This is a question I get asked regularly but the answer is not clear cut so I thought it was time to explain it in more detail. For body cleansing to be effective with the minimum of detox reactions your routes or “channels” of elimination must be open.
What are the channels of elimination?
The main channels for the excretion or elimination of toxins are your bowels, liver and gallbladder, kidneys and skin. The lymph system and blood are often referred to as channels of elimination. They play a part in the circulation of toxins around your body to the liver and kidneys but neither open directly to the exterior of the body.
When these organs or channels are working efficiently they are said to be “open” and body cleansing can take place with the minimum of detox reactions or side effects. If more toxins are stirred up during a cleanse than your organs can cope with then you will get some detox rections.
Another name for this is a healing crisis but there is nothing healing about it if the toxins can’t get out of your body. Common symptoms would include headache, feeling tired, sweating, skin rashes or eruptions, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, nausea and muscle aches.
How to open the channels
There are a number of ways to open the organs of elimination.
Diet & lifestyle
Firstly by improving your diet by decreasing processed and junk foods and by increasing nutrient dense foods. Also eat the correct proportions of protein,fat and carbohydrate suited to your metabolic type. Some types do better on a vegetarian diet, others will benefit from protein at each meal.
Secondly decrease your toxic load. Stop taking in chemicals from foods by eating organic and stop other chemicals that you may be absorbing such as aluminum from deodorants, chemicals form personal care products and household cleaning products, fluoride in toothpaste, alcohol and smoking.
Thirdly drink enough water. This will of course help all the organs and every cell function more efficiently.
You can also use herbal cleanses to open the channels and this is where the idea of cleansing organs in a special order comes from.
Many naturopathic and herbal detox programs will start with a colon cleanse to “open” this organ first so that it is ready to eliminate more toxins as the cleanses target other organs. Some colon cleanses are combined with lymph or blood cleansing herbs.
A large proportion of the toxins processed by the liver are excreted into the bile which is also made in the liver. The bile is concentrated in the gallbladder and eventually makes it way through the intestines to be got rid of in the stools. It is vitally important to have the bowel working well before you start any body cleansing or detox program or the toxins can be reabsorbed into the body if the transit through the bowel is slow.
The kidneys are usually targeted next. Some toxins that are processed by the liver are made water soluble so they can be got rid of by the kidneys through the urine. If the kidneys are not working well then the other organs become overloaded with the toxins instead.
3. Liver and gallbladder
The liver is usually the next organ to cleanse. This can take the form of a liver/gallbladder flush or herbs that help support the liver detox pathways.
4. Blood and Lymph
Some cleanses go on to target the lymph and blood systems. They are the transport system of the body. They carry nutrients to every cell and they remove the metabolic waste products and circulate them out to the elimination channels – the colon, lungs, liver, kidneys, and skin – for expulsion from the body.
If these systems get clogged up, you are going to get sick. A lymph cleanse and a thorough blood detoxification can help. Skin brushing can help with increasing the circulation of both.
5. Skin & Lungs
The skin will try to get rid of toxins that other organs fail to eliminate. If you have skin problems look at the detox function of other organs.
You lungs take in oxygen that is circulated by the blood to every cell in your body and is vital for life.
Organs cleanse at their own rate.
Although you can target organs in a certain order with herbs or homoeopathic remedies you cannot force your body to cleanse in any particular order. When the cells of your body have enough energy, vitality and the right nutrients present then they will cleanse naturally.The organs with the most vitality will cleanse first.
A body cleansing or detox plan that includes specific foods and nutritional supplements that support liver detoxification will help the kidneys detox as well. A detox diet that involves raw food fresh vegetable and fruit and vegetable juicing supply the nutrition needed for the cells to detox.
The sheer volume of nutrients and vitality that is supplied by the body cleansing diet literally forces the toxins out of the cells. Certain fruits or vegetables are known to help certain organs so different juices may be used to target specific organs. For example beet juice or radish juice is usually recommended for the liver.
The body itself will ultimately decide in which order the organs are cleansed. Just remember to make sure that your bowels are working well before attempting any body cleansing program.
You can find out more about detox in my Definitive Detox Diet Plan.