Getting it all out: help your body detoxify
For many years, the term “detox” referred to breaking free of alcohol
or drug addiction. Nowadays, detox means removing all toxins from the body
— not just poisons from substance abuse, but also heavy metals, chemical additives,
allergens, and other toxins in our food, water — even the air we breathe.
Conventional medicine tends to be skeptical of “new age” practices like
body detox, but detox methods have been around a lot longer than traditional practitioners
might realize. Many ancient cultures embraced natural body detox, with Native American
sweat lodges and Indian Ayurveda (panchakarma) being just two of the methods
that survive today. But if your conventional practitioner dismisses your questions
about how to maintain effective body detoxification, don’t take it personally.
Preventive therapy is still an up-and-coming idea in standard medicine, which centers
on “rescuing” the body from illness. In effect, the conventional perspective
says wait until you get sick, and then we can help you. But I know that most people
would rather stay well now than get well soon!
That’s why effective, ongoing detoxification is so powerful: it truly helps
prevent illness later in life. Once you begin to support your detox ability, your
body’s “normal state” tends to shift toward health instead of
inching toward illness. Like most of those in functional medicine, we believe that
effective, natural detoxification can improve your quality of life and prevent many
kinds of disease — and it’s particularly important in our stress-filled
and toxin-laden world. There are practical, proactive steps you can take to support
your natural ability to detoxify, and to keep toxins from entering your system in
the first place.
Your body is detoxifying right now
Your body is detoxifying all the time. The natural processes of metabolism create
streams of waste, and we’re also ingesting, inhaling, and absorbing pathogens,
chemicals, allergens, and other toxins. Our bodies work continually to deactivate
and eliminate these harmful substances.
Natural detox is a collection of responses that occur throughout your body, literally
without pause. And the human body is remarkably successful at disassembling and
removing the majority of toxic substances and metabolic wastes.
Too many toxins = lots of potential symptoms
Usually, it’s only when our finely-tuned detox systems can’t keep up
that we see problems. Diet and lifestyle choices can influence our ability to detoxify,
but so can genetic make-up and extended exposure to toxic elements. If toxins build
up inside the body, a wide range of effects are possible, with some potentially
Possible symptoms of internal toxicity
insomnia or sleepiness
Research shows a troubling link between the impaired ability to detoxify and a number
of diseases, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, and chronic
fatigue/immune dysfunction syndrome. But many other conditions are also related
to toxicity in the body: thyroid dysfunction, arthritis, heart disease, eczema,
allergies, asthma, cirrhosis, fibrocystic breasts, gastritis, pancreatitis, multiple
sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease... and the list goes on.
Did you know?
A common sign of excess toxins is unwanted weight gain. See what you can do to clear your body.
Detoxification imbalance is often at the root of a woman's symptoms and health issues.
It can also underlie other internal imbalances, including those involving digestion
and inflammation — as well as a woman’s overall hormone balance.
The Women's Health Network perspective on detox
Because our modern world exposes us to new poisons and substances — both naturally
occurring and manmade — we see an increasing need for efficient and effective
detox. Our experience has helped us develop a comprehensive approach to supporting
detox for women. Healthy detoxification is based on two simple principles:
- Provide a steady supply of the raw materials your body needs (food, key nutrients,
water, and other fluids).
- Create living and working conditions that enhance your body’s ability to manage
We advise patients to eat, drink, work, play, and even rest, in ways that support
their natural detoxification processes. Making smart choices that help you detoxify
well will have a direct impact on both your short- and long-term health.
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Try our guided at-home program for relief from gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation,
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Related to this article:
References & further reading
on natural body detoxification
Last Modified Date: 04/18/2011