Toxicity | Integrative functional medicine blog

"Any fool can Know. The point is to understand" - Albert Einstein

Don't touch those BPA receipts!

We’ve always known that BPA’s are bad, or at least some of us have. Now there is even more evidence backing us up.

A new
study that had subjects handle store receipts showed BPA absorbed through the skin stays in the body much longer than ingested BPA. The study had subjects handle common store receipts for five minutes, then wear gloves for two hours before washing their hands.

BPA measurements in the subjects’ urine showed BPA levels highest for the first
TWO DAYS after handling the receipts. And remember, they only handled the receipt for 5 minutes.

After one week, three of the six volunteers still showed BPA in their urine. Some studies show that the half life of BPA in the body is about 6 hours, but the half life isn’t a linear progression. It actually shows that the half life slows down and doesn’t get detoxed as fast.

Anyway, when the subjects ate a cookie with BPA, follow up urinalysis showed BPA levels spiked after five hours but was cleared after a day. The scientists concluded that the body can more quickly metabolize and clear ingested BPA than BPA absorbed through the skin. If you are looking on the bright side of things, I guess you can take this to mean that its better to use plastic to eat and drink out of than to touch it.

BPA toxicity in everyday food and beverages
BPA (bisphenol-A) is the main component of polycarbonate and is found in water and beverage bottles, plastic lids, the lining of tin cans, food storage containers, dental sealants, contact lenses, and electronics.

Store receipts aren’t the only place people come in contact with BPA. Canned foods often contain significant amounts of the chemical — the lining in a soup
can can deliver 1,000 percent more BPA than fresh soup.

Plastics beverage bottles are another common source of exposure, especially if the bottle has been exposed to heat, light, or acids (such as soda).

Plastic food containers, especially if they have been heated (like in a microwave or in a hot car), are another common source. Plastic coffee lids, straws, and any other plastics that come in contact with foods deliver BPA as well. And again, if those foods or liquids are exposed to heat (coffee) you are more likely to absorb increased amounts of BPA.

BPA on store receipts

Store receipts aren’t the only source of BPA that can be absorbed through the skin. Other sources of thermal paper that contains high amounts of BPA include fast food receipts, ATM receipts, airline tickets, gas station receipts, lottery tickets, fax paper (if anyone still uses that), etc.

So ask the cashier to toss the receipt for you. Or, if they have the ability like in my office, just have them email or text the receipt to you. That way you don’t have to touch it and you won’t ever lose it.

Although this latest study had subjects handle the receipts for five minutes, previous studies have shown handling a receipt for just 
five seconds transfers BPA through your skin and into your bloodstream. Your skin absorbs ten times as much if your fingers are wet or greasy.

You can even absorb BPA from handling cash that has been stored with receipts.

Why BPA is toxic to the body

Studies have shown BPA to be problematic to human health in various ways. It has estrogen-like properties that skew hormone balance. Also known as a xenoestrogen.

Rodent studies have shown BPA causes reproductive defects, cancer, and breakdowns in metabolic and immune health. Great stuff for the health of your kids!

BPA is especially toxic to a developing fetus, raising the risk of causing chromosomal errors, miscarriage, and genetic damage.

The chemical is also linked to poor sperm quality, early puberty, reproductive dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, 
thyroid problems, insulin resistance, and obesity OH MY!

BPA raises the risk of triggering autoimmunity

Recent studies have also shown that BPA can both trigger and exacerbate autoimmune diseases due to its disruptive effect on the immune system. It has been linked to autoimmunity to nerve sheathes, the common target of attach in multiple sclerosis, and to Hashimoto’s thyroid autoimmune disease.

BPA-free is no guarantee
Unfortunately, products listed as “BPA-free” are not a green light either. Many non-BPA plastics also contain synthetic estrogens.

Basically what they are doing is taking BP”A” and changing it to BP”S” and calling it BPA free. This is a load of B”p”S. It doesn’t mean a darn thing! It’s still toxic!

