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Why I won’t go on a “cleanse”

I was asked by a friend recently to go on a “cleanse” together. I politely declined. I want everyone to know why I will never go on a “cleanse” or “detox” regimen: they’re unnecessary, they’re often expensive, and they don’t work as advertised.

This article from Science-Based Medicine explains it better than I ever could. In it, the author points out that:

Real detoxification is provided in hospitals when there are life-threatening circumstances. But then there are the “toxins” that alternative health providers claim to eliminate. This form of detoxification is simply the co-opting of a real term to give legitimacy to useless products and services, while confusing consumers into thinking they’re science-based….

Today’s version of autointoxication argues that some combination of food additives, gluten, salt, meat, fluoride, prescription drugs, smog, vaccine ingredients, GMOs, and perhaps last night’s bottle of wine are causing a buildup of “toxins” in the body. But what is the actual “toxin” causing harm? It’s nothing more than a meaningless term that sounds scientific enough to be plausible. A uniform feature of detox treatments is the failure to name the specific toxins that these rituals and kits will remove….

The fact is, our bodies already have an amazing system of “detoxification” that already works to chemically break down and excrete the harmful substances we ingest. If you’ve ever had the trots or the sweats from a night of overindulgence, that’s an example of your body working to get rid of the mild alcohol poisoning (otherwise known as a hangover) you gave yourself. Unless you keep abusing alcohol or contract diseases some other way, your liver will keep detoxing you your whole life, from alcohol and other chemicals.

The liver is self-cleansing – toxins don’t accumulate in it, and unless you have documented liver disease, it generally functions without any problem. The kidney excretes waste products into the urine – otherwise the substance stays in the blood. To argue that either organ need a “cleanse” is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of human physiology, metabolism, and toxicology.

There’s not really any harm in most “cleanses” and “detox” kits out there – unless you’re going out on a limb with some wacky coffee enema or something. Who am I to judge? If my friends think it will make them feel better, go for it. They’re making choices they honestly think will be good for them. However, I won’t join in.

I actually have tried to go on “detox” regimens in the past, before I started reading up on them. I tried them because I felt fat, lazy, and unworthy; I wanted a miracle cure that would make me thin, beautiful, and desirable. Instead, the “detoxing” just made me grumpy, hungry to the point of feeling faint, and even more self-critical of my body then ever. I’ve come to the conclusion that me and my friends are beautiful and wonderful just the way we are. We don’t need “detox” or “cleanses” to be healthy, or thin, or worthy of love.

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