In this episode, I am speaking with Dr. Joe Pizzorno—a world-leading authority on science-based natural medicine and author of numerous books including his most recent The Toxin Solution. We will talk about the link between toxins and disease and how to get rid of toxins safely.
In this podcast, Dr. Pizzorno will cover:
• The difference between functional and conventional medicine (And why we need BOTH!)
• The most common toxins (And where they are sourced)
• Two common compounds that are known to damage mitochondria
• Common ways you become exposed to toxins (Ladies, this one is critical for you!)
• The toxin-disease link no one talks about
• Have diabetes? It may be caused by toxins
• The most dangerous air toxins (And how you can protect yourself from them)
• How arsenic is directly linked to cancer (The findings are SCARY!)
• The pros and cons of cholesterol (How cholesterol becomes toxic)
• The keys to getting rid of toxins in your system
• And much, much more!
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Listen outside iTunes
The Unknown Link Between Toxins and Disease and How To Detox Your Body with Dr. Joe Pizzorno – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hi everyone, welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I am your host Ari Whitten and today I have with me a very special guest, Dr. Joe Pizzorno, who is a world leading authority on science-based natural medicine, which is a term that he coined in 1978 as founding president of Bastyr University, which is a naturopathic university. He is a naturopathic physician, educator, researcher and expert spokesman. He is Editor-in-Chief of PubMed indexed IMCJ. And what is that Dr. Pizzorno? That is the….
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal.
Ari Whitten: Okay. There you go. And then the treasurer of board of IFM, which is Institute of Functional Medicine I believe. And board member of American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and a member of the science boards of the Hecht Foundation, Gateway for Cancer Research and Bioclinic Naturals.
He is author, coauthor of five textbooks and seven consumer books, including, “The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” and, “The Toxin Solution,” both of which I am big fans of. Here I have in my hands, if you are watching the video, this gigantic book, “The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine,” which was a massive undertaking. This thing is over a thousand pages. And as an intellectual, political and academic leader in medicine for over four decades, he has been widely honored.
In 2018, he received a Leadership Award from the Integrative Health Symposium and Visionary Award by the Academy of Integrative and Health Medicine. So that is, this is an extremely impressive bio. Each one of these books, of the seven books, of the consumer books, not even the textbooks is an impressive book. And I have to say that I am personally very honored to have you on the show because I have really enjoyed your work for a very long time, and I am a big fan of what you are doing.
So welcome to the show Dr. Joe Pizzorno. Such a pleasure to have you.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Well, thank you for the kind introduction and also thank you for the work you are doing. One of my life missions has been that there is a lot of unnecessary suffering in the world because this body of knowledge we call natural medicine, people have not been aware of it. And when they have become aware of it, they have kind of discounted it as being not scientific. So, I spent, you know, almost five decades developing the scientific basis for natural medicine.
The evolution of natural medicine
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Actually, I think that is a really nice introduction to this.
I am very curious, you know, you coined this term “science-based natural medicine” in 1978 when I am sure at that time, you know, that term probably seemed like a totally, you know, like an oxymoron. Like a paradoxical term to many in conventional medicine who thought that everything that is natural couldn’t possibly work. And, you know, we have seen this now, there is a body of tens of thousands of studies on all kinds of things like from herbs to light therapies to, you know, all kinds of other natural therapies. And so there is this huge body of evidence, but we are still sort of struggling against this conventional medical model of allopathy that is very drug centered, that wants people to operate under the perception that only drugs are scientific and everything outside of what conventional medical doctors are doing, all that natural medicine stuff, that is all alternative quackery.
So, I am wondering if you could kind of speak to that and kind of how you coined this term and the evolution of that whole space.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: So, well said, by the way. It is kind of interesting, looking at how conventional medicine has tried to discount it, this body of knowledge. And while I think we are aware of the challenges right now; we have to realize this has been going on for a very long period of time. Conventional medicine trying to challenge this. If you go back to the founding of the American Medical Association, according to the history books I have read, their first functions were to number one, is to kick out all the women. The second was to kick out all people of color. And the third thing they did was to say, if you are a medical doctor and you even collaborate in any way with anybody who is not an MD, we will remove your license and remove your degree. Okay. So, they have always been against us. So, you can look at this going back to Grecian times because that is where we have got good histories.
There has been kind of two schools of medicine. There is one school of medicine which is where we are right now which is the dominance school, which is what might be called the interventionist approach. And the interventionist approach says, “Well the body is, the body makes mistakes and the role of the doctor is to fix the body and take over control.” But there is another school of medicine, which is probably people think about Hippocrates as being a good example of that, which says, “Well the role of the doctor is to realize that the body has tremendous ability to heal. And our job is to promote health, make the body stronger, and as you make the body stronger then you don’t have as much disease and you can reverse disease.” So, it is one side promotes health and the other side is intervene and take control. Now I want to be very clear, we need both perspectives. For example, I am an avid motorcycle rider. And heaven forbid I get in an accident, take me to the emergency room. They are really good at setting the bones and stitching lacerations and such, but they know nothing about how to promote healing inside of all us. So, if you have an accident, go to the emergency room. But if you want to be healthy, going to conventional medical doctors is probably one of the worst things you can do because conventional medicine doesn’t actually promote health. It just treats disease.
Ari Whitten: I love that. I love how you don’t mince words.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah, I have been doing this a long time. You talk about energy, you know. Here I am this guy; I won’t say my age, but I have been at this for a long time. I have lots of energy because I practice natural healing.
Why toxins are a major contributor to disease
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. I love that. So yeah, I mean you are a godfather in this space. So much, much, much respect to be talking to you. I mean, for everything that you have done, it is a privilege. I have admired you for a long time. So, I want to talk, I want to spend the majority of this time talking about your most recent book, “The Toxin Solution,” the concept of toxins. So, one of the claims that you make in this book, sort of the central claim is that most chronic disease that we are seeing in the world today is the result of toxins, they are the primary contributor or at least a major contributor to most chronic disease. This is an interesting claim because I think this space of toxins and you know; the discussion of toxins and detoxing has been contaminated with a lot of charlatans and people promoting pseudoscience and people just speaking nonsense and sort of these vague allusions to toxins.
But you can tell these people don’t really know what they are talking about. And then we also have, you know, a lot of people in the skeptic movement or the evidence-based movements like evidence-based fitness movements and nutrition movements, for example, where I have seen, I am kind of in some of those Facebook groups. So, I see kind of things that go around. And one of the things that goes around is like, “Oh, you have a liver and you know, your liver’s job is to cleanse the toxins. And therefore, you know, this idea that we, our bodies accumulate toxins is just nonsense. You know, that is what your liver is for. So, you know, all this talk is nonsense, it is just pseudoscience.” And so, there is, on the one hand you have like people promoting a toxin narrative that are saying nonsense. And on the other hand, you have people in evidence-based circles who are just speaking purely out of ignorance and don’t realize that there are thousands of studies on this topic. So, what do you perceive as sort of the main evidence backing up this claim that toxins are a major contributor to most chronic disease today?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: So again, lots of territory to cover. So, when we think about toxins, first off, let’s think about toxins from kind of a broad perspective. It Is pretty much any molecule or element in the body that disrupts our physiology. So those toxins can come from within the body, they can come from outside the body. So, for example, we have metabolic waste in the body, things like uric acid, homocysteine and things like this. These are toxins.
