How To Detoxify Yourself and Why You Absolutely Must

You cannot achieve optimum health without a regular detox program. Everyone has various chemicals, pesticides and heavy metals in their bodies, and over time they degrade our health and prematurely age us. Read and watch what to do about it.

Methods of detoxification

WE LIVE in a toxic world, and I’m not referring to the stuff spewed by politicians. What I am referring to are the chemicals, pesticides and heavy metals that are in our air, water (right Flint, Michigan?), food, teeth and many of the products we use.

If these toxins where hot to the touch like fire, we’d be on fire to do something about them.  But rather than burn us quickly, the toxins in us burn slowly.  Suddenly, you’re middle aged and wondering where that cancer or some other chronic illness came from.

You can not be healthy without making sure that your toxic load — and we all have it — is not so burdensome to your health that it degrades it.  So, listen up and read on…

In this article, you'll discover:

  • Precisely which toxins are messing with your health
  • How they harm us
  • Examples from Flint, Michigan and Joe Garma (me)
  • How to detoxify yourself

 

Toxins — Here, There, Everywhere

Throughout our day-to-day lives we get exposed to toxins in many forms. These chemicals and heavy metals accumulate in our blood, urine, and tissues and will become a toxic burden to the human body if it cannot properly excrete them.

Even activities deemed healthy can make you toxic load:

  • Do you eat canned tuna? It’s likely that it contains mercury, a heavy metal that can cause a wide variety of have carcinogenic, nervous system and circulatory damage.
  • Drink lots of plastic bottled water? It’s likely that you’re absorbing various potentially carcinogen philates.
  • How about gardening; is that something that you enjoy? If you use weed killing chemicals, pesticides or artificial fertilizers, you may become sick with some type of chronic disease.

Although there are too many toxins to list, we can at least identify some of the most damaging:

Heavy Metals are any relatively dense metal or metalloid (a chemical element made of metal and nonmetals) that is noted for its potential toxicity. Mercury, Lead, Cadmium and Arsenic have been shown to lower IQ in effected individuals, cause developmental delays, and contribute to behavioral disorders and even cancer. Canned tuna and mercury dental fillings can contribute to mercury poisoning. Arsenic treated timber used in construction or contaminated drinking water can cause arsenic contamination. Cadmium poisoning could result from pigments in cookware. Lead poisoning can occur from water that passes through lead pipes, children’s toys and exposure to paint and gasoline that still contain it.

Parabens are synthetic chemicals, which are commonly used as preservatives in processed foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Long-term exposure has been implicated in breast cancer and can potentially be damaging to the male hormonal and reproductive systems.

Perfluorochemicals are used in non-stick cookware, fast food containers, and stain resistant or slipper fabrics. These chemicals have been shown to be carcinogenic.

Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals called “plasticizers” used to produce plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They’re found in children’s toys, food packaging, garden hoses, vinyl flooring, shower curtains, shampoo and hair spray. Like that new car smell? It’s the odor of phthalates off gassing from the plastic dashboard.

Bisphenol A and S (“BPA,” “BPS”) are endocrine disruptors; BPA being the more prevalent of these estrogen-mimicking chemicals, given its widespread use in plastic containers and as a liner in aluminum cans. BPA will leach into your food and drink and cause hormonal disruptions. If you heat up food in a microwave in plastic containers, BPA will become infused in the food. Breast and postrate cancers have been implicated due to exposure to this damaging chemical.

Polybrominated biphenyl ethers are flame-retardant chemicals present in furniture, mattresses, electronics and many other products.

You don’t have to be working in a coal mine or pesticide plant to absorb enough toxins to get sick. Sometimes, just working on a farm will suffice. In his e-book, Cleanse, Dr. Gaetano Morello recounts the strange and unusual occurrence of various illness to his wife and her family: (1)

My wife comes from a great farming community with families who have lived in the area for generations. They farm over 5,000 acres of land where they grow barley, lentils, wheat, and durum and use thousands of pounds of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers yearly.

