Detoxing – what does that really mean? We understand the definition: “the process of removing toxic substances”, but how does that translate into your experience? What does that really look or feel like in your body? Images of a detox center often come up with addicts going through intense withdrawals. You’d be surprised to feel how hard it is to come off sugar or even bread! “Detox” is thrown around a lot in healing, cleansing, and natural medicine. But, most of us don’t really understand what we should expect.
For starters, any and all symptoms you may experience, such as a rash or a headache, are signs of the body detoxing. It is something we do every single day as the body continually cleans itself out to maintain homeostasis. We urinate, defecate, sweat, blow our noses, etc. These are all forms of detoxing. Makes sense, right? But, when we start a new diet or health program, that “detoxing” leads to a lot of confusion and even fear.
Say you’ve had a rash on your arms for a while. You’ve tried everything, pills, creams, stopped eating gluten, ate only gluten, and nothing has worked. Heck you even gave up drinking for a few days! Then you go to a holistic health practitioner (like me) and we discover you’ve got some mold in your body. The rash is the mold trying to get out through your lymphatic system. I suggest some probiotics, an alkalizing green drink, and a couple of anti-fungal essential oils to get rid of the mold. Sounds right to you, so you give it a go. Boom, now you’re having gas and loose stools for a day, and the rash is more red and itchy than before. Yuck, this holistic crap is making you worse! Right? Sorry, wrong. You’re detoxing!
When we’ve got something going wrong in our bodies, causing uncomfortable symptoms for us, we have to get it out to properly heal ourselves. Just taking a pill to mask the symptoms isn’t getting it out. We think we’re good because a cream got rid of the rash, but whatever was causing the rash is still there, lurking to raise it’s ugly little head in some other symptom down the road. No more rash, but I keep getting headaches, etc. Gotta get it out to truly heal. And, this all sounds very logical; we get it on an intellectual level, but when we’re the ones detoxing – in our own bodies – logic goes out the door and fear or distrust set in. We think we’re getting worse because the symptoms have temporarily worsened. When in actuality the worsening is often the best first sign – you’re detoxing and the crap is coming out! We are so conditioned to an allopathic mindset – take a pill and magic the headache is gone – but really the headache is still there we just can’t feel it anymore. Sound perfect? Maybe so, but if this is ultimately going somewhere worse, wouldn’t you rather get rid of the cause of the headache once and for all and just be done with it? No sneaky new symptoms coming down the pike later!
When you start to detox, whether it is from starting a new eating program, doing a cleanse, stopping eating or drinking something that wasn’t serving us, or starting an essential oil or herbal program, you’re going to notice the bad stuff coming out. That is just reality! And, it is, first and foremost, going to take the path it has already been using, like your rash, or headache, or stomach upset. You have to cycle back through the symptoms until it’s all cleaned out. But, then you are going to feel so much better! Often you’ll know you’re getting to the end of the detox when you experience symptoms you haven’t had for years – then you know you’re getting a really good detox from deep within your cells and tissues.
Get that crap out! Essentially anytime you consume less toxins than you can remove you are detoxing. Your body is constantly cleaning out and it has its own punch list of priorities. So, when you bring in less toxins, your body will roll up its sleeves and tackle that punch list, go in for some extra spring cleaning. Spring is an excellent time to detox and cleanse according to Ayurveda and Chinese medicine – right in line with the season getting ready for the rebirth of summer. Yay summer!
Some common detox symptoms are: rashes, headaches (ever tried coming off coffee?), flu-like symptoms, fatigue, feeling shaky, foggy brained, digestive upsets like gas, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation, and even emotions such as anger, irritability, or sadness can be detox symptoms, especially when you’re stopping eating foods you use to mask what you feel – like comfort foods or drinks. Honestly, there isn’t any symptom you experience that couldn’t be a detox symptom – it’s your body and it is going to clean out however it damn well pleases!
Some people get frightened by detox symptoms, which is totally understandable, as they feel foreign and we haven’t been taught they are a completely normal part of the process. If that fear or discomfort gets you to stop the new diet or cleanse, etc. you stop the detox in its tracks and think, “see that cleanse was making me sick”! Now, you stopped the detox and those symptoms go away instantly. But, really its the body going back to the status quo and just dealing with toxin at hand – think sticking fingers in the holes of a dam – no time to fix the whole dam with all these little leaks needing your attention right now!
The unfortunate part is we stop the detox to feel “better” now, but compromise the feel “super better” later or the “feel better forever”. It’s not surprising as we live in an instant gratification society. If you can delay the gratification for a while, what you’ll get is beyond worth it. A little discomfort now goes a really long way in the body. We really should all feel excellent and have tons of energy all the time, so if you aren’t feeling like Wonder Woman 24/7 then detoxing could be just the catalyst you need to put you on that path! Spring starts next week, so go for it and do a cleanse! Contact me if you want to know my favorite one.