Detox is a hot topic these days and one of much controversy. Removal of toxins from the body has been an integral part of Ayurvedic, yogic, and naturopathic medicine for many years.
Detoxification therapies are commonly recommended because of the increased exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment including heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants, synthetic chemicals, plastics, and other harmful compounds .
Studies have reported that the majority naturopathic doctors report the routine use of clinical detoxification therapies to treat a range of medical conditions including obesity, digestive issues, autoimmune diseases, inflammation, allergies, bloating, and chronic fatigue .
However, the use of various clinical and commercial detoxification therapies for eliminating toxins from the body have largely been dismissed by those in the medical and evidence-based community because they are purported as having little scientific backing and being potentially dangerous.
Perhaps this partly stems from the emergence of numerous of multi-level marketing (MLM) companies, most notably Herbalife Nutrition, that have come under heavy scrutiny due to multiple papers reporting hepatotoxic effects related relating to use of the products, and numerous lawsuits that have been filed [3-5].
Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have taken action against several companies selling detox/cleansing products because they (1) contained illegal, potentially harmful ingredients; (2) were marketed using false claims that they could treat serious diseases; (3) were marketed for unapproved uses: or (4) made misleading money-making claims [4,5].
Another problem with detoxification therapies is that there are many alleged ways of doing a so-called detox or a cleanse, and detox diets rarely aim to identify the specific toxins they are trying to eliminate. Detoxes/cleanses vary in intensity and duration and can range from complete fasting to simpler food modifications.
Detoxes or cleanses may involve the use of a single, or multiple approaches for eliminating toxins including .
While some of these practices may be relatively safe in general, potential side effect may occur including .
The risk may be especially increased when using commercial detox kits, not under the supervision of a licenced by a professional.
Furthermore, nutrients need to be provided in the right ratio to balance out phase I and phase II liver detoxification pathways as intermediate metabolites which are not excreted can built up to toxic levels and increase oxidative stress . In addition, many nutrients appear to exert biphasic, dose-dependent effects which may be influenced by genetic polymorphisms .
Therefore, we do not recommend commercial ‘detox in a box’ kits, and you should only consider doing a detox or a cleanse under the guidance of a medical professional after undergoing comprehensive lab testing.
To learn more about how detoxification works, and how to safely improve detoxification in the body without resorting to dangerous detoxes or cleanses, check out the PNC level 3 certification.