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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 12, 2012

Dear Mark: Are Detoxes and Cleanses Safe and Effective?

By Mark Sisson
140 Comments

Today’s edition of Dear Mark poses and then attempts to answer a question many have pondered: do detox and cleansing diets really work? More specifically, do the “more friendly” types of cleanses work, as opposed to the colon-blasting gut-rending methods? Several years back, I wrote a piece on the latter type of cleanse, and I wasn’t very kind. For all the claims of ropy mucoid plaque bogging down the colon of apparently every American (at least the ones who eat meat), I wasn’t convinced, and the evidence simply wasn’t there. I still maintain my stance, but a recent question from a reader drew my attention to kindler, gentler cleansing and detoxifying diets, the kind that you might see on Dr. Oz or in the cupboard of your vegan buddy.

Do these have any merit? Let’s look into it:

Hi Mark!

I was wondering what your take is on cleanses – I realize you have already done a post on this – kinda, but I’m talking about the nicer cleanses (if there is such thing).

Before discovering the Primal way of life I bought a cleansing kit, no, not the horrid lemon detox diet or anything like that. It’s called the “Ultimate Cleanse,” and it requires one to eat only vegetables, fruit and raw dairy for 10 days, in addition to taking the herbs and supplements provided.

I would like to do it, not only because it was expensive, but also just to see how I feel after. Although I don’t like the idea of giving up my fats and proteins as I have grown accustomed to, that have been giving me long lasting energy, and making me feel GREAT – a whole lot better than eating a heap of fruit anyway! More importantly, I don’t want to undo all the good work that I’ve done since eating Primally.

I thought you could maybe do a post on the more friendly type of cleanses (if they exist), and whether it is worth doing, or whether they do more harm than good.

It would be great to know your thoughts!

Thanks,

Debbie

I looked up the “Ultimate Cleanse” and found this, a product by Nature’s Secret. It has a “two-part system” of detoxification, with a proprietary blend of herbal extracts, and then cleansing, with a proprietary blend of plant fibers. The ingredient list for the detox blend is listed here. I randomly chose a few of the listed herbs, spent a few minutes in Pubmed looking for supportive literature, and sure enough, found some. It wasn’t definitive, and it wasn’t necessarily in vivo, and the results may not be applicable to humans or your specific situation (or even your colon), but Nature’s Secret clearly didn’t pull these names randomly out of a hat. There’s “something” to them. But the thing is: you probably could randomly assemble a list of herbs off the top of your head, punch them into Pubmed, and find evidence that each and every one of them has a medicinal quality of some sort. Some may be “hepatoprotective” or “hepatocurative,” some may be “anticarcinogenic” or “apoptosis inhibitors,” and many if not most will have antioxidant properties. The point is that herbs have physiological effects. They all “do something,” which is why they’ve been used for tens of thousands of years in folk medicine (there’s evidence that Neanderthals utilized medicinal herbs). Many modern pharmaceuticals are even derived from, or informed by, medicinal plants.

The big problem with all these detox diets and programs is that little to no scientific evidence for their efficacy exists. The herbs that make up the blends may have some evidence behind them, but beyond anecdotal reports from online forums or real-life acquaintances, there’s nothing to evaluate about the blends themselves. I couldn’t find a cleanse promoter with a section of their website containing clinical research, for example. Anecdotes are certainly interesting, and if I hear enough from people I know and trust, they can even be persuasive. I’m not writing them off outright, but when no concrete mechanisms beyond Pubmed abstracts that consumers must dig up themselves are proposed, there is little to discuss – and that makes it harder to criticize.

Without digging up the ingredients of all the myriad cleansing and detox protocols out there, here’s my general take. Even if these herbal detox diet/cleansing blends work (and there’s no hard evidence that they do), the effects aren’t permanent. Sure, you could do a darn thorough job of cleaning your house every couple months, but if you don’t address the core reasons for the accumulation of clutter, you won’t have solved the problem. The house will get dirty again, the toxins will bioaccumulate again, and you’ll have to cleanse it again. You can’t take these blends forever. I mean, I suppose you could, but who would want to?

So, how do we address the core reasons for the accumulation of toxins?

