Detoxification

The past two articles about removing toxins from the body investigated the use of and water hydration and colonics.  This article is about the process of detoxification which does not include water hydration or colonics.

Detox photo
Photo by Robert Gourley

Detoxification in the body can occur in multiple forms:

  • Food selection
  • Foot detox baths
  • Internal cleansing
  • Supplements and plant choices
  • External heat environments

What is Detoxification?

In sum, detoxing is filtering through and removing from the body wastes and toxic producing material.  It includes already discussed water hydration and colonics, but also includes the five forms listed above.

For the purpose of this article, drug and alcohol detoxification are excluded, even though it may be a by-product of any of these forms of detox.

Thus, detox simply involves the removal of harmful waste or toxins from the organs and bloodstream of the body.  According to Deborahann Smith, detoxification is:

  1. Resting the organs through fasting;
  2. Stimulating the liver to drive toxins from the body;
  3. Promoting elimination through the intestines, kidneys and skin;
  4. Improving circulation of the blood; and
  5. Refueling the body with healthy nutrients.

Proponents and Detractors

Many natural practitioners propose a detox every season to keep the body in its optimal state.   Removing toxins at least four times a year is touted to add longevity, reduce disease, remove parasites, hydrate, lower blood pressure, and strengthen immunity.

Dr. Ted H. Spense has compiled an updated reference version of The Detox Bible which examines the fourteen best detoxification diet options for all body types.

Naysayers counterpoint by saying there are minimal, if any, benefit to detoxification.  Mainstream physicians, strict scientists, and clinical researchers halt any endorsement of internal cleansing through detoxification.

Given both sides of consideration, you decide if internal body cleansing through detox is the right option for you, your health and body type, your well being, and protection.  It is vital that you consult with your physician and/or holistic practitioner to make an informed choice before you initiate any program of detoxification.  Heed this caution against detoxifying for nursing mothers, children, and patients with chronic degenerative diseases, cancer or tuberculosis.

Food Selection Detox

Certain foods rid your body of toxins.  In the inverse, certain foods add toxins into your body. Food selection detox involves maximizing the intake of foods that rid the body of toxins naturally.  Many diet and detox books list a plethora of plant, fruit, and vegetable selections, some of which I will list below.  Rarely is animal/meat intake authorized in food selection detox.

Take into your mind that detoxing using food selection may not include meat for a period of time. I am not saying that all meat is harmful or eliminated, forcing you into a vegetarian lifestyle, what I am saying is that meat, even organic meat, is seldom on the list of food options because meat contains hormones and is difficult to digest.

— Some suggested plant and herb choices to clear the liver, kidney, and lungs

  • Seaweed
  • Spirulina
  • Dandelion root
  • Burdock
  • Milk thistle
  • Green tea
  • Black cohosh
  • Slippery elm
  • Seneca
  • Ginger
  • Goldenseal
  • Uva ursi

Website resource:  http://chetday.com/spencedetox.html (for more specific plant and herb detox instructions.  The website also links to soup, vegetarian, crockpot, Mexican recipes.

Fruits for Detoxing

Most fruits are excellent sources of vitamins, fiber, and nutrition.  But, some fruits, such as bananas, should be eaten in moderation to curtail weight gain.  Fruits contain fiber, enzymes, and antioxidants which are good for detoxification and purification.

The best way to boost the detoxing potency of fruit is to NOT eat anything but fruit and water until noon.  Organic acid fruits such as pineapple, red grapefruit, lemon, tomato, and other citrus fruits.  A glass of fresh squeezed juices from oranges and a half of a red grapefruit (all organic) is a quick, refreshing morning energy boost.

“Fruit detoxification is relatively simple.  Fruit enzymes do almost all the work of digestion, allowing the pancreas a much-needed rest. Fruit sugars, compounded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, are carried by the bloodstream and delivered to every cell in the body. The fibers that are left behind in the colon are moist and cleansing in nature, softening and removing years of impacted mucus,” says Ron Lagerquist.

Lagerquist adds “surprisingly, a fruit diet is lower in calories than juice fasting, hence resulting in a deeper detoxification. Also, unlike juice or water fasting, the digestive system does not shut down. This means there is no drop in metabolism as is the case with fasting, where the body is forced into a low-metabolism state to conserve energy resources.”

