Earlier this year I was contacted by Kristina Gailiute, a journalist from Europe, wanting to interview me about body detox and cleansing for a magazine she was writing an article for. Here are the questions she asked and my answers.
Kristina : There is so much useful information on your blog! Why are you so interested in detox? What is your story?
Sandy : I became interested in body detox because of my health problems. Quite a few years ago now I became chronically fatigued and suffered with migraines. My doctor told me that with a job and two children to look after at my age ( I think I was about 40 at the time) it was not unusual to be tired.
I wasn’t very satisfied with this explanation as I had friends of my age with children and they had much more energy than I did. I also had some problems with bloating and discovered I was better avoiding wheat products. I used to get a lot of gastro-enteritis. I seemed to pick up every bug going around.
I started reading nutrition books and became interested in the idea of detoxing the body as a way to improve health. I went to a lot of nutritional seminars and was lucky enough to attend one with Charlotte Gerson, Dr Max Gerson’s daughter. I was very impressed with the results that people were getting with the Gerson Therapy. It is essentially a detox method for cancer that consists of a lot of juices, a special diet and coffee enemas. A less intensive form of the therapy is used for other conditions.
I was very taken with that and decided I would like to give it a try. It involved drinking 5 or 6 x 8 oz fresh juices a day with a special diet that helped push toxins out of the body. The coffee enemas help to detox the liver as so many toxins can be stirred up with all the juicing. After about 6 months of that I recovered my energy but still had food & chemical intolerances.
I wanted to know more about nutrition and trained as a nutritionist so I could help other people. I continued to try out different types of detoxification over a number of years to further improve my health.
Various blood and urine tests have shown that I have reduced the chemical toxins in my body that were at a higher level than average. I have also lowered the amount of mercury, lead and cadmium I had in my body. I believe that all the body detox I have done over the years has improved my health immensly .
Kristina: Do you think that many people are interested in detox? Or maybe people should pay more attention to this thing?
Sandy: I believe that many people are looking for solutions for their health problems when doctors and drugs haven’t helped them. As a last resort they often turn to detox. I firmly believe that people should be made more aware of how a good detox program could help improve their symptoms and health conditions.
Some doctors who practice Functional Medicine will recommend a detox program for their patients.
Kristina: Why we need to detox?
Sandy: We need to detox these days because we are completely overwhelmed with man-made toxic chemicals that come from our food, water, our environment, and products we use on our skin. Researchers have discovered that we all have toxins stored in our tissues. Mounting evidence shows they can cause many health problems as they can interfere with the structure and function of our cells.
Even babies are being born with toxic chemicals that have been passed into their bodies from their mothers. This is a very good reason for women to detox before they try for a baby. Men can benefit from it too as it can improve the quality of their sperm.
The majority of people do not eat a healthy enough diet to supply the nutrients that are needed for our very sophisticated detox system to function efficiently.
Some people have better detox systems than others due to genetic differences but it is possible in many cases to improve slow or under functioning detox pathways with the correct diet and nutrients.
Kristina: What are the benefits of detoxing?
Sandy: The benefits of detox can include better energy, clearer skin, improved digestion and bowel habits, reduced muscle and joint pain, improved immunity, better sleep, increased concentration, better mood and better weight control. I should perhaps point out that chemicals can interfere with the weight control system affecting the hormonal control of weight. A good detox program can help remove the chemicals and restore balance.
Kristina: I have heard that detoxing could help to prevent some serious diseases, for example, cancer. Is it true?
Sandy: Some of the chemicals that get into and accumulate in our bodies from the environment have been linked to various diseases such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Parkinson’s disease, Autism, Motor Neurone Disease, and cancer. Studies are done on isolated chemicals. No one knows what a cocktail of toxic chemicals in our bodies may do but many experts believe that the effect of several chemicals can increase the overall toxic effect.
The cause of cancer can be due to many things including stress but I, as well as many Functional Medicine doctors, naturopaths and health practitoners, believe that detoxing chemicals can help to prevent it.
Kristina: There is much information on your blog about sugar detox. Why? Is sugar is such a bad thing?
Sandy: Sugar has been referred to as sweet poison. Over 90% of the vitamins and minerals in white sugar have been removed in processing so when you eat it your body has to draw on its reserves of the minerals and vitamins to digest and metabolise it. That’s why sugar is often referred to as a nutrient robber. It provides empty calories.
Dr. David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition says “white refined sugar is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways ”
When you eat any form of concentrated sugar – white, brown, malt, glucose, honey or syrup it causes a rapid rise in blood glucose and triggers the hormone insulin. The function of insulin is to drive the glucose into the cells for energy production. If the glucose is not needed to produce energy some is converted to glycogen and stored in muscles but the rest gets stored as fat. Researchers believe that it is sugar rather than saturated fat that contributes to heart disease.
When insulin is constantly triggered the cells eventually become resistant to it leading to a condition known as insulin resistance which is the precursor to diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Sugar encourages the wrong balance of organisms in the gut as well. The right balance of organisms is essential for good immune and detox function.
Sugar can cause glycation which can affect blood vessels and skin. The glucose in the bloodstream can attach to proteins, forming harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). If this happens in blood vessels, arteries become stiffer leading to to higher blood pressure, plaque formation, blood flow blockages, heart and artery disease, and eventually, stroke or heart attack.
Too much glycation may affect what type of collagen you can build, which is a huge factor in determining how resistant your skin will be to wrinkling.
Finally, sugar, as most people know, is bad for your teeth as it leads to plaque and decay.