Well, any discussion of detoxification is incomplete without mentioning the body’s natural, endogenous methods of removing, nullifying, and processing deleterious compounds. Indeed, the liver and the kidneys are our “natural detox units,” literally crafted over millions of years to be stalwart expungers of harmful metabolic byproducts and exogenous toxins. The liver prevents pathogens from passing into the bloodstream, detoxifies environmental toxins, and processes excess nitrogen left over from the breakdown of protein. The kidneys sift through blood and filter out extra water, urea (a toxic metabolic byproduct of protein catabolism), and other wastes, which exit the body in the urine. This is how every able man, woman, and child detoxifies and cleanses. We all come equipped with this rather effective equipment.

The most surefire way, then, to avoid inundating our bodies with unhealthy compounds is to support the function of our livers and kidneys, whether by eating foods that contain supportive compounds or avoiding foods that contain stressful compounds. That’s easy enough, and it doesn’t take a bunch of detoxifying herbal blends (and no enemas).

For liver health, avoid omega-6 polyunsaturated oils in particular, and limit polyunsaturated fats in general, getting them only from fish, eggs, animals, and nuts. Don’t eat refined sugar. Don’t drink too much alcohol, and when you do, eat some saturated fat with it and really minimize your polyunsaturated fat intake the day of.

For liver health, eat egg yolks often and try some liver once in awhile. Both are the richest sources of choline, which our livers require to process fats. We can also make choline from methionine, an amino acid found in animal products, but it’s best to get plenty of both. Primal eaters, be aware: our choline requirements go up the more fat we eat.

Kidney health appears to be adversely affected by fructose intake when compared to glucose. And kidney failure seems to be preceded by the onset of metabolic syndrome, which, as we all know, has its roots in many of the same things that lead to fatty liver.

Funnily enough, the reason why, in my opinion, many of these cleansing diets could actually be beneficial in a roundabout way is because of what they eliminate. It’s not that the lemon juice, cayenne pepper, grade-B maple syrup, and distilled water are cleansing and detoxifying you; it’s that you’re no longer (over)eating the foods fried in polyunsaturated fats, the fructose-laden candy and soda, the nightly six pack of watery ethanol. All those foods, in the long term, actively conspire against the health of your liver and kidneys, the omega-6 fats, sugar, and alcohol by contributing toward fatty liver (which obviously impairs liver function), metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes (which impairs kidney function).

It’s pretty simple, in the end. As a society, our natural detoxification systems are overburdened with terrible food and a lack of supportive micronutrients. Detox gurus can talk about all the environmental toxins circulating through the air and being absorbed transdermally, but the biggest threat (and easiest target) is the stuff that we willingly put into our mouths, chew up, and swallow. If you really want to give yourself a chance at natural detoxification, eliminate the awful food that’s fouling up the process and start eating some nutritious Primal fare that supports liver and kidney function.

TAGS:  dear mark, toxins

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140 Comments on "Dear Mark: Are Detoxes and Cleanses Safe and Effective?"

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Samuel
4 years 6 months ago

It seems that lots of folks want an instant fix that requires little effort or accountability.

Burn
4 years 6 months ago

it’s the American way! Always looking for a quick fix

R
R
4 years 6 months ago

Dumb comment. Most of the people cleansing are the same people eating healthy diets, or what they believe to be healthy diets.

Samuel
4 years 6 months ago

R, I respect your opinion. Could you elaborate? You’re saying they’re just misinformed? If so, what makes my comment dumb?

GaryM
GaryM
4 years 6 months ago

For liver support, does anyone think supplementing with milk thistle is a good idea?

sjmusic2
sjmusic2
4 years 6 months ago

I have supplemented with milk thistle seed powder for some time. I can’t say for certain that it is supporting my liver, but I have noticed that my sleep is much deeper and more healthful – maybe there is a connection ??!!

liberty1776
liberty1776
4 years 6 months ago

Milk thistle contains a high amount of magnesium. I too have noticed that when I take a magnesium supplement before bedtime that I sleep like a stone.

ryn
4 years 6 months ago

milk thistle helps replenish the glutathione oxidase system in the liver, and promotes liver regeneration. one of the nice things about it is that its constituents enter the entero-hepatic loop, so you get more bang for the buck.

Grant
Grant
4 years 6 months ago

I looked into liver health when my mother got diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver and then cirrhosis.
Forget supplements. If you stick with Mark’s advice you should be right – AVOID alcohol, PUFA, and sugar, EAT ruminant liver once a week or three egg yolks everyday (or both).
For those that don’t like liver – cut it into swallowable pieces and freeze so you can throw it down without chewing.

Andy
Andy
4 years 6 months ago

I can’t stand the taste of liver but I have found a way to eat it. I find that if I move it to the side of my mouth to chew, and make sure it doesn’t touch my tongue, then I have no problem with it at all.

