Detoxing: Good or Bad?

Author: Angelique Bone   Date Posted:9 July 2018 

Detoxification is the process by which the liver filters chemicals, toxins and other potentially harmful substances, which can be anything from environmental pollutants to medications, alcohol or additives in food, most of which we either swallow, inhale or get absorbed by our skin, and eliminates them from the body. It does this through two pathways - the first is the process of converting harmful chemicals to less harmful substances and excreting them, while through the second pathway, the liver adds another substance to the chemical (usually an amino acid or sulfur molecule) to make it easier to eliminate.


Why do we need to detox?

That’s a good question! Our bodies are equipped to handle detoxifying harmful substances, so why would we need to do a toxin cleanse? With the processing and modification of our food and increasing environmental toxins, more and more pressure is put on our liver to keep us healthy. As toxins build up, it can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, constipation and headaches. This is why it’s a good idea to help our body along with its detoxification process.



How can we detox?

While there are many products that are marketed as a “toxin cleanse” or “body cleanse”, it is important to understand that there are beneficial ways to help the body to detoxify, and then there are ways that have minimal or no benefit. One of the best ways to keep your liver running smoothly is by paying attention to what you put into your body every day. For example, avoid a diet that is high in saturated fats, processed foods and alcohol, eat plenty of fresh seasonal vegetables (especially the green leafy variety) and drink lots of filtered water.

Another way that we can assist our body with its detoxification process is to support the organs that are responsible for this process. Milk Thistle, also known as St Mary’s Thistle, for example, has been used for many years to help protect the liver against damage. Dandelion root is another herb which helps to support the two detoxification pathways of the liver, an important aspect of doing a toxin cleanse. Not only that, but it also supports dietary fat breakdown (another function of our liver).

In our endeavours to do a successful body cleanse, we also need to consider the kidneys – they also absorb many toxins and eliminate them through our urine. Herbs such as Baical skullcap help to support the filtration and elimination function of the kidneys.


The Wrong Way to go about it

While a quick fix detox that you can do over a few days, such as a juice or liquid fast, may seem appealing (because they seem quick and relatively easy) it is important to understand that if it’s long term benefit you’re after, this is not the best way to go about it. Some of the beneficial effects of a “juice fast” only last up to a few weeks. There is an increased risk to your body as a result of the drastic reduction in dietary intake and, if you stop eating regular food long enough, your body will start to take the protein it needs to function optimally from your muscles.

So, while there is benefit to supporting our body’s natural detoxification process, the best way to do this is by making long term modifications to our diet and lifestyle and by supporting the body’s eliminating and detoxifying organs, and not by simply doing a quick 48 hour “body cleanse”.


Written by Angelique Bone

Angelique (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath with a passion for herbal medicine and helping other people feel the best that they can. She believes that balance and moderation is important in maintaining good health.

Angelique enjoys reading, spending time with her family and baking goodies with her two young boys.

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