How Toxic Are You?: The Basics of Natural Detoxification

Spring is on it’s way and with this season of new growth and renewal, we tend to focus a lot of our energy on spring cleaning.  In winter, our modern world dictates a season of over consumption.  We eat and drink our way through over commercialized holidays: Christmas, Valentine’s, St. Patty’s Day and Easter.  And now the buzz is about detoxification – a spring cleaning for the body.  But let’s face it, the newness of each spring shouldn’t mean that we have to clean up the mess we make every winter.  Detoxification for two weeks does not balance the re-toxing that’s done the rest of the year.

Before the natural health product industry made it into the newest fad-diet, detoxification referred to the pathways in our cells that transform toxic material into relatively inactive substances that can be readily excreted via the urine or bile.  It is a NATURAL process.  Our bodies were built to do it every day!  Problems arise when our systems are overwhelmed or insufficiently functioning.  When not detoxified and excreted promptly, the majority of toxic substances are stored in tissues and organs.  With all of our body systems intricately connected to one another, impaired detoxification processes in any one system will lead to low energy and decreased vitality which can ultimately result in chronic illness. 

The primary goal of natural detoxification is elimination.  Systems of elimination work 24/7 to help maintain a clean internal environment.  The lungs handle around 20% of all body elimination through more than 23,000 breaths each day.  By breathing deeply and healthfully we improve the volume and the cleansing ability of our lungs.  The skin, removes about another 10% of body waste, through sweating.  The digestive system is extensive and highly coordinated.  Remember, one bowel movement for every meal is ideal for preventing toxic build up in the bowels.  If waste is sitting in your gut, the opportunity for toxins from that waste to be reabsorbed into the body is greater – especially if the friendly bacteria or mucous membranes of the gut have been compromised by poor eating habits, food sensitivities, alcohol, coffee, and antibiotics.   The kidneys handle about 30% of the body’s elimination.  Water soluble waste from the blood is literally flushed out.

In order for many wastes to be eliminated, they must first be processed and transported.    The liver, our master detoxifier and one of the most precious organs of the body performs many vital functions.  It filters harmful chemicals and bacteria from the blood, breaks down and eliminates hormones, and creates bile which is used to break down fat and carry away waste in the bowels.  The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that drain toxins from between the cells in every corner of the body, delivering waste back into the blood circulation, destined for elimination.

This spring, centre yourself with renewed view of detoxification.  Focus on year round support of your natural routes of elimination.  That’s what your self care practices are all about – dry skin brushing supports the skin and lymphatics; castor oil packs nourish the digestive system and enhance lymphatic and liver functioning; hydrotherapy showers circulate blood and lymph; healthful breathing strengthens the lungs and promotes relaxation; drinking plenty of pure, clean water, flushes the kidneys.  For more details and to make all of these practices a part of your daily routine, speak to your naturopathic doctor today and ensure your continued journey to good health.