Our body has mechanisms to get rid of them. And you look at the gut and our gut is full of 10 times as many bacteria as you have cells in our bodies. And those bacteria are metabolically active. They produce some molecules that are good for us like B vitamins. They also produce a number of molecules that are pretty bad for us. And when they get absorbed into the body the liver has got to detoxify.
And then we look at the environment and we see metals and chemicals in the environment that are both good for us. Like, you know, for example, chromium is a metal. You have to have small amounts of it for our bodies to function properly. We also have things like arsenic. And arsenic has actually been a toxin we have been exposed to as we have evolved as a species for millions of years. So, it turns out that we have great mechanisms for breaking down things like arsenic. So as long as you are not constantly exposed to arsenic, we are okay.
So, we are now entering an era of industrialization where we have produced what are called new-to-nature molecules. And these are molecules which in many cases were developed specifically to be difficult to detoxify. What that results in is that we are building up molecules in our body that our liver, no matter how well our liver is working, has great difficulty getting rid of. And those molecules start binding to things like enzymes in our body and receptor sites in our body and such, and results in the metabolic activity not working as well as it should.
So, let’s look at some examples. The one that I talk about in the beginning parts of my book, “The Toxin Solution” is looking at diabetes. So, when I graduated from naturopathic medical school 33 years ago, I remember my first year in practice. I was so excited because in my first year I finally saw my first diabetic patient. I was in practice for over nine months before I saw a diabetic patient because it was rare. Only about half of 1% of the population in the US had diabetes. Now it is 20 times as common. What happened? So, people say, “Well obviously people who are fat get way more diabetes.” And it is true. People who are obese, particular people who are morbidly obese, they have 20 times the risk of diabetes. So, I say to myself, “Aha. Well, the reason we have all of this diabetes is because people being too fat.” Now it is true that people who are too fat have more diabetes.
But if you look at people who are obese but in the bottom 10% of environmental toxin load, they have no increased risk for diabetes. Let me say that again because that is surprising to people. Everybody knows if you are obese you get diabetes. But if you are obese but don’t have toxins, you don’t get diabetes. So, it is not the obesity that is the problem. It is what is in the fat cells that is a problem. So, let’s look at those fat cells, let’s look at those chemicals in the fat cells. Those chemicals in the fat cells, a number of them bind to the insulin receptor sites on the cells. So now you can’t get sugar into the cells to produce energy and if you can’t do that, of course you die. So, what happens is our pancreas has to overproduce insulin in order to get sugar into the cells.
Now that is a great example of how incredibly adaptive our bodies are. So, we have this problem, not able to get sugar into the cells, produce more insulin, get sugar into the cells. But we are now mistreating that organ of the body. And when we mistreat the pancreas for 20 or 30 years by making it over produce insulin, now the pancreas burns out. And once it burns out, now you have got diabetes. Somebody said, “All diabetes is because of inaccurate pancreatic function. Diabetes is due to insulin resistance.” That is all true. But why is that happening? And it is happening because we are blocking the insulin receptor sites. And in addition, for persons being chronically exposed to arsenic, that arsenic poisons the pancreas as well. Now why would a person be chronically exposed to arsenic? Few people are aware that 10% of the public water supplies in the United States, these are supposedly water supplies controlled by government, have arsenic levels known to induce diabetes in humans.
So, we are thinking, “Why? That doesn’t make sense.” Not only that, but if rice is grown in water that has arsenic in it, for some reason rice is very good at absorbing arsenic and arsenic gets into the body. In addition, up until just recently, the USDA allowed the use of arsenic compounds in chicken in order to kill the parasites in the chickens and also plump them up and make them bigger so you could make more money. So, it turns out that between rice, water and chicken, 25% of the adults in the United States have arsenic levels known to induce disease in humans. That is one toxin, just arsenic. Then we started looking at things like… Well, I have been talking a lot. Maybe we should take a break.
Ari Whitten: Please continue. You have been talking a lot, but it is great stuff. That is just one toxin. And in the context of looking at just sort of one disease, insulin resistance. I mean I want people to understand the landscape of what you are talking about when it comes to toxins and disease. What you just mentioned which is, that is just like one little sliver of, you know, maybe a fraction of 1% of this whole landscape.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Exactly. So, by the way, that is a good number. There are about a hundred toxins now in our environment at high enough levels to induce disease in humans and that is why I wrote that book, “The Toxin Solution.” I just finished writing my newest textbook called, “Clinical Environmental Medicine” where I [inaudible] with one of my graduate students, Dr. Walter Crinnion to write this textbook for doctors and we go through toxin by toxin. We go through disease by disease showing the diseases are now being due primarily to toxins. Now I want to be very clear. I am not saying that nutritional deficiencies are not a problem. They are a huge problem. I am not saying lack of exercise is not a problem. It is a huge problem. I am not saying stress is not a problem. It is a huge problem. What we have done is to [inaudible] on nutrition, high stress, lack of exercise. We now store all these toxins so now get all of this disease.
So, for example, people listening to this Podcast or watching the video, how many of you put on a lotion this morning? How many of you put on perfume? How many took a shower and had the hot water hit the shower curtain and you could smell the plastic. So, what you are smelling and what you are exposing yourself to in these health and beauty aids are something called phthalates. And the phthalates, well, we can detoxify them reasonably efficiently. They only take like a day or two to detoxify. The problem is we are exposed to them constantly and these things bind to the insulin receptor sites. As near as I can tell from looking at just a lot of research, about one out of four cases of diabetes appears to be due to phthalates, being exposed to all these plasticizers.
How toxins in water gets dispersed
Ari Whitten: Wow, amazing. So, I know there is like so many nuances of this toxic sort of landscape that I want to talk about. You have mentioned arsenic in the water supply and you have also mentioned sort of vapors in the shower and one, I think even just in that specific context, just one aspect of that is sort of the hot water hitting the plastic curtains and then now picking up toxins and now you are inhaling vapors from that. But just even without the plastic curtains, just the vapors from tap water coming out. That tap water has, you know, chlorine and chlorine disinfection byproducts and ammonia in many cases, and chloramine and all kinds of other things in that water supply. And my understanding is that the vapors, if you are inhaling the vapors from hot water, that is actually, the toxins become even more harmful from that inhalation route as compared to if you were to drink tap water.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Right. Very, very well said. So, what is happening here is one of the most efficient ways to get a toxin into the body is to inhale it. So, if people look at, people know our water supplies can be contaminated because when we use chlorine to kill organisms in the water supply you leave behind what are called halogenated organic compounds. And these have some toxicity. When you are drinking the water, you don’t absorb a lot of those toxins from the water supply because we have no real mechanisms to break them down and try to keep it out of the body. But when you inhale it, you get a lot more. For example, cadmium. So, we think about cadmium as being very, very toxic. If there is cadmium in the water supply, usually not much but there is some, we only absorb like less than 10% of the cadmium in the water supply.
