Why the skepticism?
I guarantee that after reading this page you will no longer be a skeptic, but you will see the desperate need we have in our modern world for an annual Detox program. This article is not my opinion but backed is fully up with links to all the scientific research.
There are a lot of skeptics out there with regard to detox programs and products. They say it's a scam, there's no evidence and you don't need to detox because your body does that by itself. This view is understandable but is simply based on lack of information. This article is going to address those skeptics with a little science and logic.
If you're looking online at detoxing your body and considering various natural detox products then you will probably find some of these skeptics during your search, and also find a lot of products that are simply cashing in on the massive growing Detox market. It's very hard to know who to believe, so I have based all of my articles on scientific research and give you the references and links at the bottom of each article. You will find links to my other articles within this text also. See all my articles here
I hope you gain some valuable insights.
Detox - A definition
The word “Detox” is defined in the Oxford Dictionary (1) as "A process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification"
However the word Detox is used in only one context by the mainstream medical system. The medical profession use the word “detox” referring to drug and alcohol detox, and that’s the only use of that word.
We, "Medical Herbalists" on the other hand use the word “detox” as an abbreviation for the word “detoxification” as defined by the Oxford dictionary. And, I think that needs to be understood. “Detoxification” means the process by which the body breaks down and eliminates toxins from the system. Therefore the word “detox” is the correct term to be used during any program that encourages the body to naturally perform detoxification.
Toxic / Toxin - A definition
A toxin is a toxic substance. Again I refer to the Oxford Dictionary to define toxic where it says for Toxic "Poisonous: the dumping of toxic waste, alcohol is toxic to the ovaries. Relating to or caused by poison: toxic hazards, toxic liver injury, very bad, unpleasant, or harmful: a toxic relationship (2) Toxins are defined as "a poisonous substance and especially one that is produced by a living thing" (3)
Poison / Poisonous - A definition
Ok so we've established the meaning of the words "Detox" and "Toxin" and we know that these toxic substances are poisonous which according to Webster's dictionary means "Something (such as an idea, emotion, or situation) that is very harmful or unpleasant, a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism, something destructive or harmful, an object of aversion or abhorrence". (4)
Now we have a full description of what we are referring to when it comes to a what the word Detox means in relation to a Detox Program.
What are the primary toxic substances of concern?
The toxins below are the main reasons why our body’s need to undergo an internal cleansing program like our herbal DETOX
I have broken them down into six main groups below.
There are many pollutants in our environment. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. (12)
Chronic arsenic contamination may affect cognition and personality and may precipitate psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. Groundwater contamination is a major source of chronic arsenic toxicity in parts of the world. (11)
Any and all chemicals generated by human activity can and will find their way into water supplies. The types and quantities of carcinogens present in drinking water at the point of consumption will differ depending on whether they result from contamination of the source water, arise as a consequence of treatment processes, or enter as the water is conveyed to the user. Source-water contaminants of concern include arsenic, asbestos, radon, agricultural chemicals, and hazardous waste. (17)
Of these, the strongest evidence for a cancer risk involves arsenic, which is linked to cancers of the liver, lung, bladder, and kidney. The use of chlorine for water treatment to reduce the risk of infectious disease may account for a substantial portion of the cancer risk associated with drinking water. The by-products of chlorination are associated with increased risk of bladder and rectal cancer, possibly accounting for 5000 cases of bladder cancer and 8000 cases of rectal cancer per year in the United States. (17)
Estimates of people's exposure to outdoor air pollution in different parts of the world were formulated through a new global data mapping.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died - one in eight of the total global deaths - as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world's largest single environmental health risk. (5)
Outdoor air pollution-caused deaths - breakdown by disease:
- 40% - ischaemic heart disease;
- 40% - stroke;
- 11% - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
- 6% - lung cancer; and
- 3% - acute lower respiratory infections in children.
Indoor air pollution-caused deaths - breakdown by disease:
- 34% - stroke;
- 26% - ischaemic heart disease;
- 22% - COPD;
- 12% - acute lower respiratory infections in children; and
- 6% - lung cancer.
We can't always avoid this pollution but we can enable our bodies to better cope with the toxic load. The study in this video showed that living close to heavy traffic was associated with a higher incidence of dementia. (18)
Few know that systematic reviews of hospital charts found that even properly prescribed drugs (aside from misprescribing, overdosing, or self-prescribing) cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations a year. Another 840,000 hospitalized patients are given drugs that cause serious adverse reactions for a total of 2.74 million serious adverse drug reactions. About 128,000 people die from drugs prescribed to them. (6)
This makes prescription drugs a major health risk, ranking 4th with stroke as a leading cause of death. The European Commission estimates that adverse reactions from prescription drugs cause 200,000 deaths; so together, about 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe die from prescription drugs each year. The FDA does not acknowledge these facts and instead gathers a small fraction of the cases. (6)
Over the past 35 years, patients have suffered from a largely hidden epidemic of side effects from drugs that usually have few offsetting benefits. The pharmaceutical industry has corrupted the practice of medicine through its influence over what drugs are developed, how they are tested, and how medical knowledge is created. (7)
Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) has become a leading cause of severe liver disease in Western countries and therefore poses a major clinical and regulatory challenge. (15)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the largest class of medications used for pain and headache, can cause idiosyncratic liver toxicity. (16)
This proves that pharmaceutical drug toxicity is a major concern.