The consequences of such practices [are] sad, to say the least: my wife’s father died of bladder cancer at the age of 42, her mother has fibromyalgia, her sister has asthma, and her brother, who is only 27, has rheumatoid arthritis. My wife has been able to control her autoimmune condition since she moved away from the farm more than 13 years ago.

Those chemicals Dr. Morello mentions are commonly used by farmers throughout the world. They, and various other substances such as heavy metals, parabens, perfluorochemicals, phatalets, bisphenols and polybrominated biphenyl ethers are encountered by nearly every human being on a daily basis.

You need not live on a farm to get overloaded with toxins. The average U.S. household generates more than 20 pounds of household hazardous waste per year, and as much as 100 pounds accumulates in the home. These hazardous materials include paint, paint thinners, air fresheners, carpet deodorizers, mothballs, oven cleaners, drain-opener chemicals, pesticides, among many other products. The chemicals in these products are not only hazardous to the environment, but to us. (2)

For instance, household carpets emit more than 200 volatile chemicals that get absorbed into our bodies. Some of these chemicals include formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, acetaldehyde, xylene, phenol, benzaldehyde, chlorobenzenes, styrene, and many more. Styrene alone has been shown to produce neurotoxicity and respiratory illnesses, including asthma, while formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. (3)

According to Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, authors of Slow Death by Rubber Duck, the Environmental Working Group found 553 different industrial chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in 149 Americans they tested in 27 different states. (4)

In its Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) reported that the people they studied had, on average, 212 chemicals in the blood or urine, 75 having never before been measured in the U.S. Population, including: (5)

  • Acrylamide — formed when foods are baked or fried at high temperatures, and as a byproduct of cigarette smoke.
  • Arsenic — found in many home-building products.
  • Environmental phenols — including bisphenol A (found in plastics, food packaging and epoxy resins) and triclosan (used as an antibacterial agent in personal care products such as toothpaste and hand soap).
  • Perchlorate — used in airplane fuel, explosives, and fireworks.
  • Perfluorinated chemicals — used to create non-stick cookware.
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers — used in fire retardants found in consumer products such as mattresses.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — found in paints, air fresheners, cleaning products, cosmetics, upholstery fabrics, carpets, dry-cleaned clothing, wood preservatives, and paint strippers.

By now either your eyes have glazed over or your squirming in your chair. Undoubtedly in Flint, Michigan, there’s a whole lot of squirming going on these days, because they are experiencing first-hand what might just be simply a conceptual construct to you.

 

The Lead In Flint

If you haven’t heard, there’s a crisis going on in the city of Flint, Michigan. For some strange reason, the people who live there like to drink water, and many got sick doing so.

Prior to April 2014, households in Flint got their water from Lake Huron and the Detroit River after it was treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Suddenly, the source of the water became the Flint River, and it was not treated to remove naturally occurring corrosive compounds. Soon, the corrosive Flint River water leached the lead from the old water pipes causing extremely high levels of this heavy metal into the waters supply. Children are particularly vulnerable to lead, and as many of 12,000 of them have been exposed and may experience a range of serious health problems. (6)

If you lived in Flint and were exposed to all that lead in the water, what would you do?

This question is relevant to you, even if you don’t reside in Flint, because wherever you live in the industrialized world, you’re exposed to toxins and have them in your body, as I think we’ve already established pretty convincingly.

Given that, I have some suggestions pertinent to you.  Do three basic things:

  1. Stop your exposure to the toxin;
  2. Mobilize the toxins to prepare them to be excreted; and
  3. Strengthen the capacity of your body’s detoxification systems excrete the toxins from your body.

For the people of Flint, the first thing to do would be to drink purified water, and not from plastic water bottles, least they want to replace lead with BPA, the endocrine disrupting, estrogen-mimicking, cancer-activating (potentially) chemical, as described above.

The second and third things to do are a bit more complicated.

 

Detoxification Pathways

Detoxification is a story about mobilization and excretion.  For detoxification to occur, you must mobilize toxins (pry them from fat and organs), and excrete them (make sure they get expelled from your body, not recirculated).

