Detoxification – what is it all about? And do I really need to do it?
Posted on 13 January 2015 by Leonie Satori
January is the time when many of us feel the need for some inner cleansing after indulgence during the festive season. But what is detoxification? And do I really need to do it?
Detoxification can be considered to be the combined effects of many different natural cleansing processes that our bodies undergo on a daily basis, and some would argue that if this were the case, then why would we consider ‘doing a detox’? As much of a reasonable argument as this is, one must consider the impact that our overly processed and toxic lifestyles tend to have on our overall health – a quick look at the statistics associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and the increasingly common diagnosed liver disorders and it doesn’t take much to understand that Australians have been accumulating a fairly toxic lifestyle.
Essentially a good detoxification program has a two pronged effect, firstly by reducing the toxins accumulated in the body and then secondly enhancing the elimination of toxins through the body’s natural pathways of elimination. To understand this in a simplified way, you could compare detoxification to giving your home a good spring clean, while you may be in the habit of taking out the rubbish and vacuuming the carpet regularly, it often needs a good few weekends of spring cleaning to get behind the furniture to eliminate the accumulated dust and clean out the gutters properly.
So when I discuss detoxification with clients in my naturopathic clinic, the first stage is assessing the amount of ‘cleaning’ that needs to be done, how the natural detoxification pathways are working (how regularly you take out the rubbish), if there is evidence of stress on the organs of detoxification (is there mould growing in the bathroom) and when was the last time that the body had a good clean out. Many would think that we are primarily looking at the bowels as the major organ of elimination; however, it is good to understand that the kidneys, the lungs and the skin also play a big role in elimination and detoxification. Often, what I do find is that if one organ of elimination is ‘slacking off’, other areas of the body will show signs that they are overworked.
While I have seen many good quality detoxification products on the market, many I have found do tend to take the emphasis away from proper cleansing and give more emphasis to taking a magic pill or potion. One of the biggest mistakes that I see with detoxification is over-enthusiasm, often closely followed by disinterest and then a return to regular habits - or what I call the retoxification stage. Some ‘detox programs’ can detoxify the body much quicker than our own body’s mechanisms can handle, and this can result in headaches, diarrhoea, nausea or skin rashes (to name but a few).
So, again, the question of detoxification – for some it may seem unnecessary, and others it may seem a bit scary, however I would emphasise that it is important to assess your own individual state of health, seek guidance from a health practitioner with experience in detoxification, and above all, you need to have a plan. Like tackling the cleaning of a house full of dust and rubbish, you need to approach the situation logically, methodically and with some well considered contingency plans in place.
For most people, once they have completed their first sensible and well thought out detox, establishing better lifestyle habits with reducing toxins on a daily basis and ensuring that natural processes of elimination are functioning normally can reduce the necessity to indulge in ‘radical’ detoxification programs. In a society where wealth can sometimes be associated with an accumulation of material possessions, I consider health to be associated with freedom - from the burden of accumulated wastes in the body, and freedom from preventable disease.
It goes without saying that most people today can benefit from some detoxification, and seeking guidance from a health practitioner, herbalist or naturopath can help to improve the success of this process and make it a pleasant and empowering process.
About the Author
Leonie is a Naturopath & Medical Herbalist with a passion for good food, healthy living and of course, herbal medicine. When she is not consulting in her wellness clinic in Lismore or blogging about nutrition, Ayurvedic Medicine or natural health, she is studying yoga, growing her own herbs and vegetables or quietly walking in the natural bush land in Northern Rivers NSW.
Contact our health centre in Lismore to book an appointment with Leonie in our naturopathic clinic.
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