Toxins in the Body: Symptoms of your Toxic Burden

There is nothing quite like that moment you discover the detrimental role of toxins in the body! Symptoms that you thought were “genetic”, or idiopathic (happening for no known reason), are actually the result of toxins!

So what are toxins exactly? How do we get toxins in the body? What do we mean when we talk about your total body toxic burden? And most importantly, how do we get rid of toxins in the body????

The method to ridding your body of toxins, lies in understanding the answers to these questions, so without further ado, let’s get into it!

Toxins in the Body: Symptoms List

Just about any symptom that you have, could be related to toxins. The reason for this is that toxins alter the balance of microbes in the body. They inhibit your liver and gallbladder function, causing a cascade of digestive symptoms and inability to detoxify efficiently. Here are some signs of toxins.

Common symptoms of toxins include:

  • autoimmune disease of all types (e.g. Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, MS, Fibromyalgia)
  • chemical sensitivity (don’t like chemical smells, rashes from new clothes, headaches from cleaning products, etc)
  • SIBO and most other digestive disorders
  • fatigue, feeling sluggish all day even after sleeping, and brain fog
  • chronic constipation and/or diarrhea
  • long term pain and inflammation
  • mental illness (all types, including anxiety and depression)
  • symptoms of parasites (anal itching, abdominal pain, insatiable appetite, and more)
  • food sensitivities
  • histamine sensitivity
  • difficulty digesting fatty foods, bloating, gallstones
  • stubborn weight gain, or weight loss challenges
  • migraines, headaches
  • menstrual issues, PMS
  • skin rashes and skin problems (rosacea, psoriasis, eczema)

If it sounds like every health concern could be related to toxin overload, that’s because it is. Our bodies have mechanisms for constantly detoxifying those substances which don’t serve us. However, the toxic load of the modern world has greatly overloaded many of our bodies, meaning we need help to get back into balance!

Where is that help found? Food, short term supplementation, energetic work, and getting to the root cause, with a qualified practitioner.

mostly plastic toxins in water with a small fish on the top half illustrate contamination of our water supply and increased toxins in the body
Chemicals and plastics in our water supply contribute to toxins in the body

What is your body’s toxin burden?

Your total toxic load is your total exposure to toxins, minus your body’s ability to eliminate them. This is often referred to as your “toxin bucket”.

The idea is that each person’s body has a bucket in which toxins enter which the body then needs to drain. The organs that filter and eliminate toxins are the liver, kidneys, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and skin.

Your detoxification system can be overwhelmed if your body isn’t given the proper support. When your bucket “overflows” is when you experience symptoms.

What factors contribute to your total toxic load?

We can divide the toxins which affect our body into two general categories: endotoxins, created in the body, and exotoxins that your are exposed to from your environment.

Exotoxins, also called environmental toxins, include: heavy metals, solvents, VOCs, organophosphates, pesticides, BPA, phthalates, paragons, EMF, heterocyclic amines, mold, POPs (PCBs, dioxins, difurans, PAH, OC pesticides and more).

Endotoxins include “pathogenic” intestinal bacteria- endotoxemia created by LPS, candida or other yeast (acetaldehyde), food chemicals and additives, and psychological stressors and emotions such as loneliness, anger, jealousy, fear.

How do we increase our toxic load?

Inadvertantly, we often increase our toxic load through our daily exposures. While we all want to decrease our toxic load, it’s important to be aware of how our toxin bucket gets filled up in the first place.

All of us have many exposures that increase our toxic burden. Some of these include eating a Standard American Diet and processed foods.

Others include exposure to heavy metals like mercury and lead (in air, food, water), exposure to pesticides, residues, fertilizers and petrochemicals, and exposure to mold and mycotoxins which are increasingly common due to the way we build our homes.

Food allergies and environmental allergies, medications, and an imbalanced microbiome that harbors internal toxins such as bacteria, fungi, yeast, as well as hormonal and metabolic toxins that aren’t eliminated well and completely, increase toxin accumulation as well. Finally, mental and emotional toxins that we carry and are stored in our fascia.

Ways to Lower Your Toxin Bucket

Our body has systems to naturally detoxify harmful substances. The key is making sure that drainage pathways are open and supporting these natural methods of bring the body back into homeostasis (balance).

The easiest way to avoid filling your toxin bucket? Limit your exposure to toxins in the first place. This can include replacing personal care products, using non-toxic cleaning products, filtering your drinking water, prioritizing organic foods, and improving your indoor air quality. 

Yellow air and men covering their faces from poor air quality contributing to their toxic load.
Poor air quality contributes to your toxic load

How to Minimize Toxin Exposure

The most important way to reduce our toxic load is to focus on the environment we are in every day.

Clean Food

Food is something we put in our body multiple times every single day. Therefore, it is important to focus on minimizing toxins in our food. The toxins in our food come from two main places: the food itself, and the cookware we use to make it!

