5 Ways To Support Your Natural Detoxification Systems--If you type “detox” into any search engine, you’ll find results for a wide range of detoxes from liver detoxes to healthy detox drinks to digital detoxes. But it’s not always clear what all of these detoxes are actually doing, so today I'm going to dive into what a detox is, how the body detoxes itself naturally, and how to support those natural detoxification systems.
Before we get started let’s talk about what a detox actually is. A detox, or detoxification, is a practice that involves ridding the body of certain toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals.
Ancient detox methods date as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans and was (and still is) a practice in many Native American cultures. Native Americans across North America built dome-shaped huts that were used for their sweat lodge ceremonies, which were said to aid in purifying the mind, body, and spirit. This purification would occur due to a combination of heat, drumming, and other traditional healing practices.
The Greeks and Romans on the other hand often turned to steam baths for detoxification. Still around today, these cultures used public baths to not only clean the outer body but also detoxify the inner body through sweating.
The Greeks often added natural materials like bay laurel, fir, pine, or juniper branches in order to create an even more therapeutic atmosphere. Additionally, the Greeks and Romans often paired healing practices like massage or herbal tea made with peppermint or elderflower to enhance the detoxification from sweating.
In fact, most of the detoxes we use today have been used for thousands of years to promote health including saunas, dry brushing, herbal remedies, drinking adequate water, meditation, and exercise. Two cultures with perhaps the greatest history of healing and detoxing with herbal remedies are the Indian and Chinese cultures.
Ayurvedic medicine, which has deep roots in India, has long used nourishing herbs like ginger and fennel, sweat-inducing activities, oil pulling, and dry brushing as a way to detox. In the Ayurvedic tradition, many believe that toxins are the main cause of illness. If you have a build-up of toxins you might experience symptoms like a white coating on your tongue, fatigue, brain fog, or general achiness.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the most common way to detox is by changing your diet, but herbal blends, acupuncture, and moxibustion are all said to aid in detoxification. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use certain foods like dandelion root, ginger, and turmeric to strengthen the liver, which is one of our most important detoxifying organs.
Now that you have a good idea of what a detox is and how it has been used over time, you might be wondering why we even need to detox. If you’re thinking that we already have our own natural detoxification systems, you’re totally right. The human body has its own incredible internal detoxification system that helps us kick any toxins right to the curb.
Our liver acts like a filter and keeps toxic substances from entering our bloodstream after consuming toxins in our food. It also neutralizes harmful metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury before preparing to remove them from the body.
Our kidneys constantly get rid of waste and extra fluid from our bodies through our urine. By doing this, they filter out water-soluble toxins like excess hormones, certain medications, food additives, and more.
And while our bodies are pretty incredible, some believe they just can’t keep up with the number of toxins in our modern-day world. Things like emerging pathogens, lead-based gasoline and paint, mercury and microplastics in fish, polluted air, rivers and lakes, excess pharmaceuticals, and synthetic chemicals can make us wonder if our natural detoxification systems need a little extra help.
So whether you’re just looking to give some detox practices a try or you have some bothersome symptoms you want to try to get rid of naturally, I hope this list helps guide you through some of the best ways to detox your body.
Our lymphatic drainage system plays a key part in eliminating our body’s waste. Sometimes our lymphatic system can get clogged, which keeps it from working as it should. If your lymphatic system is clogged you might experience symptoms like:
Luckily, there are a lot of different ways that we can support our lymphatic system including dry brushing, lymphatic massage, gua sha, and deep breathing. All of these practices work by helping stimulate circulation, which many say helps deblock the lymphatic system. Some people also swear by hot and cold showers for their ability to boost circulation.
Like we talked about earlier, many different cultures used herbs to help support our natural detoxification system. Today many different teas and tinctures contain herbs like dandelion, burdock, nettle, Schisandra, and red clover, which claim to help detoxify the body.
