Alternative medicine practitioners hold that “toxins” can build up in your body’s systems over time. The result of poor diet, little exercise, and pollutants that increasingly surround us in today’s world, these toxic chemicals are held responsible for a wide range of diseases and ailments—from gas to cancer. Increasingly, proponents of alternative medicine are turning to herbal or diet-based “detox” regimes to eliminate these toxins from the body.
Are Toxins Real?
One of the questions that plagues people interested in improving their health is whether or not these toxins actually exist in the environment. The problem lies in the definition of the term. Many doctors (Dr. Amy Tuteur, for example) claim that “toxins” don’t exist at all, and that the alternative medicine community lays claim to them as an invisible means of disease transmission in order to separate patients from their money.
But there are, without a doubt, chemical byproducts in our air, water, food, and skin care products that weren’t necessarily there a generation or two ago—and in many cases their safety has not been adequately tested. Today’s industrial production has introduced a range of pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, and synthetic chemicals to the world—and production of those materials can emit chemicals and particles that may or may not be safe for human exposure.
Those chemicals and particles are real—and as such, may be the “toxins” that traditional Western medicine seeks to discredit. In the quest to practice a scientific form of medicine that only takes into account what we know through studies conducted using the scientific method, doctors may have created a massive blind spot around modern chemical toxins that have a very real ability to harm our bodies.
Toxins and Your Health
The best ways to manage your exposure to the poisons and carcinogens in our daily lives is to become an informed consumer:
- Use products that contain natural ingredients—but don’t just trust a box full of unknown “natural flavors.” Cyanide is natural. I wouldn’t eat it.
- Eat whole, organic foods that haven’t come into contact with pesticides and antibiotics—or grow your own, if you can.
- Use simple, natural products for the hair, skin, and teeth based around oils and herbs instead of unpronounceable chemical components.
- Support your body’s natural elimination mechanisms. Drink alcohol in moderation, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get plenty of quality sleep so that the body can do its job.
If you do choose to “detox” using a diet or herbal methods, choose a strategy that allows a balanced diet and healthy habits. Overtaxing your body may actually have the opposite of your desired effect—stressing your liver, adrenal glands, and digestive system will make it harder for your body to eliminate unwanted waste products, not easier. Care for your body gently and naturally, and you’ll have the best chance of minimizing exposure to unhealthy chemicals.