There is so much discussion lately about detox and I want to clarify what I mean when I use the word detox.

It seems like everyone is trying to ‘detox’ these days. It’s all over the glossy magazines and top of mind for every celebrity, but does anyone really know what detox means and why people actually NEED to detox instead of just doing it for trendy reasons? It’s interesting to see so many people trying juicing fasts or cleanses and yet when I ask them why they are doing them – they have no idea nor do they understand what a detox really is.

This made me a bit upset since detoxing is a way of life for me and without it I would have died. I didn’t do any juice fasts – I never did a cleanse-in-a-box or anything of that sort. Instead, I worked with my Integrative M.D. who pointed me towards clearing out my body and the toxic buildup my body accumulated the last 30 years.

Do you know what detoxing is all about?

Detox is about supporting your liver because simply put – your liver is in charge of clearing toxins out of your body. Think of your liver as your engine that cleans out your blood and toxins like a filtration system. It has enzyme systems within it with active cells. These cells have enzymes inside of them that require amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, nutrients and proteins to actively take the toxins from your body and disarm them, which is why we need to eat healthy foods especially leafy greens – which converts them into something not harmful and helps the toxins get excreted.  So, that’s why it’s so important to eat your vegetables because it’s not just something that people say to do – it actually does help to keep you healthy by cleansing your body and your blood. Your liver has to deal with clearing out toxins everyday; toxins from foods, toxins from your environment, etc. How do you know if you are toxic? It’s a combination of how much exposure you have had and how well your liver is nourished and able to handle your exposure to these toxins. If you have had a lot of exposure and you are not eating a healthy diet then the toxins will build up in your body and make you sick. However, if you are eating lots of organic greens and your liver is keeping up with toxin removal then it is likely these toxins will not make you sick.

There are many toxins that affect our immune system.

The biggest is mercury- and the biggest source of mercury is in fish and seafood. Edf is a great website to learn what fish are high in mercury. There have been numerous studies about how mercury triggers autoimmunity in our immune cells and the connection between autoimmune diseases such as thyroid, MS, lupus and a whole range of other autoimmune diseases. This coupled along with other heavy metals and toxins that are found in our environment-  is what makes us sick and is why it’s so important for those of us who are exposed to detox. Silver fillings that many of us have in our mouth from cavities are also a source of mercury in our bodies. I had mine removed when I learned about my mercury toxicity and before I started my chelation therapy back in 2010. We know there is a lot more mercury in our environment than there was 50 years ago. Some people have more exposure to mercury and other toxins than other people and some of us (myself included) are genetically handicap in our ability to clear mercury and these other toxins that we come into contact with whether they be through cleaning supplies, makeup, food, pollution, etc. There is a test you can do with your Integrative doctor to test your detox genetics through a lab called Genova and it deals with your Glutathione System (an enzyme system that’s important in the liver for clearing mercury and heavy metals). My mercury was off the charts when I had it tested, I had mercury fillings and I was eating seafood- a double whammy. When it comes to the foundational causes of why we are sick, we have to look at toxins because in many cases all you need to do is help your liver do a better job at removing these toxins from your body. Mercury goes into your cells and makes them sick and misguided in their activity in the body. This is what happened to me.

When I speak about Detox- I am referring to working with an Integrative M.D. on metabolic detoxification and finding supplements and food that will clear out your toxins and start your liver ‘motor’ to get your filter going. People feel better and they get better- even people without autoimmune disease get better all the time from their nagging symptoms such as brain fog, insomnia, weight gain (our bodies hold onto fat because fat protects our bodies from toxins), acne, bloating, sugar cravings and fatigue. So, Detox is very helpful and Integrative M.D. doctors can help you heal your liver and Detox unlike Western medicine doctors. Processed food, pesticides, chemicals in beauty products and cleaning supplies, stress, gut (bacteria, parasites, yeast) and environmental toxins are the main issues that need to be Detoxed from your life.

I suggest finding an Integrative Medicine M.D. to run autoimmune screening tests (ANA) and a full thyroid panel (Western medicine doctors will only test your TSH and T4) and Western medicine can show normal results but you could have huge autoimmune problems with your thyroid or another organ that gets worse and Western medicine doctors do not see these issues through their narrow scope of testing, nor do they test for them. Crazy, right? I thought so, too after spending countless hours and dollars in every hospital in Manhattan as well as The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

What are the markers for illness and a need for Detox? Anything such as allergies, asthma and getting sick a lot are all markers that you should be aware of and may be signs that you need to heal and strengthen your immune system. Your immune system can get sick and simply not work right- causing other problems or autoimmune diseases. Joint pain, muscle pain, puffiness, weight gain, fatigue, etc. are many symptoms that Western medicine doctors hear from their patients; and they respond by telling each patient they’re fine and nothing is wrong according to their testing. This is their narrow approach to blood work and their ongoing quest to push drugs onto patients instead of figuring out why they are not feeling well and why they have these symptoms. Getting to the root of the issue is what Integrative medicine does and these issues are not easily diagnosed because Western medicine doctors don’t diagnose via symptoms- they are diagnosed via a lab. Basic autoimmune screening tests should be run when no one can figure out why you are not feeling well and do me a favor, please. Do not take ‘There is nothing wrong with you’ as an answer from a doctor when you are NOT feeling well.” That is NOT true. There very well may be something wrong with you IF you are not feeling well. Don’t give up and find an Integrative M.D. that will take the time to work with you and get to the root of your health issues and pain.

