Detoxification: The Basics

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Here are the basics: Pooping + peeing are your guiding compass, your detox routine should match your toxin load, and don't forget the importance of detoxing the mind. For details read on. 

read your body's Detox + elimination Patterns

When we think of detox, we probably imagine a juice cleanse or perhaps a good sweat session. But healthy + regular detox goes beyond planned elimination. It begins with how much water we drink (see the Nutrition + Hydration module for a refresher), what types of nutrients we are nourishing our bodies with, and what our poop, pee, sweat, breath, and skin are telling us. Ask yourself the following questions to open up dialogue with yourself on what detoxification looks like for you, and check your answers with a well-informed health care provider. 

1. Are you pooping? How many times per day? How long does it take you to pass a bowel movement? What does it look like? Is it particularly malodorous? 

2. Are you peeing? How many times per day? Is it a lot of pee or just a little? What color is it? Does it smell strong/concentrated?

3. Are you sweating? How many times per week? When do you sweat (during exercise, at night, for no reason, etc)? Where do you sweat? Do you sweat a lot or a little? Is it particularly malodorous? Does it stain your clothes/sheets?

4. What does your skin look like? This question applies to your entire body, not just your face! Do you have blemishes? What do they look like? Where are they? Is your skin supple, well hydrated, and warm? Is there any discoloration? What color is your skin? Any yellowing, dullness, gray, redness?

5. What does your breath smell like? Do you have bad breath? During the day? At night? In the morning? Does it get better with brushing your teeth? Do you have a bad taste in your mouth? Any coating on the tongue?

identify toxin exposures

Toxins are all around us, 24/7, 365. Luckily, our bodies are intelligent and efficient and can metabolize and excrete toxins 'round the clock! However, doing our best to keep our toxin exposure to a healthy minimum is incredibly wise and keeps the body from working overtime and getting burnt out. Consider the following places and situations to get a rough idea of what your toxin load looks like, and if you can make changes to decrease your exposure!

Consider the following potential exposures in your home or work environment: mold, recent renovations, EMF's, power lines/cell phone towers, carpeting, old paint, stagnant/stale air, smoke, pesticides + herbicides used in landscaping and pest management, harsh chemicals, cleaning products, heavy metals, frequent airplane travel

Consider the following potential exposures in your diet + lifestyle: make up, skin care products, toothpaste, hair color and hair care products, food + beverage containers (plastic, styrofoam, etc), chemically dyed clothing, pesticide + herbicide exposure through non-organic food, drug + alcohol use, smoking (first, second, and third degree smoke)


don't forget to detox your mind

This is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of healthy detoxification and elimination. A healthy body follows a healthy mind, and the following check-ins, tools, and resources should be used often:

1. Are you spending time alone? And by alone, I mean without other distractions such as cell phones, television, and the computer!  Put your phone down--some of our best ideas and epiphanies come during periods of complete boredom. Alone time should be nourishing and rejuvenating, as the quality of our alone time is key. For parents, this may be only 5 minutes , and that is okay so long as you find what can deeply nourish you given that time frame. It is also incredibly important to note the frequency of your alone time--are you spending too much time alone? Too little? Balance that works for you is key. 

2. Learn your mental detox cues. Feeling overstimulated, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or finding yourself snapping at others?  Feeling like you can't easily handle or process the stress in your life? You may be in need of a mental detox.

3. Figure out if you are an introvert vs extrovert, and then detox appropriately. Introverts literally NEED alone time to function, and usually a whole lot of it. Extroverts typically feel uncomfortable during periods of alone time, as they recharge their batteries by engaging with others. Most people tend to be a mix of the two, so find your introvert to extrovert ratio and allow this to guide your need and method for mental/emotional detox. An extrovert may need a night out on the town where an introvert might need to hole up at home. 

Here are an assortment of excellent tools for mental/emotional detox that can be incorporated and sprinkled throughout your month as needed:

1. Therapy and counseling. This may be from your friends, a trusted professional, or experience based like a retreat.

2.  Hobbies + leisure activities. Take the time to do what you love! I have many friends who say going to see live music, attending gatherings, or spending time in nature does the trick.

3. Meditative practice + mental rebooting. Take time each day to meditate (we will talk more about this in the other modules), and create the space for yourself to have a mental reboot. Perhaps schedule one day per week where you do not use the phone or computer, and you just take the time to check in with yourself and release what isn't serving you. #selfcaresunday, right?


Now that you've got a good understanding of the basics that make up adequate detox and elimination, there are a few extras that will really ensure your success and help the body thrive. Make sure that your nutrition and hydration are on point, that all of your emunctories (pooping, peeing, skin, breath, sweat, etc) are fully functional, and that your toxic burden isn't unnecessarily high. To learn about gentle and easy ways to take your daily detoxification practice to the next level, move on to the next module by following the link below.


Copyright © 2018 by Motherhood Medicine.
All rights reserved. These writings or any portion there of many not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the expressed written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review. These writings are not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters related to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.