Studies on skin exposure to PAHs of animals and humans suggest that the combination of sunlight (UV exposure) and oil is more irritating than oil alone (Gomer and Smith 1980).

The chemical compounds in crude oil that pose a health threat to aquatic (and human) life are “aromatic hydrocarbons. ” Aromatic hydrocarbons contain one to five ring-shaped benzene molecules, one of the oldest known human carcinogens.There are two types of aromatic hydrocarbons:those that dissolve rapidly in water or air and those that do not.Since the scientists were charged with establishing water quality standards,they decided to simplify matters by focusing on only those aromatic hydrocarbons that readily dissolved in water. The “water soluble fraction (WSF)” of crude oil is mostly one- and two-ring aromatic hydrocarbons. The scientists decided to largely ignore, for the time being, the  “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), ” the three- to five-ring aromatic hydrocarbons,which do not readily dissolve in water.

In fact, one particular type of genetic damage, “anaphase aberrations, ” was so closely correlated with PAHs that the researchers recommended using it to assess injuries during future oil spills.

Oil molecules don’t like water , so if they happen to encounter another oil or lipid,they’re going to stick to it.In the Sound, you have oil upstream on rocks and it’s constantly oozing these PAHs that’s the weathering process.Any little lipid packets downstream,like salmon eggs,are going to soak up PAHs as they wash by.

The aromatic hydrocarbon benzene,a solvent,was considered dangerous as early as the 1920s. As a potent carcinogen,“The only absolutely safe level for benzene is zero ” states a 1948 health review prepared for American Petroleum Institute (Rampton and Stauber 2001,85)

Crude oil was found to be even more hazardous to humans than previously thought. Inhalation of oil mist and PAH aerosols was found to result in short- and long-term respiratory damage and central nervous system disorders as well as chronic blood (anemia, leukemia), liver, and kidney disorders; endocrine disruption; and immune suppression. -Riki Ott Ph.D., Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

Other symptoms include red eyes, eyes, coughs, sinus infection, sore throat, vomiting, ear and nose bleeds, central nervous system symptoms and permanent lung damage.  Crude oil aerosols and some solvents are endocrine disrupters that can disrupt thyroid function and cause thus weight gain, fatigue, intolerance to cold or heat, hair loss, etc.

Chemical Sensitivity

Dr. Rea [expert in multiple chemical sensitivity] witnessed the slow emergence of chemical sensitivity as a new disease paradigm, and its slow acceptance within the scientific and medical communities, during his pioneering quarter century career in the field. Dr. Rea and his colleagues had dubbed this “the petrochemical problem,” because the increasing incidence of chemical sensitivity seemed to parallel the growth of the petrochemical industry and the increased use of synthetic products such as pesticides, plastics, food additives, synthetic textiles, and particleboard. -Riki Ott, PhD.

Each one of us is different in our capacity to tolerate chemical pollution. We lose our tolerance to toxins when we are exposed to massive amounts of them or to smaller amounts over a long period to time. This is when even small amounts of toxic chemicals in drugs, food or environment that were previously tolerated, can, all of a sudden, trigger any imaginable disease and/or symptom that is not necessarily related to the initial symptoms of massive toxic exposure. It can trigger an exaggerated reaction, disproportionate to the minimal exposure. Traffic exhaust or cleaning solvents can make you sick, or even the cosmetics you use. Odor sensitivity is one of the main signs of chemical sensitivity.

Some people may experience digestive problems, back and joint pains, tiredness, sore muscles. Others may have mood swings or depression. Everyone is different, so even if individuals are exposed to the same toxins, each person can develop different diseases and symptoms that are unique to them and determined by genetic susceptibility, food intolerances and previous exposure to other toxic chemicals in the environment through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the homes we live in, etc. This individual response also accounts for the different length of time between an initial toxic event and the development of symptoms between individuals. A person with an unhealthy detox system might get sick very quickly, others can be relatively healthy for years before problems begin. Some may end up with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, autoimmune diseases, etc. Or symptoms can manifest on neurodevelopmental problems in the unborn child of an exposed parent. Furthermore, any stress on your body further depletes its capabilities to heal from the initial trauma: accidents, psychological or emotional stress, etc.

Some people with chemicals like toluene, 2-methylpentane, and 3-methylpentane in their blood may have neurological symptoms such as short-term memory loss, headaches and imbalance; and heart arrhythmias or irregularities; gastrointestinal upset, gas, and bloating. Others don’t have symptoms at all. It all depends on the body’s previous toxic load, genetic vulnerability, nutritional status, etc.

