Brain Toxicity: Eliminating Household Toxins

Little do many of us know that as we sit in the comfort of our homes, we may be silently developing brain toxicity! Yes. 250 pounds per person, per day of toxic chemicals are dumped in the US. In fact, we are surrounded by toxins, to the point that, upon the day of its birth, a newborn baby is born having over 180 toxic chemicals in their body. Toxins can take many forms:
  • Heavy Metals
  • Air Pollution
  • Foods
  • Pesticides
  • And more.
And while nobody expects you to have control over your neighbor’s truck spewing out exhaust fumes, you do have some control over your own home environment. This is your area of agency to lower your body burden and make a huge impact on reducing brain toxicity.

Common Symptoms of Brain Toxicity

The sad truth is that an overwhelming number of toxins you are exposed to, on a daily basis, actually accumulate in your body, putting undue strain on your immune system and ruining functionality on many levels. And, while your skull does provide some serious protection and tries to keep the bad stuff out, it is not impervious to brain toxicity. A leaky gut and leaky brain can cause systemic problems leading to a cascade of events. And while studies show that your brain does detox during sleep, some toxins can stick around for decades without being drained out. Here are some common symptoms indicating you might have toxicity in your brain.
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Inability to Focus
  • Headaches
  • Numbness or Tingling in Limbs
  • Nausea
  • Memory Loss
  • Poor Balance
  • Mood Swings
  • Anxiety
  • Lower Threshold for Temper Control
The good news is that if you know where to look, you can lower that toxic body burden, reduce your risk of developing an autoimmune condition, and reduce toxicity in your brain, gut, and throughout your body.

Here are a Few Household Toxins that Contribute to Brain Toxicity.

Aluminum Aluminum can be found in virtually every bathroom or kitchen in the country. It is in most deodorants that are applied directly onto your skin every day, and it can be found in many cosmetics. It is also in the aluminum foil that you probably use to protect your food from burning, or to make cleaning the grill and pots and pans easier. Problem: Aluminum is a neurotoxin that accumulates and doesn’t readily leave the body. It breaks down when heated, and very small particles can get into your food. There are, however, a couple of easy ways to purge aluminum from the body. Hot tip: Drink silica-rich mineral water. Silica binds with aluminum, making it easier for the kidneys to filter it and get it out of your body. A study showed that after 12 weeks of drinking silica-rich water, aluminum levels dropped up to 70%. Another hot tip: Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an active ingredient in green tea, has also been shown to improve mortality statistics. Three to four cups a day was cited as the ideal amount to achieve the maximum benefits. Chlorine in Your Shower and Water Problem: Chlorine in its natural state is a highly toxic gas. Chlorine is used to kill bacteria that could harm you, but it also kills the good stuff, too – affecting your microbiome and ultimately your gut-brain connection. Links to neurobehavioral problems have been associated with exposure, as well as problems in the brain development of a fetus, and one study noticed higher levels of chlorine in hair samples of dementia patients than people without dementia. To make a bad situation worse, the chlorine in your water binds onto thyroid receptor sites, negatively affecting the functioning of your thyroid. Hot tip: Get a chlorine shower filter. Another Problem: What can happen when showerheads get dirty? It’s scary how items that are supposed to clean us can be loaded with things that harm us, and showerheads are no different. Mycobacteria can live in your shower and can cause nontuberculous mycobacterial lung infections through inhalation. Extra hot tip: Research shows that acetic acid, (AKA vinegar) while non-toxic to humans, was a powerful disinfectant against drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria in addition to mycobacteria that was disinfectant-resistant. Plastic food containers Problem: Toxic chemicals can leach out from plastic into the foods or liquids that you are ingesting. Read my blog on BPAs and brain development. Rethink putting anything hot like coffee into cups with plastic lids or containers made of plastic. Also, do not reheat ANYTHING you eat in a microwave. Not so fun fact: Many people are aware of the harmful effects of BPAs and have turned to BPA-free products. One of the favored replacements was BPS. This appears to have similar risks, yet these are not as well-known. Rule of thumb: The closer something is to nature, the more likely it is to be the healthier option. Hot tip: Replace that old Tupperware with glass. Glass is inert and will not leach any chemicals into your food or liquids. Cleaning Products Problem: Brain toxicity happens through cumulative exposure to an assortment of toxins. It can cause problems in memory, cognitive function, and mood, as well as give you brain fog. Cleaners are notorious for containing multiple toxins and are responsible for many calls to poison control every year. But you don’t have to accidentally ingest it or have an overdose for your body to have a reaction. Many people are unaware that their bodies are spewing out antibodies for these toxins unless there is an obvious reaction, such as skin sensitivity. But if you clean up your cleaners, you will eliminate toxins throughout your house. Hot tip: With just a little extra elbow grease, you can easily use non-toxic, affordable alternatives with commonly found ingredients like vinegar, ammonia, or baking soda.
Check it out: See below for my green clean solutions, or pick up a copy of my best-selling book The Autoimmune Fix. All of these cleaners can be found there, too. These are easy DIY formulas that will change the way you clean. They only take a minute to make, are inexpensive to create, and protect you from brain toxicity.