In regards to food itself, minimizing toxins can mean focusing on organic, grass-fed, and pesticide and chemical free food.

Download the Pantry RESET guide, for a complete list of additives to avoid!

Cookware and Storage Ware

The cookware you use to make your food can be a source of many toxins, especially if you use Teflon or non-stick cookware. I have a full guide on this forthcoming, but in the meanwhile, you need to know that the safest cookware is generally stainless steel or glass.

In terms of storageware, plastic storage containers can contaminate your food with mircroplastics. Yuck!

So stick to glass for food storage. You can use pyrex containers or similiar, mason jars (cheap and useful), or even just a regular ceramic cereal bowl to store leftovers!

Switching to cleaner items in the the kitchen should be a long term project not an overnight one. So take your time. Start with switching out one frying pan and go from there.

Clean Water

Drinking clean water is absolutely essential for all of your body’s symptoms to function correctly. The basic thing to know, is that you want to be drinking either spring water or filtered tap water.

I’ve written extensively about water, so check out these articles for more details.

Clean Air

Indoor air is full of pollutants. Some can come from off-gassing furniture or building materials, flame retardants, paint fumes, various plastics in the house, or carpets.

Others may be particles that come in with us on our shoes, cooking fumes, particles in our heating and cooling systems. Then there could be mold exposures in certain areas of the house prone to humidity (Mold is huge topic I hope to clarify someday for you all, as we are doing some mold detox in our house as I’m writing this article).

The easiest step is to make sure you regularly ventilate your house by opening windows.

The next step, especially if you are spending a lot of time indoors, is to get air filters.
Look for HEPA air filters, and replace often with high quality MERV 7 or higher filters.

If you buy a filter make sure it is appropriately sized for different rooms. Ideally you want to air to be replaced twice an hour.

someone walking down the aisles in a supermarket, with aisles of cleaning products on the right and processed food to the left
Aisles of products we choose to buy and bring into our home, may exacerbate the problem

Chemicals in the Home

The last category, is reducing your chemical exposures via cleaning products and personal care products. These are items you are bringing into your house and putting on your body.

Personal Care Products

Our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs everything we put on it. If the products we use contain toxic chemicals, our body is soaking it in! This includes everything from hair care to skin care, dental care, make up, and other beauty regimen products.

The absolute gold standard is this: “if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”. Products that contain natural oils like coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, are great, as are those made with botanicals (extracts of herbs, fruits etc).

If you want to compromise on some items, then the next best choice is to use products with chemicals that are considered safe.

As of this writing, the best database I have found to figure out if a product is safe, is via the Switch Natural App. It scans product ingredients, so that even if the manufacturer changes ingredients, you will still know if it is safe.

Cleaning Products

As with personal care products, cleaning products can contain so.many.chemicals. These can cause skin irritations, breathing difficulty, endocrine disruption (affecting your hormones), and more.

The best cleaning products usually have very short ingredient lists: baking soda, vinegar and a few others. Depending on your sensitivity levels, you can also use essential oils for cleaning.

Remember that your cleaning products will leave a small amount of residue where they are applied. Whether it’s soap in your dishwasher, or detergent on your laundry, the small amounts accumulate, and before you know it, your toxic burden is going up.

You can use the same app mentioned above for cleaning products.

Next Level Swaps

I’m hesitant to overwhelm, but unfortunately so many things in our modern world are contributing to our toxic burden.

In order of importance, first focus on your food, water and cookware. Next work on your indoor air and products for cleaning and personal care.

If you’ve got all of those dialed in, then you can look at additional sources of toxicity. This might include switching your clothing to all natural fibers (cotton, linen, hemp) to avoid aborbing microplastics through your skin from polyester clothing.

Eventually you may want to revisit some of your home decorating purchases to further reduce plastics and avoid furniture made with flame retardants. Your mattress can be a big one to swap out.

Finally, consider reducing EMF in the home. You can do this by hardwiring your internet, and avoiding the microwave, and sources of dirty electricity.

Don’t Despair

Taken all together, you could be feeling like you should go live out in a cave in the wilderness. I know the feeling!

Unfortunately, fear of toxins is itself toxic to the body. So remember to take it very slowly. Swap out one thing at a time. Try to avoid thoughts about having a toxic body and reframe the toxin overload as a temporary challenge that you will overcome!

The goal is not to get to zero toxins, the goal is to lower your toxic burden enough so that your natural detoxification systems can keep up and you do not experience symptoms!

So let’s take a minute to talk about how we can support our body’s detoxification systems.

What to do if your toxic buden is high (you are experiencing symptoms):

First, know that lowering your toxic burden is 100% possible. Making small steps is key!

If you find yourself already stuck in an overwhelmed bucket, there are ways to support your body’s detoxification systems.

This can include increasing hydration, exercising and dry brushing to help your body move toxins through the lymphatic system. You could also increase your intake of green leafy vegetables and other “bitter” foods like arugula, dandelion, and turmeric. 

