5252 Hollister St., Ste. 201, Houston, TX 77040
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Detoxification Center in Houston, TX

Our bodies can cleanse toxins on their own, but heavy or long-term exposure can cause serious health issues. Over time, these toxins can penetrate your brain tissue and fat cells, changing how they function and even creating abnormalities.

Toxins affect people in different ways. Your genetics, diet, age, exercise level, medical history, and current health all play roles. You're an individual with unique symptoms, and you need a practitioner with the medical experience, training, and compassion to identify the causes of your toxin-based illness and treat it successfully.

Our team of experts at the Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine treats each patient with a personal, hands-on approach. Dr. Ruan views you as a whole person with a unique biological ecosystem—not as a set of symptoms or a problem that needs to be solved. Dr. Ruan will first identify your specific toxicity issues, then use his integrative medicine expertise to improve your whole health.

Our professional and caring integrative medicine specialists at the Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine will personalize a toxicity treatment that addresses your condition and revitalizes your health and happiness. Call us today at (713) 690-1991 or contact us here.

Houston Dexoficiation Clinic

How do toxins harm me?

Toxins affect your body by increasing, or decreasing your bodily functions like heart rate, breathing, or sweating – sometimes even stopping them. For example, a person poisoned by a dangerous insecticide may experience heavy sweating, slowed breathing, and increased heart rate.

Acute toxicity means exposure happens quickly. For instance, if you drank water contaminated by pesticide, you'd quickly experience headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and increased heart rate. These chemicals can also disrupt your child's normal physical and mental development, especially if you're pregnant. They can cause severe genetic mutations, leading to chronic diseases. In high enough concentrations, toxins can even kill you.

Chronic toxicity develops slowly over years. If you work in an industrial setting where dust, fine particles, or old paint are common, you may be exposed to lead, mercury, or a number of other toxins over a number of years; likewise, if you work in an agricultural setting, you may be exposed to dangerous pesticides or herbicides over time. These toxins slowly invade your body and cause long-term health effects—in some cases, people aren't even aware of their toxin exposure until they start showing symptoms, such as chronic headaches or coughing, recurring sinus infections, or even cancer.

These toxins can harm your body at the cellular level, causing severe genetic mutations and affecting your long-term health. Even if you don't realize you've been exposed to toxins, your body may be suffering from the effects of toxin exposure and causing symptoms you believe may be caused by something else.

Possible symptoms of toxin exposure

Your symptoms will vary depending on which type of toxin you're exposed to. They can vary widely, from subtle psychological effects to mild or severe physical effects. These can include:

  • nose and throat irritation
  • coughing and pain in chest
  • nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • back pain
  • sneezing
  • eyes watering
  • mood changes
  • sinus congestion or pain
  • irritability
  • urinating more often or less often than normal
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • depression
  • chronic or persistent headaches
  • bleeding in lungs or nose
  • mold-induced asthma
  • allergic fungal sinusitis: may result from an inflammatory reaction to fungus irritating your sinuses
  • allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis: a reaction in your lungs that may occur if you have asthma or cystic fibrosis
  • hypersensitivity pneumonitis: occurs when spore exposure inflames the lungs
  • convulsions
  • anemia
  • skin rash, itchiness, redness, or swelling
  • infertility
  • low birth weight
  • miscarriage
  • congenital birth defects

Toxin types

Plastics

Known as endocrine disruptors, chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), styrene, parabens, and phthalates are found in plastic bottles and containers, food can liners, detergents, flame retardants, toys, cosmetics and hygiene goods. Ethylene oxide, vinyl chloride, and halopropane are found in detergents, some pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and PVC pipes.

Many governments are now reducing the use of these chemicals in packaging and household items or banning it outright.

Long-term exposure can cause male infertility, mood changes, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, and many other chronic illnesses. Children are at increased risk because their bodies are still developing, and plastic-based toxins can impair physical and mental development.

Gasoline and petroleum byproducts

Years ago, lead was a big concern because it was used in leaded gasoline and in many common paints. However, the remains of leaded gas and paint remain today. Soil contaminated with leaded gas fumes 30 years ago can still be toxic and may still be contaminating groundwater.

Perchlorate found in fireworks, fertilizers, and bleach, and is often found contaminating drinking water. These chemicals can interfere with your thyroid's ability to make iodine and produce essential thyroid hormones.