How to reduce your body burden of BPA
Reduce your exposure to BPA as much as possible by not handling receipts and avoiding plastic food and beverage containers. Additionally, help buffer the damage of BPA and other toxins by eating a whole foods diet and supplementing with nutritional compounds that support detoxification and cellular protection. I have included a few link to some products that can help you live a more toxin free life and support those natural detoxification pathways.

Stainless steel water bottles
Glass water bottles
Stainless lunch food containers
Glass food storage containers

The short list of some supplements that can assist in detoxification.
S - Acetyl - Glutathione
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Green Tea Extract
Indol 3 Carbinol

And of course, make sure your digestion is working right.
The last step of detoxification is elimination.
If you aren’t eliminating, you aren’t detoxifying.

Don’t put up with any BP “A” or “S” BS.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy!

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Are artificial sweeteners the best weight loss tool of all time? ;-)

Are artificial sweeteners the best
weight loss tool of all time? ;-)

If you use artificial sweeteners to avoid gaining weight, you’re not only wasting your time but also possibly (actually let’s make that probably) causing future health problems, according to a bunch of recent studies. As always, I recommend doing a Pubmed search to get the details. But it might make you a little depressed, or maybe mad.

A few of these studies have found that not only do aspartame and sucralose NOT prevent weight gain, they also raise the risk of diseases in people who use them regularly.

Some research even shows long term use of artificial sweeteners leads to
weight gain.

That is actually BRILLIANT marketing.

Let’s make a product and say it is supposed to help with something and actually make it do the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. It becomes a vicious cycle!

Recent research shows about a quarter of children and more than 40 percent of adults in the United States consume artificial sweeteners daily. A very sad statistic but also interesting when its estimated that over 20% of children are now obese and almost exactly 40% of adults are obese.

So that kind of begs the question. Are they obese because of these products or do they consume these products because they are obese? My answer is YES.

Some people eat them purposefully in the mistaken belief that is better for their health. Many others, however, are unwittingly consuming them in everyday food products. And, many times they are cleverly disguised.

Artificial sweeteners hiding in many foods

Artificial sweeteners are hiding in many foods unbeknownst to most people. These products are not always clearly labeled and some are even labeled with misleading claims such as “natural ingredients.” Clever little buggers!

While we expect to find artificial sweeteners in foods labeled “light,” “reduced sugars,” “diet,” and “sugar-free,” they also show up in “smart” popcorn, granola bars, yogurt, and even a popular pediatric electrolyte drink that rhymes with “poopyflight”.

Artificial sweeteners linked to obesity; disease

Studies also suggest long term use of artificial sweeteners leads to weight gain and chronic diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease.

Participants in a randomized trial who used artificial sweeteners as part of their weight loss program were shown to have an
increase in their body mass index, a 14 percent higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes, and a 32 percent higher chance of developing heart disease. Sounds like a winner to me!

Lobbyists for the artificial sweetener industry and researchers agree other variables need to be considered and more research needs to be done. Of course they do. They are never going to say its bad for you.
But I will!

Why artificial sweeteners cause weight gain

One reason it’s believed these fake sweeteners lead to weight gain and obesity-related health risks is because they trigger sugar cravings that a person eventually gives into and actually causes them to eat more “food” that you shouldn’t be eating.

Another theory suggests that consuming foods with artificial sweeteners leads a person to feel “virtuous” and thus justified in overindulging later. They think that because they ate this “lite” or that “sugar-free” thing that now they can splurge since they ate soooo healthy before.

Animal studies show artificial sweeteners
trick the brain into thinking you’ve eaten sugar, which can trigger inflammatory cascades and disease.

Artificial sweeteners also alter the
gut microbiome in a way that promotes obesity, diabetes, inflammation and more weight gain. And we all know the gut is the keystone to good health right? Or at least now you do.

Functional medicine approach to sweeteners

So what’s a gal or guy to do? I’m so glad you asked.

Number one, just don’t use them. If you are going to go after something sweet, my moto is like the Nike moto, “just do it”. Go get the real stuff. Keep it limited and under control but use
sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, organic raw honey, or agave. I have included a link to some of the most common ones I use and recommend. This is not a recommendation to use these everyday.

