The story of the canary in the coal mine goes something like this:
The classic example of animals serving as sentinels is the “canary in the coal mine“. Well into the 20th century, coal miners in the United Kingdom and the United States brought canaries into coal mines as an early-warning signal for toxic gases including methane and carbon monoxide. The birds, being more sensitive, would become sick before the miners, who would then have a chance to escape or put on protective respirators.
For the last 3 years I have firmly believed that my daughter is a modern-day “canary”, due to her extreme sensitivities and reactions to environmental exposures and food. As I read about other parents stories in the autism community, the ADHD community, the mental illness in children community, the sensory processing disorder communities, and the neuro-metabolic disorder communities, I amass more and more information about “hyper-sensitive” children and have even learned about a new political movement called the “Canary Party” : The Canary Party is a movement created to stand up for the victims of medical injury, environmental toxins and industrial foods by restoring balance to our free and civil society and empowering consumers to make health and nutrition decisions that promote wellness.
The more I read about the condition that our daughter is being tested for: mitochondrial disease, the more I realize that individuals with this disorder are the real life, present day canaries in this “coal mine” called life.
Recently, I stumbled upon this article called MITO-CONUNDRUM:Unraveling Environmental Effects on Mitochondria- which was all about toxins and how they affect this little organelle they call the mitochondria. Lo and behold I read this paragraph:
Compared with pharmaceutical research, environmental toxicology is only now getting up to speed on the effects of chemicals on mitochondrial functioning. Copeland says mitochondria are like canaries in a coalmine: susceptible to early-stage effects that predict cell and organ toxicity later…These effects (of oxidative stress) are more extensive and longer-lasting in mitochondrial DNA than they are in the nuclear genome, he adds, which suggests that relatively minor additional stress—alcohol, cigarette smoke, or other toxicants, for instance—could tip someone toward metabolic illness.
After reading that statement as well as the rest of the article, I knew that there was more to these seemingly random reactions that my daughter has to seemingly “unrelated” chemicals and foods… There WAS a link and a common, relatable one, none the less: the functioning of the mitochondria.
So for the next few MONDAYS I will be doing a blog series I will call MiTOXiC:
Everyday chemicals that have mitochondrial toxicity and therefore should probably be avoided by all of us, but especially those with impaired mitochondrial function (mitochondrial disease or dysfunction).
I hope you will join me on this journey…
or maybe I should say odyssey!
This post is the FIRST of a Series called MITOXIC- you may be interested in other in the series: