It’s important to know when it’s time to clear out clutter and streamline your body like you would to your wardrobe at the end of every season. Detox diets—sometimes known as ‘cleanses’ or ‘flushes’—are a popular and promising way of doing just that. Biologically speaking, our body already comes equipped with several systems to detox, thanks to three critical organs:
The Liver - The first line of defence against toxins, your liver acts like a filter to prevent toxic substances contained in foods from passing into your bloodstream.
The Colon - This organ has bacteria that produce both healthy and unhealthy chemicals. You need to keep your colon moving regularly since its main role is to flush out toxic chemicals before they can do you any harm.
The Kidneys - The kidneys are constantly filtering your blood and getting rid of toxins in the form of urine.
But because we tend to abuse our bodies in the normal course of life with all manner of junk food and sweetened drinks, natural detoxing might prove too much for our bodies. Compound that with today’s sedentary and stressful lifestyles and it would seem that we are inviting physiological mayhem if we rely on natural but slow detoxification processes.
This view isn’t confined to the ‘Western’ way of thinking.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) Physician Chee Siow Xian, from the Eu Yan Sang clinic located at Novena Specialist Centre, believes that this is the reason why people nowadays are unhealthier. “People are eating too much processed foods, not achieving work-life balance and facing computers all the time,” she explains.
“Living in a heavily polluted environment will also cause toxins to increase.”
Physician Chee points out that once our body’s natural detox channels weaken, it is important to revitalise them via external forces. TCM believes that the best way to detox is through sweating, vomiting, heat clearing and ourishing one’s vitality. She emphasises that TCM herbs used for this function will not overly burden one’s body, and advises people who take over-the-counter products to be wary as they could contain ingredients that do more harm than good.
Practised for centuries by many cultures around the world—including ayurvedic medicine and TCM—detoxification is about resting, cleaning and nourishing the body inside out.
By removing and eliminating toxins and then feeding your body with healthy nutrients after, detoxification can protect you from diseases and renew your ability to maintain optimum health. A detox programme can help the body’s natural cleansing process by:
- Resting the organs through fasting
- Stimulating the liver to drive toxins from the body
- Promoting elimination through intestines, kidneys and skin
- Improving circulation of the blood
- Refuelling the body with healthy nutrients
8 TCM Detoxification Methods:
Induce vomiting through medication, forcing toxins to be purged from the mouth.
Exercising or consuming medicinal soups—detox is achieved through perspiration.
Good for people with high fever, dry mouth, sore throats and similar symptoms.
Good for people who are experiencing numbness in the limbs or weakened body.
To get rid of toxins in the stomach and intestines.
For spleen, stomach and gastrointestinal deficiency. Use a hot water bottle, warm water or medication that warms the stomach.
For when you’ve eaten too much, experiencing indigestion or feeling bloated. Useful when you are experiencing flu, dry mouth, dry throat and giddiness.
Useful when you are experiencing flu, dry mouth, dry throat and giddiness.
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock. This article first appeared in NATURA magazine issue No.8. Find NATURA at Eu Yan Sang retail outlets, newsstands and major bookstores in Singapore.