You are more likely to get cadmium unfortunately in food. We will talk about that later on. But if you are smoking a cigarette with tobacco that has been grown with high phosphate fertilizers, there is a lot of cadmium in that and your absorption rate of the cadmium goes up to about 90%. So, what you inhale it is way worse than what you drink and eat. I am not saying you don’t get it from what you eat and drink, but inhaling is very affective. So, when people get these little carbon block filters and put it on their faucet in the kitchen for drinking water, good idea. But you get much better benefit if you put it on your shower because what you are getting from your shower you are inhaling, absorbing much more efficiently into your body than what you are drinking.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And I also, one of the things I teach is certainly that the little carbon block or this sort of Brita style pitcher filters with just a little sort of carbon filter are definitely not enough in terms of filtering your drinking water. Do you have any thoughts on the kind of filtration technologies that you recommend to people?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yes. So first off, even though these aren’t great, they are still better than nothing. So, don’t get me wrong. So, let me tell you what we have done in our home because we have studied this a lot. My wife Laura and I are really careful about that. So first off, we have a carbon block filter and metal precipitator on the main line coming into our house. That means all the water in our house has been made as clean as we can make it with one exception. And that is this technology, carbon block filter and the metal precipitator will not get out arsenic or fluoride but gets everything else out. So, it is a very good step in that direction. So, if your water supply does not have arsenic in it, you are okay. Fluoride, that is a more complicated situation. Number one. Number two is if you have forced air heating in your home, you want to put in a MERV-16 filter, at least a MERV-8 but preferably a MERV-16. Because what the MERV-16 does is that removes about 99% of the toxins in the air on every cycle through the Merv 16. And so, we have our forced air heating running all the time, so we are constantly cleaning up our air.
And this is significant because when you start looking at what is in the air, particularly people who are living in cities or within 100 yards of a highway, for something called particulate matter in the air. That is called PM. And there are various sizes of particulate matter, but the worst is what is called PM 2.5. The PM 2.5 means it is 2.5 microns in diameter, which means that it bypasses most of the protective mechanisms in our respiratory track and goes right into the body. So, there is research that has been done in animals, for example, where they expose them to this particulate matter, and then they measure how long it takes the particulate matter, how much of it gets into the body. And within one hour the particulate matter is found in the brains of these animals. So not only can it bypass protective mechanism in the lungs, but it also gets across the blood brain barrier. So, I look at, we clean up the water supply, clean up the air supply, all the health and beauty aids that we use are low, they have no phthalates in them, we only eat organically grown foods, that we have removed all the plastic containers in our home. All our food storage is all in glass. So, we just look at everything we can do to decrease toxic exposure because it is just huge.
The dangers of airborne toxins
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So, let us get into the air a little bit. So, you mentioned, what was the name of the particulate matter?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah, it is called particular matter PM 2.5 is the worst of them all.
Ari Whitten: Okay. So, there is all kinds of things floating around in the air and it is particulate matter. And what exactly is that particulate matter actually composed of in terms of like what chemicals are…?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Great question. So, the particular matter is typically, they can be carbon molecules. Okay. So, they are just very, very small molecules. So, it is not the molecule that is the problem. It is what is absorbed to the surface of the molecule that is the problem. And what is absorbed to them are called VOCs for volatile organic compounds. So those VOCs are what actually causes damage. So, our body is fairly good at protecting us from VOCs. But when they bind to the PM 2.5s, it gets into our bodies much more efficiently. So, for example, you look at a diesel truck going down the highway and you see the kind of the blue, black fumes coming out of the tailpipe and you look at that and you think, “Boy, that can’t be good for you.” And the answer is, yeah, it is not good for you. So, you look at research, for example, people living within 50 feet of a highway. You might say 50 feet of a highway, well, drive down a major highway or freeway in any major town. And what do you see on the sides? All these high-rise apartments. Okay. Within 50 feet you get a 50% increased risk of a heart attack. If you are within 100 yards of a highway, you get a 15% increased risk of a heart attack just from the PM 2.5s. So, these things are really bad for us.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So, we also have, you know, you are giving the example of sort of outdoor air pollution of cars and exhaust fumes and that sort of thing. What about indoor environments with off gassing from carpets and furniture and things like that. Is that as big of a concern in your opinion?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: It is. It is a big concern. So, you have, as you said it very well, the off gassing. So, whenever you put in a new carpet or in particular if that carpet is glued down, it is the worst thing you can do. You paint your home, you put in new furniture, spray that furniture with stain resistant compounds. These stain resistant compounds are fluorinated hydrocarbons and these fluorinated hydrocarbons cause all kinds of things like, how about gout? You know, you have somebody out there who is listening to this who has gout. They say, “Well, it is because you have high uric acid levels.” Well, if you are using Teflon coated pans, if you use a lot of GORE-TEX clothing, if you are spraying your furniture with Scotchgard and things like this, you are putting these fluorinated hydrocarbons into your body and they do things like cause uric acid to increase which gives you gout.
I can go on example after example, but these chemicals, something that is really important to realize about these chemicals. There is kind of two categories. There are what are called the persistent organic pollutants and there are what are called the non-persistent organic pollutants. So non-persistent means that our bodies are pretty good at getting rid of it. So, a lot of these things that we are exposed to, they can get, our body can get rid of them within hours to days. So, as long as you are not exposed to them all the time, we are okay. The problem is we are exposed to these non-persistents all the time. I would say right now, looking at the research on diabetes for example, that over half of diabetes is due to these non-persistent compounds. So, the best part about that is stop exposing yourself, your body can get rid of them. Unless of course you have some genetics, which make it more difficult and then that can be an issue. But that is not as common a problem, it is just constant exposure.
But the other side is what are called the persistent organic pollutants. These are typically what are called halogenated organic compounds. They were designed to be difficult to break down by biological systems. To give you an example how bad that is, everybody knows about PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls. They were banned 40 years ago because they are so bad. Once again, your body, they are almost impossible to get rid of. The half-life of PCBs in the body is three to 25 years. Well, that is a long time. Is there a problem? Well, yes. How about women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. About 20% of rheumatoid arthritis, as near as I can tell is from PCBs. The PCBs are causing autoimmune reaction because they bind to the cartilage in the tissues. And what was previously normal tissue in the cartilage, when you bind a chemical to it, it is now an abnormal tissue and the body develops an immune reaction to that. We call it autoimmune disease. I think autoimmune disease, why would our body become allergic to themselves? We don’t become allergic to our normal tissues. We can become allergic to our tissues that have been damaged by these chemicals and metals. So, PCBs, rheumatoid arthritis, very, very common. Another one, DDT. Now we know we banned DDT 45 years ago, but DDT has a half-life in the body of two to 10 years.
