It started early this year. It’s usually not until January that doctors speak out against detox. Last week a British doctor claimed that detox is pointless and and could be highly dangerous.
Writing in the December issue of The Biologist, Prof David Bender, professor of nutritional biochemistry at University College London, argues that the term detox has gone from being applied to a chemical reaction involved in the production of urine, to “a meaningless marketing term”.
Meaningless detox products
Well, I have to agree with him about the meaningless marketing term. Manufacturers have jumped on the term detox to describe all manner of things. For example, Nicky Clarke, one of Britain’s best known hairdressers, has launched a hair dryer claims to help detox your hair. It’s stuff like this that brings the whole idea of detox into disrepute.
The basic fallacy, says Professor Bender, is that ‘large amounts of toxic waste accumulate in our bodies and must be eliminated by some kind of dietary regime’. In fact, ‘the human body processes and removes toxins very efficiently’
Is the body good at removing toxins?
I would like to ask him this: “If the body is so good at removing toxins why we all have numerous toxic chemicals and metals stored in our bodies?”
In a 2004 study funded by the European Union and the World Wild Fund UK , the blood from 155 volunteers was examined for 77 different toxic chemicals. The number of toxic chemicals found ranged from 49 to 9 while the average number was 30.
In July 2005, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, published a 475-page report entitled, “Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals” which clearly indicates the growing number of chemical toxins present in all age-groups in the USA.
A number of other studies have shown that babies are being born with toxic chemicals in their bodies which they have received from their mothers while in the womb.
It doesn’t seem to me that the human body is removing these toxins very efficiently does it to you?
Over the counter Detox products
He is probably right in saying that many commercial detox products and devices have no scientific merit. Some commercial detox products are made up of a few herbs that act as laxatives. They are likely to have a drastic effect on your bowels but that is not the same as detoxing chemicals from your body which is the aim of a good detox diet plan.
Other over the counter detox products may contain a few herbs that are known to help support liver function but it’s doubtful that they contain enough of the right nutrients to enhance the liver detox pathways.
Is detox dangerous?
I haven’t read the original article so I don’t know what he was referring to as dangerous but the Daily Mail brought up the story of a woman who died at a detox spa last August. She and another woman were rushed to hospital in Canada after becoming severely dehydrated. They had apparently spent hours wrapped in mud and plastic intended to draw ‘poisons’ from their skin but not drunk any water.
Well, that goes against all detox principles. It is absolutely essential to replace fluids when doing any sweat therapies such a saunas or baths. All good detox diet plans will recommend that you drink enough fluids but not too much.
Enough water but not too much
The Daily Mail brought up the case of a woman who drank too much water and upset her body’s sodium balance and suffered brain damage as a result of her cells swelling up. She apparently drank 6 pints of water a day as part of a cleansing regime recommended by a nutritionist although the nutritionist had not advised that much and was cleared of any wrong doing.
Although many doctors say there is no scientific evidence that detox diet work, according to a report published by the Institute of Functional medicine entitled Detoxification a Clinical Monograph “there has been extensive research into an individuals ability to detoxify different xenobiotics” and references to published papers are given.
Researchers have noted that certain people with certain diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Parkinson’s Disease have impaired detoxification abilities. They have defects in their ability to detox sulfur containing xenobiotics which cause damage in their bodies.
In fact Joe Pizzorno, the well known Naturopathic Doctor tells the story of an event that changed his life forever. He was stunned by the fact that the woman who was married to his room mate was cured of Rheumatoid Arthritis (considered to be incurable by main stream Doctors) by a Naturopathic doctor who detoxified her liver.
Specific foods improve the detox system
Researchers have discovered which nutrients are needed by the various detox pathways in the body. By supplying these nutrients as food and supplements they have shown with specific tests that they can improve the detox pathways.
Effects of drugs detox
It’s also known that various drugs and chemicals have an inhibiting or stimulating effect on the liver detox pathways. Just recently I read a about a 25 year old fitness instructor who died of an accidental paracetamol (acetaminophen) overdose. The pathologist report concluded her death was due to liver failure caused by a paracetamol overdose.
If our bodies were so good at detoxing should this have happened?
Variations in Detox function
Studies of detox function have shown that the enzymes involved in liver detox can vary significantly from person to person. Differences in the detox capacity of individuals, their exposure to toxins and their nutritional status can have a profound effect on their susceptibility to a wide variety of diseases.
Many clinical studies done at the Metagenics Functional Medicine Research Center in Gig Harbor Washington have shown that symptoms of people with poor health can be vastly improved when they follow a properly designed detox diet and take supplements rich in the substances shown to support liver detox.
Does detox work?
In spite of the lack of double blind, placebo controlled, trials that the medical profession are so fond of many people will testify to the benefits that a specially designed detox diet with the support of some specific supplements brought them.