While many detoxification programs seem to make up for lack of research with great packaging, testimonials, and marketing, this does not mean all detoxification programs are bogus, as some experts claim.
In fact, the benefits and effectiveness of cleanses are well-documented. In this article, I highlight only a few of the studies suggesting the effectiveness and need for cleansing.
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Some experts believe the body’s natural ability to detoxify is perfect and cannot be improved.3
I would agree that the body has a natural ability to detoxify even the most harmful toxins, such as heavy metals, but science shows that with toxic environmental exposure and a stressed nervous system resulting in weakened digestive/detox function, these toxins find their way into fat cells and brain tissue.4
In a world where mercury is each leaf of organic spinach from coal mine plumes covering most of America, a country into which some four billion pounds of toxins are dumped each year,10it is essential to have a strong digestive system and well-functioning detox pathways. This can be achieved with intelligent cleansing techniques backed by science.
Science of Ayurvedic Detox: Lipophilic-Mediated Detox
Environmental toxins, such as pesticides, preservatives, heavy metals, and industrial toxicants, are all fat-soluble or lipophilic (lipo = fat, philic = like). Chronic exposure to lipophilic toxins has been associated with hormone disruption, immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, several types of cancer, and other diseases.6,7
Ayurvedic cleanses, such as our Colorado Cleanse, Kaya Kalpa Cleanse, and Short Home Cleanse, detoxify fat-soluble toxins using a lipophilic-mediated detoxification procedure. This is where ingested fats actually pull, or chelate, fat-soluble toxins from the body. While more studies need to be done on lipophilic-mediated detox methods, several studies support this method of detox.8,9
Based on the Ayurvedic approach of using ingested fats to detoxify environmental toxins, there are modern studies showing impressive results. In one study with 88 subjects, 48 underwent a seven-day detox of ingesting ghee (clarified butter), while on a no-fat, -meat or -dairy diet, while being measured for nine environmental PCB toxins and eight pesticide toxins.
After seven days of oleation, the study saw an average 46% decrease in PCBs and 56% decrease in pesticides!6,7
These results suggest lipophilic-mediated detoxification may be effective in reducing body burdens of fat-soluble toxicants.6,7
In addition to ghee cleansing, many Ayurvedic practices, including daily oil massage (abhyanga), mouth swishing with oil (oil pulling), and ear oil, are based on the idea of lipophilic-mediated detoxification and demand further investigation.
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Turmeric for Detox
In one study, turmeric was found to have a protective effect against free radical damage from mercury. Turmeric was shown to boost production of detoxifiers (glutathione and superoxide dismutase), which protect the liver from mercury. Turmeric also boosts enzymes like catalase in the liver, kidneys, and brain, supporting their optimal function in the presence of mercury. In the study, mercury concentrations reduced as a result of turmeric supplementation before and after exposure.5
Sweat it Out
In many parts of Northern Europe, a sauna is considered an essential component of one’s well-being. One study concluded:
“Saunas can be used very effectively for certain cardiovascular problems and as a means to enhance the mobilization of fat-soluble xenobiotics. When saunas are used to reduce blood pressure and enhance blood flow and cardiac functioning, only short sauna (15 minutes) are necessary. When one wants to enhance the mobilization of heavy metals and chemical xenobiotics, longer sessions are needed and those should be medically monitored. But, for either use, saunas are safe and effective and should be used more frequently to benefit the health of our patients and ourselves.”1
In another study, saunas were found to support endothelial health, which is the lining of the arterial wall. Many experts believe the health and elasticity of the endothelial wall is an indicator of overall health. 2
I do agree that many detox procedures require more investigation before they should be marketed as detox programs. But to say there is no science to back up detoxification is simply false. This is just a brief foray into the research on detoxification methods, and you can see how powerful the results are!
My firm belief regarding detox is that the body can only do it successfully when the digestive system is functioning optimally.
Our ability to detox well depends on our ability to digest well. Cleansing without first resetting digestive and detox function can result in detox reactions. To avoid this, we should always reboot digestive strength and detox pathways, focusing particularly on lymph and liver function, before we cleanse toxins out of fat cells.
Wondering where to start? I offer three lipophilic-mediated Ayurvedic cleanses, backed by ancient wisdom and Western science: