Detoxification is the process of removing harmful substances from the body. Detoxification is something your body does every second of every day. Over time, pathways used to eliminate toxins can become sluggish and less efficient. Fatigue sets in and brain fog becomes the new normal. The good news is, the body has six main detoxification pathways and each of these can be enhanced. The goal of this post is to show you how.
Doing most of the heavy lifting is the liver. But the kidneys, lungs, skin, lymphatic system and the digestive system also play an important role. As we move forward, we’ll take a brief look at each of these, what can go wrong, and more importantly, how to keep them running smoothly!
Let’s kick off with the lungs, just because.
Breathing isn’t something we think about but it only takes a few short seconds to remind us that the lungs are keeping us alive.
Oxygen is fed to the lungs via a series of tubes that branch off and become increasingly smaller in size. Sometimes we think of the lungs as two bags of air. A much better mental image would be to think of them as a pair sponges being gently squeezed.
Generally speaking, the lungs do an exceptional job of keeping harmful contaminants at bay. Problems arise when exposure to a harmful substance is either prolonged or poisonous. Cadmium and arsenic are two such substances. Both of these can be found in cigarette smoke. Toxic mold spores, ammonia, and asbestos will do the trick too.
Signs that something untoward is happening in the lungs can be shortness of breath and coughing. Anything that lasts more than a few days is worth getting checked out by a medical provider.
HELP FOR YOUR LUNGS
Illness aside, making life easier for the lungs is relatively easy and inexpensive to do. The fastest way is to clean up your indoor air quality. This can be done by simply adding plants to your home. The Peace Lily, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, and Ivy are ideal for this purpose. Indoor air quality can also be improved by opening windows whenever possible.
If you have pine trees close by try breathing in that rich pine scent. The healing benefit of this is well documented and dates back to ancient times. That said, steer well clear of fake pine in the form of scented air fresheners. Air fresheners are notorious for irritating the delicate lining of the lungs (as are most household sprays).
If your situation allows, spend less time sitting indoors and more time outside in the fresh air. To help alleviate any minor respiratory conditions Mullein tea may also help.
Skin is sometimes described as the third kidney. It’s also the body’s largest organ. Skin is alive and intelligent. It can also be a wonderful indicator as to what’s happening on the inside of the body.
Skin doesn’t take kindly to being clogged up with makeup, perfumes, or even worse bug spray! Least we forget, skin is porous. Whatever goes onto the skin goes into the skin which then travels into the bloodstream.
On a hot day, the skin needs to breathe. Wrapping it in layers of nylon fibers can make this more difficult. Heat opens up the pores. Something to be aware of when using soaps and shampoo’s in the shower. Problems begin when the number of toxins being absorbed is greater than the body’s ability to detoxify them.
HELP FOR YOUR SKIN
Toxins can also be drawn out of the skin by applying a thin layer of natural clay. Bentonite clay can be purchased through your local health food store or online. Preparation is super easy to do. For a facemask, simply leave to dry for about 15 minutes and simply wipe away with warm water. Other areas can be left on a little longer so long as it doesn’t feel uncomfortable.
Hot baths are another great way to draw toxins out of the pores. This can be helped by try adding one cup of Epsom salts with one cup of organic apple cider vinegar.
Brushing the skin daily with firm, natural bristle brush will boost circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system (more on this in a moment). The ideal time to brush the skin is first thing in the morning, before you shower. Start with the feet and work your way up your legs, then hands and arms working towards the heart.
During the warmer months, wearing natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, and wool will give the skin a chance to breathe. Keeping ourselves properly hydrated is critically important too.
By far the most effective way to help your skin release toxins is to use a sauna. Bonus points if it’s a far infrared sauna. This will speed up the elimination of heavy metals.
Kidneys balance blood pressure, maintain proper electrolyte levels, and pH of the blood. But the primary role is to filter blood. As you read this, blood is being sent to your kidneys for cleaning. Kidneys can filter as much as 150 liters of blood per day. Anything deemed suspect is removed from the blood and sent out to the bladder.
