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Detoxification (Detox) or Cleansing

By Dr. L. Lee Coyne

Dr. L. Lee CoyneCellular or tissue detox or whole body cleansing have gained in popularity and acceptance over recent years. The concept is simple. Over time we allow to accumulate in our cells & tissues certain (many unknown) toxic items from the air, water and food we eat. We are talking about altered fats, cholesterol, mucus, xenobiotics (organic toxins) inorganic chemicals leading to free-radical damage, yeast infections and neurological or metabolic disorders. During the daily process of routine cellular metabolism our bodies are continuously breaking down old cells. Most of the material from this breakdown process (catabolism) is recycled; however, little by little, an accumulation of non-recycled particles can build up in the system.

When you realize that over the last 100 years we have moved from eating a 100% organic diet to a diet that may contain thousands of food additives, a water supply that can contain up to 2,000 different chemicals and a less than pure air supply, it becomes obvious that we need some “modern solutions to these modern problems”. This has been accented by a diet containing less than ½ the Calories, less than one third the fibre and certainly less than desirable levels of many essential and protective nutrients like essential fatty acids, anti-oxidants and high quality proteins.

Accumulated toxins can be responsible for many abnormal or subnormal cellular functions leading to illnesses of varying kinds. The list can include: candidas yeast infections, free radical damage leading to cancer and heart disease, attention deficit disorder (ADD), toxic liver function, depression, PMS, and fatigue.

The majority of problems begin in the digestive tract and in the liver. Liver detoxification and regeneration has received much attention as we realize the demands placed on this organ. It can be referred to as the toxic waste dump of the body and does require some time and effort to clean and regenerate. Toxins in the gastrointestinal tract (GI) can create microscopic ulcerations, pH (acid / alkaline) imbalance, bacterial imbalance, fungus accumulations, granulomas (small growths), hypersecretion of mucus, and general digestive upsets. Without adequate digestion there cannot be adequate nutrition to the cells and tissues.

 Many Alternative Health Care professionals now advise regular (twice per year) “cleansing” or “Detox” programs to prevent these illnesses or to aid in the recovery from many afflictions. If nothing else, most people who follow this advise will attest to feeling much better or having more energy. There are also many “over the counter” herbal based self help programs available in pharmacies and health food stores. Which one do you choose? To help answer the question, consider the following :

  • Clinical Support,
  • Honest Labeling and
  • Product purity.

Clinical Support: “Only about 10% of herbs in the health food stores have any scientific data to support their claims.” Varro Taylor, Ph.D., a leading expert in pharmacognosy (the study of medicinal plants).

Honest labeling: A recent independent study commissioned by the Los Angeles Times tested 10 brands of St. John’s Wort and found that 7 out of 10 had less of the key ingredient than promised on the label. Three brands delivered less than 50%.

Product Purity:  Another study, mentioned in recent articles in the New York Times, revealed that 60% of certain “pure” herbal products were so watered down with cheaper herbs that they were worthless. Independent analysis of some popular products, especially those listing costly or scarce ingredients on the label, revealed that many had little or none of the promised key ingredients.”

Is It Time To Detox?

If your response to 5 or more of the following questions would be “occasional or frequent” you may benefit from a responsible “detox” program.

Do you :

  • feel tired, lethargic or sluggish?
  • have difficulty concentrating or have slow or fuzzy thinking?
  • feel depressed or have mood swings?
  • get more than one or two colds per year?
  • get post-nasal drip, congestion or “stuffed up” in your nose or sinuses?
  • have bad breath, a coated tongue or a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth?
  • have body odour?
  • you have strong smelling urine?
  • have trouble sleeping or feel un-refreshed upon waking?
  • have sore muscles or joints?
  • have weak or brittle fingernails and/or toenails?
  • have dark circles under your eyes?
  • have digestive disturbances such as bloating, gas or indigestion?
  • have less than one bowel movement per day?
  • feel anxious or stressed out?
  • have sensitivities to odors, foods or chemicals?
  • have allergies?
  • have eczema, dry skin, acne or skin rashes?
  • gain weight easily?
  • have food cravings?
  • have pain or discomfort under your right ribcage?
  • have constipation when eating dietary fibre?
  • feel like you’re not as healthy as other people your age?


A Detox program need not be “too extreme” but it must not be so subtle that you find if virtually ineffective. It does require some planning and changes in lifestyle to obtain optimum results. The guidelines should offer a combination of “cleaner” eating , avoidance of known toxic food choices, responsible “nutritional” supplementation and responsible herbal remedies designed to support your goals. The herbal remedies would stimulate the bodies natural cleansing mechanisms, support liver regeneration and re-establish the friendly bacteria of the GI tract. Patience is required and some unpleasant symptoms may occur for a short period. These unpleasant symptoms would be a sign of the program working and have been dubbed the “healing crisis”. You may feel a little worse before you feel better but  such symptoms should not last for more than two days, followed by the feelings of relief, higher energy and great well being.


Lee Coyne, Ph.D. is a nutritional consultant, lecturer and author of Fat Won't Make You Fat and the Lean Seekers coaching program. He may be reached at 1-800-668-4042 or by e-mail

Copyright Lee Coyne, Ph.D., reprinted with permission.