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The Toxic Load Theory

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

In order to support the body's path back to wellness, it is essential to reduce the overall burden on the immune system.


Figure 1


My last blog post was all about the Functional Medicine Approach; this approach uses the Functional Medicine Matrix to weave together seemingly random and unrelated events and symptoms, into a complete story to help gain a comprehensive perspective of your history and subsequently your chronic disease. In other words, we map out the "foot prints in the sand" that have lead to where you are today.


Largely, these foot prints are factors that are adding to something called your Toxic Load. Consider this: the body has a threshold, above which symptoms occur. This threshold is not fixed, can differ person to person based on genetics, and can be lowered by stress, infection and general factors such as lack of sleep.


It may take months or years to reach the threshold, and the effects are cumulative as the body interacts with these factors. Once the threshold is reached, health declines and symptoms are produced, and this is what we call the Toxic Load Theory.


Figure 2


The Toxic Load Theory can be likened to a scale as in Figure 1, or a bucket as in Figure 2, where the ‘load’ of external and internal factors impact upon a person’s threshold of well-being.


The greater the toxic load, the lower the threshold of a person’s immune system and the greater the likelihood of chronic and acute reactions. There’s is no ‘normal’ threshold, as everybody reacts differently, and we are all under a different range of environmental, physiological, emotional and spiritual stresses.


Examples of loads include:

  • Chronic stress

  • Poor nutrition

  • Food sensitivities

  • Pesticides

  • Surgeries

  • Drug use and medications

  • Indoor and outdoor air pollution

  • Environmental toxins

  • Mold

  • Chemicals in perfume and beauty/skincare

  • Pathogens, infections, and dysbiosis

So to put this into perspective, if a highly stressed person, who has dysbiosis, food sensitivities, and compromised liver function, experiences factors like pesticides, chemicals, and regular NSAID use, then the threshold is swiftly reached and symptoms produced.


However if (together with reducing their overall toxic load) a person learns how to manage stress, rebalances their gut microbiome, supports liver function, and engages with healthy lifestyle behaviours, despite encountering occasional toxic items, their threshold may not be reached.


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Let me know your thoughts!


What are your thoughts about the Toxic Load Theory? Can you think of an example in your life where you reached your threshold? Leave a comment below and let me know!


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