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  • Writer's picturejuliakimd

Comprehensive Detoxification

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

We are surrounded by toxins and heavy metals, and if we have had parasitic or a long term infection in the gut or elsewhere in the body, the microbes actually release toxins, some being heavy metals as by-products of their metabolic processes during their life cycle.

Some argue that the types of additives, colourings and preservatives and even the toxins we ingest, breathe in and drink are in such minimal quantities, and have been deemed safe in such small quantities, that it doesn't make much difference to our health. This is true when we think of one meal having a tiny amount of said chemicals. However, given that we are eating, breathing and drinking all day, every day, all those tiny quantities add up to quite an amount. And considering that our cells are continually working with tiny molecular, atom-sized particles in the processes that keep us alive, it stands to reason that these amounts add up and do make a difference to our health.

One example is the finding of over 200 chemicals in new born umbilical cord blood. This is because the uterus is so good at letting things pass through, it has no filter to remove mum's toxins that she has eaten, breathed and drunk since before the foetus was even there. When a patient says she only ever felt well when she was pregnant, this is indicative that she had toxin build up in her body, and the baby actually concentrated them in its body. Toxic babies is a whole other topic for another day, but it is safe to say that pre-conception care should definitely include a 3-month detox program to prevent chemicals getting into the baby.

The problem with these toxins is that they disrupt hormone and enzyme functions, and reduce our mineral and vitamins by taking their place over the nutrients. With less minerals and nutrients, the more likelihood of dis-ease because of the lack of proper functioning of the body's day-to-day processes. Our body uses vitamins and minerals as co-factors in many enzyme reactions that take place. An example is that magnesium is one of the nutrients needed for the body to make the energy we need, so if either of these are pushed out by a toxin that has the same molecular structure as magnesium, unfortunately, the toxin takes preference. Another example is how mercury is higher in relation to selenium, which is used for thyroid function, and again, the thyroid will not be functioning optimally using mercury instead of selenium.

To maximise detoxification, we need to use all pathways of elimination, which are:

  • skin via sweating,

  • lungs via exhaled toxins,

  • kidneys via urine,

  • bowels via defecation, and

  • liver.

There is actually the lymphatic system throughout the body, and also one more recently discovered which is the glymphatic system, in the brain. There are several things we can do to encourage these eliminatory organs to remove toxins.

The Skin

Saunas and steams are a great way of sweating the toxins out without any need for a cardio workout, great if you have limited mobility. Dry skin brushing is a great way of increasing lymph flow and blood circulation to the skin, and can be done once a week, or even on a daily basis, provided the skin is not too dry.

Ideally, exercise that causes you to break out into a sweat is the best way to enhance detox via the skin, because with exercise comes not just increased blood flow to remove toxins via the bloodstream, but each movement of muscles increases flow of lymph through the lymphatic vessels - they run alongside all blood vessels, but have no pump like the heart, so they need movement in order to get the lymph flowing. Lymphatic vessels also remove toxins so maintaining an exercise routine really does have major health benefits, not just keeping the weight off, but supporting detoxification and those all important happy hormones like endorphins for our mental health.

Epsom salt baths using 500g of magnesium sulfate per bath which must be filled with sufficient water to cover the body, eg. half full. Soak for 20 minutes and then rinse in the shower. Take epsom salt baths one to three times per week, ideally before bed. This opens up the pores and restoring healthy elimination through the sweat glands. You can also do an Epsom salt foot bath.

The Lungs

Our bodies are so clever! The lungs can exhale not just CO2 but any other chemicals that can be exhaled will be. They can also inhale any other chemicals that are there, too, and unfortunately, there are some molecules that stick to the mucus membranes of the lungs. These can be removed by smaller white blood cells and the microbiome that live on the surface of the lung tissue. Once again, exercise gets us breathing heavier, deeper breaths, getting rid of old, stale air from all the little pockets in the lungs, and improves our exercise tolerance, breathing capacity, and the body's ability to use oxygen effectively.

Remove artificial air fresheners as these are just more toxins to inhale. Opt for essential oils in a diffuser or oil burner. Invest in a dehumidifier so that you are not breathing in moist air that could be harbouring mould or other lurking bacteria or viruses. Make sure you open your windows every day to get fresh air into the house, even if you have your heating on! This sounds crazy but this is the best way to get the inhaled toxins out of our house otherwise we keep breathing in the same stale air from our house and the heating on will increase the chances of the pathogenic microbes leaving via the open windows.