Kathryn
Kathryn
4 years 6 months ago

Does it have to be ruminant liver? What about chicken liver, which I find so much more palatable (especially when made into a pate)?

Alex
Alex
4 years 6 months ago

What about those green juice cleanses. Like drinking freshly made green vegetable juice for X number of days? or even just having a green juice per day as a supplement? not the sweet fruit ones, maybe a green apple in there for flavor rest are veg.

Trav
Trav
4 years 6 months ago

I sold my juicer at a discount to a friend after a few months of use. You’re better off just using a blender to make those fruits and veggies into a smoothie. That way you get the juice along with some healthy veggie fiber. Juicing separates the juice from the fiber so it’s like shotgunning sugar and starch into your body. Best to keep those carbs in their complex form to avoid huge insulin spikes.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
4 years 6 months ago

Plus it’ s a pain in the a** assembling, disassembling, and cleaning a juicer every day…

Noel
Noel
4 years 6 months ago

It depends on whats your goal with juicing. I am a ulcerative colitis patient and not interested in too much of fiber so would prefer juice without fiber. I am planning to buy Omega J8004 juicer. Which one you had?

Melissa
4 years 6 months ago
I use the Omega Vert juicer, and love it. (Omega Verts do very well when juicing leafy greens.) I did an 8-day juice fast/cleanse a few months ago, and had huge improvements in energy levels and PCOS issues. I didn’t lose any weight (I juiced too many fruits…) but I wasn’t juicing to lose weight. Since then, some of the symptoms that went away after juicing have started to creep back. So I’m now adding in a green juice once a day to see if that will get me back on track. If after a while it doesn’t I’ll juice… Read more »
Grokitmus Primal
4 years 6 months ago

I think this is a good use for intermittent fasting.

rob
rob
4 years 6 months ago

I gave Colon Blow a try a few years back and it left me clean as a whistle.

onewomanband
4 years 6 months ago

But you’d have to eat 300 bowls to get the fiber in just one bowl of new Super Colon Blow.

rob
rob
4 years 6 months ago

I have a friend who did the Super Colon Blow, he made the mistake of taking it before he went kite surfing on Lake Erie and he wound up getting blown clear over to the opposite side of the lake.

HopelessDreamer
HopelessDreamer
4 years 6 months ago

LOL!!

peggy
peggy
4 years 6 months ago

I like mixing the Super Colon Blow with Bass-o-matic Bass

Cynthia
Cynthia
4 years 6 months ago

God that was funny! I laughed so hard I cried.

Michael C
Michael C
4 years 6 months ago

Castor oil will do the trick pretty well also and is probably a lot cheaper.

onewomanband
4 years 6 months ago

I wonder whether it’s an emotionally/spiritually cathartic ritual that people are looking for rather than a physiological cleansing process. If so, just ditching junk and grains isn’t going to cut it — not dramatic or punishing enough. I believe that is the reason many popular diets have “phases” that prescribe precise amounts of particular magical foods instead of just having people eat well from day 1.

marcus
marcus
4 years 6 months ago

It’s a funny thing being human. We’re animals, we’re part of the ecology yet we we’re bestowed with this adolescent notion that “we know better”. Our subsequent tinkering has led us away from health and happiness and at the same time given way to inconcievable advances. What’s goin on momma nature?!

Chris
4 years 6 months ago

Don’t worry – she’s planning her revenge.

Primal Texas
4 years 6 months ago

Be wary of any detox or blend of supplements that will unnaturally spike your intake of vitamins and nutrients! There is such thing as too much of a good thing (hypervitaminosis, anyone?).

And, of course, check the ingredients. Sugar goes by many names.

Peggy The Primal Parent
4 years 6 months ago

In the early days when I was trying to regain my health I tried countless detox programs and kits. I never felt great afterwards. They never seemed to help at all. In the end they certainly may have made a move towards a healthier liver or kidney but ultimately what I have found over the years is that a supremely clean diet is the best detox there is.

Nature built us well. Eat the foods she gives us and only the foods she gives us, in reasonable, natural amounts, and detox comes naturally.

