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What do you think of Herbal Detoxes?  RSS feed

 
Samantha Couchman
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Hi, I am doing a research project on Herbal detoxes, I'm trying to find out why people choose them and what they like most about them. Also if there is anything people don't like about them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
Ron Helwig
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Humans (and other animals) have been using their kidneys and livers to detox for millenia. No herbs needed.

I'd bet that most of the benefit from "detoxing" comes from fasting or calorie restriction. Of course, those selling the herbs also benefit.
 
Jarret Hynd
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Ron Helwig wrote:I'd bet that most of the benefit from "detoxing" comes from fasting or calorie restriction. Of course, those selling the herbs also benefit.


I'd agree with that sentiment, but I'll tell a silly story anyways.

About 5-6 years ago health became a big priority for me, and even though I had little knowledge on the subject, I began trying all sorts of crazy things just for the sake of it.

I was planning to do a 2 day fast over the weekend, but then I saw I had about 4 bulbs of garlic on the counter. So, being extremely naive at the time, I figured Garlic is good for you, so why not add it to the mix? I just barely sauteed about 35 cloves and then blended it with some basil&olive oil for taste. Drank about 3/4ths of it.

Within an hour the gas was building up...and releasing. Not to mention I must have gone to the bathroom 25 times that weekend. I'll leave people to their imaginations, but the first day anything that came out was black. On the 2nd day things began to return to normal though. It worked like a colon cleaning I suppose, but I doubt I'll ever do that again in my life.

Hope someone gets a chuckle out of it anyways

Samantha Couchman wrote:I'm trying to find out why people choose them and what they like most about them. Also if there is anything people don't like about them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


I was once offered some kind of detox product which I think was called "Greens". The only reason I bought it was to see if it worked or not. It tasted like hay+oranges and I didn't feel any improvements even after a month of taking it. That was my first and last detox adventure.

The worst part was I spent about 3 hours trying to find an ingredient list for the product and the local company reps didn't have a clue while the company itself wouldn't give out the information while I was on the phone with them for 30 minutes.

 
Su Ba
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In my experience, if I feed my body properly and live a lifestyle where I avoid significant pollution, then there's no need to pay hard earned money on "detoxing agents". My body (the liver) is the best, and natural, detoxing agent I have.

I'm surprised that most people don't consider how much they change their gut microbes with their detoxing diets. There's lots of awareness about gut environment nowadays, but people seem to ignore it when they engage week long or multi week so called "cleanses". I've heard of people in my own region who have messed their bodies up with cleansing diets. I guess they went too far or too long. It's been shown that a couple weeks on a novel diet significantly changes the gut microbe population. One can lose the very microbes you need for your normal diet, making going back to eating as usual a painful process.

Many of the claims I've read on the internet about various cleanses are outright wrong. They are medically impossible! So I'd be very cautious about believing what I read on cleansing sites.
 
Samantha Couchman
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Thank you so much guys, this is really helpful! I've been looking at herbal detoxes versus other options out there, I hadn't thought about the liver, definitely something I should consider.
 
stephen lowe
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I would say that people do herbal cleanses because they work and they have been used for thousands of years. We live in a super toxic time and our livers and kidneys and lymphatic systems are over run with toxins that they cannot purge fast enough. There are herbs that support these systems, there are herbs that chelate heavy metals and help to remove them, and there are herbs that aid the displacement of novel toxins that our bodies unintentionally incorporate because they closely mimic necessary nutrients. Obviously there is tons of snake oil in this arena but it is also the original medicine. So there's that.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Ron beat me to it on the kidney and liver thing. I was going to have some fun with that. Eat decent food, drink plenty of water and your body will cleanse itself without the help of hucksters and snake oil salesmen.

There are many scams that take advantage of people's lack of knowledge concerning their digestive tract.

On the colon cleanse thing, the only thing I can really say is, don't stick anything up your bum.

Don't let anyone else stick things up your bum.

