During my trip in Costa Rica back in 2017, a seeming fad spread across my traveler peers of detoxing the body via fasting for 5-7 days at a time with only orange juice and coconut water. They claimed it flushed out the body while providing health enhancing nutrients. After this detoxing period, they changed their diets incorporating more raw produce grown locally.
Still, years later, detoxing the body is a rising trend in the United States and other locations. In this blog, we will discuss the topic of detoxing, what it is, why even do it, various methods, and feedback regarding detoxing. If this topic interests you, stay with us as we have quite a bit to cover.
What is Detoxing?
Detoxing is the process of purging the body of pollutants or unhealthy behaviors in order to optimize its function and wellbeing.
We've heard the phrase, "everything in moderation." Sometimes when individuals ingest, accumulate, or experience too much of anything specific, they feel the need to purge in order to recalibrate their body's natural harmony. We can accumulate toxins and free radicals in the body through our daily activities and from our environment such as impurities in our water, metals, consumed meats, pollution, and other factors. This is the purpose of detoxing. In essence, to cleanse.
Socially detoxing or from technology is said to aid in re-centering and decluttering the mind or spirit. Physical detoxes such as diets or other prescribed methods can help optimize the function of the liver and kidneys while topical detoxes claim to reduce stress, boost moods, decrease inflammation, increase immune response and more.
There are various aspects that one can detox from including social media, news channels, gossip, friend groups, certain foods, medications, free radicals or other substances accumulated and absorbed by the human body -the list goes on. Many of us often refer to detoxes either in the physical body or in taking a break from social media, both of which can enhance your wellbeing.
Some physical detoxing methods include:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Diet - Incorporating specific "clean" foods, which are often raw produce, into your regular consumption to process buildups within the gut and blood in order to cleanse the body.
Coconut Oil - Coconut oil is said to extract impurities when swishing it in the mouth like mouth wash and also yields nutritional value when ingested.
Apple Cider Vinegar - Apple Cider Vinegar similarly removes toxins from the body either by filtering it when ingested, or by pulling out toxins when incorporated into foot soaks. Ionic Baths - A foot soak which applies a positive electrical charge to ionize the water, thus extracting negatively charged toxins in the body to be extracted through the feet.
Foot Soaks - Various types and ingredients including Epsom Salts, charcoal, bentonite clay, apple cider vinegar, ginger, and other herbal ingredients purported to cleanse and purify the body. By soaking your feet in these herbal mixes, toxins in the body are extracted through the feet.
Foot Patches - Foot Patches adhere to the soles of your feet and through a gentle chemical process, extract toxins and free radicals from the body, trapping it often in the structured composition of charcoal which is often included in the herbal mixture of foot patches. Massage Therapy - Through the manipulation of soft tissue, muscle, and the release of trigger points, the toxins (including stress) that have been stored up in the body, creating knots and solidifying bodily tissue and muscle, are released and begin filtering through the body. This is why it's important to drink water in order to aid the body in filtering out this build up.
Skepticism Regarding Detoxing
Detoxing has controversial views regarding it's effectiveness and toxins within the body. As of now, there is no solid scientific research to articulate how toxins inside the body affect its functions. Nor is there solid scientific research to support the notion that foot soaks, foot patches, or other herbal baths and balms extract toxins out of the body (Macaluso, Kennedy, Leonard). There is more research to support diets as being a method of cleansing the body, a method that works in conjunction with the kidney and liver which already filter the body, versus topical detox methods which are subjective.
Due to this lack of scientific backing, physical detoxes are viewed by the medical field more as a personal preference (or rising fad) with the belief that it works strengthening its effectiveness on the body.
When Not to Detox
I cannot speak on when not to detox with environmental influences of technology or socialization. That is for each individual to decide upon and to create support systems which serve their highest good.
In regards to detoxing the physical body, it's advised not to detox when pregnant, nursing, on your monthly cycle, or for those with a compromised immune system. Some sources claim that detoxing while healing from an injury can be beneficial while others advise not to detox during this time of healing. Detoxing limits the nutrition that the body has access to and for those listed, all the nutrients are essential to either feeding more than one human being, or restoring and healing a body that is already functioning in deficit.
Ideally, we work for regular methods of detox to keep the body moving smoothly. Think of it as akin to changing your car's engine oil. If you don't, then it gums up the engine, and it can't function. Restricting our diets when we struggle to keep up with our meals is not ideal for our body functioning. Instead incorporating raw and healthy foods and more water into our diet is overall helpful to our wellbeing, but alone, doesn't give us specific detox results. As such, our family go-to methods are Epsom salt soaks and the detox foot patches, which personally help us feel refreshed, a little lighter in our body, and a little more flexible. This could very well be a simple dopamine boost, but we enjoy it nonetheless.
As for a social or technology detox -I love them. I am very analog (excluding analog clocks) and very happy to take breaks from the tragedies showcased on news channels. Unfortunately, with our business of staying connected with our wonderful clientele, we are usually plugged into technology. Occasionally, we retreat into the mountains where there is no cell service in order to reset our mental and heart spaces. We've found the importance of ensuring your own personal centering and foundation before taking on more responsibilities or another's emotional turbulence.
The effectiveness and purpose of detoxing is controversial, especially in regards to topical detoxes. Research on how herbal remedies work to remove toxins in the body, is not easily measurable. Most homeopathic methods do not have substantial scientific research to supplement personal claims. Likewise, one health or behavioral regime does not agree with all individuals. The same goes for detoxing methods. It is highly dependent on personal experiences and as a case by case basis.
The common consensus seems to be that most detox methods are soothing to the body, which may largely have to do with the individual's perspective before starting a detox. If you believe it's for your wellbeing, often your body responds accordingly.
If you're considering a detox, weigh the information presented here when deciding which method to try out. If you have any health dispositions, always confer with your doctor first.
Axe, J. (2021, December, 25). DIY Detox Foot Bath with Epsom Salts & Apple Cider Vinegar [blog post]. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/beauty/diy-detox-foot-bath/
Homedics (2024). Foot Detox: What Does It Do & How Does It Work? [blog post]. Retrieved from https://blog.homedics.com/at-home-massagers/foot-detox-what-does-it-do-how-does-it-work/#:~:text=You%20can%20make%20a%20DIY,off%20to%20exfoliate%20your%20feet
Kennedy, D., Cooley, K., Einarson, T., Seely, D. (2011, November 29). Objective Assessment of an Ionic Footbath (IonCleanse): Testing Its Ability to Remove Potentially Toxic Elements from the Body. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/258968
Leonard, J. (2023, October 19). Does a foot detox work? What the research says [blog post]. Retrieved from https://medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323116#:~:text=Share%20on%20Pinterest%20Research%20has,toxic%20elements%20from%20the%20body
Macaluso, B. A. (2018, December 18). Don’t Waste Your $$$ on a “Foot Detox,” Says This Podiatrist [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.wellandgood.com/foot-detox/
Wiechmann, N. (2021, May 15). IONIC FOOT BATH: WHAT IS IT AND HOW DOES IT WORK? [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.pcsfchiropractic.com/2021/05/15/ionic-foot-detox-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work/#:~:text=An%20ionic%20foot%20bath%20combines,in%20the%20bath%20changes%20color
Allen, J., Montalto, M., Lovejoy, J., & Weber, W. (2011). Detoxification in naturopathic medicine: a survey. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 17(12), 1175–1180. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2010.0572
Link, R. (2023, June 8). Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Weight Loss & Skin Health [blog post]. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/nutrition/apple-cider-vinegar-benefits/