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There is plenty you can do to safeguard yourself against neurotoxicity by minimizing and offsetting your exposure to toxins that can harm your brain.

Neurotoxicity is the poisoning of the brain and nervous system.

It’s linked to a wide range of neurological symptoms and disorders.

The list of substances, both naturally occurring and man-made, that cause neurotoxicity is a staggeringly long one.

Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to protect your brain by minimizing and offsetting your exposure to toxins that can potentially harm it.


Toxins that act specifically on nerve cells are known as neurotoxins.

Neurotoxicity refers to the damage that occurs to the brain and central nervous system from toxins.

Some people are more susceptible to neurotoxins than others depending on their general health, the status of their blood-brain barrier, and even their genes.

Neurotoxicity can be chronic, caused by repeated low-level exposure over long periods of time.

It can also be acute — severe and sudden in onset — usually from one exposure over a short period of time.

While neurotoxicity is largely a modern problem, it’s not new.

The Romans were aware that too much lead could cause madness, paralysis, and even death, and yet continued to use it for cookware, drinking cups, and lining aqueducts anyway.

Treating Neurotoxicity


The symptoms of neurotoxicity fall along a continuum that range from temporary, minor, and reversible to chronic, quite serious, and potentially fatal.

Typical physical symptoms of neurotoxicity include:

  • fatigue

  • flu-like symptoms

  • headache

  • impaired motor skills

  • impaired vision

  • memory loss

  • sexual dysfunction

  • tingling, numbness, or weakness of the limbs

Neurotoxicity can also manifest as psychological problems, including:

  • anxiety

  • changes in personality

  • compulsive behaviors

  • depression

  • hallucinations

  • mental confusion

Researchers believe that there may be a link between neurotoxicity and progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as:

  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

  • dementia

  • multiple sclerosis

  • Parkinson’s disease

Forensic toxicologist Raymond Singer, PhD, reports that other symptoms of neurotoxicity can include:

  • balance and hearing problems

  • migraines

  • panic attacks

  • sleep disorders

  • other psychiatric or neurological symptoms

Note: If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or suspect you have neurotoxicity, contact your doctor immediately.

Find out more


Over 80,000 man-made chemicals have been introduced into our environment and less than 20% of them have been tested for safety.

Of those that have been tested, over 1,000 are known to have neurotoxic effects.

Not all neurotoxins are man-made, some are naturally occurring

Here’s a list of neurotoxins that you may encounter, by category:

  • Naturally occurring (mineral): aluminum, manganese, mercury, lead, arsenic, fluoride

  • Naturally occurring (biological): mycotoxins, seafood toxins, botox, snake venom

  • Recreational drugs: heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, alcohol

  • Pharmaceutical drugs: chemotherapy, antipsychotic medications

  • Food additives: MSG, artificial sweeteners

  • Environmental: water and air pollution

  • Cosmetics: nail polish, lipstick, hair dye, artificial fragrances

  • Other man-made chemicals: pesticides, solvents, plastics, cleaners, paints, adhesives, flame retardants, building materials.You may get exposed to neurotoxins at work. Neurotoxicity is one of the top 10 occupational disorders in the United States. Some experts believe we are facing a “silent pandemic” of brain damage in children caused by neurotoxins. They point the finger at this “dirty dozen” of neurotoxins which they suspect contribute to attention disorders, autism, and significant loss of IQ points:

  • arsenic

  • chlorpyrifos


  • ethanol

  • fluoride

  • lead

  • manganese

  • mercury

  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

  • polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

  • tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene or “perc”)

  • toluene

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