Most of the scams make liberal use of the word toxin. They don't name these toxins or show quantities that exist or are removed. The word is just tossed out there. The body reabsorbs moisture at the end of the intestinal tract. It absorbs water. Hucksters will tell you that you are reabsorbing all sorts of horrible things. This is not something that is medically accepted. They are making sales. That's it.
Don't do it.
 
Seb Cha
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Ron Helwig wrote:Humans (and other animals) have been using their kidneys and livers to detox for millenia. No herbs needed.

I'd bet that most of the benefit from "detoxing" comes from fasting or calorie restriction. Of course, those selling the herbs also benefit.


We've been using our immune systems to combat cancer and infectious disease as well, doesn't always work. And especially with the changing land scape of the modern era. For that reason I really dislike this line of reasoning. I will give it to you that the concept of detox is vague and probably abused by the lay. That doesn't mean there aren't potential mechanisms that herbs may play a role whether by directly inhibiting hepatic inflammation, altering the endogenous microflora, preventing enterohepatic recirculation via restoration of normal gastric and barrier function, direct conjugation of toxins in the gut, lipid remodeling, etc. I'm not claiming to know the direct impact of specific herbs on this process, only that their interactions with physiology are pretty complex and astounding and all the above are conceivable at the very least. It's important to remember that the human evolved inseparable from phytochemistry. Some tribes were known to consume up to 93 species of plant year round. On some level, herbs are actually a physiological requirement for functioning correctly and the process of herbalism in many ways is identifying what a person is deficient in. Of course that's generalization and some herbs have much stronger drug-like actions. And again this is not in support of fad herbalism and detox plans. Nothing bothers me more than watching a necessary practice like herbalism be condemned to the realms of pseudoscience and snake oil salesmen
 
Dawn Hoff
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I'd say that there are toxins in many environments - heavy metals, fumes from new furniture (flame retardants), fumes from new buildings (though less than when I was a child bc. at least in Europe they let them fume off before using them), fungal growth in buildings, pesticides in your food etc etc. By removing most of this from you environment you will help your body detox automatically, but some people detox much slower than others (Scientist have found a gene for this), and can this be helped by herbal supplements. But most of the herbs that are most beneficial can be eaten through your diet - garlic, parsley, rosemary, ginger, elderberry etc. and Whole Foods have been show to carry many many more properties than what is known to the scientists today, so taking your supplements in the form of whole foods is probably your best bet towards improving your health.

But if you have serious conditions like autoimmune disease I think that supplementing might be in its place - but I do not think that colon rinses are nessesarily a good thing... I personally see it as a
remnant of medieval medical practice, and not nessesito helpful.
 
Seb Cha
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Hucksters will tell you that you are reabsorbing all sorts of horrible things. This is not something that is medically accepted. They are making sales. That's it.
Don't do it.


I don't know what the exact context is here, but enterohepatic recirculation of toxins is actually a real thing. "Toxins" can take on a sort of half-life by which, depending on a variety of factors, they may be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract before being fully expelled. If this is a one time exposure kind of deal then after a few passes it should be clear. If this is a continued exposure then in theory it may build up. The process is pretty elementary and accepted as far as toxicology goes. I'm not saying that justifies daily colon cleanses. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. I've not seen any convincing evidence for or against it, but i haven't gone out of my way to look into it either.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Toxins
There are many things that are toxic to humans. These things are named, and they have various treatments that have been shown to be effective. The treatment depends on what the patient has been exposed to.

If I became exposed to lead, or to benzene or to rattlesnake venom, there would be a medically appropriate action to be taken. The action taken, would depend on the exposure. I would not go on the internet, looking for someone who just retired from selling MonaVie juice, but is now selling some detox product. I would seek someone who has real training, that is not belief based. I would expect that this person's training took many years, and that there are widely accepted standards for that training.

