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Detox Scam: A Few Insights

Detox Scam

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The modern world, at large, is increasingly conscious of how important a sustainable wellness quotient is for increased all-round productivity and a general feel-good profile.

Contemporary lifestyle, indifferent dietary discipline, and insufficient sleep, often result in the accumulation of toxins in the body, and periodically, it is recommended that one needs to flush these toxins out.

These toxins are contrary to body metabolism and definitely are the base point to compromised immune profile. The specific toxins are not really touched upon. The methodology of toxin removal is seldom governed by empirical research and Good Clinical Practices.

Interestingly due to environmental factors, questionable Food Safety practices and compromised Food Standards, we have no choice but to be in close contact with toxins in our day to day life. It is important to note that it is the quantum and dosage which is critical, hence even water, our lifeline, becomes toxic if ingested in amounts larger than 9.5L/day.

Darwinian principles say that it is and will always be, “Survival of the Fittest”. Every species, in order to survive, constantly develops a strategy of signature biochemistry. The Species always wants to have a biochemical one-upmanship.

For example, plant species evolved toxins to protect themselves from being consumed. This is the reason why animals evolved mechanisms to process and remove toxins that get into their system. The liver is a very phenomenal miracle of biology.

It is the intermediary site for metabolism and is a  primary function of our livers, which are giant chemical factories, is to filter anything potentially toxic from the blood, metabolize it, and excrete it. Toxins are also filtered from the blood by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. A healthy liver and pair of kidneys are all most of us need to sufficiently detox.

The challenge arises when the liver or kidneys are not functionally and biochemically optimised to execute their role, or if one ingests a poison in a sufficient dose to overwhelm these organs.

In case the subject is suffering from a chronic infection, has recently undergone a surgery or is into addictive habits, the problem of toxin accumulation is compounded.

Sometimes people deliberately expose themselves to harmful levels of a drug – a good example is alcohol – and may need to be legitimately “detoxed” from that drug. Rehabilitation and deaddiction are then a follow up of the detox procedure.

The term “detox,” however, has been plagiarised for the clever commercial presentation of products of questionable quality indices and compositional details, and treatments which boast (often falsely) of cleaning up the body of the toxins accumulated. The laity falls prey to falsehoods because of insufficient knowledge which makes them vulnerable to believing in miracles that never occur.

“Detox”  as a term is now being frequently attached to many regimens of questionable efficacy and grave health consequences. To optimise the sales targets, the treatment is restructured to spell out the same protocol, de novo. Interestingly, the takers are innocuous, gullible individuals in a hurry to get there.

They are characterised by insufficient knowledge and information, an emphatic purchasibility profile and a desperation of self -actualisation. All this makes them very gullible to becoming guinea pigs.

Some detox treatments include coffee enemas, with the concept that many toxins are clogged up in the colon. Other products of “colon cleanse” are intended for oral consumption. This is just as pointless as “detox” as the colon collects waste on its own; Nature has beautifully programmed it that way.

Foot baths and footpads, designed to soothe the nerves and maybe increase a “feel-good factor”, are often marketed as means of flushing out the toxins from the body.

The methodology is a placebo at best and creates a mirage of the effective profile, in the minds of the user. An important point to be noted is that, in our body, there is a precarious balance of Cations, most importantly, Sodium and Potassium.

The notion that we can do better than evolution in managing our fluid and electrolyte status is naïve. In most situations, you should drink when you are thirsty. The body is very precisely aware of much fluid has to be retained. Interestingly, electrolyte balance and fluid homeostasis are wondrous processes of the body, very vital to our health. Thirst is a sensation that is controlled and moderated by the brain through a set of neurons called the “thirst center”.

When one journeys to be in an extreme situation (heat, dry environment, high altitude, athletic performance) then one could be more wellness-oriented if the fluid intake is optimised, as there is a grave danger if it is ignored. The dictum for water and fluid consumption is to follow bodily signals and recognise that requirements for both may vary on different days.


Detox Scam

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If a subject physiologically exceeds his thirst by forcing fluid intake, the body can respond by excess urine output, but the accompanying hormonal and biochemical balance compromise would have far-reaching effects. There is a minimum amount of electrolytes that need to be excreted through the urine per day. Hence, if water consumption is more, then the kidneys would not efficiently manage their function of electrolyte homeostasis. The clinically significant hyponatremia results from this imbalance.

Questionable supplements known as composite salt preparations are often recommended for hyponatremia, which in fact compound ill health. The condition can cause delirium, giddy spells, dangerous fluctuations in blood pressure, may even result in something as drastic as Coma and even seizures. There is also a risk of management of the low sodium too rapidly, as it can cause brain damage.

Interestingly, detox regimens may consist of herbal remedies. Totalistically, herbs are like drugs where they are governed by active ingredient, dosage, contraindications, expiry date, and shelf life. Typically they contain many potential active ingredients in variable doses, making it difficult to predict their effects. The herbal sector is also poorly regulated, resulting in a high incidence of replacement, contamination, and adulteration.

The premise of a “detox” treatment existing is one such arena of questionable scientific credibility. It is not based on our understanding of biology or medicine, and in fact, runs contrary to it. Detox treatments are entirely unnecessary, and they are dangerous and have an emphatic short and long term effect on health.

The closing Mantra is that any interference in Nature’s beautiful and extremely flawless machinery would come in with punishments which cannot be biochemically handled. Let Nature work her wondrous ways and you would be healthier and fitter in a very sustainable manner,

The baseline advice from me, no-frills attached is: Detox treatments have no benefit, and they also have risk, hence, Stay away.

The author acknowledges the use of authentic medical literature to structure this article.


Jyoti D Vora

MSc., PhD, F.S.Sc. , MASFFBC, CME (USA), Net Cleared, Certified Functional Foods Scientist, (FFC, USA), Proprietor and CEO, Dhirang Consultants, Mumbai.


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