The last several columns I have talked about toxins we absorb through our food, water, and air. There are many other sources of toxins, such as pharmaceutical and over the counter medications, chemical residues left on carpet, furniture, clothing, and building materials, all of which we breathe, ingest, or absorb through the skin. These are really important, however, for the sake of timeliness, I am setting those aside for the time being so we can focus on how to deal with and move towards less toxicity in the body. It’s time to focus on how we can feel better and heal better.
As we approach the first hints of Spring, now is the time that our ancestors would traditionally start cleansing. No, they were not more health conscious or disciplined than we are. Detoxification happened in the spring because that is when food stores would run low after the long winter. Many people were fasting and reducing their calorie intake whether they wanted to or not by the time March came. The process of burning fat stores was a natural way of releasing toxins in the body.
Since most toxins are fat soluble and therefore stored in the body’s fat cells, burning fat stores helped remove toxins from the body and naturally helped people to detoxify – internal spring cleaning, if you will. Fortunately and unfortunately, many of us are so well fed in our first world lives that we never have to exercise this bodily wisdom through fasting and reduced calorie intake. Because of this and the fact that our world is vastly more polluted that ever before, people are becoming more and more toxic.
As I have mentioned many times, recent research suggests that most humans have over 200 toxic compounds stored in their fat cells. These toxins circulate in our bodies as fat is burned, causing harm to our tissues and generally are a drag on our health and immunity. Continuous exposure to toxins has been associated with dramatically increased incidences of cancer and other disabling diseases.
These are some signs and symptoms associated with toxicity that may resolve with detoxification: recurrent fatigue, constipation, bloating, indigestion, frequent head aches, dizziness, feeling spacey, mood swings, depression, PMS, irritability, difficulty managing stress, hopelessness, water retention, persistent dark colored urine, puffy eyes, dark circles under the eyes, joint pain, frequent colds or flues, insomnia, rashes, chronic allergic coughing, sinus congestion, allergies, eczema, and many others. If it sounds like a cure-all, it kind of is. Of course there are many other causes for all of these symptoms.
But if you’ve been dealing with some of the symptoms listed above and have not found a cause and a cure, toxicity may be the cause and detoxification may be the cure.
Those of us, primarily natural health care providers, who advise regular detoxification see the benefits in our patients. I have seen all of the above listed symptoms and many others disappear with patients who have undertaken detoxification.
While there are many, many different kinds of detoxification and cleansing protocols, one thing they have in common is changing the way we eat for a period of time so that stored toxins can be mobilized, packaged, and eliminated by the body.
Generally, when we are detoxing, we stay away from all toxin-producing products like alcohol, sugar, coffee, and stay far away from anything processed. Most cleanses will also steer clear of animal foods with the exception of “cleaner” foods, like fish and some poultry. Most cleanses will try to stay away from foods containing gluten. Some are juice fasts. Some include the use of herbs or medical foods that enhance the body’s ability to bind and eliminate toxins. This process of ramping up the detoxification organs is also an ancient practice which was the result of circumstance. In most colder climates, the first edible plants available after the long winter were dandelions whose greens, when eaten, cause the liver to detoxify.
When embarking on a cleanse or detoxification program for the first time, it is always advisable to get some help or thoroughly research which cleanse might be the most effective for your goals. Not all cleanses are equal or do the same thing. It’s important to have help in negotiating and tailoring a cleanse to suit your own particular health issues. It is also helpful to have someone to help you prepare for the challenges – both physical and mental – with detoxification.
Officially, spring starts on March 21 with the Spring Equinox, but anytime between February and May is a good time to cleanse. Those of us who have indulged more than we may have liked over the holidays may be feeling that sooner is better.
In March, I will be starting a 28-day group detoxification challenge called Detoxification for Vitality and Resilience. The group will meet weekly at 12:30 p.m.-1:00 p.m. on Thursdays through March at my office to share a healthy meal and discuss challenges, talk about detoxification and other wellness topics focused around healthy eating. The orientation meeting for any who is thinking about cleansing will be Thursday, February 11, at 12:30 p.m. The cost of the program is $485 and includes a 28-day supply of medical food and supplements, two 30-minute detoxification consultations, and all Thursday meetings and lectures.
Please reserve your spot for the orientation meeting in advance by calling Intriligator Biophysics for Health at (563) 556-0017.