The subject of detoxing always gets people feeling a little hot under the collar. The body detoxes naturally through the skin, liver and kidneys, so why bother to do it, either at home or on a detoxing retreat? Caroline Sylger Jones reports
We consume toxins in the air we breathe, through the pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and preservatives in the food we eat, and through the chemicals in the cleaning products and toiletries we use. Though we detox naturally, over time an excessive build up of them can lead to excess weight, stressed skin, exhaustion, digestive disorders and a whole great heap of negative energy.
In my experience, and in that of many others I’ve met, detoxing can help you lose weight, reduce stress, clear up skin and digestive problems and massively boost energy levels. More interestingly, the process can help you to let go of (possibly years) of accumulated stress and negative mental patterns. As your physical body releases toxins, so all the negative energy that you’ve stored up on an emotional and mental level also starts to release. A messy process, but when you’ve finished, it (usually) leaves you feeling rather good. You don’t need to buy expensive products to detox, you just need to give your body a break.
Detoxing at home
If your time and budget is limited, you can detox at home – just one day without any caffeine, alcohol, wheat, red meat and (preferably) other animal proteins will give your system a much-needed rest, though the ideal time is three days to a week. Take time off work if you can, to slow down and monitor the process, and get hold of a good recipe book with juices and light, cleansing meals. Celia Brooks Brown’s Low-Carb Vegetarian (Pavilion) has easy-to-follow and tasty recipes, or for more guidance on detoxing foods including daily menu plans try Margo Marrone’s The Organic Pharmacy (Duncan Baird Publishers).
You could brush your skin each morning with a body brush, which will stimulate your lymphatic system to release toxins, consider investing in a tongue scraper, or just use your toothbrush, and have regular warm baths with Epsom salts (available from health shops and some supermarkets) to help you relax. Drink lots of warm water, and take it easy – watch films, read a book, paint a picture, stare into space, whatever works for you.
Invest in some organic toiletries, and think of little ways you can detox your home. You could swap your disposable dishcloths and sponges for a washable microfibre cloth that cleans without detergents, and throw away your non-stick pans for stainless steel, enamel or cast iron ones instead. Though there’s no conclusive evidence, experts have warned against the potentially cancer-causing chemicals that they release. This is a good time too to detox your wardrobe.
Detoxing on a healthy holiday
If you’ve some real head-clearing to do, you can’t really beat going on a retreat such as the juice fast I did with Jiva Healing. The best offer supervised, dedicated programmes of fasting with organic juices, supplements such as betonite clay and psyllium husk. These should be combined with gentle exercise and supportive spa treatments, and can often include (optional) colonic irrigation. The ideal time is a week to 10 days, or in the case of ayurveda retreat, at least two weeks. It’s a good idea to give up toxins such as caffeine, alcohol, wheat and red at least a week before you start, to give yourself the best chance of an effective detox without too many physical shocks.
What to expect from a detox
Wherever you choose to detox, don’t undertake this challenging process lightly, for you’re likely to experience a real low in energy and state of mind before you start to rise. Though detoxing can be more fun with a trusted friend, the process can make you mighty grumpy, so if you’ve stuff to sort out, it’s best to go it alone. Once back in the swing of things, try to sustain good eating habits. Overindulging too soon will put you very quickly back into the fug-like state in which you started, and an unexpected benefit of detoxing is rediscovering the pleasure of eating when you’re really hungry.