If you are going to run or cycle, make sure you don't do it on the road! You're inhaling things like lead, cadmium and a whole host of toxins and heavy metals directly from the car exhausts! Rather find cycling pathways in rural areas to reduce this exposure quite considerably. There have been countless studies showing the increase of asthma and other lung diseases from living in cities with lots of traffic pollution, and when you are breathing in more deeply during exercise, you're inhaling heavy metals directly onto the delicate lung tissue.

For lung health, make sure you eat antioxidant foods, eg. berries, citrus fruits, and colourful veggies like beetroot, peppers, tomatoes. In fact, I would say to eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day, and if you do have a lung issue, then eat the rainbow, and then some more of the antioxidant fruits and veggies. Stop or reduce smoking - again, this has such high amounts of heavy metals and toxins that tend to stick to the lining of the lungs.

The Kidneys

This is where the herbal teas do their magic! Some patients have asked if the teas are too gentle and thus rendered ineffective but this is not the case at all. There have been some herbalists in the past who treated people using only herbal teas with great effects. Granted, the only constituents that will be extracted in a herbal tea are ones that dissolve in water, but this makes them perfect for excretion via the kidneys and bladder, because their magic goes directly there. A bespoke blend of herbal tea can really help remove the toxins via urine, and using diuretic teas increase urination, therefore more toxin removal via urine.

To support kidney health, make sure you don't eat too much protein, which is a massive load of extra work onto the kidneys. If you eat meat, always use the palm of your hand as a rule of thumb with regards to how much to eat. Cut out processed sugar, which is something else for kidneys to filter out of the urine. The kidneys are precision instruments - like an engineering device that needs to be well maintained in order to function properly. As usual, I will sound like a broken stuck record (for those who are old enough to know what that is!), but eating the rainbow of colourful fruit and veggies is what is going to help all your organs - unless you have noticed symptoms from eating certain foods, of course. But then that is another separate issue, so come talk to me if that is the case!

The Bowels

This is something we can have some really great effects with herbs. By stimulating gastric enzymes, we make sure we break down the food properly. What we eat has toxins in, and the toxins from other parts of the body are moved to the bowel for excretion. Gastric enzymes help keep the gut microbes in balance, meaning less chance of infections there. Our microbiome actually help us detoxify, so once again, I am repeating myself here but it's absolutely imperative to eat the rainbow every day. 'Five a day' just does not cut the mustard at all, in fact, it's quite pathetic for what the body needs to function optimally. By eating the rainbow every day, we ensure that we get enough prebiotics, which are fibres in fruits and vegetables that the probiotics live off of. Without these, your pets (the microbiome) die. Now, you wouldn't starve your pets, would you?!

There are some herbs we can eat that are prebiotics and soothe the lining of the gut- call me if you'd like to try some.

Eat unprocessed, ideally organic foods to avoid toxins and try to shop where there are no plastics surrounding or touching the food. Choose organic, free range, grass-fed meats, and remember, one person's vegan claim to optimal health might not be right for you! Vegetarians and vegans must be sure to take good quality supplements from time to time - read my article about practitioner-only products - please don't get the cheapest supplement, you are just wasting your money! It's much better value to spend a little more on a product that is actually going to replenish your body with the nutrients it needs, rather than the scattergun approach that most cheap supplements have. Call me to discuss if this is you.

When we exercise, all the organs and muscles inside the gut get toned and massaged with the movement, meaning that all-important good circulation of fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients goes there, whilst all the deoxygenated and toxin-laden blood goes away from the organs, ready to be excreted via faeces.

The Liver

I wrote an article that focussed on the liver and briefly mentioned the above elimination organs, so I'm just going to post a link to that here.

The Lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is also part of the immune system, hence why when you are ill, sometimes lymph nodes swell, as they become full of the by-products of infection, i.e. dead bad and good bacteria that didn't make it in the war that waged inside your body, and other chemicals that the body releases during an attack. These lymph nodes can harbour toxins, too, which are also seen as invaders in the body, because the body does not recognise the type of molecule of toxins. To save us from having them in circulation, organs and even lymph nodes, can store these toxins.

Lymphatic drainage massages are a great way to stimulate lymph flow through the lymphatic vessels. Just make sure it is a lymphatic drainage massage, it should be slow, light and rhythmic.

