pretty cursory overview, then we’ll wrap up with psychology next time-
This is a blanket heading that deals with a number of things that can loosely be described as ‘pathogenic’ in your environment. Toxic chemicals, bacteria and fungi, and some of the side effects of same.
We are in constant battle with microorganisms. They live on our skin, on surfaces, in our bodies, in our food and water, in the nooks and crannies of our homes, and we maintain a very delicate balance with these things that is very easy to upset, and would have dire consequences, if not for the huge infrastructure and weight of consumer products designed to protect us from things like giardia, toxoplasmosis, ringworm, hanta virus, dental carries, or simple infection of trivial wounds, which in prior ages often led to septicemia, gangrene and death. It is water purification, penicillin, bathing with soap, ammonia and bleach, doing laundry, flushing toilets, and brushing with fluoride toothpaste that keeps most of this at bay. Don’t take it for granted, because it may not always be there. It’d be pretty stupid to have your stored food and your community support group in place during an economic collapse, then die from stepping on a nail, or an abscessed tooth that closes off your windpipe, or contracting some hideous parasite from your ‘organic’ vegetables.
Half the solution is making sure you have the simple and cheap amenities to manage these problems. The other half is USING them, which a lot of you don’t even do now. If things get out of hand now, it’s easy to thump the difficulty with some prescription or a visit to a professional and consider yourself chastened. Not so when life gets turned upside down and you don’t have a job, the shelves aren’t being stocked, the care delivery infrastructure isn’t being funded anymore, or the whole shebang is just being overloaded by sudden catastrophe.
So: things you need to be doing now-
Brush your teeth. At least twice a day. I carry a kit with me to school and do it during the day. At the very least, rinse your mouth out with water after eating or drinking something with sugar in it. Floss daily as well. These little jobbies are cheap, durable, and quite easy to use.
You can even re-use them for a while if you absolutely need to. Invest in any deferred dental care you might have piled up. It may be scary and expensive, but not as scary as it will be when the dude next door is yanking your wisdom teeth with a leatherman and nothing but an icepack for anesthetic. Untended teeth are basically ticking time bombs in your head if things break down in society, and while it’s easy to save toothpaste and floss, dental surgeons aren’t likely to be readily available.
Keep your skin and hair and clothes clean. I assume most of you shower or bathe or do laundry on something like a regular basis, but it can’t hurt to emphasize that bad things multiply on your body if you don’t keep it relatively clean. Things like scabies mites or head lice are an absolute nightmare, and they multiply rapidly in groups of people with bad hygiene. Bacteria and viruses spread in large part from people who fail to wash their hands regularly. Do your part to keep them under control. At a bare minimum, if you lose access to running water or soap, you can trim your hair as short as possible, keep your hands relatively clean with soap substitutes, or just wear gloves, and air out your clothes, rinse them in running water or partially disinfect them with UV light on sunny days. You only need to contract a fungal infection on your skin once to understand the importance of staying somewhat clean and dry. This will also reduce the risk of infected wounds from just being generally dirty.
As far as toxins go, this is mostly a matter of education and prevention. The body is pretty good at handling low levels of poisoning as long as it isn’t overtaxed. A cleansing fast or some herbs like milk thistle to clean your liver will shore you up in this area. Long term low level toxicity from food additives usually shows up in autoimmune disorders like allergies, food sensitivites, or in general lethargy. In my experience, dark circles under the eyes are a good indicator that your liver and kidneys are being overtaxed in some way. Water intake will help, as well as herbs, cleansing and elimination of problem items from the diet. If you really screw up and have to cope with heavy metal poisoning or major toxic exposure, and there’s no help in sight, eating activated carbon, milk thistle, or bentontie clay is about all you can do to mop these things up, or draw them out of the body.
Wash things that grow in and on the ground before you eat them. Fruits and veggies that flower more than a couple feet up are okay, but anything else needs to be washed in the sink, with a few drops of plain chlorine bleach ( the same kind you would use to disinfect drinking water) or some food grade hydrogen peroxide. There’s just too many things in the dirt, or in animal droppings ( especially urban cats or raccoons ) to take the chance. You do not want flukes, worms, amoebas, nematodes, bacteria or viruses taking up residence in your body by way of your organic garden. There are actually some good points to industrial agriculture and pesticide spraying. Saves us having to worm ourselves a couple times a year, for instance. Never mind the odd chance of brain abscesses from toxoplasmosis. An ounce of prevention and all that…