Detox: What “They” Don’t Want You To Know

Jan 4, 2015

By Scott Gavura

New Year, New You, right? We’re just into 2015, and you’ve resolved to finally get serious about your health. Starting today. But first need to cleanse yourself, eliminating last year’s lifestyle and dietary sins. You’ve seen the ads and the Facebook links, all suggesting you need a “detox”, “cleanse” or “flush” to be healthy. Supplements, tea, homeopathy, coffee enemas, ear candles, and footbaths promise you a detoxified body. Amazon has entire detox and cleansing categories in supplements and books. The descriptions all suggest detoxing will deliver a renewed body and better health – it’s only seven days and $49.95 away. Dr. Oz has several detox plans – you just need to decide which one. The local naturopath sells detoxification protocols, including vitamin drips and chelation. Even your pharmacy probably has a wall of products for sale. Wouldn’t a purification from your sins of 2014 be a good idea to start the year? Unfortunately, there’s something very important that detox promoters aren’t telling you.

“Detox” isn’t real

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been turned into a marketing strategy – all designed to treat a nonexistent condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu of alternative health treatments, or assembled from ingredients in your pantry. Actual detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances – usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. These are not products you can purchase in a pharmacy for personal use. What you’re seeing promoted as “detox” is using medical terminology, but only to give the perception of scientific legitimacy to medically-useless products and services. Fake detox is built around a number of easily-debunked premises. Once you can spot the flaws, it’s easy to tell fact from fiction.

Premise one: Our bodies are accumulating toxins, so we need to detoxify

There’s a reason we fall for the marketing of detoxification – we seem hardwired to believe we need it, perhaps related to our susceptibility to ideas of sympathetic magic. Purification rituals date back to the earliest reaches of recorded history. The idea that we’re somehow poisoning ourselves and we need to atone for our sins seems to be a part of human nature, which may explain why it’s still a part of most of the world’s religions. It’s not miasmas or perhaps sin that we’re as worried about today, however. As our knowledge of biology grew, these fears manifested as “autointoxication.” Clean out the bowels, went the theory, and you could cure any illness. Science discarded autointoxication by the 1900′s as we gained a better understanding of anatomy, physiology, and the true cause of disease. Yet the term persists today, but now it’s used to sell useless products and services. Today’s version of autointoxication argues that some combination of food additives, salt, meat, fluoride, prescription drugs, smog, vaccine ingredients, GMOs, and perhaps last night’s bottle of wine are causing a buildup of “toxins” in the body. And don’t forget gluten. Gluten is the new evil and therefore, is now a toxin. So what is the actual “toxin” causing you harm? Detox kits and treatments never name the toxins that they remove, because they’ve never been shown to remove toxins. For example, Renew Life promises you:

CleanseSMART is a 2 part, 30 day, advanced herbal cleansing program. It is formulated to stimulate the detoxification process of the body’s 7 channels of elimination: the liver, lungs, colon, kidneys, blood, skin, and lymphatic system. In today’s toxic world, cleansing and detoxification is a necessity. Toxins enter our body daily through the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Over time, these toxins build up and slowly start to affect our health in a negative way.

Through cleansing and detoxification, you enable your body to better process this toxic load. Reducing the toxic load in your body decreases the risk of developing chronic health problems, improves overall health and immune response, and can increase energy levels. CleanseSMART works to cleanse and detoxify the entire body, but with focus on the body’s two main detoxification pathways – the liver and the colon. CleanseSMART is essential for helping eliminate constipation and improving bowel health.

Note the vague language. Toxins are alluded to – but not named. It sounds somewhat plausible, but is non-specific. Note that even if you’re well (and presumably toxin free?) a detox is still recommended.

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11 comments on “Detox: What “They” Don’t Want You To Know

  • I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen people online trying to peddle their home remedies to “detox for the New Year.” I’ve posted this article on Facebook and now wait for the storm of assertions from people who “have tried it and it works.” The placebo effect and the desire to confirm our favorite myths are powerful here. What can you say to someone who insists that they feel better and stronger after such a ‘treatment’ and take offense when you suggest it is all in their heads?

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  • Personally I wouldn’t bother. The subjective benefits of the placebo effect are real so maybe they are getting value for money? Its not for us to puncture their bubble – they won’t thank you for it.
    I would only challenge somebody for whom harm will occur if they reject conventional treatment – a cancer sufferer refusing an op or therapy for instance.
    Tragically you won’t get far with most people in this scenario either.

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  • I don’t buy into the idea of “detox” but admittedly I did a three day liquid diet last week using several quality cold pressed juices. I find that it’s a good way for me to get out of the habit of going crazy eating junk food – kind of like rebooting my system. I’ll do this now and then when I find myself eating to much sugar. A few days “fasting” and for some reason I’m more conscious of what I eat afterwards. If I don’t do this, my eating doesn’t get better for some time.

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  • I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve got bits and bobs inside me that have been incessantly, automatically and naturally detoxifying my metabolism all my life; if they hadn’t been doing so I would have died from poisoning at a very early age.

    But maybe that’s just because I’m unique in that regard.

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  • completely agree. offering magical services for money is the bedrock of all religion and much as I wanted to share this article I soon began to imagine the responses (long badly punctuated sentences incorporating all arguments at once about “big Pharma”, personal testemony and asking who I think I am telling others how to live).

    If people have the means to make snakeoil salesmen rich then I’m all for letting market forces do their thing but it’s when people start demanding the tax payer stumps up for their voodoo I worry. I can only assume the NHS started offering homeopathic treatments out of peer presure so as long as I don’t see any offers of stuff like this in my GP waiting room I’m happy

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  • 7
    paulstjohnsmith says:

    Feeling well after a so called detox (Placebo) is not the same as objectively being better which is much harder to demonstrate. Most complimentary medicines make people feel better if they believe in it. Some medicines can make you feel worse e.g. antibiotics leading to diarrhoea or anticancer drugs. These processes are complex .

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  • I detox every 24 hours. I say, “Kidney’s. Liver. Bowels. Do your thing.” And they do. And I always feel better after my sedentary morning read of the newspaper. Off for another day of discovery…

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  • Once a week, typically at the weekend, I make a specific effort to ‘tox’, ensuring that I load with alcohol, excess sugar and fat. I feel that this gives my liver, kidneys etc a weekly workout that keeps them in tip-top condition. I feel awful, which I see as anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the treatment. As a side benefit I’m not dead yet.

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  • I find reading the newspaper actually puts my bowels in the mood so to speak, especially the Courier Mail. I’ve had to stop it as I lose IQ points every time I do. Actually the Courier Mail is probably better for wiping your arse than reading, If only it came in a nice soft two ply.

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