Arty
Arty
4 years 6 months ago
I completely agree. I used to take Ultimate Cleanse ALL the time because I had chronic constipation. All this product did was eventually gave me a bowel movement (about a weeks in taking it)…I also noticed my veins shrinking and limbs always being cold. Compared to the primal diet, this ultimate cleanse has NOTHING…it does NOT detox at all. It just moved the bowels (and perhaps only for me). Since I continued to eat like crap (SAD at its finest) there was no detox being achieved at all. This product just ended up stressing my system even more than it… Read more »
Joe
Joe
4 years 6 months ago
Mark, I think this is good advice for people that are generally in good health. However, there are a lot of people out there whose systems are in really bad shape. Their normal detox pathways are blocked up or dysfunctional. They may have undigested food from gluten problems that end up fermenting in the gut. They may have pathogens/parasites/bacteria. Sometimes the detox system becomes overwhelmed. Anyways, I think its not really fair to say that just avoiding toxins will do the trick if you are very ill or have lived on the “american diet” your whole life. These people can… Read more »
Sabrina
Sabrina
4 years 6 months ago
I agree with your comment. For those of us who have been very ill for a long time, sometimes a cleanse is exactly what we need. While I am not condoning the use of any particular commercial cleanse, I feel that the idea of giving one’s detoxifying organs a break is a useful one. Mark is correct in pointing out that it is often the foods that are omitted during a cleanse that give us a greater sense of well being. My version of a cleanse is consuming nothing but bone broth for a couple of days. It makes me… Read more »
law talking girl
law talking girl
4 years 6 months ago

Your detox organs do not need to take a “break” every once in a while. They are not muscles. Your heart and lungs do not need to take a “break” either. These organs and others perform their functions 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, for 80 years or more, without a single “break.”

A cleanse is basically a fast. If a short period of fasting makes you feel good, then by all means go for it. But in no way does fasting give your liver and kidneys a “break.” That is just not how the body works.

Hillside Gina
Hillside Gina
4 years 6 months ago
The colon is not a detox pathway. What do you think a “detox pathway” is exactly? If you’ve lived on the SAD all your life, committing to eating a clean, whole-foods diet will make you healthier. We aren’t ruminants – our digestive system does not ferment food. Anyone who has had a colonoscopy knows that there is not that much up in there. You drink that godawful laxative they give you and it completely empties you out. If someone really has a colon blockage, they would be doubled up in pain, and without medical intervention would be dead. A blockage… Read more »
Andrew
Andrew
4 years 6 months ago
Gina, You’re right, the colon is an elimination, not a detox pathway. It is however, along with the small intestine, loaded with both good and not so good bacteria. When starches are not properly broken down by pancreatic enzymes they ferment. When fats are not properly broken down by bile salts they rot. Hence gas and bloating, or hopefully the lack thereof . Sure, a consistently healthy diet is ideal. But for someone who is finally enjoying going to the bathroom everyday after only going once every two weeks or for another who has been migraine free for the past… Read more »
HillsideGina
4 years 6 months ago

I don’t believe someone with such issues can be helped with one of these quack “detox” programs.

Toffler
4 years 5 months ago

Gina,
There is increasing evidence that what is seen on a colonoscopy is misleading. What has long been thought of as the colon walls are actually impacted foodstuffs stuck along the colon walls. That impacted matter is unable to be flushed daily with a standard bowel movement; a cleanse would be more suitable.

Shary
Shary
4 years 3 months ago

Nonsense.

As stated in the article, the healthy human body is designed to cleanse itself. The “evidence” you’re talking about is hype generated by the manufacturers of so-called cleansing products. Those people are interested only in profit. It’s to their advantage if they can convince you that your body is “toxic” (which it more than like isn’t).

A much better idea would be to save your money and optimize your overall health through appropriate diet and exercise. This website is a good place to start.

Liz
Liz
4 years 6 months ago
I love this post because it really hits home the message that getting/staying healthy and healing yourself is really just, simple. Sometimes I get frustrated by the seemingly slow progress of some of my own minor health improvement goals (in this case, my acne), and perplexed by the fact that my skin is crappy now even after switching to a healthy diet, when for YEARS I ate the worst crap you could imagine EVERY DAY yet had milky white, smooth, perfect skin (even during puberty!). Now I realize that for all of those years of shitty eating, there was damage… Read more »
Gillian
Gillian
4 years 6 months ago
Hey Liz, I don’t know what’s your condition exactly, but I’ve been fighting acne for many years (accutane – 2 rounds, minocycline, anti-bio lotions..) After I’ve cut off milk products, sugar and processed products my situation turned much better, but I’ve made a fortunate mistake – bulking up on what I thought is “healthy carbs” (whole wheat, whole rice, oatmeal etc). Bulking up (wanted to gain weight for body-building) stressed my stomach, made me feel like crap and along everything else made my acne worse. Giving up wheat, sugar, milk and processed products and oils, eating plenty of veggies and… Read more »
Elizabeth
Elizabeth
4 years 6 months ago
Thanks, Gillian 🙂 I have a feeling that for me, the vegetable oils are the biggest contributor, with sugar being next. I’ve noticed no difference in my skin when cutting out or increasing dairy, except for my skin was actually at its best when I was eating a ton of this amazing grass-fed yogurt made from non-homogenized milk from the farmer’s market (so I think another factor for me is definitely the balance of my gut flora… I know they play a fairly significant role in metabolizing/regulating certain female sex hormones… which might also be related to the fact that… Read more »
Gillian
Gillian
4 years 6 months ago

