Based on Naturopathic and holistic beliefs, health is restored by improving vitality. Vitality is our body’s ability to self-heal, maintain proper metabolism, growth, reproduce and properly adapt. Vitalism can be impacted or diminished by a range of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental factors.
Some factors affecting vitalism are constitutional and not modifiable including genetic, familial and congenital factors. Many others however can be improved by everyday modifications.
The main modifiable factors include:
- Diet: An excess or deficiency in the way of food you consume can affect vitality which is why a balanced whole food diet is so important for everyone to maintain. The best balance is not the same for everyone however and should be built based on individual preferences, restrictions and food sensitivities.
- Physical activity: Regular exercise, exposure to fresh air, sunlight and nature can improve vitalism through decreased endotoxin levels (i.e. metabolic by-products and cellular waste) and increased elimination.
- Stress management and balancing emotions can also reduce endotoxin production. Resilience and adaptability improve when people have stable and positive relationships enabling them to feel safe and supported.
- Environment: The most important factor affecting exotoxin production is our exposure to external toxins such pollution, pesticides and drugs in the environment surrounding us. Clean water, fresh and clean air, avoiding chemical and harsh pesticides for agriculture, minimize intensive animal farming and limiting exposure to plastics can all reduce our exposure to external toxins.
What does it mean to detox?
The main detoxification organs are liver, kidneys and lymphatic system, and the main elimination organs are the bowel, gallbladder, urinary bladder, respiratory system, and skin.
Detoxification is a process that supports and improves the function of both organs of detoxification and elimination. The overall health of these organs is the most important part of detoxification process in our body and supporting and maintain their health is the key in any detox program. The type and extent of support depends on each individual goals and overall vitality.
What are the signs that shows you need detox?
If you experience any of these signs and symptoms you may wish to consider seeing a naturopathic doctor to discuss if you need to detox.
- Bad breath or tongue coat ( yellow or white)
- Fluid retention ( leg edema , sinus congestion )
- Strong body odor
- Gas and bloating
- Fatigue unrelieved by sleep and sluggishness
- Weight loss resistance and belly fat (visceral fat)
- Chemical sensitivity (getting anxious with different scents or experiencing very bad hangover after drinking alcohol )
- Overheating or excess sweating
- Acne, chronic hives or itchiness
How can naturopathic doctors help?
Naturopathic doctors can assess your overall health through a full intake and physical exam and then identify/ treat the underlying condition(s). They are then better able to devise an individualized detox plan to support your body through the detox process. Education about healthy living, self-care and modifiable factors affecting your level of vitality will also be provided.
Is detoxing safe?
Baseline detoxification is a natural process happening in our body every single day. As long as all of the detoxification and elimination organs are in good health, enhancing the detoxification process is completely safe, providing you do it in a right way. To ensure this is the case it is always best to speak with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner like a naturopathic doctor. People who have severe signs or symptoms of toxicity, severely impaired detoxification/elimination organs or serious medical conditions such as cancer need a modified detoxification protocol along with direct supervision since uncontrolled detox in these cases can be harmful due to their low vitality. We also do not recommend detox during pregnancy or breast feeding although it can be very beneficial to do before conception!
When is the best time for detox?
The best time may vary depending on your individual goals and health condition, but generally speaking SPRING is the best time to do a gentle cleanse/ detox for health maintenance and to get rid of all toxins that were accumulated during the fall/winter due to eating more greasy and dense foods, not having access to fresh air and lack of regular exercise .
What can I do to improve daily detoxification and elimination process in my body?
Here are some tips and tricks you can include to your daily life to support and improve detoxification and elimination, thereby moving closer to health optimization.
- DRY SKIN BRUSHING: The skin is our largest detox organ and responsible for one fourth of our daily detoxification. Dry skin brushing stimulates blood circulation and lymphatic system and could enhance toxin elimination. The best time for dry brushing is before taking shower or bath. Always start from your fingers or toes and move toward your heart. In the lower body, start at the feet and sweep toward your inner thighs and for arms through arm pits, where there are more lymph nodes. The best time is in the morning and you can do it at least few times per week if not daily!
- CASTOR OIL PACKS: Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid and promotes detoxification. Using it in the way of a heated pack is very helpful for liver detox but they also have many other benefits such as: Reducing nausea, assisting in pain relief, improving digestion and they can also reduce inflammation.
Castor oil packs are not recommended during pregnancy or when a female is in the menses part of the cycle. Consult with your naturopathic doctor if you are not sure about your gut health or not having daily regular bowel movement.
Directions: Choose a cotton or flannel material that is large enough to cover your liver ( right upper part of your abdomen, underneath the right ribcage ), wet the cloth and drizzle the castor oil over the cloth and rub it together to spread the oil around and then put it over the liver. Cover that with an old sheet or towel and fix it with a band or belt. Make sure you wear an old T-shirt on top because these packs will most likely stain your cloths!! Place a hot water bottle or bag on top and keep the pack there for 20 min. This treatment can be repeated once a week however based on your individualized detox plan your naturopathic doctor may recommend longer duration and more frequent treatment. You can store your packs in a sealed plastic bag and keep them in fridge to reuse for up to 3 times. Drink enough water and consider a liquid diet on the days you do castor oil packs to help better toxin elimination but if you’re ever unsure, be sure to consult first with your naturopathic doctor
- DETOX DIET: Eating more vegetable and fruits, drinking enough water, and adding herbs or spices are all great ways to improve your digestion and natural detoxification ability.
Here is a sample of detox meal plan. To individualize, a naturopathic doctor can give you a specific meal plan based on your own condition and goals!
|Smoothies (Example: apple, carrot and grapefruit)
|Large green salad topped with boiled egg and olive oil
|Baked veggies (broccoli, sweet potato) and baked salmon
|A bowel of fruit salads or veggies with hummus
- Start your day with a glass of warm water and a wedge of lemon.
- No coffee, alcohol during detox
- Eat mostly organic and No GMO.
- Locally grown, seasonal fruit and vegetables are encouraged.
- Herbal teas especially ginger, nettle leaf and green tea are encouraged.
- Drink at least 3-4 liter of water
- 1-2 tablespoon of Flaxseed