My first piece of advice if you are not feeling well is to start with your food. Check out my page on the Elimination Diet. Work with your diet, work with your food. Try removing gluten, dairy, corn and soy for 3 weeks and you will notice you’ll feel better. It won’t be everything but it will be a start. You can then try to re-introduce each food one at a time to see which of those foods are triggers. This elimination experiment deals with 2 steps: removing the foods then reintroducing 1 food every 4 days to see if food causes pain or side effects. You’ll see what each food is doing to your body as you reintroduce it. Then, you can work with your Integrative M.D. to fix your gut and look for the toxins in your body. Food is always the first place to start. It’s the most important piece to the puzzle to see what is triggering pain and inflammation.

Symptoms and Signs I Experienced From Toxins:

  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Feeling puffy
  • Brain fog
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Tingling in my feet

Here are a few simple steps that I took to maximize my body’s ability to remove waste and detox:

  • I do regular (low stress) exercise: Sweating releases your body’s toxins. I take walks outside for the fresh air and Vitamin D.
  • I use Infra-Red Saunas: These saunas make you release from the inside out- unlike regular saunas, so these saunas will draw out your toxins.
  • I take magnesium baths: Twice a week, I soak in a bath filled with Epsom salts, Aura Cacia Organic Lavender Essential Oil, Organic Baking Soda, Apple Cider Vinegar which all help to draw out the toxins, lower stress-related hormones and balance your pH levels.
  • I alternate your shower between cold and hot temperatures, which increases circulation and flushes the lymphatic system.
  • I drink purified water with organic lemon. I drink tons of purified water every day filled with organic cilantro, organic lemon and chlorella to stimulate digestion and help flush toxins. Chlorella contains high levels of proteins, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber; cilantro has been proven as a chelator of metals and an antioxidant that boosts glutathione levels.
  • I avoided and continue to avoid the following toxins: dry cleaning solvents, gasoline, auto fumes, tobacco smoke, resins, paint, glue, stain remover, PCB’s , pesticides, BPA plastic and contaminated water.
  • I avoid plastic bottles and containers with the numbers 3,6 and 7 on them which is believed to leach plastic into any foods or beverages they hold.
  • I drink fresh, organic green juice as much as possible. Check out my Fresh Juices Page for more info.
  • I had my mercury fillings removed through a special Integrative M.D. so the mercury was not drawn to my brain or organs.
  • I detoxed my beauty products. Check out my Beauty Detox Page for more information.
  • I detoxed my cleaning supplies. Check out my Natural Cleaners Page for more information.
  • I eat fresh, organic ‘Clean Foods’. Check out my Clean Eating Page for more information.
  • I replace simple sugars and carbohydrates with whole grains, complex carbohydrates and fresh organic fruit. Check out my How To Detox Your Pantry Page for more information.
  • I follow an Anti-Inflammatory diet. Check out my Anti-Inflammatory Diet Grocery Guide for more information.
  • I eat and drink fresh organic turmeric: It’s delicious in everything from tea to salads. If you cannot find fresh turmeric, purchase Simply Organic Turmeric that is found in Whole Foods Market and health food stores.
  • I identified food allergies through The Elimination Diet and avoid eating those foods that cause inflammation in my body.
  • I eat gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and sugar-free.
  • I drink tea bags that do NOT contain epichlorohydrin, which is found in many tea bags and becomes toxic to our bodies when water is added. Organic India and Bigelow Tea brands both do not contain epichlorohydrin.
  • Through the ALCAT testing, I learned that I have an intolerance to egg yolks, therefore I use egg substitutes in many recipes. Check out my Egg-Free Substitutes for more information.
  • I cannot often digest grains due to my Leaky Gut. Check out my Grain-Free & Paleo How To for more information.
  • Check out my Getting Started Page for more information.

It is essential to work with a nutritionist and an Integrative M.D. because I am sharing general information that is not intended to be medical advice. This information is only given for informational purposes. participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.

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  1. Amir Valpone,
    Thank you for this great informational article. I am just beginning a journey to detox my lymphatic system naturally since Dr only want to give me pills for the symptoms (joint pain and swelling). All new to me but it is worth a try. When going dairy free can you still incorporate lactose free products? All I’d this seems a little overwhelming but I beley it will be worth it.
    Thank you again for the great information.

    1. Hi Angela! Thanks for reaching out. Yes, you can use dairy alternatives that don’t contain lactose; just listen to what your body is telling you when you’re eating foods to see what works for you. Happy New Year! Xx