If you are going to follow a detoxification diet, there are several ways in which you can stimulate your organs’ rejuvenation beyond just what you are eating. There are a thousand websites on the Internet that will try to sell you expensive herbal remedies and concoctions for “easy” detoxification of either specific organs, or the whole body. This is not to say that there aren’t companies out there whose herbal supplements would benefit or support your detox or cleansing diet, but there are just as many who are trying to simply make a buck.
The first thing you want to be wary of is an herbal detox program that promises detoxification without any other effort on your part (through diet or exercise). An effective detox program is going to require that you stick to, at the very least, a healthy diet. The point of detox is to stop introducing as many toxins as possible into your body so that your organs have the opportunity to “catch up”: that is, to eliminate old toxins and to rejuvenate in order to be ready for forthcoming toxins.
As outlined in the detoxification process, your diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables (especially raw), whole grains, legumes, organic or free range meats and fish, nuts and seeds, cold-pressed oils (like oil and flaxseed), and lots and lots of water. The more organic food you eat, the fewer pesticides or hormones you will be introducing into your body (which are among the toxins you will be eliminating). You should avoid difficult-to-digest foods such as dairy, red meat, refined sugars, processed or packaged foods, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and saturated fats.
As a caveat, you should consult a doctor or nutritionist if you are planning to start a cleanse. They can give you advice and warn you against any activities that may overstress any current conditions you have.
Those with the following conditions should most definitely seek professional guidance before pursuing a detox on their own: malnourishment, Type 1 diabetes, congestive heart failure, a history of eating disorders, mental illness, ulcers, or liver or kidney disease.
Pregnant or nursing mothers should also hold off on the detox. Also, check in with your doctor if a detox diet causes dizziness, vomiting, nausea, or severe headaches. Also, note that some herbs have medicinal qualities that can react with other medication. Ask your doctor or naturopath if there are any herbs that might be counterproductive to meds you are already taking.
In order to support your detoxification pursuits, there are many herbal and nutritional supplements that have long-standing reputations of supporting various organs in the process. The following is a list of supplements to consider (sorted by the organ they support), either to take alongside your diet, or to check against any herbal supplements that tout themselves as aiding detox.
The liver is one of the most focussed-upon organs in the detox process, mostly because it is one of the primary detoxifiers of the body. Any toxin that enters the body, through digestion, inhalation, or absorption through the surface of the skin, is processed by the liver.
One of the most popular herbal supplements to support liver detox is milk thistle (see image above), which is said to help eliminate toxins. It also contains silymarin, which can support injured liver cells and prevent gallstones.
Other known “liver-supporters,” whose effects are usually summed up as “liver stimulants,” include dandelion root, red beet, parsley, horsetail, Oregon grape root, goldenrod, garlic, and liverwort.
You will find that many of the liver stimulators also support kidney detox, including parlsey and dandelion. Other kidney supports include uva ursi, juniper berries, marshmallow (also good for the lungs), ginger, golden seal, horsetail, con silk, cedar berries, and dong quai.
The digestive system is another popular focus of a cleanse, because, when you think about it, there’s a lot of toxic waste that flows through there. We want to make sure none of it gets stuck in the uneven surface of the intestines, bowels or colon and gets reabsorbed into the system.
The primary means of cleansing the digestive tract is by speeding up elimination and by, literally, scraping the sides of the tract. One of the best means of doing this is a combination of bentonite clay and fiber, such as psyllium husks or flax seed. When you are cleansing the digestive tract, the bentonite clay absorbs water and moves through the colon, absorbing toxins such as pesticides. The psyllium husks, or other coarse fibers, also absorb water and aid in the removal of toxins and mucus.
When using any supplement that speeds up elimination, it is important to drink LOTS of water (at least 8 glasses per day) in order to avoid constipation (since both psyllium and benonite absorb water). The other balance that must be preserved in the bowel is the natural flora. When you speed up elimination, some of the natural flora that exists to break down food and fight bacteria might also be lost. Taking probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus will make sure that your natural flora balance is preserved.
Many people may not think that skin detox is part of an organ detox, but your skin is one of the largest eliminators of toxins, through your sweat glands. In fact, your skin might be one place where you can actually see the detoxificaiton working. Many people experience a reaction, similar to acne, on their skin when the toxins in their bodies are eliminated. Toxins are literally escaping through your pores.
Aside from a healthy diet, and drinking lots of water, there are a few herbal supplements that will help to detoxify the skin. For example, ginger root, cayenne pepper, peppermint, and olive oil are all supplements that you can incorporate right into your diet. As supplements, burdock, golden seal, elder flowers, boneset, yellow dock, and diaphoretics are all effective skin detoxifiers (taken internally, not as cleansers).
The skin is a unique organ in that we can actually see it and access it directly. Take advantage of this: brushing or scrubbing away dead skin cells is an important way to prevent old waste from being reabsorbed. Working up a good sweat in a steam, sauna, or through exercise is also a great way to flush out your pores. Finally, bathing in Epsom salts, baking powder, or sea salt, and scrubbing the skin with natural soaps and a natural soft-bristle brush will also help to wash those toxins away.
While there are many supplements that support specific organs in their detoxification regimes, there are some supplements that support the whole body. Good general detox herbs include licorice root, golden seal root, Oregon grape root, garlic, dandelion root, yellow dock root and burdock root. These herbs support several organs and detox functions simultaneously.
There are also some very important vitamins that aid in detoxifying your entire system: they are called antioxidants. Vitamins A, C and E, along with the mineral selenium kill what are known as free radicals, toxins that we harbor inside our bodies, that stem from poisons we digest, as well as environmental toxins that we inhale and absorb through our skin. Free radicals have been linked to everything from minor infections to premature aging to such serious degenerative diseases as cancer and heart disease.
The best way to get these antioxidants into our systems is through eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. The same goes for vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements here: the body absorbs and uses each of these elements best when they are consumed closest to their natural forms. Certainly, fresh garlic and ginger are going to be easier to come by than fresh milk thistle, but the less processed each of these supplements are, the more efficiently they will be absorbed into your system.
A couple of weeks on your detox diet, with some good general supplements to support your organs, will have you feeling like a new man. Starting the year off with a fresh colon and healthy liver will lift your energy level and your body’s ability to go about its natural processes on a daily basis.