Many people are concerned that their bodies build up toxic levels of nasty substances and have to be periodically “cleansed” or “detoxed” to avoid negative health consequences 1. For the most part, this is completely untrue! There are only two noteworthy exceptions: a build-up of heavy metals such as mercury or lead which can be removed by chelation, and the detox we offer people with drug and alcohol addictions. Our bodies are designed to excrete wastes very effectively, such that they just do not “build up”. Organs such as liver, kidneys, skin, and lungs are continually eliminating waste products in order to keep us healthy. Dr. Edzard Ernst, the Emeritus Professor of Complimentary Medicine at Exeter University says, “there is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better”. The idea that you can flush your system using some kind of tonic or product which is supposed to purify your organs is a total scam designed to sell that tonic or product!
If you walk into almost any health-food store, you will see shelves full of worthless “detox” products including shampoos, bath salts, face masks, tea bags, tinctures and tablets. There are also special “detox” diets which exploit the gullible. And don’t get me started on colonic irrigation. Do you seriously think there’s a buildup of ancient poop stuck on the lining of your colon?? It doesn’t exist! Furthermore, colonic irrigation can cause serious complications including bowel perforation.
The ultimate detox program is a healthy lifestyle: eat your veggies, don’t smoke, and get some vigorous exercise 5-6 days a week. It’s not rocket science, and it doesn’t require additional detoxing supplements or regimens. There is some evidence to support brief intermittent fasting as a tool for improving health and metabolism 2, but this concept is far from widely accepted.
Bottom line: detox is a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things. Buyer beware!
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Dr. Grant Pagdin MD
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