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   How to detox safely & naturally

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How We Lose Weight
The first step to losing weight is understanding how we gain it.

Detox Diet Weight Loss
How a detox diet will help you lose weight.

Weight Loss Secrets
Experts' takes on what works andwhat doesn't.

Digestion & Weight Loss

Undigested food is a big culprit in weight gain.


Lymph Cleanse
Learn how to detox the lymph system. Plus, foods that naturally detox the lymph.

Lung Detox
How to support lung health this winter with a detox cleanse.

Colon Detox
Colon cleansing is essential to any detox program. Learn how to detox the colon safely.

Liver Detox
The liver is the primary organ of detoxification in the body. Learn how to detox the liver safely with this liver detox gude.


Lemon Detox Diet
The lemon detox diet is one of the best and most simple detox diets. Here's a guide and one-gallon recipe.

Liquid Diets
Fasting with fruit and vegetable juices is a safe and thorough detox method when done properly.

Detox & Weight Loss
Yes, a detox diet will help you lose weight. Before you start any detox diet, read this.

Easy Detox Diet
This weekend detox diet is a safe and gentle detox method, perfect for the detox newbie and the ultra busy.

Detox Programs: Set Yourself Up for Success

how to detox

Detox Planning and Preparation

Planning the timing of your detox health improvement plan is very important.  In general, spring and fall are very good times for these programs, but the most important aspect is finding a time in your life when your stress level is relatively low (we know that for most people any more, it's never very low, but some periods are a bit slower than others).  If the only way to have a calmer time is to take time off work, it's worth it, but don't defeat your purpose by planning too many other "vacation" activities for the same time period.

When we say "detox," we are talking about a series of steps, beginning with the consideration and decision to undertake a self-help detox.  The second decision should be to move GRADUALLY into more assertive forms of detox.  

Detox also takes place during the gradual phases, but not as quickly.  The gradual preparation is recommended because if you move into the intense detox phase too soon, you will experience more serious side-effects when all the toxins stored in your body re-enter the bloodstream, side-effects such as jittery nerves, racing pulse, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, nausea, sinus congestion, bad breath, body odor and skin eruptions.  Some people may be willing to tough it out through these "cleansing crises," and can stay with their detox until the toxins are excreted and feelings of well-being return.  But we're betting that most of you won't, and forever after, when the word "detox" ever comes up again, it will bring back terrible associations and you'll tell your friends, "I've never been so sick as the time I tried to detox."  Good news!  Such experiences are unnecessary.

See more about planning your detox program.

Nutritional Counseling

Seek out a nutritional counselor familiar with detox.  How to find one?  You can look in the yellow pages under nutrition, but don't stop there. Consult the Alternative Yellow Pages.  To obtain the number of a practitioner who is familiar with functional medicine as defined by Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., in his recent book, The 20-Day Rejuvenation Diet Program, call 1-800-245-9076.   Do you have friends who are into health foods and alternative medicine?  Ask them.  Call all the chiropractors in your area and ask them who they refer to.  Look for ads in local health publications.  When you find someone whose name pops up in more than one place, call first and find out what the counselor's training is, where they studied and how long they've been in practice.  Make sure their training is from an accredited school.  Some holistically oriented M.D.s center their practice on preventive medicine and clinical nutrition.  If you cannot find a good nutritional consultant in your area, you might want to begin a process of self education on nutrition.  Again, we suggest Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D.'s recent book,  The 20-Day Rejuvenation Diet Program, as well as Dr. Bland's other books, Nutraerobics, Your Health Under Siege and Medical Applications of Clinical Nutrition. 

Detox Programs: Things to Do While You're Detoxing

How to Detox
Here are the ABC's of starting a detox program. Info too on how to create a detox program that is just right for you.

When Should I Detox?
In general, spring and fall are ideal, but more important is to find a time in your life when your stress level is relatively low.

Customizing Your Detox Plan
How to create the right detox program for your age, health and detox needs.

Gentle Detoxification Methods
Detox safely with proper preparation. It's important to detox gradually. Here's how. 

