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Detoxification and Cleansing

Our bodies invest an enormous amount of energy in removing the chemical byproducts of normal metabolic processes. One estimate is that 80% of our basal energy expenditure goes to detoxification and cleansing. This process is what allows for order and efficiency in all of our bodily systems. Disease and a loss of well-being will result when the detoxification process is impaired. The most dramatic examples of impaired detoxification processes are end stage renal disease and end stage liver disease, (cirrhosis). As in all biological phenomena these processes happen along a continuum that begins with optimal function and ends with total malfunction. Conventional medicine addresses these problems when they manifest as overt diseases. Integrative Medicine aims to optimize the detoxification processes in order to prevent illness and maximize health throughout the life span.

In addition to the production of normal metabolic byproducts we are exposed to external chemicals that are not produced by the body. These are referred to as xenobiotics. External toxins include heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, agricultural and industrial chemicals, and medications. Foods may be injurious because of individual sensitivity or because of unbalanced nutritional content. Microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites can contaminate the food we eat. Environmental extremes may be toxic. Finally, the emotional experiences of a lifetime may produce changes in our internal chemical environment that are permissive to illness and disease.

Amazingly, our bodies have the resources to deal with these exposures. Most of us do well despite a sub optimal diet, a toxic environment and a stressful life. Supporting the detoxification and cleansing processes will improve our health and reduce our susceptibility to illness. People who are suffering from a chronic health problem benefit from detoxification support. Their natural ability to heal is supported. In some cases the intoxicant that is contributing to their illness can be removed.

What follows is a brief discussion of strategies to support detoxification and cleansing.

Avoidance Strategies:

There are strategies for the home, work place and automobile. They involve air purification, and mold and dust mitigation. It should be obvious that it is desirable to minimize toxins in the environment from cleaning materials, pesticides and herbicides.

Individuals may have food intolerances, food sensitivities or true food allergy. The current strategies I use for identifying foods that may be a problem include Serum Allergy Testing, (IGG and IGE), Autonomic Response Testing and the Elimination Diet.


It has been said that, “the solution to pollution is dilution”. Adequate hydration with high quality water is essential to good health. As an example, people who drink 50-60 ounces of water per day have a much lower incidence of bladder cancer and stroke.

Diet and Nutrition:

Simplification of diet supports detoxification processes in the body. I commonly recommend a supplement that is hypoallergenic and has nutritional constituents that support the detoxification enzyme systems in the liver, (UltraClear Plus). When the supplement is used with an elimination diet protocol many people experience a marked improvement in a variety of health problems.
I generally do not recommend strict fasting.
General principles of diet include using organic foods, avoidance of overeating, avoidance of refined foods, (foods high in sugar, starchy carbohydrate and saturated fats). There are many supplements that may aid in detoxification. These include Vitamin C, Carotenoids, Vitamin E as Mixed Tocopherols and Mixed Tocotrienols), B Vitamins, Zinc, Iron, Selenium, Coenzyme Q10, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Methionine, Taurine, Sulphur.

The ones I recommend most often include Mixed Tocotrienols, R-Lipoic Acid, Glycophospholipids, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine

“Green Foods” such as Nutri-One, (Natura), can be very useful in a detoxification program

Herbal Therapy:

A qualified herbalist should individualize herbal therapy. The therapeutic program should take into account the unique constitution of the individual, background health problems, the potential for interaction with prescription medications and other nutritional supplements. There are many possible therapeutic agents. Some commonly used herbs are Burdock root, Chamomile, Dandelion root, Ginseng, Milk Thistle, Nettles, Red Clover, Sage, Uva Ursi, and Yellow Dock.

Exercise Therapy:

Regular exercise will improve detoxification processes. It does not have to be extreme. Walking will do. Yoga practice can support detoxification as well.

Baths and Saunas:

The idea behind the benefit of baths and saunas is that the heat will increase blood flow to the skin, create a sweat and facilitate the elimination of toxins through the skin. The use of baths and saunas for detoxification can be very effective if basic safety measures are followed. A person with cardiovascular disease or diabetes should consult a health care practitioner before using these techniques. A gradual increase in time and temperature is recommended. Respect you experience. Should you feel uncomfortable; back off.

  • Baths are simple and inexpensive.
  • Start with a shower. Many people will scrub the body with a brush or loofa sponge to remove debris.
  • Fill the bath with water at a temperature of 106-108 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Gradually increase the time of the soak from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.
  • The bath experience may be improved by using two cups of Epsom Salts and or essential oils such as lavender, (10-20) drops. Other oils that have a desirable effect include rosemary and tangerine oils.
  • Drinking a diaphoretic, (sweat inducing), tea prior to the bath will improve the experience. Teas such as elder, yarrow, peppermint, boneset and ginger can be used.
  • Drinking water during the bath is recommended.
  • Taking 1-5 grams of Vitamin C can improve the detoxification process.
  • After the bath wash off with a shower.
  • A bath can be done 1-3 times per week.

Sauna is a very effective detoxification adjunct. Individuals with cardiovascular problems should proceed with their physicians’ advice. A sauna taken 2-3 times per week is a very effective support therapy.

Chelation Therapy:

Chelation therapy may be useful if there is a documented heavy metal burden. It should be done under the supervision of a qualified health professional. There are many strategies for using chelating agents. I favor a slow and gradual process for most people as I think it is safer and less likely to cause side effects.

Lymphatic Enhancement Therapy:

This is a unique therapy, which combines manual techniques and gentle application of a tri-modal therapy, (light, sound and microcurrent). It supports drainage of congested areas of the limbs and torso. It helps to regulate autonomic nervous system and endocrine system balance. This therapy is provided at our offices.

Our bodies have developed an elaborate system for eliminating unnecessary and undesirable substances. Common sense in applying the principles of good nutrition, regular exercise and restorative rest will allow the natural process of cleansing to occur. Individuals with health problems should seek the advice and supervision of a health care professional when more extensive measures are called for.

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