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Detox: what you need to know about drainage, purification, and detoxification of the body

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    Detox diets or detox drinks, detox supplements, detox cures, etc. There are countless brands or practices that praise the “detox” and “cleansing” effects of certain foods. At the same time, the existence of this type of products and diets suggests that our body is overexposed to certain toxins, be it through our work, habits, diet, etc.

    But, what exactly do we understand by detoxification, purification or drainage of the organism? Are we just talking about weight loss or is there something else? Is the stress and anxiety it can generate justified? Is there really a way to help our body drain all the harmful substances that we don’t need?

    What do we mean when we talk about a detox plan or a detox diet

    The existence of detoxification necessarily implies the existence of its opponent: the toxin. These come from our environment, from our lifestyle and even from our body. The “toxin” is the usual term to group them all, although they differ in their danger and effects on the body. When they accumulate or are not eliminated in time, they can alter our well-being in the form of insomnia, digestive disturbances, mood swings, constipation, fatigue, cellulite, etc.

    Thus, this microscopic enemy enters our body every day through what we eat, drink and breathe, but also through what we touch or apply to our body in the form of creams and other products.

    Although we are aware that our environment is becoming increasingly polluted, we do not realize to what extent we are exposed to it. Elements that are toxic to the body take many forms and can be classified into two large families.


    How do toxins affect our body?

    The effects are as varied as the chemistry behind the molecules. According to an American university network, when a chemical toxin enters the body, it disrupts the rhythm of many key functions. This alteration can reduce the activity of enzymes, which are necessary for all the functions of the organism.

    Each of these effects begins with alterations in the biochemistry of our cells, which in turn affect how they function.

    Affected OrgansAssociated symptoms
    Nose, lungs, throat

    Irritation, coughing, choking, chest tightness

    stomach, intestines

    Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea

    Back pain, urinating more or less than usual

    Brain, spinal cord

    Headache, dizziness, confusion, depression, coma, seizures, memory loss


    Anaemia (fatigue, weakness), frequent infections

    Skin, eyes

    rash, itching, redness, swelling

    Ovaries, fetus, testicles

    Infertility, abortion, alteration of the menstrual cycle

    Exogenous toxins

    They are toxic substances that come from the external environment. Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, physician and naturopath and author of the book “The Detox Solution”, classifies them according to 6 categories:

    1. Industrial toxins, such as heavy metals, pollution, and radiation released from industrial activities.
    2. Agricultural toxins such as pesticides, hormones and herbicides.
    3. Domestic toxics from construction materials, carpets, paint and cleaning products.
    4. Toxins in cosmetics and perfumes.
    5. Food toxins such as GMOs, food colors, artificial flavorings, and artificial sweeteners.
    6. Tobacco and textile treatments
    Alcohol detox

    Exogenous toxins

    Our body naturally produces an endogenous toxin. These are waste products linked to its metabolism, such as urea (linked to the breakdown of proteins), lactic acid (produced during muscular effort) or ammonia (elimination of nitrogen from the body).Also, our body sometimes produces free radicals that can have a toxic effect. That’s why it’s especially important to have an effective detoxification system, and even if we do, sometimes it needs help.

    Skin, kidneys, lungs, intestines and liver are the organs that help eliminate toxins.

    How detoxification or purification works

    Now that we know the existence and effects of toxins, how does the body limit their presence in the body? The human body has an innate detoxification capacity. It is produced thanks to the so-called imuntory organs. There are five immunity organs (skin, kidneys, lungs, intestines, and liver), which allow the body to get rid of molecules it doesn’t need or no longer needs, including toxins. In addition to its crucial role in metabolism, the liver is our main bulwark against the action of toxins. This is because it neutralises them to facilitate their elimination by reducing their reactive and damaging capacity when they pass through other tissues using liver enzymes. Pero, ¿cuáles son los mecanismos que hay detrás de esta actividad? Las reacciones implicadas en la detoxificación tienen lugar en tres fases distintas, cada una de las cuales favorece la eliminación. Hepatocytes (liver cells) are the true molecule-transforming factories and are tirelessly in charge of eliminating toxins produced in our body through a three-stage process:
    • Phase 1 is called functionalization and makes it possible to reduce the activity of the molecules and, therefore, their toxicity. In this stage the famous cytochrome P450 enzymes intervenes. More than 100 enzymes have been identified in this system and each has specificity for one or more toxins.
    • Phase 2 of detoxification is called conjugation and makes the compound more soluble in water and therefore more easily excreted from the body.
    • Phase 3 is the renal and biliary elimination of the compound.
    The efficiency with which the liver works in this process depends on several factors such as nutritional status, genetic predisposition or the level of exposure to the toxin. The intestinal microbiota also seems to play an important role in purifying our body.