Exercise and Yoga

Exercise - In his recent book, The 20-Day Rejuvenation Diet Program, Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., one of the leading experts in the field of the benefits of  personal detoxification, suggests 100 minutes of walking per week (that's just under 15 minutes a day, and no one can complain that's too much) for those who have previously been sedentary.  According to Dr. Bland, "Regular activity helps your body detoxify and excrete toxins more rapidly, thus serving as a major contributor to an overall detoxification program."  The most beneficial level of exercise is that which causes you to perspire--a point at which toxins are released naturally through the skin.  Overexerting, however, becomes counterproductive, because it can induce oxidative stress.

Yoga - Yoga can be a very powerful tool in conjunction with your efforts to detox.

Co-author Peter Bennett, N.D. says in the 7-Day Detox Miracle: Restore Your Mind and Body's Natural Vitality with This Safe and Effective Life-Enhancing Program:

"The benefits of yoga for detoxification are unequaled.  In our experience, people who practice yoga regularly are by far the healthiest of all our patients.  Our personal experience confirms that yoga training is ideal for attaining optimal health.  Yoga encourages the proper circulation of blood and lymph fluid, enhances digestion, reduces nervous tension, strengthens the endocrine system, lubricates the joints, reduces excess fat, improves concentration, and provides resistance to hunger and to the extremes of heat and cold.  Every organ system in the body benefits from yoga." (Pg. 215-216)

The first level of benefit comes from breathing exercises that will thoroughly oxygenate the bloodstream, providing energy and improving all the body's physical processes.  Stale air is eliminated from the bottom of the lungs.  (Most people breathe very shallowly.)  Several of the postures provide gentle massage to the internal organs, stimulating them to gradually release toxins.  In a larger sense, a yoga school is a very appropriate place to encounter and learn new lifestyle techniques. Many yoga schools, for example, offer vegetarian cooking lessons.  Another aspect is instruction in purification techniques from people who are very familiar with them.  These include fasting and neti (nasal cleansing).  A yoga school can provide a great support network for individuals who are ready to make positive changes.  Yoga's emphasis on purification is directed toward strengthening the body and improving concentration, which in turn can provide spiritual benefit.  Look for a yoga school where you feel no pressure to wear fashionable exercise clothing and yoga is not being used merely as a means of preserving physical beauty.  Also, if you feel an inappropriate level of emphasis on a "guru" or pressure to pay large sums of money for any reason, trust your intuition and look for another yoga school. 

Until you find a good one, many books and tapes are available.  If you're doing yoga on your own, be very gentle with yourself.  Never do anything that hurts.  Breathe into the postures and your body will gradually become more limber.

Massage and Dry Skin Brushing

Massage - Therapeutic massage, especially by a massage therapist trained in lymphatic massage, can be a tremendous boost to your detox.  The lymph system carries metabolic waste products and toxins away from the cells.  Stimulating the lymph system helps the body's natural detoxification processes.  In their book, 7-Day Detox Miracle, Drs. Barrie and Bennett describe why massage can be helpful in stimulating the extra-cellular matrix

Dry skin brushing - According to Drs. Barrie and Bennett, co-authors of the 7-Day Detox Miracle, dry skin brushing is an easy way to stimulate the lymph system, which in turn, enhances the body's natural detoxification processes.

Our independent research has found that skin brushing is a very pleasant and stimulating thing to do, and it does remove old skin cells, which can foster the skin's ability to excrete toxins through the skin. 

Here's how to do it:  Immediately before showering or bathing, start with the feet and gently brush up toward the heart.  Brush from the extremities toward the center.  Brush gently in a circular motion around your abdomen and breasts.  It only takes a minute or two...not long!  The right dry skin brush is made of vegetable bristles that are neither too stiff nor too soft.  It shouldn't scratch, but you should feel some friction against the skin.

Bathing and Saunas

Saunas - Saunas are a wonderful way to foster your body's detoxification processes, though they are not recommended for women who are pregnant.  The heat from the sauna may cause neural tube defects in the fetus during the first trimester of pregnancy.  Since many women do not know they are pregnant during this time, women of child-bearing age whould have a pregnancy test before beginning sauna treatment.  Those with heart disease, kidney disease or anemia should also refrain from saunas. 

