Detoxing? Let’s just get straight to the point on this one. Contrary to what the news or Internet says, there is no such thing as a magic pill, potion, elixir, juice, vitamin or herb that can detoxify you. And, here is another Truth: There is no pharmaceutical drug that can truly cure you of your chronic ills. Why?…because, the best way to detox is through avoidance, and lifestyle change. And, the best way to cure any illness is through prevention (similar to avoidance), and again, lifestyle change.
Before I go into detail, let me give you some examples of how my clients, and some family members, have gone about detoxing themselves. Of course I have changed the names, except for family members. 🙂
He was a client that felt he needed to do a detox because he was overweight and just did not feel well. He wanted some detox juice he read about. I think it was Noni or maybe Pomegranate juice. Anyhow, he thought it would help him get back on track with his weight loss, and give him energy. While taking his history, I found out he worked in dye-finishing factory. I asked about industrial smells there and he said, “I smell stuff all the time.” His diet was OK, however, he did like his sodas on occasion. He also said that he was taking some sort of Maple syrup detox drink to help him. I think it was the latest fad detox diet at the time.
His detox prescription: Besides exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle changes; Tom’s detox prescription was to wear his ventilation mask at work, and replace his sodas with water. Oh yea, I also told him the maple syrup thing was not helping anything except maybe getting him closer to being diabetic. So, I had him stop that too.
Betty wanted to do a detox for the same reasons as Toxic Tom, but she wanted some magical fat loss pill that she heard I had from her friend. If I am not mistaken, she wanted Green Coffee Bean extract. Because, at the time Dr. Oz was talking about how great it was. Anyway, the research on Green Coffee Bean extract is spurious at best. It does almost nothing for fat loss, even if you are eating the perfect diet. Anyway, she sold make-up and wore it all the time.
Her detox prescription – Besides some significant lifestyle changes, like “get more sleep,” her detox prescription was to look up all of her make-up, and other cosmetics on www.cosmeticsdatabase.com to see which ones are actually safe to use on her skin. To her chagrin, most of what she used was not great. Cosmetics often contain heavy metals and endocrine disrupting compounds that are not good fat loss, and of course, they add to your toxic burden.
In case you don’t know, your skin will absorb almost anything you put on it to some extent. So be careful what you use. If you can eat it, then it is probably a non-toxic cosmetic.
Jimmy the Toe (My father)
My father never has told me that he wanted to do a detox. However, I have noticed that he does try to detox in his own bizarre way. Like most of us Americans, with the exception of my mother and my wife, my father tends to overeat. He likes to have “continuous meal” from 5 pm to the time that he goes to bed. Yes, he usually complains about gaining weight, and gets really concerned when he can no longer look down and see his peepee. This is when he does his own bizarre detox…that is after “continuous meal,” he starts taking his magnesium, multi-vitamin, and baking soda. My father thinks baking soda cures everything from his gout toe to his expanding torso. He believes that by taking vitamins and baking soda he can “detox” his way out of his expanding torso, and once again, see his peepee.
His detox prescription – Exercise and stop eating all night, every night. And, try taking your multi-vitamin everyday, instead of just the times that you can’t see your peepee. By the way, the baking soda thing will not make your peepee big. All your sons have tried, especially me and Jade, and it does not work. What the $%^# Dad? Don’t you know that eating your vegetables makes your peepee big and helps detoxify you?
Joyce the Juicer (My mother)
I grew up drinking a lot of very sweet vegetable juice and plain carrot juice due to my mother thinking it would help her lose weight, and keep her young looking. Anyway, it did nothing but increase the size of our waistlines and turn us slightly orange. Yes, at one point we looked like we had all wrestled an open Cheetos bag.
Nevertheless, juice, in any form, especially if it is sweet, has the potential to make you toxic, just by making you fatter. Also, the main detox ingredient in vegetables and fruit is the fiber. Juices are nothing more than glorified soda, especially when the fiber is removed.
Her detox prescription – Eat the whole fruit, carrot, or vegetable, and if you are going to juice, make sure it is mostly green vegetables that are not sweet, and try adding back in the fiber.
I met Nancy upon walking into the treatment room with her crying, and carrying on about how toxic our world is. She was worried about the air we breath, the water we drink, the polluted food we eat, all the off-gassing from her new car and carpet, and getting some gasoline on her skin at the gas station. She was convinced that she was going to get cancer due to all the toxic exposure she was getting. She wanted to do a “liver cleanse” to help rid her of her toxic load.
We had a long talk that ended in laughter at ourselves. I used to be just like her, hence the baking soda and carrot juice. Anyway, this is what I told her: “You are right we are all being exposed to toxins everyday in our water, food, carpets, cars, etc. Even if there were a magical detox potion or pill you would never avoid toxic exposure. Toxins are ubiquitous in our environment. However, the most toxic thing that is going on with you right now, is all the worrying about it.”
Her detox prescription – meditation with long walks in a natural setting
OK, so I think you get my point, right?
When thinking about detoxing, one must first consider what is causing the most toxicity in his/her life. For most of my patients, it is not heavy metals, volatile organics, or asbestos exposure. It is usually over-eating, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and not managing chronic stress. If you can get these things in order on a somewhat regular basis, then you have significantly revved up your body’s own endogenous detoxification. Also, if you are overweight, as most of us are now, you will significantly decrease your toxic burden by losing the extra weight. Again, lifestyle change usually has to be modified to allow you lose weight, so that you can detox. Detoxing, and losing extra weight, are one and the same.
Another, very powerful, way to detox is just by avoiding the toxins that you can. For example, Toxic Tom, can easily avoids toxic exposure by wearing his ventilation mask at work. At home, you can simply open your windows on a regular basis and let fresh air in. Maybe choose cleaning products that are non-toxic, like natural lemon or vinegar. Maybe, have a “no shoes in the house” policy. For Betty Cosmetic, it was wearing cosmetics that did not add to her toxic load. You can even go further with this by getting a good water filter or air purifier. How about making sure you change your home heat pump air filters on a regular basis? I can go on and on with this.
As far as nutrition goes, just not over-eating or avoiding junk food are a great ways to detox. If you want to take something to really help you detox, then drink plenty of water and eat plenty of foods high in fiber. Vegetables are the best foods for helping one to detox because of their relatively, high fiber to low carbohydrate ratios.
Most of us can relate to Nancy Neurotic and the mental, emotional stress she was experiencing. The constant worry about things out her of your control is probably more toxic than soaking her hands in gasoline. Another toxic exposure people may want to consider avoiding is all the negative news on TV. Watching TV, for many of my patients, just adds to their toxic burden.
OK, with that being said, what herbs and supplements actually have some research showing that they MAY help you detox. Here is a list of some that I use in my clinic. If you want to do a detox, and have at least considered everything else I discussed, then the following may be of some benefit to you. Let me know if you need help in determining if these will help you.
- Whey protein
- N-Acetyl Cysteine
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid
- Concentrated Vegetables and Fruit Powders
- Calcium D-Glucarate
There is no better way to detox yourself, than through Avoidance, Lifestyle Change, and/or Stress Management. Also, if you are overweight or obese, losing a pound of fat detoxes you more than any of the above supplements can. And, if you have insomnia, even a slight improvement in sleeping is far more effective at detoxifying you than any of the above supplements.
Realize that detoxifying your life should be something we all strive to do everyday, and some of the simplest ways to detox are the most powerful. It can be as simple as just sitting in a beautiful park and enjoying the scenery, or laughing with a friend.
For me, my favorite way to detox is laughing at my father. Hopefully, you detoxed a little by reading this blog.
Lots of detoxifying love,
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