Detoxification is a natural, normal, and healthy process of the body. It is the process in which the body identifies and neutralizes toxins to eliminate them from the body.1 These may be toxic substances, but are also the products produced from the internal process of metabolism in general.1 At any time the body’s detoxification system may be neutralizing threats from antinutrients, medications, chemicals, heavy metals, stress, allergens, infectious pathogens, even unhealthy mental states and negative emotions.1 The systems that work together for detoxification to happen include the liver and gallbladder, kidneys, lymphatic, lungs, skin, the GI system, and the brain.1 When the systems become overwhelmed, symptoms may begin to reflect the overburdened status and soon may become useful as evidence of the body’s inability to restore itself to natural and innate homeostasis.
One may identify that any of the detoxification systems are stagnant or overwhelmed by any of the varying symptoms including fatigue, poor sleep and brain fog. It may be experienced by elevated mood disturbances, or difficulty handling emotions. It may also include headaches particularly with neck and shoulder pain, bloating, irritable bowel, heartburns, rashes, bad breath and body odor, to name a few.1,2
Daily and regular physical activity, especially outdoor activities when possible, healthy nutrition which includes organic fruits and vegetables, and quality filtered water as well as mind body practices to provide detoxification to the mind and brain chemistry are part and parcel to the whole detoxification picutre.1
Both nutritional excesses and deficiencies can play a role here. Certain nutrients are needed in order for detoxification to happen, including B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid and B12.1,3 Excesses in potentially toxic nutrients like iron, vitamin A and vitamin D can add to detoxification burden as the body works to restore itself from risk.
Arguably, nutrition is the first line of defense when it comes to detoxification. Not only does it support the favorable efforts of the body’s natural detoxification strategies, but by reducing anti nutrients like sugars and corn syrup, trans fat, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods1 (food stuffs the body doesn’t recognize as “nourishment”)one can potentially lower the burden of toxins necessary to filter.
Detoxification diets could be as in depth as a detoxification specific regimen, or could simply mean switching to a diet that has the potential for lesser toxic load, like an anti-inflammatory, or Mediterranean diet. Detoxification strategy could even be a strategy of eliminating a common habit in your life, like alcohol intake, or chocolate. The body will see something as different and free up pathways potentially blocked before.
Suggested would be to utilize a general detoxification diet. This would include a diet avoiding additives, artificial sugars and flavorings, unhealthy fats, removing excess calories, and replacing with whole organic foods as close to nature as possible and void of environmental pollutants.1,4,5
Not only does diet effect the amount of toxins needed to detox and the ability to detox, it also changes the microbiota community, which has even been known to influence disease states like diabetes and obesity.6 One study took a look at 3 day detox regimens and were able to identify that this dietary change does indeed change the microbiotic community, however with return to the standard American diet, the microbes changed back to their pre-detox state after only approximately ten days.6
One potential difficulty about utilizing a detox diet strategy is that a healing crisis can occur during detoxification and may include uncomfortable symptoms such as fatigue, headache, lightheadedness, diarrhea, bloating or lightheadedness.7 The best approach is often to continue the detox, but modify it by communicating with your practitioner1,7and may include pulling back and going slower, drinking more fluids, particularly a detox bone broth7 and electrolyte drinks suitable to the diet.
Supplements to Consider
Probiotics – As mentioned, the microbiome has been shown to change during a detox strategy6 and is a prime time to inoculate with further strains of probiotic communities. A probiotic supplement such as Metagenics Ultra Flora Biome Pro is a multi strain probiotic with 105 billion probiotic organisms including L acidophilus, B. lactis, L. Plantarum, L. rhamnosus.8 Probiotics have been seen to be efficient in 7-10 days of use.9 The study from the Microsetta Initiative mentioned above showed probiotics to be efficacious in 3 days.6 While probiotics are generally safe among healthy people, the risk of harmful effects increases in those with severe illnesses and should trigger a conversation with your provider before use.10 Individuals that are critically ill, have organ failure, have implanted medical devices, have had bowel surgery or a yeast allergy should discuss use first with their doctor.1
Milk Thistle – Milk Thistle is an herb otherwise known as silymarin and has been shown to prevent injury due to toxins by helping identify and neutralize toxins from the liver.11–13 250-750mg is evidenced to be beneficial for liver support, and while the daily dosage varies, but it is suggested to be taken 2-3 times daily.11 More studies need to be done to determine effective timing on the supplement to increase detoxification, as human studies in silymarin use in patients with chronic liver disease are currently inconclusive, though promising.11 People that are allergic to ragweed, marigolds or daisies should not use milk thistle.11,14 Also people with diabetes should use with caution as it is known to lower blood sugar levels.11
Your Partners in Collaboration
When considering detoxification it is a good idea to consider additional team members that can support your efforts and help you increase the benefits as well as help you stay safe. As exercise is a natural approach to assist normal function of detoxification in each body, working with a fitness professional might be one to add to the team. Exercise can improve nutrient use, reduce stress, and help mobilize tissue circulation, allowing for toxins to be released from fat storage tissues.1 Cardiovascular exercise also assists detoxification through sweating. In fact gentle and regular exercise for 30 minutes a day is ideal , and with the goal of detoxification, one should consider 60 minutes of mindful exercise on a daily basis.1
Detoxification is a natural and necessary process that body knows to perform and does so on a regular basis. However, with the amount of toxins we experience on a regular basis continuously increasing and sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition, detoxification can become difficult. With some wise implementation, assistance of the body’s natural detoxification processes is a wonderful way to keep the body well.
ANMC supports safe and effective detoxification strategies. Partner with us through our Detox Support Protocol! Call 320-639-0044 for assistance in getting started!
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. In: Integrative Medicine. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2018:320-333.
- Miller CS. Medicine’s blind spot - PubMed. Accessed January 15, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10212771/
- Ross, Kim presented as part of a Masters Program in Clinical Nutrition at SCNM, Tempe A. Alcohol and the Liver. Published online 2022.
- Leitzmann C. Nutrition ecology: the contribution of vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl). doi:10.1093/AJCN/78.3.657S
- Pagliai G, Giangrandi I, Dinu M, Sofi F, Colombini B. Nutritional interventions in the management of fibromyalgia syndrome. Nutrients. 2020;12(9):1-19. doi:10.3390/nu12092525
- The Microsetta Initiative - Researching Global Microbiomes. Accessed January 15, 2022. https://microsetta.ucsd.edu/
- Luke Fortney. Detoxification to Promote Health : A 7-Day Program Detoxification to Promote Health. Published online 2015:1-12.
- Meet the UltraFlora Family. Metagenics, Inst Funct Med. Published online 2021. https://www.metagenics.com/mas_assets/media/pdp_marketing_section/ultraflora_biomepro/resources/MET2429-ProbioticsClinicalGuide.pdf
- Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):3-6. doi:10.1111/J.1365-2249.2008.03713.X
- Probiotics: What You Need To Know | NCCIH. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know
- Minton J. Milk Thistle. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet. 2020;26(8):631-632. doi:10.2165/00128415-199907490-00026
- Achufusi TGO, Patel RK. Milk Thistle. StatPearls. Published online September 15, 2021. Accessed January 15, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541075/
- Ross, Kim presented as part of a Masters Program in Clinical Nutrition at SCNM, Tempe A. Detoxification. Published online 2022.
- Marciano M, Vizniak N. Botanical Medicine. ProHealthSys