Chemical-induced illnesses often result in impairment, sometimes bearable, but other times causing complete disability. Common symptoms of chemical sensitivity include:

-Ear, nose, and throat: sinusitis, polyps, tinnitus, vertigo, recurrent otitis (ear infections), rhinitis (runny nose), sore throat, cough.
-Neuropsychological: multiple chemical sensitivity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, migraines, seizures, poor memory and concentration.
-Cardiovascular: arrhythmias, hypertension, hypotension, Raynaud’s phenomenon.
-Respiratory: asthma, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, Toluene diisocyanate hypersensitivity, wheezing, breathlessness nausea.
-Eyes: burning, stinging eyes.
-Skin: eczema, hives, other rashes, eruptions.
-Gastrointestinal: irritable bowel, reflux.
-Connective tissue, musculoskeletal: fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, temporomandibular joint dysfunction syndrome, arthritis, lupus, muscle and joint pain.
-miscellaneous: chronic fatigue syndrome, gulf war syndrome, fluid retention.

Mainstream medicine doesn’t recognize diseases that are due to environmental toxicity of even very low levels of everyday chemicals. These ailments can manifest in a myriad of different ways including physical, mental or emotional symptoms. It is all too easy for a doctor to dismiss them as “all in your head”, when in reality most physicians are neither trained nor educated in environmental toxicity. Doctors tend to concentrate only on recent chemical exposures, and not on the toxic load we have accumulated throughout our lives. Medical treatment, which only hides the symptoms with drugs, is a totally incorrect approach. You don’t cover up chemical sensitivities, or add to them with chemicals in drugs. You must treat the root cause of the problem.

In fact, mainstream doctors are not only not trained in multiple chemical sensitivities and environmental medicine, they are woefully ignorant of nutrition and the crucial role it plays in health. Lacking the training to diagnose and treat chemically sensitive patients, doctors try to fit the symptoms to their limited knowledge. Doctors will often give a diagnosis of “delusional” for a real clinical manifestation of which they are simply unaware. This lack of education is partly due to the fact that critics of chemical sensitivity often have financial ties to the chemical and drug industries, and the traditional allergists, which then go on to sponsor medical education.

Chemical injury to our bodies is often mistaken for colds, flu, stress or other medical conditions. These symptoms can be the first signs of chemical exposure, but if doctors are not trained to diagnose occupational or environmental diseases that are the result of exposure to toxic chemicals, they dismiss them and thereby contribute to the under-reporting of the very real effects of chemical exposure. Despite this, there is scientific data that demonstrates that exposure to very low doses of certain chemicals can result in serious heath problems including nervous system damage, reproductive disorders, endocrine disorders, immune system effects, and birth defects.

The nervous system is able to amplify our body’s responses to chemicals that are perceived as dangerous to the organism. It is the toxic-induced loss of tolerance. Exposure to 2-butoxyethanol in Corexit and other solvents is known to cause this exaggerated response. In addition, when people are exposed to massive amounts of chemicals, they can even experience “withdrawal” symptoms from those chemicals.

“Forget the standard 70-kilogram human (150-pound man) used in risk assessment; we need a system that protects the most vulnerable among us.”

“The traditional doctors often fail to diagnose and treat chemical-induced symptoms and diseases. PAH aerosols and solvents such as benzene and 2-butoxyethanol are neurotoxins and endocrine disrupters that can cause systemic effects, which often are not connected by the patient or doctor back to the root cause,and therefore not treated as chemical exposures. The traditionally trained doctors sent the workers back out into the conditions that made them sick in the first place.”

“Chemical sensitivity and the emerging new disease paradigm these symptoms represent—toxic induced loss of tolerance or TILT—are slowly breaking through a wall of recognition-resistance formed by traditional doctors, allergists, and the petrochemical industry (Ashford and Miller 1998).”

“PAHs operate within the cell on proteins, jamming functions of essential enzymes, hormones, and immunoglobins, and even damaging DNA, the basic hereditary molecules of life.”

“Many diseases associated with crude oil exposure take over a decade to manifest.”