Let’s begin with a picture:

Detoxification Pathways

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 2.25.16 PM

 

What you see in the above is a drawing of a liver, and a list of fat-soluble and water-soluble toxins and waste products.  There are several “organs of elimination” as they’re sometimes referred to, such as the kidneys, gall bladder, skin and colon, but the super detoxifying organs is the liver.

The liver does a lot of things; when it comes to detoxification, it turns bad boy fat-soluble toxins into frat boy water-soluble waste products, which then can be eliminated from the body via to routes: (1) The gall bladder, bile, stool route; and (2) The kidney, urine route.

How the liver does this is complicated, as the next picture shows:

Phase I and II Liver Detoxification

Mechanisms of liver detoxification

 

If you like to scratch your head and ponder things, you can wonder about what those “Cytochrome P450 Enzymes” and “Conjugation Pathways” are and what they do.  Once your scalp begins to bleed, stop scratching and note those two “Nutrients Needed” boxes. You need certain nutrients to detox, which we’ll touch on more in a few moments.

 

My Detox Story

This could be rather lengthy, but I’m going to spare you and give you the note card summary of my detox story.  It’s not going to some historical narrative, which is tempting given that I did my first of many detox cleanses more than 30 years ago.  In fact, let’s boil it down to some bullet points:

  • I cracked two molars whereby bits of teeth were spit out.
  • Those molars, among other teeth, are filled with amalgam fillings, which are primarily made of mercury and silver…
  • Which means that my mercury heavy metal load has increased.
  • However given all my supplementation and the strength of my detoxification pathways, my liver is fine.
  • But my kidneys need some support…
  • Which has lead me to increase my kidney detox nutrients, and they have…
  • Caused some skin rashes to break out as the toxins circulate and the skin seeks to eliminate them.
  • So I’m doing more detox baths and using a loofa for dry and wet skin brushings and the skin is healing

Now, the only way I know some of what I just asserted is because I took one of the most extensive mercury tests on the planet, called the Quicksilver Mercury Tri-Test.  It measures the different types of mercury you may have in your body, how much of it, and how well you’re excreting it.

Each of the following is very important to know:

Knowing what type of mercury is in you gives up the source, and thus you can stop the exposure. The mercury in fish, for instance, is a different kind than what gets emitted from a coal-fired plant.

Knowing how much of it is in you gives you the “load” — what your body has to deal with.  Depending on your health and the strength of your detoxification pathways, your load can be a burden or safely excreted per those pictures above.

Knowing how well your body is excreting the toxins tells you which organs and pathways are performing, and if the load is becoming a burden through toxin accumulation.

I did a Skype interview with one of the experts at Quicksilver that reviews the basics on toxicity, particularly mercury, and then gets into their Tri-Test and my results. Now that I’ve thought to share the videos with you, it occurs to me that this is no longer a “note card summary”; at least not to those of who who watch the videos. The interview comes in two parts:

 

Click to see topics covered in the video.

1:50 Introduction to Quicksilver Scientific, its Founder, Dr. Shade and organic and inorganic mercury. 2:50 How the two forms of mercury act in the body.

3:08 The Quicksilver Mercury Tri-Test, a novel approach using blood, hair and urine.

3:50 Mercury load vs mercury toxicity.

5:50 The body’s detoxification pathways.

6:55 Mercury’s disruption of hormones and immune function.

8:25 Joe’s health issues that lead him to surmising that he had mercury toxicity.

12:37 Mercury and other heavy metals accelerate aging via the reduction of various hormone, such as testosterone, and important antioxidants, such as glutathione.

13:50 How Quicksilver’s Tri-test is different than common mercury/heavy metal tests, and a detailed description of the Quicksilver Detox Cube, containing a protocol and four supplement products.

17:38 What the Nrf2 System is, and how it gets shut-off and thereby compromised detox pathways, making detoxification difficult.

19:05 The complexity in determining causation vs correlation (and amplification) between mercury/heavy metal toxicity and autoimmune disorders.

