Written by Stephanie Colestock, Part 1 — Detoxing Your Environment
Comments by Brian Johnson (Liver King)
When you think of avoiding danger, you probably think of the most obvious actions. Look both ways before you cross the street, don’t touch downed power lines, and never mix bleach with ammonia. But what if I told you that some of the biggest threats to our health and wellbeing are right out in the open. In fact, most of them are in our homes, surrounding us and our children daily.
We live in a world today that is undeniably toxic. But a toxic environment doesn’t just mean smog hanging over your city; there are toxins slowly poisoning us in the things we wear, buy, and eat. They are constantly attacking our immune system and disrupting our hormones, leaving us vulnerable to disease and feeling sicker than ever.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to identify and reduce these dangers before they impact your family further. Detoxifying your environment and moving toward an ancestral way of life is a process, and it’s not practical to expect that you’ll be able to entirely purify your home all at once. However, by systematically eliminating these environmental dangers as you can, you’ll be on your way to a healthier home… and a healthier family.
Let’s talk about a few of the hidden toxins that lurk in your most sacred of spaces, and how they endanger your health.
In Your Home
Our ancestors didn’t spend much of their time indoors. Instead, they were outside in the fresh air, hunting and gathering or socializing with others in the tribe. Society today spends most of their life locked in airtight, toxic boxes with stale air, though. Between the hours spent at work, in school, or in their homes at night, modern man doesn’t get nearly as much clean, outdoor air (and sunshine!) as he should.
Unfortunately, your home can also be one of the most toxic places around.
You’ll find environmental toxins in every single room of your house. In fact, indoor air is estimated to be about 5x more polluted than the air outdoors. I always find this to be amazing, especially as I watch city buses drive by with their black, billowing exhaust. “Wait, are you telling me that my home’s air is more dangerous than that?”
Yes, I am.
In Your Living Room
Your family is likely to spend a fair amount of time in your living room. Whether watching television, taking a nap on the couch, or visiting with friends, there’s probably plenty of gathering in this space. But how toxic is your living room, really?
Well, you might be surprised to find out that the common items in your home are slowly seeping toxins into your air. And over time, it’s making your family sicker and sicker.
One of the biggest dangers in your home could come from your furniture. Over the years, sofa makers have been required to use pounds of flame retardant chemicals in their upholstery. Sure, your furniture could now withstand at least a 12-second exposure to an open flame without catching fire – but you’re also being constantly exposed to these toxins as a result.
These chemicals are responsible for much of that “new furniture smell,” but it comes at a cost. From the moment that piece of furniture enters your home, it will off-gas. Off-gassing is the slow release of chemicals, called volatile organic compounds (or VOCs), into the air by a manufactured item. Common VOCs found in furniture include benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, naphthalene, chloroform, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, and toluene, just to name a few.
These VOCs circulate throughout our home, are breathed in, and begin impacting our body immediately with both short- and long-term health effects. They can cause damage to our respiratory systems, suppress our immune systems, and, in some cases, even cause cancer.
While laws have loosened in recent years, flame retardants are still being utilized in furniture making. And if you have couches or chairs that are more than a couple years old, chances are high that you have a slew of chemicals slowly leaking into your home.
The best way to eliminate them would be to buy new furniture. Many companies now make flame retardant-free sofas and chairs, eliminating many of the damaging chemicals that can make your family sick over the years. Your best bet, though, is to replace your furniture one-by-one, opting for natural and native pieces. We have slowly been replacing our furniture with beautiful, handmade pieces from the Amish community a few hours away. These chairs and tables are crafted with local, untreated wood and will last for generations to come.
You should also work to clear the stale, toxic air in your home on a daily basis. These means opening windows as often as possible, adding plants in every room (which not only pull VOCs from the air but then neutralize them), and even utilizing air purifiers to help lessen the pollutants circulating your home. Keep in mind, though, that a purifier can only do so much. It’s more important to remove the source of the VOCs, rather than just mitigate its impact.
Comment: Wife opens the windows every morning like clock work. We use tons of house plants for better indoor air and we've been slowly replacing all non-native furniture, piece by piece.
In Your Bedroom
For me personally, my bedroom is my haven. It’s where I feel the most relaxed and the safest, and where I spend at least seven hours a night. Your bedroom is likely where you spend the most time, too. Unfortunately, you might just be poisoning yourself there in the process.
One of the most dangerous places in your home is also probably your favorite: the bed. Many of us look forward to laying down our heads on a soft, pillowy mattress after a long, tiring day. But if you purchase a conventional mattress – especially one with a foam topper – you are literally resting your face on top of a toxic, off-gassing slab.
