Just as factories and industries produce products and pollution, so, too, does life.
Unfortunately, the process of life also produces direct waste products and forces us to come into contact with a variety of chemicals, radiation and stress that have an adverse impact.
We're all involved with detoxifying things constantly without even paying attention. Just as we breathe and our heart beats, our bodies are busily ridding themselves of waste products and toxins. Just as a factory wouldn't function for long without the waste being removed, so too, do we need to have our toxins and wastes cleaned up and removed.
One of the theories of aging is that it's progressive damage due to these toxins that build up. We've all seen sickly 50 year olds and 80 year olds full of vim and vigor. Everybody knows that a "healthy lifestyle" contributes to that vigor throughout life.
So how do we keep our toxic burden down and achieve that goal?
We were designed to run on certain things that are natural, and yet it seems we're running instead on artificial everything. What will the long-term consequences be? We need to help ourselves get rid of the burden of those byproducts.
Who should detoxify?
Frequently, folks will come to the office with a variety of chronic aches and pains. Sometimes the complaint will be food allergies or sensitivities. People taking a large variety of medications for a long time may build up metabolites to those drugs that the body has trouble getting rid of.
Abruptly stopping a drug that's been used for a long time can also cause withdrawal symptoms.
Don't undertake this without your doctor's knowledge, agreement and support.
Obesity is usually involved with toxicity as well. Fat can store a lot of toxins, which can, in turn, make it difficult to lose the fat.
The organs of elimination are the: colon, kidneys, skin, lungs, liver and the circulation and lymphatic systems.
The colon is generally the first organ approached in a detoxification protocol.
The liver circulates bile acids through the intestinal tract; it's another big player in getting rid of the waste. If the colon is blocked and not functioning properly, wastes from the body aren't promptly eliminated and problems begin to occur. Even those with a good bowel movement once daily can have up to five pounds of waste in the folds of the colon. Cleansing the colon with herbs and colon hydrotherapy is a great way to open the channel.
Dietary changes: The first thing to remember while doing a cleansing is that it's important to only take in purified water and clean, organic foods without excessive preservatives.
Eliminate refined sugar, caffeine, soda, alcohol, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, highly-refined carbohydrates, foods laden with pesticides, processed meat, artificial and refined oils, processed meats and drugs.
Herbal cleansing programs: Milk thistle supports the liver, while dandelion stimulates bile acid flow and acts as a gentle laxative. Beets reduce damaging fats in the liver; artichoke leaf stimulates secretion of bile and protects the liver. Mullein is an expectorant to clear the lungs. Burdock removes toxins that cause skin problems. Corn silk is a diuretic to flush the kidneys. Red clover is another expectorant and helps purify the blood. Larch gum helps the lymphatic system. Hawthorne berry helps the heart and adrenal glands.
Colon cleansing herbs also include aloe, rhubarb and triphala. Magnesium helps stimulate the bowel, equal parts of soluble and insoluble fiber are also important. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils, flax and borage oil are also important.
Herxheimer reactions: When toxins are mobilized and microbes are killed, they can cause a toxic, uncomfortable reaction. Microbes release toxins when they're killed. Too aggressive a regimen can make you miserable, so take your time with these programs.
Skin detox techniques: These typically involve sweating and heat. Sauna and steam baths are very helpful. For folks with liver, kidney and colon problems this may be a preferred route of detox, something to concentrate on.
To use a conventional sauna, start at 135 degrees until you can go 45 minutes without difficulty, then try to go to 145 degrees. Work your way up to between 180 and 230 degrees, if possible.
Infrared sauna is a cooler sauna that uses IR radiation to heat the skin. It works as well or better than traditional sauna.
Hot baths with Epsom salts, ginger or baking soda can help as well, hot as tolerated, for 20 minutes or so at a time, two to three times per week. Other additives to the bath include: apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, clay and oatstraw, which helps skin conditions.
Ion cleanse foot baths are another therapy we offer in our office. A weak electrical field pulls toxins out of the feet, which are in a tub of clean water to start with.
Thirty minutes later, that clean water can look like raw sewage as all types of toxins are pulled from the body through the skin.
Colon hydrotherapy: This can be as simple as an enema, to a much more involved procedure that involves a tube in the rectum that puts water in and then drains it out again and again while a therapist massages the abdomen to move the liquid throughout the colon. The duration of this therapy is about an hour, while the patient is draped and lies comfortably on an exam table. This opens the colon, can help reverse changes from years of laxative abuse and has many benefits, including: improved muscle tone, reduced stagnation and toxic waste absorption/re-absorption.
Fasting and juice diets: Fasting is abstinence of food for a period of time. A great variation on this technique involves juicing fresh vegetables. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to eat 10 to 20 pounds of vegetables daily, but with a juicer, it's very easy to do, removing the vast majority of the nutrients from the produce and giving yourself a highly- concentrated, easily absorbed blast of high-powered nutrition that is typically absorbed within half an hour of ingestion.
It's best to use only organic vegetables to avoid pesticide residue. While on a fast of this nature, it's important to drink plenty of pure, filtered water as well, at least four four- to 12-ounce glasses throughout the day.
A pure water fast should only be done with careful medical supervision to avoid complications due to electrolyte imbalances and other problems.
Ending the fast needs to be done gently and carefully. The first meal should be fruit or vegetable salad with lemon juice and tea. The next meal can add some vegetable soup and perhaps a steamed vegetable in a small serving.
Finally meat can be added.
Supplements: Vitamins and minerals, especially extra vitamin A, C, E, N- acetyl cysteine, selenium and zinc, as well as good amounts of the B vitamin complex, are encouraged during any detox protocol.
If you're doing a vegetable juice fast you'll be getting a lot of these, but not necessarily enough of all of them. Taking a bit extra will help ensure that you're able to mobilize the toxins. The vitamins are essential to eliminate many toxins, such as heavy metals, that are present in all of us
Chelation therapy: This is designed to rid the body of toxic, heavy metals such as lead, which many of us have been exposed to by breathing air contaminated from vehicles burning leaded gasoline. These heavy metals "hide" in the body, especially in fat and bone tissue, where they are metabolically active, cause problems and can cause cancer over time.
Exercise and deep breathing: Both of these promote flow of lymphatic fluid back to the heart. This is fluid that leaks from the blood vessels and flows around, nourishing each cell and removing cellular waste products. It also contains a lot of white blood cells.
Deep breathing promotes flow of the lymph back to the heart. From there those toxins go to the liver, kidneys and colon for metabolic degradation and/or expulsion from the body.
There are a wide range of techniques to detoxify our bodies. It may be wise to start with a gentler, shorter duration approach. It is also possible to "over-detox," which will cause a variety of problematic symptoms.
The simplest form of detox involves simply increasing water intake.
Typically a diet with steamed vegetables, fresh fruits, filtered water and alkaline drinks will help rid the body of the organic acids that cause problems over time.
Detoxification is best undertaken when you will have downtime, as it may cause fatigue, aches and pains, irritability and other symptoms.
There's no need to rush into the process. Start slow and advance as tolerated.
There are a number of spas and other facilities that can provide assistance. Expert guidance can also be obtained from natural food stores that have nutritionists on staff.
Completing a detox protocol will give your organ systems a break and provide a greater sense of well-being and improved energy. It also should decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease and other metabolic problems common with aging.
R.J. Oenbrink of Tequesta Family Practice is a board certified doctor of osteopathy. His offices are located at 395 Tequesta Drive, Suite B. Send your questions to: email@example.com. He is available to speak to groups on this or a variety of other topics. Please call his office, if interested, at (561) 746-4333.