There are many quack, quasi medical, so-called professions, that I could get into relatively quickly. And there are many completely bogus things that have set up schools, so that they can better masquerade as doctors. Here's a simple test that I use. I ask myself, given the right jargon, could I fake my way through a few days of being one of these practitioners. I believe I could. I know I could, because I have encountered people who are pushing this sort of stuff, and I play along, and play them, into steering me in a certain direction.

I wouldn't survive half an hour pretending to be an orthopedic surgeon. This isn't something that can be easily faked.

I'd like to be a big-time doctor like Dr. House or Marcus Welby. I'd cure one major disease, during each episode. And I'd be rich, RICH !!! But it takes so long. And there's a lot of work involved. If only there was some way that I can make this money, without having to learn any of that medical stuff. --- Real doctoring is hard. The training is long and rigorous. The whole thing is set up in a way that filters out those who only have a passing interest or who don't have the intelligence or aptitude for the job. Next time you meet a real doctor, question them and find out if this is one of a dozen different professions that they have trained for. Then try the same thing on the next person who tries to sell you something of a quasi medical nature. One of them is likely to have bounced from one thing to another then another. Can you guess which one?

I know enough of the toxin jargon, to easily make sales to those who are already somewhat sold on the idea. I'm sure I could influence a choice between ingesting some substance or having some smoke and mirrors treatment done on a massage table. There may be shiny rocks and strange smells associated.

It would be fun to practice steering first to one treatment, and then to another, in some sort of pattern, that is not based on anything to do with the customer. It would be fun, but it wouldn't solve any of their problems, be they real or imagined.
 
Seb Cha
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"If I became exposed to lead, or to benzene or to rattlesnake venom, there would be a medically appropriate action to be taken. "

This is true for a selection of clear cut cases that usually involves acute toxicity and the field of toxicology is somewhat biased towards that end. What most people are referring to when they use the words "toxins" in the ultra vague sense is more along the lines of chronic low-grade exposure to industrial chemicals, heavy metals, or microbial cell wall components. Nothing is generally done in medical practice for that sort of thing despite the fact that we're all exposed to it. Endotoxin for example is a primary driver of cardiometabolic disease and yet treatment options remain purely symptomatic. And again, i'm not siding with detox woo. But a lot of alternative medicine arises out of real issues to which no conventional approach has been shown effective. Snake oils men are in essence, opportunists. Something conventional medicine has partly allowed by de-emphasizing holistic health.
 
Dawn Hoff
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Seb Cha wrote:"If I became exposed to lead, or to benzene or to rattlesnake venom, there would be a medically appropriate action to be taken. "

This is true for a selection of clear cut cases that usually involves acute toxicity and the field of toxicology is somewhat biased towards that end. What most people are referring to when they use the words "toxins" in the ultra vague sense is more along the lines of chronic low-grade exposure to industrial chemicals, heavy metals, or microbial cell wall components. Nothing is generally done in medical practice for that sort of thing despite the fact that we're all exposed to it. Endotoxin for example is a primary driver of cardiometabolic disease and yet treatment options remain purely symptomatic. And again, i'm not siding with detox woo. But a lot of alternative medicine arises out of real issues to which no conventional approach has been shown effective. Snake oils men are in essence, opportunists. Something conventional medicine has partly allowed by de-emphasizing holistic health.

I agree.

I have suffered from dermatitis and allergies all my life - I know the jargon pretty well, and it doesn't take 8 years of training to write a prescription for cortical steroids and say "come back in a week".

Flame retardants are used in baby equipment in the states - in Northern Europe it is illegal to use in anything that comes in contact with babies because it is carcinogenic. A few years ago dentists regarded amalgam fillings as "safe", now a number of CPU tries have made it illegal for a dentist to use it unless there are absolutely pressing circumstances that make it nessesary - because they are toxic. Most dentists don't think it is problematic to remove these fillings, some dentists disagree (same dentists who refused to use them for a number of years before it was recognized that they were toxic).

I do have a lot of trust in science, I am a scientist myself, but most Doctors don't actually have time to keep up with the latest scientific research, and a lot of scientific research is cherry picking at best (yes even the peer reviewed articles).

