“Detox” is one of those terms which is now seen everywhere. You cannot open a woman’s magazine or newspaper health column without the word ‘ detox’ being mentioned somewhere. Indeed you or your friends have probably been on a “detox diet”. The term is often applied to short term dietary regimes, usually with the aim of losing weight, especially after a period of over-indulgence or as a quick fix before an important event such as a wedding or holiday.
Such diets may certainly help, and certainly any period of cleansing and lightening the load on the body helps but this approach to detoxification is often superficial and doesn’t really make the most of what is a very powerful rejuvenating and healing technique when applied properly.
Almost anyone can benefit from detoxification, from those individuals who have a history of poor diet and lifestyle with resulting ill-health and below par performance of their body systems, through to those who follow healthy regimes but who want to specifically intensify their body’s natural mechanisms and achieve even greater health.
There can be many ways to approach detoxification. It depends on how fast you want results, to what lengths you are prepared to go and what tools and mechanisms you choose to support you.
What is Detoxification?
Detoxification is a natural physiological process used to rid the body of unwanted chemicals which are capable of harming the body system. Such chemicals include those produced by the body’s own metabolic processes and those we are exposed to in our environment (pharmaceuticals, plastics, metals, pesticides, and fumes). The body has a sophisticated system of circulating fluids to pick up and transport toxins, and organs to neutralise and excrete them from the body, including the liver, kidneys, and skin.
The modern environment and lifestyle adds additional burdens to the body and its natural processes of detoxification can be overwhelmed. Such congestion and dysfunction may be a key barrier to health.
Symptoms of Toxicity
Symptoms can be anything which affects your general well-being from lack of energy and sluggishness to more sever chronic illnesses such as cancer or ME.
The following symptoms are the most common:
Digestive symptoms – indigestion, heartburn, cravings, loss of appetite, nausea, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation, haemorrhoids, halitosis, and coated tongue.
Skin – acne, boils, sweating, dry itchy skin, cellulite, and puffy eyes with dark circles.
Musculo-skeletal – cramps/aches, joint inflammation
Cardio-vascular – palpitations, rapid pulse poor circulation, raised blood fats
Poor immunity – regular infections, allergies, respiratory infections
Hormonal imbalance – fluid retention, PMT, low sex drive, and difficulties conceiving
General symptoms – tiredness, insomnia, and headaches.
Detoxification is a very effective naturopathic technique when used appropriately.
It can range from gentle to more powerful techniques and a program should be matched to the individual’s level of need and ability to handle the treatment.
There are several phases to detoxification. First the body must be able to have the space to respond to detoxification. So it is important to avoid adding any more toxins to an already burdened body by cutting out unhelpful foods, drink, drugs etc. Then we add in helpful nutrients which will assist the detoxification process. The body can then start to release the toxins from the cells and body tissues. This can be done slowly, e.g. by generally adopting a different diet, or more intensively such as with a juice fast. Once the toxins have been released from deep within they still need to exit from the body, otherwise they will continue to circulate and cause different problems. So, further nutrients are required for these chemical processes.
This is why simply not eating as a method of detoxification is not helpful, you need certain nutrients (vitamins and minerals) to facilitate the chemical processes of detoxification and elimination within the body. Cleansing procedures such as skin brushing, enemas and colonics are also useful and help to speed up elimination of toxins from the body.
A detoxification program can be done intensively and can be very successful in clearing the body of chronic and serious conditions. Cancer support programs such as the Plaskett therapy or the Gerson therapy are good examples of this. Unsupervised, such rapid and deep cleansing may be dangerous. Serious and deep detoxification should always be undertaken under the guidance of an expert.