Spring is just around the corner and you're ready to start a detox regime, but you're not sure where to begin. You may have questions: Does detoxing work? Why is it important? What works best? Is it even necessary?
Some people question whether detoxification programs are beneficial or even legitimate; many experts believe that the body's innate detoxification abilities are already adequate and don't need improvement.
There seem to be as many myths about detoxification as there are stars in the sky, let's shed some light (and science) on what's fact and what's fiction about detox from an Ayurvedic perspective.
1. Why is it important?
The body does naturally detoxify harmful toxins on its own, but with heightened toxic exposure and a stressed nervous system, the digestive and detoxifying properties of the body are weakened. In this vulnerable state, toxins can find their way into the body's fat cells and brain tissue and can cause several types of cancer, reproductive disorders and hormone disruption, immune system suppression, and other diseases in the body.
2. What actually works?
The Ayurvedic approach to detoxing environmental toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives, and industrial toxicants is through ingesting healthy fats, which actually pull, or chelate, fat-soluble toxins from the body. This is called "lipophilic-mediated" detoxification.
Interestingly, there are many Ayurvedic practices based on the idea of lipophilic-mediated detox, including daily oil massage (Abhyanga), mouth swishing with oil (oil pulling), and the internal application of ear and nose oil.
3. Where's the science behind it?
In a study cited above, the subjects underwent a weeklong Ayurvedic detox regime of ingesting ghee (clarified butter) to detox fat-soluble toxins from the body while eating a vegetarian diet without fat, meat or dairy, a diet which gently supports the body's cleansing properties.
Researchers found significant results from the study, supporting the important benefits of detoxification, including a 46% decrease of environmental PCB toxins, and a 56% decrease of toxins from pesticides.
4. What's a great detox herb?
Another effective method of detoxification from an Ayurvedic perspective is through the use of the herb turmeric. Turmeric boasts a number of positive health benefits, including protecting the body from free radical damage caused by mercury, boosting the body's detoxifiers, and promoting enzymes that support the optimal function of vital organs. Mercury concentrations were shown to be reduced as a result of turmeric supplementation both before and after mercury exposure.
5. What's a great detox practice?
Saunas are another noteworthy form of detoxing the body, and have been found to support the endothelial (arterial wall lining) health of the body. Sweating in the sauna for 15 minutes can reduce blood pressure and support proper blood flow and heart health, while longer sauna sessions (that should be medically monitored) are helpful for detoxifying heavy metals and chemicals out of the body.
Thus, while there's more research to be done in the field of detoxification to enhance our understanding of it, to say that science does not support the practice of detoxification is false. Living in a world with so much toxicity, it's very important to support the body's natural detoxification processes in order to live happy and healthy lives.