Dr. Terry Wahls did not believe in alternative medicine before she herself became sick with MS. She has sent her MS into remission using priciples of functional medicine - including detox baths and dry scrubs. She is currently running clinicla trials on her protocol and the results look promising for the future of MS (and maybe other autoimmune diseases). She is an MD, she has dared think outside the box, I trust her more than other Doctors, just like I trust Dr. Campbell of the GAPS protocol, who has cured her son of Autism more than other Doctors (she actually recommends colon cleanses). Weather it is the detox routines of these two Drs whom made them/their family heal I can't be sure - maybe it is only diet. I do know that implementing something like their diets (which are quite similar) has helped my family tremendously. But we haven't used the detoxes - I can't know if we would be even better if we had (we didn't suffer from neither MS nor autism). Science can only discover that which is actually investigated. Unfottunately most Doctors think the "science is settled" on a number of issues, which haven't really been investigated, or have been investigated quite poorly. I haven't trusted my GP for very much in many years... yet I haven't really found an alternative either
 
Seb Cha
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I feel that 100%. I did my undergrad in biochemistry and was unfortunately taken out of commission from pursuing grad school from a "mysterious" illness which after countless hours of research and probing with blood tests turned out to be a fairly clear cut case of late-stage Lyme disease. My doctors were adamant that "it doesn't exist in the south" despite evidence to the contrary. Even after determining this was the issue it's a continuous battle as to the existence of "chronic Lyme" disease and whether further treatment is required. I have actual textbooks (plural) on "stealth" pathogens dating back to the early 80s that set a clear precedent for chronic Lyme. Coupled with the actual animal, human and in vitro studies that support the notion it's then baffling that most doctors continue to assert that "there's no such thing as chronic Lyme". At best the literature says "we're not totally certain but there's some evidence. to be continued". Even the CDC has updated their stance to one of ambiguity. In my case i've actually been forced to seek out herbs with antibiotic properties just to continue to feel normal. So that's probably why I'm a tad defensive of them lol. Within an hour of my first dose my vasculitis disappeared. My other symptoms have been in slow retreat for the most part ever since.


Curious what kind of science you do? I still think about going back into it now and again. Mostly i just enjoy being up to my neck in books and papers though.
 
Dawn Hoff
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Seb Cha wrote:I feel that 100%. I did my undergrad in biochemistry and was unfortunately taken out of commission from pursuing grad school from a "mysterious" illness which after countless hours of research and probing with blood tests turned out to be a fairly clear cut case of late-stage Lyme disease. My doctors were adamant that "it doesn't exist in the south" despite evidence to the contrary. Even after determining this was the issue it's a continuous battle as to the existence of "chronic Lyme" disease and whether further treatment is required. I have actual textbooks (plural) on "stealth" pathogens dating back to the early 80s that set a clear precedent for chronic Lyme. Coupled with the actual animal, human and in vitro studies that support the notion it's then baffling that most doctors continue to assert that "there's no such thing as chronic Lyme". At best the literature says "we're not totally certain but there's some evidence. to be continued". Even the CDC has updated their stance to one of ambiguity. In my case i've actually been forced to seek out herbs with antibiotic properties just to continue to feel normal. So that's probably why I'm a tad defensive of them lol. Within an hour of my first dose my vasculitis disappeared. My other symptoms have been in slow retreat for the most part ever since.


Curious what kind of science you do? I still think about going back into it now and again. Mostly i just enjoy being up to my neck in books and papers though.

