With all of the hoopla around detoxing it can be difficult to know what’s real and what’s hype. One group says detoxing is a myth. The body is meant to detox itself. Another group says detox is essential to overall health and wellness. Then add to that the number of detox products on the market and it’s a wonder anyone tries this at all. Sometimes we just want someone to tell us what to do and we’ll do it. Fortunately, we have free will and choice. And we’re here to give you the real deal of detoxing and if you should do it.
What Exactly Is Detoxing?
While “detox” has become a fancy buzz word, it is simply the process of pushing out chemicals and substances that don’t belong. It’s not more complicated than that. It’s true, the body does have a detox system. Between the liver and the lymphatic system the body is mechanically able to rid the body of chemicals and substances that don’t belong. The body accomplishes most of its toxin elimination with the use of water. Whatever the body isn’t able to get rid of in a timely fashion gets stored as fat. Processed food that the body isn’t familiar with can get left in the intestines to rot if not evacuated by regular bowel movements. Clear? Let’s move on.
Why Should We Manually Detox?
The body automatically detoxes. External detoxes such as cleanses and other supplements is more manual. Some experts will tell you it isn’t necessary because the body takes care of this on its own while others say it’s essential. However, there is a middle ground. Consider that we can be doing things to help the automatic processes along. Consider that when our bodies were first created we weren’t exposed to nearly the number of toxins we are today. There is air and water pollution, processed foods, chemicals in our beauty products, etc. The fact is we are likely exposed to more toxins than our body can conceivably process on its own. If the body can’t clear out everything it was exposed to in one day, it stores it. That means the next day more toxins will be stored. The toxins grow exponentially. So sometimes it helps the body to give it a break so it can complete a few detox cycles. This is really the benefit of doing a cleanse – giving the body a break from foreign substances. It can also be used as a reset in preparation for a lifestyle change. It should not be done too often or to a dangerous extent. The same thing can be accomplished by fasting and not using supplements.
Unusual Ways To Detox
So far we’ve covered detoxing via the digestive system. Mainly by what you put in your body, but what about detoxing by what you do to your body. Here are three external detoxes to try that have their roots in ancient medicine. Just because something goes back centuries doesn’t make it irrelevant. In fact, many of the packaged and branded products of today have their basis in what happened a long time ago. As always, consult a physician before trying something new.
This detox method is so simple and super cheap! Oil pulling is used in Ayurvedic medicine. This is one of the world’s oldest forms of holistic medicine dating back in India more than 3,000 years. The core belief in Ayurvedic medicine is that health and wellness depend on a balance between the mind, body and spirit. In fact, it is still the primary form of healthcare in India. There are over 1.5 billion Indians, so there must be something to this. Oil pulling is simply taking an oil, such as coconut oil, swishing it around in the mouth to draw out toxins and kill bacteria. Do this three to four times a week can potentially help with plaque and gingivitis. A mixture of oils also believed to help with pulling toxins out of the body through the expressing saliva.
- Do it first thing in the morning upon waking up, before eating or drinking anything, including water.
- Get 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil (can also use sesame, olive and palm or a mix thereof) and swish around your mouth for about 15-20 minutes; use food grade oils and do not swallow.
- Spit out the oil, preferably into the garbage can so the oil doesn’t solidify in your plumbing.
- Floss and brush your teeth as you normally would.
This is an oldie but a goody. Soaking your feet can be a fantastic way to relax at the end of the day. It’s used in pedicures to help soften the skin in preparation for beauty treatments. However by adding a few simple ingredients to the water you can turn your foot soak into a detox session. The pores on the bottom of the feet are the largest. The blood flow at the bottom of the feet comes very close to the skin allowing for a large amount of fluid to leave the body. Think about how much your feet and underarms sweat during the day. This is by design. Sweat isn’t just to cool us down, it also removes toxins from the body. Pores are a two-way street. If fluid comes out, that means fluids can go in. This is the basis of dermal patches such a nicotine patches for smoking cessation. Here is our recipe for a foot soak that will help with pulling out toxins, infusing essential minerals and refreshing your tired dogs.
- Fill a bucket or other small foot tub with hot water. The hot water will help open the pores.
- Add 1/2 cup of unscented Dead Sea salt or Epsom salt to the water. This contains magnesium that can be absorbed by the body. It is essential to numerous bodily functions and is believed to pull toxins from the blood. (Note: Dead Sea salt is mined from the Dead Sea in the Middle East). Do it before bedtime for the extra added benefit of a good night’s sleep.
- Add a capful of antiseptic mouthwash such as Listerine (get the generic), cool mint, for example, smells great and is refreshing. This will help keep your feet smelling fresh, or at least not stinking. It also helps with killing fungus, but must be used two to three times a day every day.
- Add some three to five drops of essential oil such as peppermint, eucalyptus or lavender oil. You can mix them together if you like. The peppermint is invigorating and also helps control foot odor; eucalyptus helps with respiratory health; lavender oil helps with relaxation.
By the way, the same recipe works for a bath, swap baking soda for the antiseptic mouthwash. Increase the amount of Dead Sea Salt or Epsom salt for the greater amount of water.
Another simple and cheap detox method is dry brushing. It is exactly how it sounds. This is another ancient remedy for overall health and wellness making a resurgence. This is meant to stimulate the lymphatic system into dumping its contents. Have you heard of lymph nodes? These are the things that swell sometimes when we get sick because they contain infected fluid. The lymphatic system is a drainage system. Its role is to collect and transport cellular waste to the blood. However, because it doesn’t contain a “pump” it requires human intervention to dump its contents. One way to get the system moving is to jump up and down or get regular exercise such as walking. When the body moves the lymphatic system moves. Dry brushing also stimulates the system to drain by boosting blood circulation to the skin. It also as the beautifying effect of exfoliation. Some say it can boost energy levels as well. It’s recommended to do it every day.
- Use a natural bristle brush (not plastic) that you will not get wet other than to clean at least once a week.
- It is recommended to do this first thing in the morning, but after exercising is fine.
- Start at your feet and work your way up your body using long strokes toward your heart. Be gentle. Do this standing in the shower (water off) so the dead skin gets washed away when you turn the water on.
- Take a shower and moisturize using an organic oil such as coconut, avocado or jojoba for ultimate softness and to avoid toxins found in lotions.
You can try any of these methods. They work best in partnership with a healthy lifestyle such as eating a well-balanced diet, plenty of sleep, water and exercise. They are much cheaper than buying supplements and are super easy to incorporate into a busy lifestyle. I use all three of these methods. While I do the dry brushing I admit that I broke out in an all over body rash that took weeks to go away. I don’t do that one as much. I can’t directly tie the rash to the brushing, but the rash was every where I brushed.
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