The Rain Barrel Effect

What is the rain barrel effect?

The rain barrel effect is a term coined by Dr Stephen Cabral to explain how we get sick, age, gain weight and lose our vitality for life. The best way to explain it is to think about how and why you get sick, overweight or just feel unwell, is to picture a rain barrel.

A rain barrel is used to catch water from the gutter run off of houses and to hold onto it when it rains. Nobody ever notices the rain barrel is filling up until it overflows or springs a leak.

It is at that point the barrel needs to be emptied or it will no longer function properly. Instead of the barrel serving a healthy purpose, it will instead overspill into your garden and patio, creating issues in your backyard.

Your vessel as a rain barrel

The same theory holds true for our bodies. This is known as the Rain Barrel Effect.

Over time we accumulate toxins from our environment, mostly manmade. Others come from candida, parasites, bacterial imbalance, stress hormones or other internal metabolic and cellular processes.

What happens when too many natural, unnatural and synthetic toxins float around our body, they must be disposed of. This takes energy, proper nutrients, rest, and a well functioning liver and gastrointestinal system to remove harmful substrates.

As long as the body is getting what it needs the process runs smooth and maintains equilibrium.
The problem is as the year’s pass, we accumulate more and more toxins and our bodies run low on reserves. Our bodies then lose the internal battle and our rain barrel fills up faster.

Even as the rain barrel is filling up, you might not feel symptoms of feeling unwell.

Most often noticeable external symptoms do not show up until the barrel starts to overflow, often you won’t know it is full until its starts flowing over the sides. Your body and barrel can no longer keep up with demands and has no more reserves left.

It is at this time you may begin to feel signs of your internal system imbalances. You may feel or see pain, skin issues, headaches, inflammation, weight gain or loss of vitality.

You may have been diagnosed with a disease or specific health complaints such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, autoimmune issues, chronic fatigue, allergies, asthma, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or any other symptoms we give a name to.

Chronic disease explained

No chronic disease, illness or cancer happens overnight. It is a slow process of wearing down our own bodies’ defences, with some genetic susceptibilities thrown in for good measure.

Each person will have their own genetic predispositions to what they may be susceptible to for health issues if their toxic load becomes too great. Dis-ease names are all different expressions from the same malfunctions in the body.

They simply manifest as different diseases, but they are not. They are different manifestations of an
imbalanced body trying to balance itself. Your body knows what it is doing, it is an intricate biological machine of enormous capacities and energy. If you simply treat the symptoms you can not heal, for the symptoms are a response to an underlying root cause issue.


“Your genetics load the gun, your lifestyle pulls the trigger”

Many conditions have a triggering event, usually something very personal and/ or sudden. Often, it is
something that impacted you greatly and may find difficult to talk about. Sometimes it is linked to childhood traumas or pain.

It could be down to a difficult relationship breakdown, bereavement, or work stress. Helping understand the event and what happened leading up to and after can be a key in helping someone heal.

The 3 Triggers


Contrary to what you may have been told, your genetics are not a pre-destiny to disease (except in some
certain cases, approximately 5%). The rest is controlled by what we call “ epigenetics”. Inside your DNA lies building blocks called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms).

Your genome has around 10 million SNP’s. These SNP’s predict how well you will act to medications, drugs, alcohol, stress, weight gain, toxins and susceptibility to various diseases.

For example, in my family (maternal side) we have a difficult time regulating inflammation. We are prone to higher levels of adrenal stress hormone output. This equates to autoimmune issues such as hypothyroid, allergies, endometriosis and gut dysfunction.


Your environment is composed of more than you may think. It is not just polluted water, pesticides and GMOs. It is also what is happening inside your body at a cellular level. Stress hormones, neurotransmitters, cellular waste and other metabolic toxins from our internal workings

One of the most predominant triggers for the disease is increased intestinal permeability. For example, when you have a leaky gut, the foods you eat as well as bacteria/ yeast can move directly into your bloodstream. This then turns on an exaggerated immune response and can cause massive inflammation and imbalance in the body.

The Event

There is always a reason why…….

Your genetics set the stage, but it is the environment that allows for the expression of those genes. The last step is the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

This is why you may see yourself go from nagging headaches, occasional inflammation and joint pain or other initial symptoms to the eruption of a major sick state that impacts your quality of life.

