There are many ways we can help our bodies to clear toxins. The liver filters out toxins, but does not store them. Our toxic load has become heavier with the 30 000+ chemicals we’ve released into the environment in the last 50 years! Lead, mercury and glyphosate* (from Roundup™) are currently the most common toxins affecting us.
Spring is the time of year that corresponds to the liver, and as such it is the most efficient time to help cleanse the liver. Many cultures recognize this. But it is possible to help your body eliminate unwanted toxins throughout the year. We can help lead you to the most effective detox methods for your body at this time.
There are several organs and systems involved in detoxification of the body. The main ones are the liver, colon/large intestine, kidneys, bladder, lungs, skin, gall bladder and lymphatic system. The liver filters toxins from the blood, but does not store them. Anything the liver cannot use, gets transformed so that the intestines or kidneys can eliminate them. The colon, or large intestine, absorbs water from our feces, and expels the solid fiber from our food with the trapped wastes created during normal day-to-day functioning. The kidneys filter out many toxins and eliminate them via urine. The lungs eliminate carbon dioxide and some inhaled chemicals during exhalation. The skin is the largest organ of elimination, and we can excrete some wastes right through the skin, and sweat. The lymphatic system is also very important for detoxification. For more information, here is a very readable article: Information about Detoxification on Issels Immuno-oncology’s website (issels.com)
- DETOX BATHS – 1-2 cups Epsom salts and 1-2 cups baking soda (which lessens the salt’s drying effect) in a hot bath. Ideally, add 10 drops of ginger essential oil or 3 tablespoons of powdered ginger to the bath as well. Take a glass of drinking water and a loofa or stiff bristle brush to the tub. Ensure there is adequate ventilation. Soak for 20-40 minutes, scrubbing your skin and drinking water every 10 minutes. Before getting out, have a “soapy scrubby” shower to clean your ski. You want to wash away the toxins you have been sweating out!
- DETOX FOOT SOAKS – (same idea as the baths but not as strong) Use a deep bucket to hold the salt/soda & water, and soak your feet and lower legs. ¼ cup of salt and soda for this mix. Still scrub during, and wash off afterwards.
- DRY SKIN BRUSHING – Brushing stimulates the circulation of lymph throughout the body. Lymph flows from the ends of your fingers and toes along the limbs and through the torso, ultimately to the heart. Thus it is suggested to brush your skin before a shower, while you are still dry, from your extremities towards your heart. Stiff bristle brushes are available at most health food or vitamin stores. Keep them for dry brushing only.
- CONTRAST BATHING – This significantly increases the circulation through the skin. During your shower, steel yourself, then turn the temperature down to cool and keep it there for 10-15 seconds, then switch back to warm/hot. Repeat this 4-5 times during your shower, colder each time, until you are running the shower at full cold for 30 seconds. You will be surprised how invigorating this feels! It may get you hooting while showering, but this stimulates as much blood flowing through the skin as flows through the entire circulatory system! It facilitates lymph waste shedding as well as nourishing the skin.
- FRESH LEMON JUICE IN WATER – Squeeze 1-2 fresh lemons daily and add the juice to your water. Make a whole jug and drink it throughout the day. This aids the liver with its job of clearing toxins. 1-2 lemons per jug. Don’t make it so sour that you won’t drink it! Also, don’t put the rind in your water, as that is where the majority of herbicides and fertilizers are concentrated. Even with “organic” fruit skins too!
- SIMPLE HOT PACK OVER THE LIVER – Take 20-30 minutes and lie down with a hot water bottle, hot pack, or heating pad over your liver (right side ribs and central abdomen). The best time of day to do this is between 1-3pm, though it is beneficial at any time of day. While there, you might consider if there is anything else you would like to soften in your body. Stagnant liver energy causes tightness and inflexibility…
- CASTOR OIL PACK – The castor bean is known principally as a cathartic (strong laxative). With a pack placed over the abdomen, usually with heat applied, the oil is absorbed into the lymphatic circulation providing a soothing, cleansing treatment. Such a pack can be applied once or twice daily over the liver-gall bladder region or the entire abdomen. This increases the circulation in the gut associated lymphoid tissue and thus improves detoxification. It is NOT meant to be used during pregnancy, heavy menstrual flow, if an IUD is present, or in the presence of internal bleeding. Materials needed include castor oil, a piece of cotton flannel and a hot water bottle:
- Fold flannel into 3 layers to fit over desired area.
- Soak flannel with castor oil. Fold flannel in half, and wring out excess oil.
- Lie on your back with your feet elevated (perhaps with pillows under your knees), and get comfortable. Once settled, place the oil-soaked flannel over your target area. Cover with an old towel and add the hot water bottle on top.
- Retain oil pack in position 45-60 minutes. Practice relaxation breathing. You may wish to place one hand on your diaphragm and the other on your lower abdomen. As you breathe in, allow your lower abdomen to swell like a balloon. With each breath out, practice relaxing your jaw and shoulders. As you practice more, allow yourself to relax all muscles in your body. Once you are familiar with this, add the intent of inhaling “calm” and exhaling “relax”.
- Store the castor pack in the refrigerator in a large plastic bag. Add more oil only as needed to keep the pack saturated. Replace the pack after it begins to change colour.
- To remove the oil, wash with a solution of 2 Tablespoons baking soda to 1 quart water, using a non-toxic laundry soap.
- USE COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE – There are many options to help detox the body using Complementary medicine. Phytobiophysics™ has simple remedies that can help clear poisons from the body, and others that support the liver so that it can more efficiently clear poisons from the body. Acupuncture has long been used to rebalance the body’s organs, and to decrease stress, which keeps us in a fight/flight mode which is not only not sustainable in long term, but is very actively depleting for the body.