There are lymphatic herbs that can be taken in tea form, as well as tinctures or liquid extract form, and only from a qualified herbalist. Very often, the herbs that help enhance blood cleansing are lymphatic so these should be used in the tea, tinctures, and/or liquid extract.

Glymphatic system

Make sure you get enough good quality sleep because sleep is the way the brain detoxifies itself from all the metabolic waste products generated and toxin build-up in the neurons via the glymphatic system, something more recently discovered, that actually runs all through the neuronal network in the brain. This is also likely why when we don't get enough sleep, we have a fuzzy head and don't have clarity in our thoughts, because it is literally jammed with tiny molecules of chemicals that mean the neurons are not firing optimally. Again, there are herbs that specifically help to remove things like aluminium and mercury from the brain and are brain tonic herbs, and nervous system herbs.

What are the signs of toxicity?

When you just never seem to get better. When, despite doing all the right things, even seeing a herbalist or naturopath or other alternative practitioners, taking good quality supplements, eating right, exercising, and nothing comes right.

Hormone imbalances is one of the biggest problems with heavy metals - an example is how a nickel molecule (in stainless steel, eg. pots and pans) mimics the inside of an insulin molecule, thus causing diabetic or blood sugar issues. Other examples of body systems affected by toxins and heavy metals are:

  • Lead causes neurological, haematological, renal, and gastrointestinal effects.

  • Cadmium affects renal, skeletal, and respiratory systems.

  • Mercury affects a variety of body systems as it affects the thyroid.

Detection & Detoxification

How can we find out if there are any stored toxins or heavy metals in the body? Well, you could do a test at any time to see whether or not you are harbouring things in the tissues that should not be there to actually save time and money rather than waste money on supplements and practitioner visits before you know what is going on in your body, and once you know what's going on, you can tailor a detoxification and replenish plan accordingly.

Blood tests can be costly and only show what is in the blood circulation, not what is stored in the tissues, which is where the problems start because our organs are essentially tissues. A Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is one of the best ways of finding out what is lurking in your tissues so that you can take the right action to rid the body of them safely. A urine sample could also be another way of finding out if there are any toxins being excreted. Of course, doing both blood/urine and the HTMA would be the most comprehensive cover.

If you do find out that you have high levels of heavy metal or toxins in the tissues, you need specific nutrients to help your body get rid of them. However, you actually need to get healthy first. Our bodies need nutrition in order to detox, so you have to nourish yourself first before you can even think of a detox. If you have a poor diet and/or an unhealthy lifestyle, you need to start there. You should take good quality supplements to restock and re-nourish your stores fully so that you can do the detox, and once the detox is started, you actually need another round of said good quality supplements to help with the detox. After that, keep eating well to stay nourished. Detoxing actually removes our nutrients because they are used in the detoxification process, and once they're used, they're gone. This is why we need to re-stock the nutrients afterwards, otherwise you are left detoxed but with a nutritional deficit.

In order to absorb the nutrients, we need a healthy, robust gut lining because this is where they are absorbed, and also where the microbes live. Of course, there are some herbs to build with this, as well as certain supplements that are used by the cells in gut wall repair. If the gut wall is compromised and you've done a detox, it could mean that the toxins can re-enter circulation via a broken gut wall. This is also why a comprehensive detox is best because of the toxins that are disturbed and put into the blood stream.

Alongside a detox diet, herbs to support detoxification (in all their forms - tea, tinctures, liquid extracts) and wherever else needs support in the body should also be taken. Products like Toxaprevent are good, depending on the toxic load in your body, but these kind of products are quite a strong detox and can cause side effects such as flu-like symptoms, and even emotional things can be brought to the surface because of the toxins being released or stirred up where they have been buried for a long time. For this reasons, Bach flower remedies might even need to be deployed in the detoxification program because they can help support the emotional side of things.

Another vital point in any detox is that you need to swap all the toxins you are surrounded by as much as possible. This means all household cleaning products, personal care products, investing in glass cookware for when you cook acidic sauces (eg. tomato is acidic and causes nickel to leach out of stainless steel), switch to wool pillows or non-toxic pillows, mattress, swap the toxic flea powder for cats and dogs to a natural one (yes, this particular toxin also affects humans), swap the air freshener (as described above), swap plastic food wrap for beeswax wraps or use bowls with small plate on top (the old fashioned way!) - think of all the exposures that may be harmful and swap them out so you don't retox after all the hard work of detoxing!

If you'd like to have a simple detox, please call me to find out more, or click the button below to find out about a comprehensive detox.

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