Frequent triggering events are

  • Stressful events: break up, death in the family etc.
  • Heavy metal exposure: dental work, polluted water, vaccines
  • Viruses or Infection: Epstein Barr, Herpes, post bacterial infection where antibiotics may have been used
  • Pesticides: living in an area recently sprayed
  • Food poisoning
  • Bone breaks/major surgery/ sudden onset symptoms like tinnitus
  • Abuse
  • Traumatic event
  • Menopause, puberty, andropause
  • Inflammation

Inflammation is never a root cause and is a sign of underlying health conditions that have given way to an immune response or tissue damage (or both). By trying to suppress inflammation, you are not working on the underlying root cause. At some point, anti-inflammatories are needed, and sometimes modern medicine and natural remedies or therapies can go side by side.

The autoimmune connection

A vast majority of autoimmune conditions have their root stemming from gut-based dysfunction. This can be heavy metals, stress, allergies, or bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal infections that have caused an imbalance in the gut.

Gut dysbiosis (more bad guys than good) compounded with intestinal (gut) permeability cause an
exaggerated response. This immune response allows for a heightened inflammatory reaction.

Gut dysbiosis (more bad than good bacteria) compounded with intestinal (gut) permeability cause an
exaggerated response. This immune response allows for a heightened inflammatory reaction.

If the gut is imbalanced opportunistic pathogens have the opportunity to overgrow. Different microbes can affect the different presentations of symptoms.

Gut issues

2/3 of functional medicine and integrative health is focusing on gut issues that have not been helped by conventional medicine such as IBS, IBD, Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis, SIBO, diverticular disease and the impact that has on someone’s health. Gut issues contribute to other symptoms such as eczema, allergies, brain fog and many more unpleasant health challenges.

Conventional medicine may treat with anti-inflammatories, antispasmodics or antibiotics. Antibiotics can
compound the dis-ease, leading to further issues. When we take antibiotics we don’t just wipe out the bad
bacteria but the good too. This can lead to even worse issues and still not address the underlying root cause.

Toxic Fat

Weight gain is a common complaint when people are feeling unwell (also weight loss too, but gain is
more common).

When your liver and body cannot keep up with plastics, pesticides, heavy metals and other chemicals in your blood, it will look to deposit them somewhere by locking them in our fat stores. This shields us from the toxins for a period, we get fat.

Literally, our adipose tissue begins to swell. A side effect of toxicity is weight gain. As toxins build up in your fat stores, adipose tissue grows, with this goes more fluid, so you will feel puffier and swollen like you are losing muscle tone.

Weight gain issues are as much related to calorie expenditure as toxic foods, hormonal metabolic imbalances, the environment we live in, causing subsequent inflammation and chemical storage in fat cells.

Practitioners and patients alike often confuse toxic water weight with actual fat weight.
These are two very different problems, detoxifying versus weight loss. These two issues must be addressed and treated individually to achieve long term success.

Toxic water weight

If it were really about calories in, calories out, we would just eat less and exercise more and the weight would fall off.

However, for those that have struggled with weight loss, it is not that simple. Endotoxins build-up from imbalanced gut bacteria, hormone metabolite products and being exposed to outside exotoxins like heavy metals and plastics, your inflammation and cortisol levels rise and these toxins will be deposited in your fat cells.

As fat cells expand and grow, oestrogen levels typically rise too, in men and women. This leads to additional weight gain and water retention, which in turn makes it difficult to decrease inflammation and lose weight.

It is a self-perpetuating cycle that needs to be broken. An increase in fat tissue can be seen as an overflow of your rain barrel. This could be from too many calories from toxic food, but also from exposure to internal toxins like stress, imbalanced gut bacteria, hormonal imbalance and dysregulation, lack of sleep, pesticides, plastics and other toxic accumulation.


We tackle this with a multi-pronged approach using the DESTRESS protocol. This includes diet, exercise, stress management, toxins, rest, emotional balance, stress and a “success mindset”. In my services, I have replaced the success mindset with spirituality as I believe a lot of ill health comes from not understanding or fighting against our role and higher purpose.

Sometimes it can be a bit daunting to know where to start. I aim to share valid and relevant information on the blog, but if you require help in your healing journey you can find my services here.

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