Detox À la Carte

Detoxification doesn't always mean a drastic water fast or something celebs do at a trendy resort. A simple way of thinking about it is taking the time to reduce the amount of toxins coming in from food, air, water, and even our own bodies and to activate the organs that bring toxins out (lungs, liver, kidneys, skin, and colon). A yearly detoxification routine should be part of a healthy life style to prevent our detoxification system from becoming overloaded. If this happens, toxic metabolites accumulate, which can wreak havoc on normal metabolic processes and we may become fatigued, have sleep disturbances, or develop more serious chronic conditions. By combining one or more of the following tips, you can design a detox regime that works for your lifestyle.

Many toxicants and toxins such as insecticides, toxic metals, and natural body waste are stored in our fat tissue. Therapeutic heat increases normal metabolic breakdown of fat tissue, releasing fat stored toxicants so that they can be rapidly excreted in sweat. To achieve the maximum benefit from sweating, it is recommended to use a sauna for 30-60 minutes 3-5 days a week. The total daily sauna time includes cool downs, which are breaks for rest, cold showers, and snacking. Sauna is not recommended for everyone particularly those with heart conditions or may be pregnant so it is best to consult with your physician first. Another option if you don't have access to a sauna is a hot Epsom salt bath. The water temperature should be between 100-108 °F hot enough to induce profuse sweating, but without burning you of course. Individual tub treatment times vary from 15-60 minutes depending on the person and make sure to drink plenty of water during and after the baths.

When detoxing, you want to choose foods that will support your organs of elimination as well as reduce foods that slow these systems down or bring in more toxins. With all the following suggestions, it is important to choose organic sources, as they are free of pesticides and hormones. Aim for 4-5 cups of liver supportive foods a day, which include beets, artichoke, mustard greens, beet greens, collard, kale, chard, sprouts, and turnips. Foods high in sulfur compounds such as onions and garlic also support our detoxifying systems. In addition, you want to have at least 25-30 g of fiber per day particularly soluble fiber as found in apples, figs, and oatmeal. Increasing fiber aids the bowels enhancing detoxification. At the same time you want to reduce foods that slow down detoxification and increase toxic burden. These include dairy, gluten, fried and fatty foods, alcohol, coffee and food additives.

Often we don't think of our lungs as organs of elimination. But with the surface area roughly the size of a half a tennis court, it is the principal organ to eliminate gaseous wastes from the body. One way to access this organ of elimination is to practice deep relaxed breathing twice daily (before rising in the morning and falling asleep in the evening are often convenient times). Deep breathing exercises also helps "pump" the lymphatics, improving drainage of the entire system and moves our bowels. To perform:  while lying on the back, place one hand over the chest and the other on the lower abdomen: inhale deeply; first feel the lower lungs fill with air as the lower hand rises, then the upper lungs fill as the upper hand rises; exhale deeply; feel the upper then lower lungs empty of air.

Daily aerobic exercise increases metabolic rate, which increases the release of toxicants through our cells. It also facilitates the movement of our bowels and exchange of air in our lungs. During a detoxification protocol, it is recommended to perform 20-30 minutes aerobic exercise twice daily. In addition, it is important to perform a regular stretching program to release muscle imbalances and constrictions, which in turn, increases the blood and lymphatic circulation.  For that reason, yoga is a great adjuvant to your program.

Getting enough water is very important to the detoxification process as it supports our cells, kidneys, and bowels. You want to aim for at least 2-3 L of water daily plus additional water for when you are using the sauna or exercising. Besides water, drinking liver and kidney supportive herbal teas three times a day is a great idea. These include milk thistle, burdock, dandelion root, nettles, yellow dock, and schisandra. They are best used in combination and there are many great commercial products available.


One simple way to help with detoxification is to wrap your liver with a castor oil pack. Castor oil pack is placed on the skin to increase circulation and to promote elimination and healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. It is used to stimulate the liver, increase lymphatic circulation, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion. If possible, it is best to use it 45-60 minutes daily. One word of caution; castor oil is extremely sticky so make sure to wear clothing you don't care about. Click here for how to.

Though these suggestions may be adequate for most healthy individuals, some individuals may require a more rigorous detoxification protocol. This is particularly true for people with autoimmune conditions, neuro-degenerative disorders like ALS, or migraines, patients who have completed chemotherapy or women who are planning on becoming pregnant. These protocols are best performed under the supervision of a trained