Detoxification Guidelines and Details
Detoxification comes in many forms and refers to many different programs that cleanse the body of toxins. Today, our environment is toxic and the foods we eat, even the air we breathe and the water we drink is laden with chemicals foreign to our system. Therefore, everyone is undergoing some type of detoxification to maintain life and health. Although basic detoxification begins with diet, detox programs may include nutritional fortification for the liver, lungs, kidneys, bowels and blood.
We will soon see why these organs are so important in detoxification. Detoxification for the body may refer to the cleansing of the bowels, kidneys, lungs, the liver or the blood, since these are the organs involved in detoxification of chemicals and toxins from the body. The liver acts as an “in-line” filter for the removal of foreign substances and wastes from the blood. The kidneys filter wastes from the blood into the urine, while the lungs remove volatile gases as we breathe.
Our body is designed to utilize natural substances, which includes foods, herbs and phytochemicals. Any foreign substance will serve as a stimulus to our immune system, which has the function of removing these substances. Although the toxicity of a chemical may vary, it is the job of the liver to reduce toxins into compounds that the body can safely handle and eliminate through the kidneys (as urine), skin (as sweat), lungs (as expelled air) and bowels (as feces). Maintaining these eliminative organs in good working order is essential for one’s good health to continue.
While there are many detoxification programs available, they differ in their actions and their intent. Some detoxification programs (DP) work only with the bowels, others may cleanse the liver or the blood, and others may aid the kidneys or the skin in their functions. By combining these detox programs into a total health program, one can effectively restore their health to an optimal level and look younger in the process. When the body can eliminate toxins, then health is restored and energy and vigor are revitalized. Many different approaches to detoxification and wellness will work, even though they attack the problem at different levels. Any program that augments detoxification will improve health. Other factors must be considered in detoxification, like nutrition, water, and exercise, rest, sunshine, and fresh air.
Detoxification diets help the body to eliminate toxins in many ways. First, natural vegetarian diets include the fiber needed for stimulating good bowel eliminate. They also contain the proper amounts of vitamins that feed and nourish the bowels and the liver, as well as other eliminative organs. They also include a valuable source of enzymes since most vegetarian diets are eaten raw. The elimination of meat from the diet for a short period enhances detoxification because meat is so difficult to digest and requires many enzymes for its digestion. Therefore, vegetarian diets are cleansing diets and aid the body in elimination of toxins.
Of course, changing diets and lifestyle is easier said than done for some people. Many people want health and will go to any length to improve their health, including dietary changes. But there are others who do not want to change their life style for anything. These people will be difficult to motivate and will not stick with the detox programs for one day. They may not want to give up their sodas, or their cigarettes, their beer or their coffee. They may make a few changes, like drinking more water, or they may give up completely in a very short notice. Our way of eating has been cultivated over many years and will not change over night. But to those who do want better health and do not want to rely on pills/drugs for their existence, nutritional changes will be welcomed, especially when they start feeling better and having more energy.
Diets are very important and are usually the basis for any detox program, whether it is herbs, cleansing or other detox programs.[i] Detox diets will generally eliminate trigger foods, which may cause many problems with digestion and elimination. Foods like wheat (glutens) and dairy (milk, cheese) are often the cause of allergies. Sugar is eliminated because of its “empty calories” and tendency to produce hypoglycemia. Meats are eliminated because they may contain hormones, antibiotics and are difficult to digest. Caffeine is wise to avoid, since it has many ill effects on the body’s digestion. Refined, processed and junk foods are also out for any detox program to work.
Generic diets for detoxification are good, but may not stimulate the liver, lungs or the kidneys as much as one would like. Therefore, herbal cleanses are indicated when we want to hone our cleanse to a “sharp edge” and be organ specific. Of course, herbs are foods too and provide one with vitamins, minerals and enzymes for excellent nutrition. Herbs are powerful, because they may be combined together to fortify those herbs that aid specific organs. For example, herbal combinations that aid the liver may be found in many organic food stores. The list below shows how herbal combinations help the various organs.
LIV-A Dandelion, red beet, liverwort, parsley, horsetail, birch leaves, chamomile, blessed thistle, black cohosh, angelica, gentian, goldenrod
Uva ursi, parsley, dandelion, juniper berries JP-X Parsley, uva ursi, marshmallow, ginger, goldenseal, dong quai, cedar berries
LH Comfrey, marshmallow, mullein, slippery elm, senega, Chinese ephedra
While herbs may be taken at any time, they are best for detoxification purposes when they are used with a good diet also. It does not make any sense to take herbs to cleanse the liver if the bowels are clogged with junk or refined foods, since the liver dumps its toxins into the bowels. And while detoxification diets are effective by themselves, they may be reinforced and speeded up with herbs, which stimulate the eliminative organs.
Herbs may be used as teas, powders or extracts. Powders are usually encapsulated for easier swallowing, but are best when taken with meals and digestive enzymes. Extracts may be used when specific herbs are needed, but may be extracted with alcohol, which we need to avoid. Herbal teas are easily made and easily taken all throughout the day. They are mild and gentle and sometimes refreshing and sometimes bitter. Experimentation may be in order until one develops the right tea to drink. Herbal teas is a topic in itself, since there are so many and different ways to make them.
Example Herbal Cleanse
Drink a glass of lemon water or drink a glass of water with added: one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of blackstrap molasses
Drink a glass of water with psyllium husk powder (follow with another glass of water).
Take 2-3 multi-digestive enzymes
Take liver herbs
In Between Meals
Drink herbals teas which support the liver, including Dandelion/licorice/ginger/fennel
Note: Following a good diet is mandatory for herbs to work optimally. See section on diets for detox.
Detoxification should include some type of skin cleansing, because our skin it one of our best eliminative organs. Heavy metals are actually released through the skin’s pores when we sweat. Sauna baths and steam rooms are great for removing toxins from the skin and regenerating one’s health and energy. It has been documented that our skin’s sweat glands when combined can perform as much detoxification as one (or both) kidneys. Therefore, it is very important to support our skin for detoxification to be maximal. If our kidneys are damaged, then helping the skin will help the kidneys … indirectly, but effectively.
Good skin care is in order, if one’s health is to benefit, also. Using chemicalized skin care products is not wise, even though they are cheaper. These chemicals may be absorbed into our circulation and provide more “toxins” for our liver to deal with. We are not made out of cast iron, and even the chemicals in our soaps and shampoos will make a difference with our health. Most people do not “see” the ill effects of these subtle chemicals, because their liver is able to metabolize them. But, individuals who are environmentally toxic will see a great change in their health when using natural soaps and shampoos. We should take their advice and use only natural skin care products also.