“There is a deep-seated societal bias against the recognition of chemical illnesses in general, primarily because of liability concerns by the petrochemical industry, health insurers, and the federal government. The medical profession with its attendant drug industry and insurance providers has grown huge, and it has much to lose by people and doctors who claim that debilitating illnesses are caused by chemicals at trace levels far below regulated levels.The drug industry is part of the revolution in synthetic organic chemical production, which had soared from less than 10 million tons per year in 1945 to over 100 million tons by 1980 (Ashford and Miller 1998). Over 1,000 new chemicals a year were entering U.S. markets by the 1990s. Production—and profit—overwhelm common sense and societal safeguards. The health effects and toxicity of the vast majority of the chemicals in commerce—drugs, pesticides, cosmetics, food additives—are unknown, and what is known was from research mostly sponsored by the drug and chemical industries. People with chemical sensitivities are the undesired and silent side effects of this chemical-based prosperity. Chemical sensitivity is an emerging area of both medicine and law, and it is extremely controversial in both arenas (Liberman, DiMuro, and Boyd 1999). The often vague and multi-system symptoms associated with chemical sensitivity pose a problem for health care professionals and create a field day for corporate lawyers. Environmental doctors such as Dr.Rea find themselves constantly pitted against legions of other physicians, primarily allergists and psychiatrists who believe that chemical sensitivity is psychological, a view that serves corporate interests and infuriates patients. Professional jealousies and rivalry from the traditional practices, inflamed by corporate lawyers, hamper understanding of the new disease process and hold patients and public policy hostage (Hileman 1991).”  -Riki Ott, Ph.D.

We have a detox enzyme system that breaks down aromatic hydrocarbons, it metabolizes our body’s organic compounds that are no longer needed, and it breaks down toxic chemicals as well. The specific enzyme that breaks down PAHs also breaks down PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and is called cytochrome P450-1A. When PAHs are broken down, they become oxidized, and therefore more reactive and more toxic than the original toxin. These reactive breakdown PAHs can trigger cancer or DNA changes before they are fully broken down. Some of the toxins in the oil spill are known to be the most difficult chemicals to detoxify from the body. Even after 6 consecutive months of an appropriate detox, people can still have some of the chemicals in their blood!

How To Detoxify

This is meant to be a guide, so I highly encourage you to do your own homework and research. If mainstream doctors are not going to help people detoxify, at least there are other sources and options that can be used. Just remember, you can successfully detoxify and have a fulfilling life.

Dietary Changes

Chronic ailments often involves an imbalanced immune/defense system in which food sensitivities gets involved even if it is not the cause of the problem, leading then to chronic inflammation – which translates into disease. This is why it is important to make an elimination diet in order to balance the body’s immune system.  Some of our immune cells take 6 months to regenerate, so  it can take that much time in order to see results if you are very sick. But often, you can see positive results in the first two weeks on an appropriate diet even when you can’t afford any other detox. You can find the diet and how to transition from it here.

Everyone is different and it is only by testing foods that we can discern our individual problematic foods. Having said that, no one should be eating cereals or dairy products or high processed foods because human beings are simply not wired to digest them properly. For more information see Speaking Out Against Gluten and Why Milk Is So Evil.

The elimination diet includes a broth that is rich in nutrients, a shake rich in amino acids and also provides a menu guide. What we eat is crucial in recovering our health and it is a great healing medicine when done correctly.


A fasting can be a way to detoxify, although a person with a heavy toxic load should never do it for more than 4 days since it overburdens the body with the toxic release. If you want to know more about it, read Fasting and Eating for Health by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Far infrared saunas

Far infrared treatments have shown to be of great benefit in a variety of illnesses. Far infrared waves speed removal of toxins from the body. When far infrared waves are applied, large water molecules vibrate and breakdown the ion bond to toxics, releasing them so they can be then cleared out from the cell and out through the body. Far infrared heat also expands capillaries and skin pores to expel toxins from the body. The far infrared rays most vital to healing are 4-14 microns.

Far Infrared saunas (FIR) in particular stimulate multiple pathways in the body including the liver detoxification metabolic pathways. They also supports kidney filtration and elimination. Most importantly far infrared sauna triggers subcutaneous toxin release via perspiration – thereby bringing “online” this additional detoxification pathway. Families and organizations can share the cost of a FIR sauna, which can be used round the clock by many when situations call for such use. – Mark Sircus

A FIR blanket sauna is more cost effective and uses less electrical current. Each person is different, and some may not tolerate long stretches of time inside the blanket. But when one is toxic, 2 hours everyday is appropriate. Late stage heart failure patients (candidates for heart transplantation!) usually tolerate 15′ at 60 degrees Celsius (140 F) five times a week without problems – and with great health benefits.

You can take vitamins and minerals (i.e. selenium, zinc, vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin B) before going in the sauna and other supplements when you come out. Daily basic supplementation such as a good daily multivitamin/multimineral, milk thistle, digestive enzymes, probiotics, vitamin E, vitamin D, omega 3s, etc can be taken throughout the day.


