True Detox: From Trendy Myth to Physiology, How to Truly Support Renewal A Medical Herbalist’s Perspective

By Tami Bronstein

“After all of this, I am going to need some serious detox.”

Sound familiar? Detoxification is decidedly amongst the most popular trends of recent years. There is a deep history of varied methods for ‘purification’ on physical, mental/emotional and spiritual levels, which can be overwhelmingly daunting for seekers of cleansing the body and mind.

“How do I get started?” First, we must understand precisely how the body functions, and what “detoxification” truly means.

detoxWe can then take an approach that actually works with the body’s healthy physiology. That is, “general detox” may miss the mark after an unpleasant, inconvenient and complicated process. Enduring ‘suffering’ is not necessary to optimizing our energy and vitality. In fact, it places more strain upon the body’s natural processes.

Secondly, we must clarify our imbalances and goals. We must ask ourselves: “Could my imbalances require more than a simple ‘detox’?”

Ideally, tailoring the process to our own medical history, lifestyle demands, and nuances of current imbalances supports effective, longer lasting results. There are certainly foods and plant medicines to hasten the movement of waste through the body’s channels of elimination, when selected with these factors in mind.

Embarking on a “One Size Fits All” detoxification program may seem beneficial in the short term, but like a custom-crafted gown or suit, there is much to be said for the long-term benefits of exclusive designs and quality materials – not all plant preparations are created equal or appropriate for us. In this sense, seeking professional counsel is one’s best approach to defining goals, understanding related key medical considerations, and ensuring safety with efficacy.

Timing is Everything. The body does not ‘purify’ its tissues or reset its hormonal functions simply because we force a complex routine upon it for three to 14 days. Every organ system has its own timing of cellular life cycles. Radical programs don’t alter these normal timelines. In fact, some programs stress the body with enough to create imbalance as it struggles for equilibrium to function around it. For instance, liver cells regenerate through a three week cycle. That is, if you were to donate half of your liver, in approximately three weeks, the size/mass of the organ would grow back. The new growth becomes fully functional in variable time later.

Detoxification can be effective without the “healing crisis” of headaches, nausea, low energy, lack of mental concentration, lightheadedness, diarrhea, or distracting sense of hunger.

Why suffer? “Healing crisis” doesn’t make the liver cells fully renew themselves in three to 14 days, just because that is the timeframe we dedicate. Forcing excessive bowel elimination for days or weeks not only depletes the body of nutrients and vital energy, it dehydrates and causes opposite rebound effects after the diet.

Most of the trendy programs have followers singing their praises of “feeling great” after getting through a number of decidedly crummy days. The truth is – even without complicated routines or handfuls of nauseating capsules – the favorable reports are primarily a result from:
detox· A daily predominance of vegetables and fruits.
· Cutting: Processed foods, artificial additives, flavor enhancers, preservatives, sodas, added sugars, meats, dairy, shellfish, fried foods, pesticide/herbicide-laden and genetically modified foods.
· Increased water intake. Adequate hydration can have immediate results upon improved elimination, metabolism, and cognitive [mental] clarity.

Radical programs help some people break behavioral habits through a dramatic shift in routine, but fall short of exacting deep physiological detoxification for long-lasting effect.

“I made it through the cleanse, so why am I not feeling better?” One must get to the cause of the imbalance, which may not be just a simple build up of toxins. Just as fingerprints are unique to each of us, so is our personal medical history. Our physical care should be precisely tailored to functions that are not up to par, and true detoxification occurs when we incorporate reasonable, sustainable changes over longer periods of time. There is little physiological benefit or rationale to an intense period of ‘suffering for purification’ – it merely provides a break in behavioral habits. True detox at a physiological level happens when it is in sync with the body’s actual cellular life cycles and factoring in one’s own medical history with functional goals.

[N.B.]: Those with issues such as IBS, Colitis, Autoimmune, and Metabolic Disorders, Thyroid Disease, on prescription medications, compromised immune systems and other hormonal pathologies should not take part in radical detoxification programs without supervision.

detoxTami Bronstein, BSc Phyt, MNIMH, AHG, is a Medical Herbalist via University of Wales (England, U.K.), with Post-graduate work alongside Medical Doctors of France. Her advanced training focuses upon the NeuroEndocrine [central nervous + hormonal systems’] regulation of vitality, imbalance and disease progression. Ms. Bronstein hand-compounds custom herbal medicines from her Apothecary in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey, and can be reached at 908.432.2990 or via