Kristina: Well, how one could know that his/her body needs to detox? Are there any signs?
Sandy: Some of the common symptoms of toxic overload are:
- Feeling tired, sluggish, lethargic
- Trouble concentrating and staying focused/ brain fog
- Headaches or migraines
- Joint and muscle pain or stiffness
- Frequent infections
- Trouble sleeping
- Unpleasant body odor
- Constipation and other gastrointestinal irregularities
- Frequent gas, bloating or indigestion
- Allergies and/or food and chemical sensitivities
- Skin problems like acne, psoriasis, eczema
- Mood changes
Kristina: What are the best home remedies for detoxing?
Sandy: Some good home detox remedies are:
First thing in the morning, add the juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon) to 8 ounces of hot filtered water and drink. Mix in a grated ginger, if you like. Here is a more advanced version of this:
The Liver Lemon Detox Drink
This involves drinking a lemon juice and oil drink every morning on an empty stomach for 5 days. It can be repeated several times.
Blend together the juice of 1 medium organic lemon with 8 ounces filtered water, 1 tablespoon organic virgin olive oil, 1 clove of garlic and a small amount of grated root ginger to taste until well mixed. Drink slowly and follow with a small glass of water or juice to cleanse the mouth of the oily taste.
Epsom Salt Detox Bath
Use 1 – 2 cups Epsom Salts per bath. Dissolve the salts in hot water and soak for about 15 – 20 minutes. Do not be tempted to add any other ingredients as this alters the chemistry of the bath. After the bath immediately wrap yourself in a large cotton towel and go to bed for at least 3 hours or all night under plenty of covers to sweat out toxins. If you don’t like the feel of the salts left on your skin you can have a quick shower to rinse them off. Shower off after your rest using natural soap and finish with cool water to close the pores.
Don’t have the water too hot if you have any heart problem, high blood pressure, very low blood pressure or are prone to fainting. Make sure you have someone around to help you in case you feel dizzy or faint. You can have a cold towel handy to wrap around your head if you get too hot. Don’t forget to drink plenty of pure water to replace the fluid lost by sweating.
As well as sweating out toxins from the skin layers the sulphate you absorb from the Detox bath with Epsom Bath Salts will enable you to process more toxins that have been released during your detox and help you feel better.
When you are following any sort of detoxification program it helps to brush the skin to improve the blood and lymph circulation. It removes dead skin cells, and helps with the excretion of toxins. Dry skin brushing is an old natural healing method that will help the other organs as well.
Using a natural bristle brush with a long handle begin by brushing the soles of your feet from heel to toes and then use short brisk strokes up your legs and trunk. Brush the buttocks and lower back upwards. Do your chest and upper back always towards the heart. Women can brush gently around the breasts towards the armpits.
Brush the arms from the finger tips up to the armpits. Brush across the backs of the shoulders and down the front towards the heart.
Use at least one stroke in every area but try to increase the number of strokes so your skin brushing takes about 10 minutes. It can be quite stimulating so don’t brush before bedtime as it could keep you awake.
Wash the brush from time to time in warm soapy water and allow to dry naturally.
Kristina: I have heard that there are not only natural but others – not natural detox methods. I understand there are some machines used or you could take some detoxifying pharmaceuticals. What do you think about that?
Sandy: Machines are used for colonic hydrotherapy where the colon in washed out with gallons of water. Some people regard this as unnatural. I did until, in desperation for my bowel problem, I decided to have one. I felt so much better after having one that I had a course of them. My bowel problem was much improved afterwards. Of course you have to make sure that you chose a qualified and experienced therapist.
Bio-resonance and bio-photon machines can also be used to help with detox. They seem to work for some people but not for others. Although I have had some treatment with these types of machines I did not notice any effect.
In the main over the counter detox products are usually not effective. They usually contain some sort of laxative like senna that irritates the bowel increasing bowel movements. I don’t recommend those. Colon cleansing herbal supplements that do not contain irritant herbs like senna or cascara can be helpful if combined with a cleansing diet. Preparations that contain herbs that support the liver or kidneys can be useful if used in conjunction with a good detox diet.
There are some Medical Detox Supplements that have been specially formulated to contain the nutrients known to be needed for the detox pathways to function efficiently. These are used together with a special diet that is included in the instruction booklet. They are usually only available through health practitioners.
Kristina: Could detoxing harm you? Are there any dangers when you are on detox diet?
Sandy: There have been some isolated cases where people have drunk so much water to detox that they altered the balance of sodium in the body, became very unwell and needed to be hospitalized. Detoxing for long periods on a very restricted diet can deplete the body of essential nutrients.
Some bowel detox products could cause dehydration, mineral imbalances, and problems with the digestive system if used for too long or too often.
There is a danger of stirring up too many toxins from the tissues for the liver to handle which results in detox symptoms like extreme fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain and diarrhoea.
Detox could be harmful for children, teenagers, people who are already underweight or under nourished, people with serious illnesses or who are on a lot of medication or whom are pregnant or trying to conceive. They are special cases that may be able to detox under close supervision by a qualified therapist or health practitioner who is knowledgeable and experienced in detox.
A detox diet should always be followed by a period of rebuilding the body with healthy, nourishing food.
Kristina: Maybe you could share with us a weight loss detox diet, please?
Sandy: Here is an example of a detox diet that can be followed for 7 – 14 days depending on how experienced the person is and the time they have.
Have you done any detox for a particular illness or condition? If so why not share your experiences with my readers in the comments.