Parabens are preservatives that give your products a longer shelf-life. Many items would have to be refrigerated to extend their lives if they did not have parabens. You can find it in many health and beauty products to minimize bacteria. However, whatever you apply to your skin can immediately be absorbed into your bloodstream within seconds.

Problem: Parabens mimic estrogen; therefore, they disrupt your hormone system. It is most commonly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Prenatal exposure to parabens has also been linked with anxiety and problems with learning.

Hot tip: Read labels carefully. If you see the word paraben in an ingredient, avoid it. Look for products that are paraben-free, or better yet, use DIY health products instead.

Laundry Detergents

Problem: What you wash your clothes, sheets, and towels in most likely contains toxins, unless you are actively seeking out non-toxic options, and your skin is in constant contact with these toxins. Just like those multi-cleaners, the sheer number of toxins and the constancy in which you are interacting with them 24/7 through skin contact builds up that body burden, which can cause brain toxicity.

Hot tip: MyGreenFills is a company offering a subscription service that delivers one bottle of laundry detergent which you can refill month after month. This socially conscious company uses all non-toxic ingredients.

Volatile Organic Compounds (AKA VOCs)

Problem: In the first 3 months, the carcinogenic toxins cause off-gassing that you breathe in. This can be from furniture, paint, carpeting, or new construction. These VOCs pose inhalation health risks in new residences and recently renovated homes.

One good whiff of a strong smelling VOC is all you need to know what you are breathing in is toxic. You may immediately feel dizzy or get a headache. Long-term exposure to VOCs has been linked to convulsions, brain fog, memory problems, depression, cognitive impairment, and even paralysis – not to mention other health risks like cancer. 

Hot tip: Air within your house has higher levels of contaminants than the outdoors. Get a good air filtration system and open your windows to create airflow and allow for better ventilation. Add a fan to increase better movement of air.

Another Hot tip: When purchasing items, seek out low or VOC-free options. Get VOC-free paint. Also consider the added value antiques have over newer furniture that is off-gassing fumes into your house.

These are only a few of the many toxins that lurk in your home. Whether you breathe them in, absorb them through the skin, or ingest them through food or drink, they enter your body and cause brain toxicity. But by implementing systems changes within your house, you can incorporate a means towards constantly improving your health without much effort. Little by little, your house will become a safer environment to live in for you and your family, as well as friends and neighbors who visit.

In my brain masterclass, I provide a number of resources for eliminating toxins throughout your house, and give you tips to improve your brain’s health by making simple changes each week.

Improving your health can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Making one simple change each week in your environment can vastly improve your overall health and reduce brain toxicity.

Non-toxic Household Cleaners to Reduce Brain Toxicity

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines irony as “the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning.”

‘Cleaners’ should not be polluting your home and environment with toxins. Yet, more often than not, that’s exactly what is happening. Add in hidden ingredients like gluten to a person with wheat-related allergies, and expect inflammatory responses to be triggered.

The average person is exposed to more than 700,000 toxins daily, and some place that number over two million. Your body has a variety of ways to purge toxins from your system, but it was never designed to handle the surge of chemicals you experience today. Some chemicals don’t leave your body for decades! This places a huge toxic burden on your system, putting further strain on your overall health, as well as causing brain toxicity.

Thankfully, with very few ingredients and a little prep time, you can eliminate a bunch of those toxins from your so-called ‘cleaners’.

In my book, The Autoimmune Fix, I share the following green clean formulas that reduce brain toxicity and toxic body burden. These are some of my personal favorites.