Why PCB and DDT were banned
Ari Whitten: It is worth mentioning, I think, maybe since it is not totally clear maybe to some people listening, why were PCBs banned? Why was DDT banned? You might want to mention that, too.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah. Because of all the animal research that was showing it is really bad and the human research showing it is really bad for us. They said, “Okay fine, let’s stop it.” Just like lead. Well, lead was really bad. We finally stopped it in the 1970s. The half-life of lead in the body is, when it gets into your bones, is between two and seven years. Remember half-life is the amount of time it takes to get rid of half of it. Okay. So, they hang around for a long time. So, the good news is that a lot of these things were banned. The bad news is that they are in the environment because they are so difficult to break down. Even though the levels in the environment have gone down a little bit, the realities are that once they get into our bodies they build up. So, one of the reasons why so much disease starts at about the age of 50 is not because people are getting older, well, they are getting older of course. There is always going to be some problems with that. What happens is they are accumulating all of these toxins. So, you look at somebody who is aged 70 compared to somebody who is aged 20. Somebody who is aged 70 has five to 10 times the levels of these toxins in their bodies because you can’t get rid of them. They keep building up. So, I would say to people, hopefully people who listen to this are relatively younger, you have got to stop the toxic exposure now. Because while you may not be noticing symptoms right now, they are built up in your body, the levels are getting higher, they are causing damage to the DNA which hit around the age of 50, all hell breaks loose because all the damage that has been accumulated.
The link between toxins and autoimmune disease
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So, I want to come back to something you went over a minute ago, which is autoimmune disease. You mentioned the example of rheumatoid arthritis, but autoimmune diseases more broadly are becoming an epidemic. And with Hashimoto’s and Graves’ and Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus and a number of others. So, it is interesting, within conventional medicine, and please correct me if you think I am wrong on this, but my perception is within conventional medicine they generally look at these conditions as sort of, “Oh, the etiology is unknown.” You know sort of, “We don’t know what is causing these conditions and they can’t be cured.” Within natural medicine people are looking at infections. People are looking at gut health problems, people are looking at toxins, people are looking at diet, stress, a number of other sort of layers of factors. I think there is probably truth in all of those things to some extent. But I am curious in your perception what percentage of the autoimmune epidemic do you think is directly attributable to toxins?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah, good question. And also, a great example of the kind of medical approach versus the natural approach. So, the medical approach is, “Well, the body makes mistakes and becomes autoimmune to itself.” Natural medicine says, “Why would our smart bodies become immune to themselves? And this is a new disease. Go back a hundred years ago, these diseases didn’t exist. What has changed?” So, there is two people I recommend you interview if you can, Datis Kharrazian…
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I had him on.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Oh great. And Aristo Vojdani.
Ari Whitten: I haven’t had him on.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Okay. So, they are the ones who have done great work looking at how when the toxins bind to normal tissues, normal tissues now become abnormal and get autoimmune reaction. So, what do the MDs do? Give you cortisone and all these anti-inflammatories to stop the immune reaction, autoimmune reaction. There is a place for that, but it doesn’t deal with the cause. And if you don’t deal with the cause, you become more and more dependent on the drugs. They have all of their side effects and you get sicker and sicker. You go back and remove the cause; you don’t need the drugs.
So, what percent? Still working on that. So about three years ago when I got a nice advance for my book, “The Toxin Solution,” I hired two very smart graduates from Bastyr University to help me actually look at that research. to try to figure out for each chronic disease, how much of it is due to specific toxins. So, we looked at disease after disease, after disease. We just started with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, and that is where we found 20% of rheumatoid arthritis being due to PCBs. I would guess more of it is due to other toxins as well. That is just as far as we have got in the research. Asthma, another great example. Asthma is dramatically more common now than it used to be. Why is that? Well, there is a number of reasons and we are talking about toxins. Let’s talk about things like mold.
Most people aren’t aware that as much as 50% of buildings in North America are water damaged. What that means is that there is something wrong with either the building or there has been spillage within the building bathroom, things like this where water has gotten into the building materials. We make building materials wet, mold grows on them and mold releases all these chemicals. Interestingly mold releases not only mycotoxins which have specific toxicity, they also release what are called the volatile organic compounds. So, when the mold is eating the building materials, it is releasing all these chemical gases. So, you then start looking at asthma and it turns out that in water damaged buildings you have way more asthma than in water normal buildings. There is one study I have read, and I will just state the study. I’m not sure if I believe it yet because the numbers are so profound. But this one study found that 71% of adults, of people with adult onset asthma, now they didn’t have asthma as children. As adults they got asthma, 71% of the time it is because of a water damaged building. And when we take the people out of the water damaged building, their asthma goes away. There are other diseases as well, but we are just, we are early in the process of figuring out what percent of that disease is due to, of autoimmune diseases is due to toxins. But it looks like, I would bet it is at least half if not more.
The link between toxins, heart disease, and cancer
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Let’s talk about some of the other diseases. Like I’m curious, for example, on some of the other major killers, heart disease, cancer what kinds of links have you found with toxins in those?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Okay, so let’s look at cancer. There was a study done in Italy and I love studies like this because it was a 20-year prospective study of 20,000 people. And what that means is that they looked at 20,000 people, then they followed them for 20 years to see what happened. And what they looked at was in this particular province in Italy ,some of the wells had high levels of arsenic, some of the wells had no arsenic. So, I said, “Let’s look at what happens to people when they live here for 20 years with arsenic in the water on one side and no arsenic in the other. And what they found which was most dramatic was incredible increases in cancers. They saw lung cancer, prostate cancer breast cancer, colon cancer. The cancers that actually kill people are dramatically increased when you are exposed to arsenic.
Do you want me to continue? I mean if you want to be paranoid, spend the day talking with me because as I looked at all this research it is really bad. But the good news is that we can do something about it. We get the toxins out. I obviously am a naturopathic doctor. I really believe in the remarkable healing ability of the body. And what you find is that when you get the toxins out and get the nutrients in, the body has a remarkable ability to heal. Now we can’t fix everything because sometimes disease progresses so far that there is just too much damage. But we can always improve people’s health. So, I have so many case histories of patients with this, that and the other chronic disease. I teach them how to live healthfully, how to eat real food with lots of nutrients in them, take vitamins as they need and then get the toxins out and their disease reverses.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And I want to get there, I want to get to some practical stuff. This landscape of toxins and the link with diseases is so broad it is definitely a struggle to pack even a quarter of your knowledge into the context of an hour-long interview. But what about heart disease and you know, within that sort of, you know, in conventional medicine there is very much this narrative of, you know, it is caused by cholesterol and you know, sort of we need statins. What is your take on the role of toxins in the context of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease and that sort of thing?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Well it is huge. So, everybody knows that people with high cholesterol levels have more heart disease. But think about this for a second. About half of the cholesterol in our body is made by the body and half comes from our food. Now if cholesterol was so bad for us, why does our body make cholesterol? So, I want to be very clear. It is not the cholesterol that is the problem. It is the oxidized cholesterol that is the problem. So, what does that mean? So, we have cholesterol, a normal molecule. As a matter of fact, you look at people who are older people, old people with the highest levels of cholesterol have the least Alzheimer’s disease. Okay? Because cholesterol is a normal, important molecule. But when you damage it, when you oxidize it, now it becomes very damaging. So, the oxidized cholesterol results in an increase in levels of homocysteine and it particularly damages the arteries.