Other gasoline-related toxins include the hydrocarbons toluene, benzene, and xylene, among many others. Fumes of these chemicals are readily absorbed into your lungs, where they can cause short or long-term damage. Because it's created from crude oil, it poses the same risks as petroleum. Long-term exposure to gasoline fumes can cause chronic gastrointestinal problems, chemical pneumonitis, flushing, slurred speech, disrupted walking, pancreas hemorrhage, and liver degeneration.

Mold, fungus, and bacteria

Black mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, is a blackish-gray mold that flourishes in damp environments. Mycotoxins are also a common toxin created by mold.

Common in homes, workplaces, and industrial areas of high humidity, black mold is usually found on, around, or under materials like drywall, carpet, insulation, or subflooring that has been exposed to moisture long enough for the mold to grow.

Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals that exist on spores and small fragments of mold, including black mold. When mold releases these spores, it also releases mycotoxins. Inhaling these mycotoxins can cause allergic reactions, some severe, especially in people who have HIV/AIDS or take immunosuppressant medications.

Mold exposure symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, eye and throat irritation, skin rash, sneezing. Long-term exposure can cause chronic bronchitis or other respiratory conditions.

Bacterial toxins can include salmonella, E. coli, botulinum, listeria, shigella, staph bacteria, and campylobacter. These can be found in contaminated areas of food preparation or can occur if food storage protocol isn't properly carried out, and if you eat the contaminated food, the bacteria can cause serious symptoms. Exposure to these bacteria causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, dizziness, fatigue, and sometimes fever. Long-term or very severe exposure can even be fatal.

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a common cause of irritable bowel disease (IBS).

Candida is a white fungus that's found all over the world, but overgrowth in your body can cause a number of unwanted symptoms like oral thrush and chronic gut inflammation.

Environmental toxins

Lead is the most well-known toxin, but mercury, aluminum, copper, arsenic, radon, and formaldehyde are also common sources of toxin exposure. Lead is most often encountered in old buildings that have lead paint on the walls, in old lead pipes that contaminate the drinking water, or in soil exposed to leaded gasoline fumes—even many years ago. People who work in renovating old buildings or on old cars, and people who work in battery manufacturing or the automobile industry are at the highest risk of exposure to lead.

Burning fossil fuels and mining can expose you to mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. When these fumes enter the atmosphere, you can inhale them and experience acute or chronic exposure.

You may also be exposed if you eat foods contaminated by these toxins, such as livestock fed with contaminated fishmeal, plants grown in contaminated soil, foods stored in pots with mercury-based paint, and fish oil supplements that may contain high levels of mercury.

Pollutants

Benzene, acrylonitrile, perchlorates, mercury, lead, arsenic, diphenyl phosphate, 1-bromopropane, hydroxyethyl mercapturic, and many others are used in industrial manufacturing and often can be found contaminating water supplies. If you work in heavy industry like mining or oil drilling, or in plants that use heavy machinery, such as the car manufacturing industry, you're at a higher risk of exposure to these toxins.

Pesticides

Organophosphates and compounds used in fungicides, rodenticides, and herbicides are big risks, especially to pregnant women and their infants, because they can interfere with normal physical and neurological development. Some foods can be contaminated with these chemicals, but you're at the biggest risk if you work in agriculture or live in a farming or ranching community where pesticides and other chemicals are sprayed regularly.

Exposure to these chemicals can cause infertility, hostile or unstable behavior, obesity, prostate or breast cancer, and imbalanced hormonal levels.

Diagnosing toxin exposure

First, Dr. Ruan will exam you and discuss your medical history and current symptoms. If he determines that toxins may be responsible for your symptoms, he'll perform one of more of these tests to confirm your toxin:

  • skin prick test: diluted amounts of suspected allergens (like molds) are applied to your skin through small punctures to check for a raised bump or other allergic reaction
  • blood test: exposes your blood to the suspected toxin, measures immunoglobulin antibodies in your bloodstream
  • serum blood: the most commonly used toxin tests; can reveal a number of toxins
  • system's sensitivity to various types of toxins
  • liver enzyme: if this is high, it may point to environmental toxins
  • organic acids: measures metabolic byproducts in your urine and discover key fungal markers for mold mycotoxins
  • hair test: detects toxins like arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, and aluminum
  • mercury speciation: breaks down mercury into organic or inorganic, potentially revealing mercury exposure

Treatmentent of Toxin Exposure

Your treatment varies depending on which toxins you've been exposed to and whether your exposure is chronic or acute. Dr. Ruan will listen carefully to your specific symptoms, and together you'll create a specific treatment plan.

