Even just going cold turkey for a few days from things like drinking coffee, diet soda, eating refined sugar, or smoking tobacco can trigger such reactions.
Some of the most common detox symptoms when doing a fast or detox include headaches, nausea, body aches, nasal or sinus congestion, sore throat, constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, or even full blown flu-like symptoms.
Such symptoms are known by various names including healing reactions, cleansing reactions, healing crises, Herxheimer reactions, detox symptoms, or in some cases, candida die-off.
The Underlying Causes of Detox Symptoms
Many people who endure these sorts of disagreeable sensations want to know more about exactly what’s going on in their bodies when they’re happening, and what they can do to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
What’s happening when we experience these sorts of detox symptoms while we’re implementing a cleansing protocol is essentially threefold:
- Because we’re being proactive about cleansing ourselves, during this time, the cells of our bodies suddenly have an opportunity to release an even greater than normal quantity of stored toxins, pathogens, impurities, metabolic wastes and other materials that do not belong inside us.
- Several of the body’s innate pathways through which it normally and naturally eliminates such undesirable materials become overwhelmed, stagnated, and effectively incapacitated by the unusually large quantities of toxicity being released on a cellular level throughout the body. This puts undue pressure on the remaining pathways.
- In some cases, there may also be pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria or yeasts that have been feeding on substances we’ve been regularly ingesting, (for instance candida that feed on an overabundance of sugars in the diet) which may die when we deprive them of their preferred food, which releases toxic substances into the bloodstream.
Such a die-off can contribute to and exacerbate the problem of the already compromised and overburdened elimination pathways.
The Body’s Modes of Elimination
Our bodies are innately equipped with an ingenious and highly interactive system of organs and processes through which it has been naturally designed to mobilize and purge toxic materials from itself on an ongoing basis.
These are the body’s primary organs and pathways of elimination:
Each of these pathways is synergistically interconnected with and interdependent upon the others, and if they’re all functioning properly chances are we’ll enjoy good health.
However, if one or more of these pathways becomes sluggish, congested, overwhelmed, or is otherwise functioning less than optimally, this puts an unnatural burden on the others, which often results in unpleasant symptoms.
For instance, if our liver is congested, especially during a cleanse, we may notice some skin eruptions like a rash or adult acne. Or if we’re experiencing constipation while doing a detox protocol, we may develop flu symptoms like swollen lymph glands, a sore throat, or perhaps a cough or lung congestion.
Supporting the Body’s Detox Pathways
The key to avoiding detox symptoms during a cleanse is to be proactive about supporting our body’s own inherent ability to cleanse itself. We can do this by employing various holistic methods that assist, empower and clear our natural detoxification organs and pathways to more effectively do their job of mobilizing and offloading toxins and wastes.
Here are 7 suggestions for doing so while on a cleanse so that detoxing can be attempted and completed with minimal to no discomfort:
1. Promote good regularity
Keeping the bowels moving during any cleanse is crucial. Two of the best ways to help get things moving if constipation is an issue are to take supplemental magnesium or a source of Vitamin C that is whole food based (not synthetic ascorbic acid).
2. Enemas or colon hydrotherapy/colonics
Many people are unaware of the powerful healing and detoxifying effects of doing a simple warm water enema, which is an age old cleansing practice that can easily be done in the privacy of your own home (sources). Many practitioners are recommending coffee enemas as a way to cleanse the liver and gall bladder as well.
Another option is to have a colon hydrotherapy session, where the lower bowl is gently irrigated and flushed by a licensed professional using modern equipment.
3. Activated charcoal
Activated charcoal (AV) is known as the “universal antidote” which when ingested is renowned for its powerful ability to safely draw toxins, pathogens and wastes into its massive surface area, hold them fast, and efficiently remove them from the body right along with the feces during a bowel movement.
4. Salt baths
Adding sea salt, magnesium chloride flakes or oil, baking soda, or a combination of these to a warm bath, and soaking in it for at least a half hour is an excellent way to draw toxins out of the body via the skin. An epsom salt bath is particularly helpful for this purpose as it both detoxifies and helps remedy magnesium and sulfur deficiencies that may exist. Adding powdered bentonite clay to baths is also very beneficial. And if a whole body bath is not feasible, simply doing a foot bath can also be helpful.
This article provides much more detail on cleansing, detoxification baths.
5. Dry skin brushing
Dry brushing the skin of the entire body (except for face, neck, chest and genitals) with a special natural bristle brush made specifically for this purpose is a fantastic method both for exfoliating the skin as well as stimulating and supporting improved functioning of the entire lymphatic system. This article contains directions for how to perform dry skin brushing properly as well as precautions for those with sensitive skin.
6. Castor oil packs over the liver
A clean cotton or wool flannel cloth, soaked with castor oil, applied over the liver, (and covered with an old, heavy towel) covered with a heating pad and left on for about an hour is phenomenal for encouraging improved liver function. A castor oil pack not only helps the liver to better do one of its main jobs, which is blood filtration/cleansing, but it’s also tremendous for catalyzing the lymphatics, which are integral to cleansing the body on a cellular level.
If you have access to a mini trampoline for rebounding, this piece of equipment is one of the best things you can do during a cleanse to support your body’s ability to naturally offload toxicity (sources). Even just bouncing gently without leaving the mat is beneficial, as this action directly stimulates and mobilizes the body’s entire lymphatic system, assisting it in the transport, processing and elimination of wastes and pathogenic materials.
And finally, always be sure to drink plenty of the purest water available to you, which is absolutely vital for anyone following any detoxification protocol to help prevent detox symptoms, and be as gentle with yourself as possible during your process of inner purification.
More Information on Healthy Ways to Detox
An avid independent researcher, writer, speaker, foodie, herbalist, lifelong lover of nature, and perpetual student, Linda Zurich is the author of Detoxification: 70 Ways to Cleanse, Clear and Purify Your Body, Space and Life, and the Raw Fed Cats eBook.