On a personal note I have recently undergone a massive detoxification program from my exposure of heavy metal poisons from my time volunteering after the 9/11 disaster. Detoxification has given me my life back. I suffered from most of the symptoms listed below and many of them have since disappeared. The change I feel in my health levels is striking.
Because of my time at ground zero and being so sick, detoxification has become a pet project of mine and I highly recommend that everyone should address the toxin levels in their bodies before they have to deal with the effects of the toxins in their bodies. Even if you are extremely healthy, the body can always do with a cleansing boost to keep it fine tuned and running like the incredible machine it is.
WHAT ARE TOXINS?
A toxin is basically a poison and can include any substance that creates irritation and/or harmful effects in the body. These effects undermine our health and stress our biochemical and organ functions. We are all exposed to toxins daily. We eat and drink them and impose them on ourselves regularly. Most drugs, food additives and allergens can create toxic elements in our body.
Toxicity occurs on two basic levels – external and internal. We can acquire toxins externally from our environment through breathing, ingestion or physical contact with them or internally, our body produces toxins through its normal everyday functions. Biochemical, cellular, and bodily activities generate substances that need to be eliminated. Toxins come from our diet, medical and recreational drug use, environmental exposure, both acute and chronic. Internally, fats, especially oxidized fats and cholesterol, free radicals, and other irritating molecules act as toxins.
BODY DETOXIFICATION SYSTEMS INCLUDE:
Respiratory: lungs, bronchial tubes, throat, sinuses, and nose
Gastrointestinal: liver, gallbladder, colon, and whole GI tract
Urinary: kidneys, bladder, and urethra
Skin: sweat and sebaceous glands and tears
Lymphatic: lymph channels and lymph nodes carry toxins out of the body
If our bodies are functioning well we can handle everyday exposure to toxins. Our bodies deal with toxins on an on-going basis. The body struggles to work with excess intake of toxins (externally) or excess production of toxins (internally). If our immune systems and eliminative functions are below par, if we have reduced liver function and poor elimination through the kidneys etc.
Our body handles toxins by eliminating, neutralizing or transforming them. The liver transforms many toxic substances into harmless agents, while the blood carries wastes to the kidneys; the liver also dumps wastes through the bile into the intestines where waste is eliminated. We clear toxins through sweating, from exercise or heat. Our sinuses and skin may also be accessory elimination organs whereby excess mucus or toxins can be released, as with sinus congestion or skin rashes. Through detoxification, we clear and filter toxins and wastes and allow our body to work on enhancing its basic functions.
Since the body is a holistic organism, detoxification occurs on every body level – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. A physically detox clears congestions, illnesses, and disease. It improves energy, helps rejuvenate us and prevents further degeneration. On a mental level detoxification cleanses our minds of negative thought patterns. Emotionally detoxification helps us uncover and express feelings, hidden frustrations, anger, resentments, or fear, and replaces them with more positive feelings of forgiveness, love, joy, and hope. On a spiritual level people experience new clarity and an enhancement of their life purpose.
WHAT DOES THE DETOXIFICATION PROCESS INCLUDE?
Toxins in the body cause autointoxication which is a process which causes the individual to be poisoned by the substances produced by your own body as a result of inadequate digestion and elimination. All our cells are affected by autointoxication. When the toxins accumulate in the nervous system, we feel irritable and depressed. We feel weak if they back up into the heart, bloated if they reach the stomach and our breath is foul if they reach the lungs. If the poisons try to escape through our skin, rashes and blotches develop, or we look pale and our skin appears wrinkly. If the toxins make it to the glands, we feel fatigued, lethargic, our sex drive may cease and we appear to look much older than our actual age.
Detoxification involves diet and lifestyle changes to reduce intake of toxins and improve elimination. Avoidance of chemicals from food or other sources, refined food, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and many drugs helps minimize the toxin load. Drinking extra water (purified) and increasing fiber by including more fruits and vegetables in the diet are steps in the detoxification process. I also encourage the use of detoxification supplements to help protect the body as the toxins are being eliminated.
SYMPTOMS OF AUTOINTOXICATION INCLUDE:
▪ Reduced mental clarity
▪ Allergies or intolerance to certain foods
▪ Bad breath
▪ Foul smelling gas and stool
▪ Constipation, diarrhea, sluggish elimination, irregular bowel movements
▪ Congestion, colds, viruses, lowered resistance to infections
▪ Flatulence or gas and frequent intestinal disorders
▪ Frequent headaches for no apparent reason
▪ Aches and pains that migrate from one part of the body to another
▪ Intolerance to fatty foods
▪ Lowered energy and loss it vitality for no known reason
▪ Lower back pain
▪ Sleeping for extended periods
▪ Pain in the liver or gall bladder
▪ PMS, breast soreness, vaginal infections
▪ Skin problems, rashes, boils, pimples, acne
▪ Profuse perspiration
THE IMPORTANCE OF FIBER
Dietary fiber plays a crucial role in the proper function and maintenance of the colon. Our widespread colon problems begin with our unhealthy Western diet that is deficient in plant fibers. Fiber is vital in maintaining a healthy colon. Fiber keeps stool soft and lowers pressure inside the colon so that bowel contents can move through easily. A person with a healthy colon should have two to three bowel movements per day. Yes you read this correctly!!
For colon cleansing it is best to use a fiber supplement designed specifically for this purpose. Good-quality supplements contain both soluble and insoluble fiber and are formulated to loosen the stool, absorb and sweep away fat and toxins, reduce transit time, and make elimination effortless and complete.
Herbs can support or even create detoxification. In fact, this area is really the strength, I believe, of herbal medicine. There are many herbs that can be used for the different facets of detoxification and target different body organs. Some cleanse the blood, clean out tissues, strengthen the function of specific organs, etc. Here is a partial list:
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION OF HERBS USEFUL IN DETOXIFICATION
BLOOD CLEANSERS (cleanses the bloodstream)
Oregon Grape Root
LAXATIVES (cleanses through the gastrointestinal tract)
DIURETICS (cleanses through the urinary system)
SKIN CLEANSERS AND DIAPHORETICS (cleanses through the skin)
ANTIBIOTIC (fights against bacteria)
ANTI-CATARRHAL (helps eliminate mucus)
BENEFITS OF DETOXIFICATION INCLUDE:
▪ Prevention of Illness especially chronic illness
▪ Improvement in physical appearance
▪ Improvement in energy levels
▪ Boost emotional well-being
▪ Sharpening of mental capabilities and functioning
▪ Enhancement in digestion and absorption capabilities
▪ Elimination of unhealthy food addictions & allergies
▪ Attainment of ideal weight without constant cravings
▪ Minimizing and reversal of the effects of aging
▪ A feeling of spiritual renewal and purpose