Cleanliness is one of the first lessons of our life that our caregivers teach us. It is engrained that being clean is as essential as what food and water is for our bodies. As we grow, we may stumble upon concepts such as – having a clean mind and pure soul. There are spiritual gurus, various tools and apps out there to get us to do some soul searching and guide us to positivity. I believe that most of us are trying to be positive individuals and we are aware it is the need of the hour. With this we have touched 2 dimensions of cleanliness- external and spiritual. This post intends to create awareness around the third one which is -cleansing the body off the various toxins. is what this post is about. It is called Detoxification. In the past, for me the word detoxification meant green teas, lemon teas and saunas. I was oblivious of the effects of detoxification and its importance until the time I began to help my child. I realised or must I say I became conscious of the fact that there are toxins of all kinds that we are constantly exposed to. And during our time in this world our body and its amazing mechanisms take upon these exposures and works hard to keep us healthy.
What are these toxins and where are they? Some toxins like gases, vapours, mists, dust, vehicle exhaust are inhaled by us. The moment we open various detergents the bottles emanate vapours and gases constantly. Some even fall in the category of neurotoxins which means they can affect the brain. Its safest to keep the detergents in the part of your house that is least frequented. Also, it is best to use air-fresheners with caution. Buying unscented and fragrance-free options could help reduce the exposure in a small way. We consume some toxins like pesticides, fertilizers, glyphosate, chemicals from industrial waste when they find their way through our food and water. Processed food in itself has substances that have adverse effects on the body. When I see beautiful orchards along the freeways or highways, I can’t stop myself from thinking what the fruit on my plate was subjected to until it reaches my plate! Cosmetics like body lotions, creams and antiperspirants enter our body when absorbed by the skin. Soaps and shampoos too expose us to chemicals that aren’t always safe for the body. Then there is exposure to heavy metals like Mercury, Lead, Cadmium and Aluminium. These according to me are the big 4 to watch out for. Cadmium is high in vehicle exhaust and is used along with lead in coloured plastics and glassware. Also seen in the gold designs on the dinner sets. Aluminium leaches into our food through the cookware and foils used. Most vaccines other than the live virus ones have Aluminium in them as it is used as an adjuvant to increase effectiveness of the vaccines. Actually, since Aluminium is so abundant it is but natural that it enters us. Mercury enters our bodies through amalgam fillings and consumption of certain fish that have accumulated mercury. There are other heavy metals too and it is not possible to avoid all of them at all times. Another set of toxins are the biotoxins. Biotoxins are toxins in our body that are produced by bacteria and viruses. If we have constant exposure to mold in the places we frequent we inhale mycotoxins that also fall into this category.
How does the body handle toxins?The body uses its excretory systems to remove the toxins on a regular basis through sweat, urine and stools. The liver plays a vital role in detoxification. It has a substance called glutathione which is an antioxidant. While glutathione is present in all cells, it is more in the liver. Glutathione transforms the toxins into water soluble form which facilitates excretion through the urine. By drinking lots of water and having good fibre in our diet we support the excretory systems. There is also the theory that a pregnant mother tends to pass on most of the toxins to her first child in the womb. And this continues while breast-feeding the child as the body has found another route to excrete toxins! In the case of biotoxins our body tries to fight it off with inflammatory responses. Our bodies therefore have genes that trigger the proper functioning of the detoxification systems in our bodies.
Impaired Detoxification. How does the information above connect with Autism Spectrum Disorder? When the detoxification process is impaired, that is when the glutathione is not being produced in sufficient amounts by the body, not only are the cells of the body under oxidative stress but the liver isn’t getting enough aid to flush out the toxins. Over time toxins start accumulating in kidneys, liver, lungs, brain and lymphatic system. This study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017810/ ascertains how impaired detoxification can be one of the underlying factors in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Even other chronic illnesses stem out of impaired detox system in our bodies. From our son’s OAT (Organic Acids Test) report, we saw that in the Indicators for Detoxification section all the markers were in red. This meant that our child’s body wasn’t producing enough glutathione. We actually took time to get started on the treatment for this. I did hear about some really brave moms getting their kids to take intravenous glutathione IV shots but I needed guidance and didn’t want to take any invasive approach. Just wasn’t brave enough perhaps.
