We Can Detox Our Bodies: Research Supports Cleansing.
While many detoxification programs seem to make up for the lack of research to back up their claims with great packaging, testimonials and marketing, this does not mean that all detoxification programs are bogus as some experts are claiming.
In this article I would like to make the case that we can support the body’s natural detoxification pathways and that many such detox programs offer well-documented benefits that should not be ignored—particularly in the toxic world we live in.
Many experts believe that the body’s natural ability to detoxify is perfect and cannot be improved upon. (3) I would agree that the body has a natural ability to detoxify even the most harmful toxins, such as heavy metals, but with excessive toxic exposure and a highly stressed nervous system that results in weakened digestive/detox function, these toxins find their way into the fat cells and brain tissue. (4)
In a world where mercury has found its way to each leaf of organic spinach from the coal mine plumes that cover most of America, it is essential to have a strong digestive system and well-functioning detox pathways—these can be achieved with intelligent cleansing techniques that are backed by science.
The Science of Ayurvedic Detox: Lipophilic-Mediated Detox
Environmental toxins such as pesticides, preservatives, heavy metals and industrial toxicants are all fat soluble or “lipophilic” (lipo = fat, philic = like). Such lipophilic toxins have been associated with hormone disruption, immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, several types of cancer and other diseases. (6,7)
Ayurveda detoxifies these fat soluble toxins using a “lipophilic-mediated” detoxification procedure, where ingested fats actually pull or chelate fat soluble toxins from the body. While more studies need to be done on lipophilic-mediated detox methods, there are several studies that support this method of detox. (8,9)
Based on the Ayurvedic approach of using ingested fats to detoxify environmental toxins, there are studies that have shown impressive results. In one study with 88 subjects, 48 of them underwent a seven-day detox of ingesting ghee (clarified butter) to pull or detox fat soluble toxins while on a no-fat, meat or dairy diet. The researchers measured nine different environmental PCB toxins and eight pesticide toxins. They saw a 46% decrease of the PCBs measured, and a 56% decrease of the pesticides measured. (6,7)
These results suggest that lipophilic-mediated detoxification may be effective in reducing body burdens of fat soluble toxicants. (6,7)
Interestingly, there many Ayurvedic practices including daily oil massage, mouth swishing with oil (oil pulling), ear oil and other techniques that are based on the idea of lipophilic-mediated detoxification that demand further investigation.
Turmeric for Detox
In one study, turmeric was found to have a protective effect from the free radical damage from mercury. Turmeric was shown to boost the body’s detoxifiers, glutathione and super oxide dismutase levels, which protect the liver from mercury. Turmeric also boosted enzymes like catalase in the liver, kidneys and brain, supporting optimal function of these organs in the presence of mercury. In the study, mercury concentrations were reduced as a result of turmeric supplementation before and after mercury exposure. (5)
Sweat it Out
In many parts of Northern Europe, a sauna is considered to be an essential component of one’s well-being. In one study, they concluded that:
“Saunas can be used very effectively for certain cardiovascular problems and as a means to enhance the mobilization of fat-soluble xenobiotics. When saunas are used to reduce blood pressure and enhance blood flow and cardiac functioning, only short sauna (15 minutes) are necessary. When one wants to enhance the mobilization of heavy metals and chemical xenobiotics, longer sessions are needed and those should be medically monitored. But, for either use, saunas are safe and effective and should be used more frequently to benefit the health of our patients and ourselves.” (1)
In another study, saunas were found to support the endothelial health, which is the lining of the arterial wall. Many experts believe that the health and elasticity of the endothelial wall is an indicator of the overall health of the body. (2)
While this is just a brief foray into the research on detoxification methods that are backed by science, I do agree with the fact that many detox procedures require much more investigation before they should be marketed as detox programs. But to say there is no science to back up the practice of detoxification is just simply false.
My firm belief regarding detox is that the body can only do it successfully when the digestive system is functioning optimally. When seeking to cleanse the body, which I believe we should all consider, digestive support and ultimately digestive self-sufficiency (no dependence on a pill or powder) should be a pinnacle, and the ultimate goal should be to restore rather than deplete.
1. Components of practical clinical detox programs–sauna as a therapeutic tool.
2. Repeated sauna treatment improves vascular endothelial and cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure.
3. You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth. So how do you get healthy?
4. Toxicity of mercury.
5. Detoxification and antioxidant effects of curcumin in rats experimentally exposed to mercury
6. LIPOPHIL-MEDIATED REDUCTION OF TOXICANTSIN HUMANS
7. Lipophil-mediated reduction of toxicants in humans: an evaluation of an ayurvedic detoxification procedure.
8. New approaches for treatment of humans exposed to a slowly excreted environmental chemical (chlordecone).
9. Cholestyramine: use as a new therapeutic approach for chlordecone (kepone) poisoning.
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