Practiced for centuries by cultures around the world — including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems — detoxification is about resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out. By removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding your body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimum health.
How does detoxification work?
Basically, detoxification means cleansing the blood. This is done by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and skin. However, when these systems are compromised, impurities aren't properly filtered and the body is adversely affected.
A detox program can help the body's natural cleansing process by:
- Resting the organs through fasting;
- Stimulating the liver to drive toxins from the body;
- Promoting elimination through the intestines, kidneys, and skin;
- Improving circulation of the blood; and
- Refueling the body with healthy nutrients.
"Detoxification works because it addresses the needs of individual cells, the smallest units of human life," says Peter Bennett, N.D., co-author of 7-Day Detox Miracle with Stephen Barrie, N.D., and Sara Faye.
How do you know if you need to detoxify?
Bennett suggests that everyone should detox at least once a year. However, Bennett cautions against detoxing for nursing mothers, children and patients with chronic degenerative diseases, cancer or tuberculosis. Consult your healthcare practitioner if you have questions about whether detoxing is right for you.
Today, with more toxins in the environment than ever, "it's critical to detox," says Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D., the author of Detoxification: Programs to Cleanse, Purify and Renew. Page recommends detoxing for symptoms such as:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Sluggish elimination
- Irritated skin
- Low-grade infection
- Puffy eyes or bags under the eyes
- Menstrual problems
- Mental confusion