All-purpose Cleaner – Mix ingredients in a spray bottle.

1 cup water
¼ tsp organic, gluten-free liquid dishwashing soap
1 T baking soda
½ tsp borax

All-purpose Scouring Powder – Mix in a can with a perforated lid.

1 cup baking soda
10 drops rosemary essential oil

All-purpose Disinfectant – Mix together in a spray bottle.

1 cup water
2 T Castile soap
1 tsp tea tree oil
8 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Glass Cleaner – Mix together in a spray bottle.

1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
10 drops lemon essential oil

Porcelain Polish – Mix together in a small bowl.

2 T cream of tartar
½ cup hydrogen peroxide

Wood Floor Cleaner – Mix in a large bucket.

3 T Castile soap
½ cup vinegar
½ cup black tea
2 gallons water

Wood Cabinet Cleaner – Mix in a squirt bottle.

2 cups water
2 T vinegar
1 T lemon oil

Be sure to put labels with the recipes on them. This will make it easy to refill and stick with it. It is also important to remember to use glass spray bottles instead of plastic whenever possible, as glass is inert and does not contain harmful chemicals. Plastic, however, has harmful chemicals that can (and do) leach out into the solutions. Let’s keep these cleaners clean!

You can reuse these glass bottles over and over again for years to come, and the ingredients in these formulas are natural, safe, and affordable.

By limiting toxins that you bring into your home, you are creating an environment that reduces brain toxicity, lowers body burden, supports your health, and supports the health of those who enter that space.

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Coriolus Versicolor

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Fo Ti

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Agave, a versatile desert plant native to the Americas, is recognized for its potential to support overall wellness. Rich in natural fibers and low-glycemic sweeteners, Agave may contribute to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, digestive health, and providing a natural alternative to refined sugars.

Maral Root

Maral Root, a potent adaptogenic herb native to Siberia, is celebrated for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. Known for helping the body manage stress and maintain balance, Maral Root may also promote healthy energy levels, endurance, and cognitive function. This exceptional herb has been associated with supporting the immune system, fostering vitality, and enhancing physical performance.

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NotoGinseng, a distinct variety of Panax ginseng native to the Changbai Mountains, is esteemed for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. Renowned for its adaptogenic properties, Noto Ginseng may help the body manage stress and maintain balance. This exceptional herb has been linked to supporting cognitive function, promoting healthy energy levels, and boosting immune system performance.


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Purple Lapacho

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Holy Basil

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Guarana, a powerful plant, is celebrated for its potential to support overall wellness. Rich in natural caffeine, Guarana may help promote mental alertness, focus, and healthy energy levels. This remarkable plant has also been associated with supporting endurance and enhancing physical performance.


Catuaba, a potent herb, is appreciated for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. Known for its adaptogenic qualities, Catuaba may help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. This remarkable herb has also been associated with promoting mental alertness, healthy energy levels, and fostering a sense of vitality.

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi Mushroom, a highly-regarded fungus, is esteemed for its potential to enhance overall wellness. With adaptogenic properties, Reishi Mushroom may help the body manage stress and maintain balance. This extraordinary mushroom has also been linked to promoting immune system support, healthy energy levels, and fostering a sense of calm and relaxation.

Astragalus Root

Astragalus Root, a powerful herb, is respected for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. Renowned for its immune-supporting properties, Astragalus Root may help fortify the body’s natural defenses. Additionally, this remarkable root has been associated with promoting healthy energy levels, heart health, and supporting the body’s ability to adapt to stress.

Asian Licorice Root

Asian Licorice Root, a versatile herb, is valued for its potential to support overall wellness. Known for its adaptogenic properties, it may help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. This remarkable root has also been linked to promoting healthy digestion, respiratory function, and supporting the immune system.

American Ginseng

American Ginseng, a revered herb, is prized for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. With adaptogenic properties, it may assist the body in managing stress and maintaining harmony. American Ginseng has also been associated with promoting mental alertness, healthy energy levels, and supporting the immune system.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea, a robust herb, is admired for its potential to support overall wellness. As an adaptogen, Rhodiola Rosea may help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. This remarkable herb has been linked to promoting mental clarity, healthy energy levels, and increased endurance.