The body is not designed to detoxify synthetic drugs, especially the liver. The side effects of any drug should be seriously considered before making the choice to take that drug. Natural and safe alternatives should always be used in preference, or at least given the chance to reverse the condition before toxic drugs are used. Food can also be used as medicine, especially where sensible changes in diet can be made to impact the outcome.
Processed, refined food products are virtually enzyme and nutrient devoid. They do not provide you with the natural, living and life-giving properties that (real) food should. Flavors, colors and artificial sweeteners found in man made, processed, artificial, lifeless foods all contribute to fatigue and increase your toxic load. Here are just a few examples.
There have been reports of aspartame causing seizures, headaches, mood disturbances, and reduced mental performance. A study published in 2005 suggested that aspartame could cause leukemia and lymphoma in rats. Another study, published in 1996, argued that an increase in the rate of brain tumors in the United States could be related to consumption of aspartame. (8)
Sodium benzoate is a food additive used as a preservative in a variety of processed food products and drinks. It's suspected that sodium benzoate, in addition to artificial food color, may increase hyperactivity in some children. Sodium benzoate in soft drinks may also react with added vitamin C to make benzene, a cancer-causing substance. (8)
Human beings struggle to digest red meats since our digestive systems are ten times more alkaline than carnivores, which incidentally eat raw meat only. Up to 5 pounds of undigested red meat can putrefy in our intestines, weakening our immune system and feeding toxins into the body.
Processed meats are far worse. According to the most recent estimates by the Global Burden of Disease Project, an independent academic research organization, about 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to diets high in processed meat. These numbers contrast with about 1 million cancer deaths per year globally due to tobacco smoking, 600,000 per year due to alcohol consumption, and more than 200,000 per year due to air pollution. (9) All of these are commonly ingested toxic substances.
Meat can also contain chemicals that form during meat processing or cooking. For instance, carcinogenic chemicals that form during meat processing include N-nitroso compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Cooking of red meat or processed meat produces heterocyclic aromatic amines which are found in other foods and in air pollution. Some of these chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens. (9)
Read my article on Red Meat
A mixture of flour and water was used as wallpaper glue for many years before modern paste became available. The binding and thickening effect of wheat and other gluten (glue) containing grains is widely known within the food industry. Celiac disease is an immune disorder in which people cannot tolerate gluten because it damages the lining of their small intestine and prevents absorption of nutrients.
A significant percentage of the general population report problems caused by wheat and/or gluten ingestion, even though they do not have celiac disease (CD) or wheat allergy, because they test negative for both. Most patients report both gastrointestinal and non gastrointestinal symptoms, and all report improvement of symptoms on a gluten-free diet. This clinical condition has been named non-celiac gluten sensitivity. (10)
There can be over 100 types of parasites and worms living in our bodies. These organisms are prolific in our environment. A clean digestive tract can defend against parasites but a clogged bowel is an open invitation to them.
The main types of human intestinal parasites are helminths, protozoa and fungi. Certain bacteria and viruses can also be parasitic. Helminths are worms; multi-celled organisms that can be a few millimeters to several meters in length. Tapeworms, pinworms, hookworms and round worms are common intestinal worms. When adults they cannot multiply in the human body but continue to grow and subtract nutrients and blood from the intestines where they reside.
Read my article on Parasites
Stockholm University found that today there are around 145,000 registered industrial chemicals in the world, and by no means all of these are tested and guaranteed safe. The spread of dangerous chemicals in our everyday environment could lead to a global human catastrophe.
"If we get exposed to endocrine disruptors at the wrong time in life it can have serious effects," says Professor Åke Bergman. "A number of human diseases can be caused by exposure to chemicals. We do not know yet how many, but research is ongoing."
Metabolic syndrome can be induced by overfeeding with sugar or fructose, particularly along with a high processed fat diet. The excessive fructose ingestion leads to a toxic metabolic burden on the liver because fructose is metabolized predominantly by the liver. Metabolic syndrome can cause the following medical conditions: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels.
