Detoxification and Liver Support

At NaturoMedica, we use the terms detoxification and cleanse interchangeably.

“Do I need to detox?”    It is a question that the doctors at NaturoMedica are asked frequently.  The term “detox” is filled with connotations, many of them negative. What does the term “detox” mean?

Detox certainly means different things for different people. Celebrities often make headlines when they go to alcohol and drug treatment centers to “detox”.   Some people go to five star spas to “detox” and others blend mysterious herbs and sea plants into exotic green drinks when they are “detoxing”.

Even Wikipedia is murky (no pun intended) on the topic of detox! It says that detox is the “real or perceived act of removing toxins from the body”.  If you are like us, we have no desire to load up on herbs whose names that we can’t pronounce to just delude ourselves that we are doing something healthy. 

To make matters even more confusing, the terms detox and “cleanse” are often used interchangeably. The word “cleanse” is often preferred because it may have less negative connotations.   Yet, even “cleansing” has some negative associations.  Some people have been led to believe that a cleanse requires days of close proximity to a toilet and that the goal is to clean the bowels.  This is because some questionable cleanse formulas have been made up of only laxative herbs. While it might be desirable to have more frequent bowel movements during a detox, having sustained bouts of loose stools is both unnecessary and unhealthy.

At NaturoMedica, we use the terms detoxification and cleanse interchangeably.  The cleansing process refers to cellular detoxification of bio-contaminants that have accumulated in the body through food, environmental exposure and the normal metabolic processes in the body.  Cleansing can be a time to disrupt our unhealthy patterns and overcome addictions in exchange for habits that promote better health.

The truth is that most of us have some kind of addiction.  Fortunately, the majority of us aren’t dealing with the addictions and excesses that we read about in the celebrity magazines.  Yet, we may be addicted to sugar, salt, caffeine, nicotine, too much wine or processed foods. Detoxing can help us move away from those addictions and toward a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, we live in a dirty world.  We eat, drink and breathe in thousands of toxins every single day.

So, yes, it probably is good to “detox” once in awhile. Many healthy people choose to detox twice a year, often in the spring and fall as the seasons change.

It generally takes about 28 days to wean from an addictive substance, which makes a month long detox a reasonable goal.  However, even if you can only commit to a shorter detox, you can still benefit.

Some of the positive results that you can expect from a detox include:

  • Increased energy and a feeling of vitality
  • Weight loss (if this is a goal)
  • Improved mood
  • Better cognitive function
  • A drop in cholesterol levels and a decrease in blood pressure
  • Loss of unhealthy cravings
  • More effective digestion and elimination
  • Clearer skin
  • Reduction in allergy symptoms
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Less body pain and reduced inflammation

Fortunately, the body usually does an amazing job of detoxing. There are four major organs involved in the detoxification pathway: skin, kidneys, lungs and liver.  Additionally, the G.I. system is very important in the cleansing process. Promoting these organ pathways is key for detoxing the body. 

For proper detoxification, supporting the liver during a detox is especially important. The liver is your largest internal organ. It uses a two phase method of detoxification.  Ideally, during a detox you will want to use botanical products and targeted nutrients along with a whole foods based diet to support both phases of detoxification.

Your NaturoMedica physician can design an individualized detoxification plan to help you achieve your health goals.

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