Friday, March 31, 2017

The Do's and Don'ts of Detoxification

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Many associate Spring and Fall with a time to detox and cleanse. Although detoxification can be a wonderful healing tool, it is not for everyone and can actually be harmful if done inappropriately or by the wrong person.

The body often struggles in eliminating environmental toxins, especially when the exposure is high or prolonged. Detoxification can be an effective way of decreasing the body's burden of environmental toxins such as heavy metals and chemicals.

The theory behind detoxification is that the body consumes (through food, air, soil, water, personal care products, household and garden products, the environment and the senses) substances, particles and energies that it can't always process and eliminate. These toxic waste products, when not eliminated, build up in the body and can contribute to symptoms and disease. The body has six main routes of elimination of toxins: bowel movements, urine, breath, sweat, menses or ejaculate and voice.

The aim of detoxification is two fold:
  1. Reduce or eliminate a person's exposure or consumption of food, substances or energies that do not contribute to health.
  2. Assist the body in the removal of toxins through one of the routes of elimination.

The following are some detoxification guidelines:
  • First rule of thumb, only those in a state of excess are candidates for detoxification. If you are deficient (chronic illness, recovering from chemotherapy or radiation, young, weak or frail) then detoxification is typically not advised for you. You probably need to build your system up, not detoxify.
  • During any detox (ideally all the time) ensure that you drink adequate water, get sufficient sleep and engage in regular exercise and breathing or meditation to assist in moving toxins out of the body.
  • Spending time outside supports detoxification and healing. It is advised to reduce your exposure to cell phones, television, computers and generally to external "noise" and EMF radiation as part of your detox program.
  • The body part that is most important to detox is the one that is struggling or showing signs of toxicity. For example, if your are constipated it is important to support your bowels; if you have shortness of breath, asthma or environmental allergies you want to support your lung function; if your skin is breaking out or has a number of moles or discolouration you want to focus on detoxifying the skin.
  • If you are dealing with any concerning symptoms or a specific disease or condition it is always recommended to work with a naturopathic doctor or other trained health care professional before engaging in a detoxification program -- especially if doing so using herbs or other supplements.
The different types of detoxification include:
  • Dietary. The most gentle "detox" that is safe for most people involves adopting a clean diet:

    • removing any junk or processed food
    • eliminating food intolerances and sugar
    • reducing alcohol and caffeine 
    • increasing fruits and vegetables
    • choosing healthy sources of protein (legumes, nuts and seeds, lean protein)
    • ensuring adequate water intake.
  • Saunas or Alkaline Baths. Sweating out toxins is an effective and safe way to assist in the
    removal of environmental toxins and chemicals. It also provides relief for the kidneys and can improve the overall tone, texture and health of the skin.  Infra-red saunas are preferred over conventional saunas. If you haven't tried the alkaline bath salts, come into our clinic for a free sample of the salts (during the month of May).
  • Homeopathic Detox. There are a number of homeopathic options designed to stimulate detoxification at a cellular level in a gentle and effective way. Ask your naturopathic doctor for recommendations specific to you.
  • Herbal Detox. Herbs can either provide a gentle detox or can initiate a more intense detoxification process, depending on the herbs chosen, the daily dose and the organ systems involved. It is always best to initiate the detoxification of one or maybe two complementary systems simultaneously. Off-the-counter herbal products that work on detoxifying multiple organ systems at once are seldom advised and can cause more harm than good.  Herbs are truly remarkable in their healing and detoxification ability, yet it is advised to work with a naturopathic doctor versus self-prescribing.
There are many different ways to detox. As a general rule of thumb, the more gentle the detox the more it can be done for an extended period of time; the more intense the detox the shorter the time frame.

The idea goal is to establish a lifestyle where what you ingest on a daily basis you can process and eliminate. To figure what type of detoxification is advised for you, talk to one of the naturopathic doctors in our clinic.