The Detoxification Program – Support Your Body’s Detoxification
The detoxification program depends on effective elimination for much of its success. With less energy dedicated to digesting, absorbing, transporting and assimilating foods, the body will be redirecting its energy toward “catching up” with inner cleaning. As it shifts into releasing toxins from cells and tissues, your job is to support the channels of elimination so that these waste products can now make their way out. It is simple to do, and it is very important. Without this step, you won’t see all the benefits—and in some cases, if you ignore elimination, you can create discomfort and even health problems. The channels of elimination include the skin, the lungs, the kidneys, the bowels, and the circulatory system, which connects them all through two subsystems, the blood vessels and the lymphatic system. Here are tools to enhance their function. Use them individually or in combination until you are successful.
Many of the toxins and most of the mucus that is pulled out of the tissues and captured from the blood get eliminated through the bowels, bound up in feces. Facilitating the movement of this waste material through the intestines is crucial at all times, but especially during a detox program, when it is very common to see this mucus mixed in with, or surrounding, your stools. It is sticky, so naturally, can cause constipation; you must do whatever you can to support daily, generous, bowel movements. Fiber supplements, which help grab the toxins and move everything toward the exit, might not always be sufficient to keep things moving as quickly and as efficiently as you need during this deep-clean program.
This toxic mix has a tendency to stick to the intestinal wall in a layer of plaque that thickens as the hours go by. When it’s not released in healthy feces, this constipated mix lets toxins get reabsorbed and then digested by the pathogenic bacteria in the intestinal walls. They in turn will emit their even stronger toxins and exacerbate the condition of dysbiosis. Avoid constipation even for one day during detoxification. Use your fiber supplements, drink lots of pure water, and take gentle to moderate exercise to promote daily, generous bowel movements. If they don’t happen easily, take herbal laxatives every night. Dr. Schulze’s Intestinal Formula #1 is the most potent one available, almost guaranteed to make you eliminate consistently thanks to its mix of wild harvested herbs, including senna and cascara sagrada (available from www.herbdoc .com). Swiss Kriss is another effective and trusted brand, readily available at health food stores. In both cases, read the instructions and take as many doses as necessary to achieve the goal of consistent elimination. Even if they give you mild diarrhea occasionally, do not be concerned unless it is constant and it dehydrates you. In this case, cut back on the amount of laxatives you take or leave them out for a day to restore balance.
There is no set number of bowel movements a day that everyone must have, whether in daily life or during a detox program. “Optimal elimination” means as much as is necessary to dispose of the materials that will affect the system negatively. With a good, healthy diet, free of toxins, one should eliminate feces after every meal. Most of us eliminate much less often than that—in general we are a constipated population—and it’s now considered normal to have one movement a day, with many people having less than that. In its healthiest states, the stool should have the color and consistency of peanut butter (though some healthy foods like dark green vegetables turn it darker). When your stool is more solid than this consistency, it is an early sign of constipation. A healthy stool shouldn’t smell in a way that urges the evacuation of the bathroom and it shouldn’t take too much effort to eliminate.
If a day goes by without a bowel movement, try taking a dose of castor oil, the oldest trick in the world for encouraging the release of toxicity and mucus. It works as well today as it did a hundred years ago, when family doctors used it as a remedy for practically every situation. Start with half a shot glass of it followed by a glass of water with lemon juice. Wait thirty to forty-five minutes to see if this promotes a bowel movement. If it does not work, repeat. If necessary, repeat again until the bowels begin to move. The release can be intense at times, so you will want to avoid doing this while busy at work or far away from a bathroom.
Colonic hydrotherapy. To effectively boost the removal of the mucoid plaque that gets pulled out during detoxification, use colonic hydrotherapy during the program. Contrary to what many Western-trained physicians may say, colonics are very safe and beneficial when done with the right therapist. During the treatment, pure water is delivered at low pressure into the colon and then drawn out, which irrigates the colon and helps it release waste matter. There are two kinds, the open system and closed system, both of which are hygienic, discreet, and not uncomfortable. You can research which one you like better. A detoxification program is the time when colonics are most beneficial, especially to those with a history of constipation. You can have as many treatments during detoxification as you like, depending on your budget and schedule. (I’ve even had patients who got them daily during their detox.) Enemas are a self-administered way of irrigating the lower colon; they are helpful too, and may be used during detoxification, though they do not work as deeply as colonics.
