We grapple daily to stay on top of elements that threaten our health and well-being. The need for equilibrium is dire. In this scenario, detoxification must take on a new dimension. Only a few years ago, the term was associated with special rehabilitation clinics where individuals go to withdraw from drugs or alcohol. Recently, many spas and health facilities offer detoxification programs in connection with improving one’s health, longevity, memory and beauty.
We usually think of detoxification as an aid to beauty and see it as external, merely skin deep, but could we consider it to be more than that? As we age, we accumulate impurities from a variety of sources: environmental pollution, build-up of metabolic waste products from daily living, compounds with pesticides and other chemicals in our food and water. The major elimination systems of our body consist of the liver, kidneys, intestines, lymphatics, lungs, skin and the blood. We normally do not think of the skin as an organ, but it has the largest surface area of any organ system. Apart from maintaining body temperature it also acts as a protective barrier for the body.
Symptoms occur when our body attempts to balance and heal itself and these should not necessarily be suppressed. In conventional medicine, drugs are often prescribed to eliminate the symptoms and not the causes. Unfortunately, the body needs to eliminate the byproducts of the drugs and these often cause side effects. During detoxification, symptoms may be intensified but they will eventually diminish as the body heals itself.
The state of our skin is also reflective of the function of different organ systems. Liver dysfunction can cause jaundice, discoloration, rashes and itching. Pale, sallow skin can be due to anemia and impaired kidney function. “Dysbiosis” or the “leaky gut” syndrome may cause allergic reactions, bloating and skin rashes. The body’s hormones can influence the moisture, collagen and elasticity of the skin. Lymph stasis can cause swelling and tenderness.
In order to reduce the toxic load in our bodies, we need to purify our work and home environments and eliminate chemicals, dyes, paints, solvents, glues, insecticides or cleaning agents. Also substitute them with natural products including cosmetics which do not compromise the body’s processes and the environment. Choose fresh organic foods which are free of pesticides and hormones and drink plenty of purified water to assist the kidneys and digestive system. Maintaining proper body weight is important because excess fat is a storage site for toxins and it is very difficult to remove them.
We need to ask ourselves, what are our intentions and desired results of detoxification? Is purification the ultimate goal? In truth purification is an on-going and deepening process that helps us rediscover the true essence of our authentic selves, our relationships and interconnectedness to other people and to nature. That is the natural order of things. The Earth itself goes through periodic cleansing. Storms, earthquakes, floods and forest fires are natural ways by which the Earth seeks to rebalance itself. In a manner of speaking, out of natural destruction new and more vibrant constructions are born. Likewise, sequential detoxification can assist our bodies to rebuild impaired tissues and organs, resulting in rejuvenation and increased vitality of the cells.
Detoxification must occur not only in our bodies but also in our minds and spiritual lives. The “pure in heart and spirit” will be blessed with clarity of mind, vision, intuition, body wisdom and radiant health and beauty.
Dr. David Wong is an Integrative physician who co-founded the Health Integration Center in Torrance, California in 1978. In future blogs, he will recommend nutrients which support important organ systems in eliminating metabolic waste; and therapies that can assist the body in achieving balance and healing.