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 Detoxification Programs: General Detoxification and Cleansing 

Glycine is a secondary helper. An amino acid that supports glutathione synthesis, it also decreases the toxicity of substances such as phenols or benzoic acid, the latter used as a food preservative. Other amino acids that may have mild detoxifying effects include methionine, tyrosine, and taurine. For more information on amino acid metabolism and uses, I suggest a book by Eric R. Braverman and the late Dr. Carl C. Pfeiffer entitled The Healing Nutrients Within: Facts, Findings and New Research on Amino Acids.

As mentioned earlier, another detoxification supporter is fiber, as psyllium seed husks, often combined with other detox nutrients, such as pectin, aloe vera, alginates, and/or colon herbs. This helps cleanse mucus along the small intestine, create bulk in the colon, and pull toxins from the gastrointestinal tract. When fiber is combined with one or two tablespoons of olive oil, it helps bind toxins and reduce absorption of fats as well as some basic minerals. Psyllium husks also reduce absorption of the olive oil, which is important, since it is caloric and it may have picked up fat-soluble chemicals that were released. In Vitamin Power, Stephanie Rick and Rita Aero suggest taking 2 grams each of psyllium and bran several times daily (with meals and at bedtime) along with one teaspoon of olive oil to help detoxify. Acidophilus bacteria in the colon help neutralize some toxins, reduce the metabolism of other microbes, and lessen colon toxicity. Supplemental acidophilus is often added to a detox program.

Remember, water should always be used during any type of detox program to help dilute and eliminate toxin accumulations. It is likely the most important detoxifier. It helps clean us through our skin and kidneys, and it improves our sweating with exercise. Eight to ten glasses a day (depending on our size and activity level) of clean, filtered water are suggested. Some authorities suggest distilled water for use during detox programs, since, because of its lack of minerals, it will draw other particles (nutrients and toxins) to it; however, I think it throws off our bichemical/electrical balance, and I prefer regular, purified water (see Chapter 1). Two or three glasses of water should be drunk 30-60 minutes before each meal and even at night to help flush toxins during our bodyís natural elimination time.

A special elimination process has been developed and used in some clinics to help in the detoxification of chemicals, especially pesticides and even pharmaceutical drugs. This program usually involves several weeks at a center with a therapy including a high-fluid and juice diet, exercise, and large amounts of niacin (vitamin B3) with sauna therapies. The saunas are extended and may last for several hours daily, with breaks to drink fluids. The idea is to cleanse the hidden chemicals from the fat through juice cleansing, weight loss, niacin therapy, exercise, and sweats. Niacin is a vasostimulator and vasodilator, aiding circulation.

This "niacin-sauna" program is interesting and definitely has possibilities as an intense, medically supervised detoxification process. However, it is still experimental and does entail risks. Preliminary results are good, especially for people with symptoms caused by exposure to pesticides, such as Agent Orange, yet there are some drawbacks. Besides the cost and time required, the extreme detox can cause losses of nutrients, especially minerals, creating depletions from which it could take months to recover. Special attention must be given to ensuring proper nutrient restoration during and after this therapy. I think that this program, even short versions of it, can be used to help detoxify from most drugs, especially the recreational types, and daily abuses of alcohol and nicotine. Many of us can do a modified version on our own with the use of a sauna, a few daysí juice fast, regular exercise, and supplemental niacin, beginning at 100-200 mg. and moving up to 2-3 grams daily. Be sure to replenish fluids and minerals. If there are medical problems, weakness, or fatigue, I would not suggest doing this without the advice and supervision of a physician.

Many herbs can support or even create detoxification. In fact, this area is really the strength, I believe, of herbal medicine. There are hundreds of possible herbs to be used for blood cleansing and cleaning the tissues or strengthening the function of specific organs. The old term for blood cleansers is "alteratives," which is the term used in many standard herbal texts. The following are some of the more important ones.


Garlic--blood cleanser, lowers blood fats, natural antibiotic
Red clover blossoms--blood cleanser, good during convalescence and healing
Echinacea--lymph cleanser, improves lymphocyte and phagocyte actions
Dandelion root--liver and blood cleanser, diuretic, filters toxins, a tonic
Chaparral--strong blood cleanser, with possibilities for use in cancer therapy
Cayenne pepper--blood purifier, increases fluid elimination and sweat
Ginger root--stimulates circulation and sweating
Licorice root--"great detoxifier," biochemical balancer, mild laxative
Yellow dock root--skin, blood, and liver cleanser, contains vitamin C and iron
Burdock root--skin and blood cleanser, diuretic and diaphoretic, improves liver function, antibacterial and antifungal properties
Sarsaparilla root--blood and lymph cleanser, contains saponins, which reduce microbes and toxins
Prickly ash bark--good for nerves and joints, anti-infectious
Oregon grape root--skin and colon cleanser, blood purifier, liver stimulant
Parsley leaf--diuretic, flushes kidneys
Goldenseal root--blood, liver, kidney, and skin cleanser, stimulates detoxification


Blood Cleansers Laxatives Diuretics Skin Cleansers Diaphoretics
Echinacea Cascara sagrada Parsley Burdock
Red clover Buckthorn Yarrow Oregon grape
Dandelion Dandelion Cleavers Yellow dock
Burdock Yellow dock Horsetail Goldenseal
Yellow dock Rhubarb root Corn silk Boneset
Oregon grape root Senna leaf Uva ursi Elder flowers
Licorice Juniper berries Peppermint
Cayenne pepper
Ginger root
Antibiotics Anticatarrhals**
Garlic Echinacea Echinacea Hyssop
Myrrh Propolis Boneset Garlic
Prickly ash Clove Goldenseal Yarrow
Wormwood Eucalyptus Sage

*Not usually for fasting or juice cleansing, but mainly for dietary detoxification--using herbs alone may be the most productive in some detoxification programs. Consult a naturopathically oriented doctor.
**anticatarrhals help eliminate mucus


Echinacea Garlic
Goldenseal root Parsley leaf
Yellow dock root Licorice root
Cayenne pepper

Obtain powders (or ground herb), equal amounts of
(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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