What is the purpose of a detox?
Detoxification can also be referred to as cleansing, it is basically cleaning the body. From what? Depends on what you have put in your body, on your body, and what it has been exposed to from the external environment. For example, sugar, gluten, coffee, cosmetic ingredients, water, food additives, heavy metals, cigarette smoking and/or environmental pollution. Toxins can harm body tissue causing damage in all sort of ways, affecting us physically, mentally and emotionally and making our cells and our bodies grow older at a faster rate.
But, don’t our bodies already detox on their own? Yes, our bodies have the lymphatic system to fight off foreign agents and pathogens, the bowels to eliminate waste and toxins, metabolic bi-products are excreted by the bladder, the skin through sweating, the lungs through breathing out carbon dioxide, the voice eliminates emotional toxins, and additionally women detox during menses blood and uterine lining. But even further, some toxins need to be transformed by the liver, and other toxins are combined with bile to a fat soluble form to be able to be excreted by the bowels and that is why the liver and the gallbladder are vital organs in the detoxification process.
For our bodies to be efficient at detoxing on their own, we should have optimal bowel movements, full deep breaths, an ability to express emotions, no PMS symptoms in women, no excess fat around the belly and liver, have painless flexible strong bodies and clear skin just to name a few. If the detoxification systems are not running optimally then this leads to symptoms of digestive disorders, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, skin rashers, tight and sore muscles, we should be asking: why these detoxification pathways are not functioning optimally?
If your body is having any of these symptoms, your body is trying to tell you something, if your body is unable to excrete a toxin, the body will go into an inflammatory reaction to help neutralize it, showing further symptoms of fever, acne, dermititis, bronchitis, urinary tract infection, inflammation of joints, difficulty concentrating and other acute infections, if left and not helped, it may lead to further chronic diseases.
How do we help our bodies clean and maintain itself? There are many options and solutions, here are a few, but keep in mind that these are not guidelines, only general suggestions and possible expectations;
This requires approximately 7 days participation, though even 1 day would be beneficial depending on your current diet.
- Phase out all sources of caffeine 3 days before this cleanse.
Eat raw and organic fruits, vegetables of all colors, especially in the green range.
Eat seeds and nuts (soaked for one hour) less than 1/2 cup/day.
Eat kelp, dulse, cinnamon, himalayan salt, parsley, garlic, onion, turmeric as seasonings on food.
Drink coconut water and filtered mineralised water up to 2 litres per day all together.
Take probiotics, either from foods such as kefir, kambucha, sauerkraut or a probiotic supplement.
Take a break from all nutritional supplements but if you are on medication prescribed from doctor, keep taking it (or as otherwise directed by your health care professional)
Do not eat nightshade family which includes – tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes. No dairy products or eggs, no meat, no wheat or anything that contains gluten, rice, nuts, no sweeteners, sugar, soy including tofu or soft drinks.
What to expect: You may have symptoms of tiredness, moodiness especially in the first 3 days, or you may not, this should pass and you may feel more at ease and clearer thinking.
Alternatively you may like to try a 1 day a week or two weeks fast on water only or vegetable juice only, there are many variations and can mix up the diet cleanse with 1 day vegetable juicing in between. Depending on what you are able to and prepared to do at this moment. This cleanse requires rest, time off and relaxation.
- Colon Cleanse
There are many options for colon cleansing, either at home or professionally, through colonic irrigation, enema, bowel cleanse and supportive supplements for easy bowel flow. Alternatively, you could try yoga intestine cleansing techniques for free at home called “Dhauti”, but if you have not ever done this before, I would recommend to do this with someone who has some experience for the first time, such as a yoga teacher who has done some intestinal yogic cleansing techniques as it could be a little daunting otherwise, but this technique works well, and the intestines feel amazing after.
For better intestinal stool passing here are some things that could help mixed with water: Psyllium Husk Powder (stimulates movement), Flax Flour (soluble fiber), Slippery Elm Powder (emollient and diuretic), Ginger Root Powder (anti-inflammatory)
- Gall Bladder and Liver Cleanse
Ideally, do a Colon Cleanse prior to Liver Cleanse. This requires 6 days preparation, followed by 16 – 20 hours of actual cleansing, so planning ahead is crucial. If in doubt definitely consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritionist and this requires rest and relaxation during the cleanse.
You will need: 6 x 1 Liter of Apple Juice, 4 Tablespoons of Epsom Salts dissolved in 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of cold – pressed virgin olive oil, 2/3 glass of fresh grapefruit juice or fresh lemon and orange combined, 2 x 500 ml Jars.