Thanks to yet another law, mattresses are required to be fire resistant. Often, this means the spraying of flame retardant chemicals into the materials. In addition to that, the foam and adhesives used in modern mattresses contain a slew of VOCs, so you’ll be spending the next decade with your nose mere inches from an off-gassing layer of pure toxicity. (Yes, mattresses can off-gas for 10 years or more, long after the chemical smell has worn away.) And don’t even get me started on the compounded danger of buying a standard memory foam mattress…
There are some companies that refuse to use fire retardants in their mattresses. Instead, they may use layers of wool or woven silica, which act as a fire barrier. This is a great way to reduce toxins but it may not be enough, as many of these companies still have harmful chemicals in their adhesives or foams that are unrelated to the retardant.
You’ll want to find a company that makes organic, non-toxic mattresses. These are typically manufactured using organic cotton and wool, steel, and button tufting (instead of chemical adhesives), and are a much safer alternative. If you absolutely cannot afford a new mattress, consider mattress wrapping. This method can block gasses that the mattress puts off, protecting you and your family a bit better.
The absolute best option (which my family hasn’t personally worked up to, but we are getting there)? Get rid of your mattress altogether. After all, our ancestors didn’t tote around thick mattresses from camp to camp… they rolled out a woven mat on the dirt or on a rock shelf and they slept soundly!
Not only is this healthier for you from a chemical perspective, it’s also impactful for your spine. Man was never designed to sleep on metal springs or 8” of cotton padding – you’ll notice that when you sleep on the ground, your spine is able to easily realign to its natural posture. You’ll get better sleep, eliminate back pain, and remove a mite- and body-waste ridden mattress from your home in the process.
Another source of danger in your bedroom is your carpet. Not only can carpets host pounds and pounds of mites, mold, and other allergens but, you guessed it, they also off-gas.
The adhesives used in carpet manufacturing emit VOCs over the life of the product… not just the first few months, when you can smell the chemicals. In fact, over 95% of all carpet products will emit styrene and 4-phenylcyclohexane (4-PC), thanks to the latex backing they use.
Your best choice is to remove the carpet and transition to a natural wood or concrete flooring. If that’s not an option for you right now, at least avoid installing new carpet in your home.
Comment: We don't have these toxic things you call "mattresses;" we sleep on our natural wood floor with a thin layer of native, organic wool padding. My advice, you don't need a mattress... get rid of it!
On Your Body
It’s scary enough to think about all the dangers that might be lurking around your home and in the air. But whether you realize it or not, your toxins might even be closer than your couch or your bed… you could be willingly putting them on your skin.
Have you ever bought your child loose-fitting pajamas, especially those made of cotton or a cotton blend? Then you’ve probably put your sweet babies to bed with a flame retardant chemical resting against their bodies.
Terrifying, I know.
Federal law mandates that children’s sleepwear meet certain standards for flame resistance. With loose-fitting cotton pajamas, this usually means that the fabric is treated with a toxic chemical. If you’re buying your kids polyester, acrylic, nylon, or rayon clothes, you’ll avoid flame retardants – but you’ll be putting fabrics laced with petrochemicals on their skin for hours and hours a day. Many of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, infertility, and a slew of other health issues. Avoid them at all costs!
While I mention your children (since their developing bodies are even more sensitive to these cell-damaging chemicals), this should really be a no-excuses change for everyone. Synthetic materials in our clothes, bedding, bags, and more may be cheaper, but you’ll pay that cost in your health.
Instead, opt for 100% organic cotton, silk, wool, linen, or untreated hemp, both in your everyday wardrobe and your nightwear. For bedtime, consider sleeping au naturel when you can, and also ensure that your bedding is organic, untreated, and composed of all-natural materials.
Comment: If we wear anything to bed, it might be a piece of totally, 100% cotton underwear. Trust me, you don't want petro chemicals near your nether regions nor anywhere else. You also don't want non-native bedding so look for organic cotton.
Remember those VOCs we talked about? Well, they are part of what makes perfume and body spray such an appealing product – they “off-gas” throughout the day, leaving a pleasing scent everywhere you go. Unfortunately, they can also be very toxic, filled with chemicals that can cause respiratory harm, reproductive toxicity, allergies, and even cancer.
Centuries ago, perfumes were made with oils, plants, flowers, and herbs. They came from the earth and were pure products that both smelled pleasing and were harmless. Today’s perfumes and colognes, though, are full of phthalates. These synthetic, petroleum-based chemicals wreak havoc on our systems and add to the toxicity of our homes and bodies.
