“There is absolutely no need for a person to ever do a so-called ‘detox’ program.”
So says a conventional medicine “expert”.
[In addition to saying that detox is unnecessary, conventional medicine also has believed that adrenal fatigue doesn’t exist, that neither the tonsils nor appendix performed important functions, that Vioxx was safe, and that multivitamins are unsafe. Conventional medicine tried to shut down the practice of chiropractic medicine; and up until they could no longer ignore the demand for integrative medicine, (now re-branded as “Functional Medicine”), conventional medicine authorities would routinely seek to remove licensure from practitioners who dared to give their patients scary things like Vitamin C IVs.]
So now that we know how conventional medicine feels about detox, let’s get really controversial and talk about what it is, what it isn’t, and how to explore it for yourself.
The body can heal itself if given the proper tools. Sickness is often just the absence of the right nutrients, or the overwhelm of toxic assaults on the body.
Those assaults can include microbes (e.g. – fungus), food additives, environmental pollutants, (which include chemicals emanating from our carpet and furniture, pet dander, etc), by-products of water treatment, pharmaceutical drugs, artificial sweeteners…..and the list could go on and on, and would include toxic emotional states and toxic thought patterns.
Where conventional medicine gets it right is that we do have the ability to detoxify the poisons we’re exposed to. We have organs of detoxification, (e.g. – liver, kidneys, spleen, sinuses), and organs of elimination, (e.g. – kidneys, colon, lung, skin).
The problem is that those organs can be overwhelmed by toxins, underperform due to nutrient debt, and never be given a time-out to recover.
Any time a person is suddenly poisoned to death, there is so much toxic overwhelm that the person’s detoxification and elimination organs simply cannot handle the poisonous burden.
But is it possible to be sub-clinically “poisoned” to the point that the elimination organs are taxed, but not enough that the person quickly dies? Functional Medicine says Yes; conventional medicine says No.
(This is often a difference between the two paradigms. Conventional Medicine defines conditions in a way that sometimes ignores sub-clinical harm. “The person has is not at risk for immediate death; therefore, they are not ‘poisoned’ in the strictest sense.” Functional Medicine appreciates the damage that can occur when one is chronically exposed to low-level toxicity over time. The analogy would be sitting in a parked car in a closed garage with the car running vs smoking cigarettes. A person would die quickly in the first scenario, where the person’s risk for dying in the second scenario would increase dramatically over time. “Detox” hopes to help the body rid itself of toxicity exposure one accumulates over time.)
Functional Medicine and Nutrition recognizes that our body is exposed to a massive onslaught of toxins every day in most developed countries. When given the right nutrition, perhaps we can cope with the toxic load. But wouldn’t be a good idea if we simply had a break from it?
The promise of detoxification programs is to do just that. They seek to give the body a break from toxins, to re-build the body’s ability to naturally detoxify poisons and eliminate them, and to feel rejuvenated in the process. We give our homes Spring Cleaning, we give our vehicles regular maintenance and tune-ups, we go on spiritual retreats and revivals for our soul, and perhaps we should allow our bodies the benefit of what we loosely call “detox”.
There are too many detox philosophies to name in a single article. But let’s talk about a few ideas to research for yourself.
(DO NOT FAST WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF A PRACTITIONER WHO UNDERSTANDS YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY, PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES, AND GOALS! THIS IS NOT TO BE DONE ON YOUR OWN.)
In my opinion, nothing is better than fasting from food for a period of time for detoxification, both physically and spiritually. This means drinking water….and nothing more. Yes, there are “juice fasts” that have done wonders for people. There are raw food fasts. These and many other “modified fasts” are helpful. But let me take just a moment to sing the praises of fasting from everything except water.
When you do a total food fast, you’re giving your body a MASSIVE break from everything except detoxification and elimination. The energy that is normally spent digesting, metabolizing, and eliminating food would be redirected to detoxifying wastes. It gives your body a tremendous boost.
Dr Thomas Seyfried, with whom Doug has shared a stage or two over the past couple of years, is a cancer researcher and professor at Boston College. He is convinced that if everyone did a 10-day fast every year, their chances of getting cancer would dramatically decrease.
Many “intermittent fasters”, who eat their whole day’s worth of food inside of a very small window of time each day, have asked him if such fasting “counts”. He’s always very tactful and kind to them, but on my radio show in OKC, Dr Seyfried confessed that he really prefers total fasting from all food in order to reap the benefits.
If you’re trying Doug’s very own Kaufmann Diet, Phase One, you know that you’re doing what you can to eliminate fungal overgrowth. I’m convinced that a total food fast for a period of time would be an unbelievably effective way to usher in your new Kaufmann Lifestyle. Remember, what Doug wants to do is starve and kill fungi. He does this, in part, by cutting off their preferred foods. Well…what would be better at starving them than by cutting off ALL foods?? (Fasting isn’t necessary for the Kaufmann Diet to be effective. Don’t worry! It’s just my own personal preference to ideally start one’s new lifestyle by trying to begin with a “blank slate”.)
I’ve done short fasts and long fasts. All of them are hard, but ironically, long fasts become easier over time.
The reason they’re so hard is because of the early stages where you’re hungry, and your body is burning off the last vestiges of available glycogen, (stored sugar). When you’re crossing over from burning sugar to being forced to burn body fat for fuel, it’s a bit of a beast for a lot of people. Headaches, flu-like symptoms, and general malaise often abound.
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And this is why short fasts are so unsatisfying for me. For myself, if I can get past that stage of the three-to-five-day misery of crossing over to the body fat-burning stage, what follows if absolutely glorious. You will enter the world of what I call “auto-ketosis”, (as opposed to nutritional ketosis when you do a ketogenic style of diet). Auto-ketosis is what I call it when you’re burning your own body fat for fuel during a total food fast. I tried the ketogenic diet for 16 months at a stretch once, and it’s just not for me. But ketosis from fasting most definitely IS for me. It’s wonderful. I became clear-headed, energized, hyper-aware, and in a place where the spiritual seemed far more easily accessible.
