Detox Quackery — A Naturopathic Physician’s View

Photo: With gratitude to Melissa Chabot on Unsplash!

By Connie Hernandez, ND

While browsing various health topics online, I was surprised to stumble upon a number of ‘quack buster” websites that included detoxification in their litany of laboratory tests and therapies they consider unfounded.

They listed the practice of detoxifying the body, alongside anti-vax activism, homeopathy, energy medicine, vitamin supplements, and just about everything not sanctioned by conventional medicine.

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

As responsible naturopathic physicians, Dr. Marcel and I pride ourselves on our intensive efforts to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to alternative therapies.

However, we also recognize that our practice of “evidence-based medicine” is unlikely to persuade the most rigidly rational observers.

While we love to be able to muster solid scientific evidence for our practices, we also recognize that there is often an insuperable gap between what science can tell us about our work, and what we’ve seen actually witnessed, time after time after time, in our everyday practice.

The problem with relying too exclusively on scientific lab studies is that there is a point beyond which science may no longer be scientific – when, for example, an unreasonable insistence on numbers prevents us from seeing what’s happening before our very eyes.

If, for example, we attempt to prove the legitimacy of energy medicine using pure Newtonian logic, the proof will be sadly lacking.

Before the discovery of bacteria, many women died in childbirth from bacterial infections induced by their doctors’ unwashed hands. The physician who first tried to bring this fact to the attention of the medical profession was labeled a lunatic.

It often takes many years for medicine to catch up with common sense, not to mention new understandings from its own ranks. As physicist Max Planck famously said, a new scientific theory tends to be rejected until the old generation of scientists die off.

The evidence of our own bodies tells us that we are living in a highly contaminated world. While mountains of research have connected electromagnetic frequencies with insomnia and other ailments, including cancer, the evidence of our own feeling is an equally valid measure of their toxic effects.

Again, heavy metals and other environmental pollutants have been shown to be causally associated with constellations of symptoms, including hormonal disruption and cancers. We can very the studies by eliminating those toxic influences and checking how much better we feel.

Should we wait for science to document every single environmental threat by detailed, exhaustively duplicated studies? Or should we roll up our sleeves and take action to relieve our bodies of their toxic burden, in hopes of staying healthy and preventing disease?

Surely the answer is obvious. It’s why, at Pacific Naturopathic, we do advocate detoxification.

Photo: Thanks to Kendal James on Unsplash!

We routinely test for heavy metals and other environmental toxins in our patients’ hair, blood, or urine, as a way of measuring the effectiveness of a given treatment protocol. However, if we’re talking about “evidence-based medicine,” what evidence could be more persuasive for the effectiveness of a protocol than our own heightened feelings of energy and well-being

As a birdwatcher’s saying puts it, “When the bird and the book disagree – believe the bird.”

We don’t need exhaustive scientific verification to know that organically raised, toxin-free foods simply taste better, and that we feel better when we consume them. And surely it’s not lunatic to wonder, based on the input of our senses and our feelings, whether they aren’t doing a better job of supporting the healthy functioning of our bodies.

If you’ve made a decision to follow a detox protocol, you might want to take it in stages.

You could start by changing your personal environment, or at least those elements that are under your control.

You could:

  • Choose to associate with friends who support and inspire you.
  • Declutter your living and work spaces.
  • Shield your body from unnecessary exposure to potentially harmful electromagnetic frequencies, e.g., from cell phones and computers.
  • Ensure that your home is free of toxic mold.
  • Choose personal care products with careful attention to any toxic ingredients.
  • Drink and eat from, and cook in non-plastic containers.
  • Eat organic.
  • Optimize your body’s channels of elimination: kidneys, liver, colon, lungs, and skin.
  • Transform toxic thoughts and feelings.

Whether you choose to start simply or dive right into a deep cleansing protocol, there are many practices and products that will help you reach your goals. We’d be happy to consult on a program that suits your health situation and lifestyle.

Ultimately, the most convincing proof of a detox program will be your improved sense of wellbeing – or, if you opt for objective validation, the lab results. Either way, what have you got to lose?

Follow this link to learn more about Dr. Connie’s inspiring work.