In our September column, Maggie Martin guides us through the reasons for and how to detox for the best long-term benefits.
What is DETOX?
According to “The Lancet” magazine, the meaning of the concept of detoxification has changed dramatically in the course of many decades. Once used to refer to the process of extracting poisons from the blood stream, it has now been expanded to include diverse forms of therapy purporting to cleanse both mind and body of the polluting effects of life in modern society.
The majority of people understand detoxification or as we’ve come to call it “detox” as simply the process where substances considered to be toxic (drugs, alcohol, unhealthy foods but also stress) leave our bodies.
Detox in general are a short-term dietary and physical intervention, where the entire process can take up to a few weeks but the positive effects might last for many months to come.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in order to detox in an efficient way, patients will always be advised to have regular Acupuncture and cupping sessions, to meditate and through that to control and optimize the breathing, which in itself is a highly anti-inflammatory process with many health benefit. Acupuncture treatments during the detox phase will get Qi moving more freely, remove blockages, and assist in elimination of toxins from the body and through that lower the inflammation and increase immunity.
During the detox program, cupping sessions will help to pull toxins out of the lungs and other organs.
In addition, it is also recommended to use herbal medicine and change the diet.
All of that will help the body and mind mend and heal but also optimize our fertility and improve the digestion just to mention a few.
So when we think about detoxifying, most of us think only about the liver and, while the liver is a very important detoxification organ, there are also other organs that are as important as the liver to keep our body fit and healthy!
These include amongst others our glorious lungs, powerful kidneys, magnificent large intestine and our magical skin.
The liver is the primary organ for metabolizing and breaking down any substance we consume but it is also associated in TCM with anger, resentment, frustration, irritability, bitterness and depression.
In TCM it is referred to as the “General of the body”, as it makes the decisions on how, “metabolically”, substances should be broken down and eliminated. Every substance that is brought, via the blood, to the liver will be directed to one of the pathways to be broken down and turned into an inactive or less toxic form before being prepared to be shipped off for elimination via the kidneys and intestines. It is optimizing and improving these pathways that is the basis of any liver detox.
With the lungs its all about the breath, bringing the oxygen into the body and remove the carbon dioxide. In TCM, lungs connect to the emotion of grief, sadness and detachment.
Breathing is essential for our health, immunity, vitality and longevity! In his bestselling book “Breath” James Spector brings together thousands of years of medical texts and cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology explaining the importance of breath. It is a great book I highly recommend to all of my patients in order to optimize their breathing techniques and through that enhance their general health, immunity and wellbeing.
Breathing is essential for our optimal health. Optimizing a full, deep inhalation and a slow, deep exhalation is one of the best ways to keep the bodies healthy.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a great place to start, also known as “relaxing breath,” one that involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety or help people get to sleep.
I recommend doing this for a few minutes every day, as when we inhale in a correct way, we are replenishing the body with fresh oxygen and when we exhale we release carbon dioxide.
When we practice slow, rhythmic breathing we balance our blood chemistry, reduce cortisol, lower our blood pressure and slow our heart rate.
Now let's talk about my most favourite organ! Our powerful Kidneys! The function of our kidneys is to filter out all the by-products the liver has deposited into the blood so staying hydrated is a very important aspect of keeping your kidneys healthy as this will provide your glorious kidneys with the right amount of fluid to flush out all of the harmful toxins out of your bodies!
Keep drinking a lot of water, as the kidneys need your help to remove all the waste and excess fluid to make urine. In TCM, the kidneys relate to the emotion of fear, which can manifest as chronic fear or anxiety.
Now in my clinic, gut health is a massive and everyday theme! As you all know the job of your large intestine is to receive the waste material and to remove all the physical waste from the food you eat.
In addition to food wastes, other toxins and metabolic by-products are deposited into the intestines through the bile and according to TCM, emotions of sadness and grief, the same as with lungs, are associated with it.
So the best way to keep your gut detoxifying is to have regular bowel movements and no it's not the same for everyone ;), as some of you may do this more frequently than others.
Remember everyone is different and everyone’s metabolism is different. What works for some does necessarily mean that it will work for others so as long as you are ‘going’ in your own rhythm that’s good!
Don’t stress about it too much, unless it is very chronic, because that feeling alone will cause you constipation! Keep drinking a lot of water, especially am (warm!) with or without the lemon ;) (in my humble opinion totally irrelevant! & if you want to now why just ask me!).
Now last but not the least in importance is your skin, which is the largest organ in our body and as such, has a significant role to play in the elimination of toxic substances – through perspiration or the process of sweating. Sweating is one of the ways our bodies eliminate toxins so double up your sauna visits, drink enough water and literally sweat away all the unnecessary toxins from your body! Also keep exercising! As that is definitely one of the best ways to increase your circulation and through that detoxification of your body!
Now, what is the best way to detox?
There are many different ways to do a detox and many companies offer products you can purchase to do this. Remember please that there is no magic pill that will do it for you, you have to put the work in, in order to reap the benefits of the detox process and ideally whilst doing so try to avoid the following:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Saturated oils
- Artificial colours & sweeteners
- Processed and junk food
- Heavier animal meats with higher amounts of fat such as beef & pork
- Any foods you know you are allergic or sensitive to
In addition, you should try to drink a lot of filter or mineral water depending on your preference.
Add fibre, magnesium supplement and a probiotic to keep your bowels moving
Vitamins C, E and Zinc are also always great to protect you from the tissues damage, so add them to your regime.
And of course, don’t forget to add the liver detox formula. I personally like very much the Liposomal Gluthatione from Altrient, as this product will support your liver and kidneys effectively in the process of toxin elimination!
Eat good amounts of organic vegetables and fruit. A variety of colours and types is very important here.
Eat beans, legumes and mixed seeds, and add a selection of fresh herbs to the mix.
Good quality, organic meats such as chicken or responsibly sourced fish is also going to provide a boost.
Try to avoid stress and get enough sleep every night at least 7- 8 hours a night.
Practise your breathing exercise.
Sauna practice is a must! and of course the exercise. Sauna visits or a hot bath will encourage your skin to sweat out the toxins.
If you have practised cold showers or ice baths beforehand, continue to do them to keep the inflammation low and enhance your immunity.
Closing thoughts ...
Please remember that life is all about balance and our bodies don’t like extremes. You are on your health, healing and mending journey, which not only applies when you decide to do a detox, but should be where possible contemplated each and every single day of your life.
We need to help our bodies to protect themselves and excrete the large volume of toxins that enter the body every day, as this can cause DNA toxic waste that can in conjunction with our DNA makeup lead to conditions like cancer, heart disease and general bad-health.
There is a lot we can do to prevent this, but it’s a lifestyle choice and not a short-lived and very quickly forgotten commitment. It is worth remembering that often the simplest changes we choose to make can have the most profound effects on our bodies!