A Functional Medicine Approach to Detox
It is said that we are bombarded with thousands of toxic chemicals everyday. From the moment we are born we are constantly exposed to toxins through the air we breath, the water we drink, the products we use, and the food we eat. You can be the most granola eating, organic picking, hippy strutting human around but you will still be accumulating toxins daily that will stay with you longer than you like. We try to do our best, don't we?! We may buy the expensive filter for our water, buy organic produce to avoid pesticides, and even wash our produce the way they tell us to. So then what's the big deal about toxins and why is it important to detox? I'm here to tell you!
When you think about the way our bodies filter out toxins imagine for a minute that our bodies are like giant buckets that hold the accumulation of our toxic load. The various toxins we are exposed to everyday influence the weight and volume of the load we are carrying. This increases or decreases depending on various components (the degree of toxic exposure, our bodies ability to detox, and our overall state of health). Once these buckets become full they start to overflow and our health takes the brunt of it. It's like accidentally turning on your bathtub and leaving the house for a few hours. Your floors won't be the only thing that's hurting when you get the repair bill after the damage. Our bodies may not sound the alarm and be as obvious as this (they are amazingly efficient at trying to clear out toxins on their own) but over time they will wear down with the accumulation and burdensome load. Things will get messy and you my friend will regret it.
We don't think twice to change the filter in our cars, our HVAC unit, and water purifiers because we know they get gunked up over time and need to be cleaned and replaced. Although much different in every way our bodies are similar in that they need someone to come help clean house on a regular basis. Someone needs to come in and remove the cobwebs, sweep the floor, and take out the trash so that our bodies don't start looking like Oscar the Grouches living quarters. As mentioned previously our bodies are very efficient at doing this on their own. So why come alongside and help them out? We are exposed to an alarmingly high amount of toxic chemicals than ever before. Even radically cleaning up your food, products, and lifestyle doesn't keep our bodies from exposure (but by all means I encourage everyone to do these things as they do make a significant change!). Toxins are in the air we breath, the water we bathe in, and the fabrics that come into contact with us. It's become nearly impossible to avoid in our modern day and age. It's hard to even walk outside into public without perfumes, air fresheners, laundry detergent and candles wafting through the air at all times.
It is said that every year there are 86,000 chemicals added to our food supply and our products each year. In our cosmetics there are upwards of 13,000 toxins and it's said that only 10% of that number has been tested for it's safety. For this reason it's important to be your own health advocate in this particular area. These toxins begin to accumulate and the damaging effects can be far reaching. Many toxic chemicals are endocrine disruptors that alter the hormones in our bodies (which in return regulate so many of our bodily functions from digestion, sleep patterns, sex hormones, fertility and metabolism). When our bodies are exposed to these endocrine disrupting hormones they perceive them as their own as they in a sense mimic certain hormones in the body. Our bodies get the copycat message but can't discern the real Louis Vuitton from knock off. It then reacts by either increasing or decreasing hormones.
So what's a person to do with all this awareness and knowledge? Start by cleaning up your personal care products, cleaning products, food, water and air. Take one at a time and start slowly replacing as to not get overwhelmed. Think long term goals here. Use what you have and replace your items over time. Then begin to detoxify your insides like you do your outside. Below are several categories to begin with that I encourage you to consider implementing.
Using a sauna quickly removes the toxins in our bodies in a much more effective way. While using a sauna the metabolism and heart rate increase significantly improving the bodies blood circulation mobilizing toxins and excreting them through the skin. This increase in blood flow is one of the reasons why it also relieves various aches and pains throughout the body. It is also said to aid in weight loss, improve immunity, relieve stress and induce relaxation. There are many options to choose from including portable or stationary saunas that range in price range. Many gyms and health centers also provide this service.
Hydration & Lemon Water
Water allows your detoxification systems to remove waste products from your blood and regulates your body temperature, lubricates joints, aids digestion and nutrient absorption.
Lemon water is an easy and enjoyable (and super cheap) way to flavor your water while also cleansing your body at the same time. Lemon juice causes the liver to increase bile production (a good thing!) which can often become stagnant. Drinking lemon juice will cleanse the liver and the kidneys as well as boost your bodies immunity with a serious vitamin C punch. Lemon water also helps to keep you hydrated which in return aids in detoxification.
There's a reason why this detox method is so popular, especially amongst cancer patients, who often use this daily. The palmitic acid in the coffee enemas is said to increase glutathione (your body's natural antioxidant) by 600-700%. Yep...hold that morning coffee for a better cause. Coffee enemas increase bile flow all together but more importantly keeps the bile from recycling itself (along with all the unwanted toxins) and dumping it out (pun intended) leaving you less toxic and feeling amazing. During a 15 minute coffee enema your body will filter through the liver about 4 or 5 times. All the toxins that the glutathione gathered and transported to the liver then dumped by the bile ducts into the digestive track will leave you a lot less toxic than you were before.
There are a whole host of supplements out there on the market but there are a few that stand out above the rest. Meet chlorella (cousins with spirulina) a green algae that is a known superfood. As a powerful detoxifier chlorella is known to chelate heavy metals in the body, remove radioactive particles post cancer treatment, aids in weight loss, improves skin elasticity, and enhances the immune system. This one takes the cake!
Another great option to help cleanse the body from the inside out is milk thistle. Milk thistle is derived from a purple and white flowering plant that contains silymarin. It is known to be a powerful liver cleanser as it draws out unwanted and built up toxins out of the liver and body. Our liver is responsible for filtering out our blood on a daily basis and the amount of toxins that buildup can affect the function of the liver. Milk thistle is a gentle yet effective supplement to give our hard working liver a little love.
Dry brushing is an easy and quick detoxification method to incorporate before taking your daily shower/bath. What does the lymphatic system do exactly? "The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body". Think of your lymphatic system as a purifier that travels all around your body drawing in dirty fluid and then expels clean fluid back into your blood vessels. Don't let your purification system get backed up. By using a dry brush and moving it along your skin you are increasing circulation and helping the lymphatic system to do its job. The dry skin gets sloughed off and it opens the skin's pores (our largest organ) to allow the skin to breath and eliminate stored toxins faster.
Epsom Salt Bath
Detox baths can be an effective way to promote whole body detox and induce relaxation at the end of a long hard day. Benefits from a detox bath include:
Increase magnesium levels
Relieve pain & soreness
Soothe skin irritation
Reduce headache pain
The Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfate that stimulate detoxification pathways in