The heat of the sauna causes you to sweat, and while sweating , your body releases toxins, including heavy metals.  In their book, 7-Day Detox Miracle, Drs. Barrie and Bennett state, "The body stores many toxins in fatty tissue. Sweating therapy reduces fat stores quickly, releasing these poisons for excretion through the stimulationn of receptors in the fat.  Tissue biochemistry and nervous system functioning undergo changes in saunna therapy, activating fat stores and facilitating fat loss." (Pg. 78)  They devote almost three pages in their book to describe how best to use sauna therapy in conjunction with their seven-day detox plan. 

If you have been exposed to high levels of heavy metals, this therapy should be done with the help of a qualified health care practitioner.  Natural Detoxification: The Complete Guide to Clearing Your Body of Toxins by Jacqueline Krohn, M.D., contains a list of qualified clinics and practitioners in its appendix.

Epsom Salt Bath - Epsom salts can draw toxins out of your body.  Start with a very clean tub, take a shower first, then fill the tub with the hottest water you can stand.  Begin with l/4 cup of epsom salts, work up gradually to 4 cups, and as long as l/2 hour.  If you experience light-headedness, drain the tub, and wait until you feel steady to leave the tub.  Otherwise, take a shower after and dry off with a clean towel.  With dry skin brushing, essential oils and soothing music, this can be a luxurious, yet inexpensive detox technique.

Herbs and Supplements

Detox Teas - A number of commercially prepared detox teas are available.  They contain detoxifying herbs that assist your body's ability to convert endotoxins and exotoxins to molecules that can be processed out via the bowel or kidneys.  If you'd like to create your own, Christopher Hobbs' Natural Liver Therapy has some excellent recipes. 

Supplements - Happily, there seems to be a lot of agreement on the supplements one should take to make sure the body has the essentials for facilitating its natural detoxification processes. To understand why these supplements are SO important, we suggest you read either Sidney MacDonald Baker, M.D.'s Detoxification & Healing: The Key to Optimal Health or Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D.'s The 20-Day Rejuvenation Diet Program.  In the meantime, read about how the body detoxifies.

Here's a list derived from several sources, including Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D.'s  The 20-Day Rejuvenation Diet Program, Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac.'s  Natural Liver Therapy and Elson M. Haas, M.D.'s The Detox Diet.  The authors do not exactly agree on quantities, but do agree that it's important to take them all in combination. (see How the Body Detoxes).  We've listed conservative amounts.  As with all aspects of detoxification and preventive health care, we urge you to listen to your body.  Start with the lower amounts.  Increase gradually.

    Vitamin C (buffered or Ester-C)- 500-2000 mg.
    Natural Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate) - 200-400 mg.
    Vitamin A 5,000 - 7,500 IU
    Beta Carotene 15,000-30,000 IU
    Bioflavonoids - 200-1000 mg. (Possibly in a product that combines these with Vit. C)

    B Vitamins (probably in a B compound tablet)
    Thiamine (B1) 10-25 mg.
    Riboflavin (B2) 10-25 mg.
    Niacinamide (B3) 50 mg
    Niacin (B3) 50-2000 mg.
    Pantothenic acid (B5) 250-500 mg
    Pyridoxine (B6) 10-25 mg.
    Cobalamin (B12) 50-100 mcg
    Folic acid 400-800 mcg.

    Minerals: (probably in a mineral tablet or solution that includes)
    Zinc (picolinate or oxide) 10-30 mg.
    Manganese (gluconate) 5-10 mg.
    Copper (gluconate) 1-3 mg.
    Molybdenum (sodium molybdate) 50-200 mcg.
    Selenium 50-200 mg.

    Amino Acids: 500-1,000 mg.
    (probably in a general blend that includes) 
    L-cysteine 100-300 mg.
    L-glutathione 50-200 mg.
    L-methionine 250-500 mg.

