April is just around the corner and I can’t count how many times customers at the health food store I work at have made the statement, “I NEED to detox!” Before I jump on board with them and reply an enthusiastic “YES!” and throw one of the several detox kits on the shelves in their face, I do a little bit of investigative work.
While detoxing done the right way (and this will vary from person to person) can be beneficial for most adults, there is some caution that must be heeded. First, let’s make sure we are clear on what detoxing is. The act of detoxing refers to ridding the body of excess toxins that have not been filtered and eliminated and are now being stored or re-circulating in the body. The goal of detoxing is to stimulate and support the major elimination organs and pathways – liver, kidney, intestines, lymph and skin. When one or more of these organs/pathways is not doing its job, we become inefficient eliminators and begin to accumulate a toxic load. Some people are genetically better detoxers than others, but diet and lifestyle plays a huge role in our bodies ability to process and eliminate the junk that is harmful to our bodies. Therefore, detoxing is a way for us to assist our lovely liver and its partners in crime with their critical roles, so we can more efficiently cleanse the blood, lymph, tissues and organs of impurities. Like Spring time, detoxing is all about renewal and rejuvenation.
All of that sounds great, doesn’t it? Why wouldn’t we want to clean out those nasty toxins that we are exposed to in our food and water supply, the air we breathe and the products we use? Well, here’s the thing. Detoxing puts the body into breakdown mode, rather than build-up mode and depending on the method used, can put a lot of strain on your organs of elimination and not to mention detox reactions can be quite severe and debilitating.
You may have picked up by now that I am not the biggest fan of the typical detox plan that involves starving yourself for a week or two and living off of nothing but green juices and water, often accompanied by a multitude of herbs and supplements to push your organs to release toxins and eliminate through the bowels and urine (often quite aggressively). One of the main complaints I hear from people who have tried a detox kit or a fasting program is that they had to stop because they were going to the bathroom so much, or they felt so tired and “headachey” that they weren’t able to function in their daily lives. These symptoms are often natural responses to the detoxification process, but when they become debilitating, it may be a sign that the body is too stressed from too much too soon, or the detox was undertaken at an inappropriate time for that individual.
The good news is that there are more gentle, safe and effective detox methods that you can incorporate seasonally (2-4 times a year) and tricks and tools to help your organs and tissues eliminate toxins more efficiently that you can apply on a daily basis to reduce toxic buildup (more on that to come). If a detox is done in a mindful and balanced way, it can be excellent for almost anyone. However, we are all unique and facing different challenges and circumstances in our minds and bodies at any given moment. Certain individuals have to be extra cautious with detoxing methods and might need to have the patience to wait for the right time, or take things super slow.
It’s April! Time to burst out of our dark hollows and spring into the season of renewal and growth. In my next post, I will cover some crucial questions to ask yourself before you delve into a detox program that will help you determine if it’s the right time for you and your body to embark on this journey.