There are numerous supplements that are extremely helpful in detoxing the body. Among them we have N-acetylcysteine which is also a source of the powerful detoxifier glutathione. Around 500mg twice a day is a good dose; although some have used with great success around 5 grams of NAC (per day) in 7 days cycles in order to detoxify mercury which is the second most toxic substance in the world.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is another crucial supplement. It is water and fat soluble and it is also capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. This means that it is capable of reaching and preventing damage from the evil toxins that are lodged in our fatty tissues, our brains, and every single organ for that matter. This is an important factor because toxins can affect our brain in a significant way. ALA also repairs DNA and prevents DNA and RNA from the damaging processes that result from certain cell-signaling chain reactions. It is a good heavy metal chelator, it protects the heart and brain from cell death, stimulates the regeneration of liver tissue and is rapidly absorbed high up into the digestive tract. ALA recycles other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione which is an indispensable antioxidant for detoxification and is synthesized within the mitochondrion. Glutathione may not reliably be augmented by oral supplementation because it cannot always pass over the mitochondrial membrane, therefore it must be synthesized within the mitochondrion. ALA and its metabolite DHLA provoke the cell to produce significantly higher levels of glutathione (even by 70%). So if the glutathione levels in a cell are kept up to a satisfactory level by ALA, even if the cell is poisoned, the cell will have a better chance of recovering instead of dying. Other researchers have demonstrated that ALA can help glucose enter the injured cell. In this way, it provides the fuel necessary for the mitochondrion powerhouse. This energy can be used for the increased cell divisions that are necessary for the regeneration of a severely damaged liver. The recommended dose of ALA is 100mg twice a day with meals. Although others have used higher doses: 300mg – 600mg.

It is crucially important that in our diagnostic model of Gulf Toxicity Syndrome the local populations of the southern states are already exposed to the highest airborne mercury levels; so these people’s toxic levels are unusually high and their immune and detoxification systems are unusually low. Glutathione levels have been diminished and then crashed down even further due to inhaled VOCs. Thus, replenishing glutathione levels quickly is an essential foundation for appropriate emergency and long-term treatment. – Mark Sircus

Antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are very important and the basic ones include magnesium and vitamin C. For dose recommendation see here. In general, it should be around 700mg of magnesium chelate: citrate, malate, taurate (not oxide). For vitamin C, 1-4 grams daily as maintenance is a good dose, but during detox or illness more is required. Other important ones include a good B complex vitamin, vitamin E  800-1000 IU per day, selenium 200 mcg per day, zinc 50 mg per day, vitamin B6 (as pyridoxal 5 phosphate) 50mg per day, molybdenum, etc.

Other important supplements include milk thistle, omega 3s (mercury free!), taurine, melatonin, 5 HTP (see this article for more information and dose calculation), and digestive enzymes.

Some people take numerous supplements which are necessary for a period of time to counteract a specific ailment or toxicity. But after a period of time and as we detoxify, supplementation can be cut down to a minimum.

Coffee enemas

Coffee enemas have a great capability for detoxification as they increase gluthathione levels in our bodies which is why they are a favorite treatment for cancer patients. Coffee enemas should always be done with organic coffee and filtered water. Make sure to start with a very diluted version at the beginning since it can trigger an uncomfortable detoxification reaction. Add 3 heaping tablespoons of ground coffee to 1 quart (liter) of water. Let it boil lightly for 3 minutes, then simmer for a total of 20 minutes. Keep the lid on. Strain and use at body temperature, preferably around one cup at a time, for 10 minutes.


It helps in the loosening of tight tissue, reducing stress, and detoxing the body.

Breathing and meditation techniques

The proven and effective Éiriú Eolas program includes well-known stress control techniques that stimulate the vagus nerve, which then activates the calm-inducing parasympathetic system. It also includes emotional releasing techniques developed by Carl Jung and promoted by Alexander Lowen. The program leads to general well being, improved sleep leading to faster healing, psychological relief including release of PTSD, decreased substance abuse due to the program’s ability to enhance well being, improved mood, longer attention span, better mental focus, and increased stress tolerance. It can be applied to improve symptoms associated with cardiovascular disorders, autoimmune diseases, pulmonary diseases such as asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, depression, and anxiety. It reduces oxidative stress with an improvement of the overall antioxidant status, and thus it has application in numerous diseases.

