Detoxification can be as simple as drinking filtered water, or as complicated as detailed supplement protocols. With such a wide range of options, how do you know if a detoxification program is right for you? This article
will explore some of the fundamentals of this age-old practice, and help wade through the most frequently
What is detoxification?
Our bodies have 5 organs of elimination: liver, digestive tract, kidneys, lungs and skin. Together they work to excrete metabolites and toxins that are detrimental to our health. This process is referred to as detoxification. The more colloquial use of the term “detoxification”, or “cleanse”, refers to programs designed to optimize the activity of the aforementioned organs of elimination. Some examples include: juicing, hypoallergenic diet, saunas, botanicals/herbs, supplements, colon cleanse aerobic activity, breathing exercises and drinking adequate amounts of filtered water.
Do I need to do a detoxification program?
Due to the constant exposure of harmful, inorganic substances in our industrialized environment (pollution, pesticides, medications, etc.), our organs of elimination often become taxed. Over the years, these negative influences can compound, leading to suboptimal organ activity or clinical disease. To encourage preventative health, I recommend that all my patients perform a safe, supervised cleanse at least once a year. It is important to note, however, that cleansing remains an adjunct to, and not a substitute for, balanced, healthy living.
Are these programs safe? Who should avoid detoxification programs?
All programs are not created equal, and individuality contributes to differing responses. Prior to beginning any program, it is best to consult a healthcare provider trained in safe and effective detoxification techniques. These practitioners can appraise your risk based on health status, potential interactions between medications, supplements and botanicals, and finally, by evaluating the quality of the program itself.
With that said, a water fast (consuming only water) is the one program I strongly discourage. The body needs a minimum number of calories per day to perform basic survival functions. Starving one’s self of food and beverages shocks, rather than supports the system.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children under the age of 12, and those with kidney or bowel disorders (including chronic constipation) should avoid all detoxification programs unless recommended by their healthcare practitioner.
Can I continue taking my medications and supplements?
Cleansing the system increases the body’s ability to absorb and eliminate. For this reason, during and after a detox, drugs and supplements may achieve therapeutic value at a different dose than originally prescribed. If on medications or supplements used to treat a specific health condition, please consult your healthcare provider prior to beginning a detox program. All other supplements can be maintained throughout a cleanse.
Here, in North America, detoxing has recently infiltrated the mainstream. Beyond our coastlines, however, this practice has been a cultural staple for centuries. Time, and now science, has proven that when used correctly, detoxification programs can confer wonderful therapeutic benefits for the body, mind and spirit.