1. How do I know if I need to detox? Is it just if I’ve been eating or drinking too much? After the holidays?
A: Great question! Some people like to make a bi-annual or seasonal detox an ongoing part of their health maintenance. Chinese medical theory recognizes spring as an especially important time for detoxing. However, almost any chronic health condition can benefit from increased detoxification. It’s always important to remember that the liver is the “rate limiter” in terms of many pathways of healing in the body. Hormones, inflammatory byproducts, neurotransmitters, chemical exposures, immune products, etc. are all recycled in the liver. If this is not working effectively the body will often slow the healing process down and leave us feeling fatigued, inflamed, and depressed. Skin issues can be a common symptoms of a toxic burden. Emotional symptoms such as anxiety and irritability are common. Also, a sluggish metabolism and the inability to shed weight that used to come off easily can be a sign the body is struggling to keep pace with toxicity. Here, at Origins Medicine, all of our Functional medicine programs begin with a detox just so we can maximize the therapeutic plans that follow.
2. Ok, sounds like I need it. How should I proceed?!
A: We recommend a therapeutic detox. This means supplying the body with the high amounts of antioxidants and sulphur compounds the body requires to optimize the phase 1 and phase 2 of liver detoxification. At the same time lifestyle coaching should be implemented so that we eliminate inflammatory foods, reduce environmental toxins, hydrate properly, exercise properly, etc. The body has very different demands when it is cleaning house! The best product we have found and what we currently use with every Functional medicine patient is the PaleoCleanse 14-day Detox by Designs for Health. We pair this with coaching emails and videos we created to make your experience seamless and effective. You can find more information here
3. What about general herbs and supplements? Should I be taking milk thistle, or dandelion, or something?
A: Yes, there are many botanicals that can help protect the liver and increase detox function. However, proper herbal support is usually based on a differential diagnosis and should be addressing the specific needs of the patient. From a supplement standpoint a comprehensive multivitamin pack (we recommend Daily Essentials Multi Pack by Designs for Health) will give your body the standard nutrients it needs for detoxing. Further recommendations should be based on the appropriate labs. The proper general botanicals are contained in the the Origins Detox Plan, which you can find here.
4. What’s the deal with water? I thought detoxing was all about hydration. How much should I be drinking?
A: Hydration is critical to the liver’s detox process. Remember that detox process has two stages. First the body has to take non water soluble toxins and transform them into a water soluble form. Only then can the body excrete the toxins through the urine. You should be drinking at least 64 oz. of filtered water per day. A good practice is to immediately drink 16 ounces of water upon waking. You will find it invigorating and it kick starts the detox pathways. Bonus: squeeze half a lemon in the water.
5. What about detox plans like the Master Cleanse? Should I be drinking lemon juice, with maple syrup, and cayenne?
A: There are many “detox” plans out there and they probably all have some benefit. But, the question to ask is are they actually supporting the physiological detox pathways of the body? The Master Cleanse, juice fasts, etc. are probably decent ways to drop a couple pounds if you’re insulin sensitive, but they do not supply the high amount of antioxidants and sulphur compounds necessary to ramp up the liver. Always keep in mind that the body has extremely high nutrient demands to detox. True fasting, meaning no juice or maple syrup, will ramp up ketone production, a strong anti-inflammatory energy substrate, and a process called autophagy, the process by which the body cleans up damaged proteins. This could be considered a form of detox, but requires an entire coaching newsletter of its own!