When you switch from a poor diet to a better one, better bowel movements are of the earliest benefits you will get. It can be a major part of the relief and improvement that comes from a detoxification program, both physically and mentally. And there is no reason for this benefit to be lost after you finishdetoxification, provided that you continue to eat and drink foods that do not cause irritation and mucus production in your system, keep the intestinal flora in good repair, and maintain the twelve-hour window at night.
OTHER TYPES OF ELIMINATION
The bowels are by no means the only avenue of elimination that your body uses. All types of elimination need to be supported during detoxification, and afterward.
Kidney Elimination. Make sure you urinate frequently during detoxification. After the liver does its hard work of transforming fat-loving toxic molecules into water-soluble ones, they need to be filtered out of the body by the kidneys and eliminated via your urine. Drink enough water that you pee every hour. If urination happens less than that, you are not drinking enough water. Lemon, cucumbers, coconut, and other ingredients used in the detoxification recipes are natural diuretics that will help this process too.
Lung Elimination. Breathing is a crucial method for releasing toxins. When you exhale carbon dioxide, you are getting rid of acidity in the blood. (Remember the carbonic acid made by the little factories of your cells? This becomes carbon dioxide gas.) Make a point of using your lungs fully and deeply; visualize how each inhale is supplying you with the number one most essential nutrient you need to live, oxygen, and each exhale is an essential way of offloading the waste material that must be removed. Automatically, your breaths will become fuller and calmer.
Many people do breathing exercises to eliminate toxins from both the nervous system and the thinking brain. A simple exercise involves putting attention on the breath in a mindful way for a few minutes. Start by breathing in and out through the nose, letting the belly inflate and then the back and chest expand on the inhale; then letting the chest and back contract but keeping the chest lifted, and then letting the belly flatten on the exhale. Keep the rhythm as regular and as slow as you can. Most important, keep your attention focused on your breath. Be aware at all times if you are inhaling or exhaling. Notice how the moment you take your attention away from breathing, the autopilot kicks in—you will continue to breathe, but your attention will be elsewhere, most likely in thoughts, and soon your breaths get short and shallow. Each time you notice this, gently bring your attention back to your breath. This exercise can be done anywhere, at any time, even in the middle of an important meeting. It will be cleaning out the lungs while quieting and clearing the mind.
Skin Elimination. Sweating is another mechanism for eliminating toxins. In a healthy person, the skin is usually spared the job of eliminating heavy-duty toxins and mucus, and mainly releases excess water, minerals, and salts. But if your bowels are not doing their job, the body will recruit the other organs of elimination to compensate. If this happens, your skin pays the price with breakouts and problems that cosmetics and creams applied to the surface don’t fix. During a detox program, the skin might have to do some extra work at the beginning. Skin rashes or breakouts during the first few days of detoxification are not uncommon; they are a sign that accelerated detoxification is happening. (Of course, use your common sense. Nobody knows your body better than you, so if at any point any of the effects of the program seem alarmingly abnormal, consult your doctor or preferably a health-care practitioner who is familiar with the detoxification process.)
Taking saunas maximizes elimination via the skin during detoxification, especially infrared saunas, a powerful method for boosting sweating. Steam rooms can be helpful as well, although they are less effective than saunas. Skin brushing is another simple, cheap, and effective practice that will help elimination and can easily be done daily during detoxification. Your skin is constantly scaling off dead cells, but you’ll want to speed the process during a detox to prevent the dead skin from blocking your pores. Finally, hot-cold plunges are a detoxification secret weapon.