So why does cholesterol become oxidized? Well, it becomes oxidized because of things like, well, if you are eating scrambled eggs and cooking eggs at high temperatures, eggs have a lot of cholesterol in them. High temperatures in the presence of oxygen, you are going to oxidize the cholesterol. It now becomes damaging. How about if you have a diet low in antioxidants? So, cholesterol can be oxidized fairly easily. If you have a diet low in antioxidants, you can’t protect the cholesterol from oxidation.
That is why people with high levels of HDL cholesterol compared to LDL cholesterol have less damage to the body because HDL cholesterol is more resistant to oxidation than is LDL cholesterol. But it goes further. And that is what if you are being exposed to environmental toxins? Environmental toxins oxidize the cholesterol and that is how you start getting all this damage. So, when you start looking at which toxins cause the most damage to the heart, low particulate matter is really problematic because it is causing oxidation of the cholesterol.
If you look at lead, lead causes a lot of heart disease because it causes oxidative damage in the body. Look at the PCBs and you look at, just so many of these chemicals and metals, they just damaged cholesterol and damage the body. They also directly damage the arteries. And they also do something which is very significant and that is they damage the mitochondria so the mitochondria can’t produce enough energy. And all of the detox enzymes are dependent upon the availability of ATP from the mitochondria. So, I thought we would go off in a little different direction in this conversation about energy. So…
How Ibuprofen affects mitochondrial health
Ari Whitten: I’m remembering, I think it was an interview with you or maybe in your book, do you play pickup basketball at your local gym? And you were talking about Ibuprofen, I think in one entry. Can you chat a bit about that and the role of how that affects mitochondrial function?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yes. So, I am an avid basketball player and I noticed that about at about age 50, all my friends disappear because their bodies are broken down by that point. And why are their bodies broken down? Well, one, because their nutrition is not very good, but I don’t know. Do you play basketball?
Ari Whitten: I played growing up. I played soccer and martial arts and now I surf, and I rock climb and some…
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Okay, great. You are very active. So, you know, so when you are on the court playing basketball, running up and down the full court at the end of a couple hours you are tired, and you are really sore. So, what do my friends do? They are popping Ibuprofen and aspirin and Advil, all these anti-inflammatory chemicals. And while they shorten the duration of the inflammatory process, they do things like poison the mitochondria and they block the repair mechanisms. So, what is happening to them is that they get the short-term relief, but they are making the body break down more quickly. One of the questions I like asking in my lectures, although I don’t know if it will have the shock value anymore because I have been talking about it for too long. When I talk about mitochondrial health, I look at my audience, and I am talking mainly to healthcare professionals these days, and ask people to guess how much ATP, that is the energy coin, the mitochondria produce every day. I ask people to make guesses. And people guess like milligrams to grams and such.
And I look at people and say, “At rest the mitochondria produce our body weight in ATP every day.” So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you are producing 150 pounds of ATP every day if you just sit down. If you go play basketball like I do, you produce way more. So the mitochondria are incredibly metabolically active, which means if the nutrients they need are not there or if they are being exposed to environmental toxins that are poisoning what are called the complexes in the mitochondria, you are going to have not only decreased energy production but you are also going to have more leakage of high energy electrons in the mitochondria and you are going to burn your mitochondria out. That is one reason why most athletes don’t last beyond about age 35 because they pretty much did damage to their mitochondria so much that they can’t, they don’t have the energy levels anymore. So, we then look at drugs like the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
But also, how about things like statin drugs? So, statin drugs, they are prescribed to people to lower their cholesterol levels and statin drugs do lower cholesterol levels. But statin drugs also decrease the production of a molecule in the body called Coenzyme QA. And CoQA is absolutely critical for transporting high energy electrons in the body. So, when we decrease the production of this critical molecule by statin drugs, you leak more hydrogen electrons. So that is why people who are… One of the main side effects of statin drugs is this muscle pain that people get, and that muscle pain is because of the mitochondrial damage.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Interesting. So, you know, I should also mention there is, you know, mitochondria are a big thing that I talk about and teach about in my Energy Blueprint work. And, you know, there is oftentimes in biology courses in high school and college, people are sort of just taught that mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They produce energy. But we know now, there is a lot of research that has come out in the last five, 10 years showing that they are much more than that. They are sort of environmental sensors that are controlling whether the cell is sort of going more into energy mode or defense mode. There is research linking mitochondrial dysfunction and DNA damage to aging itself, to a variety of different chronic diseases, to chronic fatigue syndrome, to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, to all sorts of things. So, mitochondria are really damn important. With that in mind, you mentioned a couple of things that can damage them. What are some of the other toxins that you have found are the most problematic when it comes to mitochondrial health?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: So, another good question. Let’s see, what do I think are the worst? By way, I don’t mean to distract you because I said CoQ, I meant CoQ10, okay? I said that wrong. So, when looking at the mitochondria, now let’s see. So, statins, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are particularly problematic.
Ari Whitten: Have you seen research around like, for example, some of the heavy metals or BPA or phthalates or…
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Right, right. Just trying to think of what are the worst because I have been so focused on statins. Oh, here is one that people mostly don’t think about. How about antibiotics? Okay. So research has been done when we look at, when you give people antibiotics now, tetracycline for example, penicillin, oh, some of the more recent drugs, When you give these drugs, at least in animal studies, you give drugs to the animals you see now you have decreased production of ATP. You see increased leakage of hydrogen electrons; you see increased damage to the mitochondrial DNA. So, we have a massive infection, you go to your doctor and the doctor gives you antibiotics which, by-the-way, if you have a massive infection antibiotics are a good idea. If you feel really tired afterwards you might say, “Well, it is just your body recovering from an infection.” That is true, but it is also your mitochondria recovering from the antibiotic exposure.
The most impactful toxins we are exposed to
Ari Whitten: Excellent. So, I am sure that we could go all day with, you know, lots of details and nuances of the discussion of various toxins and their link with various diseases. I am curious if I can ask this from you because I know that there is so many things that we haven’t delved into. Like, for example, fluoride or BPA or, you know, a number of, mercury, a number of other specific things. Can you give sort of a very quick, almost like a list, like a bullet point list of some of the most significant toxins that we are being exposed to?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yes, yes. And that is a key question because when I, in my lectures when I say to people, “Now, how do you get rid of the toxins?” The first three interventions are avoidance, avoidance, avoidance. Because some of these things when they get into your body, they are so hard to get rid of. And the number one worst source of toxins is, in my opinion, farmed fish. It turns out farmed fish are very high in these persistent organic pollutants like PCBs and things like this. You might say, “Well, why is farmed fish so high?” Because the food they are feeding them is contaminated. So farmed fish reflect what they are being fed. So, one reason why I think that the persistent organic pollutants are so bad like the PCBs and DDT and many of the pesticides used in our food supply is because they are so hard to get rid of.