During the breathing exercises and the meditation portion of the program, levels of the anti-stress hormones GABA, melatonin, and serotonin are increased, and levels of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine are decreased.  Learn more about the many benefits of this program here. The program is available for free at

A note on heavy metal toxicity

I had 26 mercury fillings, and I had them removed a long time ago with no safety procedures. In addition to that I had the full doctor’s vaccination program plus more, and I also loved tuna, and I was also exposed to tons of mercury being dumped into our environment. After researching about it, I decided to do the heavy metal chelation protocols used for autistic children. It involves a preparation for the main detox: first with dietary changes and nutritional corrections as suggested above, removing sources of mercury as much as possible, and also healing the gut as heavy metal toxicity often goes hand in hand with yeast overgrowth and this can potentially get worse as heavy metals get mobilized. The preparation process can take several months depending on each person, but during this process you will already notice positive results in your health. Once this phase is completed, the main protocol starts. It involves several cycles of the heavy metal chelator DMSA, along with selenium, vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, ALA, glutathione, zinc, taurine, melatonin, etc.

In the last cycles, I also used DMSO which is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier that has the capacity to reach all the cells in your body. It’s best to go easy on it, using it only once per week or occasionally as it can trigger an important detoxification reaction. As I ended each cycle, my brain fog and speech troubles improved – along with my mood. It was quite amazing! There are also case studies/videos of autistic children who healed with these protocols. More info at

Other recommendations

There are other excellent and inexpensive alternative treatments such as chlorella, spirulina, activated charcoal, sodium bicarbonate, iodine, clays, and magnesium baths (with Epsom salts, but preferably with magnesium chloride). For more information on this protocols see

It is also important to reduce sources of toxicity: drink only filtered water, use air filters, mold-free cushions, organic products, non-toxic kitchenware like cast iron pans, etc. It will also help to decrease WiFi and cell phone usage to a bare minimum (and even then, don’t forget to use a hands-free system for your phone!).

Detoxifying may not be cheap, but in the long-term it may well prove to be the most cost effective action… And it will literally save your life!

Further reading

Sound Truth & Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill by Riki Ott
Detoxify or Die by Sherry Rogers.
Detoxification and Healing: The Key to Optimal Health by Sidney MacDonald Baker.
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Autoimmune Disorders by Stephen B. Edelson.
Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Rodger Murphree.
Kihara T, et al. Waon therapy improves the prognosis of patients with chronic heart failure. J Cardiol (2009), doi:10.1016/j.jjcc.2008.11.005.
The Ultra Mind Solution by Mark Hyman.

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  1. margaret kronewitter  June 13, 2011

    Such an excellent article. I experienced Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 18 years ago from MOLD & Mold Killers & Stress. I’d reccomend GABA for stress. Jeff Bland, Ph.D. (Functional Medicine) says fasting should be supplemented. He developed Ultra Clear, a rice based protein powder balanced with amino acids. I used Pro Zone, vanilla & rice, with fresh ground flax seed. I also dissolve 5 mg. Glutathione sublingually, in addition to NAC. Nibbling fresh grown wheat grass is inexpensive and provides Super Oxide Dismutase. I wonder if one should take more folic acid than the 800 mcg MDR. Seems oregano would be good for Candida which seems to inhabit anyone with a damaged immune system. I love to study Detoxification. Thank You & Aloha, Margie maui.medicine

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  June 14, 2011

      Thanks for sharing! Detoxification is essential in these crucial times. You could take 1000 mcg of folic acid and it will still be okay. The problem of taking higher doses is that you have to be monitored so your other levels of B vitamins don’t get unbalanced. Taking a good B complex could help as well. My favorite is vitamin C and magnesium, never fails me. All the best for you.

      • R  September 9, 2022

        I’m interested to know if there is an updated version of Dr. Segura’s “Gulf Blue Plague Detox”?

  2. Hope Pagano  May 4, 2014

    Has any experts referenced in this article researched the fact that chemical used in the production, manufacturing and sterilaztion of the medical device known as “Polypropylene Surgical Mesh” can cause Lupus in both men and women when implanted in the human body. I came down with flu like symtoms with in 3 weeks of my implant surgery and was deiagnosed with full blown lupus with in a year (mutated DNA). This is a petrolum based product and has no business being put into unsuspecting and trusting human beings or animals for that matter. The product has been proven not to be inert as discribed to the FDA when submitted for approval.
    I have literally been poisoned and do not know how to stop the toxic process started in my body even though I survived the Mesh removal process;
    Please help stop this insanity and help cure those already infected.


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