Detox: Miracle Cure or Waste of Time?

We are currently in the age of shirking Western medicine for more traditional, alternative options. There are a lot of them out there, too. I get it; people don’t trust our medical system. It’s expensive, medications cause side effects, etc. However, those who push alternative cures can be just as untrustworthy as Western doctors. It boils down to money and trust.

So, today I want to talk about detoxing. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, it’s a pretty popular concept. The idea is that you can do/eat/drink certain things and these things will detoxify your body for you. Detoxes are sold as miracle cures for everything from fatigue to pain to depression. But do you actually need them, or are they just a waste of time and money?

What Is Detox?

The term “detox” has been around for a long time and does actually have a clinical meaning. However, the only time it is used in a clinical setting is when someone has ingested something dangerous or has taken too much of a certain substance. For instance, if you’re taken to the hospital for an overdose, they will “detoxify” your body using certain drugs in order to rid the body of the harmful material.

Generally, homeopaths and alternative medicine providers will tell you that you should detoxify your body with a (pricey) cleanse, flush or special diet. They will tell you that you must do this in order to rid your body of all of the harmful chemicals (they never really specify what exactly these chemicals are) that you put in it on a regular basis. They tell you that if you don’t, your ailment will only get worse or you will develop a new ailment.

There is no doubt that we take in a lot of chemicals throughout the day. Whether synthetic or organic, chemicals are all around us. They are in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the drinks we drink. The issue is not necessarily whether these chemicals are harmful, but in what quantity we ingest them. We all know that even too much water, something that is essential to life, can be dangerous. Have you ever tried to drink a gallon of water in a couple of hours? Your body will react by sending it all right back up.

Our Natural Detox System

Even if the chemicals are harmful, the body is very good at filtering them through and out of our body without any outside help. The human body is an amazing (and sometimes super gross) thing. We have a built-in detox system that consists of our renal, lymphatic, gastrointestinal systems and our liver.

Pro-detoxers will tell you that said organs need to be periodically cleansed (I’ve even heard people say you should do certain yoga poses to “squeeze the contaminants” out of your liver…) in order to keep them going, but there is no evidence to support this claim. On the contrary, our bodies break down these harmful chemicals into substances that can be passed through the body with urine or bile or stool. Like other parts of the body, the liver cleans itself and unless there is an underlying liver disease, it does the job well.

Types of Detoxes

There are many types of detoxes on the market today, and you can find them anywhere from your homeopathic’s office to legitimate pharmacies. However, the majority (if not all) of them are not regulated by the FDA and many of those that do end up on the FDA’s radar are recalled for being either completely useless or potentially harmful.

There are diets, flushes, enemas, “foot detoxes” and even oxygen detoxes. None of these have been found to have any basis in scientific fact.

For instance, the Master Cleanse diet, which is touted by Hollywood elites, lacks essential nutrients that the body needs, and because you take a daily laxative you run the risk of not only becoming dehydrated, but also ridding your body of natural, healthy bacteria.

Bottom Line

Detoxes are not legitimate and at best they will do no good and at worst can make you sicker than you were to start with. The best way to “detox” your body is to drink plenty of water, exercise regularly and to eat healthy.

There is no magic cure for any ailment; you cannot undo the damage of eating sweets and fatty foods with an enema and you cannot undo the damage caused by drinking too much alcohol by a foot detox. The only way you can undo that damage is to stop whatever behavior is causing it.

So, beware anyone who tries to sell you a detox or a quick fix to your medical problems, because they are either ignorant or greedy. Either way, not someone you want to deal with.