Detoxing has become a buzzword term today. With so many different brands and celebrities promising that their products will help you lose weight by “detoxing,” it can be a confusing landscape to navigate on your own.
From a practitioner standpoint, when we talk about a health detox, this is not in the form of some over-the-counter weight loss pill, juice cleanse, or similar product.
Our bodies are naturally detoxing all the time. In fact, our body detoxes the most when we sleep, which is why it’s imperative that you get eight hours per night so that the body can complete this entire process. The reason why these “detox” pills, diets and cleanses get a bad reputation is because detoxification is an ongoing process that the body always performs.
However, things can go wrong when your detox pathways become blocked for one reason or another. Our toxic burdens have grown over time as a result of our modern diet and lifestyles, toxic environmental factors, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. This is where specific supplements and protocols can help with clearing those pathways to help support your body’s natural detox processes.
There are a few different detox pathways and organs to help clear toxins and waste from the body: your liver/gallbladder, kidneys, lymph, lungs and your skin, which is your biggest detox organ. The urinary tract and bowels are also heavily involved in detoxification. If you are are not eliminating properly, then the toxins will stick around in the colon or bladder and eventually be reabsorbed back into the body, which can cause digestion, endocrine and cognitive issues, among others.
Liver Detoxification Phases
At a very high level, detoxification happens in three phases and includes a series of enzymes and proteins required to break down compounds. This is very much a process embedded in metabolism. In phase I liver detox, a group of enzymes — the cytochrome P450 family — protect your cells from damage by converting toxins into smaller substances for additional detoxing, and by making these toxins water-soluble so that they can enter into phase II detoxification.
Phase II detox is all about conjugation, and relies on six different pathways to again convert substances to water-soluble toxins and then take those water-soluble metabolites out of your body through your bile, urine, sweat and stool.
Phase III detox is about transporting the leftover substances from phase II out of the body. They will either go to your kidneys for further filtration and then are excreted via the urine, or they will be carried out via the bile produced in your gallbladder and travel throughout the rest of the GI tract where they are eliminated in your stool.
Phase I and phase II of detox require certain amino acids, minerals like magnesium and zinc and vitamins like B12 and vitamin C to support the main organ involved: your liver! The liver has over 500 different functions in the body so you can imagine how easy it can be for this process to become impaired if the liver is compromised.
Support for Normal Detoxification
Here are 3 herbal supplements that can help support the normal healthy phases of detoxification.
Livixir — This is a beautiful blend of Traditional Chinese Herbs that are really focused on supporting phase I and II of liver detox with an emphasis on promoting healthy digestion so that things keep moving through the body as they should. This blend includes herbs like milk thistle, dandelion root and artichoke for liver and gallbladder support and marshmallow root, fennel and Oregon grape to support digestion. Milk thistle supports normal glutathione production as well as the activation of phase II liver enzymes.
Fiber Flow Capsules — These capsules address phase III of detox to ensure healthy and timely elimination, especially stool. Constipation is one of the most common concerns for those with impaired detoxification and fiber has been shown to help support bowel regularity. Herbs like psyllium husk, psyllium seed help support a nice bulky stool and herbs like fenugreek, slippery elm, yellow dock and marshmallow again support the GI tract. Activated carbon can also help support toxin elimination.
- Kidney Support Tonic — This tonic also helps support phase III detox to ensure healthy elimination, but from the bladder and urinary side. Herbs such as ginkgo biloba, cornsilk, Asian ginseng, astragalus and Chinese rhubarb support normal healthy inflammatory responses for healthy urinary function that is essential for proper toxin elimination.
In addition to supporting herbs, the foods we eat are also crucial for proper detoxification. Sulfur from sources like cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale), garlic, onions, meat (amino acids glycine, n-acetyl cysteine, taurine, and methionine), and egg yolks are key for phase I and II detox as are warming foods (and herbs) like ginger, turmeric and cilantro. Keeping inflammation down and digestion moving are fundamental pieces of detoxification. No process or organ works in a vacuum, which is why we must look holistically at the body and brain for optimal health.
As always, it’s best to consult with your doctor or health practitioner before starting a detox protocol. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be taken as medical advice or diagnosis.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicole Cieslak is a public relations professional, functional nutritional therapy practitioner, and certified personal trainer located in Denver, Colorado. Every day she strives to help people overcome chronic health issues by getting to the root cause. She helps clients take back control of their health through personalized food, lifestyle and supplementation adjustments. You can find her on Instagram as @fitfoodist_foundations for free health, fitness and beauty advice, and check out her blog thefitfoodist.com for more in depth wellness insights.