It is not often that I come across an alternative therapy that I have never before heard of. And when I do, I am naturally interested. Emunctorology is such a term – even my spell-check flags it up as a misprint, but trust me, it isn’t.
The term, my dictionary tells me, comes from the Latin emungere = to wipe clean (mungere = to wipe). Emunctory, the dictionary further informs me, relates to a body organ having an excretory function. It follows, that emunctorology is the science of the excretory functions of the body.
That does not mean it is an alternative therapeutic approach, I hear you say.
True, but we all know how inventive alternative practitioners can be.
This article explains (brace yourself for some comic relief):
START OF QUOTE
The emunctories are described as organs of elimination that support the process of detoxification. There are 5 major emunctories:
- Gastrointestinal tract – small and large intestine
- Kidneys / urinary tract
The science of detoxification, Emunctorology, teaches us the language to understand and manage this process of detoxification.
The process of detoxification can be divided into two aspects:
- Depuration: the purification of tissues that begins at the cellular level; includes the purification of fluids, organs, membranes, fatty tissue, etc. This aspect involves the packaging and the shipping of toxins, morbid matter, or ama to the emunctories, organs of elimination.
- Drainage: the efficient elimination of toxins from their location in the emunctories. This is the final step to remove the burden of disease causing agents from the body. Healthy drainage is a constant need to maintain a disease-free body.
Depuration: Packaging and shipping toxins for elimination
If we think about the familiar process of digestion: it involves digestion of food, separation of nutrition from waste, and elimination of waste. The digestive process that occurs in the intestines is the gross depuration process that is easy to observe. It is a very good indicator of overall health and resilience.
Beyond the intestines, nutrition is again digested in the liver: which is a producer of cholesterols, glycogen, as well as a security gateway for chemical toxins. Beyond the liver, each cell in the body has a cellular digestive system; which harvests energy, repairs the cells, and eliminates toxic waste. Healthy digestive function at the intestinal, liver, and cellular levels ensures efficient regeneration tissue and efficient elimination of waste; the process of depuration.
The toxins, ama or morbid matter in our body come from two pathways: 1) Endogenous, naturally produced waste from the body’s metabolic processes, like reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative damage, feces, urine, etc.; 2) Exogenous, all toxic substances that we get from our environment, food, and emotional influences. When the process of elimination of toxins is overwhelmed, toxins are “hidden away” in the body to protect vital organs like the brain.
These toxins are primarily hidden in fat cells (adipose tissue) of the body. Depending on available space and preference, toxins also become stored in bones, muscles, connective tissue, and even the myelin sheaths that wrap around nerves. From their location in these tissues, toxins begin to block or modify normal physiological functions.
For an effective depuration process, elimination of toxins from all of these tissues is essential.
Drainage: Elimination of toxins from the body
The process of elimination also occurs at cellular and whole-body level. The main organs of eliminations, emunctories are main external outlets of the waste products. Cellular and physiological processes are subtle, yet equally important for bringing toxins to the emunctories for elimination. So the complete process of drainage requires elimination of waste at cellular level and elimination of waste out of the emunctories.
Accumulation of toxins at the emunctories, without proper elimination can also cause many problems. For example: 1) Cigarette smoke, mold, bacteria, microbial toxins are all exogenous toxins for the lung – prolonged exposure to these leads to chronic lung inflammation. 2) Presence of heavy metals and other toxins can cause abnormal folding a proteins – a problem that is implicated in causing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc. 3) Reactive oxygen species are created as part of cellular energy building process; as well as a side-product of inflammation; excessive amount can cause damage to DNA, cell walls, nerves, etc.
Activation of Emunctories:
All emunctories, organs of elimination, are active at all times; constantly working to make ensure the best possible health and physiological balance. Their functions can be enhanced by targeted daily choices in activity, food, environment, and hydration. Here are some simple strategies for activation:
- Inhale through your nose, filling your lungs to full capacity.
- Hold the breath for 3 seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth.
- Repeat this exercise 16 times, twice a day.
- Eat 2-3 servings of green leafy vegetables daily.
- 2-3 servings of colorful seasonal vegetables.
- Eat 1-2 servings of seasonal fruits daily.
- Several servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily (same used for liver detox) – provide fiber and probiotic gut bacteria for normal activity of the intestines promoting regular bowel movements.
- Eat regular fermented foods: Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, sour cream, kefir, etc. this is nutrition for replenishing gut-bacteria.
- All adults should drink 6-8 glasses of water every day.
- Eliminate refined sugars from diet completely – 1-2 teaspoons of honey, daily is enough.
- Drink plenty of water: add lemon slices and/or mint leaves to alkalinize the water.
- Support probiotic intake: Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, sour cream, kefir, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably home grown or picked up from farmers market; this is nutrition for replenishing gut-bacteria.
- Sweat regularly:
- 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise, done 5 times per week;
- Sweat in a sauna or steam room after exercise for 20-30mins.
- Skin brush: use skin brush to gently scrub off old, dead skin. Brushing towards the heart also helps to promote lymph flow; For example: start at the hand and brush towards the shoulder.
- Apply oil: perform self-massage with sesame oil for Vata dominant body type, coconut for Pitta and Olive oil for Kapha body types, 2-3 times per week; ideally 10 minutes before going in the sauna to sweat. The oil nourishes the skin and sweating helps to pull out fat-soluble toxins from skin layers.
- Meditation is a way to help quiet the activity of the mind. Regular practice of about 20 minutes twice a day can help to clear the mind and reboot.
- Walking is a moderate level exercise that also gives an opportunity to rest the mind from being engaged in doing things. Regular walks in the natural settings like the woods, has been shown to improve mood, self-esteem, and even boost the immune system.
- Play time with family and friends: whether it is physical activity or creative projects – play time is an ideal way giving the mind a break from the daily grind.
- Sleep: 7-8 hours of sleep every night between the hours of 10pm-6am. This helps to align the hormonal activity in the body and the mind with circadian rhythm, the day-night cycle of nature.
- Infusing these simple activities into your daily and weekly routines can help to optimize your natural capacity for detoxification. This helps to sustain a good baseline of cleanliness for all your tissues, body and mind…
END OF QUOTE
So, now we know!
Before you rush off and fill you days with meditation, skin brushing, oiling, sleeping, walking, sweating, exercising, dieting, shopping colourful vegetables, breathing as instructed, etc. – or, heaven forbid, train as an ‘emunctorologist’ – you might remember that we have covered detox – and that’s what ‘Emunctorology’ essentially turns out to be – several times before on this blog. I think that my conclusions from last year still hold:
If your life-style is unhealthy, don’t think that detox will help, but change your ways.
If the air that you breathe or the water that you drink are polluted, don’t think that detox is the solution, but punish the government that is responsible for these disasters and vote for someone more responsible.
Detox, as used in alternative medicine, is stupid, unethical nonsense promoted by charlatans of the worst kind; don’t fall for it!!!