What is “detox”?
Detoxification is a term that can represent many processes. Generally speaking, it is the process of removing toxins that accumulate in different body tissues and organ systems.
What are “toxins”?
When using the term “toxins”, we are usually referring to substances that may cause damage to cells, tissues, organs or processes essential to proper physiological functions. These substances may be from an external source, such as chemicals, heavy metals, pollutants, etc. They may also be produced internally as a by-product of cell metabolism.
Doesn’t my body detox already?
Yes, it does! There are various organs of elimination involved in the elimination of waste and toxins. These include primarily the liver, kidneys, and colon. The skin, lungs, mucous membranes, among others, also play an important part in the detoxification process.
So why would I follow a detox plan?
When the organs of elimination are functioning optimally and the body is not overwhelmed with external toxins, detoxification can proceed naturally and without medical intervention. However, in many situations, one or more organs of elimination may be hindered by various factors. Illness, damage, and misuse can all hamper the proper detox function of these organs. Furthermore, if the natural process of detoxification is not optimal, and the body continues to be exposed to external toxins, it can quickly become overwhelmed, resulting in a variety of signs and symptoms. These signs and symptoms may include digestive issues, fatigue, insomnia, poor mental focus, skin rashes, development of sensitivities and intolerances, etc.
How does naturopathic medicine support the detox process?
First and foremost, your naturopathic doctor may conduct the appropriate medical interview, physical exam and/or lab tests to determine your state of health and possible factors affecting your detoxification process. If there are possible conditions that may hinder detoxification, these must be addressed first before implementing a detoxification plan. For example, if someone is a long-time smoker or suffers from chronic constipation, these factors must be addressed before a plan is started. It is important to note that if certain organs of elimination are hindered, beginning a detox plan without first addressing these may actually make symptoms worse.
If it is determined that a detox plan would be safe, effective and appropriate, the primary approach would be to reduce exposure to external toxins. This often includes dietary modifications, avoidance of household chemicals and limiting exposure to pollutants. In addition to these changes, your ND may also recommend certain naturopathic treatments to help support the optimal functioning of the organs of elimination. This may include herbal medicines to help support healthy bowel habits, liver and kidney functions. Specific treatments may be recommended to address factors addressing your particular detoxification processes.
Speak to a naturopathic doctor to learn more about “DETOX”.