Interventions Used. Apart from the glutathione IV shots, other invasive means that uses Chelation therapy involves injecting certain substances (EDTA) into the blood stream or it can be taken orally like DMSA and these bind with the heavy metals and is flushed out in the urine. In my humble opinion, I would never go for invasive chelation therapy options; they are too invasive and can do more than what they are meant to do.
Binders and Nutritional supplements While I was looking for non-invasive healing options for my child I found a holistic practitioner, Luminara Serder from USA (https://www.autismtransformed.com/services/) who was into an energy and informational healing protocol called the NMT-Neuro Modulation Technique. The protocol involved a step by step approach that made things very clear for me. It was mostly natural supplementation. Simplistically speaking the protocol used NMT to find out which areas/pathways to heal while the body gets supplements and binders in phases. There were homeopathic drainage remedies to support the various organs like liver, kidney, blood, gall bladder, spleen, lungs and lymph. We supplemented our son with nutritional supplements and binders like activated charcoal. These binders are substances that bind heavy metals and get excreted through stools. These need to be taken with a gap of at least an hour or two from food or nutritional supplements as they bind with metals and minerals without discriminating. There are products to help remove Aluminium. Selenium and broccoli sprout were added in later stages of the protocol. These help increase the glutathione production in the body when taken in right quantities. We have moved on to some binders from a company called Cell Core which work very differently from the usual binders like charcoal. These helps bind and remove the biotoxins, heavy metals and the environmental toxins. Over and above, they restore the cell functions. It is not an easy path to take. Most supplements have only dosages instructed for adults and is not really recommended for your kids by the physicians. But we need to start somewhere. We have seen slow and steady progress. This is because removing toxins from inside the affected cells takes time.
Footbath Cleanse To further support the detoxification pathways, we added AMD’s IonCleanse Footbath into our son’s weekly schedule. It’s a tap water footbath with an electrode array placed in it. The child has to just place the feet in the water. While it is not clear if the toxins may be pulled into the water from the soles of the feet, it has been seen that the body finds it easier to flush out toxins through the excretory systems after the cleanse. You will get conflicting views if you were to google. I first joined the Facebook group “IonCleanse by AMD for ASD” and when I felt I had enough reason to believe this could help my child we decided to buy it. Click here to view the presentation by a mom to an autistic child and who is a doctor herself https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R2uM5GZiBfY&t=2059&feature=youtu.be. Here is the link to the study done by the thinking moms revolution group. https://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/TMR-Study-2-Whitepaper-ATEC-Changes-with-the-IonCleanse-by-AMD.pdf It was not easy for us to believe an expensive product but it comes with a 60-day, 100% money back guarantee and we thought- why not. Within weeks of using the Ion Cleanse we saw a drastic decrease in “silly” behaviours. My son started at 20 mins and now he keeps his feet in the footbath for 45 min. He has never refused it and I believe he knows it helps him feel better.
Some important points:
- Detoxification should be one of the first steps after or alongside the diet changes. In our case our son was already on a low-oxalate GFCF diet details of which are in the blog The Autism Diet .
- Before a treatment plan, we need to ensure the child is in the habit of drinking lot of water and is not constipated. This is essential to excrete the toxins which are mobilised and bound by the binders
- To start with supplementation if your child can swallow pills, it will help. Fortunately, my son had learnt to swallow pills with the help of his ABA therapists so the process was fairly stress-free. If this is not the case some of it would have to be mixed with food or water
We continue to use the supplementation and footbath. We intend to eventually bring it down to a maintenance regimen as exposure to toxins will always be there and some amount of regular detox is essential. I am not certain what impairs the detox systems in our kids but I do know that this causes the cells to be under stress. Move this roadblock and their body’s inherent healing powers will come into play. They will respond much better to the developmental interventions you already have in place. Over this last year and half as we helped our son detox, we saw him become more aware of the environment, there was more spontaneous speech and fixations were more manageable.We could not have done these treatments without the support and guidance from our holistic practitioner, Ms Luminara Serder. I wish every parent gets a guide who can steer them forward. I signoff with this note- For our children on the spectrum and for our own health, lets redefine cleanliness and bring in mindful choices into our lives. Let us not burden our bodies anymore rather let us help it detox.