What is a "Toxin?"
To help understand what "Detoxification" is, first let's ask, "What is a toxin?" A toxin is any substance which comes from outside us or is created by our own metabolic processes which interferes with our various metabolic functions. Some toxins "interfere" to the point where they become deadly to us and many toxins, by accumulation and the synergistic effect of many different toxins, slowly degrade our body's systems to the point where disease is possible. In my work I like to expand that concept of toxin to include "toxic" thoughts and behaviors, too, since our thoughts can have a direct bearing on how efficiently we function. Essentially, everyone in today's society has toxins. The question becomes not "if" we should detoxify but "when or what order" or "to what degree?"
Detoxification and Drainage
Basically, detoxification involves the process of releasing the toxin(s) from tissues and then helping the body to metabolize and excrete the toxin(s) through the body's emunctories--the natural pathways that excrete waste and toxins from the body through the skin, the sweat, tears, urine, feces, and even vomit (although I do not promote this!). We call this later aspect of detoxification, "drainage." For most toxins the body uses urine and feces as its main pathway for elimination, but there are more recent man-made toxins for which the body's only outlet is via sweat or the skin. The ability to excrete toxins starts with the cell and the cell's ability to move those toxins through its membrane. Likewise, toxins can affect any and all levels of a body's functionality from the cell organelle to full organ systems.
Types of toxins
- Toxins from infectious agents
- Hormonal analogs that block receptors or activate receptors (e.g. Bis-Phenyl-A)
- Natural body substances that can act like toxins depending on their location and concentration
- Immune related natural compounds that can act as toxins
- Metabolites of food
- Heavy Metals
- Halogenated organic compounds (pesticides, herbicides)
- Very long chain fatty acids produced by infectious agent influence
When do we need to "detoxify?"
Most people detoxify naturally and do it well except after large exposures or chronic exposures of substances for which the body has no detoxification pathway. But when a person has an onslaught of stressors (emotional, lack of sleep, dietary, illness, etc) and some of those stressors include toxins that are not properly excreted or at least sequestered somewhat safely in the body's tissues, then specific protocols to detoxify may be called for. Obviously, there are people who do not detoxify one or more types of toxins well and they definitely need support.
Inflammation as a symptom of needing detoxification
Typically, what one sees when needing to detoxify are un-controlled inflammatory processes as a symptom of a lingering toxic load. Often I can see these inflammatory processes with the various testing protocols that I use. It can be hard to distinguish the difference between a toxic inflammation process and auto-immune/allergic reactions or infectious agents, especially stealth or low level infections, but via different tests we can sort that out and then prioritize the need to detoxify, treat for infectious agents, or reduce the affect of allergies and immune system involvement. Generally, if one has an inflammatory process, we would start by increasing the capacity of the body to move what toxins he/she has out. The process is called, "drainage."
When is it better to hold off on detoxification?
I have learned to hesitate about jumping into detoxification. It can be like kicking a hornet's nest. Detoxification can release toxins too fast for the body to excrete or so stir up an immune system response that detoxification which is supposed to help the person, can become more devastating than the original condition. So for people with chronic conditions or where there are clear cut imbalances that can be corrected before eliminating stored toxins, I find that correcting these imbalances first is the better approach. Paradoxically, the body needs to be in good health to deal with the effects of detoxing. So, I prefer to get the individual ready for this process. Below is a partial list of some of the detoxification methods I recommend or use in my practice.
- Flushing methods
- Skin brushing
- Liver metabolic support
- Glutathione support
- Drainage support and increase
- Chelating/Binding agents
- Cell toxic agent releasing agents (e.g. Complex homeopathics)
- NMT (Neuromodulation Technique)