Detoxing your personal environment

On a daily basis, toxins come into our bodies usually via our food, water, air and environment.

Unless you live a very sheltered life, you are constantly being affected by the toxins in our world. No one escapes this and some are affected environmentally more than others by the air quality in the community you live, the toxins in your workplace, or by the toxins you have purchased at the store and brought into your home for cleaning your house, hair and body.

There are some steps you can take to significantly reduce your exposure within your personal environment. For starters, rely on air filters for home or office to filter dust and particulate matter that is harmful to the lungs out of the air, and seriously consider getting a quality water purifier if you don’t already use one.

Now, the next step is a big one… It’s time to look at what’s in your personal care products.

The average woman uses over 15 toxic personal care products per day (about 6 for men), with roughly 120 chemicals spread out among their contents, many of which are incompletely tested for toxicity.

The worst offenders…

  • Synthetic fragrances often contain phthalates, synthetic chemicals commonly used to stabilize fragrances and make plastic more pliable. These are endocrine disrupters—meaning they mimic hormones and may alter genital development.
  • Parabens, pervasive in skincare lotions and creams, preserve other ingredients and extend a product’s shelf life. But these antimicrobial chemicals also have hormone-disrupting effects.
  • Urea’s have the potential to release formaldehyde in very small amounts and are a primary cause of contact dermatitis.
  • 1,4-dioxane, a chemical carcinogen, is created when ingredients are processed with petroleum-derived ethylene oxide. Avoid it by avoiding products with these ingredients: myreth, oleth, laureth(like sodium laureth sulfate), ceteareth (or any other -eth), PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene or oxynol.
  • Petrochemicals are derived from crude oil. Petroleum-based ingredients such as petrolatum, mineral oil and paraffin (derived from nonrenewable sources) form a barrier when applied to the skin that does not allow it to breathe and can clog pores.
  • MEA/DEA/TEA are “amines” (ammonia compounds) and can form harmful nitrosamines when they come in contact with nitrates (commonly found in processed meats). Used as foaming agents, synthetic stabilizers, and to adjust the pH of cosmetics, they can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation, and dryness of the hair and skin.
  • Sulfates, such as sodium lauryl and sodium laureth, are harsh detergents that give cleansers, soaps and shampoos their latherability. Sulfates can cause eye irritation and skin rashes.
  • Chemical sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octyl methoxycinnamate, have been shown to disrupt endocrine activity. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safer alternatives.
  • Antibacterial compounds, such as triclosan and chlorphenesin, do not break down in the environment and may contribute to bacterial resistance.
  • Synthetic polymers, such as sodium polyacrylate and carbomer, come from petroleum and give viscosity to skincare products. They are highly processed and their manufacture creates toxic by-products.
  • Synthetic colors are made from coal tar containing heavy metal salts that may deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation and are usually labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number.
  • Nanos are a new technology with inconclusive but potentially hazardous study results. Research suggests that when tiny nano particles penetrate the skin, they may cause
    cell damage.

Environmental detox solutions

Last week, I introduced you to some foods, herbs and spices that detoxify your body. But we need to take things further…

Preventing toxins involves being conscious of your daily lifestyle choices. It’s possible to regularly consume safe, natural and nutrient rich foods, beverages, supplements, as well as use safe body products.

But developing a higher awareness of your internal and external environments is key. It’s much easier to prevent toxification and maintain a healthy body than attempt to clean up damage that’s already been done. Take these steps…

  • Eliminate BPA’s from your environment – water bottles, plastics, cans, receipts, plastic BPA containers. Replace with glass or BPA-FREE (H2O) bottles with lids. Update: There are now cans of food that are BPA-free and are labeled as such.
  • Eliminate BPA’s from your body with foods that increase glucuronidation like: Kale, cranberry, green tea
  • Increase spices: like turmeric and rosemary
  • Consume more organic vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains
  • Moderate intake of: meat, eggs, fish and dairy from clean sources
  • Say no to: Sugars, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, MSG, high fructose corn syrup
  • Supplement with: 1000mg (1g) potassium citrate after each meal (to increase alkalinity)

Heavy metal detox solutions

This is most effectively done via a family of proteins called Metallothioneins.

These proteins are genetically programmed to be manufactured within virtually all the cells of the body. They bind (through chelation) minerals like lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum and conduct their exit via stool or urine (requiring a healthy liver, kidney, and gut).

Metallothioneins are high in sulfur-containing amino acids like cysteine found in sulfer-rich foods like eggs, onions, garlic, leeks, and asparagus.

Also use foods rich in soluble fiber like oats or barley (a gluten grain).

DMSA (Dimercaptosuccinic acid) – is also good for pulling mercury out of the body and releasing it into the urine.

Foods that increase the gene expression of metallothioneins include: grapes (with skin), green tea, zinc, the herb Andrographis paniculata, curcumin from turmeric, isohumulones from hops and chlorella.

Finally, consider oral capsules of charcoal to facilitate heavy-metal detox and for prolonged vomiting or diarrhea.

Eliminate – wheat products, caffeine, sugars, Artificial Sweeteners, processed chocolate (sugar), alcohol, synthetic colorings and flavorings, and preservatives.

Include – soluble fiber-rich legumes, limited amounts of lean poultry and fatty fish.

For 2 weeks during your periodic detox (many cleanse and detox every solstice and equinox) include an herbal blend for the liver, gall bladder, kidney, and spleen (which filters the lymph system) and the skin (the largest organ in the body).

Detox Bath

One of the best ways to detox the skin is by taking a detox bath. Here is my formula:


  • Very warm/hot water – fill tub 3/4 full
  • 2 cups Epsom salts
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 10 drops of pure lavender essential oil

Directions: Stir and enjoy your relaxing bath for a minimum of 20 minutes, undisturbed.

Dr. Brad Cutler

By Dr. Brad Cutler

With over 30 years of clinical nutrition experience, Dr Brad Cutler has been a well-respected authority in digestive health, nutrition and natural anti-aging protocols. In 2014 Brad certified in Functional Medicine. His life is all about health, fitness, and what works nutritionally in the body. He coaches individuals in essential lifestyle principles as a part of his ongoing functional medicine practice. Brad’s mission is to inspire others to purposefully create thoughts and emotions that support wise food choices and lifestyle changes that improve health. Individual focus may include balance of digestion, detoxification, immunity, hormones, cardio-metabolic health, cognitive function and mood.

Brad may be reached for Health Coaching at