As a little side note on sweeteners, I’m personally not a huge fan of Stevia either. I’m not necessarily against it right now, but I just haven’t seen enough evidence or studies on it. Not to mention it is a biofilm disruptor that can be used in the treatment of gut issues and even Lyme disease. Check out my
GI webinar series for a little more info on that subject.

In functional medicine, we see time and time again that people naturally lose their cravings for sugar and starchy carbs when they eat a whole foods diet that stabilizes blood sugar, lowers inflammation, and promotes brain health.

You won’t feel drawn to regular use of artificial sweeteners when you have no cravings for sweets in the first place. Ask my office how we can help.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!

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Going gluten free may not be as healthy as you thought! Chew on this wrench!

Going gluten free may not be as healthy as you thought!

Gluten free is all the rage theses days. Every one and their grandmother is doing it. It’s sooo cool. All the popular kids are doing it. You should be too!

And there are some really valid reasons for going gluten free, which is too big of a topic for this short little blog/vlog. But, for most people I’m a big fan of going gluten free.

However, most people are doing the whole gluten free thing all wrong, and I’m throwing a big fat wrench into how healthy your gluten free diet may be. In fact, for some people going gluten free can be one of the most unhealthy things they do.

Walk into any health food store and you will see all types of new foods and food variations that are gluten free.

How do they make all those breads, crackers, pastas, cereals, etc. gluten free?

One simple ingredient. RICE!

Gluten-free folks accustomed to eating rice-based gluten-free breads, pastas, cereals, and other substitutes may be consuming dangerously high levels of arsenic.

In fact, a 2017 study showed people consuming rice-based products on a regular basis showed almost twice as much arsenic in their urine compared to those who did not (and 70 percent more mercury, another troublesome finding.)

Why arsenic is harmful

Arsenic is a naturally occurring heavy metal. It is the inorganic arsenic (not bound to carbon) that is toxic to humans if levels ingested are too high.

Although inorganic arsenic occurs naturally, it also accumulates in soil and water due to pesticides and fertilizers. Because rice grows in water, it is the grain highest in arsenic.

Consistent exposure to small amounts of arsenic increases the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer, as well as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and neurological disorders. Consuming arsenic during pregnancy may affect the baby’s immune system.

Consumer Reports found one serving of rice pasta, rice cereal, and rice milk exceeded a safe amount of arsenic for one week while one serving of rice cakes came close.

The FDA recently proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant rice cereal.

However, it’s impossible to know how much arsenic is safe to consume as risk is dose dependent; the more you consume the higher the risk.

Personally, I think ZERO is a good number. I don’t want my kids getting exposed to any arsenic if I can help it.

How to minimize arsenic exposure from rice

These troubling truths about arsenic exposure through rice don’t have to spell doom for gluten-free folks who depend on rice-based substitutes.

For starters, look for products made from other grains besides rice. Thankfully, there are many more on the market these days. But you will still have a hard time finding one that fulfills all your health requirements. Sometimes you may need to make slight trade offs.

Look at where your rice comes from.

In 2014 Consumer Reports found that rice from Arkansas, Louisiana, or Texas had the highest concentrations of inorganic arsenic
while California rice has almost 40 percent less arsenic.

Brown basmati rice from California, India, or Pakistan has a third less inorganic arsenic than other brown rices.

Unfortunately, because the arsenic comes from the water, organic rice may not be lower in arsenic.

Consider white rice.

Since arsenic tends to accumulate in the outer layers that are removed to turn brown rice into white, white rice contains less of the toxin than the whole grain. But, as I outline below this may contribute to making the whole high glycemic index issue worse.

Rinse your rice thoroughly and cook in excess water.

Wash your rice thoroughly before cooking and then cook your rice in a ratio of about six cups of water to one cup of rice and drain the excess water after. This cuts down arsenic levels by about one third compared to letting rice absorb all the water during cooking.

Consider a grain-free diet. (Probably the best route for most people)

Many people feel and function significantly better on a grain-free diet. If you don’t eat rice-based products, excessive arsenic exposure is one less thing to worry about in a world where we are constantly at battle with toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
Ask my office for more ways to protect yourself from toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

P.S. - Another reason why the typical gluten free diet can be bad is because with all this substituting certain gluten free foods for other things, particularly breads, crackers, cereals and pasta type foods, they tend to be higher glycemic index.