I'm a mathematician and wrote my M.Sc. Thesis on Statistical Models of Protein solubility (non-linear machine learning models compared to multiple regression models). The thesis was carried out in cooperation with one of the worlds leading producers of industrial enzymes. After that I worked in clinical trials (statistics and programming) for a number of years. So while I don't have a medical degree I have worked in the life sciences for quite a number of years. Never did a Ph.D. though (if I did I think it would be on a health related subject).
 
stephen lowe
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Totally agree with Dawn and Seb. Allopathic medicine is very very good for certain conditions, especially acute trauma (I want a surgeon, not a accupressurist, when I break my leg) but it is sorely lacking in many other areas of health. MDs receive zero training in diet unless they seek it out themselves. Their go to is surgery and heavy chemical medication because that is what they are trained in. You also have to acknowledge and address the role of pharmaceutical industry lobbying and the modern cult of science (i.e. that pill took lots of smart folks in lab coats using really fancy machines a long time to make, therefore it must be good), and pretty quickly in becomes clear that snake oil isn't the sole provence of the herbal health industry. When you take into account the costs and risks of any given treatment you are probably often better off experimenting with herbal remedies, my 22 year old sister had her gall bladder removed 6 months after her doctor told her that it wasn't functioning properly with absolutely no attempt to change her diet or treat her system herbally. My first reaction was 'well now it will definitely never function properly'. In my understanding herbal health maintenance, including a focus on daily dietary healthy, is part of a workable health system (not just a sickness system) where surgery and pharmaceuticals are a last resort not something that is handed out to everyone with a backache or a bad mood.
 
Cody DeBaun
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Got to throw my hat in on the 'herbal cleanses are a real thing' side of the ring.

I think there's no doubt that the amount of quackery out there in the world of alternative medicine is overwhelming. It's an unavoidable part of people turning away from institutional medicine as they see its shortcomings, (treatment-only focus, reactive approach, financially motivated research focus, etc). That doesn't mean that alternatives to mainstream medicine are inherently wrong/bad/misinformed, however. A wise man once said '"the most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it with faulty arguments."'

We know bioaccumulation is a very real phenomena, for example, and no amount of liver and kidney filtration is fixing that problem. There are literally millions of novel chemicals used every day whose effects on living organisms are completely unknown. Now does that mean burning sage in your house, eating clay and drinking lemon water are going to fix all health problems? Not at all. But we know iodine displaces some heavy metals in the endocrine system, we know intermittent fasting can encourage autophagy, which helps pass a bevy of toxins as well as dead/damaged cells, and there is definitely a need for real research on how to protect and cleanse the body of compounds we otherwise would not be able to pass.
 
Kevin Swanson
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I was treated for chronic lyme disease by a general practitioner who practices chinese medicine. He put me in contact with an herbalist in the VT area (PM me if you want her information, I don't want to abuse the forums by putting and advertisement here.) The herbal supplements got my lyme disease AND chronic mono in complete remission. The last 2 months of the treatment and for 2 months afterwards I suffered from piles. In order to get rid of them I tried drinking tons of water, changing my diet to include more fiber even though it already contained plenty and many creams and suppositories etc etc. I finally worked up to the courage to go to the chinese medicine doctor again and he advised taken a one month course of herbal liver cleanse(not sure if this is a detox), this cleared the piles up and they are GONE!

Now I just need to keep on a good diet and avoid sugar and alcohol to keep it the lyme in remission.
 
Sharol Tilgner
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In medicine detoxing is called "Biotransformation". There are three steps to it. Phase I which is mostly an enzymatic process that makes use of cytochrome P450 enzymes. Phase II which is conjugation processes, which includes methylation, amino acid conjugation, glutathione conjugation, sulfation, acetylation and glucuronidation. Phase III is the process where the cell removes the item to be moved through the blood to the kidney, or the liver usually. Sometimes it may go out through the lungs or the skin also. In a clean environment with a genetically competent person you would not need assistance for this. In most of the environments we have created where people live in toxic buildings, breath toxic air, drink toxic water and eat toxic food, they need to use diet, supplements, herbs to assist this process. I will be addressing this in an easy to understand way in my new book that is currently being edited but until that is out in the late fall, with an easy to understand  write-up, you can find extensive data on biotransformative processes of the body on my website where the data is entirely free. Sorry, it is long-winded on my website.  The website is listed below.
 
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