Saul Marcus, ND - Naturopathic Doctor

257 West 39th street, 10th floor - New York, NY 10001

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Toxins that cause chronic illness

People often ask how can they be toxic without any obvious work or environmental exposure? The fact of the matter is that in the modern world we are inudated with many different types of toxins. Exposure can be through food, air water, or even from chemicals used in the cloths we wea. It's not just a matter of what happens when we're exposed to large amounts of a single toxins such as mercury or lead. It's also about the total accululative effect all these toxins have over time.

What type of toxins are we exposed to?

Heavy metals

For more information on testing options go to the page on heavy metal assessment.

Pesticides - historical trends and a few notable examples

image of ad saying DDT is good for me

Pesticides have been used long enough now that we can see a clear historical trend:

  1. A new pesticide is release, and sprayed all over foods and the environment.
  2. Peopel are concered about saftey.
  3. We are assured from goverment and corporations that the pesticide is safe.
  4. Years or decades later the pesticide is recalled because of toxicity.
  5. New pesticides are released.


Developed in the 1940's, it wasn't just sprayed on food, but on people. Years later it was recognized as a toxin that is stored in fat tissue and causes numerouis health issues, especially relatec to the nervous system. It is now recognized as a carcinogen. See DDT fact sheet.


Endosulfan - Very toxic and xenoestrogen. First approved for use in the USA in 1954, global ban was finally set by Stockholm Convention in 2011. From the EPA's website "Endosulfan is volatile, persistent, and has the potential to bio-accumulate in aquatic and terrestrial organisms. A large body of scientific literature documents endosulfan’s medium- and long-range transport on a global scale and subsequent accumulation in nearly all environmental media. Through the process of global distillation, endosulfan is present in air, water, sediment, and biota thousands of miles from use areas."


Banned by the EU in 2004 when it was found ground water levels could not be kept in approved limits. It is still commonly used in USA. Their has been controlvery over its hormonal effect in amphibians. See the following video on Syngenta whistleblower.

Glyphosphate (Round Up)

First brough to the market in 1974. Only recently have countries in Europe started to not renew it's license due to toxicity effect. Known carcinogen. A review of toxic actions of Glyphosphate can be found here.

The article lists:

  1. Disruption of gut bacteria
  2. Impairment of liver enzyme pathways needed for detoxification
  3. Excess retinoic acid and contibution towards celiac disease and birth defects
  4. Cobalamin (vitmain B12 deficiency)
  5. Anemia
  6. Molybdenum deficiency
  7. Selenium deficienty and thyroid symptoms
  8. Kidney disease
  9. Other nutritional deficiencies
  10. Cancer

The study concludes: "The monitoring of glyphosate levels in food and in human urine and blood has been inadequate. The common practice of desiccation and/or ripening with glyphosate right before the harvest ensures that glyphosate residues are present in our food supply. It is plausible that the recent sharp increase of kidney failure in agricultural workers is tied to glyphosate exposure. We urge governments globally to reexamine their policy towards glyphosate and to introduce new legislation that would restrict its usage."

Persisten organic pollutants (often called POP's)

This a broad catagory that refers to many industrial toxins that do not readily degrade in the environment. A general overview of POP's can be found on the EPA's website. Specific exampls of POP's include; DDT, pesticides (endrix, mirex), hexachlorobenzene, PCB's, and dioxins.

How do you know if you are toxic?

In Naturopthic school my environmental medicine teacher said it's not a question of if you are toxic or not. It's a question of how toxic you are and if it is causing symptoms.

Environment medicine is largly ignored by conventional medicine except in cases of work exposure or acute poisoning. In natural health it's understood that not just the effects of single environment toxins, but the total load of various toxins on the body, can cause symptoms.

The page on heavy metal assessment page covers some ways to test for toxicity.

There are thankfully numerous methods to detoxify naturally.