Read my article on metabolic sydrome
Both organic and inorganic mercury has been linked to the pathological and neurochemical changes that may be seen in Alzheimer’s disease. In humans, one of the likely sources of organic mercury such as methyl mercury is the consumption of contaminated fish. Dental amalgams are a common source of inorganic mercury. (11)
There are several types of metabolic acidosis:
Diabetic acidosis (also called diabetic ketoacidosis and DKA): Develops when acidic substances known as ketone bodies, build up in the body. This occurs with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes
Hyperchloremic acidosis: Results from excessive loss of sodium bicarbonate from the body. This can occur with severe diarrhea
Lactic acidosis: Results from a buildup of lactic acid. It can be caused by:
Medications, such as salicylates
Prolonged lack of oxygen from shock, heart failure, or severe anemia
Other causes of metabolic acidosis include:
Kidney disease (distal renal tubular acidosis and proximal renal tubular acidosis)
Poisoning by aspirin, ethylene glycol (found in antifreeze), or methanol
Severe metabolic acidosis can lead to shock or death. In some situations, metabolic acidosis can be a mild, chronic (ongoing) condition. (13)
You can see several toxic substances listed amongst the causes of acidosis, so when somebody tells you there is no such thing as an acid body, you can tell them to do their homework.
There is definitely a link between stress and disease. We don't often think about our emotions as potentially toxic, but think again.
Studies have shown that short-term stress boosted the immune system, but chronic stress has a significant effect on the immune system that ultimately manifest an illness. Stress also leads to the release of histamine, which can trigger severe broncho-constriction in asthmatics.
Stress increases the risk for diabetes mellitus, especially in overweight individuals, since psychological stress alters insulin needs. Stress also alters the acid concentration in the stomach, which can lead to peptic ulcers, stress ulcers or ulcerative colitis.
Chronic stress can also lead to plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis), especially if combined with a high-fat diet and sedentary living. The correlation between stressful life events and psychiatric illness is stronger than the correlation with medical or physical illness.
The relationship of stress with psychiatric illness is strongest in neuroses, which is followed by depression and schizophrenia. (14)
Is emotional stress toxic?
100% certain, in-fact. If there's one thing you can be sure of, if you completely detox yourself physically but don't consider the emotional stress as part of the program you will unlikely succeed.
Why should we DETOX our body?
A toxin is any substance that interferes with normal healthy functions often simply just by getting in the way. For example, smoke and fog combine to form smog which can block healthy lung function. In virtually the same way flour and water combine to form glue which can block healthy bowel function.
Toxins come in many forms. Everything from chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, heavy metals, alcohol, cigarettes, air pollution, exhaust fumes, cleaning agents and artificial food additives and metabolic acid through to less commonly thought of toxins such as noise, low grade media, negative emotions and even thoughts.
A toxin can be seen as anything that serves no beneficial purpose within you, is difficult for your body to process, consequently builds up, causes inflammation, oxidation and eventually interferes with healthy functions and disrupts internal communications.
Have you ever had interference with your radio, cell-phone or television signal? This is very similar to how a toxin affects your body internally, physically, emotionally and mentally. Static, poor reception, bad sound, unclear picture and even a complete loss of signal can occur within you. Toxins interfere with the body’s internal communication.
Getting toxins out of your life can bring a new sense of clarity, peace and ultimately, greater health. We recommend completing a good herbal detox at least twice every year so you body can stay on top and you remain balanced and healthy. It's not just the herbal program itself, but during the process new good habits can be formed, which often remain long after the program is completed.
The Ultimate Herbal DETOX addresses all of these areas mentioned above. By cleansing your colon, liver, parasites, heavy metals, giving pure food as well as supporting your emotions, you can regain your full energy supply and vitality.
See my article SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE FOR THE ULTIMATE HERBAL DETOX to find out more about the herbs we use.
I hope this has been helpful and I wish you well.
Brett Elliott ®
The Ultimate Herbal DETOX program is New Zealand's most respected Detox Program by health professionals.
(1) Oxford Dictionary http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/detox
(2) Oxford Dictionary http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/toxic
(3) Merriam Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/toxin
(4) Merriam Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poison
(5) 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en/
(6) New Prescription Drugs: A Major Health Risk With Few Offsetting Advantages http://ethics.harvard.edu/blog/new-prescription-drugs-major-health-risk-...
(7) Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals and the Myth of Safe and Effective Drugs http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2282014
(8) The Truth About 7 Common Food Additives. WebMD http://www.webmd.com/diet/the-truth-about-seven-common-food-additives?pa...
(9) WHO. Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/
(10) Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: literature review. PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24533607
(11) Endocrine, metabolic, nutritional, and toxic disorders leading to dementia. PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039161/
(12) Air Pollution. Medicine Plus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/airpollution.html
(13) Metabolic acidosis. Medicine Plus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000335.htm
(14) Life Event, Stress and Illness. PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/
(15) Current Concepts of Mechanisms in Drug-Induced Hepatotoxicity PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2765083/
(16) Preventive Care in Chronic Liver Disease http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1496761/
(17) Drinking water and cancer. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1518976/
(18) Living near major roads and the incidence of dementia, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis: a population-based cohort study. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28063597