A client of mine began a mild detox recently. She called to ask if the detox should be discontinued when symptoms of an allergic reaction began to appear. Ten years ago her doctor prescribed a medication she was allergic to. Her current symptoms were identical. It turns out she wasn’t having an allergic reaction to the detoxifying substance. Instead, her cells and liver were releasing residues of the medication she took for only two days a decade ago!
Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body. Many
of these toxins come from external sources (diet, drugs or alcohol), but
others are produced inside the body. The body detoxifies itself daily
via a variety of organs and systems. The colon, liver, skin, lungs,
lymphatic system, and the urinary system are the primary organs of
detoxification. In a healthy body, toxins are neutralized, transformed
or eliminated by these systems. The colon excretes most toxins, and
‘leftovers’ are transported to the liver where they are transformed into
harmless substances and released to the kidneys for excretion in the
urine. In an unhealthy body, however, toxins are not completely removed
and store in tissues of the liver, nervous system and in fat cells.
There is much evidence indicating that degenerative diseases may
arise from congestion and stagnation in these detoxifying organs. This
stagnation can be cleared with regular detoxification techniques in
addition to the body’s daily work. ’Regular’ can imply mild
detoxification on an ongoing basis or a more aggressive cleanse of a
Signs and symptoms that indicate it may be time to
detoxify include bad breath, headaches, muscle aches, constipation or
abnormal stool, frequent colds, sinus congestion, indigestion and skin
Sugar, sodium, excess fat, trans fat (in baked, packaged and fried
foods) and alcohol stress liver functions, alter the blood’s pH and
disrupt intestinal flora. Any of these alone can seriously suppress the
immune system. It’s no wonder many of us are fighting colds right now.
Anything that supports elimination helps us to detoxify. Begin with
the colon and follow with ingredients that stimulate liver functions.
Remember, when one organ is stimulated to ’clean up’, all detox organs
and systems respond. That means that although you’re working on the
colon, toxins may exit through the skin (acne). Signs that the detox is
working include acne, changes in the stool’s appearance, headaches and
lethargy. These are good signs!
Spring is an ideal time to detoxify. Here are some spring cleaning suggestions:
The colon often ‘backs up’ when fiber intake is low or with
consumption of ‘white’ starchy foods (which act like glue in the
intestines). An imbalance of intestinal flora may lead to yeast
infections, dry itchy skin, brain fog and intense sugar cravings. It is
crucial that this 4-foot organ is emptied daily. Many of us carry a
minimum of 10 lb of waste products in the large intestine. Try a
’transit time’ test with corn or beets to determine how efficiently your
colon functions. Allow about three months to thoroughly cleanse the
large bowel. The detox may safely be repeated every two years.
Gradually increase fiber intake to 25 g or more daily. Good sources
of fiber include beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit and whole grains
(such as brown rice, rye and buckwheat).
Fiber supplements made with
rice bran, psyllium and/or flaxseeds gently cleanse the intestinal
tract. Fiber products also contain herbs that ’exfoliate’ the colon wall
removing layers of mucus and impacted stool. Additionally, most include
ingredients that kill parasites. Take these supplements daily for three
months. Be sure to drink at least two glasses of water with each dose
to flush out the bowels.
Probiotics (opposite of antibiotics) protect the colon. Acidophilus is found in capsules and in plain organic yogurt.
If you find you’re suffering from a yeast infection or discharge, try
a few drops of oregano oil taken in water daily (3 weeks max). Oil of
oregano can quickly destroy bacteria, yeast and mold.
Colon hydrotherapy effectively and rapidly detoxifies the colon
removing yeast, bacteria and impacted stool. It’s valuable to explore
this time-honoured treatment particularly if you have a history of
constipation or irritable bowel.
The liver plays a role in controlling cravings, digestion, and is a primary cleansing organ.
Begin each day with a glass of water with a squirt of fresh lemon or lime.
Sip on water with liquid chlorophyll throughout the day.
Dandelion root, artichoke leaf and indole-3-carbinol (provided by
vegetables of the cruciferous family) support the liver and hormones.
For an aggressive liver cleanse, take a dropperful of milk thistle tincture just before bed for 21 days.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is the organ that
creates emotional harmony. Expect detoxification symptoms to include
frustration and anger.
Take extreme caution with harsh cleanses (many described on the
internet can be harmful) and kits that claim to aggressively cleanse all
elimination organs simultaneously. It’s better to work on one organ or
system at a time as detoxification is quite taxing to the body. This way
you become more aware of your body and habits, and if you happen to be
sensitive to a particular ingredient you’re more likely isolate the
Please consult your naturopath, nutritionist or doctor before beginning a detoxification program.
My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.
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