Why Cleanse and Detox?
Apr 01, 2015 06:37AM
By Linda Sechrist
“The digestive system is an extraordinary being that thinks for you without involving the brain, repairs damage, and puts up with the maltreatment that you give it.”
~ Irinia Matveikova, M.D., Digestive Intelligence: A Holistic View of Your Second Brain.
Today, any individual that questions the importance of detoxing and cleansing the body, might consider the fact that within the U.S. there are a total of 80,000 toxic chemicals used for a variety of purposes. Only 200 chemicals found in non-organic food, children’s toys and other kids’ products, cleaning and personal care items, furniture, electronics, food and beverage containers, building materials, fabrics and car interiors have been tested for their effects on our health and environment. For the 22,000 chemicals introduced since 1976, manufacturers have provided little or no information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding their potential health or environmental impact.
The invisible presence of untested chemicals is found in every environment within which we live, work, play and rest. The significance of this on our health is far-reaching, which makes it a wise decision to follow the advice of health professionals trained in functional medicine.
Nationally recognized experts such as Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen, authors of You, the Owners Manual, suggest that periodic cleansing and detoxing the body is an essential aspect of maintaining, restoring and optimizing health. For an in-depth perspective on why flushing out toxins and resetting major organs involved in digestion and elimination is more important now than ever, Natural Awakenings interviewed local health practitioners trained in functional medicine, along with two Florida licensed colon therapists: Deborah Post, board-certified advanced nurse practitioner and owner of Wellbridges LLC; Dr. Pamela Hughes, owner of Hughes Center for Functional Medicine; her colleagues, Dr. Carol Roberts and Dee Harris, a registered dietician and nutritionist who also owns D-Signed Nutrition, LLC; Dr. Zorayda Torres, owner of Upstream MD; Dr. Gary Gendron, DC, owner of Nutrition Specialists; Silvia Casabianca, licensed mental health counselor Reiki master and owner of Eyes Wide Open; Robyn Berry, LMT, certified colon therapist (CT) and owner of RB Institute; and Rosalind Fusco, LMT, CT, owner of Cleansing Springs.
Environmental MedicineAccording to Physicians for Social Responsibility, The American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the Environmental Working Group, human bio-monitoring studies show that environmental contaminants and carcinogens are finding their way into the body. “The sources of these contaminants are wide-ranging, from pesticides used in agriculture, industry, fracking, home and garden to chlorine, disinfectants and wood preservatives,” says Post.
Within the area of environmental medicine, even low doses of certain chemicals are linked to disturbances in the hormonal, reproductive and immune systems. Multiple chemicals act together to harm human health and can lead to cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, allergies, birth defects and reproductive problems.Unfortunately, the conflict continues between achieving optimal health through proactive preventive methods such as cleansing and detoxifying versus the reactive treatment of disease with pharmaceuticals or surgery. Conventional medicine relies strictly on the organs of elimination—the colon, kidneys, skin, lungs, sweat glands and lymphatic system—for expelling toxins, while functional medicine prefers to use diet, detoxing/cleansing and lifestyle changes. “Aside from the issues associated with overspecialization and exclusive reliance on drug therapy, the biggest deficiency of conventional medicine today is the vast desert of ignorance surrounding the huge problem of environmental toxins. Testing particularly needs to be done on food additives such as flavoring agents, food colorants, preservatives, emulsifiers, stimulants and artificial sweeteners,” says Roberts, author of Good Medicine: A Return to Common Sense.
Few health professionals have any training in environmental medicine, but this relatively new area has been accumulating data on toxins and their impact on the human systems. Hughes, Roberts, Post, Gendron, Harris and Torres have seen, through experience with patients, that allergies, arthritis, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, excessive weight gain and body pains are frequently related to an accumulation of toxins in the body. They report that these are conditions that respond well to cleansing.
ColonicsColonic treatments are as much about the healing of the gut and emptying the liver and gallbladder of bile residue as they are about the release of old fecal matter and mucin (mucus) build up on the walls of the colon. During rapid weight loss, which can occur during the cleansing process, pesticides and other chemicals bio-accumulate in the liver, gallbladder and bile at twice the usual level. They unfortunately do not all leave with the fat cells, which form around toxins and heavy metals to protect the body. After mucin reaches a certain degree of thickness and density, it can interfere with the efficient absorption of food, normal peristalsis and toxic elimination. Stress and acid-producing soft drinks, coffee, alcohol, meat, bread and white sugar are a few of the things that cause the goblet glands lining the entire alimentary canal to secrete this substance. “Deep cleansing with an elimination diet and a series of colonic treatments twice a year can ease this,” says Fusco, who notes that colonics and the lymphatic system, which accumulates the waste products and debris of cells, in addition to bacteria and protein, are closely related.
Berry recommends twice yearly cleansing and detoxification of the colon, as well as retraining the gut with a healthy lifestyle that encourages good intestinal health. “The majority of individuals have never been informed about toxicity and are unaware that when detoxification is impaired by a buildup of a gel-like, slimy, mucin substance on the bowel wall, free radicals pile up and can damage the body, “ says Berry.