The most effective sauna is an infrared sauna. This newer technology heats up the user’s body instead of heating the air with steam like a traditional Finnish sauna. It creates radiant heat from long light waves that are not visible by the eye (like sunlight diffused by clouds). These rays penetrate more deeply below the skin than the heat of a regular sauna, exciting the fat molecules into vibration so that they release toxins. It also boosts circulation, which is desirable at all times, but especially during detoxification, as the blood needs to carry toxins efficiently to the liver for processing. Those used to regular saunas will probably find that they sweat more in the infrared version. However, regular saunas will do if you can’t find infrared. In both cases, remember to rehydrate during and after the sauna with lots of pure water.
Skin brushing involves using a soft, natural-bristle brush with a long handle on your dry skin, before a bath or shower. These brushes can be found in health food stores and some drugstores. Use long strokes and circular strokes to gently “scrub” the dry skin, from feet to head, including the front and back of the body, the arms, and neck, always moving inward toward the heart. Do this for several minutes daily if possible. Go gently on thinner-skinned areas and use more pressure in thicker-skinned areas such as your back and the soles of the feet. A loofah works too. In addition to removing dead skin cells, you are stimulating the all-important lymph system, the hormonal system, and glands. For best results follow this with a hot-cold plunge or shower. If you need to moisturize the skin afterward, try using a small amount of natural oil like sesame or coconut oil instead of a chemical-filled drugstore product.
In a hot-cold plunge, you alternate between hot and cold water repeatedly to boost circulation and detoxification. Your skin is your largest organ: it contains miles of arterioles and venules that are filled with blood. These vessels relax and dilate with heat and contract with cold. When this relax/contract pattern happens, your skin pumps almost as much blood as your heart. You don’t need to go to a spa or bathhouse to do it. In your shower, turn the water as hot as you can tolerate for one minute and then as cold as you can go for one minute and repeat this 4 or 5 times. Doing this daily is an easy way to support the skin’s detoxification function.
Exercise boosts the effectiveness of all the elimination channels at once. It increases circulation of both blood and lymph. It makes you sweat. It stimulates the bowels to eliminate. It makes you breathe more heavily and deeply. It relaxes your mind and puts you in the present. It burns calories, and, last but not least, it releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that are nature’s antidote to stress and worry. Use your common sense. Don’t run a marathon during detoxification, especially during the first few days of your first detoxification. Until you get familiar with what your body is doing and how it feels, take exercise slowly and increase the intensity gradually; start by walking more and taking the stairs. Longer periods of exercise will speed up your metabolism and help with weight loss. Scientific data show concretely how exercise helps reverse most chronic diseases. Make sure you include some form of exercise daily, during detoxification and beyond.
Yoga. Some forms of exercise have extra detoxification power. Hatha yoga’s series of twists and bends massage the organs and promote their good functioning. Jumping exercises like jump rope and mini-trampoline (also called rebounding) are favorites on detox programs because they stimulate blood and lymphatic circulation.
In addition to being relaxing and nurturing, massage helps release toxins by boosting the circulation of lymph, the fluid that carries waste, debris, toxins, and sick cells through the lymph nodes. These “healing stations” act like filters, processing and removing sick cells and fighting viruses and bacteria. Deep-tissue massage works best for detoxification purposes, but any massage technique will help during detoxification.
As long as you support the essentials of elimination—bowel, kidney, and basic exercise—you’ll get detoxification no matter how much or little of these support practices you do. There are varying degrees of detoxification— it’s sort of comparable to taking a shower without soap, with soap, or with a salt-scrub, soap, and loofah. Do what feels right to you on your first program, trying a few new measures whenever you can.
Rest and Sleep
One of our biggest health challenges is the lack of enough time for resting and repairing. Americans tend to be sleep-deprived; let detoxification be an opportunity to change this. Energy levels always fluctuate during a detoxification program. Your body may crave sleep at the beginning, making you more tired earlier than usual. Allow yourself to get as much rest as you need and go to bed early because sleep is when much of the important repair work is done. A natural correction of fatigue tends to occur during the program, at which point it is normal to find yourself waking up earlier than usual, without the normal tiredness or desire to stay in bed. Make adequate rest as much of a priority as you can, even if it means cutting out some TV, reading, or socializing.