CAUTION:  A fruit detox regimen should only be temporary. Long, extended periods of a fruit diet can cause sickness and deplete necessary enzyme balance.  Becoming an exclusive fruitarian may induce detrimental effects.

Vegetable Detox

Vegetables add fiber and nutrients.  Additionally, choose plenty of fresh, organic vegetables for your detox diet. While you can eat any vegetable you like, beets, cauliflower, broccoli and broccoli sprouts, garlic, onions as well as red and green vegetables are particularly helpful in detox.   Whenever possible, leave the peel on your vegetables, as many of the nutrients are concentrated near the surface.

Many people make a vegetable soup consisting of cabbage, celery, tomatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli and broccoli sprouts, and peppers to eat daily during a 7-10 day detox.    Celery and cabbage are natural diuretics and are the principal vegetables in the Master Cleanse diet.

The combination of herbs, organic fruits and vegetables work powerfully to rid your body of toxins, clean the colon and organs, fight diseases, and clear the skin.

Foot Detox Baths

You can remove toxins from the body through foot detoxification.  This foot bath process is emerging as a detox supplement based on the premise that minerals and herbs placed in the water basin where you soak your feet will draw toxins into the water.

Ashiyu in Japanese is the ancient practice known today as foot spa where you place your feet in warm to hot water or in natural hot springs has been modernized with machinery.  The ion foot machine is a foot detox bath in a magnetized machine which supposedly extracts toxins too.

There is no medical evidence that the ion foot baths really extract toxins even though practitioners report that changes in the water color show how toxic you are.  Researchers add that he public may be swayed by the water “miraculously” turning brown or black in color. However, it’s proven that the changes in color are caused basically by the “electrolysis” of water rather than from the release of toxins.

However, research has shown that foot detox with minerals or herbs or electrodes added, will help in relieving fatigue and stress, and energize the body system, leading you to good health.

External Heat Environments

Saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms all cause the body to sweat and therefore emit toxins through the skin.  The skin is your body’s largest organ.  It is porous which allows “breathing” to cool a hot body, to release sweat from the sweat glands, and to absorb healthy vitamins from the sun.

External heat environments, including the sun, use the skin to act as a filter.   After the lungs the skin is the second largest area of detoxification in the body.  The human body is 80% water and that water easily evaporates through the skin and carries toxins with it.

Short exposure to the sun even with shade and UV blocking sun lotion is best.  Do not linger in the sun, not tub, or sauna too long.  Overexposure will not add any detoxification benefits rather long term use or exposure may draw vital minerals and electrolytes from the body and cause heat stroke, dizziness, fainting, or burns.  Neither is necessary, so don’t stay in the sun or the other external heat sources too long.

There are benefits from the external heat sources, they cause sweating.  Sweating clears pores.  Clean pores liven the skin.  Good skin looks good.  The continuous loop of sweating, cleansing, and youthful skins is a closed sphere.  And the circle loops again and again.

Final thoughts

Detoxification is not new.  Its use has been practiced for centuries by many cultures around the world — including ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems — detoxification is about resting, cleaning and nourishing the body from the inside out.

There are cautions involved in the practice of any form of detoxification.  In particular, do not start a long-term detox program independently without consulting your physician to determine the appropriateness of each detox option.  Detoxification is reported to disturb the flora balance in  the colon; therefore those with cancer, Crohn’s disease,  and other health risks are strongly advised to stay away from detox of any kind.

Pay attention to your body while on a detox regimen.  Due to the unregulated release of toxins, it is likely that your tongue will become coated, your breath will taste and smell foul, and you may experience times of weakness during the early days of a short-term detox.

Never overextend a detox.  Most practitioners recommend 7-10 days, a week of rest from the regimen, and maybe a continuation only to run a span of three weeks.  Seasonal detoxes are also recommended to flush and clean the body of accumulated waste and toxins in alignment with each season.

I have used the fruit and the vegetable detox plan for weight loss.  When I stuck strictly to the vegetable soup detox diet, I lost about 8 pounds in a month but regained the weight once I returned to my regular, typical normal lifestyle.

These programs can and do work, you just have to measure your own benefits.

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