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food turns into sugar. This makes it more likely that those eating this type of diet will develop or worsen diabetes. So it seems as though you are doomed if you do and doomed if you don’t.

Health can often be a complex and tricky endeavor. If you need help restoring or maintaining your health please give my office a call to set up an appointment.

Until next time,
Be healthy, be happy,

Dr. Craig Mortensen

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What your bad breath can tell you about your health

Your bad breath can tell you
a lot about your health.
bad breath

Bad breath isn’t just about what you ate that day. Most often it involves a deeper level of health, or lack thereof. While mints and breath “fresheners” may help temporarily, they may make things worse in the long run.


Difficulty Losing Fat? This May Be the Cause

Difficulty Losing Fat? This May Be the Cause
toins love hidding in fat

Obesity has hit epidemic proportions and the world is desperate to do anything to lose their unwanted fat.Although eating a healthy diet and exercise is paramount to losing fat, there is one little unknown fact that will prevent millions of people from ever losing fat.
According to the US government this one thing is the considered the number one pollutant in the human body and it will put a quick halt to ever reaching your desired level of fitness and fat loss.

One of the major causes of the obesity epidemic is the unprecedented level of phthalates or plasticizers.
toxins in environment

The problem with these toxic environmental toxins is the fact that they are difficult to impossible to avoid. They are even found in every species even in the most pristine wild.

In fact, we have so damaged the chemistry of even animals in the wild that the polar bears in the Arctic have human diseases such as hypothyroidism and osteoporosis.

Phthalates are the highest pollutant in the body being over 10,000 times higher than any of the thousands of other environmental toxins. Side note - as of 2014 it was estimated that there are over 80,000 chemicals used in manufacturing, and we have no idea the types of side effects they have)

In fact they are so pervasive that now children six years of age have levels that used to take adults until the age of 40 to accumulate.
The government agencies, scientific and medical literature have clearly documented that a huge amount of these environment toxins (phthalates) come from our water, soda and infant formula bottles, food packaging, cosmetics, nail polish, mattresses, couches, carpets, clothing, medications, styrofoam cups, IVs, vinyl flooring, construction materials, home wiring, computers, industrial and auto exhausts, etc.,
The sad point is the fact that these toxins stockpile in the body and overwhelm our ability to detoxify them.
We routinely measure them with a wonderful test called Phthalates & Parabens Profile(
In addition to the damage these environmental toxins do to the biochemistry of losing fat they have also been known to be associated with difficult to treat chronic fatigue syndrome,fibromyalgia, ADDsyndrome X, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, allergies, and much more.
In fact the label that a disease has is now unimportant. All we care about is what caused the disease and what biochemical corrections are necessary to get rid of it and actually bring about a true solution, a word you rarely hear in drug-oriented medicine.
What is even worse is the fact a pregnant mother's phthalate levels (look at how many are continually drinking from plastic water bottles, etc., thinking that it's something healthful) hugely influence not only the development of the child's brain and glands, but even future fertility and cancers in their unborn children, not to mention, of course, obesity.
What you need to understand and something the researchers have forgot to mention is the fact that fat stores a huge amount of our chemicals, so the fatter you are the more the difficult it is to lose fat. Interesting and at the same time depressing.

The bottom line is many people will never lose weight or solve their medical problems because they have not gotten rid of the phthalates and other environmental pollutants that have damaged their chemistry and genetics.

One of the key ingredients to ridding the body of these harmful toxins is first to do what you can to avoid it (STOP DRINKING OUT OF SYROFORM CUPS and PLASTIC BOTTLES) and invest in a far infrared sauna, stainless steel or glass water bottle, get tested and do a detox.
Before starting any self treatment Dr. Mortensen recommends that you consider consulting with a doctor trained in functional medicine.

