Author: BioCeuticals - Editor
With the 3rd BioCeuticals Research Symposium program evolving, Senior Educator Andrew Whitfield-Cook has the opportunity to interview Keynote Speaker Dr Joseph Pizzorno. Here he shares his thoughts on toxicity and detoxification. To listen to the full interview, please click here.
AWC: We are so excited that you'll be joining us at the 3rd BioCeuticals Research Symposium to discuss Toxicity and Detoxification. Please tell us about the evolution of Bastyr University, which you founded.
JP: After graduating in 1975, I got myself elected to the board of National College Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) and I made a pledge to the student body that I would spend two years trying to get the school to modern standards. I could not get them out of a bunker mentality. They were afraid to raise their heads above the foxhole because conventional medicine kept lopping them off. So, after two years I said I was going to go off and start my own school. I then got together with my friends Dr Les Griffith and Dr Bill Mitchell to get them to join me. Then a grateful patient heard about what we were doing and gave me a cheque for $200 to help set this up. So, with $200 I then set up what was then called John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine.
John Bastyr was my beloved teacher and the North American expert in naturopathic medicine. He practised in Seattle and for many years he was one of only a handful of doctors that practised this medicine.
AWC: What are some new developments in your research?
JP: I've always been interested in this area of toxicity and detoxification. While I have always been aware of it, I hadn't studied it that deeply, nor looked at the research behind it. Then, I had a really special experience. About five 5 years ago one of the wealthiest men in Canada asked me to design a wellness program for his 4500 oil field workers. I said to him I would love to do it, but I would want to do some lab tests. I want to check their nutritional status, I want to check their toxin load and some key intermediate metabolites; what's my budget?
He said 'if you're convinced about these tests then I will pay for it'. So, I ran the equivalent of $15,000 of laboratory tests on 4500 people. Not only did I find a lot of nutritional deficiencies, I also found a lot of toxicity. Now, you're probably saying, well they're oil workers, of course they're toxic. Well, these guys were mainly in their 30s and they would get in their pick-up trucks and drive to a farm somewhere, check on a pump and make sure it works properly and then drive off to the next pump. They had no chemical exposure. What I did find, and this is quite interesting, is that a lot of them were hobby farmers. So, I was seeing all this toxicity in people and a lot of it was coming from their farming where they use herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. All of this was showing up as abnormalities in their bodies.
AWC: What are you going to be talking about at the 3rd BioCeuticals Research Symposium?
JP: What's important is that I have methodically gone through all the sources of toxins and will be describing how I recognise toxins in the body, how they damage the body and then what to do about it. I've broken the toxins into different categories and some things I'm going to say to you may be a surprise.
Category 1 is exogenous toxins, so they are things from the environment. These are typically what you would expect; heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), solvents and other such chemicals. Everyone, I think, is aware of this problem, but I don't think they are aware about how bad it is. So, for example, if a patient were to come to you with diabetes, you would normally consider how much sugar they are eating, if they are overweight or not exercising. I'm going to tell you that the pesticides used on the food people eat are a better predictor of type 2 diabetes than any other factor we have today. People in the top 10% of toxic exposure have a 20 fold increase risk for diabetes.
I don't care how much chromium you give them, or how much they get off sugar, or how much you get them exercising. The problem is, those chemicals are insulin receptor site poisons. Insulin receptors can't respond because they are being poisoned by those persistent organic pollutants. That's just one example.
Category 2 refers to endogenous toxins which are produced from within the body. Recently, I created a new lecture called 'Death Begins in the Colon'. As I did the research for this topic I found staggering numbers. So, would you be surprised if I told you that between 1/4 to 1/3 of the non-protein molecules in the blood come from bacteria in our gut? There is 10 times more bacteria in our gut and 100 times more genes in this gut bacteria than we have in our body. So, you're getting good bacteria that are producing good chemicals and bad bacteria producing bad chemicals, and then we have the problem of permeability control.
Normally, in the healthy gut, we have good permeability control and we keep out the bad stuff and let in the good stuff. The reality is that now over 35% of people have excess gut permeability.
