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November 21, 2017
What comes to most people’s mind when they think “detox” is usually a severely limited diet, strange concoctions and frequent trips to the bathroom. That is, however, far from what our bodies require in terms of detox support!
You see your body is, at this very moment, detoxifying. Detoxification is not an unnatural occurrence and it does not necessarily require a packaged box from the health food store. Our bodies are in a continuous process of toxin creation (a natural by-product of the metabolism) and elimination. And that is why detoxification is as natural as breathing and sweating!
Even though our bodies do take care of detoxification, we need to ensure that the organs which conduct this process get sufficient support so that a seamless elimination of toxins takes place.
That support becomes essential when considering that we are not only exposed to internal toxins –free radicals, metabolic waste products and toxic emotions- but also an ever-increasing amount of environmental toxins –not limited to air and water pollution, radiation, additives, preservatives, herbicides, drugs and cosmetics. Without proper and efficient elimination of these toxins, our bodies may eventually succumb to the detrimental effects of them -including endocrine disruption (thyroid disorders/infertility), immune dysfunction, and carcinogenic effects (DNA damage).
Consequently, supporting the body in its detoxification processes becomes an essential component of good health. In order to accomplish that, we must first understand how our body clears and filters toxins. The following organ systems play a crucial role:
Respiratory– lungs, bronchial tubes, throat, sinuses, and nose
Gastrointestinal– liver, gallbladder, colon
Urinary– kidneys, bladder, and urethra
Skin– sweat glands and tears
Lymphatic– lymph channels and lymph nodes
And supporting these organ systems through the following basic guidelines is paramount for building the foundations for a good detox:
The last step above is where the confusion arises for most. With so many products on the market claiming to ‘detox’ how does one choose? In the same way, every vehicle model requires a different type of oil for its oil change, likewise depending on your unique bodily requirements and specific toxic burdens, a unique program of SSDS is required. For example, a heavy smoker has different detoxification needs as compared to an individual who is a chronic user of NSAIDS (pain-relief medication). Consult with your Herbal Medicine practitioner or Naturopathic Doctor for your specific needs.
In an otherwise healthy individual whose goal is disease prevention while ensuring an efficient functioning of all organ systems, products that aim to improve gastrointestinal function (not a laxative) while boosting liver function, and contain skin support (usually blood cleansers) and lymph stimulants are ideal.
Here are a few things to look out for when choosing your SSDS products:
a. Liver supports: milk thistle, dandelion root, turmeric (1,2,3)
b. Digestive support: turmeric (3), ginger, buckthorn bark or cascara (6)
c. Lymphatic support: burdock (4,5), red root (7)
d. Skin support: yellow dock (8), sarsasparilla (9)
Usually a 1-2 week use of the above herbs in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle is sufficient to provide the body with a gentle and restorative cleanse. Remember that the body functions as a whole and no organ system is separate from another and so a cleanse will be that much more effective if you also:
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the best times for a cleanse is Spring and Fall. Helping our bodies’ detoxification processes, however, does not need to be a twice-yearly event. To recap, other than the above-mentioned herbal tinctures, you can provide your body with continuous detoxification supports by ensuring a clean whole-foods diet, an active lifestyle, sufficient rest, self-care and soul-nourishing practices!
1. Albassam AA., Frye RF., Markowitz JS. The effect of milk thistle and its main flavonolignans on CYP2C8 enzyme activity in human liver microsomes. Chem Biol Interact. 2017. June 1:271: 24-29.
2. Rivera-Espinoza Y., Muriel P. Pharmacological actions of curcumin in Liver diseases or damage. Liver International. 2009 Nove; 29(10): 1457-66.
3. Cai L., Wan D., Yi F., Luan L., Purification, preliminary Characterization and Hepatoprotective Effects of Polysaccharides from Dandelion Root. Molecules. 2017 Aug 25;22(9)
4. Mountainroseherbs.com. (2017). Mountain Rose Herbs: Burdock Root. [online] Available at: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/burdock-root/profile [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].
5. Chan YS., Cheng LN., Wu JH., Chan E., Kwan YW., Lee SM., Leung GP., Yu PH., Chan SW. A review of the pharmacological effects of Articum Lappa (burdock). Inflammapharmacology. 2011 Oct; 19(5): 245-54.
6. Cirillo C., Capasso R., Constipation and Botanical Medicines: An overview. Phytotherapy Research. 2015 Oct;29(10): 1488-93.
7. Henriettes-herb.com. (2017). Ceanothus.—Red-Root. | Henriette’s Herbal Homepage. [online] Available at: https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/ceanothus.html [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].
8. Cook, MD, W. (1869). Rumex Crispus. Yellow dock, Curly dock.. [online] Henriettes-herb.com. Available at: https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/cook/RUMEX_CRISPUS.htm [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].
9. Di TT., et al., Astilbin inhibits Th17 cell differentiation and ameliorates imiquimod-induced psoriasis-like skin lesions in BALB/c mice via Jak3/Stat3 signaling pathway. International Immunopharmacology. 2016 Mar; 32:32-38.