Your treatment may include detoxing strategies, dietary changes, and reduction or elimination of exposure to the offending toxin or toxins.

After treating a variety of patients and studying clinical reports, Dr. Ruan is well-equipped to help remove toxins from your body. Dr. Ruan will recommend one or more of the following treatments depending on the type of toxin and how it entered your body.

Pesticides

Reduce your exposure by eating organic foods and avoiding the use of pesticides in your home and garden. By avoiding your exposure to these toxins, your body can clear them on its own in time. Infrared sauna treatment may also help your body remove them naturally.

Plastics

May include sauna treatment and supplementation, including glutathione. Also reduce or eliminate the use of plastics and Styrofoam in cooking, storing, reheating, and drinking and replace with glass, paper, or stainless steel kitchenware.

Niacin and vitamin B-12 supplementation can help rid your body of these toxins, as well as glutathione and N-acetyl-cysteine supplementation.

Gasoline and petroleum byproducts

Lifestyle changes like installing a water filtration system (reverse osmosis) can help remove these pollutants from your water supply. Infrared sauna therapy may also help detox your blood and organs.

Mold, fungus, and bacteria

Organic compounds like grape seed extract, echinacea, goldenseal, raspberry, and many other botanicals can remove bacteria and many types of fungus. Some antibiotics like rifaximin can defeat SIBO and may have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and may be used with botanicals as complementary therapy.

Environmental

Our team at Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine will educate you about all sources of metal exposure so you can proactively minimize your contact with potentially hazardous products. You'll learn how to read product labels, recognize symptoms of toxicity, and apply first aid after toxic substance ingestion.

We'll also help you find an experienced dentist who can safely remove and replace existing dental fillings with mercury-free composite material.

Improve nutrition

Since many toxic metals mimic nutritionally essential metals, they compete for the same absorption routes. But if you ingest enough of these essential trace minerals, they can beat the imposters to the punch:

  • nutritional zinc: can decrease cadmium absorption
  • calcium, iron, and zinc: can block lead absorption
  • selenium: blocks the effects of lead when administered before exposure and reduces mercury toxicity; increases excretion of stored mercury
  • lithium: helps protect against toxic effects of glutamate, stimulates brain cells to reproduce, may help restore function of damaged brain cells

Replace high-mercury fish with fish oil supplements

Because most toxicology studies recommend limiting consumption of high-mercury fish (tuna, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish) to no more than one 7oz serving per week, high-quality fish oil supplements are a good alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

The International Fish Oil Standards Program (IFOS) separates high-quality fish oil products from those of lesser quality. Always check the label to ensure your fish oil has the IFOS 5-star rating (IFOS 2013).

Modified Citrus Pectin

MCP mobilizes metals from body stores and increases urinary excretion of arsenic, mercury, and cadmium while decreasing lead levels in the blood.

Silicon

Data from preliminary human studies reveal that naturally-occurring dissolved silicon from mineral waters appears to decrease aluminum absorption, potentially reducing Alzheimer's risk and supporting cognitive function.1

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a free-radical scavenger that can protect against oxidative damage caused by lead, mercury, and cadmium. It may also prevent absorption of lead by inhibiting its cellular uptake and decreasing its cellular toxicity.

Vitamin E

Through its antioxidant action, vitamin E mitigates some of the toxic oxidative damage caused by lead, which are strong inducers of oxidative stress in tissues.

Folate

Folic acid helps activate amino acid metabolism (energy production). Sulfur-containing amino acids (cysteine and methionine) are precursors to known heavy metal chelators (alpha-lipoic acid and glutathione). Studies have shown higher blood folate levels are associated with lower blood mercury levels.

Garlic

Garlic contains many active sulfur compounds derived from cysteine with potential metal-chelating properties. These garlic constituents may also protect from metal-catalyzed oxidative cell damage.

Cilantro

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) has been shown to bind and immobilize mercury and methylmercury.

Probiotics

Among their myriad functions, certain strains of probiotic bacteria may minimize toxin exposure by trapping and metabolizing xenobiotics or heavy metals. The probiotic bacterial strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Bifidobacterium breve were all shown to bind both cadmium and lead.

