Detox is one of those annoying words thrown around by New Agers. The medical profession swear it doesn’t exists whilst New Age healers/gurus, juice enthusiasts and raw vegans swear it does. So what’s the truth and what exactly is detox?
Pug guru says buy my detox herbs! (don’t do that)
The reality is nearly EVERYONE has experienced detox at some point. Ever had a hangover? Had smoker’s flu after quitting? Felt like crap and crashed after eating a heap of junk food? Ever had nasty withdrawals from some kind of prescription medicine? Ever had a headache after giving up coffee for Lent?? SOME people escape these symptoms through genetics, but not all.
Detox, in a nutshell, is the body relieving itself of toxins. Our bodies are designed to self heal and self regenerate as soon as whatever is causing damage is removed. In the example of smoking, it waits a few days to be sure no more cancer sticks are coming, and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose. Some people will get a fever and others will start coughing and hacking up mucus containing as much smoke dirt as possible. For alcohol, the pain is from the byproducts formed such as formaldehyde as alcohol is broken down (and the fact you poisoned your whole body with a massive sedative) and for caffeine – regular coffee consumption actually changes the blood flow to the brain so removing it creates true, physical withdrawls.
So therefore, when we change our diets from a Standard American Diet to a whole foods, especially raw diet, we are removing MANY different chemicals, food coloring, compounds and proteins from our body. Scientists have even found that some people will go through CHEESE withdrawl as it has an opiate like effect on the body.
Changing our diets, has three effects on the body that can create detox symptoms:
- The body will start breaking down and removing toxins, and it may even trigger something such as a flu like condition so mucus can be used to eliminate things quickly. Some toxins will be released into the blood stream and many will be dumped into the gut for elimination.
- Our gut bacteria is a colony based on our diet. Diets high in refined sugar create overgrowths of bacteria that love processed sugar but don’t like fruit sugar. These will “die off” and release toxins into the blood stream as they do.
- Withdrawls from allergenic foods are common. Many with celiac disease suffer severe craving for gluten and massive withdrawls when they give it up. This is because the damage it causes actually creates opiate like substances that we get addicted to. For the science, search allergy-addiction syndrome.
How do I know if it’s detox?
The bottom line is, if in doubt ALWAYS seek medical attention. Do NOT seek advice online if you have a serious condition as it could be fatal. For example, early in my journey to self healing, a group of particularly uneducated people suggested I jump right into a Master Cleanse while trying to heal Lupus. I ended up with a very real kidney infection, as it was too much for my body to handle. You do NOT want to make too many changes at once as it can be fatal and too much for a sick body to handle. Also, many real issues such as deficiencies and actual illnesses could be mistaken for detox. When in doubt, always go to the ER.
The people who get in trouble are those who jump onto fruit diets from lord knows what (Ashton Kutcher) or do water fasts at home. Too much!! If you follow my transition guide at http://fruityhealing.com/the-diet/ or a balanced healthy diet plan like Dr Fuhrman’s Eat To Live there is no to your health risk at all. Just the potential for annoying detox.
Detox when changing your diet should feel like a bad hangover crossed with a nasty cold at the most. Healthy individuals may have no or little symptoms. You can detox just from going organic, vegan or even Paleo. Going raw vegan you will definitely experience a little turbulence.
Those who have been very ill are more likely to feel awful, so make slow changes as I suggest in my transition guide. Slow and steady wins the race.
Detox will typically kick in after 2 days and last up to a week. If you are very sick with Lyme or other pathogens that will die off over time, you could be looking at a month or two of feeling groggy. It’s worth doing it, but go sloooow. My initial detox was about 6 weeks, which was brutal but overall worth it to regain my health from a condition of massive inflammation and fatigue, which I haven’t experienced since.
The common symptoms are chills, brain fog, headaches, anger, irritability, weakness (always mistaken for a protein deficiency – it’s not), apathy, lack of appetite (eat something light anyway otherwise you will speed the detox and suffer), mild flu symptoms, joint aching, pain at old injuries, coughing, fevers and runny nose. Unlike a regular cold, these will just vanish quickly when your body has completed whatever it was trying to do.
Skin break outs and rashes are common also, unfortunately and will clear up quickly.
The best thing to do is rest, stay hydrated and stick with it. Colonics and enemas can help for those who feel comfortable, but lots of water is the main thing your body needs to feel better. Bentonite clay cleanses can be used to help absorb toxins for a low pain experience. I like the Blessed Herbs cleanse kits.
If it gets too much, you can back off on your healthy diet a little and then it should slow down. Though don’t run out for pizza as you’ll only undo what you have achieved. If you are feeling DIZZY and have a history of low blood pressure, be sure not to cut all sodium from your diet. This is not detox.
Finally, there is a big trend right now in juice fasting for a week, then going back to your unhealthy foods. I do not find this healthy, as you will simply grow back the bad bacteria and repopulate the toxins within a matter of weeks. Instead, make gradual changes to your diet and limit nights out drinking or junk food rather than pretending a few days of celery juice will cancel out a lifetime of strain on your body.
Based on my own experiences, and my experiences helping others eat clean, detox is definitely real and is worth going through to clean out your body. However, as always – if in doubt talk to your doctor.