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Working Up the Toxic Patient: Practical Intervention and Treatment Strategies

Peter Bennett, ND, RAc, DHANP

Some problems in clinical healthcare are straightforward. The patient might present with low back pain, having perhaps strained the quadratus lumborum muscle. The patient history matches the physical exam findings and a treatment program is recommended with fairly predictable outcome.

The problems with toxic patients are more complex: they will seldom present with a history of toxic exposure; their symptoms are multisystem and multifactorial; and the findings of the physical exam may provide little confirmation of the intake. Proceeding to lab evaluation can be difficult because few of the indicators at intake provide a clear direction for the clinician to follow. Toxin exposure is hard to detect and the effects are almost impossible to predict with certainty. Toxicity is a highly individual situation based largely on genetics and the strength of the toxic exposure(s). It is the author’s experience that we know very little about how the human system responds to multiple interacting toxins; and yet, toxic exposure is a common experience even for “healthy” individuals.

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