The past four weeks have been spent getting to know all about topic of detoxification: what it is and what it means to detoxify; the history of various cultural detoxification rituals throughout time; organs of the body involved in the process, both directly and indirectly; substances in and around us that constitute as toxins; identifying when the body’s toxic burden has become too great to detoxify on its own; and finally, the many ways in which detoxification can be performed, which we will cover in this final article of the series.
Whether you believe in the practice of detoxification or not, there is simply no denying that, at one time or another, everyone either feels, looks – or both – just plain bad. Be it in the form of lethargy, soreness, crankiness, bad breath or body odor, unusual bowel movements, perhaps even overly dry or oily skin that spends more time with pimples than without. Any time you feel, look, or even act toxic, chances are pretty good that toxic is exactly what you are.
A detox program can help the body’s natural cleansing process by:
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.
Practiced for centuries by cultures around the world — including Ayurvedic, Native American and Chinese medicine systems — detoxification is about resting, cleaning and nourishing the body from the inside out. By removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding the body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect from disease and renew one’s ability to maintain optimum health. Surely everyone, despite his or her beliefs, can benefit greatly from such practices.
The goal of detoxification is to both reduce overall body burden by minimizing toxic exposure and increase the body’s ability to detoxify. To accomplish the latter, we must first complete the former. For most people, detoxification means the use of colonics, fasting, lemon juice and honey, sweating, or even laxatives. Although some of these practices have proven benefits, many commercial programs fall short of what needs to be done to achieve an overall whole-body cleanse. There is no sense in undertaking a detoxification program if the very substances responsible for its toxic state are not first removed. Failing to do so can be likened to bailing water out of a sinking ship without first plugging the large hole from which the water floods; you may be able to stay afloat for awhile, but eventually the water will fill the boat quicker than it can be bailed out, and everyone on board is likely to drown. In the same way, toxins must first be removed from the surrounding environment before the onset of a detoxification program so that they do not continue to bombard the organs as quickly as they are released. Additionally, it is not enough to simply purge toxins from their captive organs, which unfortunately is the limit to many popular detox diets and programs currently on the market. As we learned in Part IV of this series, Phase I of liver detox produces either water-soluble end products ready for elimination by the kidneys, bowels or skin, or intermediary metabolites that are actually more toxic than their original versions, and must go on to Phase II in the liver in order to be neutralized and excreted. A large percentage of detox programs claiming incredible results are actually focused solely on Phase I in the liver and are similarly lacking in the other pathways as well.
Despite this flood of ineffective, and even toxic, programs into the detoxification market, there are still many techniques that remain proven throughout time, and once toxin removal from the environment is complete and appropriate detoxification methods are identified, then and only then can we successfully detoxify through the use of various programs and practices.
Since we discussed in earlier articles how to both identify and remove toxins from our surrounding environments, let us now turn our focus to the various methods with which these same toxins can be safely and effectively removed from the body. Addressed will be two types of therapies; Part I will cover Supportive and Part II, Nutritional Therapies.
- Oil Pulling
- Dry Brush Massage
- Dry Saunas
- Hot and Cold Showers
- Juice Fasting
- Raw Food Diets
- Green Drinks
- Detoxification Diets
- Detoxification Shakes
There are numerous massage techniques available, each providing specific benefits and advantages over one another, but almost all are acceptable and beneficial for detoxification. One of the most popular styles of massage therapy used in conjunction with other detox techniques is Lymphatic drainage massage.This is a specialised massage technique that assists the body’s own waste removal system. This massage technique is an excellent for detoxification programs as it encourages removal of cellular waste from the body, assisting it to clean and cleanse. Soft pressure is applied to direct the flow of toxins to be excreted from the body. It is also a valuable massage technique to assist with health conditions such as oedema, acne, cellulite, weight loss, reduced circulation and some skin disorders. Other types of massage proven to effectively release toxins are deep tissue, cupping and steamed hot Thai compress.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic method for detox and rejuvenation. It’s a simple practice, with quite remarkable results. Many have heard of it, but fewer have actually tried it. To oil pull, simply swish your choice of unrefined, high quality oil in your mouth; similar to the way you would use a mouthwash. Traditionally, oil pullers used virgin sesame oil. A popular choice is coconut oil due not only to its tolerable taste and impressive whitening properties, but also because it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and enzymatic properties. This provides the added benefit of killing any unwanted bacteria that may be residing in the mouth, while leaving behind healthy probiotic strains. A perfect exchange! The technique can be done anywhere from five to 20 minutes. The process attracts and removes bacteria, toxins, and parasites that live in your mouth or lymph system based on the principle of like attracts like, and also pulls congestion and mucus from your throat and loosens up your sinuses. With the help of your saliva, all these scary undesirables bind with the oil, ready to be disposed of. Pulling also helps re-mineralize your teeth and strengthen your gums by thoroughly cleansing the area. And the fact that it keeps your breath smelling fresh all day isn’t a terrible side effect either. To do this, place up to a full tablespoon of your desired oil in your mouth and swish away! Once the time is up, spit oil in the garbage can, NOT your sink, as the oil can harden and lead to clogged pipes. Follow this with a few good swishes of warm salt water then brushing as normal. The results are pretty quick to show, and among them are sparkling pearly whites and beautiful, healthy pink gums!
Enemas have been around since the dawn of time and have even been recorded in biblical scripts. There are numerous studies done on the detoxifying benefits of coffee enema’s, and they are a key part in treating cancer patients naturally at The Gerson Institute. Coffee enemas increase liver filtering, greatly aiding the liver’s ability to remove serum toxins. They are powerful detoxifiers, due to some amazing compounds within the coffee that stimulate the liver to produce Glutathione S transferase, a chemical which is known to be the master detoxifier in our bodies, as well as dilate the bile ducts to increase the flow of bile. Glutathione S transferase binds to toxins, which are then released out of the body along with coffee. A secondary benefit of the coffee enema is to increase peristalsis which helps to empty the bowel. A great resource for instructions on how to perform a coffee enema can be found at MindBodyGreen.
A healthy, strong functioning colon is essential to maintaining good health. Together with the bile from liver and gallbladder, the intestines and colon eliminate harmful waste products from the body, in addition to absorbing certain nutrients and water after they have been removed from our food and and partially processed in preparation for assimilation. Over time, however, our colon may lose its ability to properly eliminate all waste from the large intestine, especially in light of today’s toxic lifestyles, which expose our bodies to processed diets, prescription drugs, pesticides, chemicals and stress. When this happens, the colon can become saturated with harmful toxins, and through a process called ‘autointoxication’ these toxic substances can be transported into the bloodstream where the lymphatic and circulatory systems, as well as the lungs, liver and kidneys, become overburdened and increase one’s expose to serious health risks. The colon is the sewer system of our body. Each day, our bodies filter harmful toxins, indigestible food additives, stress responses, air pollution, chemical pollution and more. Your colon is a muscle; this muscle is lined with a mucosal membrane that has a direct connection to the rest of your body. It makes sense to keep this area clean and functioning at an optimal level. Constipation is a state in which bowel evacuations are infrequent and difficult, or where the large intestine becomes lined with impacted, hardened feces. This undigested food and waste may remain lodged in the large intestine for days, weeks, or even months to putrefy and generate toxic substances harmful to your health.
Colon hydrotherapy, or colonic, is a method for cleansing the body of these potentially harmful substances which the colon has not be able to discharge by natural peristalsis. They have been used extensively to promote overall health and wellness of the colon and associated organs through the following processes:
*Removal of old, hardened, waste material
* Restoration of proper pH balance
* Stimulation of the immune system
* Enhanced nutrient absorption
* Supporting an environment that allows for good bacteria and flora to prosper
* Increased peristaltic (natural muscular contraction) activity in the colon.
* A return of normal, regular bowel movements.
This procedure is always done in a safe and controlled setting, be it at your local medical spa or other specialized and licensed establishment. A great way to find credible and reviewed locations near you is to simply search the internet.
Dry Brush Massages
It is often said that the skin is the largest organ of the body, and while it does a wonderful job of covering every organ, tissue, bone and muscle, it also serves the dual role of eliminating toxins. The skin is responsible for a quarter of the body’s detoxification processes every single day, and one of the most efficient, quick and simple ways to help your skin rid toxins from the body is through the use of dry skin brushing. Additionally, lying just under the skin and running the entire length of the body is the lymphatic system, which as we learned, is responsible for filtering and cleaning the lymph through a series of lymph nodes located throughout the body. If you recall, the lymphatic system, unlike the circulatory system which is pumped throughout the body by the beating of the heart, does not have a master organ with which it gets pushed through the body. The only way lymph gets moved through the body is by manual force and stimulation, which is why dry brushing is such an excellent tool for both clearing dry, dead cells from the skin’s surface and stimulating the movement of lymphatic fluid through the body. The method for skin brushing is very simple and is a practice that has been exercised for thousands of years among many cultures; from the ancient Greeks, to the Japanese, and American Indians (who used dry corn cobs to brush off dead cells from their bodies), there have been many variations of this detox method used around the world. The process is best utilized in the morning before a shower as it is not only an invigorating way to start the day, but also due to the theory that toxins from metabolic processes build up while we sleep. This is also a perfect time to multitask detoxification methods! Oil Pulling can be done while dry brushing, during the shower, or both, and the use of hot and cold water therapy (discussed below) can further facilitate the detox process. Another common technique recommended after dry brushing is that of hydrotherapy, which involves drinking approximately eight glasses of water, (preferably filtered or artesian spring water), which further assists in clearing away the toxins you’ve just released by way of the urine.
Dry and Far Infrared Saunas
In contrast to traditional saunas, which heat the surrounding air that then heats skin with which it comes in contact, dry or infrared saunas directly and deeply penetrate the tissues causing the core body temperature to heat up. One obvious benefit to this kind of sauna therapy is that the surrounding air is much cooler than it would need to be in a traditional sauna raising the body temperature to similar levels, allowing easier breathing and increased duration of time that can be tolerated inside the sauna. Beyond sweating, this type of therapy also provides mild cardiovascular benefits similarly seen in low to moderately intense exercise. As discussed earlier in the series, while sweating is a great way to mobilize stored toxins from fat cells, it is equally important that these toxins be dealt with by then neutralizing and eliminating – an often forgotten or unknown part of sauna therapy altogether. In order to facilitate this next step in detoxification, it is important for the body to have an adequate supply of Phase II conjugating molecules, as well as being adequately hydrated.
Hot and Cold Showers
Hot water has relaxing properties, helping to reduce stress. Cold water helps relieve inflammation and stimulates the removal of toxins from elimination organs like the skin and lymph. Hydrotherapy is a time-honored technique that uses these properties of water such as temperature and pressure to stimulate healing and cleanse toxins. When the body is subjected to cold external temperatures, the flow of circulation is directed inward toward the internal organs. As the outside temperature gets hot, the flow of circulation goes outward toward the skin. Alternating hot and cold makes the circulation move in and out like an accordion. This has the effect of unblocking stuck flows, increasing the rate of detoxification and moving nutrients more readily to various parts of the body. However, there are some situations in which hot and cold water therapy should not be used. When taking hot and cold showers, make sure that the water does not contain chlorine, fluoride or other highly toxic chemicals commonly used in public water supplies. It is counter-productive to boost your circulation while at the same time take in a large dose of toxic chemicals from the water. If you cannot readily filter these chemicals out of the water before it comes into your home, install a shower head filter that is truly effective in this regard. You may be more sensitive to temperature when recovering from an injury or fighting off an illness. You’re not trying to win any competition by proving how hot or cold you can take the water. This can be done with moderate temperatures. Listen to your body, if you feel you need to stop at any time, just take a minute, sit down if you need to and see how you feel.
While the list of Supportive Detoxification Therapies may seem overwhelmingly long, remember that each of these is extremely simple and can often be combined with other detox methods or while engaging in other activities, most commonly getting ready for work or showering in the morning. Start slow; if you’ve never tried a single method of detoxification, do only one of these at a time, and only for the bare minimum time or with the smallest/lowest/shortest unit that is used for that detox method. The investment is not great, but in time you will find that the payout is simply huge.
A special note regarding publication for the next two weeks: The author and newsletter creator will be taking her finals for the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program on the weekend of the 17th, and in preparation for the exams will not be working on the newsletters between now and that time. Your lead practitioner and clinic owner, Sam Zeiler, will be taking over the publications during that time. Upon completion of her finals, the author will be continuing this series with the Finale Part II: Nutritional Therapies. Thank you for your understanding!