Dr Jason Fung has shown that when one fasts totally from food, the body actually preserves muscle rather than burns it. A little bit of muscle is lost in the beginning, but it is slowed down quite substantially after that initial period of time.
All the while, toxins that have been stored in body fat are released, and the high-functioning detoxification organs are able to break them down with much greater efficiency than if they were also having to deal with food intake. The body fat you burn needs to go away, as do the toxins that are stored in it; fasting helps do both in a single, simple step. The mind clears. Everything seems restored.
BUT…even though fasting is for more people than are actually willing to do it, it’s not for everyone. And even if you’re a prime candidate for fasting, I’m telling you for a second time that in 2018, you simply should not do it without a qualified practitioner who is trained in medical fasts. You could get yourself in serious trouble without some hand-holding. Enter optimistically, but cautiously.
People like to share a million steps for everything nowadays, and it makes some things sound more complicated than they are. To begin a fast, there’s one step: Don’t eat any food. If you do a long fast, you’ll need some guidance for breaking the fast, which you can get from your fasting practitioner, and you can learn about it from a book like Dr Jason Fung’s The Complete Guide To Fasting.
This is popular because of the popularity of the ketogenic diet. Basically, people are fasting from everything except healthy fats – which include saturated fat from coconut oil, as well as mono- and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, etc. Some people also include fish oil.
Some folks are doing mycotoxin-free coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil each day during their keto-fasting. Just make sure that the coffee really is mycotoxin-free. Others have used various teas in the place of coffee. Still, others have included exogenous ketones such as BHB to the program for extra energy.
What keto-fasting is claiming to do is giving your body a break from the insulin-spiking that comes from many foods, and letting the body rest into nutritional ketosis.
In our current state of filtering all health information through “ketosis logic”, the plan seems to make sense. Something tells me this won’t always be the case, though. But proceed if you like.
“DETOX IN A BOX”
That’s what I call the “detox” supplement packs that you can find at health food stores everywhere. They’ll usually contain fiber, an herbal laxative, various liver and kidney support herbs, and perhaps antioxidants. I’ve done lots of these over the years.
I like the idea of detoxes-in-a-box. But many, (most?), are nothing more than glorified laxatives. Some mistake detoxification for elimination, and thus get caught in the bathroom trap. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; most people I’ve counseled with over the years could stand to get their elimination process under control with probiotics, aloe vera, probiotics, L-glutamine, and perhaps a good elimination-specific detox-in-a-box. But getting the bowels moving again isn’t what I’d consider a comprehensive detoxification strategy; it’s just one part of the elimination side of detox.
These are usually harmless, and actually, often have tremendously helpful liver and kidney herbs that we should think about just taking every day. My wife, for example, does a detox in a box formula every day that focuses on liver function because she feels so good while taking it. She doesn’t consider it a true detox; merely her liver regimen.
For some, these done-for-you programs will be challenging and will provide a gentle detox/elimination strategy. For many others, though, it’ll something that provides no palpable benefits whatsoever. Weigh your options with a licensed practitioner who knows and appreciates detox strategies.
These feel good, and they do a nice job. You’ve heard Doug talk about them a lot lately, and if you’ve never tried them, you ought to.
Some practitioners have elaborate sauna-based programs that include cardio, followed by a dose of activated charcoal with pure water while sitting in an infrared sauna, followed quickly by a hot-then-cold-then-hot shower. Haven’t done that one yet, but I’m going to soon.
Doug has a lot of information about the Synergy Sauna on the Know The Cause website. Check there and on his social channels to learn details about what infrared saunas can do for you.
Don’t forget to detox your home when you detox your body.
Yes, yes…I’ve done the colonic cleansing made popular by Dr Bernard Jensen. I find absolutely no studies on it, so far, which is why I’ve been reluctant to say much about it over the years on Doug’s show. But I like it. Its effects were nothing short of profound the first two times I did the 7-day fasting/colon cleansing program. After that, it wasn’t profound at all. In fact, it felt like a waste of time. But those first two times were indescribably awesome. I’ll spare you details, but just know that it changed the course of my health, dramatically.
Raw foods. Done it, like it for detox, but not for the long haul. Some people, however, thrive on raw veganism, and I recommend doing it as long as it’s working for you. Know that many raw foods gurus aren’t raw foodists in real life, though. I’ve had them on the radio, and they’ll quietly say that the health benefits of 100% raw began to wane over time for them and that they needed to go beyond raw. But their fan base protested vehemently when the gurus began suggesting anything beyond strict raw veganism. So for the sake of their careers, they stuck to a public message of Raw. (So sad that people would become so tribal about diet that they’d excoriate these people for simply reporting their honest experience.)
There are liver/gallbladder flushes that involve lots of olive oil and grapefruit juice. There’s oxygen therapy, which can feel really good. There’s heat therapy and cold therapy. There are dental detoxes, which remove mercury and infected tissue, popularized by Hal Huggins. There’s heavy metal chelation therapy, which a lot of people have reported great benefits from. All of these have their place.
Check out Detoxify or Die by Sherry A Rogers, MD, and The Detox Book by Bruce Fife for some basics of detox theory and programs. Plenty of other resources to find, but know that many of the books are simply long-form advertisements for this or that product or program. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they’re transparent about it. Due diligence and wisdom is key for doing (or not doing) the programs you come across. Work with trusted advisors and practitioners.
But above all, don’t be afraid of the concept of detox. You may find that there’s a whole new level of your health experience just waiting for you on the other side of the detox.