Glycine

Glycine is a conditionally essential amino acid found in plant and animal proteins. Chemically, glycine is the simplest of all amino acids. It combines with many toxic substances and converts them to less harmful forms, which are then excreted from the body.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Glutathione

Sulfur-containing compounds can compete aggressively with heavy metals during the race into our cells. The sulfur antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has been known to chelate cadmium, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel, iron, and copper. Glutathione have been demonstrated to chelate mercury.

N-acetyl cysteine

NAC provides a source of sulfur for glutathione production and can reduce oxidative stress due to heavy metal toxicity. As a sulfur-containing amino acid, it is capable of binding and sequestering divalent copper (II), trivalent iron (III), lead, mercury, and cadmium ions.

Chlorella

Chlorella, unicellular green algae with the ability to bind cadmium excretion of methylmercury as well as cadmium.

Gastrointestinal decontamination

Bowel irrigation (introduction of water into the bowel to wash out its contents) may be useful for macroscopic particles of some metals like lead that can easily transit through the intestines. Activated charcoal may bind some ingested metals like arsenic and thallium, but not others like iron and mercury. Very large particles may even require surgical removal.

Lifestyle Changes

Reduce general exposure

Dr. Ruan is pleased to offer you education about where toxins are found and how you and your children can avoid them. You'll learn how to identify potential toxin sources and their symptoms, and how to reduce or avoid exposure in your daily life.

Improve nutrition

Adding certain healthy foods or supplements to your diet can help you avoid certain toxicities, or it can help you reduce your exposure to small amounts occurring regularly:

  • calcium, iron, and zinc: can block lead absorption
  • selenium: blocks the effects of lead when administered before exposure and reduces mercury toxicity; increases excretion of stored mercury

Modified citrus pectin

MCP mobilizes metals from your body and increases urinary excretion of arsenic, mercury, and cadmium while decreasing lead levels in the blood.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a free-radical scavenger that can protect against oxidative damage caused by lead. It may also prevent absorption of lead by inhibiting its cellular uptake and decreasing its cellular toxicity.

Vitamin E

Through its antioxidant action, vitamin E mitigates some of the toxic oxidative damage caused by lead, which are strong inducers of oxidative stress in tissues.

Garlic

Garlic contains many active sulfur compounds derived from cysteine with potential metal-chelating properties. These garlic constituents may also protect from metal-catalyzed oxidative cell damage.

Probiotics

Among their myriad functions, certain strains of probiotic bacteria may minimize toxin exposure by trapping and metabolizing xenobiotics or heavy metals. The probiotic bacterial strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Bifidobacterium breve were all shown to bind both cadmium and lead.

Glycine

Glycine is a conditionally essential amino acid found in plant and animal proteins. Chemically, glycine is the simplest of all amino acids. It combines with many toxic substances and converts them to less harmful forms, which are then excreted from the body.

Alpha-lipoic acid and glutathione

Sulfur-containing compounds can compete aggressively with heavy metals during the race into our cells. The sulfur antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has been known to chelate cadmium, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel, iron, and copper. Glutathione have been demonstrated to chelate mercury.

N-acetyl cysteine

NAC provides a source of sulfur for glutathione production and can reduce oxidative stress due to heavy metal toxicity. As a sulfur-containing amino acid, it is capable of binding and sequestering divalent copper (II), trivalent iron (III), lead, mercury, and cadmium ions.

Gastrointestinal decontamination

Bowel irrigation (introduction of water into the bowel to wash out its contents) may be useful for macroscopic particles of some metals like lead that can easily transit through the intestines. Activated charcoal may bind some ingested metals like arsenic and thallium, but not others like iron and mercury. Very large particles may even require surgical removal.

Speak with our team of skilled and compassionate specialists to learn more about toxin-specific detox treatments and which treatment is right for your personal case and medical history.

Reserve your appointment

Toxins are everywhere these days, and we're exposed to them all the time. You can fight back against the toxin onslaught by getting checked out and ensuring your body and mind aren't suffering from these dangerous contaminants.

Treatment is available right now at the Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine, so take the first step toward a healthier, toxin-free life by calling Dr. Ruan today at (713) 690-1991 or contact us here.

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Sources:

1. Gillette Guyonnet, S., Andrieu, S., and Vellas, B. The potential influence of silica present in drinking water on Alzheimer's disease and associated disorders. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007;11(2):119–24