Toxins, Toxicity, and Endotoxemia: A Historical and Clinical Perspective for Chiropractors

J Chiropr Humanit. 2016 Sep 3;23(1):68-76. doi: 10.1016/j.echu.2016.07.003. eCollection 2016 Dec.


Objective: The purpose of this commentary is to review the notion of toxicity in the context of chiropractic practice.

Discussion: The belief that body toxicity is the cause of disease has been promoted for thousands of years. Prior to the emergence of the chiropractic profession, the medical profession embraced the notion that the body becomes "toxic," requiring detoxification interventions or surgery. The legacy of body toxicity within the chiropractic approach to patient care began with Daniel David Palmer. Today, some sectors within the medical and chiropractic professions continue to embrace the concept of body toxicity and the related need to engage in detoxifying treatments. The most common areas of focus for detoxification are the intestines and liver; however, the nature of the toxicity in these organs has yet to be defined or measured. In contrast, diet-induced systemic bacterial endotoxemia is a measureable state that is known to be promoted by a diet rich in sugar, flour, and refined oil. This suggests that bacterial endotoxin may be a candidate toxin to consider in the clinical context, as many common conditions, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, interstitial cystitis, depression, and migraine headache, are known to be promoted by endotoxemia.

Conclusion: A diet rich in refined sugar, flour, and oils may induce proinflammatory changes within intestinal microbiota that lead to systemic, low-grade endotoxemia, which is a common variety of "toxicity" that is measurable and worthy of research consideration. Introducing a diet to reduce endotoxemia, rather than attempting to target a specific organ, appears to be a rational clinical approach for addressing the issue of toxicity.

Keywords: Detoxification; Endotoxemia; Endotoxin; Toxicity; Toxins.

Publication types

  • Review