DETOXING: Everything you need to know to get cleaned up and back to better health
We have all heard the word detox thrown around but what does it entail and why do we need it? Some people conjure images of fasting and supplements, but it is simpler than you think and vital to your health. Our bodies are constantly being bombarded with toxins from the air we breathe to the water we drink and of course, more importantly the food we eat. Simply put, we all need to detox our bodies periodically. Even if you are eating the best diet in the world detoxing seasonally will help rid you of accumulated toxins in the body and keep you on track with your health and wellness goals. Are you feeling sluggish, restless, congested? Do you have brain fog, constipation, and or diarrhea? Are you constantly bloated and can’t figure out why? Were you eating great at the beginning of the year but went into a downward COVID eating spiral and can’t find out your way out? If you answered yes than its definitely time for you to detox.
The best way to detoxify is by incorporating detoxing foods into your diet on a daily basis as well as planning a deeper detox,14 days long to include a few days of juice fasting. The process of a deep detox essentially shuts down your digestive system to give it a break for a few days while you continue to absorb plenty of nutrients through Juicing fruits and vegetables. I do this detox 4 times per year seasonally winter, springs, summer, and fall. This helps me to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the year and make better choices when I am out at restaurants or on vacation. The digestive process is extremely taxing on the body and when we don’t provide our bodies with enough nutrients it begins to develop chronic disease. Detoxifying helps your digestive system, and your liver to cleanse and clear out the garbage of the past.
Let’s start at the end and work our way backwards. Having daily bowel movements is extremely important to ensuring you are detoxifying your body. If you are not having at least one BM per day you are constipated and need to increase your consumption of high-water content foods i.e., fruits and veggies while decreasing processed frozen and fast foods. When you are constipated the stool stays too long inside of the large intestines and becomes toxic to your body. So with the end in mind start incorporating nutritious fruits and vegetables into your diet daily as well as fiber to ensure those BM occur daily.
Although food it the most important step there are some other great ways to detoxify your body.
Halotherapy is a treatment for clearing the lungs in which you sit in an enclosed space and breath in salty air that is pumped through the ventilation system. This is called the dry method of halotherapy. A machine called a halo generator grinds the salt into microscopic particles and then releases them into the air. The salt particles are inhaled through the lungs and absorbed through the skin. After inhalation the particles absorb toxins and allergens from the lungs. Additionally, the process breaks up mucus and reduces inflammation. The particles of salt work on your skin by absorbing bacteria and other impurities. Whenever my children get sick, they always seem to get a wet cough so we use Halotherapy in conjunction with herbs, juicing, and supplements to return to normal health. You can expect to cough quite a bit and have a runny nose during the process which is a good thing. Halotherapy would be beneficial for people with chronic respiratory conditions and clinical studies have shown that is an effective natural treatment for allergies, asthma, sinusitis, and other respiratory conditions. You may be thinking, but Dr. Michelle why don’t you save money and go to the beach? Great question, the salt at the beach is not dry as it is in a halotherapy room. The salt that is in the air is due to the evaporation process of the ocean. Once a salt particle becomes saturated it can no longer be absorbent meaning that you are not getting all of the benefits needed for detoxing the lungs. So go to the beach and have fun, it’s healthy for you to get outside and get that Vitamin D just know that it doesn’t come close to the detoxing benefits of Halotherapy. Google it and you may find you have one in your own town.
Tongue Scraping– Ayurveda is one of the world oldest methods of holistic medicine originating in India. One of the practices of Ayurveda which is excellent for detoxification is the practice of daily tongue scraping. Tongue scraping eliminates any build-up on the tongue which can cause bad breath and an overgrowth of bacteria. When you remove the coating on the tongue you increase your capacity to taste food which will make it more enjoyable. Tongue scraping is by far the easiest of the steps to detoxification. The best method is to use a scraper that is gold, copper or silver, tin or brass. Once you have brushed your teeth you take the scraper which is rounded in the middle and bring it from the back of the tongue forward to the front of the tongue removing the white coating on the tongue as you go. Starting a practice of tongue scraping can help you taste your food more fully, help bring you more mental clarity, and remove toxins from your body that can linger on your tongue.
Dry Brushing– We have all seen those big hard brushes in bathrooms and wondered about their use. The bristles are not super soft like a loofah or sponge so why use it? I started dry brushing a few years ago and the results were spectacular, so much so that it is a practice that I use daily. What you will noticed is that if you start your day out by dry brushing my skin the body wakes up like taking a shot of expresso. You will awaken your entire body and feel refreshed and invigorated. Dry Brushing is another Ayurvedic practice and is seen as a powerful way to remove cellular waste products on the top layer of the skin. It enhances blood circulation and stimulates the skin and lymphatic system and as an added bonus it is also a very easy way to detoxify the body. Dry Brushing should be done in the morning before you shower so that you can rinse off all of the dead skin. Using gloves or a dry brush, massage vigorously keeping the direction of the stroke moving towards the heart. The stomach is much more sensitive so use circular motions with lower pressure or avoid this area completely. Use long strokes on the arms and legs moving the brush towards the heart. Start from your feet and move up to the torso and neck. If you feel a certain area is sensitive then listen to your body and back off the pressure while in other areas you can increase the pressure. Integrating this into your daily routine can help you detoxify the largest organ of your body and allow you to start your day off with boundless energy.
