Before we start rebuilding our health, we first need to get rid of all of the nasty stuff in our bodies that prevents our systems from functioning well. Removing that junk is called “detoxifying”, or “detox” for short. This will be our (mine and my husband’s) first step in our long-term journey to better health, which is now called the Renew Your Health Challenge. We hope that many of you will join us in some, or all, of our steps! Your game-plan and tools may be different than ours, but we can still encourage and learn from each other. 🙂
How The Body Detoxifies
There are two main things in the body that need extra support for detoxification.
- Lymphatic System: The lymphatic system is like the blood circulatory system, in that it is throughout your entire body. The lymphatic fluid (aka “lymph”) is “pumped” through your body by movement, similar to the way that blood is pumped through your body by your heart. If you’re not active, the lymph doesn’t move much and that’s a bad thing. Lymph carries good things from your digestive tract (fats, EFAs, fat-soluble vitamins, etc.) to the rest of your body. Lymph is officially part of the circulatory system, but it is also a very important player in the immune system. Toxins, bacteria, viruses and cell “waste” in are carried by the lymph to lymph nodes, where white blood cells are concentrated. The white blood cells break down the bad things.That’s why our lymph nodes and tonsils swell when we’re sick. They are responding to illness by gathering a bunch of white blood cells to take care of things. If your lymph nodes/tonsils are chronically swollen (like mine and my husbands’), that’s a sign of an underlying chronic illness. Our goal is to get our lymphatic system cleaned out (detoxed) and the running properly.
- Liver: While the lymph has lymph nodes, tonsils and the spleen to do the filtering and destroying of toxins, the circulatory system has the liver. The liver is in charge filtering toxins out of the blood and breaking them down (it is also heavily involved in digestion, but that’s for another post). When the liver isn’t functioning well, toxins pass through it and into our blood, being transported throughout the body. When doing a detox, one of the most important things to do is to stop putting toxins in. Read about what you should eat in this post.
Since I am breastfeeding, I am going to be making extra-cautious choices. It wouldn’t be a good idea for me to detox myself and pass on toxins to my baby through the milk. Keeping that in mind, these are choices that I am comfortable with. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to do your own research to make sure you’re okay with any risks.
- Bentonite Clay: This is some fabulous dirt! 😉 Bentonite clay is a gray clay that swells when you mix it with water. It has a charge to it that attracts and binds heavy metals and toxins in the body (imagine a magnet attracting and hanging onto metal shavings). I love this one for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, because it helps to pull bad things out of the body with no risk of those things being passed on to the baby. It is best taken last thing before bed with a glass of water. If you take it earlier in the day, it can interfere with absorption of other things. I put my bentonite clay in capsules and then drink a full glass of water (remember, it swells!), but some people will mix a spoonful of it with a glass of water and drink it down. If you do this, be sure not to use metal as it will neutralize the charge of the clay. I’ll be starting with 2 capsules (size 00) a day and then increasing after a week to 4.
- Magnesium: Magnesium supports processes throughout the body, including the lymph nodes and liver’s jobs of detoxification. We are going to start supplementing with magnesium, since it’s nearly impossible for people to get adequate magnesium through diet due to soil depletion. We use my homemade magnesium lotion. (*Update* The magnesium lotion has helped us all tremendously!)
- Milk Thistle: Milk Thistle is the herb for the liver! It actually regenerates liver cells. It is also believed to protect the liver from damage. Historically women also have used it (along with other plants from the thistle family) to increase milk supply when nursing, which makes it a good choice for a nursing mama. I’ll be taking a very small dose (just one capsule a day), but other people have taken many capsules every day for detox. (Please note that people with a thistle allergy have been known to have allergic reactions to milk thistle.) I’ll start with 1 (size 00) capsule per day, then increase to two per day, assuming I have no problems taking it.
- Dandelion Root: Dandelion is a popular detoxifier for both the liver and the lymphatic system. It’s full of healthy minerals and is considered by most herbalist to be safe and effective to take, even during pregnancy. It is a diuretic, which is excellent for reducing swelling, but be sure to drink plenty of water with it. I’ll be taking 1 capsule (size 00) per day.
- Burdock Root: This is the herb for the lymphatic system. Burdock root helps to reduce congestion in the lymph nodes, remove toxins and reduce lymph node swelling. Not only is it good for internal use, many people find that a poultice of burdock held on a swollen lymph node will help reduce the swelling. I may try that once in awhile, but I honestly can’t see that being a daily habit. 🙂 Again, this will be 1 capsule per day (size 00).
- Turmeric: Yet another root that is just fabulous for a gentle detox! Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and, like milk thistle, it helps create liver enzymes that break down toxins. If you are taking turmeric, it is recommended that you take a small amount of black pepper at the same time because it increases the effectiveness of turmeric. We will each start with one per day and move up to two a day within a week. We also plan to cook with it more often.
- Ionic Mineral Drops: As with the magnesium, there are many trace minerals that our bodies need in order to function well. To make sure that we are getting what we need, we will put five drops of ionic trace minerals in each glass of water. I found mine at the local health food store, but you can order them online from Amazon. Speaking of water…
- Water: I’m not an “8 8-ounce glasses a day” kind of girl, but our bodies really do need water in order to function well. I’m planning to really up my intake. By the way, did you know that you absorb more water if you sip it slowly rather than chug it down quickly? If you are interested in learning more about the importance of drinking water, there is a Daily Water Challenge over at Your Thriving Family for the month of August! Perfect timing! 🙂
Well, that’s it for this month! I know that it may look like a lot, but it will really take very little time and effort on our part. All we need to do is remember to…
- take the herbs in the morning
- take the bentonite clay at night
- drink water with minerals throughout the day
- give myself a few sprays of magnesium oil every day
Will you be making any health changes this month, or even following along on the detox plan with us?