oh the fumes! | by Andrea Nakayama, Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioner at Holistic Nutrition Lab

detoxification & anxiety: a web of interconnections

When I travel to NY, as I do several times a year, I usually fly into Newark airport and take the bus into the city.

(Having grown up a Jersey girl, the airport reeks of familiarity and a certain welcome.)

On one of my last trips I sat on the bus across the aisle from a man about my same age. We were both engaged in our own business, iPhones and kicking back to occupy the two seats we each had in our row, not paying each other much mind.

A short way into the mile and a half Lincoln Tunnel, in the midst of rush-hour traffic, the man began to have what appeared to be an anxiety attack.

He was heaving forward, clearly having a hard time breathing. His anxiety was controlled, but mounting and after a few moment I knew I had to do something.

I asked: Are you OK?

His answer: The fumes!

Oh the fumes! I can hardly breathe.

Curiously, I didn’t smell a thing. (And, by the way, my sense of smell is perfectly fine.)

Just what was going on in there?

Given that the stench wasn’t affecting me and was so acutely bothering him, I made the quick assessment that his gatekeeper, his liver, was not serving him well in this moment (and very likely other mmoments in his life as well).

When it comes to toxins, we need to think of our protection against them with what I like to call a one-two punch…cleaning up the toxins on the outside, just as we do when we clean-up our food, and supporting the body’s ability to process toxins on the inside.

This internal support is the job of our detox organs, and the liver is the biggest of the those tending to this inside job.

The latter part of the punch is where we come in with the ‘what’s going on in there?’ approach.


The liver has three major roles.

One of those major roles is to disassemble unwanted chemical compounds and biotransform or detoxify them.

There are two phases involved in that biotransformation within the liver.

They’re called Phase I and Phase 2 detoxification. [Phase 1 = the breakdown and Phase 2 = the clearing] And this is something we explore great in detail in the Liver Bonus Class that’s part of Full Body Systems.

In the meantime, consider these telltale signs of a Weak Phase I detoxifier, like our man on the bus:

  • sensitivity to caffeine
  • intolerance to perfume
  • reactivity to environmental chemicals (such as fumes)

When the man on the bus told me what was troubling him, I told him to place his hand on his liver area, right under the base of his right ribcage.

I asked him to breathe more slowly and massage into that area.

I explained (very briefly) to him what might be happening.

I then offered him some gum, hoping that the olfactory sensation of the mint would serve to diffuse some of the fume overwhelm.

I started to talk to him about where he had flown in from and engage him in conversation. By the time we got through the tunnel he had shown me pictures of his trip to South Carolina, where he had grown up and was attending a school reunion before returning home to NY. He was breathing fine and perfectly happy.



As you can see from my simple methods on the bus, it doesn’t have to be too hard. Yet there are certain food and nutrient sources you can incorporate into your practice to make sure that you’re helping others to love their livers.

The following substances are Phase I inducers (they’ll help the liver to break down those toxic compounds):

  • cruciferous vegetables
  • citrus fruits
  • limonene (found in the peel and the oil from the lemon)
  • vitamin C
  • B vitamins, particularly riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3)

Give your liver a little loving and come up with some scrumptious broccoli and lemon recipes to serve up for yourself, your family and suggest to your clients.

If you’re a Full Body Systems student or graduate, put it on your to-do list to listen (or re-listen) to that Liver Bonus Class.

It’s going to help make your detox classes and programs much more powerful so your clients and customers can’t help but rave and come back for more.

It’s my favorite way to help you grow your practice, the old-fashioned way with incredible referrals (and a good dose of liver loving!).

Functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama (FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC) is leading patients and practitioners around the world in a revolution to reclaim ownership over our own health. Her passion for food as personalized medicine was born from the loss of her young husband to a brain tumor in 2002. She’s now regularly consulted as the nutrition expert for the toughest clinical cases in the practices of many world-renowned doctors, and trains a thousand practitioners online each year in her methodologies at Functional Nutrition Lab. Learn more about Andrea here.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

How wonderful of you! I am confused….I am sensitive to all of those things–more so after I adopted a healthy diet & lifestyle.? I thought you become more sensitive AFTER you clean up your diet, lifestyle, etc.


Hi Andrea! Overall, a great article on identifying the root cause of chemical sensitivities in the air. I offer some new research on the role of Thallium exposure (from exhaust & cruciferous vegetables), which can lead to Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (and lung issues), among many others. And, the spreading of “mystery toxin” and “hell toxin” which can lead to emotional, cognitive and neurological effects, as a secondary trigger, from primary inflammation (such as heavy metal, infectious/viral exposure, etc).
(2) https://myersdetox.com/thallium-toxicity/
(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8518684
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3803642
(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16644596
(6) https://www.healthnutnews.com/biotoxin-awareness-can-you-help/ Thank you for all the healing work that you do!