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A Comprehensive Guide to Detoxification: Understanding Toxins and Implementing Effective Detox Strategies

Quick read:

  • Before you read this article, check out my article on the impact of environmental toxicity, which will give you a basic feeling for why we need to detox.

  • This article mostly contains my personal detox journey but if you want to skip ahead and just get to a basic detox guide that includes a comprehensive list of things to avoid,  how to test for toxicity levels, and the role of your genetics in your ability to detox, check out my basic detox protocol here.

  • It would also be helpful to understand the role that Glyphosate or Roundup plays in our overall toxicity load. Check out our article on that here.

  • Check out our article on Glucoronidation, a critical detox pathway to support.

  • You can talk about Detox without first understanding the role of Glutathione in the body. Check out that article here.

  • Heavy Metal Toxicity is often a contributor to our overall toxicity load. Please read our article on that here.

Toxicity is one of the main reasons why some of you may be experiencing functional problems like insomnia, brain fog, headaches, fatigue, gut issues (leaky gut, food allergies, IBS, SIBO, etc.), autoimmune diseasethyroid and/or hormonal problems, and neurological disease (ADD, depression, Parkinson’s, etc.).

And, if you are like me, and do not really have any symptoms but things like weight gain, occasional fatigue, joint pain, and/or sleep issues, it would be a good thing to explore the need to detox. As we age, these toxins can accumulate in the body leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.

One of the things you must realize is that as these toxins accumulate in the body, they disrupt your hormones, lead to estrogen dominance (many of these chemicals have estrogen-like properties), and ultimately leads to altered metabolism, aka WEIGHT GAIN.

In addition, toxins can set up a ‘terrain’ or conditions in your body for chronic infections (Lyme and co-infections, Epstein Barr, Mold and Parasites, etc.) to flourish. So not good! (But the good news is–if you clean up the terrain, these infections don’t want to hang out in your body anymore)…

NOTE: Ultimately detox is something you should make a lifestyle of, and do a little bit, every day, for the rest of your life! For this reason, I have put together a basic detox plan for your review here.

My personal detox journey

We can’t start off the new year without thinking about detox. I had always heard that we have toxins in our bodies and I had assumed that if I ate organic, drank filtered water, exercised, and kept my stress under control that I would have a relatively low level of toxicity in my system.

So last year, on a whim I decided to run a full toxicity screen to see what was lurking in my system. Unfortunately, I came back with relatively high levels of many toxic chemicals, including Glyphosate, some of which were higher levels than in some of my patients struggling with a chronic illness!

So this of course was quite a shock. How could I be so toxic, after taking supplements and trying so hard? Could it be why some of the advanced supplements I was taking weren’t working as well as they could? Well, it t could it be the reason behind my achy joints and my lack of recovery after my runs in the mountains or occasional sleep issues?

Of larger concern was the fact that if I had such high levels of these toxins in my system (especially with taking supplements and eating a clean diet), what about everyone else?

To answer these questions, I had to reach out to one of my colleagues Dr. Lu MD Ph.D., who has been practicing environmental medicine for the past 20 years. She was also an expert on Parkinson’s disease, which appears to be a disease process that is strongly influenced by environmental toxicity.  I learned a great deal from her and I hope to pass on some of that wisdom to you…

First off, you have to understand that we are pretty much born with a certain level of toxicity in our bodies and that this toxicity accumulates the older we get. I can say that based on my experience of doing the Autonomic Response Technique that I generally find less toxicity in children than I do adults. The breadth and scope of this problem are too much to discuss here but to read more about that see my article on the impact of environmental toxicity.

We all have some level of Glyphosate in our system!

