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Detoxification Revealed

Learn about the importance of detoxification, our liver’s role in removing toxins, as well as four valuable tips for detoxification – such as eating nutritiously and relieving stress.

The removal of toxins from the body, detoxification is a long-standing, coveted approach to health and wellness. A way to describe both our body’s innate process of toxin removal and a self-empowering approach a person can take to cleanse the body, detoxification is strained when in the company of liver disease.

A valuable perspective on detoxification is comparing how waste is eliminated from a house to how toxins are eliminated from the body. Just as the liver is the primary organ responsible for removing toxins from your blood stream, a septic system is responsible for removing waste from your living space.

Modern plumbing carries away waste that would lead to toxicity if allowed to remain inside the walls of a dwelling. The pipes and sewage treatment at the end of the line keep a septic system operating smoothly. If required to handle repeatedly large loads without receiving regular maintenance, a septic system is likely to break, backup or otherwise malfunction, causing the unwelcome aroma or physical presence of toxic sewage in the home. Our bodies are no different, with an elaborate network of waste-ridding operations always in motion.

If a material is poisonous, or interferes with the body’s cellular processes, it is generally considered to be a toxin. While we excrete waste via the skin, lungs and kidneys, the liver is the primary organ responsible for removing toxins from our body. Most poisons reach our bloodstream when we swallow or inhale them, where the liver is required to filter them out. Through its function of cleansing the blood, the liver removes a plethora of waste from our circulation, including:

·    Drugs
·    Bacteria
·    Fungi
·    Viruses
·    Parasites
·    Food Additives
·    Pesticides and Herbicides
·    Chemicals
·    Fats
·    Alcohol
·    Dead Cells
·    Other Debris

Liver disease reduces the liver’s ability to function properly. An overloading of the liver’s detoxification pathways prohibits blood purification from taking place, causing waste to build up in the blood stream and, thus, progressively worsening a person’s health. Just like a repeatedly stressed septic system, a backup of sewage, or toxins, breeds filth and illness.

Many toxins are fat soluble and easily incorporated into fatty parts of the body where they reside. The brain and the endocrine glands are fatty organs, and are common sites for fat-soluble toxins to accumulate. This may result in symptoms of brain dysfunction and hormonal imbalances, such as fatigue, headaches, depression, infertility, breast pain, menstrual disturbances, adrenal gland exhaustion and early menopause. Additionally, many toxins are carcinogenic and have been implicated in the rising incidence of many cancers.

One of the most effective ways to cleanse the bloodstream and thus take the load off the immune system is by improving liver function. Embarking on a plan to detoxify the liver can help you take control of the poisonous buildup in your bloodstream. When the liver is working double-duty to protect you from an onslaught of toxins, it could benefit from a little extra help.

Nutrition and lifestyle are critical ways to support our liver’s natural ability to detoxify. While a qualified health professional should oversee a person with liver disease’s attempts at detoxification, here are four suggestions many experts recommend:

1.    Reduce Toxicity Load. This begins with the food you eat, the water you drink and the air you breathe. Choose chemical and hormone-free foods, wash all produce, drink pure, filtered water and avoid air pollutants when possible. Since drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and taking drugs exponentially increases the toxins your liver must eliminate, skip them.

2.    Eat Right. Follow a diet supportive of the liver, including lean, organic meats, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit. Avoid foods high in chemicals, artificial additives, trans fats and sugar.

3.    Supplement for Extra Support. Always consult a physician prior to supplementation, to make certain no drug interactions occur. Some well-known supplements for supporting detox include milk thistle, Liv.52 and antioxidant vitamins.

·    Milk Thistle helps protect normal liver function from damage by alcohol, environmental stress and other substances that may damage liver cells. It provides antioxidant protection and helps regenerate liver cell production. A liver cell protector and antioxidant, milk thistle has shown a protective effect against many types of chemical toxins, including alcohol.

·    The Ayuvedic medicinal formula, Liv.52, is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier, neutralizing toxins and poisons from food, water, air and medications.

·    Antioxidants reduce the damage caused by cell-damaging free radicals. Many antioxidants support liver detoxification, including vitamin B3 and B6, vitamins A and C, zinc, calcium, vitamin E, selenium and L-cysteine. If antioxidants are lacking and toxin exposure is high, toxic chemicals become far more dangerous.

4.    Relieve Stress. While everyone relieves stress and tension differently, finding the way that works best for you facilitates optimal detoxification. Reducing stress levels allows blood vessels to dilate, facilitating blood to flow easily into and through the liver for its purification.

Similar to a responsible homeowner avoiding excess sludge going down the kitchen sink or relying on a snake or clog drainer when needed, people interested in their liver’s health must make detoxification a priority. With the rate of liver disease on the rise and the increasing prevalence of toxins in our environment, striving to preserve our liver’s ability to detoxify will reduce disease, enhance lifespan and increase our quality of life.


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www.epidemic.org, Detoxification, Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2007.

www.healthy.net, General Detoxification and Cleansing, Elson M. Haas, MD, 2007.

www.lef.org, Liver and Kidney Protection, Life Extension Program, 2007.

www.liverdoctor.com, The Liver Detoxification Pathways, Sandra Cabot MD, SCB Inc., 2007.

www.webmd.com, Liver detoxification: fact or fad?, Laurie Barclay, WebMD, Inc., 2007.

www.womentowomen.com, Detox and Women’s Health, Frank Lipman, MD, Women to Women, 2007.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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