This is because of our modern diet, inappropriate gut bacteria and the third category which I call toxins of choice.
Now, you might be all thinking 'well of course, alcohol'. And, yes, consumption of excess alcohol does increase gut permeability. But, we're now seeing research with wheat and, depending on a person's genetic type, every time a person eats wheat it causes gut permeability to increase until it is out of control. It looks like 75% of the caucasian population will respond to wheat with increased permeability. About 20% will have a dramatic increase in gut permeability. So, for the average person, gut permeability goes up uncontrollably for about one hour. For people who are what is called haptoglobin type 2-2, which is 20% of the caucasian population, when they eat wheat their gut permeability increases for three hours afterwards.
AWC: Over the last five years there has been a groundswell of information on toxic burden. We're seeing flame retardants in imported salmon, issues with arsenic, copper and chromium toxicity in people doing home renovations. Are health authorities beginning to listen?
JP: Up until about six years ago the health authorities were basically discounting the issue of toxicity. When they looked at individual toxins, the disease correlations were not very good, but this is because a lot of toxins have non-monotonic relationships. In other words, if you give a person mercury toxicity you get a nice linear relationship. The more mercury the more toxicity. But, with a lot of these POPs, you get covert-linear relationships where a low dose may cause toxicity, a medium dose has no apparent toxicity and high dose has toxicity. So, you look at the data and it's all over the board with no correlations. Researchers are now much more sophisticated and they've done two things. One, they've looked at 'total toxic load' where you get really strong correlations. They have also started to look at covert relationships, primarily in animal models, but now they are finding this in humans as well. Now we know that if you understand the specific biochemistry of the toxin, you can also understand at what level they are going to be toxic in the body. But, the bottom line is, the greater the toxic load the greater the problems.
AWC: Why should Australian practitioners attend the 3rd BioCeuticals Research Symposium?
JP: I am going to provide them with the scientific foundations for toxicity in their broadest sense. They will get the tools to measure their patients' load accurately and then what to do about it. I'm going to talk about toxins in ways people don't often think about. For example, how many people think about excessive salt consumption as a toxin in the body? Did you know that when you eat excessive salt you impair the body's ability to produce glutathione? And, glutathione is the key molecule required to get rid of chemical toxins. So, the higher the salt intake the less you are able to adequately detoxify and this is a significant factor in keeping toxins in peoples' bodies.
I have looked at a lot of research, over 100,000 papers, and what's rewarding is that I've now had a chance to apply this to thousands of patients and see what happens. So, I can tell you, my protocols work.
AWC: One of the issues I think a lot of practitioners forget about is, they focus on a detoxification program that addresses the liver, but a lot of toxins have the propensity to recirculate, don't they?
JP: Yes, enterohepatic recirculation. So here is an example from when I talk about mercury. The body is actually very good at getting rid of mercury and, in the healthy person, they excrete about 1% of the bile load of mercury into the gut every day. The problem is we reabsorb about 99% of it. Now, why is our body so incredibly brilliant at getting rid of all this mercury and then just reabsorbs it? Well, as we have evolved as a species, we had about 100-150g of fibre in our diet every day, now in western civilisations we have about 10-15g of fibre every day. The bile is expecting fibre there to bind to the chemicals being excreted from the liver. So, I'll be talking about how fibre is so critical. For those that don't even want to use dietary supplements, and we have some patients and practitioners like that, if all you do is increase the fibre in the patient's diet substantially, not just 10-15 g, but get up to 50g if you can, then that in itself will greatly facilitate the body's ability to get rid of toxins. There are more aggressive ways of doing it, but that in itself is a very effective strategy.
AWC: Joe Pizzorno, thank you so much for joining us today and I look forward to seeing you at the 3rd BioCeuticals Research Symposium in 17-19 April 2015.
To see Dr Joseph Pizzorno at the 3rd BioCeuticals Research Symposium, we encourage you to take advantage of the Early-Bird rate. Click here to register today!