What Is Detoxification?
Detoxification is the process of removing toxins from the body. These can be environmental toxins from contaminated indoor and outdoor air, food, water, and soil, or from toxic cleaning products, workplace chemicals, alcohol, prescription drugs, etc. – or even metabolic toxins produced as a result of normal body function or of pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
Although the body naturally eliminates toxins on a daily basis – largely through the liver, but also through the lungs, skin, kidneys, lymphatic system and intestines – many believe we take in too many toxins for the body to effectively get rid of them all without help. These retained toxins can accumulate in our tissues, causing a multitude of unpleasant symptoms and health concerns.
Poor digestion and elimination also contribute to toxicity. For most people, detoxing is about cleansing and resting the body to allow it to rejuvenate and return to effectively eliminating toxins.
A detox or cleanse often begins with a liquid diet of shakes or smoothies containing health-promoting fruit and vegetable juices, and often herbs and supplements that support the liver and other organs in the cleansing process.
Detoxing your system from heavy metals, chemicals, environmental pollutants, drug residues, etc. is a very important piece of healing your body and then providing a foundational environment for long-term health.
There are many herbs, foods, intravenous treatments, saunas, etc. that facilitate detoxification in the body. However, if you have a chronic health issue, you need to proceed slowly and cautiously with detox, because if you do too much at once, or detox too quickly, you can exacerbate your symptoms and make yourself feel very ill.
So here I’m going to focus on effective detox substances that also allow you to proceed at your own pace; so you can adjust for factors like your current health, or a heavy toxin load, that otherwise could make you feel wretched during detox.
Be careful when using detox substances to proceed slowly if you are chronically ill – that way you can avoid triggering a flare by doing too much, too quickly. If you are prone to diarrhea, then Bentonite Clay is one of the best detox substances you can use since it will not loosen your bowels, as many of the others will. Don’t forget, bowel elimination is one of the body’s primary methods of detoxification. If you are suffering from ulceration or intestinal bleeding, then do not do any herbal detox until your system is stronger.
Liver Toning and Cleansing Herbs
Your liver is the primary organ of detoxification for your body. So you not only have to cleanse your liver, you have to give it the support and toning herbsneeded to strengthen it to do it’s job well. You can take these herbs in capsules, on an empty stomach, but I prefer liquid extracts taken in hot water or herbal tea – again, on an empty stomach. Look for a good blend that incorporates a number of herbs renowned for cleansing and toning the liver.
My Favorite Detox Tea
Flora’s Flor Essence Detox Tea is a detox product that is even safe for people with sensitive tummies! So safe, that it can even be with children. AND it actually tastes nice. Seriously, it just tastes like normal tea.
However, it does contain some Turkish Rhubarb which is used as a laxative. So if you tend towards diarrhea, start with only 1 tsp and see how it goes. If you are having more than 5 bowel movements per day, then I wouldn’t use this product until you’ve healed further.
This detox tea makes me feel really good when I drink it. And I found beneficial effect from only taking it once in the morning too, so you can really tailor it to your own needs and schedule.
If you are constipated, then take the full dosage, three times per day, as you will need a more rigorous cleanse.
Inflamed or Bleeding Intestines?
If your GI tract is inflamed, ulcerated or bleeding, then you need to proceed very carefully with detox, or it can trigger a flare. The best detox in this case (which is healing at the same time) is an elemental diet – consisting only of liquid, pre-digested nutrients.
However, if you cannot afford to go on an elemental diet, then I also have a detailed blog post on Using Common Foods To Heal Inflammatory Bowel Disease with full instructions – a number of these foods, like avocado, are naturally but gently detoxifying.
If your gut is not inflamed or bleeding, then you can also incorportate liver support foods into your diet. Good ones include burdock root, daikon radish, avocados, lemons or limes and turmeric. Cilantro and chlorophyll are two fabulous foods that also support detoxification.
Here’s a regimen you can use to cleanse heavy metals from your body using cilantro and chlorophyll, combined with liver support herbs and other substances that support detoxification.
Cilantro & Chlorophyll Detox:
Since most of us would only benefit from detoxifying our bodies of aluminum, lead, mercury and other heavy metals, here is a very easy (and tasty!) way to accomplish this. If you need a very serious detox, then you may want to add infrared saunas, chlorella and spirulina to this detox regimen as well:
- Upon waking drink 1 tbsp of fresh-squeezed lemon juice in 1 cup of warm/hot water. Remember that lemon juice is acidic in the glass, but becomes alkaline upon ingestion.
- On an empty stomach (at whichever time of day is convenient for you) take 1 tablespoon of liquid Chlorophyll in a glass of water and then eat 2 teaspoons of the Cilantro Pesto (recipe below). You can eat the cilantro pesto with other foods – on crackers, baked potatoes, etc. – but I feel it will be more powerful if consumed on an empty stomach, at least 10 – 15 minutes before other foods.