That’s interesting, Liz. I’ve got clicky jaw aswell (it doesn’t lock, but my yawns make a fierce click sound). I’m a male, by the way. In regards to what KL wrote in the comment below this, I guess it has some truth in it – when I had repressed feelings in me I used to touch my skin a lot..

Shary
Shary
4 years 3 months ago

That clicky jaw could be an indicator that something’s out of whack. Pick up a copy of Pete Egoscue’s book, “Pain Free.” He has some very good exercises that will get rid of it.

Trixie
Trixie
2 years 7 months ago

I’ve been looking in to this too, liz. found this which is interesting, thought i’d share. http://www.paleoforwomen.com/hormonal-acne-where-its-coming-from-and-what-to-do-about-it/
I also get the clicky jaw but find mine is totally related to stress – not cyclical with my hormones! think TMJ might be what mine is because i get lockjaw when i’ve been extra stressed.

KL (almostGrok'd)
KL (almostGrok'd)
4 years 6 months ago

Liz,
on the body-mind connection side of things pimples/acne are associated with repressed anger. You could try some positive thinking/affirmations stuff, or not.
Just offering a different field of view.
have a great day.
KL

Alex
Alex
4 years 6 months ago

Those detox products are great for detoxing your wallet of pesky green rectangles.

Milla
4 years 6 months ago

ROFL, that is EPIC!!! 😀

Trav
Trav
4 years 6 months ago

I’m imagining the cat in your avatar saying that.

HopelessDreamer
HopelessDreamer
4 years 6 months ago

Again, LOL! These comments are making my day!

Lizzy
Lizzy
4 years 6 months ago

Lol 🙂 that’s great.

JL
JL
4 years 6 months ago

How about just eating healthy and throwing in a weekly 24 hour fast?

Katherine
4 years 6 months ago

Great post! It entirely makes sense that people feel better after a detox because of the processed foods their eliminating and the switch to whole foods for 10 or so days.

FB
FB
4 years 6 months ago

I think the best detox would fasting done properly.

Fair Flavors
4 years 6 months ago

Once I did a 2 day fruit detox, gained 3 pounds and felt weird and shaky for 2 days. A few years later I tried the “lemon juice detox” where you mix juice with cayenne and maple syrup. Three glasses in and I found myself throwing up in the bathroom. I couldn’t hold it down. No more so called”detox” for me. I’ll stick to primal. Never felt better.

Milla
4 years 6 months ago
I always cringe when I hear the word ‘detox’. Firstly, because our body is equipped to efficiently get rid of waste anyhow! It’s one of those marketing words, that are vague and don’t really mean anything. It will probably ‘work’ (skin clarity, energy, bowel function) for someone who’se living off junk food, but for someone whose already eating healthy, its pointless, especially if it involves huge amounts of fiber and/or juice (aka sugar). If you want to ‘detox’, simply eat when you’re hungry; it will give your digestive system time to move things along, which is ‘detox’ in action. Great… Read more »
Adam Sharif
Adam Sharif
4 years 6 months ago

Great post Mark. I had liver the other day and couldnt sleep. Wonder why?

cancerclasses
4 years 6 months ago
The body stores toxins primary in it’s fat reserves, the body’s fat stores are living tissues with their own vascular system, so any WATER based detox program that does not address the body’s fat stores will be largely ineffective. Fats on the other hand can emulsify other fats, just like you use WD-40 to dissolve tar & gum on your car, and over time will “wash” fatty organs and structures via the natural process of (fat) cell, sterol & hormone interchange & replacement. Since primary organs are densely fatty and protein structures, the absolute best thing anyone can do to… Read more »
cancerclasses
4 years 6 months ago

Also remember that the liver and kidneys are self cleaning & self repairing FILTERS, NOT storage organs, they do not store toxins but instead dump toxins & wastes into the body’s urinary & excretory channels for disposal OUTSIDE the body. This is why animal liver & kidneys are safe to eat, and it’s the reason why regular intake of high quality fats & protein are absolutely essential, even critical to maintain the ability of these organs to clean & maintain themselves.