One of the things that I found in my system was Glyphosate. I had a level of two, which was slightly lower than the national average (which appears to be around 3.096).  Now, Glyphosate is not something you want in your system and is known for multiple biological effects. It literally makes the overall level of other toxins in the body increase, because it interferes with multiple detoxification pathways. What was a bit disheartening was that I was taking a supplement that I thought was blocking the glyphosate from coming in. However, perhaps I was not eating as good as I thought (even though I mostly ate organic I must confess I was ordering take-out, as many of us have during COVID). Also, I realize that my water filter was out of date and that it may not be fully protecting me from glyphosate (which, if you already didn’t know is ubiquitous in our municipal water supplies).

Other chemical toxins

Unfortunately, I found many other toxins that were concerning*. My Acrolein* levels were through the roof. Acrolein comes from many different sources but is basically the byproduct of cooking food– the active cooking creates a toxin called acrylamide (the brown color from toasting bread or even the black stuff from cooking meat). I had recently purchased an air fryer and I’m wondering if that could be one of the reasons for this. In addition, I had also been eating more than my fair share of French fries twice a week at my favorite organic, farm to table restaurant. Also, Acrolein comes from automobile exhaust, and I most likely had been exposed to that on my runs in the city. In addition, I have high levels of Phenylglyoxylic Acid (PGO), a derivative of styrene/ethylbenzene (most likely the source of plastic containers), Perchlorate** (again found in municipal water supplies); 2-hydroxyethyl mercapturic (HEMA), a vinyl chloride compound most likely due to the recent use of Y-shield paint I was using to shield by bedroom from EMF;  N-acetyl(propyl)cysteine (NAPR)***; most likely due to paint exposure; and, Propylene oxide**** (again, paint but could from other sources, especially my water).

In addition to all this, I ran a mycotoxin urine test, and I did find a low-level Ochractoxin level. This unfortunately is a ubiquitous mold toxin found in old homes and is also present in foods such as cereals and coffee. My organics acid testing revealed elevated oxalate levels and mitochondrial stress.

*If you are interested in a copy of this report, please contact me.

My personal detox plan

Of course, none of this was good news and so I had to take evasive action. In addition to reducing my toxicity load by reducing exposure, I had to support my phase I and phase 2 detoxification pathways (liver transformation pathways), as well as work on phase 3 (elimination). So I began a detox plan which I will share with you…

Avoid exposure:

  • No more paint exposure! I stopped sleeping in my recently painted bedroom and made sure that was none of that chemical smell left… It took about four weeks.

  • I got rid of my old water filter and contracted with a company called ClearlyFiltered*, whose water filters have been shown to reduce all environmental contaminants including glyphosate and fluoride by 99+ percent.

  • I stopped eating French fries and fried foods altogether

  • I stopped buying coffee that could contain mycotoxins.

  • I reduced foods containing Oxylates (spinach, beer)

*if you are interested in this filtration system, please contact me for available discounts and more info.


My diet has always been predominantly plant-based with more of an autoimmune paleo aspect in the wintertime. However, I realize that many of the plant-based foods I was eating was processed and contained inflammatory seed oils (soy, canola, safflower oils), so I cut these out. I continued to eat organic non-GMO; however, I started shopping at local farmers’ markets to get more biodiversity.

Phase I Detox (support Cytochrome 450):

  • Glutathione is our antioxidant defense against pretty much all toxins. I started taking N-acetylcysteine (a Glutathione precursor) three times a day to support Glutathione production in the liver. I also started a glutathione patch which I wear during the daytime.

  • I also started to perform coffee enemas 2 to 3 times a week as I knew that these will boost my natural glutathione production by 600%!

Phase II Detox (Support Conjugation):

  • Per Dr. Lu’s advice, I started on comprehensive glucuronidation support. This represents an advanced form of calcium d-glucarate that that has the ability to detoxify multiple toxic compounds, especially the toxic estrogen-mimicking compounds found in plastics.  Upregulating this detox pathway also helps to detox glyphosate.

  • I made sure I was getting enough sulfur-containing amino acids and started whey protein to support my sulfur (and glutathione) detox pathways.

  • I took Methylation support (b-vitamins).

  • I supported Acetylation using niacin and other supports.