- HERBS FOR THE LIVER – There are many different herbs and herbal formulae to help detoxify. Milk thistle is a very common western herb to benefit the liver. In Chinese medicine, we commonly use combinations of herbs to benefit the liver:
- “Xiao yao san” = ‘the free & easy wanderer formula’ opens constrained liver energy while nourishing blood. This makes it a very successful formula, especially for women as we so often suffer from both energy stagnation and blood deficiency/ low blood volume.
- “Chai hu shu gan tang” = ‘chai hu (an herb) to smooth the liver formula’ strongly opens the circulation of stagnant liver energy. This is very useful when stress levels soar.
- “Long dan xie gan tang” = ‘long dan grass to sedate the liver formula’ is used when strong heat has built up in the liver, usually from stress &/or excessive alcohol intake.
- DECREASE TOXIN EXPOSURE – Decreasing your exposure to toxins is a very good idea, especially if your liver is not functioning optimally, or is stress/overworked, as in Leaky Gut Syndrome or chronic stress. Limit poisons coming in by; eating fresh foods (omit preservatives, molds and food additives); severely restricting your alcohol intake so that your detoxifying organ isn’t poisoned rapidly, protecting your lungs from toxic vapors when you know you will be exposed to them (even odour free paint!), protecting your skin from absorbing poisonous substances, and wear gloves when working in the garden or with any chemicals/solvents. Ensure your water is clean, including being free of plastic residues. Consider what products you really want to put on your skin (eg. parabens). Eat organically grown, or spray free food whenever possible. Educate yourself on which foods have the highest toxin loads (eg. citrus rind, commercially grown soya etc) and omit them!
- CUT OUT ADDED SUGARS – Look for and identify where you are eating added sugar. Table sugar is half glucose and half fructose. Fructose is only processed/metabolised by the liver! No cells can use it as fuel. Cut down your fructose intake! Agave nectar is worse, it’s 90% fructose!
- CUT OUT ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS – These are another source of added poison we can readily eliminate from our diets. Did you know that you produce wood alcohol/methyl alcohol as you metabolize aspartame? It is one of the primary products of the breakdown of Aspartame! Perhaps you remember stories of people going blind after drinking wood alcohol, thinking they had found a cheap source of liquor? Cheap, and even more toxic than ethanol.
- EAT LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE – Locally grown food is grown to ripeness, concentrating beneficial nutrients in the food before it is picked. Most food is picked green to allow it to look good after being shipped! We desperately need these plant antioxidants present is food picked at ripeness to detoxify ourselves!
- CUT OUT PRESERVATIVES – Stop, or significantly decrease, your intake of prepared foods. If you don’t eat them, your liver will not have to work so hard to rid your body of these avoidable toxins. Read labels.
- DON’T EAT “BAD” FOOD – Is the food you are taking out of your fridge so old, you know you are exaggerating by calling it fresh? Often those “bad spots” have already infiltrated the produce by the time they show up. Celery is a classic example. The whole celery stalk should be composted once it shows any sign of spoilage. Eat fresh
- BUY FOOD SOURCED SUPPLEMENTS – Many food supplements are sourced from coal tar and petrochemical byproducts. These are NOT food sources for the body, and thus, are not well absorbed, if at all. Neither are inorganic minerals well absorbed, even nano-sized metal particles are not bioavailable. Mammals are designed to select minerals that have already absorbed by a plant. Plants can absorb inorganic minerals from the soil. They manufacture compounds bearing metal atoms and carbon, as well as other, atoms. Plant made mineral compounds are humans’ primary mineral source. Want to check your multivitamin’s source? Bake it in a 350° oven for 15 minutes. It should not turn black, or develop black spots on it, or in it. Studies are showing that these poorly utilized supplements actually aggravate the deficiency of that nutrient!
- FAST 12 HOURS per Plan your eating so to leave 12 hours between the end of your evening meal, and your breakfast. This way the body has time to do cleaning not just digesting!
- TRY TO LEAVE 4-5 HOURS between meals during the day, so that the digestive organs are not always “ON”! For some this is not possible for various reasons, but for some, it is very useful!
- COLONICS – This can be a very effective way to cleanse your colon of the accumulated material that adheres to its inner lining due to incomplete elimination. Then maintain your bowels.
- INCREASE BOWEL ELIMINATION – It is increasingly important that our bodies eliminate waste through the bowels efficiently. To maintain health, it is ideal to have at least one bowel movement daily, if not 2 or 3. If this is not your pattern, you might consider looking at ways of changing this. Adding soluble fibre to your diet is one way you can easily do this on your own. Increasing your intake of non-starchy vegetables per day is the best place to start. You get fiber, nutrients, and glycemic load reducing nutrients! The recommended daily intake of fruit/veggies used to be 5-10 servings. The American FDA recently suggested doubling this if we are also interested in reducing our risk of cancer! Thus everyone could benefit from increasing their intake of non-starchy vegetables. Just increasing your sweet fruit intake will not give you the same benefit. Psyllium husks taken morning &/ or night stirred into a glass of water, chased by another glass, is another quick way to increase fiber. [DO NOT skip the second glass of water. The psyllium absorbs a lot of water, and you do not want it robbing the fluids from your colon!] Adding a daily green smoothie (though quite cooling to the digestive organs) to your diet is another option for some. Do some research/experimentation & find ways that work for you.
- THE MASTER CLEANSE PROGRAM – a useful cleanse. Can be done for just a day or two.
- HULDA CLARK’S DETOX PROGRAM – Perhaps helpful. Certainly interesting reading!
- GALL STONE CLEANSE – May be a good idea. You have to follow the instructions very carefully to be successful without a great deal of discomfort. Ensure you have the full, detailed information and that you read it ALL thoroughly before beginning!
*Dr. Joel Furhman, iThrive series