Sian
4 years 6 months ago

Excuse my ignorance here but if the body stores toxins in it’s fat reserves what happens to the toxins when you go primal and begin to lose the weight?

cancerclasses
4 years 6 months ago
Sian, When the body goes into it’s mild ketotic state after using up all of it’s stored glycogen it begins using fats for energy, and in doing so some or all of any toxins that have been stored in the fat cells can be released back into circulation in your bloodstream & system and may provoke what is (not exactly appropriately) described as a ‘Herxheimer Reaction’, sometimes strong & intense, which may cause a wide range of temporary symptoms, such as hives, itching, swelling, headaches & flu like symptoms, fatigue, etc. This would usually only be true for a person… Read more »
Nion
4 years 6 months ago

Exactly my point – if you’re not eating so much crap in the first place, you won’t need to ‘cleanse’. I cleaned up my diet and body with primal already…

rob
rob
4 years 6 months ago

I think if you just avoid eating lead paint chips you’re 90% of the way to detox-ville.

HopelessDreamer
HopelessDreamer
4 years 6 months ago

Several people mentioned Fasting- I agree that it is Nature’s cleansing method. A few weeks ago I felt congested and achey…no fever or anythng, but I hadnt felt “sick” in so long it really was a surprise. I didnt wake up with an appetite the next day, and that evening I just had some chicken (bone) broth, not much else. The lack of food helped clear out the clogged sinuses, and the next day I was able to rest and recover fully.

Dr. Mike Tremba
4 years 6 months ago

Thanks for your post, Mark.

As much as (frequently expensive) detoxes sound great to me, I’m always drawn back to the naturally detoxifying effects of whole, natural, organic foods to do that job on a daily basis.

BTW, as I’m sure many of your other readers do, I have undenatured whey protein every morning.
The cysteine-containing glutathione is also a great natural detoxifyer.

Between it and the whole foods, I don’t think I could ask for more.

Thanks again for the post, Mark

Anais
Anais
4 years 6 months ago
Thanks Mark for responding to this question. I have been wondering for quite some time how acceptable a juice cleanse is in the primal lifestyle. If you take the herbal blend out of the equation: What do you think of a few days of no food/only green juices ? And by green juice I mean a fresh blend of organic spinach, kale etc.. with just 1 green apple or 1 carrot to make it more palatable? My concern is the Glycemic index of the juice: on one hand it is almost only veggies, on the other hand it is pure… Read more »
anon
anon
4 years 6 months ago
When I started trying to get healthy I did a bunch of different kinds of detoxes (in a box, nasty epsom salts oil and grapefruit juice liver cleanses, juice fasts, etc), and I never seemed to get much of a result… well except that I did poop more (TMI!!!), so I guess that was good to a degree…but no other apparent results. However, I decided to try doing fasting for Lent this year, and wow. This is like a real detox. Immediately, I have more energy, feel better, skin looks better. I started with intermittent juice fasting and that still… Read more »
Buddy
4 years 6 months ago
I agree with the gyst of this article. I think society generally has wrong what real “toxins” plug us up. And you are spot on with the best way to not get “toxified” in the first place. For a lot of us however, we are pretty damn toxified in our current state. I did the Isagenix cleanse, lost 15 lbs, gained crazy energy, and used it as a catalyst to moving into the primal concept. I am far from following it perfectly, but much much much closer than I was pre cleanse. My main goal since has been cutting out… Read more »
HillsideGina
4 years 6 months ago

A decade of belly fat in nine days on some kind of quack diet? Please.

Jenni
Jenni
4 years 6 months ago

Great article, and something I’ve thought for a long time. If you nourish your body it will function gloriously!

Joanna
4 years 6 months ago

I agree, great article.

I think a lot of people think about doing cleanses because they feel so bad. And they feel so bad because they are eating the wrong foods. Maybe not even what is considered crap, but sometimes just eating something they think is healthy like grains and not realizing how bad they can be for their system.

Once you eat Paleo you don’t need to worry about any of this stuff. Another benefit to add to the list.

