Frequently Asked Questions
What is a detox?
A detox is a cleansing technique that is designed to encourage the body to remove toxins. Toxins are natural and/or synthetic substances that accumulate in tissues and organ systems of the body. It is well known that eating a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fats will lead to blockages in the arteries. Similarly, mucus, other organic materials and inorganic chemicals accumulate in various organs and tissues of the body, causing system malfunction eventually leading to serious illness.
Every year 64,000 people die prematurely from cardiopulmonary induced air pollution heart attacks. - World Resource Institute 1996
Every year 7 million people are hospitalized for exposure to water contaminant. - National Resource Defense Council 1999
Every year millions develop chronic diseases related to poor nutrition that can be avoided. - Edward C. Knoop, the Surgeon General of the United States 1995.
The exposure to toxic chemicals is a large source of irritation for the body. Pharmaceuticals, herbicides, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals, pollution, preservatives, dyes, fillers, cleaners, disinfectants and processed foods represent only a small percentage of the host of substances that we are exposed to on a hourly basis. After years of exposure to these agents the body can no longer keep up with their elimination, so they get re-circulated back into the bloodstream, damage the liver and other organs only to be stored in fat and many other parts of the body.
As toxins build up throughout the body, disease silently moves in. The GI tract develops micro-ulcerations, acid imbalances, bacteria and fungal overgrowth, lesions, hyper-secretion of mucus, and many other problems. The liver develops fatty acid saturation and as these vital cells die bile flow becomes inhibited making the digestion of fats more difficult (so, no matter what you eat you gain weight!). The kidneys develop sluggish filtration causing the blood stream to stay acidic effecting overall body chemistry, immunity and mood. The skin becomes pale, wrinkled, and gray and loses its overall glow as the cells accumulate toxins in the fatty tissues. And so, disease progresses damaging all organ systems of the body.
When to detox?
In a toxic environment, detoxification is a matter of survival. In order to reverse serious illness, toxic accumulations must be removed to encourage healing. A healing plan that disregards the use of a serious cleansing technique may result in the gradual removal of some toxins, but in most cases detoxification is extremely slow or non-existent. The use of a detox technique can make the difference between a progressive healing plan and endless frustration. Detox catalyzes healing where medications, diet, yoga, exercise and meditation often fall short.
A good detox routine should occur 2 to 4 times a year. The Native American Indians would perform a ritualized fast and sweat lodge ceremony with the change of seasons.
As the external world changes, so does the internal environment. As the planet moves toward an environmental crisis it will become more obvious that we are integrally connected to our surroundings. It is self-evident that the world around us is in need of nurturing. The greatest gift we can give each other is to heal ourselves. Now is the time to detox. RIGHT NOW!
Where to detox?
Detoxification is a challenging endeavor. Often, people leave a detox with the feeling that something has changed within, that life has shifted. It is important to find a nurturing environment that is supportive of your challenges. If you can perform your cleanse during a vacation or on weekends take the opportunity. If this is not possible pace yourself and clear space at home to relax. Turn off the TV, unplug the phone, light candles, burn incense and spend some quiet time alone.
Do not involve individuals in your detox that are not supportive or understanding of your need to change. A detoxification is a quest or journey deep into the forgotten places within. In reality, only you can fully identify with your healing process. A community or group setting that is performing the same detox is most encouraging. It's nice to know you're not the only one with the need to purge. Stay close to home, rest and try to observe rather than interact. Detox is a process of regeneration.
Who should detox?
In spite of common thought, not just anyone should jump into a detox. All things that are challenging and life altering are preceded by a calling or desire to rediscover the self. While cleanses can be extremely healing, it is important to balance a detox with periods of rebuilding and strengthening using other techniques (i.e. yoga, meditation, supplements, etc.). Detox without a period of recovery will eventually weaken your immune system and your integrity.
The "detoxer" must be prepared to accept that there will be a "healing crisis." My mother always said, " things usually get worse before they get better." While on a cleanse the body will purge. The release of toxins will bring up physical and emotional trauma that will be reflected in certain symptoms. A healing crisis can last a few days and produce these symptoms:
2. Headaches and other aches
4. Skin eruptions
5. Emotional irritability
7. Temporary constipation or diarrhea
8. Temporary loss of menstruation
10. Muscular tension
In most cases, it is important not to use drugs to suppress these symptoms, but instead, to encourage the release of toxins from the body. These symptoms are an expression of release and must come out. After all, whether emotional or physical, a release may not always be pleasurable, but it does lead to a change for the best.
If you are terminally ill, in the last trimester of pregnancy or emotionally unstable it is best to do a cleanse under close supervision of a holistic physician. Detoxification is as much a personal as planetary journey. We will all eventually have to find our way back to health, if we wish to be happy. It's just a matter of time.
How to detox?
It is important to choose a cleanse that has incorporated some element of balance and flexibility. Select a cleansing technique that is not to extreme, but not too subtle. There must be some degree of challenge built into the technique if it is going to be worth your time. The most powerful life experiences involve a little struggle.
Work closely with a qualified holistic health practitioner that is familiar with the particular detoxification technique. The practitioner may be helpful in choosing the most effective method. They can advise you on some contraindications that may be important to you condition. If there are any problems, the practitioner should be able to make adjustments that may make your detox experience more powerful. It is always nice to have a guide on the healing path, especially since you are doing all the work.
There are many areas of the body that one can detox. The GI tract, liver, gallbladder, skin, lymphatic system, lungs, and kidneys are usually the organ systems in most need of a cleanse. The 21 day detox is a general cleanse that will catalyze regeneration in all of these systems. It is a technique that does not require expensive supplements, drastic diet changes or unusual machines. This cleanse gets progressively more challenging and is designed to work for any body.
You may or may not notice immediate improvements. In some cases, there have been total elimination of symptoms with just one cleanse. Just keep in mind that internal healing may be taking place even though there is no apparent external change.
If you make the effort to detox it will have an effect on you life. Change is often subtle, but very powerful.
May you be well,
Richard DeAndrea, MD, ND