Some people today are incredibly sensitive to modern perfumes, myself included. In fact, many doctors’ offices, schools, etc. will request that visitors avoid wearing scented lotions or perfumes for this very reason. Considering that these products cause headaches, asthma attacks, and respiratory distress for so many people, is it any surprise that they’re a high-ranking toxin?
Comment: In our tribe, we don't do scents and I still don't understand why other people do. We also don't allow second hand smells (airborne chemicals) to enter our home... neither should you!
Our ancestors didn’t brush their teeth 3x a day and floss every morning. They didn’t get cavities, either. These days, it’s incredibly rare to find an adult without a number of fillings and even root canals, especially if they don’t live an ancestral lifestyle. So, why the huge shift in dental health?
Well, it’s partly due to diet, and partly due to modern society’s dental habits.
For example, if you’re brushing with good ol’ Colgate or Crest (or any number of commonplace toothpastes), I have some bad news for you: you’re ingesting a poison. This poison also weakens your teeth in the process, making you more susceptible to decay than you already were from your lack of vitamins and minerals.
Fluoride – that supposed-miracle mineral that our dentists encouraged us to use daily – is a known neurotoxin. It collects in the pineal gland of your brain, which is the gland responsible for melatonin production. Once there, it’s very difficult to remove, and can create a number of issues related to sleep deprivation, neurological function, and brain development, particularly in young children.
Not only that, but fluoride will also weaken your teeth, jaw, and other bones over time. That’s right: the mineral intended to “strengthen and protect” our teeth is actually making them MORE prone to cavities.
Rather than using toothpaste that’s full of this neurotoxin, opt for a natural product that utilizes ingredients like coconut oil, charcoal, clay, and natural mint oils. You should also read up on the work of Weston Price and, as his studies suggest, work to increase your intake of vitamins K2, D, and A (from things like midday sunshine, wild fish eggs, bone marrow, and liver). This has proven to be an excellent approach for not only preventing tooth decay, but even healing it!
Comment: Most you know that wife is a holistic biological dentist... most of you also know that our early ancestors didn't brush, didn't floss, and didn't get cavities. If you want fresh breath, have a look at our homemade toothpaste from our Bone Marrow page. If you want strong, healthy teeth and gums, look at that same article.
All Around You
Unfortunately, the dangers that impact our body aren’t just related to the things we wear, consume, and sleep on. They surround us on a constant basis, barraging our immune systems and brains with harmful, damaging toxins.
We all know that pollution is a significant source of toxicity and can be a big factor in our overall health. Emissions from personal and public transit vehicles, refineries and plants, and even natural sources like wood-burning fireplaces can fill our air with toxins. These toxins not only affect our lungs but also overwhelm our immune systems, and can even cause cancer.
The air inside our home is one of the biggest sources of pollution, however. In fact, indoor air is so poor, it easily dwarfs any concerns that you might have about the air outside.
This can be due to numerous factors such as mold or mildew growing in the home (even in hidden places like walls, furniture, or underneath your bathtub); VOCs being released by your furniture and belongings, from your paint, and even thanks to things like air fresheners/detergents/soaps; dust and pollen; and combustion products from space heaters or stoves.
While there’s not much that we can do about the air around us – aside from moving away from dense cities and living in areas with fresher air, of course – we can help improve our indoor air quality.
Finding and remediating any sources of mold is priority number one. Mold can have detrimental effects on your health and that of your entire family. It’s not easy to get rid of, either, and may require you to throw out furniture or move!
Next, look for sources of VOCs. We talked about furniture, carpets, and mattresses already; are yours off-gassing and polluting the air in your home?
If you have air fresheners in your home, throw them out. Not only are they a sham – covering smells instead of removing them – they’re also full of toxins that enter your body every single day. If you absolutely need your home to smell a certain way, look into essential oil diffusers or natural potpourri.
Ensure that the air in your home can circulate well. Homes today are built to be airtight. This can be great for your electric bill, but not so great at reducing moisture buildup or clearing toxic air from the house. Open windows as often as possible and ensure that air circulates throughout your home. Add house plants in every single room, which pull pollutants from the air and neutralize them – it’s an aesthetic, affordable, and incredibly healthy option!
If you have someone in your family who is more environmentally-sensitive than most – like my 7-year-old son, for instance – you may also want to consider a TrueHEPA air purification system. There are many of them on the market and they range in both price and function. Some are designed to clean dust and pollen from the air, others attack mold, and some even trap or neutralize VOCs. While I would prefer to simply utilize my house plants and open windows, my son’s health needs often require a little more “oomph.”
Lastly, don’t forget that air pollution also includes your car… meaning the interior! If you’ve got a little green tree hanging from your mirror (or have a late-model vehicle with that “new car smell”), you’re driving a vehicle filled with VOCs every single day.