Supporting your liver is absolutely essential, as it is the powerhouse organ for detoxifying chemicals. The easiest way to do this is by eating organ meats.

Depending on how large your toxin burden is, you may or may not want to implement a complete protocol like the GAPS diet, that will gently push detoxification using supportive food.

Lastly, addressing emotional stress is also key. Stressful emotions can have a huge impact on your body’s ability to detoxify, and managing your stress levels is an essential part of keeping your “toxin bucket” from overflowing. (Again this is an article in and of itself).

a beautiful snow capped mountain with spruce trees and a stream in front of it shows us that nature will help bring our body into balance and release toxins
Going into nature and connecting to its rhythms is one of the best ways to lower our toxin burden

FAQ: Toxins in the Body Symptoms and More

Where are toxins stored in the body?

Unfortunately toxins can be stored anywhere in the body. That said, many toxins are fat soluable and so your body shuttles them away to your fat storage in order to protect itself from those toxins.

Other toxins, particularly those stored in parasites can be in any of your internal organs. You can find toxins in your blood stream (an example of a blood toxin would be babesia, a co-infection of lyme), your lymphatic fluid (where they are supposed to be and hopefully you are draining them out from there), and your fascia (where we often also store trauma). Depending on the type of toxin, they will have an affinity to different body parts.

What foods cause toxins in the body?

The simplest response, is that all food that don’t work for your bio-individuality can cause toxins, because of the possibility of your body creating toxins in response to food.

However, as a general answer: processed foods, and those will chemicals and perservatives will be the most deleterious.

What causes toxins in the body?

As we already discussed above, we can get toxins from our environment (air, water, food, products) and from those internally produced due to microbiome dysbiosis that cause toxic buildup in the gut.

Some toxins we inherit from our parents, and others we accumulate throughout our lifetime.

Some toxins utilize our body’s receptors to wedge themselves in place of where minerals would normally go. Others interfere with our hormonal systems.

Unfortunately the modern world is a toxic soup of chemicals and radiation; the farther we get from nature the more we end up accumulating in our body.

How can I test for toxins in the body?

If you’re wondering how to test for toxins in the body, the question to ask yourself is: what will I do with the information from that test? Because if you don’t have a plan to follow up on the results then testing can cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

There are many functional medicine tests that could be helpful: there are tests for heavy metals, tests for mold, urine and stool tests, hair tissue mineral analysis and more. Even blood tests can help to indicate where you might want to pursue more testing.

Generally speaking, it is best to pursue testing under the guidance of a healthcare provider. You can a book a call with Michael to chat about testing if that is something you wish to pursue.

How can I remove toxins from the body?

Now if you want to know how to remove toxins from the body, you will want to make sure you have your foundations in place first. That means limiting exposure to new toxins as described above (clean food, water, air), and then making sure your drainage pathways are open!

Just opening drainage will go a long way to help remove toxins, but if you need a more regimented protocol with supplements and targeted support, please use a practitioner to guide you. There are intricacies of removing toxins, and we wouldn’t want to to be destabilized and then reabsorbed back into the body.

What are symptoms of toxins leaving the body?

Unfortunately the effects of toxins on the body, is that when they leave they can cause a myriad of symptoms. This is why drainage is so important.

Sometimes you will have a worsening of the symptom they were causing before you see improvement. Other times the toxin build up will cause a detox reaction when they are finally being released. This could be things like rashes, increased anxiety, emotional effects and more.

It is important to work with someone who can support you if you encounter these issues.

If you want a totally DIY approach to toxin removal, the only protocol I can whole-heartedly recommend, is following the GAPS Diet. Please read the book Gut and Physiology Syndrome, so that you understand the intricacies of the method. Blogs (including mine) are not enough!

The Bottom Line about Toxin Symptoms

Toxins can be difficult to avoid in today’s world, but by proactively managing your exposure to them and supporting your body’s detoxification processes, you can keep your “toxin bucket” from overflowing and prevent long-term health issues from arising.

With the right habits and lifestyle changes, you can keep your body healthy and toxin-free.

If you’re ready to get some professional support in reducing your toxic load and supporting your body’s natural systems, book a discovery call and find out how we can support you!

What would you like to know more about reducing your toxic burden? Is it safe product guides? More about chemicals in food? Mold and mycotoxins? Heavy metals? Leave a comment below!

*This post may contain affiliate links. The blog is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning any detoxification program.


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Crinnion W. J. (2000). Environmental medicine, part one: the human burden of environmental toxins and their common health effects. Alternative medicine review : a journal of clinical therapeutic, 5(1), 52–63.

Kharrazian D. (2021). Exposure to Environmental Toxins and Autoimmune Conditions. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 20(2), 20–24.

Vasefi, M., Ghaboolian-Zare, E., Abedelwahab, H., & Osu, A. (2020). Environmental toxins and Alzheimer’s disease progression. Neurochemistry international, 141, 104852.

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