19:37 The difference between the Detox Cube and the Pre-Tox Box.

20:37 The average time it takes to do a mercury/heavy metal detox.

 

 

Click to see topics covered in the video.

00:46 Quick overview of the Tri-Test results emailed to those who take it.

1:21 Chris begins explaining the test components relative to methylmercury (fish), and how my results compare to average test-takers.

3:56 Inorganic mercury (dental amalgams, vaccinations), which can stay in the body and continue its damage long after the source is extracted.

6:59 Detox protocols using chelation should not be done if you still have dental amalgams in your mouth.

7:30 The Huggins Protocol and Biological dentistry.

9:00 Total mercury levels and Joe’s total load. Most test only test for total mercury. We need to know both the levels of methylmercury and inorganic mercury in order to take the right specific course of action.

11:00 Comparing the mercury levels in blood, hair and urine, Quicksilver can understand a person’s ability to excrete mercury vs accumulating it.

11:29 Urine graph shows inorganic level in blood and what’s being excreted via urine. Shows Joe is not sufficiently moving inorganic mercury out with urine, probably due to the amount of dental amalgam mercury exposure. He’s accumulating more than he’s excreting.

14:11 Joe can boost his kidney detoxification capabilities with Quicksilver’s Pre-Tox Box.

15:19 Typically, people with mercury issues stemming from dental amalgams or vaccines should begin with the Pre-Tox Box to build up the kidneys before going on to the Detox Protocol Kit.

16:04 Hair test results looks at methyl mercury and how its excreted from hair. Joe’s methyl mercury level was modest, and he’s not accumulating it, and liver and glutathione system is working well.

18:00 Chris’ suggested mercury excretion protocol for Joe. 20:13 Brief description of Quicksilver’s Blood Metals Panel that shows other heavy metals beyond mercury and if there are sufficient nutrients in one’s body.

Your Detox Program

I have to tread lightly here, because detoxing can make you ill. Getting skin rashes like I got is rather minor; you can also get headaches or get truly sick if you, for instance, release toxins from body fat that then circulate in the blood, but are not excreted because your detoxification pathways are insufficiently capable to do the job.

So, here’s my Disclaimer:

* Any detoxification program can make you sick, so get a green light from your doctor. *

Three Rules: Go slow, be consistent, drink pure water.

Detox Components: Detoxifying foods and drink; supplements; detox bath.

Test: If you’re unsure if it’s worth doing, get tested. The worst heavy metal that most of us have in us that causes health issues is mercury.  The best test for mercury is by Quicksilver: Mercury Tri-Test.

Detoxifying Foods

These are mostly an assortment of fruits and vegetables, because they are easy to digest and are alkalizing. Eat plenty of garlic, onion, broccoli, kale, watercress, chard, cilantro and chlorella.  Check out my article on the so-called Chinese Cleanse: It’s Detox Time, where you’ll see a list of foods and herbs for a detoxifying tea.

Here’s an example of detox-supportive breakfast:

 

Here’s an example of a detox-supportive dinner:

 

Detoxifying Drinks

There are three primary detoxifying drinks for you to consider:

  1. Pure water, as much and as often as you can tolerate.  (Overachievers: “within reason”.)
  2. Herbal teas consisting of Chamomile, Licorice, Marshmallow Root, Fennel, Holy Basil, Dandelion, Milk Thistle and Ginger, such as 21 Day Detox Tea.
  3. Psyllium/Charcoal drink, which is make up of 8-plus ounces of pure water, juice from one lemon, one tablespoon of psyllium husk powder and one tablespoon of coconut activated charcoal powder.

Note: Don’t drink #3 right before or after you ingest anything else, least you want it to be “grabbed” and passed from your body forthwith.

Detoxifying Supplements

The best “kit” I know of is Quicksilver’s Mercury Detox Protocol Kit.

If that’s too much for you, look for a highly rated liposomal glutathione supplement and a good basic vitamin/mineral, such as MegaFood One Daily or New Chapter Only One.