Coffee Enema– When my friend was battling breast cancer, she stumbled upon the Gerson Institute and shared her new found hope with me. The Gerson institute was founded by Dr. Max Gerson. Through his years of research, he had found a way to reactivate the bodies healing system in chronic and regenerative diseases. Unbelievable as it may sound, he published his research back in 1958. The Gerson method is not overly complex but should be undertaken under the supervision of a medical professional and you can find more information on this at Gerson.org. Coffee enemas stimulate the liver which is the main organ that we use for detoxification. Bile from the liver, facilitates fat digestion and dissolves toxins which are then removed through the body via the colon. The bile duct will then relax, opening the duct to produce a large amount of bile from the gallbladder into the small intestines. This will allow the liver to cleanse by removing toxins quickly. The coffee in the enema contains theophylline and theobromine which dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow to the liver. This will lead to an increase in production of GST glutathione- s-transferase which is an enzyme which detoxifies the body by binding to toxins and transporting them out of the body in the bile. There is a great quantity of information out there on the best practices and methods for coffee enema. What I have found personally to be critical in the process is that the coffee must be organic and the water used must be distilled. At first, it may be difficult to hold the coffee within for the recommended 10-15 minutes. This will improve over time. It is recommended to start with a regular water enema which can be retained for about 5 minutes allowing for whatever is in the rectum to be removed first, making more space for the coffee enema. Electrolytes are lost in the process so balance a coffee enema with a fresh Juice. Coffee enemas are not for everyone and you should consult your naturopath about your current health and ability to use coffee enemas to further your detoxification.
Oil Pulling– Oil pulling is another Ayurvedic technique of cleansing the mouth of toxins. Your mouth is full of bacteria and that bacteria accumulates and creates a bio film in the mouth known as plaque. Plaque causes tooth decay and gum disease. Oil pulling activates the salivary enzymes which absorb toxins from your mouth which helps to detoxify your body. It can be done before or after tongue scraping but I like to do it before so I can scrape off any residue from my tongue afterwards. The process is quite simple. You take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth like mouth wash. It might start off firm just chew it for a bit and it will turn into a liquid. You will then swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes and then spit into the trash not the sink. Spitting it into the sink or toilet will cause you plumbing problems down the road as coconut oil solidifies into a solid after time. I found that at first, I had headaches doing the coconut oil pulling but after some time I was able to push past that detox symptom.
Detox Bath– This is, by far, my favorite way to detox my body because it is so relaxing. When you soak in a tub of warm water with salts and oils the mixture will work together to draw toxins out from the body through your skin. I like to take a detox bath after I have dry brushed my skin so the pores are open. An excellent recipe for a detox bath is 1 cup of Epsom salt, ½ cup of aluminum free baking soda, and several drops of lavender oil. Once you get into the tub its best to stay in for at least 20 minutes to give the salts an opportunity to work. When you get out of the tub you may notice that the water is murky, this is the toxins that have been removed from your body. Aside from the benefit of removing toxins it’s also very good for your mind and spirit to slow down and relax.
Infrared Saunas– Sauna or “Sow-na” as the Finnish people call it is an excellent way to simultaneously relax and detoxify the body through the skin via perspiration. In Finland the Sauna was known as the poor man’s apothecary and according to some estimates the practice in Finland is over 2000 years old. The infrared sauna is a relatively new invention in comparison being invented in the mid 1970’s and then really honed and perfected over the last 20 years. The rays of the infrared sauna are able to penetrate the skin further than a traditional sauna causing your pores to open and sweat out of toxins on a deeper level. It is extremely important to hydrate during this process to replenish your body. Some people report weight loss however this is just water weight and is easily gained back after hydrating.
Possible side-effects from detoxing
Detoxification is excellent for the body and allows you to purge impurities from your system decreasing the burden your other body systems have in carrying around unwanted toxins however it can be a challenging process. Detoxification can be a jarring process for the body and the most common ailment is called the Detox Flu. It mimics the symptoms of the flu and typically happens in the first 2-4 days of a cleanse. Many people stop their detox at this point but this is part of the process and I encourage you to carefully maintain your regimen and wait for your symptoms to pass. Your body is trying to cope the best way it can. It may seem counter intuitive that you would feel sicker while you detox but this is a common symptom. When participating in a deep detoxing its best to meditate, take naps, and try not to exert yourself physically or mentally. Over the years I have seen so many fad diets and miracle pills which claim to detoxify the body in this way or that way. People spend hundreds of dollars on a mountain of supplements with little results. This is because detoxing the body is misunderstood. There is no magic pill, or a quick fix. It’s about your lifestyle, each and every day and making detoxification a part of your routine.
Even though I am conscious about the foods I eat and the supplements that I take I still detox my body seasonly to help keep myself on track with a healthy lifestyle. In this fast paced, fast food world we live in it is so easy to backslide into old habits. Most of us were raised on the very foods that are hurting us and causing chronic conditions. They don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing. It’s a cycle that is hard to break but when we detox periodically, we put self-care first which helps to keep us balanced and healthy all year long.
If you would like to be part of the next guided detox January 2021 please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Michelle Trias
Dr. Michelle Trias is a graduate from the University of Central Florida and completed her Doctorate in traditional naturopathy from the New Eden School of Natural Health and Herbal studies. Whether it’s digestive discomfort, skin conditions, cholesterol, or fatigue, natural foods and herbs are the way back to better health. Dr. Michelle is on a mission to help you heal your gut and help you take control of your health and wellness.
You can find Dr. Michelle by visiting www.mynaturowellness.com where you can schedule an appointment to talk about your health goals.