Phase III detox (Support Elimination)

  • Coffee enemas 2-3 x per week.

  • Took liver and kidney supportive herbs.

  • Footbath detox twice weekly.

  • Infrared Sauna 3 times weekly.

Ongoing support:

  • Mitochondrial support, to protect my DNA as I go through the detox process, as well as to maintain rest and digest support.

  • Chlorella tablets, 3 times per day.

  • Stem Cell support using x39 patch.

  • Homeopathic detox support.

  • Continue to eat organic non-GMO.

  • Microcurrent Therapy to reduce stress and to aid in detoxification.

Now, this of course represents a high level of support and certainly, not everyone needs to take this approach. But keep in mind that given the toxic soup that we seem to be exposed to on a daily basis, it is my opinion that everyone should engage in at least some detox activity on a daily basis. To give you an idea of what this looks like, I have put together a basic detox protocol for your review.

If you would like some help to determine your Glyphosate and other toxin levels, please contact our office. The pricing in some cases has come down, making it more affordable to know your toxicity levels. Note that in my case I did not run a heavy metal test ( but something I have done in the past and will do again).

Did it work?

Did all of this detox work to bring my Glyphosate and other toxin levels down? Well, that remains to be seen. I am due for another test next month and I will definitely update this post at that time. Nevertheless, all of this has greatly underscored the need for detox in the times that we are living.

We know that many of these chemicals can cause metabolic disorders such as weight gain and diabetes. We also know that they can lower our immune system, which we certainly don’t want to compromise further during the times of Covid. In addition, since many of these chemicals are known to be potent carcinogens and promoters of autoimmune disease, it underscores the need to not only assess for these things but also engage in a daily detox program as insurance to prevent many of the chronic diseases of our time.

Anyway, I hope all of this makes sense and I hope it will inspire you to engage in some form of detox if you are not doing so already. Please leave comments below and reach out with any questions that you may have.

In the meantime, happy detoxing!

Martin Van Lear, FNP-C, Tree of Light Health LLC

*Acrolein, a highly reactive unsaturated aldehyde, is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant, and its potential as a serious environmental health threat is beginning to be recognized. Humans are exposed to acrolein via oral (fried foods, alcoholic beverages, and water), respiratory (cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust), and dermal routes. In addition, there is also an endogenous generation (metabolism and lipid peroxidation) of acrolein. Acrolein has been suggested to play a role in several disease
states including spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and neuro-, hepato-, and nephro-toxicity. On the cellular level, acrolein exposure has diverse toxic effects, including DNA and protein adduction, oxidative stress, mitochondrial disruption, membrane damage, and immune dysfunction. Treatment of acrolein should consist of either N-acetylcysteine (NAC) or glutathione (GSH) supplementation, which stimulates the conversion of acrolein to 3-HPMA.  (source Great Plains Laboratory).

**Perchlorate: This chemical is used in the production of rocket fuel, missiles, fireworks, flares, explosives, fertilizers, and bleach. Studies show that
perchlorate is often found in water supplies. Many food sources are also contaminated with perchlorate. Percolate can disrupt the
thyroid’s ability to produce hormones. The EPA has also labeled perchlorate a likely human carcinogen. Patients that are high in
perchlorate can use a reverse osmosis water treatment system. (source Great Plains Laboratory).

*** (1-bromopropane is an organic solvent used for metal cleaning, foam gluing, and dry cleaning. Studies have shown that 1-BP is a neurotoxin as well as a reproductive toxin)(source Great Plains Laboratory).

****Proplyene Oxide This chemical is used in the production of plastics and is used as a fumigant. Propylene oxide is used to make polyester resins for textile and construction industries. It is also used in the preparation of lubricants, surfactants, and oil demulsifiers. It has also been used as a
food additive, an herbicide, a microbicide, an insecticide, a fungicide, and a miticide. Propylene oxide is a probable human carcinogen.(source Great Plains Laboratory).