Every day our bodies naturally produce toxins and waste through digestion, breathing and basic metabolic functions. In addition, just by living in a modern world, we are constantly exposed to external toxins through our food, air, water, cleaning supplies, and so on. The good news is that our bodies are designed to break down and eliminate toxins in a timely manner. The bad news is that our detoxification and elimination pathways can become overloaded, weakened, or dysfunctional, resulting in a buildup of toxins that, whether stored or re-circulated, eventually cause chronic symptoms.
Like what, you ask? Symptoms of a “toxic” body can range from mild to severe and affect many different organ systems. Things like headaches, frequent sinus congestion and/or sore throat, skin problems like eczema and acne and digestive distress are common when a person is overloaded with toxins and not eliminating them effectively. On a deeper level, this inability to eliminate properly can absolutely affect our hormonal health and our breast and uterine tissue in particular.
Our bodies’ main routes of elimination are the skin, mucosal membranes including the lining of the lungs, kidneys and our liver. The lymphatic system is key to circulating the toxins through the body properly so they can reach the elimination organs. Watch my short video explaining more about lymphatic circulation.
Women also eliminate toxins monthly through the menstrual blood. The more toxic you are, the more likely your period is going to be uncomfortable. Interestingly, since the breasts are exocrine glands and can secrete substances through the milk ducts, they are considered a secondary emunctory (or elimination pathway) and can be used by the body to excrete waste and toxins when primary pathways are overloaded.
The breasts are likely targets for toxins for a very important reason: they are made primarily of fatty tissue. There are two types of toxins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. While water-soluble toxins are easy for the body to flush out through the blood and kidneys, fat-soluble toxins, which include heavy metals, parasites, pesticides, preservatives, food additives, plastics and other environmental chemicals, are more difficult to eliminate and are often stored in fatty tissue, such as that of the breasts.
Unless our detoxification pathways are working properly or we actively cleanse the tissue, they can cause free-radical damage, degeneration, and disease. Although toxicity is a systemic condition, fatty tissue is the safest place for the body to store toxins, and that puts our beautiful breasts in jeopardy. Toxins can also affect other tissues in the body that regulate our hormones. Many toxins can be classified as endocrine disruptors. In other words, they disrupt your bodies ability to control it’s hormone production and function which is critical for overall health. Hormones such as insulin and cortisol are affected as well as “sex” hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which is important for both men and women.
What are the main culprits and what can I do about them? There are a number of great organizations that can help educate you on what particular substances are most “disruptive” to your hormonal health. Aside from limiting exposure to things like BPA and parabens, it’s also essential to actively help the cells, tissues and organs eliminate toxins effectively! I am a huge fan of dry skin brushing (see video here), infrared saunas (see more here) and a European system of biotherapeutic drainage (see more here) that I have been using with patients for almost 20 years.
It’s always important to start at the beginning, right? That’s why before I start replacing nutrients I want to support the lymphatic system, liver, gut and lungs to be sure that when I go deeper to balance hormones the body will know how to detoxify without creating a bigger problem of toxic mobilization.