Sugar detoxes, detox waters, detox pills, juice cleanses, colon cleanses—we’ve all come across at least one of these, but do they actually work? And are they considered natural detox methods?
There is a wide range of detoxes and cleanses around. For the most part, a detox and a cleanse are the same, and they are often interchanged because they are utilized to achieve the same goal which is to eliminate toxins from the body. Sometimes cleanses and detoxes target a specific organ like the colon, kidneys, or liver.
Detoxes have become an important component of healthy living because it is inevitable that you will come across at least one form of toxin at some point in your day.
From the air you breathe, to the water you drink at home, down to the personal hygiene products you use in the shower, you are exposed to toxic chemicals including hormone disruptors, reproductive toxins, pesticides, carcinogens, surfactants, and more. (1)
Detoxification, or detoxing, is the process of removing or neutralizing those toxins from your body, and there are many natural detox solutions that are both effective and relatively easy to produce. Here are some of them:
11 Most Natural Detox Methods
Mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic exposures are ubiquitous. These are toxic elements that offer no physiological benefits but pose health risks. As a result, they are considered “body burdens”.
Sweating has long been regarded as a form of cleansing and detoxification, and several studies have been conducted on individuals with high exposure to body burdens.
On average, sweat concentrations exceeded urine or plasma concentrations, with levels higher during endurance-related activities compared to intensive exercise. (2)
Breathing starts at the mouth and nose. You inhale into your mouth and nose, and the air travels down your windpipe where it is divided into air passages.
For optimum performance, these airways must be free from excessive amounts of mucus and inflammation. The air is divided yet again into smaller air passages and end up in the alveoli which are surrounded by capillaries. This is where oxygen passes and ends up in the blood. Once the blood absorbs oxygen, the blood leaves the lungs and goes to the heart, where it is pumped throughout the body to oxygenate the cells of your tissues and organs.
As your cells use up the oxygen from the blood, carbon dioxide is produced as a byproduct. This is then absorbed by the blood and carried back to the lungs, where it is eliminated when you exhale. (3)
The respiratory system is teeming with air purifiers that assist the lungs in keeping out harmful substances. These include the microscopic hairs called cilia, which are found in the nasal passages. Mucus, produced by the bronchial tubes and trachea, stop viruses, bacteria and dust from entering the lungs. If there are any impurities that pass through, it can then be absorbed by mucus and then coughed out.
These are just some examples of how the simple process of breathing is already a remarkable detoxification process in itself. However, there is also proof that qigong, an ancient Chine health care system that has to do with breathing techniques, can aid in the detoxification of heroin addicts.
The lymphatic system is comprised of a network of lymphatic vessels, and is a critical part of the immune system. It’s primary role is to protect the body against threats— such as cancer cells, bacteria, and infections— while maintaining fluid levels.
The body’s lymphatic system transports white blood cells, along with other waste materials and fat. These are filtered out through the lymph nodes. Essentially, the lymphatic system is the body’s inner “drainage system. Physical movement (as simple as walking) aids the draining of the lymphatic system, and perhaps the best way to assist in the process is through regular exercise. (4) This helps keep fluids circulating and flowing so that nutrients can reach your cells. Any exercise is good for promoting the flow of lymph fluid, however certain exercises have been particularly beneficial. These include high intensity interval training (HIIT) and yoga. (5)
To protect this complex network of nodes and lymphatic vessels that span practically the entire body, you can eat an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise regularly, and try to detox naturally. (7)
Sweating was already mentioned above, and when combined with exercise, can be a two-fold detoxification process that could not only promote overall health but weight loss as well. Getting your body moving is very effective, and perhaps the easiest way to jumpstart the body’s natural detoxification.
Cilantro might come as a bit of a surprise as a detoxifying herb, but it is actually a heavy-hitter when it comes to flushing heavy metals from the body.