Peruvian Maca

Peruvian Maca, a nutrient-packed root, is celebrated for its potential to enhance overall well-being. Known for its adaptogenic qualities, Maca may help the body manage stress and maintain balance. This powerful root has also been associated with promoting healthy energy levels, endurance, and supporting hormonal balance.

Schisandra Fruit

Schisandra Fruit, a unique berry, is renowned for its potential to contribute to overall wellness. Boasting adaptogenic properties, it may help the body adapt to stress and maintain equilibrium. Schisandra Fruit has also been linked to promoting healthy energy levels, mental clarity, and supporting the body’s natural defense


Acai, a nutrient-dense berry, is recognized for its potential to enhance overall well-being. Rich in antioxidants, Acai may help support the body’s defenses against environmental stressors, while promoting healthy energy levels and vitality.

Himalayan Goji

Himalayan Goji, a nutrient-rich fruit, is valued for its potential contribution to overall wellness. This superfood is believed to support the immune system, promote healthy energy levels, and aid in maintaining balance within the body. With its antioxidant properties, Himalayan Goji may help protect cells from environmental stressors.

Gotu Kola

The main group of components in gotu kola is the triterpenes including asiaticoside, madecassoside, asiatic acid, and madecassic acid, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are shown to positively influence brain plasticity which means a much sharper you.

  • Exhibits significant wound healing ability, Improves microcirculatory parameters, Sedative and anxiolytic properties, Antidepressant, Re-vitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration and combat aging:

Water Hyssop

Best known as a neural tonic and memory enhancer this powerful herb increases cerebral blood flow and neurotransmitter modulation.

Green Tea Extract

Healthy energy producer and one of the more researched and promising supplements. It upregulates fat metabolism at rest and during exercise. In recent years the consumption of Green Tea Extract has shown to help prevent lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease because of it’s preventative effects on chronic inflammation.

  • Helps with weight loss by increasing a protein hormone which is involved in regulating glucose levels as well
    as fatty acid breakdown:
  • Decrease cholesterol absorption and plasma levels, has strong free radical-scavenging
    activity inhibiting LDL oxidation, reduce the adhesion molecule expression, has antitrombotic activities by inhibiting platelet aggregation: 

Mikania Guaco

“Guaco” is Sun Horse Energy founder Dan Moriarty’s favorite herb, and the reason why he’s still alive. Traditionally, it’s a well-known herb for snake bites, scorpion stings and other venomous creatures. Guaco acts as a non-steroidal bronchodilator, meaning it opens up the airways without steroids. As a result of guaco opening up the airways, the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) are better able to accept oxygen transfer and get rid of carbon dioxide. In Brazil, Guaco syrup is one of the most popular herbal medicines used to treat the symptoms of asthmatic bronchitis, cough and hoarseness.

Osha Root

A traditional Native American herb, Osha is also known as “Bear Root”. Native Americans noticed that when bears emerged from hibernation, the first thing they did after being in a state of torpor for 4 months was not feast on salmon or drink water, but rather, dig up osha and eat it. Why? It decongests and wakes up the lungs. Native Americans who used Osha were able to run further, and treat their colds and congestion. Modern research studies suggest Osha may support the immune system by offering protective effects against oxidative damage.

I want to thank you for your existence. I want you to know that functional medicine has changed my life, well the life of my autistic son. So much so that I plan on taking the Functional Medicine Health Coach Certificate and work with my new friend who is now a Functional Medicine Doctor from the Institute of Functional Medicine and spread the word on GI testing and how finding the underlying issues will help eliminate autistic traits. 

I hope to be able to meet you one day so I can share this great news with others. Changing my son’s diet has changed him. Food is medicine!! By the way, I’m cooking my rutabaga. I’m Italian and never grew up with these. With love.

Rita Mastrangelo

I found you on YouTube a couple of weeks ago and I’m hooked. I listen to you a couple of hours every morning. I am being tested for celiac disease and have been gluten-free for a couple of weeks. Thank you for all of your insight.

April Renee

Just wanted to tell you that you’re amazing! You are helping so many people all over the world! Including me! Thank you so very much, Dr. Tom O’Bryan!

Patricia Puddle

Good morning Dr. Tom, Would just like to say thank you! This time last year I was going through a hell of a time with my gut. Terrible indigestion on a regular basis, feeling as if I had eaten a boulder and the tiredness was doing my heed (scottish for head) in! With two young girls being tired is not an option!

