“Legally detoxicated” (Detox treatments)

I am a firm believer in detoxification treatment, better known as the liver and kidneys functioning properly. The liver breaks down the toxins, the kidney filters them from the blood into urine, and out they go. Aiding the process is sleep and the wonder chemical compound, dihydrogen monoxide.

For those seeking other methods, purveyors offer almost as many methods are there are purveyors. We have acupuncture, antioxidants, bloodletting, chelation, enemas, fasting, juicing, pills, veganism, massages, raw food regimens, ozone therapy, multivitamin overloads, herbal tea, body wraps, the yanking of dental fillings, and lemonade.

I have yet to come across an ad for these products in which the seller names what toxin is removed, explains how it works, or what the treatment benefits. Nor do any of them involve an exam for determining the presence and amount of toxins. While it’s true toxins can lead to kidney stones and other ailments, lemonade won’t fix this. Fasting and the removing dental fillings can be detrimental, and while the other treatments are usually harmless, they can be dangerous if a diseased person relies on detox instead of medicine.

There are a trio of pseudomedicine red flags. First, proponents note that similar treatments were used by the Egyptians and Greeks, an appeal to irrelevant ancient authority. Also, the treatments are in a constant state of flux, while the supposed benefits stay the same. Finally, wide-ranging powers are attributed to detoxification. One naturopath lauded its ability to eliminate fatigue, irritated skin, allergies, stomach infections, baggy eyes, menstrual discomfort, and confusion. Another naturopath recommends a colon flush to treat asthma, arthritis, sinus issues, chronic fatigue, and constipation. With a reach this broad, any seeming benefit can be credited to detoxification. Worse, a colon flush can be dangerous since a colon’s function includes absorbing minerals and shooting them through the bloodstream. The colon is the body part most frequently targeted for detoxing. But the nasty guck is in there because it’s supposed to be and will be exiting the body soon enough.

The most absurd claim I came across was the idea that whole body needs to be regularly detoxified. Someone as full of toxins as what some ads claim most people are would be in the hospital or morgue.

For the more visually oriented, toxic cleansers promote ionic foot baths, in which electrodes are placed in a saltwater-based solution. The seller explains that the process will help toxins exit through the feet, and the customer sees the water change from clear to dirty. However, you could put in your hands, forehead, or rubber duck and get the same result since the discoloration comes from the metals and contaminants on the electrodes. Similar are foot pads, which a person puts on before going to bed. These change color when skin moisture causes the pads’ ingredients to oxidize. The same color change will occur after any contact with moisture.

These purveyors are trying to appeal to a healthy lifestyle or, less charitably, to one’s sense of fear. In truth, toxins are not the root of most diseases. Diseases also have bacterial, viral, and genetic causes. And the ones caused by toxins won’t be cured by wrapping one’s self in seaweed and washing a homeopathic pill down with chamomile tea while leeches suck away.


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