Would you carry around a cocktail of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, toxic heavy metals, bad bugs, putrefying material and encrusted undigested food in your pocket. Probably not, yet this is exactly what we do with our bodies.

I recently had a client who lost 3 kilos during a detoxification program, 3 kilos of encrusted material from her lower intestine and colon.  Some pretty horrible things came out of her body. A colleague of mine has a client who lost 5 kilos. These are not extraordinary events. Nearly all of us are carry around varying degrees of toxic waste in different parts of our bodies and it comes at a cost to our health.

The body was never meant to process much of what we put in/on our mouths, skin, hair. Normally the body would deal with small amounts and they would come out in “pees and poos”, but it struggles to deal with the onslaught of chemicals, radiation, fumes, herbicides, pesticides, additives, preservatives, solvents, protectants, alcohol, cigarette smoke, drugs, junk food and so much more. It does the very best that it can, but often it is just so overwhelmed that it stores toxins in fat, bone and tissue, just to get rid of them. As a result we are walking depositories of heavy metals, plaque, chemicals and encrusted food.

Some of the effects of a toxic body include an inability to lose weight, chronic fatigue, hormone disruption, depression, recurrent headaches, muscle ache and weakness, recurrent infections, infertility, menstrual disorders, allergies, digestive disorders, skin disorder and more. There are a large number of studies linking specific toxins to specific diseases. Usually people ignore the early signs until they develop into a dehabilating condition. Then they search desperately for a solution.

It is not just the toxins from outside the body that causes problems, it is also those being produced inside. The “gut” is supposed to have a health balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. A modern diet, lifestyle and certain drugs such as antibiotics can upset this balance resulting in the “bad” bacteria proliferating and spewing out toxins. These toxins can contribute to many of the above conditions.

We need to get a little nerdy to understand how detoxification works and why many detoxification programs on the market do not work. Detoxification proceeds in three phases. For simplicity, let us focus on the first two. Phase 1 transforms the toxins, from fat soluble to more water-soluble. Why? So that they can be excreted from the body.  During this process reactive molecules are formed that can be more toxic than the original toxin. The body needs to deal with these free radicals or they can cause damage to proteins, RNA and DNA within the cells. In addition some toxins, like heavy metals can be redeposited in some scary places, like the brain.

The phases need to be supported by various nutrients at the correct time, notably the B vitamins, antioxidants, herbs, and protein. Many detoxification programs up regulate Phase 1, but do not support Phase 2. Several studies have shown an association between high Phase 1 and reduced Phase 2 activity and chronic diseases.

The good news is that our bodies can detoxify, if given the right things in the right order, based on individual need. At the same time, specific functions need to be supported. It is not about moving the toxins around the body. It is about systematically removing them from key areas and out of the body. This protocol is at the basis of many alternative disease therapies.

When I first studied naturopathy in the 1970s, the big thing for detoxification was fasting:  water fasts and juice fasts. Around day three, the client would feel terrible. Hallelujah! We would proclaim a “healing crisis”. Nothing could be further from the truth. What was happening was that Phase 1 detoxification was in full swing, but Phase 2, which need amino acids, fats and antioxidants was stalling and the toxins in the body were making you feel ill.

To complicated matters, people who are toxic laden are often constipated, so the toxins keep building up in the body. There are three things we need for healthy digestive elimination: sufficient pure water (no, tea and juices do not count); sufficient soluble and insoluble fibre (one binds to toxins and the other moves them through the digestive tract); and sufficient healthy oils (to help the system function properly). A modern diet is deficient in all three.

We spring clean our houses, we refresh our wardrobes, we replant our gardens, but we forget our bodies.