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Minor Routes Of Detoxification And Excretion

Minor routes of detoxification and excretion include:

  • hair
  • fingernails and toenails
  • sweat
  • tears
  • breast milk
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Hair

It may seem incredible to many, but animals with fur also have the ability to expel xenobiotics in large amounts into their hair. In fact, their hair works in the form of an excretory tissue for potentially toxic, essential as well as non-essential substances. These excreted elements are incorporated into their growing hair permanently, and the amount excreted is in proportion to these components present in the other tissues of their body. As a result of this, it is possible to use the hair of animals to evaluate the amount of toxic substances they come in contact with.

Again, it is interesting to note that in a number of cases, the hair of these animals reveals more than their blood. This is primarily owing to the fact that blood examinations show the concentration of waste materials outside the cell and which is being disposed of by the body and not the concentration of toxins and waste materials that remain in the body.

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In fact, the hair actually serves as a recorded history of all substances that are accumulated inside the body, and it contains trace elements approximately 200 times more than that contained in the blood. Moreover, blood serves as a marker of toxic substances that the body has been exposed to recently. On the other hand, the hair is a pointer of the toxins the body has been exposed to chronically and over a long period of time. It has been found that the normal rate of hair growth is about 0.5 inch every month and, hence, if a person's hair is five inches long, it will contain the recorded history of all the toxins the individual has probably been exposed to during the last 10 months.

HAIR ANALYSIS

It is possible to determine the nutritional status of the body as well as the stored toxins through hair analysis. An analysis of the elements in the hair basically involves the evaluation of the minerals that compose hair and it can reveal whether or not an individual is suffering from excessive or deficient minerals. It also shows whether the mineral elements are not appropriately distributed throughout the body. The levels of potential toxic substances present in the hair like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury show a close relationship with the symptoms as well as pathology of the individual. It has been established that the levels of these elements are much better in the hair compared to the blood and urine.

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Nevertheless, it is important to investigate the effect of external elements like soap, shampoo, conditioners, hair colors and permanents on the hair to, in addition to the above mentioned elements and the results of the tests should be analyzed and deduced accordingly. In fact, the presence of a number of hair treatments can result in poor readings of the toxic substances in the body.

Nearly all hair analysis examinations are undertaken to determine the levels of toxins like arsenic, antimony, aluminum, bismuth, beryllium, cadmium, mercury, lead, silver, platinum, nickel, tin, thorium, thallium, uranium and titanium. In addition, these hair analysis tests are also carried to find the levels of essential elements as well as other elements that are vital nutriments like boron, barium, chromium, calcium, copper, cobalt, iron, iodine, germanium, manganese, magnesium, lithium, molybdenum, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, rubidium, sulfur, selenium, strontium, zinc, vanadium and zirconium.

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While hair analysis is still in its initial stages, this method can be employed to find out problems like indigestion as well as the quantity of illegal drugs present in the body. Dependable hair testing methods can even indicate or reveal the presence of minute amounts of illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, marijuana and LSD.

Fingernails and toenails

All substances, including toxins and non-toxic materials, which enter our body are eventually dumped inside the cells that make up our nails and in the long run become a component of the nails. The epidermal layers that compose the finger and toe nails undergo heavy cornification. It may be noted that the flexibility as well as the hardness of nails is linked to the level of keratin (a form of protein found in hair and nails) content and the pattern of its orientation. In addition, to a large extent, water is also responsible for the suppleness and stiffness of the nails. In fact, nails have a tinge of pink and this is due to the network of capillaries just below them. When these capillaries become noticeable through the cornified epidermal cells, it makes the nails appear somewhat pinkish.

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Nails can be analyzed using different procedures to find out their content and also identify the chemicals deposited in them. In fact, occasionally, forensic testing also involves examining the nails to find if they contain any poisonous substance, for instance, arsenic. There are times when the deposits are noticeable when they are inspected with naked eyes. In a number of instances just the inspection involves only the fingernails, while in other cases even the toe nails may be affected by depositions.

Various different toxic substances, including arsenic, fluorine, gold, silver, chlorpromazine, tetracycline and thallium, can have a negative impact on the nails and some of them are discussed below.

Arsenic
In the instance of severe poisoning, traverse white streaks are formed on the nails, each of these broad stripes containing arsenic. In instances of chronic poisoning by arsenic, longitudinal or long, dark bands are formed on the nails.
Anti-malarials
When the nails are affected by anti-malarials, there is pigmentation on the fingernails as well as toenails. The color of these pigments may be different, varying from yellow to black.
Chlorpromazine (a sedative)
In case of chlorpromazine deposits on the nails, in several instances, the exposed skin area, together with the nail bed develops pigmentation. The color of these pigments may range from slate blue or tan to purple or dark blue-black.
Doxycycline
When our nails come in contact with this toxic chemical substance, they become discolored and develop a brownish hue. In addition, doxycycline also separates the nails from the nail bed.
PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls
These chemicals result in deformation of the nails and cause black stains on the nail beds.
Fluorine
This is a chemical, which leads to the formation of many longitudinal parallel striate and pitting on the nails. This chemical also makes fingernails and toenails appear mottled.
Gold
This precious metal is also harmful for our body and deposition of this metal causes dark brown stains on the nails, which eventually become soft as well as fragile and develop longitudinal stripes.
Silver
Similar to gold, silver deposition is also toxic and it causes bluish-grey stains on the fingernails. However, exposure to silver does not affect the toenails.
Thallium
When our nails are exposed to this is a rare, soft, malleable white-colored metal, they develop dark brown longitudinal stripes.
Tetracycline
Exposure to this antibiotic causes yellowish pigmentation on the nails.