- Magnesium is also a powerful detox agent and a mineral that most people are deficient in. I have done a detailed blog post on magnesium (types, absorption, etc.) so you can refer to that for lots more info. For our purposes here, take 2-3 tablespoons of the Mini-Minerals (nano-sized) Magnesium per day. Because it absorbs instantly to the bloodstream, it does not require digestion and therefore does not cause diarrhea or loose stools. However, if you want to encourage bowel movments, then use magnesium citrate.
- Use an “intestinal broom” to clear the colon of impacted fecal matter, mucus and other undesirables. My favorite product for this was a stool softening and bulking agent called MetaCleanse. I used to recommend MetaCleanse but the manufacturer has stopped producing it so, in its place, you can use 1 tbsp. sprouted flax and chia powder (available locally and online at various sites; you may have to purchase the two powders separately) along with 1/2 tsp. bentonite clay. NOTE: You cannot use these remedies if you are on an exclusively elemental diet – only if you are combining Absorb Plus with regular foods.
Do this regimen for 3 – 4 weeks.
If you need a more serious detox, then ALSO take 1-2 teaspoons of Chlorella and 1-2 teaspoons of Spirulina mixed in 8 ounces of liquid, once per day. If you blend these in an Absorb Plus shake, or whey protein, or veggie protein shake with fruit, it really helps to disguise the taste.
Or, use a ready-made, high quality detox product like Flora’s FlorEssence Gentle Detox Tea – this one is great because it has a very mild taste, is safe even for people with sensitive digestive systems, yet it is very effective. If your system is sensitive, then start out with a lowered dose, or only taking once per day and gradually build up from there. For myself, even taking it only once per day, I could feel a beneficial difference.
Infrared saunas are also excellent for detox and provide many other benefits as well – but don’t do too many if you are underweight, as they usually result in weight loss.
Cilantro Chelation Pesto Recipe
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup Brazil nuts (selenium)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium)
2 cups packed fresh cilantro [also] (vitamin A)
4 tablespoons lemon juice (vitamin C)
2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dulse powder [or]
2/3 cup flaxseed oil [or]
Sea salt to taste
1. Process the cilantro, garlic, nuts, seeds, dulse, olive oil and lemon juice in a blender until finely minced.
2. Then add flax oil and a pinch of sea salt and blend on low speed (do not heat flax oil) until the mixture is blended into a paste.
3. Store in the fridge, in dark glass jars if possible.
*This pesto freezes well, so purchase cilantro in season and fill enough jars to last throughout the year. The cilantro will begin to get dark green/brown in 4-5 days, so if you want to keep it looking super fresh, then just keep a small supply in the fridge and freeze the rest to use as needed.
Cilantro has been shown to chelate toxic metals from our bodies in a relatively short period of time. Combined with the benefits of the other ingredients, this recipe is a powerful tissue cleanser.
This recipe was originally posted by “Muffet” on my Adya Clarity blog post. She says that:
“Two teaspoons of this pesto daily for three weeks is purportedly enough to increase the urinary excretion of mercury, lead and aluminum, thus effectively removing these toxic metals from our bodies. We can consider doing this cleanse for three weeks at least once a year. Cilantro is truly a healing food. One friend suffering from high blood pressure due to mercury poisoning had her blood pressure return to normal after eating two teaspoons of this pesto daily for only a week. So whether you need to detoxify heavy metals from your body or just wish to use it as a preventative measure, 2 teaspoons a day is all you need to take. This pesto has now become a regular in my diet. Enjoy!”
I have modified the recipe slightly from what was posted, to include flax or Udo’s oil (I use Udo’s) instead of just olive oil, since you might as well get the added benefits from the Omega-3′s and also the Evening Primrose Oil – if you are using Udo’s.
The pesto is also delicious on baked potatoes, pasta, drizzled over veggies, in sandwiches, or on toast or crackers, and with goat cheese on top. So even after your detox, you can continue to consume this pesto as part of your normal diet. Four of my friends have tried it and immediately asked for the recipe to go home and make their own! It really is that good. The picture (blurry – sorry!) was taken in my kitchen, so you can see what it looks like. It truly is delicious and your cells crave it once you’ve eaten a spoonful or two.
Changes In Bowel Movements
As you implement this protocol, you may find your bowel movements changing – either becoming looser, or perhaps your stool may get harder. Remember that when you detox, your body has to eliminate the toxins, so it is normal for this to cause changes in bowel function. If your bowel movements are getting too loose, then cut back on dosages for a while, so the detox goes slower.
If your bowel movements are getting harder to pass, then add Magnesium Citrate to your regimen – start at about 150 mg and increase as needed, up to 1000 mg per day.
In both cases, whether your stool is too soft and loose, or you get constipated, use an “intestinal broom” to clear the colon like the flax/chia seed powder + bentonite combo. This will also bulk up your stool if loose, and soften them if hard and constipated.
Also, don’t be surprised if you feel more fatigue or even other detox symptoms (headaches, rash, nausea, etc.) these usually subside in 7 – 10 days. If you have a symptom that persists longer than this, then seek other treatment, or see your naturopathic doctor.