Solving a case of chemical overload

Two beautiful ladies graced my room. One was 13-year-old brunette Melissa, with dimpled cheeks and dancing eyes. The other was her ebony-haired mother. It soon became obvious that the two were best friends — a refreshing change from the often churlish atmosphere so common between teens and their parents.

Melissa had a history of severe colic and reflux with projectile vomiting as a baby. She had experienced a number of major asthma attacks several years apart and was plagued by sinus infections, warts and chronically infected tonsils. The tonsils were eventually removed at age nine, but then Melissa had begun to experience recurrent ear and throat infections, flu-like episodes, urinary tract infections, skin rashes, stomach pains with bloating and constant hiccups. The young lass was tired almost all the time.

Her mother had lost count of the number of antibiotics her daughter had been prescribed. Recently, Melissa had been experiencing memorable attacks of vomiting and gastroenteritis. “They last for days,” her mother informed me, “and they come out of both ends relentlessly.” Since these attacks began, Melissa had been putting on weight steadily — most of it around her middle.

Melissa’s mother continued, “I would just like to do whatever I can for this gorgeous girl of mine so that every day she can feel fabulous and wonderful. I have taken her to see some good people near home, but, when all is said and done, the effects have not been lasting and her body is still struggling. I would be thankful for anything you can do for her.”

Several salient points quickly became evident: Melissa had a mobile phone charger plugged in next to her bed; her tongue trembled and was a very deep red colour with a thick white coating towards the back; and swimming in chlorinated water always brought out a severe and unpleasant skin rash.

Tests revealed a number of major sensitivities, including to cadmium (tyre “dust”, air pollution, cigarette smoke, seafoods, pesticides, artificial fertilisers), sulphur dioxide (unavoidable atmospheric pollutant, especially in large cities) and sulphites (preservatives common in a wide range of foods, including dried fruits, grapes, freshly cut fruits and vegetables, potatoes etc). Melissa also showed a number of indications of inhibited immune function. Nutrient deficiencies included, in order of gravity: retinol, zinc, sodium, thiamine and cysteine. The liver was tender on palpation, as were both kidneys.


Melissa and her mother were happy to embrace the remedial protocols I outlined, which involved:

  • Avoidance of silverbeet, peanuts and cauliflower (they have a tendency to concentrate cadmium when superphosphate has been used in agriculture)
  • Reduction of Melissa’s high cereal consumption (grains, in my experience, are always associated with increased cadmium intake unless organically or biodynamically grown)
  • Eviction of all plastic food containers from their home (cadmium stearate can be used as a plastics stabiliser)
  • Regular consumption of a herbal blend based on nettle (Urtica dioica), pau d’arco (Tabebuia avellanedae), horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and slippery elm (Ulmus rubra)
  • A daily serve of biodynamic yoghurt in glass jars (not the ubiquitous plastic tubs)


The possible danger posed by plastic food containers is a problem that continually rears its head. Bisphenol A is used in many plastics and this chemical mimics the hormone oestrogen. Xeno-oestrogens are becoming a major health problem in clinical practice in recent years. Polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride should also be banished from contact with all sources of edible produce. PVC contains phthalates — plasticisers that are banned in Europe.

Even if a plastic is a safe variety, containers can become infected with a bacterial build-up. Glass, stainless steel and china are much safer choices for storing fresh foods and leftovers.

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are a form of radiation produced by cell phones, microwaves, computers and all other electric and wireless devices. Research has shown that EMFs can cause tearing and leaking of cell membranes, inevitably leading to DNA disruption in a developing foetus. This cellular damage can lead to issues with organ development and genetic integrity.

I have seen several instances, over the years, where the more removal of a bedroom-based mobile phone charger has quickly reversed chronic fatigue and other quite serious health complaints in teenagers and pre-adolescents. Unfortunately, these days, the sleeping quarters of many young people bristle with plugged-in gadgets.

Melissa was requested to turn off everything electrical in her sleeping area when she retired and to banish her charger to the other end of the house — well away from all family bedrooms.

Under current guidelines, in today’s gadget-oriented society, we are allowed to expose our bodies to (wait for it …) one billion-billion-billion-fold more energy within a particular part of the electromagnetic spectrum than our ancestors were exposed to a mere century ago. We continually warn clients to reduce their EMF exposure whenever possible — above all, in sleeping quarters.

A number of supplements were recommended to support Melissa’s liver detoxification pathways, brain-gut axis, adrenal metabolism and immune mechanisms. First and foremost were:

  • Essential fatty acids, with emphasis on omega-3 content
  • Two separate thyroid-hormone-balancing and antimicrobial phytonutrient compounds rich in glucosinolates, polyphenols, polyacetylenes, betacyanin, proanthocyanidins and ellagitannins
  • An excellent, one-a-day all-round probiotic formula in addition to emulsified cod liver oil
  • Lastly, andrographolides (from the herb Andrographis paniculata) in a base of lemon peel, zinc, ascorbate electrolytes and liver-friendly herbs


As a short-term measure, until Melissa’s digestive system had recuperated fully, I explained the many benefits of food combining and provided an easy-to-follow chart to help mother and daughter understand the concept more readily. They were also supplied with a one-week sample menu to lighten the workload on Melissa’s pancreas, liver and small intestine.

Four years later, a letter arrived from Melissa’s mother seeking an appointment for advice regarding her own deteriorating health. Attached to the letter was a current photograph of mother and daughter. Melissa had blossomed into a truly beautiful young lady with luxurious, glossy hair, clear, glowing skin and laughing, lustrous eyes. Her mother wrote, “I also want to let you know how incredibly beautiful and well Melissa is. She is an amazing and wonderful person — a very bright light. We both thank you very much for your part in that.”


Karin Cutter runs a naturopathic clinic in Port Macquarie, New South Wales. T: (02) 6582 4435

Karin Cutter

Karin Cutter

Karin Cutter ran a naturopathic clinic in Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia.

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