We spend a lot of time filling ourselves with food and drink, and relatively little time giving ourselves a well-deserved break. Not getting enough sleep and exercise, worry, and poor diet all effect our immune system and inhibit the body’s ability to rid itself of toxins. Even the medicines and supplements that we take for the treatment of disease can, in some instances, create a toxic build up.
Detoxification, the process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins and excesses from the body, can help improve mental and physical functioning. By eliminating harmful contaminants, the mind and body are better able to heal and return to health. Another good reason for detoxifying is in preparation for taking herbs or other supplements. Dietary supplements, herbs, food and even pharmaceuticals have a more profound effect after the body’s internal systems have been cleansed.
Detoxification can be a useful part of an integrative treatment plan for many mental health disorders. In order to determine what type of detoxification method is best, goals, lifestyle, and current state of health should all be considered. Whatever type of detoxification is used, it should be undertaken with strict and ongoing medical supervision.
There are a wide variety of detoxification therapies, from therapeutic fasting to intravenously administered drugs. Some detoxification methods are more intrusive and less natural than others. The length of time and degree of detoxification matters, too.
The major detoxification therapy categories are detoxification diets, vitamin detoxification therapy, colon therapy, chelation therapy, hyperthermia therapy, and fasting.
Practiced for centuries by cultures around the world — including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems — detoxification is about resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out. By removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding your body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimum health.
How does detoxification work?
Basically, detoxification means cleansing the blood. This is done by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and skin. However, when these systems are compromised, impurities aren’t properly filtered and the body is adversely affected.
Detoxification works because it addresses the needs of individual cells, the smallest units of human life. A detox program can help the body’s natural cleansing process by:
• Resting the organs through fasting;
• Stimulating the liver to drive toxins from the body;
• Promoting elimination through the intestines, kidneys, and skin;
• Improving circulation of the blood; and
• Refueling the body with healthy nutrients.
How do you know if you need to detoxify?
Many experts suggest that everyone should detox at least once a year. However, they also caution against detoxing for nursing mothers, children, and patients with chronic degenerative diseases, cancer or tuberculosis. Consult your healthcare practitioner if you have questions about whether detoxing is right for you.
Today, with more toxins in the environment than ever, it’s critical to detox. Many people choose to detoxify for symptoms such as:
• Unexplained fatigue
• Sluggish elimination
• Irritated skin
• Low-grade infection
• Puffy eyes or bags under the eyes
• Menstrual problems
• Mental confusion
How do you start a detox?
First, lighten up your toxin load. Eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars, and saturated fats, all of which act as toxins in the body and are obstacles to your healing process. Also, minimize use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products (cleansers, shampoos, deodorants, and toothpastes), and substitute natural alternatives.
Another hindrance to good health is stress, which triggers your body to release stress hormones into your system. While these hormones can provide the “adrenaline rush” to win a race or meet a deadline, in large amounts they create toxins and slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver. Yoga, Qigong and meditation are simple and effective ways to relieve stress by resetting your physical and mental reactions to the inevitable stress life will bring.