(By Grace Rollins, MS, LAc) Around the New Year is when many of our patients start to talk about “detoxing” in order to get their health back on track. It seems like a natural inclination, especially if the holidays encouraged a freer intake of sugars, pastries and alcohol. However, as a practitioner I feel the use of expensive kits, concoctions and "crash cleanses" are a bit overrated.
First of all, what does "detoxing" actually mean? The liver uses enzymes to selectively decommission chemicals floating through the blood that you don’t want to have in such high amounts (like drugs, alcohol or caffeine), or you no longer need (like high levels of hormones). By breaking them down and bonding them with other molecules, the liver changes them into a form that can be excreted through the bile and out with the stool, or gets filtered out of the blood via the kidneys or sweating. This is why you are wide awake when you first have that cup of coffee, but a few hours later it "wears off"-- the caffeine molecules have been gradually disassembled by your liver and excreted.
Our daily exposure to high levels of chemicals is a rather recent phenomenon in history. Just think about the following sources our pre-20th century ancestors were never exposed to:
Therefore, our liver detox pathways have to process much more than what they originally evolved to handle, and can get backlogged, causing a build up of substances in the blood and tissues.
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