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Group Detox: More Harm than Good!

by Mary F. Shackelton

It has come again…January is here, and I have seen another patient with symptoms of having gone too fast on a group detox.  Everyone likes the idea of a cleanse. It seems to be some sort of penance to pay for the sins of the month before:  the multiple happy hours, the less-than-good food choices, and all of the over-doing it.  We want to abstain from all of those things that bring us some pleasure and that allow us to let down a bit.  The severity of the cleanse often meets the severity of the sins.  Ever see someone do a strict broth-only cleanse, or  worse, the Master Cleanse starting January 1st? A recipe for disaster for most of us.

I get it:  we are cleansing our conscience as much as we attempt to cleanse our livers.  But hold on folks, NOT SO FAST!!  We cannot attempt to eliminate what is stored in our tissues in a 1-2 week cleanse. Often when we do, symptoms will arise, and patients show up sick. We have to look at detoxification as a longer process. It needs to become part of our every day lives. Breaking your cleanse with a night on the town? I’ve seen it and the results that ensue!  As we are bombarded by chemicals in our daily lives, we store them in an effort to protect ourselves from them. We have to coax them out of our tissues over long periods of time and gently.

I know you are groaning because we all want it fast and we want to get back to our vices! I’m in favor of everyone having vices.  The good news is: you can have your vices and still have an eye toward detoxification all year long.  It won’t feel like you are in the deprivation chamber or that you are starving yourself. I promise.

 10 ten things that support detoxification all year long:

1. Eat 5-7 vegetables per day. Raw greens are especially detoxifying.

2. Drink 3 liters of water daily (including herbal teas).

3. Include protein in your daily life. It fuels phase II detoxification in the liver.

4. Take B vitamins. Each one has a role in supporting detox pathways.

5. Take milk thistle or other liver supportive nutrients, such as N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), a precursor to glutathione. Recommended dose is 300 mg twice per day.

6. Sweat and/or exercise 5 times per week. If you have a sauna, use it! Sweating is a great way to enhance the mobilization of toxins out of our bodies through the skin.

7. Limit alcohol. The CDC defines this as 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. You should define it for yourself.

8. Read labels on your self-care products and consult www.ewg.org. The Skin Deep data base will tell you if an ingredient is dangerous or not. Start eliminating the bad stuff in your bathroom drawers and replacing your products with ones that have ingredients that come from natural and organic sources.

9. Avoid waging war on weeds in your environment with chemicals. The weeds will likely lose, but so will we, as these chemicals stick around for decades.

10. Avoid cigarettes and minimize cooking on a grill to avoid the carcinogenic compounds.

What if next year you didn’t feel the urge to do some punishing cleanse starting January 1st  but instead used that time to make nourishing meals and read up on the best in clean self-care products instead? Here’s to a green and vibrant year for all!

Tune into this blog and learn more about detoxification and the best of integrative medicine.