Filtration is done via a network of tiny tubes called nephrons. Each kidney is made up of about a million nephrons which make for a pretty delicate filtering system.
Under normal circumstances, these remarkable filters give us good service day in day out. However, certain substances can be poisonous to the kidneys to process. Chemical solvents, heavy metals, and even certain medications can be especially toxic to the kidneys. The term “nephrotoxicity,” means toxicity in the kidneys
The kidneys can handle a certain amount of nephrotoxins, but continued exposure will result in damage. In some circumstances, this damage can be irreversible or even deadly! Other causes of kidney damage can be linked to diabetes and poorly managed high blood pressure.
Early signs that something untoward is happening in the kidneys is an increase in urination. Urine may appear foamy or bubbly due to a higher than normal amount of protein being excreted.
Puffiness under the eyes, sudden fatigue, excessive foot odor, and/or swelling in the ankles can also be indicators that something isn’t quite right in the kidney department. Obviously, if you suspect you have any type of kidney issue it’s best to get checked out by your healthcare provider.
HELP FOR YOUR KIDNEYS
Illness aside, ensuring sure your body is sufficiently hydrated is key. To help with this try adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to a glass of water. For best results, drink this first thing in the morning on an empty stomach using room temperature water. Bonus point if you have access to clean spring water. If not, try cutting out the plastic bottle by filtering your own water. I’ll show you how to to do this later.
Subject to your healthcare providers approval, herbs that can help cleanse the kidneys are juniper berries and uva ursi. Tea made from a large handful of dried corn silk may also prove helpful to soothe the urinary tract. Given the delicate nature of the kidney structure, it pays not to overload them with too many things at once. Better to start with a small dose and go slow. Adding fresh parsley to your diet (or daily smoothy) is helpful. The kindest thing you can do for your kidneys is to eliminate any further exposure to a known toxic substance.
THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
The lymphatic system is part of the vascular system and an important part of the immune system. It uses a fluid by the name of lymph to send infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. It also maintains fluid balance and plays a role in absorbing fats and fat-soluble nutrients.
At certain points around the body, there are approximately 600 checkpoints known as lymph nodes. The primary role of these is to check the quality of the lymph. Lymph nodes may even swell up in response to an infection. If the swelling persists, it’s best to have it checked out especially when accompanied by fever or unexplained weight-loss.
When the lymphatic system becomes overburdened with too many toxins it becomes sluggish. This is sometimes described as lymphatic dysfunction. The good news is, sluggish lymph can be improved with movement.
HELP FOR YOUR LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
The human body was never intended to sit still for hours at a time. Hence the lymphatic system doesn’t have its own pump. Lymph moves best when you move. No need to shell out for a gym membership. A brisk morning walk is enough to get things moving. Or as Hippocrates once said, “Walking is man’s best medicine.”
If walking isn’t your thing then allow me to introduce the James Bond shower. To do this simply jump in a hot shower. Feels good right? Okay, just before you get out, be sure to turn the water all the way to cold. This is one of the most effective ways to get sluggish lymph moving again.
You can start with just a few seconds and then try and work your way up to a whole minute. The more times you do this the easier it gets. A friend once asked me if doing a James Bond shower every morning would help him live longer. Without missing a beat I said, “I can’t guarantee it but it might feel like it”. Lol.
Joking aside, a few seconds of cold water not only gets the lymph moving it can REALLY help to lift your mood. No really, it’s true.
THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
The digestive system is the cornerstone of good health. It’s also home to a whopping 70% of the immune system. Digestion begins with the mouth and ends with the anus. The digestive system is the only system that YOU get to decide how well it works.
What we put into our mouths every day is a choice. Some of those choices are nutrient dense, others, are not so much.
The primary role of the digestive system is to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste. Digestion is how the body gets important vitamins and minerals. When the body becomes low on minerals it is forced to use whatever it has available to make new cells and carry out repairs. Imagine building a house with substandard materials.
