|Today I answered a question about chemical sensitivity and detox on the Vintage Remedies message board (the school where I am a master herbalist student). I wanted to share my response, in case it might help others. It is unedited and unpolished but having just had a baby five weeks ago (Praise the LORD!) I don’t have time to do any more than this. Besides chemical sensitivity this is the approach I would take to treating many conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, adhd, autism, thyroid , acne, food sensitivities and allergies, eczema, chronic fatigue and so on. I might use additional herbs for these conditions but the basic approach is the same.”She needs to build up her mineral stores through whole foods, and herbs such as nettles and oat straw. When our stores are low, toxins move in and the more toxic our bodies are the less we can handle exposure to more. I was severely chemically sensitive for several years and almost died from low electrolytes, especially potassium. Toxins deplete minerals because our bodies use them to bind with toxins and send them to our kidneys and intestines for elimination. One of the roots of my sensitivity and mineral depletion was celiac disease, which I did not know I had. It takes minerals and fluid to produce the enzymes our bodies’ need to digest foods, and gluten is especially difficult to digest–thus I was constantly depleting my mineral stores. High exposure to chemicals is another root. She should rule out or in any underlying causes of her need to remineralize. Has she taken any medication containing fluoride? I took cipro and became fluoride poisoned. She should also get an electrolyte panel done. A hair mineral analysis would be a good thing to do.Milk thistle, astragalus and elderberry and elder flowers are very helpful in dealing with toxins while she detoxes. They protect the liver and kidneys and help to draw toxins to be eliminated quickly, so they don’t spend so much time in the lymph system, which can be really painful! Too many toxins in the lymph at once can really slow it down (because it take minerals/fluid to keep it flowing well) and cause the throat and lungs to swell up, causing problems breathing. Do not drink too much plain water when minerals are low, but rather a combination of celery and carrot juice (a balance of potassium and sodium) as often as needed. Vegetable soups with potatoes, carrots, spinach, green beans, zucchini, onions and garlic, pureed, is also good to drink warm. Avoid drinking or eating anything cold or being in a too cold environment (our bodies use minerals like potassium to regulate body temperature). When toxin load is high even drinking a glass of cold water can send one into hypothermic shock.Avoid strenuous exercise and overheating/sweating too much or doing anything really dehydrating/mineral depleting such as eating dried foods like crackers and unsoaked or fermented gains, seeds and beans. Replace lost electrolytes. It is good to exercise and pump lymph though–walking and t-tapp are my favorite for detox. Dry brushing moves the lymph as well. So does a warm epsom salt bath a couple times a week. Eat and drink high potassium foods before getting in the bath because the more magnesium you take in from the epsom salts the more potassium you will need. Do not stay in longer than 15-30 minutes and avoid getting cold–becoming chilled indicates the need for more potassium. Having an imbalance of potassium and magnesium can cause heart problems. The salts do help speed the detox process. Short baths are generally safe.
Do not get too hot either as this is also depleting and too quick a rise in temperature is dangerous as well, though is less likely to happen when mineral stores are low. Another helpful thing to do when experiencing symptoms is to walk during attacks as this helps pump the lymph and speeds elimination. It also warms core temperature, which tends to drop when chemical load in the blood gets too high for the available minerals to bind with the toxins AND keep the body functioning. Sudden drops in temperature cause the brain to start shutting body systems down, in order to keep itself warm. If this should happen, placing hot packs on the groin, abdomen and underarms, and wearing warm clothing will bring relief, as well as drinking the carrot/celery juice or other high potassium/sodium drink (it is important to balance the two to avoid to large histamine response). It is hard to swallow during attacks because of lymph swelling in the neck and besides, minerals can be absorbed more quickly from liquid. Severe mineral depletion can cause heart attacks, stroke, migraines, arthritis symptoms, anaphylactic shock, hypothermia etc. I have experienced all of the above except heart attack, though I came VERY close.
As she eats the whole foods and avoids processed foods and chemicals her body will naturally detoxify. This can be painful and also dangerous if she does it too fast. The idea is to eat healthy foods and avoid bad ones. It also is really important to stay away from chemicals as much as possible because more will be circulating in her bloodstream for elimination and this will make her MORE sensitive. Eating organically is essential. Avoid sugar and pharmaceuticals, as these deplete potassium. Taking digestive enzymes and probiotics can ease the strain on the digestive system, freeing up some minerals for detox. Grains should be soaked or fermented and avoid gluten if celiac is not an issue because this really will free up minerals for detox. Wearing warm clothes allows the body to regulate temp using fewer minerals, freeing more for detox.
Spices such as curry, chili powder, black pepper and cinnamon are potent detoxifiers, as are nuts, seeds and beans. Certain high potassium foods such as raisins, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and so on can also detoxify quickly. Whatever foods seem to bother her greatly may need to be temporarily avoided so detox can be more gentle and then added in gradually to finish the detox and keep the body healthy. In the meantime, consume “safe” whole foods until there are minimal or no detox symptoms and then try small amounts of the more potent foods. The veggies should be tried first, saving the seeds and nuts for last (and these should be sprouted or soaked to break down phytates).
As her body heals she will probably be very hungry and should eat every 2 hours, sometimes sooner. If she wakes at night she should eat (just like babies need to).
Parents–please feed your children a healthy diet and feed them whenever they are hungry with nutrient dense foods. You might save them from a lifetime of problems or help them recover from current ones.
Contact me if you need more help.”
Cassie–Master Herbalist Student at