It’s Not About DiarrheaThe words “colon cleanse” generally bring to mind induced diarrhea. “Cleansing is not about massive poop, but rather about revitalizing the colon and liver, healing a leaky gut and pulling toxins out of tissues which have to pass through the liver. By providing the liver with detox nutrients, it is less sluggish in doing its job—cleansing the blood, making bile and protein and storing energy in the form of glycogen. Reducing inflammation, partially caused by immune reactions to food sensitivities, and toxins in the environment, is important every day, not just during cleanses,” says Harris, who semiannually does the same 14-to-21-day cleanse that she prescribes for patients.
Hughes advises, “Multiple types of toxicity: physical, chemical, hormonal and environmental, are the result of toxins poisoning a host after levels of concentration are high enough to interfere with biochemical and physiological processes. I particularly appreciate a quote from a leading expert in functional medicine and toxicity, Dr. Robert Roundtree. ‘We are what we eat, drink, breathe, touch and can’t eliminate.’”
Physician Support for DetoxingFunctional medicine practitioners believe that a spring and fall complete detox of the colon, small bowel, liver and cells should be done with the help of a physician that ensures that the body is prepared to handle the process. Hughes, Gendron and Torres prefer a 10-to-14-day elimination diet that includes reducing or removing emotional stressors and toxic habits. Gendron favors starting slow and making sure patients have proper nutrients. “When someone detoxes and their symptoms worsen, the body is telling us that there is something wrong, and it needs additional support,” he says.
Cleansing the Energetic AnatomyIndividuals benefit from clearing the energetic anatomy. “In medical qigong, we learn that natural energy fields can be debilitated by environmental influences such as extreme cold, heat, dampness, dryness, fire, wind, lack of rest, deficient nutrition or breathing and emotional traumas, as well as unprocessed emotions of anger and grief,” explains Casabianca. Any discipline aimed at cultivating qi, (vital energy) will keep the energy flowing unobstructed throughout the body, nourishing organs and maintaining their optimal function. “Meditation and mindfulness are two excellent methods for cleansing the mind of negative mental chatter [that is] toxic to our physiology,” she says.
Guidelines and Protocols for Cleansing/Detoxing
The body has the ability to detoxify and heal itself, given the proper nutrients. While cleansing/detoxing guidelines offered by these experts to patients do vary, all exclude acidic foods and unhealthy fats that agitate the colon for 10 to 21 days.
The treatment plan for a full elimination diet excludes eggs, beef, pork, processed meats, dairy, peanuts, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, all soy and corn products and all processed foods. These are replaced with healthy portions of fresh, organic, leafy, green and colorful vegetables and fruits.
Protocols also include:
- A high-fiber diet (six to eight servings per day of vegetables), along with a daily dietary supplement that can provide 25 grams per day of fiber for two weeks beyond the cleanse.
- Removal of offending microorganisms in the gut, which can be done gently with lemon or coffee enemas, or herbal bactericides such as wormwood or goldenseal.
- Daily sufficient hydration, with at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water, which help to flush out toxins.
- Eight hours of sleep, which allows the body to repair itself. For additional support, a balanced supplement with extra curcumin (the principal curcuminoid of turmeric) can be added, along with the amino acid N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), as well as minerals. When a patient is not depleted of minerals, a far-infrared sauna two or three times a week is helpful.
- Prebiotics and probiotics are necessary for replacing good bacteria lost during the initial cleansing phase. Digestive enzymes are equally important. For repair of the mucosal lining, healthy mucosal cells and goblet cells, it is necessary to support the immune system with clean, organic foods and supplementation.
- We have a long wait for an overhaul and strengthening of federal laws aimed at limiting human exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides. In the meantime, cleansing/detoxing protocols may be our body’s best friends.
Helpful Tips to Keep Your Internal Environment Clean
- Place a charcoal filter on the shower and on faucets that supply drinking water to reduce toxin intake. Consider purchasing a reverse osmosis system for drinking water.
- Purchase organic dryer sheets and Seventh Generation organic cleaning products.
- Use only organic vitamins and personal care products.
- Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides and GMO (genetically modified) foods.
- Eliminate glyphosate pesticides and Bt toxins in GMO foods by eating as much organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free foods as the grocery budget will support.
- Use Reiki or medical qigong sessions, yoga practice, breath work and regular walking for purging turbid qi and remove energetic blockages in the body.
- The use of visualizations, affirmations, guided meditation and chanting mantras can reduce obsessive mental chatter.
Local Resources for Cleansing and Detoxing
Cleansing Springs, Inc., 239-596-1110, 239-571-9816. CleansingSprings.com.
D-Signed Nutrition, LLC, 27499 Riverview Center Blvd., Ste. 214, Bonita Springs; 239-444-4204. D-SignedNutrition.com.
Eyes Wide Open LLC, 9200 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 202-204, Bonita Springs; 239-948-9444. EyesWideOpenC.com.
Hughes Center for Functional Medicine, 800 Goodlette Rd., Ste. 270, Naples; 239-649-7400. HughesCenterNaples.com.
MainstreamMD, 27499 Riverview Center Blvd., Ste. 255, Bonita Springs; 239-444-5636. UpstreamMD.com.
Nutrition Specialists of Florida, 28315 S. Tamiami Tr., Ste. 101, Bonita Springs; 239-947-1177. DoctorGendron.com.
RB Institute, Inc., 13601 McGregor Blvd., Ste. 13, Fort Myers; 239-939-4646. RobynBerry.com.
Wellbridges, Inc., 9200 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 113, Bonita Springs; 239-481-5600. DebPost.com.