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A promising study confirms that the simple act of sweating may go a long way in removing dangerous industrial chemicals from our bodies.
In a day and age where chemical and radiation exposures from industrial pollution are ubiquitous and virtually unavoidable, it behooves us all to find ways to minimize exposure to them as well as to reduce their complex toxicities.
But how do we begin the process of detoxifying vis-a-vis exposure to tens of thousands of novel new synthetic compounds that have been introduced into the environment over the past century, and by virtue of that fact, have been accumulating in our bodies since we’ve been in the womb?
Just so the reader gets a sense for the true magnitude of the problem, I will refer back to an article I wrote in 2012 entitled, “Crude Awakening: Mineral Oil Contaminates Everyone's Bodies,” wherein I reported on how petroleum-derived ingredients in cosmetics and even foods are accumulating in our bodies and causing profound adverse health issues:
“One autopsy study performed in 1985, revealed that 48% of the livers and 46% of the spleens of the 465 autopsies analyzed showed signs of mineral-oil induced lipogranuloma (a nodule of necrotic, fatty tissue associated with granulomatous inflammation or a foreign-body reaction around a deposit of an oily substance), indicating just how widespread pathological tissue changes associated with exposure really are.”
In the United States, the FDA has approved mineral for use in cosmetic products, as well as a food additive up to 10 mg/kg a day. For a 150 lb adult (68.03 kilograms) this is the equivalent of 680 milligrams a day, or 248 grams (over half a pound!) a year.
And that’s just petroleum. Add in pesticides, radionuclides, and heavy metals, and the hundreds of other chemicals we are exposed to in our daily life, and one begins to sense how overwhelming things have become.
The good news is that one of the body’s most ancient regulatory systems, namely, perspiration, is increasingly being clinically confirmed to provide more than just a thermoregulatory role, but as a powerful detoxification mechanism well.
For instance, in a previous article titled, "Research Confirms Sweating Detoxifies Dangerous Metals, Petrochemicals," I reported on the ability of induced sweating to remove heavy metals, bisphenol A, and phthalates. Guest contributor, Deanna Minich, Ph.D., also covered the topic in her article 4 Reasons to Break a Sweat. Now, a new study indicates we can add another particularly nasty category of chemicals to the list of substances that the body can remove directly through sweating.
Sweating Removes Highly Toxic Flame Retardants From The Body
The Canadian study on the topic entitled, “Human Excretion of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Flame Retardants: Blood, Urine, and Sweat Study,” and published in Biomedical Research International, reveals that induced sweating helps the body remove the man-made group of flame retardant chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
Here’s some more background on PBDEs:
“Used since the early 1960s as flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were first identified as global contaminants in 1987 ; they were found in human adipose tissue in 1990; and in 1995 the United States Environmental Protection Agency classified deca-BDEs, a commercial mixture of PBDE congeners, as possible human carcinogens. Since that time, PBDEs have been increasingly recognized as having serious health implications for humans, particularly for children [2–6]. Comprised of a family of 209 congeners, these persistent organic pollutants  have been used in a wide range of everyday consumer products including polyurethane foam, textiles, plastics, electrical equipment, computers, and construction materials. Because they are not fixed in polymer matrices, PBDEs can leak over time into the surrounding environment and be dispersed [6, 8, 9]. Consequently, these lipophilic [10–13] and bioaccumulating [10, 14–16] pollutants have been routinely detected in air, soil, sewage sludge, fish, wildlife, and humans [10, 12, 17–26].”
While PBDEs have been banned in a number of jurisdictions, including the European Union, they are still relatively unregulated in the United States. According to the new paper, these are the primary ways in which we are exposed to them:
Indoor Air and Dust.
Diet (particularly from meat)
Breast Milk and Fetal Exposure
The study also identified three well known mechanisms of harm:
Hormone dysregulation (e.g. thyroid disorders)
Cellular disruption (e.g. DNA damage)
Neurotoxicity (e.g. associated with plaque formation in the brain)
The study design was as follows:
"Nine males and 11 females with mean ages 44.5 ± 14.4 years and 45.6 ± 10.3 years, respectively, were recruited to participate in the study. Each participant provided informed consent and voluntarily gave one 200 mL sample of blood, one sample of first morning urine, and one 100 mL sample of sweat."
They focused on investigating the elimination of five common PBDE congeners (28, 47, 99, 100, and 153) in three body fluids: blood, urine, and perspiration.
The results of the study were reported as follows:
"PBDE congeners were not found in urine samples; findings focus on blood and perspiration. 80% of participants tested positive in one or more body fluids for PBDE 28, 100% for PBDE 47, 95% for PBDE 99, and 90% for PBDE 100 and PBDE 153. Induced perspiration facilitated excretion of the five congeners, with different rates of excretion for different congeners."
It is noteworthy that urine samples came up clean. This indicates that blood and sweat are far more accurate biomarkers for PBDE exposure.
The researchers concluded:
“[G]iven the relative absence of studies exploring PBDE elimination or clinical detoxification in humans, as well as the scientific consensus about the negative impact of PBDEs on human health, this study provides important baseline evidence suggesting that regular sessions of induced perspiration may facilitate the therapeutic elimination of PBDEs.”
This study adds further support to the indispensable health value of sweating in modern life. While the most obvious way to sweat via intense exertion isn’t always convenient or available, given disabilities or lifestyle commitments that preclude it, you could use a sauna, or infrared blanket to copiously induce perspiration. Also, there are diaphoretic (sweat inducing) herbs such as ginger that carry an excellent safety profile, and have other side benefits (take a look at our Ginger database for more information on the topic). Ginger won't induce sweating alone but will work wonderfully in combination with exercise.
Originally published: 2017-07-03
Article updated: 2019-05-30