Heavy metals take this concept to the next level. They are masters of mimicry and can sometimes fool the body into thinking they are a mineral. Lead is one example of this which is why lead is often found in the bones.
HELP FOR YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Fiber is the key to good digestion but not everybody is able to tolerate fiber in the form of whole grains. The good news is you can get fiber from various fruits and vegetables.
Apples, Asian pears, and berries all have fiber. As anyone following a low carb diet will already know, Avacado’s also contains fiber. There’s no shortage of vegetables that contain fiber. A suitable low carb option would be Asparagus.
When toxins and heavy metals find their way into the digestive tract it can spell disaster for our health. Fortunately, many of these toxins can be bound up and shipped out of the body with the use of a “binder”.
Binders can be defined as solid, insoluble particles that pass through the gut unabsorbed. Binders attach to toxic metals and hold onto them just long enough for them to reach the toilet bowl. Chlorella, Modified Citrus Pectin, Activated charcoal, Bentonite clay, Silica, and Zeolites are all binders. I’ll cover separately later.
How important is the liver? Well, there aren’t too many body parts floating around inside us with the ability to regrow itself. Nope, not even joking.
This is true even if half of the liver was surgically removed. Best of all, it will remain functional even while it’s regrowing!
Unlike the other organs, the liver doesn’t have one main task, it ’s responsible for more than 500 different tasks! When it comes to multitasking, this bad boy is the ultimate. Here are just a few of the things your liver does…
The liver plays a pivotal role in filtering and removes toxins from the body. But did you know the liver is a giver? When the body has sufficient A, D, E, K, and B12 vitamins the liver will hold back and store just enough to save for a rainy day.
The liver is also an active player in the immune system. It contains high numbers of immune cells (called Kupffer cells) which destroy any pathogens that may enter the liver from the gut.
The liver also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. It does this by creating a substance known as bile. Bile helps to breaks down fats making them easier to digest.
It should come as no surprise that when the liver isn’t happy we can quickly see a few tell-tale signs. One of the more noticeable is a yellowing of the whites of the eyes. This is known as jaundice. Symptoms of jaundice may also include a yellow tinge to the skin, dark urine, and itchiness. An inflamed liver or obstructed bile duct can lead to this condition.
Here are a few more signs of a liver that it’s struggling to keep up with the demands being placed on it.
Problems sleeping, especially waking during the night between 12–3 am. Irritable moods (in the old days this was often described as being “liverish.” Being quick to anger. Traditional Chinese Medicine often describes anger as an emotion of the liver.
Other symptoms may include digestive upset which could range from constipation to diarrhea (especially after eating fatty foods). Being bloated or feeling sluggish after food. An increase in food intolerances, or full-blown allergies. Fatigue, headaches, low energy, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Skin problems such as acne, this is by no means a complete list.
WAYS TO HELP YOUR LIVER
This section isn’t about adding more things for your liver to do it’s about taking away known stressors. The most obvious would he alcohol. When the liver tries to break down alcohol, it can cause damage to its cells. This damage can lead to inflammation and scarring as the liver quickly tries to repair itself.
Certain medications are known to tax the liver. Always read the insert, if you notice any of the signs listed talk to your doctor. A replacement medication may prove more helpful.
Milk thistle is sometimes used as a natural remedy to help the liver detoxify. Although adding too many natural supplements will only add to the livers workload. Some supplements on the market may even be mixed with fillers making them difficult for the liver to process. Taking supplements in mega doses can also lead to problems. Throw into the mix fried foods, fast foods, junk foods, and the health of our liver is heading towards the edge of a cliff.
Be especially wary of any foods cooked in oils made from corn, canola, soy, safflower, and sunflower. When cooking at home try using coconut, avocado oils, butter or ghee instead.
Final thoughts — Treat your liver well and it will keep you well. You can also find out more about heavy metals in my new book titled Heavy Metals Detox. Its currently on sale for 99c. Enjoy!