Detoxification: The Basics


Avoid toxicants, take a break from electronic devices, eat nutrient-rich whole foods, immerse yourself in nature, sweat often, breathe deeply, drink water, and get restful sleep.

What is Detoxification?

Detoxification is reducing exposure to, and optimizing removal of, toxins.

A toxin is any agent (external or internal) that interferes with good health. This includes environmental, social, physical, emotional, and chemical stressors or agents.

Sources of toxins include:

  • Air: second hand smoke, air pollution, mold spores, etc.
  • Water: heavy metals, etc.
  • Food: herbicides, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, refined sugar, advanced glycation end-products, etc.
  • Personal Products: shampoos, make-ups, deodorants, plastic containers, etc.
  • Psychosocial stress: negative mindset, poor coping mechanisms, toxic relationships, etc.

External toxins gain entry to the body through the roof of the nasal cavity, the lungs, the skin, and the gut. They can also be passed from mother to fetus.

Some strategies to reduce exposure to toxins include:

  • Commute on side streets to avoid pollution from automobile exhaust
  • Adopt regular home ventilation and mold checks
  • Use an air purifier and water filter
  • Eat organic homegrown produce
  • Avoid cooking with refined sugar
  • Avoid drinking or eating out of plastic containers

What effect do toxins have in the body?

The effect that toxins have on the body depends on:

  • A person’s genetic susceptibility
  • The toxin
    • potency
    • exposure duration
    • dose

Toxic accumulation can occur over time, and gradually (or suddenly) interrupt normal cell function. Immune, neurological, and endocrine systems are commonly affected. Toxins can cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and dysbiosis (imbalance between good and bad bacteria), and impair enzyme, hormone, and immune functions.

What are some clues that I may have a high body burden of toxins?

If you are not responding to normally effective therapies, you may have a high toxic load. Other clues include allergies, recurrent infections, hormonal disturbances, disturbances in reproductive functions, autoimmune conditions, and persistent sensitivities to foods or chemicals. If you remember any specific occupational, hobby-related, or residential exposures to toxins, be sure to relay these to your health professional (thinking about strong smells, loud sounds, and awful tastes can be helpful in recalling exposures).

How can I optimize removal of toxins from my body?

Prime movers of detoxification include the liver, kidneys, skin, gastrointestinal tact, and lungs. Other routes of excretion include hair, nails, and secretions, such as tears.

  • Vegetables (in every colour) and herbs support liver detoxification enzymes.
  • Water is important not only for every biochemical process in the body, but also for elimination of toxins through the kidneys. Drink water! A plant-based diet can also help alkalinize the urine, further promoting toxin removal through the kidneys.
  • Sweating via exercise or a sauna promotes toxin release through the skin. Drink water and consider a multi-mineral supplement to restore lost fluids and electrolytes.
  • Fibre helps remove toxins via the GI tract. Probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (food for good bacteria), when combined with a healthy diet, establish a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Mind-body exercises and mindfulness breathing are effective strategies to cope with stress and develop resilience. Positive, value-based affirmations are another great way to manage stress.
  • Adequate sleep gives metabolic pathways time to work.
  • Supplements including antioxidants and minerals can help bolster metabolic functions and address deficiencies.


  • Avoid toxicants, eat nutrient-rich whole foods, immerse yourself in nature, sweat often, breathe deeply, drink water, and get restful sleep.
  • For those who have a higher toxic burden or are more susceptible, engage in multidisciplinary discussion to get a personalized wellness plan.
  • Chat with your trusted healthcare practitioner!