    Silymarin (milk thistle)
    Ginkgo biloba
    Decaffeinated green tea or green tea extract

    Flaxseed oil (extremely important) 1-2 tablespoons or 2-4 caps
    Psyllium seed 2-4 teaspoons or 8-12 caps

Enemas and Colonics

If only for the sake of curiosity, be sure to read this section on enemas and colonics.  Your grandmother, and her mother, probably knew a lot more about enemas than most people do now.  This is not new information, but until colonics started to become popular about ten years, almost no one was still familiar with the health benefits that colon irrigation techniques could provide. 

The bowel is one of the four primary systems for excretion of toxins, both those that originate outside the body--exotoxins--and those that originate inside the body--endotoxins--as a result of the processes of metabolism.  Combinations of bad diet, not enough fiber, too many toxins, lack of exercise, too much stress, as well as illness, can all contribute to poor colonic health.  A healthy bowel moves one to three times a day. 

Enemas and/or colonics can give a great boost to a person's detoxification efforts, as well as helping to resolve chronic constipation. The reason they are an important part of detoxification efforts is that during this time, toxins that have been stored in the liver, the gallbladder and in fat tissue come back into the bloodstream in higher quantities. An enema or colonic can eliminate these toxins in a hurry and resolve symptoms such as headaches that they cause. If you're in a city where colonic clinics are easily available, you may want to try this approach. Don't just make an appointment over the phone. Go to the clinic. Is it scrupulously clean? Do you like the personnel? Ask if you can meet the person who will be administering the colonic. If you don't think you would be comfortable with the person, maybe this is not something you want to do, at least not there. Enemas are done in the privacy of your own home, but without our resevoir of common knowledge on this subject as to how to do them, you may feel that doing one yourself at home is more of an adventure.

Here's the most explicit information we've come across so far, from Own Your Own Body by Stan D. Malstrom, N.D., M.T. (currently out-of-print, if you find a copy in a used book store, grab it!)

Method of Administration. The preferred enema bag has a long plastic tube that can be inserted deeply into the rectum, at least eighteen inches. Bags with short tubes leave all the water in the sigmoid colon, which can hold up to four or five quarts of water.

To prepare the enema, fill the bag with the desired liquid, lukewarm for most situations. Expel a little water from the tube to let out air bubbles, which can cause cramping. Lubricate the end with a little vaseline for easier insertion. Prescription for Nutritional Healthing recommends Vitamin E oil.

The most comfortable and most effective position is the knee-chest position, with the shoulders, head and arms on the floor, the rectal area elevated. The enema bag should be hung a few feet above the rectal area so the water can run down (a towel rack is about the right height). Insert the lubricated tip into the rectum a few inches, then as the water is running, gradually insert it as far as possible. Never use force. Ease the tube through gradually, at the same time massaging the abdominal area to relieve cramping. If cramping becomes too painful, stop the flow for a few minutes, and continue massage. The stomach muscles can also be flexed and contracted to ease cramping. If the flow of water stops, ease the tube back a little and try again, or stop and start the flow of water a few times to dislodge the blockage. At first it may not be possible to insert the tube more than five or six inches, but as the colon gets cleaned out, as much as 20 inches is possible. The further the tube is inserted into the colon, the better the cleansing job will be. It may be necessary to fill and expel several times, each time inserting the tube deeper. When as much water as possible has been expelled into the colon, lie on the side and retain for 20-25 minutes or as long as possible, then expel, taking as much time as necessary. Repeat the procedure until the water runs clear. The amount of water retained increases with subsequent enemas, until a full bag can be accomodated.

Detox Support

Herbs and Supplements
There are a lot of agreement on the supplements one should take to make sure the body has the essentials for facilitating its natural detoxification processes.

Detox and Life Issues
Family dynamics, access to good food, periodic maintainance and ongoing support are all issues you will undoubtedly face after your detox.  Here are some tips for how to manage the post-detox period.

Detox Overwhelm?
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of detoxing, the thing to do is slow down, but keep your goal in sight and take it one step at a time.

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