Be sure that you address toxins in both your home and your car, if you truly want to reduce the damage done to your body.
Comment: Once again, we use house plants to treat our indoor air quality and we only buy old cars that have had years of offgassing. It's a plus that we hardly use the trucks but when we do, we always unroll the windows when we first get in.
The last thing we will talk about today are EMFs. Electromagnetic fields aren’t new; in fact, this form of radiation has been emitted from the sun and even from the earth since the beginning of time. However, thanks to technology and man’s dependence on communication, we are being buried under EMF loads every single minute of every single day.
While some people would like to claim that EMFs are safe, recent studies are beginning to prove what many of us have known for a long time: constant, neverending exposure to this type of radiation is absolutely detrimental to our health. It not only impacts our sleep by attacking our parasympathetic nervous system, but it can also cause neurological harm (especially to children) and even cancer.
We encounter EMFs through everything from our light bulbs to our smartphones and even the electricity lines running through our neighborhoods. Thanks to cell towers and communications lines, there’s quite literally no way to escape them entirely. While our bodies sleep – when our ancestors would have gotten a reprieve from the sun’s EMFs and visible light waves – we are still bathed in this radiation. Our wireless routers, cell phones next to the bed, and our smart thermostats/vacuums/everything are emitting these frequencies day and night.
Add to it the radiation that comes into your home from cell towers and electrical lines, and you have a veritable health disaster waiting to happen.
There are a few ways to mitigate your EMF exposure, luckily. The first is to remove all wireless devices from your home, reverting back to ethernet for internet connections and corded home phones versus wireless. You should also sleep with your cell phone turned off or at least across the room, rather than next to your head.
If you absolutely cannot get rid of things like WiFi, at least turn them off at night. There are timers that will disconnect your devices during the sleeping hours, restoring power when you wake. This way, you’re not subject to the impact of EMFs while your body tries to sleep and recover, and you’re also not inconvenienced by turning them off.
Lastly, if you are sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies or want to further reduce your exposure, you can work to protect your home… or at least your sleeping areas. Creating a Faraday cage around your bed will help block radiation from your body while you rest, utilizing silver-lined fabrics (it looks like a mosquito net) and grounded sheets. You can also purchase EMF-blocking paint that contains graphite and carbon. This paint goes underneath your color of choice (hopefully, you’ll buy a VOC-free paint to go on top!), but provides your room with a barrier to radiation that could come through the walls.
Comment: We use a building biologist to create a non-native EMF free home and office. If that's not happening for you, at least use a TriField EMF meter (we keep a loaner so ask us about this) to see where the offending agents are, and heed the advice above. Last but not least, use liberal amounts of magnesium. One of the mechanisms by which EMFs do their damage is by altering our voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCC). Use oral and topical magnesium to mitigate some of the EMF damage.
Protecting from Danger
When you stop to actually look around, you realize that the world we live in is a dangerous one. Our ancestors had to worry about droughts, floods, and wild animals attacking their dwellings. Unfortunately, the enemies that attack us today are even worse than those of our ancestors, as they are disguised as safe, modern conveniences. They have the ability to harm, or even kill, us just as easily, though.
By taking a few steps and attacking these dangers one-by-one, you can begin providing your family with an environment that is healthier and safer. All it takes is a few conscious decisions and one lifestyle change at a time.
Comment: Implement lifestyle, diet, and behavioral changes to avoid danger, reduce exposures, reduce toxic load, and always provide your environment and your body with detox support.
The following summary is from our "About Us" page. Just in case this is the only piece you see on our site, I want to provide these bullets for you here too...
Avoid Danger To Begin With, Then Support Detox & Methylation Pathways
Eat Liver, Bone Marrow & Get More Methylation Support (i.e. pastured, organic egg yolks, creatine, sprouted chickpeas)
Support Liver & NRF2 w/ Milk Thistle, Turmeric and Kimchi-Like Foods (e.g. cabbage, broccoli, cruciferous veggies)
Drink Adequate Native, Non-Treated Spring Water; Add Lots Of Himalayan Sea Salt
Include Chlorella, Especially For Heavy Metal Detox... Especially if you have headaches... Especially if you have or had amalgam / mercury fillings.
Do Contrast Showers, Do More Movement, Do Saunas
Take Activated Charcoal Between Meals (this is temporary)
Get Plenty Of Magnesium & Turn Off Wifi To Mitigate "Some" Of The Harmful Effects Of EMFs
Get Lots Of House Plants To Mitigate "Some" Of Those Offgassing VOCs
Get Native, Natural Furniture, Flooring, Clothing & Toiletries
The Ultimate Is The 5-Day Water Only Fast; more on that later...