Detoxing Without Drama
By Dr. Jennifer Vaughn D.C.
If you have been acquainted with the world of Functional Medicine for any length of time, you will be somewhat familiar with the word detoxification. Even if you are a novice and this is the first article you have ever read about natural health care, you have probably still heard the word detoxification. So, what's the big deal about detox? How do you do it? Should you do it? What are the benefits? How do you detox without making yourself sicker in the process? These are the questions I will tackle today in this article. The ultimate goal of this paper is to give you a simple set of tools that will help your body and your mind achieve a more vibrant state of health.
What is Detoxification?
Detoxification is defined by Wikepedia as the physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism, including the human body, which is mainly carried out by the liver. Additionally, it can refer to the period of withdrawal during which an organism returns to homeostasis after long term use of an addictive substance.
Detox makes most people think drug users and alcoholics and long term treatment facilities to wring addictive substances from a person's system. Think about this: Did you know that sugar is more addictive than morphine?
Wikepedia goes on to say that some alternative medicine practitioners recommend a detox diet, which "scientists" have described as a "waste of time and money."
In the field of natural health care, doing a detox means removing harmful or potentially poisonous substances from our bodies, our diet and our environment. That doesn't sound like a waste of time OR money to me...and guess what? I am a scientist too!
As you read through this article, its up to you to judge the need and effectiveness of detox strategies for your life.
Should I Detoxify My Body? Do I Even Need To?
Every day in the United States, we are bombarded by chemical toxins. We are exposed to air pollution, electromagnetic pollution, stress pollution and more. There are thousands of new chemicals placed in our environment on a yearly basis. Since World War II, over 80,000 new toxic chemicals have been released into the environment in the US. Runoff, sewage,leaching plastics and even rubber from our tires as we drive, exposes us to toxic burdens that we are unaware of.
Interestingly, in the United States, there are only 11 banned chemicals in the makeup industry, whereas in Europe there are over 1,300 banned chemicals in makeup. Did you know that over 50% of lipsticks have lead in them? Lead stores in the bones and comes out of bone during pregnancy and during menopause. Some long term side effects of lead exposure are hypertension, kidney disease and neurological damage. Think about what you put on your face everyday ladies. Do you know it is safe?
Human breast milk has been studied and we know that ALL breast milk contains toxic chemicals like Dioxin plus a bevy of other dangerous chemicals that we pass on to our children. Studies of the cord blood of newborns show over 180 cancer causing chemicals in the blood of virtually ALL newborns.
Take a look at the ingredient list of common foods. If you can't pronounce it and you don't know where it comes from, then somewhere in that ingredient list lurks toxins. The scope of excess strain placed on the human body is far too vast for this article. Suffice it say that we have toxins, lots of them, in ALL our bodies.
What is going on in our world??? Did you know that the statistic for occurence of cancer in the U.S. is that 1 out of every 2 people will contract cancer in their lifetime?
Benefits of Detoxification
The first thing you need to know is that our bodies were designed brilliantly. It is the job of non-essential body parts to corral and encapsulate toxins that come into our system. These "non-essential" parts include fat cells, hair, skin and nails. So you can imagine that if you are a toxin laden 21st century person, you are probably going to have problems with a belly pouch, dull or thinning hair, fingernails that don't look like they should and skin that has obvious issues (cracking, dry, oily, rashy, eczema, etc...)
The most immediate benefits of detoxification that you will notice will be in one of the above areas. Many, many people report a feeling of increased energy and a feeling of lightness. Other benefits include better sleep, weight loss, cellulite loss, reduction of brain fog and an overall sense of well-being.
Secondly, but more importantly, your liver, which is your main detoxification organ in the body, will begin to function at a more optimum level. Your liver is involved in over 550 different processes in your body, not the least being cholesterol production and transport as well as regulation of many hormones. When the liver is not constantly struggling to handle a toxic bombardment, it is freed up to be more efficient in the other 550+ things it is assigned to do for the day!
Side Effects And Cautions About Detoxing:
Remember that during any detoxification progam, those nasty "bad guys" are coming out! Lets call toxins by another word for now, POISON. Toxins are poisonous to our system. Our body works hard to push all those chemicals and harmful substances into areas of our body that won't DIE from the poison being there. Which means, if you liberate a bunch of poisonous material out of your fat cells and hair and nails and your re-introduce it into your body circulation, you could become sicker, much sicker. In order to have an effective detox strategy, you need to make sure that those nasty little poisons that you are bringing out of storage have a way to get ALL the way out of you.
The information above is the main reason why people who begin a detox program will quit before they notice a positive change. They are either given improper advice about pushing their body too fast and too hard or they are unknowingly "clogged up" with so many poisons that they get ill and have no idea how to navigate through the short term issues that the poison coming out of them is causing. At Chirofunction, we use natural, true binders to encapsulate and pull those poisons out safely.
There are many ways to detox the body. Some methods are so harsh that the side effects ridicuously outweigh the benefits. In the next article I will talk about simple ways that you can detox in a gentle manner in an effort to get you feeling better quickly.
Please remember to use even these healthy options with CAUTION. The key words are slow and steady. I once treated a man who was a missionary in the islands. The local island healer did not like this man spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and so he poisoned him with a local fish toxin. The missionary did not know that he had been poisoned. A smaller man would have died from the dose of toxin he was given, but this was a big man. His fat cells shuttled toxins into every one of his 275 lb girth. He developed immediate and lasting symptoms of multiple sclerosis. He saw many doctors. He could not understand how he went from being healthy to very sick, so quickly. He was eventually seen at the integrative medical office that I was working in and was put on an anti-inflammatory diet. He lost weight, quickly. His symptoms worsened, quickly. In mere days he could almost not speak, stand, walk or communicate. It was obvious that something in his fat storage cells was the culprit of his problems. (It was only later through communication with the missionaries back in the islands that the native healer admitted to poisoning him.) For this man, the anti-inflammatory diet and the loss of his fat, would have killed him had we not recognized the problem and SLOWED down his healing. It wasn't wrong to put him on an anti-inflammatory diet. It wasn't wrong to help him lose the excess weight. He got better, much better, but it took time and a lot of slow and steady detoxification to allow his body to remove the poison safely.
I write this story to help you become aware of your own body. Speak with your doctor before starting any new protocols. Don't make the mistake of going fast so that you "can get this process over with." Much like healthy eating, detox should be incorporated as part of a healthy lifestyle. Make sure that you have an awareness of when it is time to detox and when it is time to let your body rest and naturally purge all those toxins you have stirred up, like sludge from the bottom of a pond.
Building a healthy body takes time. Your immune system and even your nervous system were designed to heal. This is a marathon, and it is important to develop strategies to get you to the finish of your life healthier, happier and more vital in every way.