In one study, results showed that mercury deposits were successfully eliminated after consuming an oral tablet of 100mg of cilantro four times a day. (8) It was also discovered that the consumption of cilantro can speed up the elimination of aluminum, mercury, and lead deposits as well as other toxins throughout the body. Cilantro can occasionally break loose more toxins and heavy metals than the body can effectively process at one time, so it is not uncommon for cilantro and bentonite clay to be paired in a detox regimen.
5. Ginger Tea
Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for a wide range of ailments ranging from stomach aches to cancer, but it has some great detoxifying properties as well. While the ginger itself won’t detox your body, it does play a role in promoting good stomach health, as well as reduce inflammation and support the digestive system. (9) A common method of ingesting ginger is by making a detox tea with boiling hot water and sliced and peeled ginger, steeped for 10-15 minutes.
6. Bentonite Clay
The thought of eating or drinking clay may be a bit off-putting, but natural clay is incredible for internal cleansing. Bentonite Clay is made up of volcanic ash and is commonly found in the Northwestern United States and Italy.
The clay acts as a sponge as it passes through your body, undigested. It absorbs water and expands, creating a porous, sponge-like structure that draws toxins in. It is because of this spongey quality that bentonite clay is also combined with Cilantro in order to help absorb some of the toxins and heavy metals that are being flushed from your system by the cilantro. (10)
7. Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Lymphatic Drainage Massage is often associated with reducing the size of lymphedemas, but the main function is actually detoxification and clearing of metabolic waste from the body. Most lymph nodes can be found between skeletal muscles. This means that when the muscles move. they create a pumping action, and that is how the lymph fluid moves throughout the body. (11) Lymphatic drainage massage uses key pressure points to make muscles work in a specific manner, or work harder than they typically would, to increase the flow of lymph fluid through the body. (12)
Probiotics are well-known for their positive effect on the body, but less familiar to most are their natural detox capabilities. Different probiotic strains work best at certain functions when it comes to detoxification.
Probiotic strains found in kimchi, for example, have been shown to assist in breaking down various pesticides that work their way into the body through food and air. Lactobacillus bacteria, another probiotic strain, contain properties that allow them to bind to heavy metals without damage to their cells, and can help prevent damage to the body that would stem from those materials. (13)
Fiber is another one that we all know is good to keep in the diet, but wouldn’t necessarily think of when we’re looking for a natural detox. Fiber helps get rid of those toxins by binding to them and pulling them out of the body with it. (14) By consuming the daily recommended intake of fiber every day, you are helping your body eliminate waste materials without even realizing it.
After a more relaxing way to naturally detoxify your body? Try the sauna.
In one case report, mercury levels went back to normal after repeated sauna sessions. Sweating deserves consideration for toxic element detoxification as proven by research. For lead, “sauna bathing might provide a therapeutic method to increase elimination of toxic trace metals”. (15)
We already know that sweating is an effective method of clearing toxins out of your system, so it makes sense to make time for a sauna session every one in a while to rid your body of toxic waste build-up.
11. Other Herbs
We already discussed cilantro, but there are so many other herbs that are great for detoxing. Dandelion, the weed everybody loves to hate, can aid in digestive health and regularity. Parsley juice is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and assists the liver in detoxification and helps to cleanse the kidneys. Milk thistle contains properties that promote liver health and digestive function. Stinging nettle supports the kidneys in their critical role of filtering waste from the body. Neem, which people usually recognize for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, can help to purify the blood and get rid of metabolic waste.
A build-up of toxins in the body can affect your physical and mental health. A full body cleanse or detox every once in a while can certainly help, but do not hesitate to practice natural detox methods as well. Over time, you will notice a difference, and your body will thank you heaps.
P.S. Have you signed up for my free 24 Hour Detox Challenge yet? If not, you can download the free meal plan and sign up here (includes my favorite raspberry and peach morning detox water, avocado and blueberry salad in a jar, ginger lemon tea and 4 other detox recipes for weight loss).
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