"Why should I detox?"
When discussing detoxification with people, I often hear variations of the following arguments against it. Either they have heard they should only do a “cleanse” in the Spring, or they believe it is just another “new” health fad and that their bodies can detoxify naturally without assistance.
Let me address these step by step:
“I have heard I should only do a ‘cleanse’ in the Spring”
First off, I just want to clarify that a detox is NOT a cleanse as these processes serve very different purposes. The confusion comes from the fact that these terms are often (yet mistakenly) used interchangeably because they can have similar-feeling health outcomes of feeling refreshed, vibrant, and even lighter from the inside out; also, they both serve important health purposes.
However, there are some distinct differences between a Cleanse and a Detox:
“Detoxification is a fad”
First, detoxification isn’t a new concept or fad at all. In fact, it has been practiced for thousands of years by ancient Ayurvedic Practitioners followed closely in time by Chinese Medicine Practitioners. Even at times when environmental pollution wasn’t at the scale we know today, these practitioners recognized that toxic overload occurs and begins to block eliminatory pathways which leads to toxic build-up in the body. This creates an environment ripe for illness and/or disease to present themselves. Additionally, if we look to nature, we can see that we are provided with herbs, nutrients, and minerals that promote detoxification and eradicate toxicities from our body systems. Therefore, it would seem that there is a time and a place which these naturally occurring substances are called for and even necessary to maintain health and well-being.
"I already eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle, therefore I don't need to detox"
I agree, eating healthy is definitely a vital part of maintaining good health. But unfortunately - and despite our best efforts - we are still exposed to environmental pollutants simply by living on this planet. In fact, according to the online publication Phys.org (2017), every year humans emit 250 billion metric tonnes of chemical substances....and this number is growing. Please see the chart below showing just a few of these toxic sources as well as the next section for further information about pollutant exposure.
"The body is capable of detoxifying itself and doesn't need help"
Yes, the body is an amazing network of systems that has an incredible ability to rebuild, regenerate, and to a degree detoxify itself. However, I would point out again that detoxification was necessary for optimal health for thousands of years, prior to the industrialization of society and the unprecedented levels of toxicity that we see today.
A scientific study called 10 Americans which was conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and presented by the EWG President Ken Cook, showed that the average American is walking around with around 287 detectable toxins in their bodies. The most alarming part of this discovery is that 212 of these toxins found have been banned for at least 30 years which led to the conclusion that these individuals were exposed in utero, with toxins being passed to the fetus from their mother through the umbilical cord. In fact, in another study, 232 toxic chemicals have been found in the umbilical cord blood of U.S. newborns (Goodman, 2009). Many of these having been shown to be carcinogenic, cause birth defects, are hormone dysruptive, as well as cause cognitive issues.
Considering that these individuals were exposed to these chemicals prior to birth shows that the body is not capable of processing out the massive amount of man-made toxins that it was exposed to then, or the new ones that it has (and will) continue to be exposed to. There is also the fact that there have been no long-term studies of many chemicals (or their combinations) in our bodies as well as our unborn children on a staggering number of these toxins.
The scale of toxic exposure is growing!
The scientific magazine Phys.org quoted Julian Cribb from his book Surviving the 21st Century (2017):
"The European Chemicals agency estimates there are more than 144,000 man-made chemicals in existence. The US Department of Health estimates 2000 new chemicals are being released every year. The UN Environment Program warns most of these have never been screened for human health safety."
"The World Health Organisation estimates that 12 million people – one in 4 – die every year from diseases caused by 'air water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change and ultraviolet radiation', all of which result from human activity."
Here are a few more startling facts about environmental toxicity
(info acquired from The Rain Barrel Effect by Dr. Stephen Cabral; 2017)):
Put succinctly, a child that is born today, and all of us that are currently living, are exposed to more than 144,000 man-made chemicals that did not exist only 150 years ago. Given that these chemicals did not exist such a short time ago, it is evident that our bodies were not “built” to deal with this massive onslaught. This is further evidenced by the prevalence of developmental disorders and conditions such as ADD & ADHD in our society. The result of these toxic exposures are numerous health conditions such as ADD & ADHD, cancer, digestive dysfunction, inflammatory issues, and neurological disorders. In fact, there are numerous health conditions some of which are listed below:
Our bodies need our help!
Perhaps in years past, when environmental toxicity was minimal, doing a detox only a few times in a lifetime may have been enough to maintain relatively good health. But given the 144,000+ man-made toxins that we have to contend with in today's world, it is necessary to regularly relieve the body of its toxic burden in order to keep pace with all of these toxic exposures on a daily basis. This is especially true given that cancer, inflammatory diseases and cognitive dysfunction have become so prevalent in our world.
What is your total Toxic Load?
Are you curious what your toxic load is?
Take the "Toxicity Assessment."
Want to read more about toxins, their effects on the body, and how a Functional Medicine Detox can help? Visit my previous blog post What is a Functional Medicine Detox and why do one?
Ready to lighten your Toxic Load?
If you are ready to take your health into your hands, join my upcoming FREE Community Detox Group on Facebook! The next Group Detox begins January 9th!
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Act now because the deadline for purchasing your detox kit in time for being part of this world-wide movement is December 31st! Click below for more Detox Group Info!
10 Americans. (2012). YouTube.com. Retrieved December 25, 2022, from https://youtu.be/0-kc3AIM_LU.
Cabral, S. (2017). The rain barrel effect: How a 6,000 year old answer holds the secret to finally getting well, losing Weight & Feeling alive again! Amazon. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.amazon.com/Rain-Barrel-Effect-Finally-Getting/dp/1975774833
Goodman, S. (2009, December 2). Tests find more than 200 chemicals in newborn umbilical cord blood. Scientific American. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from
Scientists categorize Earth as a 'toxic planet'. Phys.org. (2017, February 7). Retrieved December 25, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2017-02-scientists-categorize-earth-toxic-planet.html
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