I went to the doctors on a number of occasions and they decided to prescribe omeprazole to mask the problem, sorry help my problem. I decided taking these drugs was not an option for me! So I started googling the life out of it!! Low and behold you started popping up!! Oh and Gluten intolerance! 

Your advice has been second to none! You have in my case really simplified what gluten does to my body and now that I have cut it out (which as it appears in lots of foods, some I can’t understand) I have found that my symptoms very quickly reduced and now I’m a year down the line they have gone for the vast majority of the time!! For that I’m truly grateful. I now follow you on YouTube and Instagram, which continues to educate me and the importance of gut health. I look forward to your future advice. Yours faithfully,

Gary Christie

Black Ant Extract

A Chinese medicine tonic, Black Ant is used to support energy levels. (In traditional Chinese medicine, Black Ant is given to increase vital Qi.) Research studies demonstrate that Black Ant supports the function of the thymus gland, which plays a crucial role in the immune system, producing and activating lymphocytes.

Siberian Ginseng

This well known adaptogen has been proven to reduce cardiovascular stress, lower and stabilize blood sugar to healthy levels, and encourages a more efficient lipid metabolism.

Pine Bark Extract

Many studies have shown that pine bark possesses anti-aging properties. It’s very similar in nature to the well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, resveratrol, which is abundant in red wine and grapes. Pine bark has a proven beneficial effect on lipids, the cardiovascular and immune systems.

Lion's Mane

A very yummy and medicinal mushroom is a well established candidate for brain and nerve health because it triggers neurite outgrowth and regenerates damaged nerves. Lions Mane has been extensively studied for its neuro-health properties.


This is an enzyme/protein that speeds up biochemical reactions and helps to prevent and dissolve the formations of blood clots (thrombi); addresses the problem of blood hyperviscosity, thereby preventing thick and sticky blood, which is not conducive to overall cardiovascular health.


Referred to as the women’s ultimate power herb, by some herbal enthusiasts. Used in India for at least 3,000 years, Shatavari, is structurally similar to estrogen produced within the body. Some researchers have concluded shatavari can be a highly effective alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapy for peri- and menopausal women.

Chaste Tree Berry

Improve female libido, mitigate PMS, reproductive health

Horny Goat Weed

Increase para-sympathetic nervous activity, mitigate osteoporosis, improve libido, enhance smooth muscle tissue function

  • Treatment for erectile problems and nerve injuries in human patients:
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Bulgarian Tribulus

Enhance athletic performance, improve circulation, improve sexual performance, more efficient rates of protein synthesis


Cordyceps, a genus of mushroom, gained lots of attention after Chinese long-distance runners performed impressively at international competitions in the 1990s and early 2000s. Along with high-altitude training, supplementing with cordyceps was part of their intense training program. A research study concludes that cordyceps improves tolerance to high-intensity exercise after supplementation with it because the fungus is thought to increase blood flow, enhance oxygen utilization; it also acts as an antioxidant. It also has powerful anti-tumor properties, the ability to regulate the endocrine system, enhance your immune function, and protect the kidneys, lung, liver, and other organs.

  • Immunomodulatory, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities, promotion of endurance capacity, and learning-memory improvement, can be used to treat conditions such as hyposexuality, night sweats, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, asthenia, arrhythmias, and other heart, respiratory, renal and liver diseases:
  • Various pharmacological actions, including nephroprotective, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and antiapoptotic effects:

Ginkgo Biloba

In recent decades, an extract of the leaves of the tree Ginkgo biloba L. has been used to improve memory in disorders like Dementia disorders that affect memory and intellectual functioning, and are caused primarily by Alzheimer’s disease and vascular disorders.

  • Potent antioxidant properties and ability to enhance peripheral and cerebral circulation, ginkgo’s primary application lies in the treatment of cerebrovascular dysfunctions and peripheral vascular disorders:
  • Experimental results showed extracts of G.Biloba to upregulate protein expressions of BDNF:
  • The effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on cognitive functions in aged female rats;
  • The role of oxidative stress and brain-derived neurotrophic factor:


Jiaogulan, a versatile herb, is celebrated for its potential to support overall well-being. Known for its adaptogenic properties, Jiaogulan may help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. This remarkable herb has also been associated with promoting healthy energy levels, boosting endurance, and fostering a sense of calm and relaxation.