However, sometimes chemical deposition on the nails may prove to be useful, especially when one is treating any type of nail disorder, such as fungal infections. For instance, a medication called griseofulvin is usually deposited inside the keratin precursor cells. This drug attaches itself securely to the new keratin, making the later resistant to invasions by fungi.

Sweat

We perspire when the temperature of our body increases. Sweating is a mechanism of our body to sustain its normal temperature. The contents of sweat are nearly the same as that of the urine. Sweat includes elements like water, uric acid and lactic acid. As the skin, a major body organ, aids in excreting wastes and toxic substances, it is often called the "third kidney." It is worth mentioning that our body eliminates about 30 percent of wastes and toxins through sweating.

When the temperature of the body rises, heavy metals as well as xenobiotics are excreted by means of sweating. Augmented body temperatures result in the release of these harmful chemical compounds from the fat cells in the body and into the bloodstream. In such situations, there is a dilation of the blood vessels present in the skin allowing additional flow of blood. This, in turn, triggers the sweat glands, which pass water on the surface of the skin. While the sweat evaporates, it not only releases heat, but also the toxic substances carried by it from inside the body.

In addition to increasing the flow of blood, dilated blood vessels in the skin also augment the supply of nutrients to the skin. It also makes it possible for the toxic substances stored deep inside the body to be transported to the skin surface and eventually excreted from the body. Moreover, increased body temperature also slows down the proliferation or reproduction of pathogenic organisms like bacteria and viruses, while increasing the intake of oxygen and augmenting the heart rate. Augmented body temperature also facilitates blood and lymph circulation. Collectively, all these activities help in detoxifying our body.

Tears

Our body also excretes several wastes and toxins by means of tears, which is a trifling excretion route. A minute concavity of the orbital bone just on top of the eyes contains the lacrimal gland, the place where tears are formed. Subsequently, the tears dispense over the eyes and flow into two small tubes located at the corner of each eye and called the inferior lacrimal duct. Subsequently, the tears trickle into the nasolacrimal duct, a small tube connecting with the nose. This is the reason why many people also have a running nose when they cry. When these ducts are over-burdened, it results in the tears to run down the cheeks. Tears are beneficial in many ways, for instance, they keep the eyes moistened, carry away various irritants and, at the same time, safeguard the eyes from being infected.

Tears are attributed to emotions and irritants and both these types of tears enclose three chemicals that are said to be discharged by our body when it is under stress. These chemicals include adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH, which is known to be the most consistent stress indicator; prolactin, a hormone found in mammals and which is responsible for controlling milk production; and leucine-enkephalin, a form of endorphin that most likely alters feeling of pain. In addition, prolactin works to stimulate production of tears and this may possibly clarify the reason behind women crying more often and easily compared to men. The level of serum prolactin in adult women is almost 60 percent more compared to that in men. However, the levels of prolactin in pre-adolescence boys as well as girls are same and they also cry as often.

Breast milk

Although it may seem strange, breast milk, in humans as well as other mammals, happens to be a trivial channel for detoxification and excretion of wastes and toxins. As in the case of sweat and tears, toxins are also sent out in breast milk. It has been found that three to five percent of human milk is comprised of fat and chemicals soluble in lipids. These lipid-soluble fats can be emitted in the fat contained in breast milk. During lactation, fat accumulated in the body release the toxic substances stored by them into the bloodstream. Eventually, these toxins are transported from the bloodstream to breast milk. It is believed that women whose body may have accumulated excessive toxic substances discharge additional toxins through their breast milk.

Examination of breast milk of some mammals, including humans, has revealed the presence of pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS), in addition to other toxic metals like lead. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, on average, an American baby ingesting breast milk consumes at least nine times more dieldrin, a pesticide that promotes development of cancer, than the permissible levels. In addition, it has been found that human breast milk in America also contains PCBS in levels that are at least 10 times more than the maximum levels permissible. It has also been detected that the levels of PCBS in breast milk may result in cancer as well as birth defects in mammals.

Toxic substances expelled by cows have been found in even cow's milk. In fact, cow's milk contains all the chemicals to which it is exposed, including chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. In addition, all chemicals present in the animal's food can also be found in its milk. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would definitely ban use of cow's milk if it is found that it contains an equal amount of DDT that is generally found in human breast milk. Apart from DDT, it has been found that cow's milk is polluted with pesticides like heptachlor epoxide (a product of metabolic action on a particular pesticide), dieldrin, and lindane. What is of concern is that infant foods prepared using cow's milk may also include the toxic substances mentioned above.

The presence of various possible toxic substances in breast milk notwithstanding, breastfeeding is always considered to be better and safer compared to bottle-feeding. This is primarily owing to the fact that breast milk encloses all the nutriments in appropriate proportions essential for the best growth and sound health of an infant. It also contains the vital amino acids that are essential for the growth of the baby's brain as well as the nervous system. When a baby consumes breast milk, it is transformed into a curd in the stomach, making it easier for the baby to digest compared to the protein of cow's milk present in various infant formulas.

It is important to note that babies that are fed breast milk are less likely to fall ill, especially be affected by diarrhea and various gastrointestinal infections. In addition, breastfeeding also lessens the risks of diseases like leukemia, autoimmune diseases, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory ailments and disorders related to their immune systems. In addition, even if a baby, who is being fed breast milk, develops any infections of the respiratory system, it is not likely to be very acute.

Apart from the benefits of breast-feeding discussed above, it offers several other enduring advantages. It seems that breast milk inhibits the growth and advancement of celiac disease (a digestive problem) and also protects them from Crohn's disease as well as ulcerative colitis even when they grow up. People who have been fed on breast milk are not at as much risk of developing lymphoma (malignant tumours formed in the lymphatic tissues), insulin-dependent diabetes and even food allergies compared to those who were not breast-fed.

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