Do You Really Need to Detox?

Not everyone needs to detox. Before you take on a body detox program, be sure you actually need one.

Experts agree that young children, the elderly, the chronically ill, and others. Get the full list.

Before you start a detox program, consider the following:

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you overweight or tired all the time?

  • Do you have headaches, other aches and pains, frequent colds and flus?

  • Constipation or digestive problems?

  • High blood pressure, PMS, allergies or sensitivities?

  • Drink too much alcohol, caffeinated beverages?

  • Smoke cigarettes, use over-the-counter or recreational drugs?

  • Do you feel congested from too much food, or the wrong kinds of food?

  • Do you feel lethargic, like you need a good spring cleaning?

  • Do you need to eliminate drug residues?

  • Do you want to streamline your body processes for more energy?

  • Do you need to remove toxins causing a health problem?

  • Do you want to rest and rejuvenate your whole body?

  • Do you want to assist weight loss?

  • Do you want to clear up your skin?

  • Do you want to strengthen your immune response?

If you answered yes to at least 1/4 of these questions, then you are in need of a body detoxification program.

But before you start out on a body detox, please read the following (the sections that apply to your current health or lifestyle).


Your diet, lifestyle and detox needs:

Overweight If you're overweight, you have more toxins in your body than a thin person because the body stores excess toxins in fat cells. But don't despairone of the great additional benefits of detoxing is losing weight!

Tired all the time According to noted biochemist Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., in his new book, The 20-Day Rejuvenation Diet Program, "toxicology textboks list the first symptoms of chronic poisoning as low energy, fatigue, muscle weakness, inability to concentrate and intestinal complaints."

Headaches Food additives, sugar, alcohol, caffeine withdrawal, constipation, hormonal imbalance and exposure to irritants such as pollution, perfume or after-shaves are all causes of headaches that can often be relieved by detoxification.

Warning: if your headaches are accompanied by fever and stiffness in the neck, pressure behind the eyes relieved by vomiting, pressure in the sinus area, throbbing of head and temples, a pounding heartbeat, visual color changes, feeling as though your head will explode, light sensitivity, confusion or loss of speeech, blurred vision, or chronic headache pain that worsens after coughing, exertion, straining or sudden movement, consult your health care provider.

Other aches and pains Holistic practitioners are finding that several forms of arthritis can be significantly relieved by a detoxification diet, plus proper supplimentation. Drs. Barrie and Bennettin their book 7-Day Detox Miracle, state, "Arthritis pain may be related to a toxic reaction to specific foods (food allergies), dehydration from inadequate intake of water, a very common problem, and bowel toxemia." (Pg. 29)

PMS In general, detoxing, at any level, enhances a woman's ability to deal with the ebb and flow of hormones that characterize her adult life. Watch out, though, for the initial phases of more serious forms of detox, i.e going beyond more than gradual "pre-detox" diet improvements. The liver is major storehouse for excess toxins, which includes hormones. As you enter a period of more intensive detoxing, the excess hormones stored in the liver come back into the bloodstream for processing, and it's like the worst PMS you ever had. Just stay home with your stuffed toys, maybe your dog and watch sweet movies. Never mind that your own life is not a fairytale. After a day or so of the blues, everything is much better.

Frequent colds and flu Frequent colds and flu are signs of a suppressed immune system. Detoxification, appropriate nutritional supplementation, improvement in dietHealthy Dietimproved stress management and regular, but not overly strenuous exercise are part of a comprehensive plan for improving your immune system.

Constipation or digestive problems A healthy digestive system eliminates its contents one to three times daily. If you do not have at least one bowel movement a day, or if you have flatulence or chronic indigestion, a detox program as part of a larger change of diet and awareness about food can often change those problems rapidly.

High blood pressure James F. Balch, M.D., and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., authors of Prescription for Nutritional Healing recommend fasting (an ancient, but what we consider extreme, form of detox) for three to five days a month for those suffering from high blood pressure. Those who are motivated to change their lifestyle will find numerous less strenuous forms of detox on this site that can achieve the same effect over a somewhat longer period of time, but that are much easier to endure. The dietary suggestions the book gives for high blood pressure are similar to the Healthy Diet offered on this site. Caution must be exercised: High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and for those who suffer from it, there are many specific guidelines in reference to over-the-counter medications, supplements, herbs, foods, and food additives that must be observed to prevent stroke and heart attack. You need to be under a doctor's care, but we encourage you to work with a holistically oriented physician who can support you in lifestyle changes that will address many of its risk factors.

Allergies or sensitivies By and large, conventional health care only deals with masking the symptoms of allergies and food sensitivities, rather than attempting to resolve them. The first step that many alternative practitioners recommend is a change of diet that cuts out wheat and dairy foods, two common allergens. To do so is also the first step in "detoxing." Higher levels of detoxing, as well as additional immune support through nutritional supplementation, have been known to help many allergy sufferers. Allergies are, however, almost by definition, a very individualized condition. Allergy testing can yield important insights, but those who are disciplined may be able to forego the costs by following the extensive method for self-testing of food allergies offered in Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch, M.D., and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.

Alcohol Are you ready to save your life as well as your relationships? If so, a detox program can help you feel better, younger and stronger. If you only have a few minutes, read this first. Of course, if you're not ready to quit drinking, (and realistically that's the only way most heavy drinkers can cut down), a weekend detox won't do you much good. No shame need be involved. When you're ready, you're ready, and if you're not, what's so bad about a liver transplant other than that they cost about $400,000? P.S. If you eat a very nutritious diet and take daily Essential Supplements, you still might live to old age, even if you're decrepit when you get there. Don't kid yourself, healthwise, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is one of the worst things you can do.

Caffeinated beverages Most Americans do. And with the stress of our society, it's hard not to. Even if you're not ready to quit for good, a spring and fall detox can give your liver a chance to rest from detoxifying all that caffeine every day, and that can have tremendous physical benefits in terms of more energy, better sleep and reduced stress which in turn can also make it possible to cut down significantly on caffeine after your detox.

Cigarettes Surely no one has to tell you they're toxic. But unless you're one of the few people who only smoke a couple at parties now and again, you've got an addiction that is not only expensive, but stinky, and truly unhealthy to others. One great way to look at this is if you can kick this habit (and you can) which is detoxifying in itself, other health improvements are going to be easy by comparison. Eldon Haas, M.D., had an excellent chapter on how to prepare to quit smoking in his book, The Detox Diet.

Over-the-counter or recreational drugs Any drug (that's right, even if it's prescribed by your doctor, or sold in a drug store as safe-to-use) has to be metabolized by your liver, your prime organ of detoxification. Your liver is also busy doing a lot of other things that keep you alive, and if it gets too overloaded, it can't process all the toxins, so instead of processing them, it stores them within the liver itself, as well as in other organs and in fat cells. The process of detoxing as we present it supports the liver's ability to do its job by 1) reducing the amount of toxins you ingest; 2) supplying additional nutrients to help the liver transform toxins into molecules that can be excreted by the body's systems; and 3) giving you techniques that allow the stored toxins within your body to gradually reenter the bloodstream where the liver can prepare them for excretion.

Fast foods, fried foods or refined foods In addition to having very little, if any, nutritional value, fast foods, fried foods and refined foods have to be processed by the liver and take its energy away from other detoxification work it has to do. A low fat diet, with lots of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables supports the liver with nutrients and easy-to-digest food. Switching to such a diet is the first step in an over-all detox program that can give you more energy, help you to lose weight and feel years younger.