Feb 19, 2018
by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
Neurotoxicity sounds like a big complex word, doesn’t it? But if you break it down it’s pretty simple to understand: “Neuro” refers to the neurons in the human nervous system, and “toxicity” references adverse effects.
The brain—along with the spinal cord and nerves that communicate with our senses, muscles, and glands—is a key component of the human nervous system. Add a bunch of cells, neurons (as in neurotoxicity-related neurons), and a blood-brain barrier, and you have yourself one complex system. (1)
Toxins or toxicants—like chemicals used in standard consumer products—may affect the nervous system in a significant way.
Neurotoxins are toxins that can damage or change the neurons in the nervous system. What does that mean for you and me?
It means that neurons—the specific nerve cells responsible for communication to all parts of the body—can become dysfunctional, damaged, or even die from toxicants.
Chemicals and heavy metals can be neurotoxic. Depending on the type of toxin/toxicant, cells can die or stop communicating; thus ceasing to operate correctly. Below are three examples.
Cells that are dying, damaged, or not communicating cannot function correctly. This may result in one or more medical conditions.
There are three types of neuron cells (sensory, motor, interneuron) that can become damaged. Below are some effects that damaged cells can have (5):
Neurotoxicity can also cause depression, anxiety, cardiac muscular weakness, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (6), progressive bulbar palsy (7), progressive muscular atrophy (8), and many other diseases.
Neuron cells can be damaged or killed by toxins/toxicants (chemicals and heavy metals). (9) Examples are (10):
These types of chemicals and heavy metals can be found in standard products such as (11):
One strategy for reducing exposure to neurotoxins is to avoid exposure. This includes avoiding exposure to the products that contain these chemicals and heavy metals. Many of the products above fall into broader categories of products that can be avoided. Below are a five tips.
Neurotoxic chemicals and heavy metals can adversely affect our health. Choose furniture, textiles, finishes, fragrances, and cleaners that are made from natural ingredients and contain minimal chemicals and heavy metals.
Take steps to reduce your exposure and keep neuron cells healthy. Their ability to function correctly can have a significant impact on your health.
(11) Gushee, Sophia Ruan. A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures. New York: The S File Publishing, LLC, 2015.
Would you like to join a community of like-minded conscious consumers as well?
Do you want to read less about practical nontoxic choices and just see checklists of thoughtful options?
Then join the D-Tox Academy!
Each month, we will "meditate" on a body part or system. The goal is to connect with our body, senses, and symptoms to rely on this curiosity and "listening" as guidance for a gentle, detox journey.
Access Sophia's shopping list for her household staples. They're her favorite low toxic items that she can't live without. Also see which EMF protection products she uses.