Your Brain has a Microscopic Cleaning System, the Glymphatic System

In the past, I have written about helping our bodies detoxify and about neurotoxicity caused by mold (How to Help Our Bodies To Heal From Exposure…). A recent reader asked to learn more about toxins when they get into the brain and how they are removed. It turns out that this is a very important topic with relatively new and exciting discoveries on the brain and how it detoxifies.

Brain Toxicity

Brain toxicity refers to impaired brain function due to the brain’s exposure to and absorption of toxins. Toxins are generally classified as solvents, chemicals, heavy metals (like mercury and lead, among others), and neurotoxins, such as the mycotoxins produced by mold. There are many everyday items that we are exposed to that contain toxins in one form or another: We inhale chemicals from common house cleaners, air fresheners, perfumes, paints, and gases; pesticides used on crops and fungal mycotoxins are ingested with our food; heavy metals are found in some foods and products that we come into contact with, that are particularly toxic to our brains.

The September 5th newsletter entitled “Unexplained Neurological Symptoms Can Be Caused by Mold” described the ultra-sensitive nature and the role of our olfactory nerve systems in delivering toxins directly into our sinuses, where they are microns away from cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) access to the brain.  Unfortunately, the brain absorbs and retains such toxins very effectively. Left unaddressed, toxins can build up and damage the brain, causing symptoms such as personality changes, memory loss, inability to focus, physical tics, fatigue, seizures and depression.


Neurotoxicity, poisoning of the brain and neurological system, is a well-documented effect from exposure to toxins; however, it is often missed by physicians because symptoms tend to overlap with many chronic illnesses of the brain and body.  Patients often are referred to psychiatrists and neurologists where they still may not receive a definitive diagnosis. Expensive imaging, like MRIs or CT scans may not reveal anything visible.  Without properly looking for toxins in the brain, patients are often prescribed medicines such as antidepressants or other psychotropic drugs in an attempt to address symptoms. Heavy use of alcohol or illegal drugs can also lead to brain toxicity. When brain toxicity goes undiagnosed and the source of the toxin goes undetermined, continued exposure to that toxin can lead to more serious brain and neurological damage.  

SPECT Scan providing images that reveal differences in diseased brains

The article “Taking Mold Off the Table” describes the wisdom of taking a proper medical history and detailed discussion that can provide evidence of exposure to mold and toxins.  A physician or Naturopathic Doctor can have a patient take steps to exit the toxic environment or remove the toxins from their environment as the first and most critical step in allowing the body’s systems to detox.   


Removing Toxins From Your Environment 

Beginning to detox your own environment is an easy proactive step that you can take to immediately improve your health. Inspect your home to remove toxic substances. Household chemicals should be replaced with all natural, safe alternatives.  If you discover mold, use test plates to identify molds in your home. Remove any moldy furnishings.  Last week’s article, “It Doesn’t Require a Hurricane. 13 Different Ways to Identify Common Household Water Leaks That Can Lead to Toxic Mold” provides guidance on these activities. 


Neurological symptoms include confusion, memory and concentration problems, impaired control of the limbs, bladder and bowels, sleep disorders, eye and vision problems, balance and hearing problems, and muscle weakness. Psychiatric symptoms include anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and others. Physical symptoms that can be caused by neurotoxicity include upper and lower respiratory problems, chronic sinusitis, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, liver or kidney problems, fibromyalgia, and other pain disorders. 

 The Brain Cleanse Process  

The brain, like the rest of our bodies, has a remarkable ability to heal itself and dispose of toxins.  Circulating inside the spinal canal and throughout the brain is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).   

The Key element is the fluid (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) that circulates throughout the brain

The Glymphatic System  

In 2012, researchers from the University of Rochester identified this new maintenance system called the glymphatic system, which uses the cells’ mitochondria to remove cellular waste from the brain. It found that the clear cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain is what is responsible for draining toxins from the brain, similar to how the lymphatic system is what removes waste from other cells in our bodies to the kidney and liver. But, the brain has no lymph – CSF performs this activity instead.  

Sleep is Critical 

The Glymphatic system clears waste most effectively during slow wave sleep. Sleep plays a crucial role in our brain’s physiological maintenance.

The Key element is the fluid (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) that circulates throughout the brain

As we sleep , the brain is active clearing out toxins accumulated over the course of the day.  The lymphatic system was named for its role in draining toxins from our bodies.  The “GL” is a nod to the glymphatic systems on glial cells, the supportive cells in the brain that work largely to maintain homeostasis and protect neurons.  Scientific research has noted the dramatic decrease of clearance in compounds causing degeneration during prolonged wakefulness. 

Diet and Nutrition 

Eating a diet rich in nutrients conducive to brain detoxification is important. 

  • Make sure you eat a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and DHA. 
  • Eat as much fresh fruit as possible.  Fruit holds large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which play important roles in fueling mental processes.  All fruits contain over 50% content of essential and non-essential amino acids. 
  • Eat organic foods (Avoid foods that may have exposure to pesticides or mycotoxins (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts) 
  • Drink plenty of pure water. Water is more abundant in brain tissue (the brain is 70% water) than any other substance.  Replacing other drinks with water should become habit.   
  • Avoid caffeine-based and stimulatory energy drinks. Caffeinated drinks on a continuous basis dehydrate the body.  Avoiding caffeine and stimulants is most important when you are trying to enhance the brain cleansing process. 
  • Quit eating toxic foods!  Processed foods, Vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup/sugars, soy, gluten or grains


Regular exercise is an effective detoxification method for the entire body. In addition, there are activities that influence the way CSF enters the brain’s glymphatic system.   

  • Low intensity exercise that burns fat helps eliminate toxins from the body. (Toxins are stored in fat). Detoxifying other organs is important as the body distributes toxins throughout the body, in addition to the brain.  Regular exercise also helps the digestive process and sleep patterns. 
  • Yoga and similar activities are particularly helpful with CSF movement. 
  • Standing instead of sitting while working during the day moves CSF.  
  • Breathing exercises and mindfulness activities increase blood flow, circulation and body awareness, which all enhance detoxification. 
  • Massage and or chiropractic care are excellent complements to proper and efficient lymphatic drainage. 

Consult a Physician or Integrative Medicine Specialist 

Our bodies are very complex systems and the brain is perhaps the most complex. A significant nutritional imbalance may be an important contributor any brain malfunction.  A physician can perform the proper diagnostic tests to identify specific nutritional needs.  Physicians can also prescribe binders to aid in the removal of toxins from the body.  

There are numerous, non-regulated supplements with claims that they enhance the brain’s function and detoxification, so it is important to follow a physician’s advice to avoid ineffective products and adverse reactions. 

Keep Your Sinuses Clear 

Inhalation is the primary route toxins have into your body with direct access to your brain and blood system.  You can read more about the sinus delivery of toxins in the article, “Unexplained Neurological Symptoms Can Be Caused by Mold”.  If you are suffering from neurological symptoms, daily rinsing of your sinuses with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement in clearing toxic debris and mold (and mycotoxins) from your sinuses. Accumulation and/or growth in your sinuses can provide constant exposure to toxins mitigating other efforts to detox your brain.   CitriDrops Nasal Spray is a portable solution that can be carried with you to use when you are exposed to suspect environments throughout the day. Micro Balance Health Products Breathe Easy Kit has both these products accompanied with a Nasopure Nasal Wash System has everything you need to rinse your sinuses clear of debris, microorganisms, and toxins. Removing the specific toxins from your body by keeping your sinuses clear is likely the single most important step to feeling relief.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below.

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Original Article: September 2017