    Environmental-toxins. What to do to help your body drain harmful substances and how we eliminate them?

    Many people mistakenly think that toxins are inevitable and that we can’t do anything about it. But this is not true. Of course, although our detoxification system is very efficient, there are several ways in which we can help all our organs, mostly the liver and kidneys, work towards detoxification.

    Use of natural products

    The use of natural products for the detox plan is not new, Theophrastus (372-287 BC) already mentioned the interest of milk thistle and artichoke to improve their functions.

    Today we know that both are antioxidants and that artichokes have diuretic properties. In addition to the recognized benefits of phytotherapy, mycotherapy also has scientifically based arguments to support the body in drainage and toxin elimination problems.

    The mycotherapy detoxification protocol is focused on improving the detoxifying function of the liver, which is of vital importance for maintaining the proper enzymatic functioning of this organ, as well as helping the drainage and elimination of toxins from the body by applying organic and standardised extracts of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Polyporus (Polyporus umbellatus).

    Medicinalm Mushroom Polyporus

    Medicinal mushrooms are traditionally used to help the body. For example, Polyporus umbellatus, known in China as “Zhu-ling”, was already considered in the first Chinese pharmacology manual, Shennong Bencao Jing, as an excellent diuretic and effective against oedema.

    On the other hand, this fungus mobilizes the lymph, favoring fluid retention and the elimination of oedema.

    Several studies have demonstrated Polyporus´s diuretic capacity, having exposed gone as it´s main diuretic factor (Zhao, Y.Y. et al., 2009). The diuretic mechanism involves the regulation of aquaporins, mainly by increasing the excretion of sodium and chloride ions. It has also been shown to possess antioxidant activity against hydroxyl and superoxide radicals that would otherwise harm the body (He P.F. et al., 2016).

    Medicinal Mushroom Maiitake

    Furthermore, Maitake extract has shown to have the highest and most stable absorption of heavy metal ions (Zhang W. et al., 2018). Increasing the removal of heavy metals, such as mercury, by approximately 56% in vivo and in vitro. In vivo, it showed an increase in mercury elimination from the kidneys and liver by up to/more than DMPS* (a clinical drug used for mercury elimination), and without any adverse effects.

    In addition, Its antioxidant activity has been shown to inhibit superoxide and hydroxyl free radicals, lipid peroxidation, and ferric ion chelating properties. It has also been shown to increase the levels of antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione (GSH), catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the liver and brain, thereby enhancing its radical scavenging effect (Dai, X.W. et al., 2015, Chen, G.T. et al., 2012, Yeh, J.Y. et al., 2011, Chen, Z. et al., 2017).

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    What else can be done to cleanse the body?

    Improve your diet

    To purify the body, there is nothing like eating pureed vegetables after periods of excess, often synonymous with excessive consumption of saturated fats, refined sugars or alcohol. This cocktail puts the liver to the test and can cause the appearance of fats in the liver cells, which impairs their detox activity. In addition, it is also recommended:
    • Adopt a healthy diet: nothing better than reducing the intake of excess food in favour of low-calorie and easily digestible foods in the first place. Balanced meals must be favoured, favouring seasonal fruits and vegetables, raw or slow-cooked, whole grains and limiting saturated fats, red meat and ultra-processed foods.
    • Drink enough water: as water in all its forms (herbal teas, soups, infusions, etc.) is a vehicle for elimination, it is important to ensure that it is ingested every day to ensure good diuresis.
    • Sleep enough and at regular times, with a stomach not too full.
    • Limit alcohol consumption.
    • Doing sports: a study carried out in mice suggests that sport has a protective effect on the liver concerning damage caused to it.
    Vegetables and fruits

    Concluding, why do we need to detox?

    It is important to reduce the contact that we have with toxins. We can do this by limiting exposure to contaminants, maintaining proper hand hygiene, using no unnecessary chemicals, and practising activities where the air quality is adequate.

    As stated at the beginning of this blog, the Internet abounds with programs, diets and detox cures that promise wonders. With variable duration, more or less restrictive, with or without prior dietary restrictions. That is why it is always recommended to choose safe options that show guarantees and ask for the opinion of professionals to choose the most appropriate options for each one’s needs.

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