This post originally appeared on Wise Woman Herbals blog. Please note there are affiliate links throughout this article.
Detoxing has become a buzzword term today. With so many different brands and celebrities promising that their products will help you lose weight by “detoxing,” it can be a confusing landscape to navigate on your own.
From a practitioner standpoint, when we talk about a health detox, this is not in the form of some over-the-counter weight loss pill, juice cleanse, or similar product.
Our bodies are naturally detoxing all the time. In fact, our body detoxes the most when we sleep, which is why it’s imperative that you get eight hours per night so that the body can complete this entire process. The reason why these “detox” pills, diets and cleanses get a bad reputation is because detoxification is an ongoing process that the body always performs.
However, things can go wrong when your detox pathways become blocked for one reason or another. Our toxic burdens have grown over time as a result of our modern diet and lifestyles, toxic environmental factors, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. This is where specific supplements and protocols can help with clearing those pathways to help support your body’s natural detox processes.
There are a few different detox pathways and organs to help clear toxins and waste from the body: your liver/gallbladder, kidneys, lymph, lungs and your skin, which is your biggest detox organ. The urinary tract and bowels are also heavily involved in detoxification. If you are are not eliminating properly, then the toxins will stick around in the colon or bladder and eventually be reabsorbed back into the body, which can cause digestion, endocrine and cognitive issues, among others.
At a very high level, detoxification happens in three phases and includes a series of enzymes and proteins required to break down compounds. This is very much a process embedded in metabolism. In phase I liver detox, a group of enzymes — the cytochrome P450 family — protect your cells from damage by converting toxins into smaller substances for additional detoxing, and by making these toxins water-soluble so that they can enter into phase II detoxification.
Phase II detox is all about conjugation, and relies on six different pathways to again convert substances to water-soluble toxins and then take those water-soluble metabolites out of your body through your bile, urine, sweat and stool.
Phase III detox is about transporting the leftover substances from phase II out of the body. They will either go to your kidneys for further filtration and then are excreted via the urine, or they will be carried out via the bile produced in your gallbladder and travel throughout the rest of the GI tract where they are eliminated in your stool.
Phase I and phase II of detox require certain amino acids, minerals like magnesium and zinc and vitamins like B12 and vitamin C to support the main organ involved: your liver! The liver has over 500 different functions in the body so you can imagine how easy it can be for this process to become impaired if the liver is compromised.
Here are 3 herbal supplements that can help support the normal healthy phases of detoxification.
In addition to supporting herbs, the foods we eat are also crucial for proper detoxification. Sulfur from sources like cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale), garlic, onions, meat (amino acids glycine, n-acetyl cysteine, taurine, and methionine), and egg yolks are key for phase I and II detox as are warming foods (and herbs) like ginger, turmeric and cilantro.
Keeping inflammation down and digestion moving are fundamental pieces of detoxification. No process or organ works in a vacuum, which is why we must look holistically at the body and brain for optimal health.
As always, it’s best to consult with your doctor or health practitioner before starting a detox protocol. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be taken as medical advice or diagnosis.
And if you think you need support with detoxification, I encourage you to schedule a free discovery call with me and check out my services and pricing page for more information. I’ve worked with numerous clients who need help supporting their detoxification pathways (including myself) and know that together we can get you feeling your best again!