Making sense of detoxification

In recent decades people have begun to see the role toxicity can play in overall energy and health.

by Dr. Shelley Crombach — 

Are you tired or toxic? In recent decades people have begun to see the role toxicity can play in overall energy and health. Now it seems that there are more detoxification kits in nutrition stores than we can count. Let’s examine what exactly we are trying to clean up in the body. Sorting through the many different types of detox programs can be quite overwhelming. We will discuss some useful, often simple ways of incorporating detoxification into your health model.

In its complexity, the human body has its very own “built-in” detoxifying organs ready to help break down and eliminate toxins. The liver, gall bladder, kidneys, skin, lungs and large intestine all play integral roles in this process. Symptoms arise when these organ systems are unable to function optimally and become clogged. The main purpose of detoxification is to unclog and support the function of these organs to ensure optimal cleansing.

The majority of the processing and elimination of toxins occurs in the liver, during phase one and phase two of detoxification. When phase two is suboptimal, our overall toxicity increases. Detoxification begins with good habits and good diets, as does the prevention of many diseases and disorders.

Signs and symptoms that will decrease because of detoxification include: fatigue, skin rashes, acne, toxic headaches, gas, bloating, PMS, hormonal problems, brain fog, hypoglycemia, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, light-colored stools, joint and muscle pain, arthritis, venous congestion, indigestion, constipation, swollen abdomen or ankles, pasty skin, jaundice, allergies and sinus irritation.

Experiencing these symptoms is your body’s way of telling you that it’s time for detoxification. Don’t be alarmed. Many individuals suffer from these common ailments, but you certainly don’t have to accept or live with these symptoms.

Types of effective detoxification

There are different types of detoxification programs that can be tailored to your body’s needs. Detoxification can help decrease and eliminate these symptoms and are listed from the most gentle to the more aggressive detoxifying cleanses.

Basic program — Consists of taking a combination of supplements. This gentle cleanse is effective, allowing the patient to feel healthier and achieve improved bowel movement regularity.

Juicing — Introduce new vegetables and fruits into your diet by juicing. Different combinations of carrots, celery, beets, ginger, cucumber, parsley, spinach and wheatgrass can improve mental clarity and well-being, decrease pain and increase energy.

Beet cleanse — The beet cleanse is a deeper cleanse, which works specifically with the bile ducts and liver. This includes consuming a combination of shredded raw beets, flax oil, lemon juice and a supplement of psyllium husks. This can help those with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia syndromes. Benefits include stimulation of digestion and elimination, lowering triglycerides and balancing blood sugar. Additionally, mental clarity should improve, and body aches and PMS symptoms can decrease.

Liver/gall bladder purge — This cleanse is a more aggressive detoxification. It is very useful in addressing mild to moderate gall bladder problems. The liver/gall bladder cleanse includes consuming a combination of green apples, apple cider, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and ginger root.

Bentonite clay is added to this and any other program. It works by cleaning out the debris in the small intestine, allowing us to dramatically increase our absorption of nutrients.

Tips while doing a detoxification regime

It is important to eat. You must feed your body during this time to help your organs cleanse and heal. Consuming lean meats, lots of vegetables and fruit, while staying away from refined and processed foods is the key to a successful cleanse. It is important to drink water and increase your exercise, which will  jump-start detoxifying. These are great ways to effectively increase elimination of toxins from your body. Sweat those toxins out!

What to expect while detoxifying

You may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, increased bulkiness of stools, body odor, muscle and joint pain, nausea, difficulty concentrating and skin breakouts. This can be both normal and abnormal. Excessive symptoms may indicate that only part of your detoxification system is working and that you are just mobilizing toxins. Consult your physician if this occurs.

Beware of the different detoxification systems on the market. They might be effective at clearing out the colon; however, they might not fully support the other organs of detoxification. Supporting the biochemistry of the detoxifying organs is essential for improving overall function and best results. Introducing the Foundation Diet from the start is a great way to extend the benefits after completing your cleanse. The Foundation Diet consists of consuming 50 to 75 percent of the foods in their raw state in your diet. Juicing is a great way to incorporate more raw foods into your diet.

I recommend organic foods, if possible. There are some foods that are more important than others to consume in organic form. At the very top of the list of importance are organic meat and dairy products, with butter being the most important food to buy organic. Meat and dairy products are found higher on the food chain, and therefore, can contain higher levels of toxins. Vegetables and fruit can vary in the amount of toxins/pesticide residues found, based on the size and surface area of the produce.

Generally we recommend that a detoxifying cleanse be performed twice per year. Remember, if we work on avoiding toxins and eating properly, this process becomes much easier. Enjoy the new variety in your diet and have fun juicing.


Dr. Shelley Crombach is a chiropractic physician who is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College. 480-563-4256 or the

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 2, April/May 2008.

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