Another one of the really bad toxins turns out to be cadmium. Unfortunately, when soybeans are grown with high phosphate fertilizers, many of those high phosphate fertilizers are contaminated with cadmium. There was a study that was done here in Seattle by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where they are looking at osteoporosis in older women and they are finding that there was a very strong correlation between cadmium levels in these women and osteoporosis. Because it turns out cadmium directly poisons what are called the osteoblasts that produce, that make our bones. You know, bones constantly are recycled. You have got the osteoclasts to break down the bone. You have got osteoblasts to build up the bones. And so, our bones are constantly recycling as part of the way of removing damaged bone and putting back in good healthy bone. So, it turns out cadmium is a significant toxin. Then they started looking at where is the cadmium coming from? And they found it was coming from the soybeans that are grown with high phosphate fertilizers and they determined that 20% of osteoporosis is due to cadmium. Another example of a bad toxin. I mentioned before arsenic because 25% of people have arsenic levels high enough to cause disease in them. That is another bad one as well. Phthalates and bisphenol A in terms of everyday exposure, so even though we are pretty good at getting rid of them, we are constantly being exposed to them and they cause a lot of diseases as well.
Ari Whitten: What about glyphosate, what is your take on that? And that is still, I think, a relatively controversial one. There is still, you know, a lot of sort of people saying in the skeptic community saying that, “Oh, it is all hype and none of this is proven.” What is your take on the link between glyphosate and damage to our bodies?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: So, the glyphosate is a really challenging one, mainly because the research has been, I’ll be gentle about it and I’ll say it has been obfuscated. Okay? So, when you look at glyphosate as a pure compound, it is modestly toxic. So, no question, modestly toxic, but it is not terrible, but it is modestly toxic. The problem is that is not what we have been exposed to. What we are being exposed to is Roundup. Roundup is 50% glyphosate and 50% what are called inert ingredients which are these, which are basically petroleum distillates. Now it turns out if you look at petroleum distillates independently, they are about a thousand times more toxic than glyphosate. So, most of the research that has been used to say glyphosate is safe uses pure glyphosate. But what we are exposed to is actually Roundup. We need more research to say, “Okay now, Roundup is the actual form being used. How toxic is that?” Now I think it is probably pretty toxic. But the research is so dirty I can’t be clear about it. So, I think it is a problem…
Ari Whitten: Just for people who are unclear about what that means, when you say, “the research is dirty,” what are you referring to?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: We are not looking at Roundup research. We are looking at glyphosate research. So, we are saying Roundup is safe because of glyphosate, but it looks like glyphosate is not the most toxic part of Roundup.
Ari Whitten: And I think you are also implying that the research has sort of intentionally been obfuscated by sort of the corporations that stand to lose a lot if research comes out that makes their compounds not look so good.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah. I am going to hesitate to ascribe motives to people. I’ll just leave it at that. I’ll just say to people, “Folks, eat organically grown food. I know it is more expensive. But would you rather spend the money on doctors and be sick and die early?”
Ari Whitten: Got you. One other thing I want to talk about before we get into practical stuff, which is, you mentioned this very briefly in passing, which is like skincare stuff and cosmetics. What are some of the concerns there with some of the moisturizers and shampoo, conditioners, soaps, toothpaste, those kinds of things?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Right. So obviously as human beings we want to look nice, smell nice and you know, be pretty, okay? And the health and beauty aids are very helpful for doing that. The question then is though, what are we putting in these health and beauty aids? So, for example, in the past women would use leaded compounds and arsenic compounds so they could have redder lips and whiter skin. Okay, well that was bad for them, bad for anybody who puts lead in their body, who puts arsenic in their body. But we now, we want to make these health and beauty aids smell nice. So, to make them smell nice we put fragrances in them, and the fragrances typically are then, have to have phthalates with them because the phthalates solubilize and stabilize the fragrances. So pretty much anytime you use a health and beauty that has a fragrance in it, most likely it has phthalates as well. And these phthalates are metabolic disrupters and they also bind to receptor sites and increase your risk for diabetes. So, you can get these health and beauty aids that don’t have these chemicals or metals in them and that is strongly recommended.
Ari Whitten: Got you. So, you mentioned before, avoid, avoid, avoid, those are the first three steps of how we deal with this situation. I guess you could maybe talk a bit about some of the strategies for avoidance and then what do you do beyond avoidance to actively sort of detoxify some of these compounds and get them out of your body?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah, so avoidance is critical. As I said before, you know, all the water coming to your house, all the air, the health and beauty aids, your cooking utensils, your storage utensils. When people come into your house, have them take their shoes off. There are all of these ways to avoid exposure. Eat organically grown foods. There is a study done here in Seattle. We looked at children who ate organically grown foods compared to children who ate conventionally grown foods. Children who ate conventionally grown foods had 10 times the levels of organophosphates in their bodies. Why is that a problem? Organophosphates are neurological poisons. If you look at children born to women in the top 10% of organophosphate pesticide levels compared to children born to women within the bottom 10%, those children will have a seven-point drop in IQ. Three studies to check these children. You have organophosphate in the pregnant mothers, their children are dumber. Not only dumber, they also have increased risk of ADHD and things of this nature and more disease, so it is bad for them. So, avoid, avoid, avoid, not just for yourself, but for your children and your grandchildren. Now the research is showing transgenerational effects. If you take a pregnant mouse, give her diabetes induced by toxins, her children get diabetes even though her children aren’t being exposed to the toxins. But her grandchildren get the diabetes as well due to what are called epigenetic changes in how the genetics are manifested. A very big problem. So, avoid, avoid exposure. The next part is how do you get them out of the body more quickly? Well, actually there is an intermediate step. Not only do you have to get them out of the body, but you also want to protect the body from the toxins.
So, for example, most of these metal toxins like arsenic and lead and cadmium and mercury, etc., one of the key ways in which they cause damage is by competing with trace minerals for enzyme systems. So, an enzyme is a protein, but the protein is just a protein until you put a little cofactor on it. The cofactors are typically a vitamin or a mineral. If your diet is deficient in vitamins and minerals you are more susceptible to the environmental toxins. If you look at the trace mineral content of conventionally grown food now compared to 50 years ago, we only have good data for about the last 50 years, more like 70 years now. Anyway, the trace mineral content has decreased 50 to 85%. So, if you are trying to eat healthy food, if it is conventionally grown, there is not a lot of trace minerals anymore and it is probably contaminated, which means you actually don’t have the trace minerals to protect yourself from these toxins.
