Detoxification: The Complete Package

If you Want to Dextoxify, do it Right!

A Detoxification Vocabulary

Transit time

The time from ingestion to excretion. This should be 24 to 36 hours; many North Americans have transit times of 50 to 70 hours, or longer! This is important, as the longer fecal matter stays in the digestive system, the greater your risk of developing health problems. An editorial in the British medical journal the Lancet notes that "Many diseases and conditions are improved when transit time through the gastrointestinal tract is decreased." (1990. 336:8721)

Detoxification Symptoms

When you detoxify, you release "hidden toxins." The release of these, and their journey through the body to the last exit, often results in symptoms such as rashes, headaches, and fatigue.


The term used to describe the condition whereby you are "poisoning" yourself through the buildup of toxins

More Bang for your
Nutritional Buck

After detoxifying, you feel better; you have cleaned the toxins out of your body. Having a clean digestive system also means you will get more from the foods you eat and the supplements you take. If your intestines are not encrusted, they will better absorb nutrients. In other words, if you thought your coenzyme Q10 supplement was helpful before detoxifying, it could be better afterward! The same goes for the foods you eat.

The Disease Link

We have always known that toxins accumulate in the body, and an individual's ability to detoxify carcinogens and xenobiotics (foreign substances) is important in maintaining health. Indeed, new research indicates that the inability to detoxify may be a factor in such diseases as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. It has been postulated that individual detoxification ability can be a decisive factor for cancer development or prevention.

For the Techies

The process of converting toxic substances to nontoxic substances and then their excrement is traditionally considered a two-phase function. During both of these phases, the liver transforms toxins into more water- soluble, and thus excretive, substances.

In Phase I, enzymes known collectively as the P450 system are added to toxic molecules-imagine putting handles on the toxic molecules. In Phase II, another molecule grabs the toxic molecule by the "handle" added in Phase I. This further increases the toxic molecule's water- solubility, making it possible for it to be excreted. The enzymes that control Phase I and Phase II functions vary from person to person.

Nutrients may be important in Phase I and Phase II activities. These include those found in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Although fiber does not play a part in Phase I and Phase II activities, it is important in providing a vehicle for excretion and for cleaning waste material out of the digestive tract.

Fiber to the Rescue

Fiber is much more than a detoxifier. Its health benefits are well known, and the Food and Drug Administration allows four health claims for fiber:

  1. Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include soluble fiber from whole oats may reduce the risk of heart disease.
  2. Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and rich in fruits, vegetables, and grain products that contain fiber, particularly soluble fiber, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
  3. Diets low in fat and rich in fiber- containing grain products, fruits, and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
  4. Diets low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables, which are low-fat foods and may contain fiber or vitamin A (as beta carotene) and vitamin C, may reduce the risk of some cancers.

Think about your kitchen drain. You use it a lot. You pour all sorts of things down it. It occasionally gurgles, but it usually works.

But, sometimes, you may notice that it drains more slowly or that an odd odor lingers above it. Then it is time to clean it out. You use a drain cleaner, or perhaps a "natural remedy" of vinegar and baking soda. Maybe you have to operate-go under the sink, open the pipe, and clean it out.

Whatever you have to do, you clean it, and the water flows smoothly again. Now think about your digestive tract. You use it a lot. You pour all sorts of things down it. It occasionally gurgles, but it usually works.

But, sometimes, you may notice that it doesn't work so well. You have a stomachache, heartburn, bloating, or gas. Maybe worse. Perhaps you feel tired and run down. Then it is time to clean it out. We call this cleaning detoxification.

Why Detoxify?

We do pour a lot down our gullets, and we don't always handle it well. Unfriendly microorganisms, badly absorbed foods, carcinogenic agents, and toxic metals and chemicals can get gummed up inside our digestive tracts and cause problems.

These problems include inhibited absorption of nutrients and, per-haps, increased absorption of toxins into the bloodstream. When toxins do enter the bloodstream, they can result in digestive tract pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, skin problems, fatigue, offensive breath, constipation, and other symptoms. Many health practitioners link such health concerns as acne, allergies, arthritis, PMS, hypertension, and gastritis to a body drowning in toxins.

Detoxifying cleans out the digestive tract. While a clean kitchen sink means more efficient disposal, a clean digestive tract means more efficient waste disposable, more efficient and better nutrient absorption, and better all-around health.


So, how do you detoxify? It is a simple process, but you should do it right. This means preparing for detoxification, detoxifying, and maintaining detoxification.


The first step in preparation is having the desire to detoxify as well as a firm grasp of what detoxifying means. It means changing your diet and perhaps undergoing some discomfort when the process begins. It means having a commitment to seeing it through.

