Updated: Oct 29, 2022
What is detoxification? When you hear that word, you may think of a detox juice, or some weird diet tea that promises to help you lose 5 pounds (thank you, marketing companies!), but it is much more complex than that!
In a nutshell, detoxification is simply the act of removing toxic substances. Our bodies do this naturally- through our skin, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, endocrine system, and most importantly- through the liver.
Any environmental toxins you touch, eat or breathe in go into your bloodstream and get filtered through the liver. Many of these substances are endocrine disrupters, meaning that they alter the normal function of our hormones. Estrogen dominance, PMS symptoms, hormonal acne, rosacea, and moodiness/anger are just a few of many conditions associated with impaired liver function in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
While we can't completely remove toxins overnight, there are some steps you can take to 1) improve your body's ability to detox naturally and 2) lower the amount of toxins you introduce to your body. Here is my list of 7 ways to help your body detox that can help you balance hormones and feel great!
In this blog post you'll leanr the basics of:
How to detox naturally
How to support hormonal balance through detoxification
Nutritional & lifestyle changes that support detoxing
7 Steps to detox and support hormonal health
1. Sweat it out
One of the easiest ways to help you body detox is by getting a good sweat in, ideally several times per week. Our skin is our largest organ and sweating helps push out heavy metals, chemicals (like BPA) and some studies show that is can help with bacterial cleansing. Sweating is especially important if you live in a colder climate where you aren't naturally sweating when you go outside for periods of time. If you're not naturally sweating a few times per week, consider using a sauna (at your gym, health club, or purchasing your own). I personally prefer an infrared sauna, because it heats your body more gently from the inside out. I love my infrared sauna blanket -I use it a couple times per week to help me get a really good sweat!
2. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous veggies (like cauliflower, broccoli, arugula, kale, and cabbage) are not only a great source of natural fiber, but they also contain a compound called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) that helps to neutralize & break down chemicals in the body. Steam them, roast, them, or throw them in your smoothie.
Note: there are many sources that warn against consumption of cruciferous vegetables if you have thyroid issues. For a normal, healthy adult, you would have to consume thousands of pounds of these veggies for it to negatively impact thyroid. Always talk to your doctor though about your personal situation.
3. High-fiber diet
Chronic constipation can also impair the body's ability to eliminate excess estrogen, and it will be reabsorbed back into the blood stream. Getting enough fiber in your diet is essential to ensure regular, healthy bowel movements. Ideally, you want to get fiber from food but supplementation can help if your diet is lacking. I recommend gradually building up your fiber intake over the course of a few weeks, otherwise if you drastically increase your fiber intake too quickly, you could experience GI discomfort. Some of my favorite high-fiber foods are flaxseeds & chia seeds (add them to smoothies or salads!), pears, avocados, and lentil.
4. Castor oil
Castor oil has been used for many years in the naturopathic/ holistic medicine world. When used topically, castor oil can support a gut cleanse, lymphatic health, and even help treat constipation. There are two ways to apply it-
Rub it all over your abdomen at night. Make sure to wear a big T-shirt that you don't mind getting dirty, because castor oil does stain. Take a quarter-sized amount of castor oil in your palms, and rub it all over your abdomen. Not sure where to rub it? Think, "boobs to pubes" (haha- you'll never forget it now!!)
Prepare a castor oil pack using a flannel cloth and place it right over your liver with a hot water bottle on top for at least an hour. Read more about how to prepare a castor oil pack here.
5. Lower your overall toxic load
This one is the most obvious and simple step, but just because something is SIMPLE, does not mean it is EASY. Trying the steps above to detox, but not taking steps to lower the toxins you come into contact with daily, is like pouring water into a bucket that has a hole in the bottom. Do your research and start to learn about the ingredients in the products you come into contact with daily, such as:
Food: For fruits & veggies, go organic when possible. Buy pastured, grass-fed meat & eggs, and wild-caught or sustainably farmed fish whenever possible. Try to limit consumption of processed foods, especially if they have more than 5-6 ingredients. Keep it simple!
Beauty products: many beauty products, particularly those made by American companies, have ingredients that are banned in Europe and other countries for being known endocrine disruptors. If you're putting it on your face every day, it's getting absorbed into your bloodstream every day, too.
Household products: such as cleaning products, laundry products, and scented items. There are so many great natural cleaning products out there (I'm a big fan of Branch Basics).
Water: did you know that most tap water has chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors? Do yourself a favor, and upgrade your water supply. Drinking from a Brita or Pur pitcher is not enough because they don't filter out a major chemical that is present is tap water: chlorine. There are many higher-quality water filters out there (like Berkey) or consider getting your water locally (I get alkaline water from Water Tree Heights).
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about how to detox naturally! As always, I love to hear from you! If you want to read more on hormone balancing you can check out my latest post "5 best foods for balancing hormones".
This post is not a substitute for medical advice and you should always consult your doctor before making an dietary or lifestyle changes.