MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Yes, the festive season is upon us and therefore it is high time to discuss detox (yet again). As many of us are filling their fridges to the brim, most of us prepare for some serious over-indulgence. Following alt med logic, this must prompt some counter-measures, called detox.

The range of treatments advocated by detox-fans is weird and wide (see also below):

  • various alternative diets,
  • herbal, vitamins, minerals and other ‘natural’ supplements,
  • various forms of chelation therapy,
  • electromagnetic devices,
  • colonic irrigation and enemas,
  • various forms of skin bruising,
  • cupping,
  • sauna and other means of inducing extensive sweating,
  • homeopathy,
  • ear candles,
  • foot-baths,
  • etc., etc.

I suppose it was to be expected that detox often goes with other crazy beliefs. This website, for instance, shows that it is even associated with anti-vaxx:

START OF QUOTE

Whether you believe vaccines to be harmful or not, one has to admit that all the ingredients added to vaccines cannot be good for anyone, especially children.

As David Wolfe has discussed, vaccines contain the following: sucrose, fructose, dextrose, potassium phosphate, aluminum potassium sulfate, peptone, bovine extract, formaldehyde, FD&C Yellow #6, aluminum lake dye, fetal bovine serum, sodium bicarbonate, monosodium glutamate, aluminum hydroxide, benzethonium chloride, lactose thimerosal, ammonium sulfate, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, bovine extract), calf serum, aluminum phosphate, aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate, and ethanol.

That is a long scary list and many of these things will not leave the body naturally. Thus, a gentle detox is necessary.

Detoxification Bath

Living Traditionally suggests a detoxification bath with both Zendocrine and epsom salt. Zendocrine is an essential oil mixture made up of tangerine, rosemary, geranium, juniper berry, and cilantro. Rosemary, juniper berry, and cilantro are good choices for detoxification and tangerine and geranium are purifiers.

Garlic

Garlic has been scientifically proven to treat heavy metal poisoning. Organic Lifestyle Magazine suggests consuming three cloves a day to help remove toxins.

Silica

Silica is also good for a heavy metal detox. Natural News states, “Aluminum (Al) is passed out through the urine when one supplements silica. It seems there’s little danger of taking too much, as long as adequate water is consumed and vitamin B1 and potassium levels are maintained.”

One of the best ways to get silica in your system is with the horsetail herb, rye, barley, oats, wheat, and alfalfa sprouts nuts.

Chlorella

Chlorella is one of the best detoxifying substances available. According to Dr. Mercola, “Chlorella is uniquely designed to not bind to the minerals your body naturally needs to function optimally. It does not bind to beneficial minerals like calcium, magnesium, or zinc. It’s almost as if chlorella knows which metals belong in your body and which chemicals need to be removed. Supplementing with chlorella is like unleashing a tiny army inside your body to fight the battle of removing toxins from your tissues and ushering them back outside your body where they belong.”
You can take it in supplement form or add a powdered version to your smoothie.

Probiotics

Probiotics are what is needed to put good bacteria system to rights when it has been thrown off by toxins. “They can provide assistance by decreasing the number of bad bacteria while helping to restore balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut and to keep your body functioning properly.” (LiveStrong)

Some probiotic foods include: organic yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and fermented vegetables.

Omega-3

Omega 3 oils are especially good for cell repair and keeping your brain healthy. This is because of their high fat content is similar to the fats that are naturally part of cell and brain systems. (Daily Mail)

A teaspoon daily should be enough or you could take a supplement.

Cilantro

According to Natural Society, cilantro is a very gentle detoxification tool. It is also effective for removing heavy metals from the brain.
For 2-3 weeks, add a teaspoon of cilantro to your food, smoothie, or just eat it up. You can also substitute with 6-7 drops of cilantro essential oil by adding it to your bath.

END OF QUOTE

Don’t you just adore the sources quoted by the author as evidence for his/her statements?

As I said, the therapies recommended for detox are diverse. Yet, they have one important feature in co<span style=”color: #668a1d;”>mmon: they are not based on anything remotely resembling good evidence. As I stressed in my article of 2012:

The common characteristics of all of these approaches are that they are unproved. Even experts who are sympathetic to alternative medicine and AD admit: ‘while there are hundreds of randomized controlled trials on drug and alcohol detox, there are no such trials of detox programs focusing on environmental toxins … at present, “detox” is certainly more of a sales pitch than a science’. The ‘studies’ of AD that have been published are of such poor methodological quality that no conclusions can be drawn from them.