Keven
4 years 6 months ago

I’ve been curious about this just recently. Although I do believe detoxification kits and cleanses are probably unhealthy and ineffective, I am sure there are healthy ways to detoxify, mainly through diet changes.

An example of this would be cilantro, which I read about in a comment yesterday. I wouldn’t mind buying (or even growing) this healthy herb and liberally adding it to dishes.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19902160

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[…] Article from Mark’s Daily Apple on his thoughts on cleansing diets. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← March 8, 2012 […]

Olivia
Olivia
4 years 6 months ago

Isn’t a detox essentially a gentle fast? And there are definitely cleansing benefits to fasting, as I think you’ve talked about before.

Susan
Susan
4 years 6 months ago

Thanks for clearing that up! Can’t say I have not been tempted, but just could never muster up the courage. I know many who cleanse often – and they are often the same people who eat the food you suggest need cleansing. I think I will stick to clean foods and let my body take care of the rest.

Sanctus Real
Sanctus Real
4 years 6 months ago

Debbie – How much do you think you could get for it on eBay? Honestly, if you’re happy with how you eat, there is zero reason to mess with things, even if it means you wasted money. Try eBay; I’m convinced I could unload a bellybutton lint collection there.

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4 years 6 months ago

[…] Are Detoxes and Cleanses Safe and Effective – Mark’s Daily Apple […]

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[…] Love Read – Dear Mark: Are Detoxes and Cleanses Safe and Effective?, in short: “The big problem with all these detox diets and programs is that little to no […]

Brad
4 years 6 months ago

I’m about to go on the juicing fast. I made a test drink with carrots, celery, beets, lemon, apples, oranges but then put a huge chunk of ginger in it. I will remember not to do that next time haha.

I think fasts are great to sort of reboot your body. Thanks for this post.

Brad

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[…] Are Detoxes and Cleanses Safe and Effective?, Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Slowcooker
Slowcooker
4 years 6 months ago

Did Mark just tell me to stop drinking?

Jan
4 years 6 months ago

Nah. I think you must have misheard him….

Ryan Lazarus
4 years 6 months ago
The Functional Medicine approach to biotransformation and elimination (detoxification) is as follows: An essential physiologic process that rids the body of xenobiotics (any foreign substance.) Balances the crucial phases of liver detoxification, known as phase I (biotransformation) and Phase II (conjugation). These must be in balance to properly excrete a harmful foreign compound. Balancing these phases requires essential nutrients such as riboflavin, Niacin, B12, BCAA’s, N-acetylcysteine, methionine, glycine and other amino acids. This process must be performed while removing other harmful foods from the diet (elimination diet) such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy and other allergenic foods. The introduction of… Read more »
Joshua
4 years 6 months ago

I always think people are crazy when they are detoxing from food. Just eat better, crazies!

vizeet
vizeet
4 years 6 months ago

This is excellent post.
I recently went to an Ayurvedic clinic to understand their version of detox.
They had following procedure:
Early morning medicated ghee (clarified butter) for few days. During this time eat just small amount of diluted rice when hungry. They stop it and do colon cleansing when skin becomes oily and have other symptoms.
Though I am not a fan of colon cleansing but I liked their method of gentle fasting.

cancerclasses
4 years 6 months ago

Very smart, I like that. Butyrate, butyric acid in butter, is the single most important colon nutrient, it’s one of the main nutrients used by epithelial cells that line the last 3 feet of your colon, very important for cancer prevention and is why people that avoid eating fats have the highest rates of colon cancer.

See beatcfsandfms dot org, Heal Your Gut

jillybean525
4 years 6 months ago

What’s your thoughts on mercury from amalgams?

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[…] Are Detoxes and Cleanses Safe and Effective? […]

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[…] Mark’s Daily Apple Related Posts: Detox diets’ ‘health boost’ claims unfounded, says expertDear Mark: Do Perfect Foods Exist?Managing Your Mitochondria: Nutrients and SupplementsDear Mark: Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM; Iodine for ThyroidMy Top 6 Anti-Inflammatory FoodsIs Honey a Safe(r) Sweetener? This entry was posted in Health and tagged Cleanses, Dear, Detoxes, Effective, Mark, Safe by admin. Bookmark the permalink. […]

lulz
lulz
4 years 6 months ago

no mention of diatomaceous earth ?