Make things easier through diet One of the prime causes of a toxic body is diet. It is hard to avoid toxins found in the air and in water, but we can do much to eliminate them from our diets. To improve your diet, eat less of some foods, and more of others.

Processed sugar and flour, processed foods, and other "junk foods" should be eliminated. Processed foods contain many additives and sweeteners, which can be toxic, and overly refined foods can "get stuck" in the intestinal tract, forming a sort of "paper-mache‚" crust within. Needless to say, this makes it difficult for nutrients to be absorbed. This crust also slows down transit time-the time from ingestion to excretion. This is important, because the longer partially digested food stays in the body, the better chance there is that carcinogens and toxins will be absorbed.

Eat less meat, as meat is more difficult to digest and contains unhealthy fat. It also may contain xenoestrogens (foreign estrogens) as a result of animal growth hormone shots.

Eat more raw fruits and vegetables. They supply live enzymes, which ensure you get more bang for your nutritional buck. The enzymes found in raw foods help the body's digestive enzymes break down the foods we eat to free up the nutrients within. Helping the body's digestive enzymes means they do not have to work as hard, which frees up energy for other important tasks.

As well, after the age of 40, levels of digestive enzymes begin to decrease. This means you do not digest food as well as you might, which can result in getting less nutrition, but also in more waste material remaining in the digestive tract.


Loosen and Flush through Diet and Supplements

What you need is something that will dissolve the "paper-mache‚" and sweep it out of the intestinal tract. Fortunately, substances that do this are easily found. Psyllium, a type of soluble fiber, is an excellent intestinal cleanser. Because it is soluble it carries water and can help lubricate and loosen encrusted matter. It also absorbs other toxins and waste materials and escorts them out of the body. Psyllium, and other fibers, is an important part of any detoxification program.

Herbs are also important in detoxification. Gentle, natural laxatives, such as cascara sagrada, soften caked food, making it easier to eliminate. Black walnut hulls also help do this, as well as having the extra advantage of being an antiparasitic. Licorice root, according to Planta Medica (50: 1984), may help the liver detoxify. Marshmallow and shavegrass are classified as lithotriptics by herbalists, which mean that they dissolve and discharge urinary and gallbladder stones.

Drinking a lot of water is also important. Water flushes toxins and waste from the body and transports nutrients to where they are needed. Try to drink eight to ten glasses of water a day.

Stimulate your Body Systems through Exercise and "Skin Brushing"

Exercise stimulates body systems so that metabolic efficiency is stepped up. This includes the systems that are integral to cleansing, such as the digestive tract, lymphatic system, and liver. Bouncing on a rebounder-a "mini-trampoline"-for 5 to 15 minutes a day can help drain the lymphatic system. This stimulates the lymph nodes, which start to drain toxins into the bloodstream and out of the body. Brushing your skin is also helpful. This also stimulates the lymphatic system to discharge toxins. After rising in the morning, use a brush with stiff bristles and brush the skin.

Strengthen the Immune System through Stress Management

Stress affects us physically. It weakens the immune system, robs the body of important nutrients, and hinders digestion. Try using stress reduction techniques before meals: muscle relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, or listening to relaxing music.

Deep Cleaning through Enemas

Depending on your own feelings, you can take intestinal cleaning further by using enemas or colonic irrigation. Enemas clean the lower 12 inches (36.5 cm) of the intestinal tract and can be done in the home. Colonic irrigation cleans the entire colon, but should be performed by a health practitioner. Sanitary procedures and ingredients are essential.


Keep it Clean through Lifestyle

Continue your "preparatory" diet of eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains and staying away from sugars, processed foods, and meat. A daily fiber supplement also may be helpful. This will limit the intestinal buildup of toxins and "paper-mache." Also continue exercising and do all you can to avoid stress.

Introduce the Good Guys through Probiotics

Our intestinal tract contains a great number of "friendly bacteria," which are bacteria that aid the digestive tract and help to keep us healthy. These substances help detoxify noxious substances, help maintain a proper pH, and act as natural antibiotics. You can aid the bacteria by either providing more of them or providing them with the food they need to be healthy. The bacteria themselves can be a lactobacillus acidophilus or lactobacillus bifidus; the food is known as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). You can also help the friendly bacteria by consuming yogurt.

Article on "Herbal Fiberblend"

The article "Detoxification: The Complete Package" is reproduced with the permission of AIM International
©, 1997 - 2004 by AIM International.

Herbs used in Detoxification | The Liver | Psyllium | Spring Cleaning
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