With the amount of hype surrounding detoxification, you’d think detoxing was a new fad. Not so. For centuries, herbalists have been detoxifying their patients, it just wasn’t called detoxification. Herbs including calendula, nettles, clivers and burdock, known as ‘blood purifiers’, improve the performance of our bodies true detoxifiers – the organs of elimination (also known as emunctories) – comprise the liver, bowel, kidneys, skin and lymphatic system.
Organs of Elimination
These organs work together in an intricate biochemical ballet, processing, sorting, and eliminating an array of toxins. Toxins arise from the environment such as lead, pesticides and plastics. Toxins are also produced in our day to day metabolism of hormones, proteins and biochemical processes. In general, our bodies are well adapted to perform detoxification, however, there’s no harm in giving a helping hand.
The liver is the heavy lifter in detoxifying. There are 3 phases of liver detoxification. Phase 1 converts toxins, most of which are fat soluble, into a water-soluble state. Phase 2 stabilises these intermediary compounds in order to be less toxic, and finally Phase 3 sends them on their way to be eliminated from the body via faeces, urine and sweat.
Sulforaphane, a compound found in the Brassica family (broccoli, broccolini, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, cress, cauliflower) helps in both Phase 1 and 2 of liver detoxification. Go eat.
These two unsung heroes of detoxification work their tiny tubules hard to filter over 150 litres of blood daily, excreting toxins from the body into the urine.
Drink plenty of fluids daily to help the kidneys filter toxins and perform at their best. At least 2 litres of fluid daily, in the form of water, tea and herbal tea. Glow Tea is the perfect detoxifying brew, and a great way to increase your fluids.
The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system, a network of fine vessels, silently collects toxins from the tissues and organs and empties into the general circulation. The lymphatic system also ferries immune cells and fats around the body.
Unlike the arteries which has the heart as a pump, lymph vessels rely on nearby muscles to move lymph fluid. Under the diaphragm (our breathing muscle) lies a large lymph reservoir. Diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful way to improve lymphatic drainage.
The largest organ of all, our skin, a barrier between the outside world and within, is also an effective route for eliminating toxins.
Ramp up detoxification by sweating it out. In addition to exercise, using infrared or traditional saunas supports detoxification.
Image: Gary Chan