Grokette
Grokette
4 years 6 months ago

I use DTE to kill bugs…. how are you using it?

lydia
4 years 6 months ago

Important topic! Most people aren’t really ready to do a proper detox anyway, as their systems are too out of wahck to handle toxins trying to leave – clear pathways are a must. In order to get ‘clean’ you gotta start by eating clean. Eating fermented foods along with a Primal/paleo style diet is a great way to begin detoxing your body – not to mention there is always intermittent fasting…….I personally, each season like to do a little house cleaning, so I focus on supporting my liver a bit more and reducing all sugars for a bit!

FlyRodJeff
FlyRodJeff
4 years 6 months ago

My doctor (Osteopath and 2nd generation Korean herbalist, acupuncturist) recommended that I detoxify my liver by drinking hot tea made with organic apple cider (or lemon juice) and honey. It seemed to work. My body found several gentle yet effective ways of cleansing itself with the help of that tea. My energy level and state of mind improved.

Jenny T
Jenny T
4 years 6 months ago

I’m curious about the point that says “If you do drink alcohol, have some saturated fat with it.” I’ll definitely try this, but was curious why it works. I eat Paleo but still enjoy my alcohol and would like to minimize its damaging effects.

cancerclasses
4 years 6 months ago
From Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet article ‘Is It Smart To Drink?’ http://goog.gl/ZdZA3 “A primary safety concern with alcohol is its effect on the liver. Alcohol consumption can produce fatty liver disease and, eventually, a scarred and damaged liver (cirrhosis). Interestingly, in animal studies the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver occur only when it is combined with polyunsaturated fats: Researchers induced liver disease by feeding mice a combination of alcohol and omega-3-rich fish oil. They then stopped the alcohol and split the mice into two groups, one fed fish oil plus glucose, the other palm oil plus glucose.… Read more »
jennyt
jennyt
4 years 6 months ago

This is super interesting, thank you so much for taking the time to post!

So it sounds like if I drink alcohol I shouldn’t take too much fish oil? My crossfit trainer recommends high doses of fish oil (3-6 tbls) a day if you have sustained an injury during the healing process (sometimes up to a week or two.)

And in general I should keep my fats to primarily animal fat and coconut or palm oil?

GaryM
GaryM
4 years 6 months ago

I think what the post is saying (though I hope not) is that if you enjoy some red wine, you had better not be taking fish oil capsules (even if you are also taking milk thistle, I guess,even everybody says fish oil has various benefits). Apparently if you are going to imbibe in some alcohol, you should ditch the fish oil and have a shot of coconut oil instead.

GaryM
GaryM
4 years 6 months ago

even THOUGH everybody . . .

cancerclasses
4 years 6 months ago
No human being on the planet has any business taking more than 1 or 2 grams, or around 4 percent of TOTAL daily calories, of ANY polyunsaturated oils, a point made clearly and emphatically by not only Mary Enig PhD but also Udo Erasmus, Ed & Patricia Kane PhD, Brian Peskin & others. 4 percent of a 2000 calorie diet amounts to 80 calories, and since fats have approx. 9 calories per gram that amounts to just UNDER 1 gram of liquid poly oils. The reason is because more than 3 or 4 percent intake of any liquid poly oil… Read more »
pat
4 years 6 months ago
I always thought these detox binges were bull. Using the loo and taking a dump is the best way to clean out your colon! Why bother using forceful, or even ‘kinder’ ways of speeding up this process? It doesn’t make any logical sense. Eat veggies, eat coconut oil, maybe use magnesium citrate before bed if you’re constipated. But why spend oodles of money on something that isn’t natural? Quick fix + good health is an oxymoron. It takes time and patience. People are lazy. They do not wish to commit to long-term, healthy eating, no matter WHAT the benefit. They… Read more »
HillsideGina
HillsideGina
4 years 6 months ago

Word.

pat
4 years 6 months ago

Intermittent fasting is fantastic; I’ve been doing it to deal with indigestion/candida issues. The body knows how to heal itself and will tell you (with hunger) when it’s ready to eat again.

The human body is magnificent!

Debbie
Debbie
4 years 6 months ago
So true Pat! It is really quite amazing what the body can do. That is of course, if you are providing it with the right fuel, and treating it in the right way. It’s so important to be able to listen to your body, however sometimes it is easier said than done! 🙂 To me the idea of cleansing is still quite appealing. Maybe it is more of a spiritual thing…hmmm. Do you, as a reader/contributor have any recommendations for a beginner to IF? I do have Marks book, but it is good to know the opinions of others! Oh,… Read more »
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