- Drink 1 Liter of Apple Juice for a period of 6 days in addition to normal purified water intake of up to 8 glasses per day. Avoid foods or drinks that are cold, avoid all animal sourced food such as meats and dairy products, also fried foods, eat normal amount of meals but avoid overeating. Avoid taking any vitamins, supplements, and medications that are not absolutely necessary. Avoid sugar, spices, sweeteners, butter, oils, yoghurt, nuts, pastries, cereals, grains, wheat. All fruit and vegetables are fine.
Day 6 Morning – Do not eat or drink anything (except water) after 1.30 pm.
Day 6 Evening – 6.00 pm – Add 4 Tablespoons of Epsom salts to a 3 cups of purified filtered water, this will make 4 servings. Drink 3/4 cup now, if you do not like the taste, add a little lemon juice. 8.00 pm – Drink 3/4 cup. You may possibly expect a bowel movement after this. 9.45 pm – Squeeze 3/4 cup of grapefruits and remove the pulp, pour the juice and 1/2 cup of olive oil into a jar, close the jar and shake well until well mixed. 10.00 pm – Drink mixture. LIE DOWN in BED flat on your back, the head should be higher than your abdomen, if that is uncomfortable, lie on your right side with knees pulled toward your head. Lie still for at least 20 minutes without speaking, putting your attention on your liver and go to sleep if possible. If during the night you need to do bowel movement, do so.
Day 7 Morning – 6.00 – 6.30 am – Drink 3/4 cup of Epsom salts, and relax and rest again, stay in upright position. 8.00 -8.30 am – drink the last 3/4 cup of Epsom salts. 10.00 – 10.30 am – Drink some freshly pressed fruit juice, one hour later you may eat one or two pieces of fresh fruit, one hour after that you may eat light regular food, by the evening or next morning you should be back to normal and feel the first signs of improvement. Continue with light meals for 2 -3 days.
Results you can expect: You will have a number of watery bowel movements, consisting of gallstones mixed with food residue, than just stones mixed with water, most will be green colored and will float in the toilet as they contain bile compounds. Eventually, all stones would need to be removed to cure specific health problems. This may require 8-12 cleanses which can be done at 3 week or monthly intervals. Cleansing should continue until no more stones come out during 2 consecutive cleanses. Please remember feeling emotional and irritable may also come with the cleansing process, but this is a normal part of the process and it will pass into feeling of lightness.
- Heavy Metals Cleanse
If there is a suspect of heavy metals, the first thing would be to get a Hair Analysis Test for Heavy Metals or a Blood or Urine test. Then when the toxin is found, do the best to eliminate the cause of the build up, for example, mercury in tooth fillings or cooking pans with aluminum. While it may not be possible to completely avoid exposure there are ways to help eliminate some of these metals from the body using products such as bentonite clay, blue green algae, burdock root, cilantro leaf and stem, the amino acid glutathione, and with the mineral zeolite. These are some of the options that can be utilised and have been used effectively, however, the portion and what works for each person is individual.
- Breathing Cleanse
Meditation classes focusing on breathing is great in learning techniques, various styles of breathing, and its effects on the mind and body.
Movement is great for circulation, and circulation is what is required for cleansing, not all movement has equal benefits, but all movement is beneficial.
- Mood Cleanse
Pent up emotions can lead to feelings of toxicity, which can effect the detoxification processes of the body, leading to stagnation. Internal movement is essential to elimination, holding onto emotions and not letting go may directly effect the functions of the detoxification pathways. Finding ways to release emotions in a safe place will help the mood cleanse.
- External Body Cleanse
- Use fluoride free toothpaste and a shower filter.
Use non-toxic shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, cleanser and anything else that is applied to the skin, if you don’t recognize the ingredient, it is best to not apply it to the skin. Avoid sodium laureth sulfates and parabens. For more information refer to The Chemical Maze shopping companion by Bill Statham.
Try Dry Skin Brushing with a dry skin brush (picture), this aids detoxification by pulling off dead skin cells (the skin is our largest elimination organ) brush prior to shower for 5-10 minutes with upward strokes toward the heart to improve circulation and underneath the underarms for improving lymphatic drainage.
- Environmental Cleanse
The environment we live in will also contain toxins and these can also effect the body, ways to ensure that there are less toxins in the environment:
- Use non-toxic cleaning products
Air out your house/room as often as possible
Do not use microwave ovens
Use stainless steel cooking utensils and glass containers for storage
Drink and use ONLY filtered water in cooking, and hot drinks
You know your body is functioning optimally for detoxification processes if:
1. You have 1 -3 healthy bowel movements a day
- If you move daily and have great energy levels
You wee around 8 times a day and the urine is odorless
For women – If your menstrual cycle is 28 days ending in a painless period, with healthy blood shedding
Your skin is soft, clear and hydrated, with an ability to sweat adequately
Able to voice your thoughts, emotions and opinions and breath comfortably
Have lean body mass, without excess or too little fat