by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
The term ‘detox’ has certainly gone through transformations over the years — just twenty years ago it meant a breaking free of drug or alcohol addiction. These days the term means removing all toxins from the body – everything from the toxins we take in through the air we breathe to the pesticides we ingest from vegetables.
Natural body detoxification has been embraced as far back as the Native Americans – their use of sweat lodges is well documented and the Indian Ayurveda practice still survives today. In conventional medicine today there tends to be a lot of skepticism around practices like body detox – but if you think about prevention and staying well rather than getting well – detox makes a lot of sense!
Supporting your body’s ability detox effectively every day not only helps maintain wellness and helps prevent illness later in life.
Our bodies are detoxifying all the time – our metabolism processes create streams of waste and without being consciously aware of it we spend our days absorbing, inhaling, and ingesting allergens, pathogens, chemicals and other toxins.
Our bodies are pretty amazing – all this detoxifying process runs behind the scene without much conscious input or help from us – until the process just can’t keep up. Lifestyle and diet choices can influence our ability to detoxify, our genetic makeup has a role to play as does extended exposure to toxins.
When toxins build up inside the body, there are host of possibly symptoms which may play out. They include:
Sinus congestion, indigestion, hives, bloating, irritability, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, weight gain, insomnia, fuzzy thinking, coughing, sneezing, constipation or even chest pain.
There’s new research correlating a link between impaired detoxification ability and a number of diseases including fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome. In my experience other conditions are also related to toxicity in the body – arthritis, eczema, allergies, cirrhosis, fibrocystic breasts, pancreatitis, multiple sclerosis, thyroid dysfunction and heart disease.
Many of my patients are shocked to learn that unwanted weight can also be a sign of excess toxins in the body. Increasing exposure to new toxic substances – both naturally occurring and made are creating a great new for health care practitioners to talk with and teach patients about supporting their bodies to detoxify effectively and efficiently.
With the word detox is showing up in media everywhere right now – with promises of quick results to restore your energy, help you lose weight and regain vitality. I don’t recommend extreme detox regiments – if we really think about it, your body is already struggling to process the toxic load it has, why would you challenge it more with an extreme detox plan? I recommend avoiding colonics, coffee enemas, prolonged juice fasts, extreme chelation, hours-long saunas, colon cleanses and excessive doses of minerals or antioxidants.
Fasting is a well-known and age old practice which is associated with both spiritual and religious traditions. Under controlled circumstances, fasting can might be a good choice for you. Extreme fasting, however, can release toxins too quickly – and the end result may make you feel awful. In my opinion, fasting for weight loss is never a good idea.
There are some natural things you can do to help your body detoxify naturally –
- Eliminate processed foods, gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners and trans fats from your diet
- Eat organically grown foods when possible
- Reduce red meat consumption
- Increase your intake of organic vegetables – vegetables provide natural detoxification support
- Drink 8 – 10 glasses of filtered water per day.
- Do not take unnecessary drugs
- Do not smoke or ingest other poisons or toxins
- Exercise to the point of sweating – this helps keep blood and lymph circulating
- Address long term emotional issues that cause worry, tension or stress for you
- Get enough sleep – most adults need seven to nine hours per night
- Keep your skin clean – use a loofah to remove dead cells and improve circulation
As you begin to detoxify, stored substances and toxins are released into your system for removal. It’s not uncommon for women to feel worse for a short period of time – if this happens – I encourage you to stick with it! Soon you be rewarded with more vitality, higher energy levels, fewer pains and aches, loss of toxic weight, clearer skin…and maybe more!
I encourage my patients to take a high quality multivitamin/multimineral supplement, a probiotic supplement and Omega-3 fatty acid supplement daily. These supplements will help support your body during its daily detoxification process as well as during time of increased detoxification focus.
There are also a number of herbs which are known to help with detoxification. They are: clove, parsley leaf, red clover, sarsaparilla root, goldenseal root, peppermint, Echinacea and senna.
I have seen so many women improve their health once their identified the need to focus on detoxification. I can’t stress enough that detoxification issues are often overlooked – but when they are addressed symptoms disappear, bodies work more efficiently and women can feel better than ever before!