While there is a total absence of sound evidence for benefit, some of these treatments have been associated with risks which depend on the nature of the treatment and can be particularly serious with diets (malnutrition), supplements (hepatoxicity), chelation (electrolyte depletion) and colonic irrigation (perforation of the colon).

Yet detox is big business’. A recent survey, for instance, suggested that 92% of US naturopaths use some form of detox. To lay people, its principles seem to make sense and, in many of us, the desire to ‘purify’ ourselves is deep rooted. Thus detox-entrepreneurs (including Prince Charles who, several years ago, launched a ‘Detox-Tincture’ via his firm Duchy Originals) are able to exploit a gullible public.

Proponents of detox are keen to point out that ‘a modern science of ‘detoxicology’ seems to be emerging’. If there is such a thing, it should address the following, fundamental questions:

  • What are the toxins and toxicants?
  • What evidence exists that they damage our health?
  • How do we quantify them?
  • How do we diagnose that a patient requires detox?
  • Which treatments are effective in eliminating which toxins?

Currently, there is insufficient evidence to answer any of these questions. Until this situation changes, I do not think a ‘science of detox’ exists at all.

9 Responses to Have yourself a merry little detox

  • Any sentence which starts ‘As David Wolfe has discussed…’ immediately loses one the argument.
    You may as well state ‘Recent research by Daffy Duck has shown that…’

  • Your five questions are very much to the point. According to most dictionaries, a ‘toxin’ is a poison made by living organisms: they’re therefore entirely ‘natural’ (please take note, all those who think that ‘natural’ is a synonym of ‘good’ or ‘beneficial’.)

    In other words, toxins form a subset within the definition of a ‘poison’ and the concept of ‘environmental toxins’ is unhelpful, to say the least. Several of the ‘toxins’ on David Wolfe’s list are simple poisons, not things produced by any natural, living thing.

    I notice that several local 5 & 10 km runs arranged locally for the next week bill themselves as ‘detox’ events. Is there no end to the public latching on, like automaton slaves, to vague concepts of something ‘beneficial to health’ without stopping to consider the detail?

    • Odd Frank stated, “Is there no end to the public latching on, like automaton slaves, to vague concepts of something ‘beneficial to health’ without stopping to consider the detail? Ironical comment from this poster considering that he and his ilk didn’t pay more attention to the GSK/Paxil debacle before the scam injured and killed children.

      • To Logus: Paxil has saved many lives from suicide,etc. Renal dialysis and liver transplants have saved many lives for those who have lost their natural means of detoxification. Bogus detox as described above by Dr.Ernst and that you apparently support saves no lives and benefits no one except the fraudsters who sell it. With or without functioning livers and kidneys,it is a criminal practice of modern snake oil and a pathetic sales gimmick for shysters taking advantage of naive and gullible consumers. Anytime an alternative advertises “detox” it is ALWAYS a lie.

        • Ignorancio Elenchi! Cox has attempted to “spin away” my concern for off-label prescirbing via a logical fallacy.

          BTW, Cox, had you taken the time to scroll down one more post in this thread, you would have discovered that I share your feelings about detox.

          • L-B has evidently managed to copy some names of classical fallacies. Now it needs to learn what they mean and how they apply… I’m not hopeful 🙂

          • Thanks to Geir for another dullard’s comment. It seems he only has memorized “Tu Quo Que” as his default “rebuke” to criticisms of “modern medicine.” He apparently is again intellectually defenseless when he discovers that his drone-master is guilty of logical fallacies in his baseless rants. Hilarious!

            Please keep it coming, dear Geir. You are a true comOdian; and also a source for laughs to start a new year.

            Be well

  • Well stated, Edzard. I don’t believe there is any legit, consistently reproducible science which supports detox and I’ve not ever read any specific criteria for diagnosing its need.

    • To L-B: If you do not believe in detox then why do so many “alternatives” promote “detox” and sell it as if it is real? Are you speaking out against such fraud?

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