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Heindal JJ, Endocrine disruptors and the obesity epidemic, Toxicol Sci 76; 2:247-49, 2003
Baillie-Hamilton PF, Chemical toxins: a hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic, JAIt Complement Med 8;2:185-92, 2002
Alonso-Magdalena P, et al, The estrogenic effect of bisphenol A disrupts pancreatic B-cell function in vivo and induces insulin resistance, Environ Health Perspect 114:106-12, 2006
The Hundred Year Diet in the Wall Street (May 10, 2010, A I5)
Vom Saal FS, Welshons WV, Large effects from small exposures. II. The importance of positive controls in low-dose research on bisphenol A, Environ Res, 100;1:50-76, Jan. 2006
Feige JN, et al, The endocrine disruptor monoethyl-hexyl phthalate is a selective peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma modulator that promotes adipogenesis, JBiol Chem 282:19152-66, 2007
Hatch EE, et al., Association of urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations with a body mass index and waist circumference: a cross-sectional study of NHANES data, 1999-2002, Environ Health 7:27, 2008
Clark K, et al, Observed concentrations in the environment. In: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. Vol 3, Part Q. Phthalate Ester (Staples CA, ed). New York: Springer, 125-177, 2003
Feige JN, et al, The pollutant diethylhexyl phthalate regulates hepatic energy metabolism via species-specific PPARa-dependent mechanisms, Environ Health Persp, 118; 2:234-41, Feb 2010
Jaakkola JJK, et al, The role of exposure to phthalates from polyvinyl chloride products in the development of asthma and allergies: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Environ Health Perspect 116:845-53, 2008
Provided by Dr. Gristanti and


Can Mercury cause hypertension? YES IT CAN!

A growing body of medical literature has discovered the damaging effects of mercury on endothelial (the inner lining of blood vessels) function and vascular smooth muscle function.


Mercury induces mitochondrial dysfunction with reduction in adenosine triphosphate (ATP), depletion of glutathione, and increased lipid peroxidation. Increased oxidative stress and reduced oxidative defense are common.
The overall vascular effects of mercury include increased oxidative stress and inflammation, reduced oxidative defense, thrombosis, dyslipidemia, and immune and mitochondrial dysfunction.


The clinical consequences of mercury toxicity include hypertension, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, cardiac arrhythmias, reduced heart rate variability, increased carotid intima-media thickness and carotid artery obstruction, cerebrovascular accident, generalized atherosclerosis, and renal dysfunction.

Mercury inactivates
catecholaminei-0-methyl transferase (COMT). COMT is an enzyme principally involved in catabolism (the breaking down) of catecholamines at the sympathetic nerve endings.

Catecholamines are hormones made by the adrenal glands. These glands are on top of the kidneys. Catecholamines are released into the blood when a person is under physical or emotional stress. The main catecholamines are dopamine, norepinephrine, and
epinephrine (which used to be called adrenalin).


The consequence of mercury on COMT is the fact that serum and urinary epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine will increase. This effect will increase blood pressure and may be a clinical clue to mercury-induced heavy metal toxicity.

It is important to note that mercury diminishes the protective effect of fish and omega-3 fatty acids which has been found to have value in the management of reducing high blood pressure.

Mercury toxicity should be evaluated in any patient with hypertension, coronary heart disease, cerebral vascular disease, cerebrovascular accident, or other vascular disease.

If you are suffering with hypertension it is of vital importance to have your doctor order the following labs: Erythrocyte and whole blood toxic element levels and/or a 24 hour toxic metal urine tests using a challenging chelating agent like DMSA.

If your test reveals high levels of mercury it is important to find a doctor trained in functional medicine and is able to prescribe an effective protocol to chelate the toxic metal and decrease the load on your body.

This in fact may be the missing piece of the puzzle in reducing high blood pressure.

Piece of the puzzle

The body is a complex web of systems that are all intertwined. It is impossible to separate one system from another. Each action has a reaction in another part of the body. This article is an attempt at simplifying the relationship between how mercury toxicity can contribute or cause hypertension.

Please don’t confuse this article with face to face medical care from a qualified functional medicine physician. Do not attempt going alone in treating mercury toxicity. Detoxing mercury (or any heavy metal) can be an easy and almost pleasant experience or it can make you sick and be a terrible journey.

Should you have any questions I can be contacted at my office at (714) 996-1444.

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