So that is one reason why vitamins are a good idea because they protect you from these toxins. They want to get them out of the body. It turns out the way you get them out of the body is dependent upon the kind of toxins you have been exposed to. So, for example, if you are exposed to arsenic, all you got to do is avoid it. If you are exposed to mercury, that is actually pretty tough. So, getting mercury out of the body, I recommend people use something called N-acetyl cysteine or NAC for short. What NAC does is it increases the production of glutathione in the body and that glutathione helps get the mercury out of the body more effectively. Now, if you have high levels, you can also get a drug, it is a fairly nontoxic drug called DMSA. And I have actually prescribed that to my patients with high levels of mercury or lead.
I can give you a couple of really interesting case histories. So that is a way to use a drug to get it out of the body. PCBs, these persistent organic pollutants, are hard to get out. And it turns out that fiber is very good for getting these things out of the body. And, a matter of fact, one of the reasons we have so much trouble now getting rid of the toxins is that as our detox systems evolved as a species, we were consuming 100 to 150 grams of fiber a day in our diet. And that fiber in the gut binds to these toxins when the liver dumps them out to get them out of the body. Well, we now have 15 to 20 grams of fiber a day in our diet, which means there is not enough fiber there to absorb the toxins our liver is working so hard to get rid of.
So, we then reabsorb them through something called the intrahepatic recirculation. So, fiber is a really good, gentle, long-term way to get toxins out of the body. Now, if you have a lot of things like PCBs, I hate to say this, but drugs in the category of what are called bile sequestrants like colestipol and cholestyramine and such, they actually will increase the rate at which we get them out of the body. And if you can get some of the old time Pringles made with Olestra, I am not going to recommend processed foods very often, but when we look at Olestra in the Pringles, it actually pulls toxins out of the body. One of the most effective ways I have found so far to get toxins out of the body.
Ari Whitten: I remember one of the classic side effects though was anal leakage which is a side effect I generally like to avoid.
The best ways to detox
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah, that anal leakage. Yes. Smelly anal leakage. Okay. So, what is happening there is that it is absorbing so much of the fats and such that it gets kind of fluid and gets out of the body. With that absorption of fats, it is also absorbing the toxins at the same time. Another thing that is really useful is sweating. So, if you… A friend of mine, Dr. Steven Genuis, an MD in Edmonton, Alberta, did a really cool study. He took 10 normal people, he put them in a sauna and had them sweat freely. He then collected the sweat to see what was in it and it was full of toxins. Everyone kind of knows, it seems like when you are sweating and you are in a sauna, It feels like it is detoxifying. It is detoxifying. It is very good. It gets rid of mercury. It gets rid of lead. It gets rid of PCBs. It gets rid of all these chemicals, it is very, very effective. So sweating works very well. Now it turns out it doesn’t matter how you sweat. You can sweat like I do when I am running and playing basketball. You can do it in a sauna. I don’t recommend steam baths because I am concerned about recirculating the toxins. Anyway, sweating is a great way to get toxins out of the body.
Ari Whitten: Absolutely. Yeah. I am a huge fan of saunas. Are there any other notable strategies here as far as getting rid of toxins? I mean I know that covers most of the…
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah, no, those are my preferred ones. There are more things you can do. Like if you like herbal medicines, milk thistle, silybum marianum. Milk thistle helps the liver get rid of toxins more effectively. Another good one is curcumin. Curcumin is quite good at, you know, helping get rid of toxins but also protects your body from the toxins. These are other things you can do. But the best ones as far as I am concerned, fiber, NAC, sweating, those are really, really effective strategies.
Ari Whitten: Excellent. I have like one or two more questions on this. Are you, how much have you looked into the Nrf2 pathway and kind of like hormetic stressors and how they affect the internal cellular antioxidant and detoxification systems. And how important do you feel that is in this context? Because it is something that I almost never see anyone talk about, but I personally think is a very important piece of this puzzle. What is your take on that?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: No, I think that is a good idea. I haven’t delved into that as deeply for this purpose because I just haven’t got to it to be honest with you. But it turns out that if you look at the things that tend to activate the Nrf genomics, they also turn out to increase the number of the detox systems as well. So, there is a reason why people who drink red wine tend to live longer. Okay. Because resveratrol does a lot of good things and one of the things that it does is that it increases these Nrf activations. It increases mitochondrial ATP production. There is a lot of benefits you see there. So, I think there is a lot there. I haven’t delved into it deeply enough yet to say more than that.
Ari Whitten: Okay. So, one of the ideas that I am really interested in is the concept of toxin resistance and sort of like…I am definitely 100% on board with the idea that we should be avoiding and trying to eliminate these things as much as possible. But I am also kind of under the opinion that these things are so ubiquitous and so, you know, essentially impossible to avoid completely that I think that we also need to build up our resilience at the cellular level and our cellular ability to detoxify these compounds efficiently and effectively
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Full agreement. That is why, going back to my comment earlier, why an organically grown food diet rich in nutrients is so important because one of the best ways to keep these things from binding to your enzymes is to make sure those enzymes are already saturated with the vitamins and minerals that they need and that makes you more resistant. And also, there is a challenging part of this as well. So, you know, in the liver we have these phases I and phase II enzymes that break down the toxins. Well, it turns out the phase I enzymes are highly energy dependent, which means that the body only produces them when it is needed. So, they are what are called inducible enzymes. So, if you are a person like me living in a relatively low toxic environment, I produce less of these enzymes, which means I am now more susceptible to the initial exposure to the toxins because it takes a while, typically a couple of days to rev up these enzymes. So, the resilience, if you want to be resilient, you might say, “Well, I should always expose myself to some level of toxins.” You could say it might be a good strategy. But do you really want to waste all your metabolic energy and expose yourself to those things? And I don’t think that is such a good idea.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Well, it is interesting. I mean, one of the cool things, I have explored the research around hormetic stress very deeply. And one of the interesting things is that you get broad resistance affects from specific stressors. So, for example, exercise as a stressor is not, you know, necessarily it is not the same as a mercury stressor or mercury exposure or PCB, but you are getting a broad resistance affect at the cellular level of, your cells actually become more resistant and resilient in the face of a broad range of not just exercise but also chemical exposures as well.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yes, that is one of the theories about why exercise is so protective because exercise is an oxidative event. And because it is an oxidative event, your body produces the antioxidants to protect us from it. So, there are a number of examples. So, cabbage, for example. Why do women who consume cabbage have less breast cancer? Well, because cabbage actually has some toxic chemicals in it. Those toxic chemicals induce a bunch of enzymes in our liver to protect us from the cabbage at the same time protects us from a bunch a of the chemicals that induce breast cancer in people.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. I…
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Think about it. Why did we develop all these interesting enzymes in our liver, polysaccharide, P450? So, you have got all these phase II conjugation enzymes and such. It was to protect us from the molecules in the foods that we were eating,
Ari Whitten: Specifically, toxic phytochemicals in particular, a lot of the things that are mistakenly referred to as antioxidants are actually indirect antioxidants. They are actually functioning as pro oxidants when they hit our bodies and then build up this internal antioxidant defense system and sort of ramp up our body’s production of these antioxidant compounds. So, I am glad you brought that up.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yeah. So why did the cabbage family produce all these chemicals? They don’t need them for metabolism. They need them to protect themselves from the insects and the fungus and such that is trying to eat them. Okay. So, they are poisonous chemicals. So, we were fortunate, well, not fortunate. Those of us who evolved to become our current human beings are the ones who got the enzymes to break those things down so we can eat those foods.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I am curious, have you looked into broccoli sprouts at all? There is a lot of emerging research…
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Very, very strong. Yes. And not only that, but another interesting thing about the broccoli sprouts is they are very effective against H. pylori in the stomach. Everyone knows about H. pylori being “the cause of stomach ulcers.” That is not the cause of stomach ulcers. The cause of stomach ulcers is we have lost our ability to keep it under control. And it turns out broccoli sprouts are really effective at killing off H. pylori.