If you know you’re sick from heavy metal toxicity, need a potentially quick fix and can get a pass from your doctor, try Dr. Yu’s heavy metal detox program.  You’ll need a sauna, rebounder and niacin. I also recommend the supplements and drinks mentioned above.

If you think that you have no toxicity issues, but just want to play around with detoxing, maybe lose a few pounds and feel better, try Nature’s Secret 5-Day Fast and Cleanse Kit.

Detox Bath

The purpose of a “detox bath” is to help get rid of toxins via the skin, our largest organ. It consists of hot water, baking soda, ginger root powder, a loofa, niacin and a large glass of water infused with trace minerals.  Here’s the recipe and process that I’ll copy over from my article, Your Detox Cleanse In 5 Simple Steps:

  • Fill up a tub with hot water.
  • If you have a window in the bathroom, crack it a bit.
  • Pour 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of sea salt and 1 heaping tablespoon of ginger powder* into the tub.
  • Fetch a big glass of purified water (over 8 oz) and mix in Trace Minerals if you have them (if not, no worries).
  • Grab your loofah (skin brush sponge-thingie).
  • Take between 250 and 500 milligrams of regular Niacin** and wait for the flush.***
  • Swirl around the water mixture… add more hot water if needed.
  • Get in the tub.
  • Soak a bit and then scrub yourself from head to toe with the loofah (no soap).
  • Rest and repeat the scrubbing three times… stay in the tub for at least 20 minutes.
  • Take a cool/cold shower and scrub head to toe with soap and the loofah, rinse and shine.

* Be careful with the ginger powder as it can “burn” if too much is used, particularly in sensitive areas of the body (right, ladies?). I suggest you start with one tablespoon and add when ready. If the amount you use does not produce some heat (other than temperature) in the tub, add more.

** Niacin comes in two forms (that I know about): the stuff that allows the capillaries in your skin to be flushed with blood (which can feel uncomfortable, like a sunburn), or non-flush. You want the flush kind, such as Solgar Niacin. Be careful with the amount, because the flushing can be uncomfortable (although the detox bath alleviates this quite a bit). 250 milligrams may be too much on an empty stomach. I use 500 milligrams, but I’m accustomed to this craziness.

*** Have I said enough about “flushing”? If you don’t like the feeling of being sunburned, be careful with the amount of Niacin you take (see above). Same thing with the ginger powder (see above).

More Reading

Yes, there’s more to know, much more.  Here are four articles I’ve written about detoxification that will help you do it right:

Why You Have Mercury Toxicity and What To Do About It (Watch)

What You Absolutely Must Know About Detox Cleanses (But Don’t)

Why You Need A Three Phase Detoxification Plan (Seriously)

Time For Your Toxic Heavy Metals Detox, Step by Step

 

If you have questions, please put them in the Comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them or provide useful resources for you.

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Joe Garma
 

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Tod - March 6, 2016

What are your thoughts on improving ones ph Before tackling a detox program?

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DEENO - March 7, 2016

Hi Joe, love your stuff here… I have one question; If I am using the same plastic water bottles again and again after washing them and refilling at the local ‘Water & Ice” place. Is washing and reusing the same bottles safer? Am I getting rid of the carcinogen philates ?

Reply
Joe Garma - September 21, 2017

Sorry for the tardy reply, DEENO… found your comment in the Spam File for some reason.

The answer to your question is “it depends on the type of plastic used to make the bottle”. Sometimes plastic bottles have a coded stamp on them that indicates if it’s safe for reuse, etc. If your bottles aren’t “BPA Free” don’t use them.

Reply
Joe Garma - September 21, 2017

Sorry for the late response, Tod… your comment was in the Spam File for some reason.

The body works to maintain its ph within a very tight range and will typically do this irrespective of the ph of the food/drink ingested. That said, seems to me that we can make its job easier by eating alkaline foods/drinks. To prepare for a detox — particularly if it includes fasting — gradually move away from meat and grains and substitute them with plants and fruits.

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