De-Toxing for Dummies

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Pay no attention to the title of this entry. The truth is we're all overloaded and anyone who considers a de-tox protocol is anything but a dummy.

Still, I had no idea what to expect when we began our journey one year ago. Recently one of my older daughters' hair turned red (from a dark brown). This happened to my son's eyebrows last summer.

I've seen more rashes than I can count. We've seen sore throats reappear, back aches return, tempers flare, and much more.

The body has to work hard to get rid of the overload.

Even my husband, who is better equipped genetically to get rid of mold toxins, has experienced Herx reactions. (Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction is named after two doctors who noticed increased symptoms following treatment for skin lesions. Herx reaction is also known as healing crisis, de-tox reaction, or die-off syndrome.)

While de-toxing, it can be difficult to determine if you're experiencing an effect from de-tox, a reaction to a food, or a reaction to the environment. When I break out in a rash on my hands the day after acupuncture, I know it's de-tox. If I eat something with carbs or sugar and experience sudden fatigue, I know it's dietary. Listen to your body. Keep a journal of foods, symptoms, and environments. It's amazing how enlightening this simple exercise can be.

The best explanation of the healing process I've seen comes from the book, "Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition" by Paul Pitchford. The book is more than 700 pages.

Pitchford’s thoughts on detoxification are part of a chapter on dietary transition in which he describes the patterns that occur when one moves from an unhealthy to a healthy diet. (It's important to note that die-off can also occur following removal from a toxic environment or a different de-tox protocol.)

Pitchford says, "If the new diet is purer, the old toxins are released, sometimes with various forms of discomfort known as 'healing reactions.'”

He goes on to say:

"If chronic sore throats occurred during childhood, a healing reaction could involve one or two sore throats that would eliminate any residues that accumulated from the original infection(s). Certainly everyone wants healing reactions to be minimal or non-existent.

"According to traditional Japanese medicine, however, if there is no meigan (healing reaction), there is no cure. Most reactions involve the body's purging itself of toxins."

Examples of healing reactions (according to Pitchford):

1. Tension or pain may occur in the upper back and neck, which may move upwards to the head, downward across the abdomen, arms, and legs, and eventually to the head top, toes, and fingers. Pain may occur in the internal organs, particularly in the liver area under the right side of the rib cage. Headache is common.

2. Vomiting may occur. Bile or various types of mucus may come up.

3. Digestive imbalances may develop: gas, cramps, diarrhea, etc.

4. Weakness, weight loss, and sensations of cold and/or heat are signs that the body is first strongly eliminating before the building and strengthening phase occurs.

5. Typical emotional reactions include unreasonable impatience, anger, and/or depression.

6. More sleep may be needed during transition, and dreams may be wild.

7. Menstruation sometimes ceases but will resume when the digestion calms and the liver and kidney functions are renewed.

Pitchford suggests foods high in chlorophyll to get through the crisis period.

The process of detoxification is a long one. It can take years. It requires tremendous focus and dedication. We're only a year into it, but our bodies are listening and responding. I can tell it's worth every ounce of energy we're expending.

Maybe I ought to rethink the title for this entry and simply call it, "Expelling for Experts."