Ari Whitten: So, my final question to you, you mentioned briefly in passing the importance of fiber and sort of the gut root of detoxification, how we eliminate toxins through that pathway and the sort of back flow if we don’t have enough fiber in the diet. But there is, I think, one more layer to that story of the gut which you talk about in, “The Toxin Solution” which is sort of gut problems, microbiome problems, dysbiosis, gut permeability. Can you just, this is my final question to you. I know I have kept you a little over time, but can you talk a bit about sort of the role of keeping the gut healthy in this picture of eliminating the body of toxins?
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: I want to step back a little bit and give you a bigger answer to your question. You know, the idea of, “I am going to detox right now” is such a popular idea. And I want to say to people, “Don’t go on a detox program until your body is ready.” You have to make sure that your organs of elimination are functioning properly. One of the biggest loads on the liver is a toxic gut. So, in my book, I go through a program where I say to people, “Okay, now, just spend two weeks to clean up your gut.” What I mean by that is you want to get rid of bad bacteria in your gut, put good bacteria back into your gut, and heal the gut membranes so you stop overloading the liver with toxins from the gut. Then you have got to go through and get the liver cleaned up. And so, I put a two-week program in on how to get the liver functioning properly.
And then, this is brand new, I didn’t have to do this 30 years ago. I tell people now how to get your kidneys working better as well because all this chemical exposure we are getting, including all these drugs we are now getting, we now have an epidemic of kidney failure. Once again, a relatively new disease for people. You have got to clean it all up. So, look at the gut. Start with the gut because if you can decrease the toxic load from the gut, you now have freed up the liver to be able to deal with all these other toxins coming from the environment. How do you clean up a toxic gut? You first off kill off the bad bacteria. I use an herb called goldenseal. I have used it on so many patients. What is nice about goldenseal is that it kills off the toxic bacteria and it leaves the good bacteria alone. Then we want to give the person something to bind to the toxins that are being released as the bad bacteria are being killed.
You made recall from my book, I actually apologized to my early patients. They call it a practice of medicine for good reason, because you have to practice for a while to figure out what you are doing. So, in the early days when I saw people with toxic guts, I would give them goldenseal. They would come back and say, “Oh God, I felt so sick after that goldenseal.” And so, I thought, “Why would they get sick from goldenseal?” Then, oh, aha. You kill off all the bad bacteria, when they die, they release all the chemicals. So of course, you have a toxic reaction. So, you want to bind the toxins as they are being released. So, I use things like fiber, I use something called PGX, kind of these fibers to bind to the toxins. Then you want to reseed with good healthy bacteria like multi-strain bacteria, you know, lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, all those good, healthy bacteria. And then finally you want to use what are called prebiotics. They help promote the growth of the bacteria. My second final is you also want to give people nutrients to stimulate regeneration of the gut mucosa. Okay. So, and it turns out things like omega-3 fatty acids, kiwifruit, it is kind of a strange one, glutamine, all these nutrients are really good at promoting the healing of the gut mucosa, so you get the permeability controlled and your gut back up working properly again.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And that, just to tie things up neatly connected back to toxins, we are creating that sort of proper gut lining health and proper gut microbiome health and correcting the dysbiosis in a way that leads to more effective elimination of the toxins through that gut elimination pathway.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Yes. So, it is not only the gut elimination pathway, but it is also, I am going to stress this as much as I can, it is decreasing the load on the liver. So, two all-time naturopathic adages, I think you will appreciate this. One of them is, “Disease begins in the gut.” A hundred years ago naturopaths were saying, “Disease begins in the gut.” And everybody was saying, “Well that is weird. It doesn’t make any sense.” We now know they were right. Second naturopathic adage is, “When in doubt, detoxify the liver.” Okay. This whole idea is you have got to decrease the toxic load on the body because what are toxins? They are metabolic poisons that disrupt the proper function of the body. Our bodies have remarkable ability to heal and to function properly as long as you get the nutrients in and you get the toxins out. Because without the nutrients and with toxic overload your body is not going to work very well, which means you are going to get more disease.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. Last thing, what are your top three pieces of advice? And you can quickly mention anything that you have mentioned thus far in this interview. Top three things that you want to leave people with.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Marry a spouse who loves to cook organically grown whole foods and they can taste it. I am so blessed. That is number one. Okay. Now with the number one means eat organically grown foods. Okay. Eat organically grown foods, get enough sleep, exercise, have loving relationships. That does it.
Ari Whitten: And detox.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Well, if you did all those things you don’t have to detox as much.
Ari Whitten: That’s true. Yeah. I guess you covered it. Nice. Awesome. Well, thank you so much Dr. Joe Pizzorno: I have really, really enjoyed this and it was a pleasure connecting with you. Like I said, I have admired your work for a very long time, and it is really an honor to have you on. And where can people find out more about your work? Obviously, they can get your book on, “The Toxin Solution” and your other books on Amazon. But where do you want to direct listeners to learn more from you?
Oh, then go to my website, www.drpizzorno.com. That is d-r-p-i-z-z-o-r-n-o.com.
Ari Whitten: Wonderful. Thanks so much, Dr. Pizzorno and have a wonderful rest of your evening.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno: Thanks for your great work as well.
Ari Whitten: Thanks. Bye.
The Unknown Link Between Toxins and Disease and How To Detox Your Body with Dr. Joe Pizzorno – Transcript
The evolution of natural medicine (2:31)
Why toxins are a major contributor to disease (6:05)
How toxins in water get dispersed (15:35)
The dangers of airborne toxins (20:55)
Why PCB and DDT were banned (25:58)
The link between toxins and autoimmune disease (27:36)
The link between toxins, heart disease, and cancer (32:06)
How Ibuprofen affects mitochondrial health (37:04)
The most impactful toxins we are exposed to (42:56)
The best ways to detox (54:29)