MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Well, not everywhere actually; if you go on Medline, for instance, and search for ‘detox’, you hardly find anything at all on detox as used in alternative medicine. This is because there is no science behind it (for the purpose of this post, ‘detox’ means the alternative detox that is supposed to rid us from environmental poisons and, more relevant to the Christmas season, of the effects of over-indulgence). Notwithstanding this lack of science and evidence, detox is currently being heavily promoted in magazines, newspapers and, of course, via the Internet.

Take the heir to our thrown, Prince Charles, for instance; he famously marketed his Duchy Originals ‘DETOX TINCTURE’. And he has competition from thousands who also exploit the gullible with similar placebos. One website even claimed that “2014 was the year of the cleanse diet. Celebrities swear by them and more and more people have been getting in on the action, whether it’s to detox diet, brighten skin, lose weight, or get a fresh start. And nowhere is that more evident than in Yahoo’s Year in Review, where different health cleanses consistently topped the site’s most popular stories lists. Here, the year’s top 10 most popular cleanses.”

The author then continues by promoting 10 different forms of detox:

1. A Colon Cleanse.

2. A Liver Cleanse.

3. The Master Cleanse.

4. The 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse.

5. A Juice Cleanse.

6. Detox Cleanse.

7. Slendera Garcinia and Natural Cleanse.

8. Dherbs Full Body Cleanse.

9. Blueprint Cleanse.

10. Isagenix Cleanse for Life.

These treatments seem diverse but they all have one thing in common: they do not work; they do not eliminate poisons from the body, they merely eliminate cash from your wallet.

But being so very negative is not the way forward, some might argue. Why does he not tell us which forms of detox do actually work?

Because it is Christmas, I will do just that and provide my readers with a full list of detox treatments that are effective. If you are looking for a specific type of detox and it is not on the list, it means you should spend your money on something else, stop over-indulging yourself and adopt a sensibly health lifestyle.

HERE WE GO – THIS IS MY COMPLETE LIST OF EFFECTIVE FORMS OF DETOX:

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

14 Responses to It’s beginning to look a lot like DETOX…everywhere I go

  • I have every intention of eating and drinking too much, and taking very little exercise over the next week. I will then reverse all three in order to compensate. But why does it seem to require four weeks of abstinence to correct one week’s excess? Not fair.

    A very Merry Christmas / Yule / Saturnalia / Solstice to you, Dr Ernst, and thank you for all your work.

  • Come along Dr Ernst! There is water. Quite good, I hear, for getting those toxins flushed through the kidneys. I know its the only thing I’ll be drinking over the festive season.

  • Is there a bullsh*t cleanse?

  • One typo, thrown–>throne!
    Thanks for reinforcing the absurdity of these schemes.

  • For me, it’s the pre-tox and the re-tox that I most enjoy.

  • I agree that the whole toxin thing is bunk. But many people I trust swear there is a change in energy level during a detox. Is there a biological explanation – beyond placebo effects – for a boost of energy while severely limiting the number of calories you ingest?

    • The explanation is that you’re quoting a subjective claim, which is not evidence for anything. It should be technically straightforward to measure a person’s capacity for doing physical exercise, but so many people nowadays use the word ‘energy’ to mean something vaguely spiritual — the way they feel, father than energy in the sense as used in physics and related, as you say, to calorific intake.

    • Just swearing your energy levels have changed is not enough, they must be measured before and after! Together with lots of blood and urine tests to find out when your body will start consuming its muscles. And it will. Long before you have lost your fat.

  • Body is detoxed by himself hepatorenal. If not, you’ll be dead soon…

  • Absence of evidence, in this and many similar cases is simply lack of information, not evidence of absence of benefit or harm.

    Let’s consider the following simple, in theory, test. Two women, Alice and Zizi, good friends of similar age, one taller, one heavier. Neither Alice nor Zizi has any illness, nor any pre-disease. Of course in our medicated society, that might not seem possible

    Now let’s ask a simple question: who is healthier, Alice, or Zizi? In the absence of illness, our powerful medical systems have no standards to tell us who is healthier.

    Now suppose Alice does a detox cleanse, but Zizi does not. In theory, we could measure their healthiness, and determine if the detox improved, or detracted from Alice’s state of health.

    But what can our medical systems measure and conclude? They cannot measure healthiness before the detox, and they can’t measure it afterwards either.

    The only definitive statement that can be made is “there is no evidence that….”.

  • “In the absence of illness, our powerful medical systems have no standards to tell us who is healthier.” Not only our powerful medical systems, but Tracy Kolenchuk and everyone else.

    Healthiness is inevitably defined in vague terms. Is an younger person healthier, per se, than an older one? A lighter person than a heavier one? Does healthiness alter with time? So many variables — some definable and some not — go to making up the entire concept of ‘good health’ that it’s a fool’s errand to pose your question.

    Suppose Alice, after her detox cleanse (whatever the heck that might be) is determined to be healthier than Zizi, then she walks out of the experiment and catches a cold, whereas Zizi doesn’t, what value is the recent measurement of her superior healthiness? That’s why science (a tool for attempting to avoid fooling ourselves) tends to be reductionist most of the time. For your experiment with the ‘detox cleanse’ a scientist would first define one or more objectively measurable outcomes then see if the ‘detox cleanse’ made a significant difference to any of them. By the way, Zizi would need to undergo a placebo ‘detox cleanse’ for the experiment to count for anything.

    • If we can’t measure it, we can’t improve it. Claiming that we cannot measure healthiness is just a cop-out, a refusal to try. If you think you can, or you think you cannot – you are right.

      The ‘catches a cold’ suggestion that Alice is not healthier is not relevant, any more that if she catches a bullet. However, if people we measure as healthier actually catch more colds, or more bullets, it simply indicates that we need to improve our measurement standards.

      Yes, of course we would need reductionist measurable indications of healthiness. Our current focus on illness produces lots of measureable indications of illness, but if none are found, it looks no further, because medical treatments only treat illness, not healthiness.

      There is no need for Zizi to take a placebo detox. This is a case study, not a clinical study. When we have developed useful messures of healthiness, we can remove Zizi from the situation, because her status is irrelevant. Just as in a case study where Alice takes an antibiotic that cures an infection, there is no need to give someone else a placebo to know that it cured. Placebo treatments are used to evaluate treatments that do not cure. Because cures are binary there is no need to test against a placebo – and it might be unethical to do so.

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