Medical research has shown that milk thistle can help reduce inflammation and promote cell repair. Many people have also used it to help support the liver and gallbladder. Dandelion has also been known to provide a variety of liver-supporting benefits. One animal study found that dandelion helped protect the liver from toxic substances. It also helped decrease excess fat stored in the liver and protect against oxidative stress in liver tissue.
Similar to how dry brushing and gua sha get things moving around your body, exercise is a great way to support your body through movement. While exercise itself isn’t a detox practice, it is one of the best ways to support our natural detoxification systems.
By keeping our body moving, exercise helps increase circulation and oxygen intake. Both of these things help the lungs, kidneys, immune system, and colon become more efficient at naturally detoxifying the body.
One of the most popular forms of exercise to aid in the detoxification process is rebounding. Rebounding is simply jumping on a trampoline for exercise. While rebounding is as simple as jumping up and down, some classes incorporate specific moves to increase the intensity of the exercise.
Overall, it’s a pretty low-impact exercise, which means it could be great for you even if you have bad knees. Rebounding helps promote lymphatic drainage by moving the lymph fluid around through gravity.
If rebounding isn’t your thing, any other type of exercise will promote natural detoxification as well. For more low-impact options consider trying swimming, yoga, or walking.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight or just feel healthier, water will usually come into the conversation at some point. Vital to our health, water is a key component in the healthy functioning of our body. But, there are certain drinks that can help promote detoxification even further.
Detoxifying juices like Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Lemonade or Cucumber Ginger Lemon Detox Juice, contain certain elements that aid in detoxification. Not only do they help hydrate your body, but they also contain feel-good ingredients like apple cider vinegar and ginger. If you’re looking to make your own detox drink consider adding ingredients like:
All of these things help the liver drive out toxins. You can also add in any of the herbs we talked about earlier. For example, our cucumber ginger lemon detox contains thyme, which is known for its wonderful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.
While there is certainly a lot of things we can put into our bodies, relieving our bodies of known toxins can also help ensure our natural detoxification systems are running smoothly. For example, our livers process all of the alcohol we consume, so by reducing our intake of alcohol we can reduce our overall strain on the liver. But most of us already know we shouldn’t overdo it on the alcohol intake, so let’s dive into some other ways to minimize toxins.
If possible, try to remove as much plastic from your daily life as you can. Not only do plastics contribute to our intake of microplastics, but it also impacts our intake of other chemicals. Many plastics contain bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Chemicals like phthalate and styrene are also present in most plastics. To avoid exposure, never heat food in a plastic container and consider storing leftovers in glass containers. Also, avoid drinking hot liquids out of plastic or styrofoam cups or water bottles. Instead, try using glass or stainless steel containers.
Environmental endocrine disruptors (EED) are toxins that imitate hormones. Ingesting EEDs can lead to hormone-related issues such as hormone imbalance. You might find these toxins in certain household cleaning supplies, bath and body products, and pesticides. You can reduce your exposure to them by using natural cleaning supplies, avoiding artificial fragrances, eating organic when possible, and filtering your tap water.
The wonderful thing about cooking from home is knowing exactly what you’re putting into your body. These days many processed foods contain artificial flavors and colors, which aren’t great for our health. Keeping certain preservatives and unhealthy fats out of our food is also a key part of reducing the intake of potential toxins.
But just because you avoid processed foods, doesn’t mean you have to only stick to salads and grain bowls. Eating healthy can also mean indulging in delicious meals like carrot cake pancakes, taco fries, and buffalo chicken tenders. It’s all about moderation and doing the best you can do for your body.
Overall, our bodies have an incredibly complex system that helps rid our bodies of toxins. Taking care of yourself through exercise, drinking enough water, and eating homemade whole foods is the first step in supporting your natural detoxification systems. If you have ever felt that you’ve been exposed to too many toxins, learning to work in conjunction with your body’s natural ability is one of the best ways to detox.