Detoxing from our environment

Cleansing, a rich tradition that has helped humans through all ages and cultures, is at the foundation of every great healing philosophy.

by Dr. Howard Peiper — 

Body purification has been a part of human health and well-being rituals for thousands of years. Cleansing, a rich tradition that has helped humans through all ages and cultures, is at the foundation of every great healing philosophy.

Today, we generally think of detoxification as a way to clean out environmental pollutants or drug residues trapped in our bodies; however, in ancient times, it was used as a way to reconnect with the divine. Detoxification once again is becoming valued as a pathway to spirituality, as well as one of physical cleansing.

No one is free from the high level of environmental toxins assaulting us in our world. No one is fully immune to unhealthy lifestyle choices. One report states that we’d have to return to 1904 to find foods that are free of impurities. How can we remain healthy in such a destructive environment?

Although we mourn yesterday’s pollution-free environment, whole foods and pure water, this ideal probably never existed, given the fact that humans are born with a “self-cleaning system.” Today, we control our environmental pollutants even less. The best thing we can do is minimize pollution and periodically cleanse our bodies of toxins.

What is detoxification?

Detoxification is one of our basic automatic functions — our bodies do it naturally every day. Detoxification is the normal process of eliminating or neutralizing bodily poisons through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph and skin. Just as our hearts beat nonstop and our lungs breathe continuously, so do our metabolic processes constantly dispose of accumulated toxic matter. But today, our bodies are fighting a losing battle. Systems and organs once capable of cleaning out toxic material are now completely overloaded; as a result, many of the toxins remain in our tissues.

Should you detoxify?

Western societies are exposed to chemicals on an unprecedented scale. Industrial chemicals pollute our water through run-offs; pesticides and additives are in virtually all of our foods; heavy metals, anesthetics and residues from drugs attack on all sides; and environmental hormones are trapped within our bodies today in greater concentrations than at any other point in history. Everyone’s system is affected, with results ranging from tissue damage to sensory deterioration.

Many chemicals are so widespread that we are unaware of their presence. But they have worked their way into our systems faster than they can be eliminated, causing allergies and addictions in record numbers. More than 3 million synthetic substances are known; 24,000 new ones are added each year; and more than 30,000 are produced on a commercial scale. Only a tiny fraction of these are ever tested for toxicity.

The molecular structure of some chemical carcinogens interact with human DNA, meaning long-term exposure may result in metabolic and genetic alterations that affect cell growth and behavior. World Health Organization research implicates environmental chemicals in 60 percent to 81 percent of all cancers today. Hormone-disrupting pesticides and pollutants are linked to hormonal problems, psychological disorders, birth defects, stillbirths and, most recently, breast cancer.

When toxic matter saturates our tissues, the antioxidants and minerals in vital body fluids are reduced and immune defenses are thrown off balance. Circumstances like these are the prime cause of today’s immune-compromised diseases like candidiasis, lupus, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chemical oxidation is the other process that encourages disease. The oxygen that “rusts” and ages us also triggers free-radical activity, a destructive cascade of incomplete molecules that damages DNA and other cell components.

Almost everyone can benefit from a cleanse. It’s one of the best ways to remain healthy in the midst of our dangerous surroundings. None of us is immune to environmental toxins, and it is a practical impossibility for most of us to escape to a remote, unpolluted habitat.

Reasons to detox

Is your body showing signs that it needs a pollution or heavy metal cleanse? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you more sensitive to odors like perfume and strong cleansers than most people?
  • Do you have an unusually small tolerance for alcohol?
  • Are you unable to take certain medications, or do some vitamins or other supplements actually make you feel worse?
  • Do you have unusually bad breath or body odor?
  • Is your immune response low?
  • Do you have unexplained seizures, memory failure or psychotic behavior?
  • Have you become infertile or impotent?
  • Do you frequently get mouth herpes, yeast infections, urinary tract infections or unusual allergies?
  • Do you feel like you need to clear cobwebs from your brain or feel out-of-sorts?

A good detox occurs in three steps: cleansing, rebuilding and maintenance.

Step one: Cleansing — You will clean out heavy metals, pesticides, dioxins and other petrochemicals. Every system and organ functions more effectively when chemical toxins are removed.

Step two: Rebuilding healthy tissues and restoring energy — Once obstacles are removed, your body’s regulating powers are activated to rebuild at optimal levels.

Step three: Keeping your body clean and toxin-free — Modifying lifestyle habits is the key to maintaining a strong resistant body.


Dr. Howard Peiper, N.D., has written numerous best-selling books on nutrition and natural health, including his latest book Zeolite, Nature’s Heavy Metal Detoxifier.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 3, June/July 2006.

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