Detox Done Right - the purification process

    Our health is a consequence of many factors, a lot of which we can control – starting with our food intake. Elson Haas moves from the need to avoid the usual bad stuff like alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, to common foods that may cause unexpected reactions.

    Wheat intolerance and misuse of sugar are discussed, but there are other potential sensitivities – for example to eggs, even the wonder food from the East, soya beans. And corn – that’s mealies. He describes a simple procedure that any of us can follow, over a week or two, to test ourselves for such widespread intolerances to common foods that may be polluting your body and undermining your health.

    This is an article about thinking simply, in a new way, and using common sense in your choices about your health. A choice I often recommend is cleaning up your act, your relationships, your planet, and supporting you to lighten up and heal. I encourage all of you to think about health and health care from the philosophy of Integrated Medicine. As a doctor, I view any problem from the deeper true causes, which most often have to do with our lifestyle choices – the way we live. This involves what we eat, our level of physical activity and how much we require during our in-body experience to keep our energy moving, getting the sleep we need to recharge our core systems, and how we create and manage our daily stress – all to see how things add up for or against our health. A basic philosophy of Integrated (Multidisciplinary) Medicine with regard to healing is: lifestyle first, natural therapies next, and drugs last.

    When our overall attitude is one of enhancement, we will nurture this treasure of our life force – our vitality. Clearly, a balanced mind has a beneficial influence on our body and allows our heart and spirit to join in life’s uplifting, full-of-potential moments. Health issues challenge us to grow and change for the better if we can claim our truth within our inner being.

    Detox Done Right - the purification process


    I discuss here what I call ‘preventive challenges’, making changes in advance, before you fall apart, and for the purpose of improving health and preventing disease. Ease can be the outcome of these healthful choices, and disease is the crisis created from years of bad habits, poor choices, and a lack of understanding of your personal needs within nature’s cycles. Won’t you join me in this quest for health – keeping your body clean, available to your life, nourished and thankful for the  changes  you are able to make, either through crisis or, more wisely, prevention?

    Keeping clean shouldn’t mean keeping you too far from dirt, the Earth – play in it, get in touch with where things come from and where they go. Be a human being, not just a human doing! Garden, shop, and prepare your meals with and for those you care about. If you need further tips on health and chemical-free shopping and eating, check out my book, The Staying Healthy Shopper’s Guide (Celestial Arts, 1999).

    The simplest way to understand symptoms and disease integrates Western linear (commonsense) thinking, Chinese medicine and its philosophy of yin and yang, and the naturopathic approach to health and illness. Problems in the body (and mind) often arise from either deficiency, where we are not acquiring sufficient necessary nutrients to meet our needs and body functions, or congestion, where reduced eliminative functions combine with excessive intake and the repetitive over-consumption of food or non-food substances, such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, refined sugar and food chemicals, as well as driving more than walking, and talking more than listening. With yin and yang imbalances, it is not merely one or the other, but a mixture, meaning that most people  have  some  deficiency  along with their toxicity. Clearly, in these modern times of processed and treated  foods,  and the chemicals used  in our  environment, we all have exposures to these substances. This stresses our bodies. Food nutrient levels are also lower due to lack of soil minerals. Add to that most people’s poor food choices, and it’s easy to see why we just don’t obtain all the necessary nutrients our bodies need to function optimally – vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. Nutritional supplements can help in obtaining all these vital nutrients.

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    Naturopathically, deficiency and toxicity are the continuum of nutritional balance, or lack of balance. People who are deficient may experience such problems as fatigue, coldness, hair loss or dry skin, and the healing choice is to be  nourished  with  wholesome  foods to stimulate and support healing. However, congestive problems are more common in Western, industrialised civilisations, from acute colds and  sinus  or allergic problems  to skin rashes and digestive disturbances. Likewise, many chronic diseases, such as arthritis and diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, most often come from long-term health- destroying habits.

    Of course, these many health  problems  are not only due to poor food choices. We are constantly dabbing, spraying, and imbibing or inhaling more chemicals from the air, water and foods, and from our vehicles and medications, than ever before. Many of our acute and chronic diseases and dilemmas result  from the clogging of our tissues and tubes and the suffocating of our cells and vital energy to support our ability to make healthful choices. These medical problems may be prevented or treated at least in part, and often dramatically, by embarking on a process of cleansing and detoxification. The detoxification process is the ‘natural’ way to heal!

    Dietary    changes,    including     consumption of more fresh fruits, vegetables and water, while reducing animal fats and proteins and eliminating any damaging substance abuses, are the beginning of the rejuvenation process for the human body. This was discovered long ago and is still true today, even though medical science may make light of it in deference to the quick solution to major diseases. Western doctors are trained primarily to name the disease  and  then  prescribe  a  bill,  a  pill,  and a refill, which is often not even related to the needs of the body’s healing process – the true solution for disease.

    Detox Done Right - the purification process


    I believe in and consider the cleansing/fasting/ detoxification process (they are different degrees of the same process of reduced toxin intake and enhanced toxin elimination) to be the missing link in Western nutrition and a key to the health and vitality of our civilisation.

    Healing the gastro-intestinal tract is paramount to regaining overall health. My 5R programme for re-establishing digestive health includes:

    1. Rebalance – your diet and your lifestyle. In other words, you may need to eat differently and live more healthfully, even thinking in a more positive way. Your digestion is very sensitive to your stresses and emotions.
    2. Remove – any offending organisms. This can be done with herbal medicines or pharmaceuticals. Abnormal yeasts and parasites are quite common in our modern times.
    3. Replace – any needed digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid (low stomach acid leading to improper protein digestion is quite common and undermines health).
    4. Re-inoculate – the right bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, to create the best environment for your digestive tract.
    5. Repair – by providing all the right nutrients to help heal damaged membranes regain optimal function. The amino acid L-glutamine is helpful, as are the B vitamins, vitamins C, A, and E, zinc, and many others.

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    In over 25 years of medical practice, I have extensively utilised various detox and healing/rejuvenation practices for myself and literally thousands of patients. I truly believe that cleansing and detoxification – the Purification Process – is one of the most powerful healing therapies I have witnessed, or participated in, for as long as I have practised medicine: I mean real healing of ailments and not just suppression of symptoms. Its effects offer rebalance for the body and mind and prevent many health problems.

    I have written extensively about detoxification, and the New Detox Diet basics that follow give you a clear idea of what is involved.


    There are two important levels to the Purification Process. The first, as mentioned above, is the clearing of any substance habits or abuses – even addictions for some. This programme encourages you to take a break, which may be temporary or lifelong, from such common habits as daily intake of sugar (as refined sugar and corn syrups – they put them in everything, it seems), caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and chemicals in foods (especially watch the regular use of aspartame); and to avoid, as much as you are able, over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals and chemically loaded beauty products, foods, and household cleansers. This freeing ourselves from the emotional connection and dependence on certain items to give us energy or sedate us is often the first step in health liberation. All of these substances can alter our moods and vitality, both immediately and over time.

    Of course, many of us eat a healthy diet of wholesome foods and don’t have those bad habits. However, I often see people who exercise and eat well, and are still not well. The next level then is to look at food reactions. These typically occur from the most common foods.

    After a week or two of this avoidance, you can challenge yourself by eating one of these foods, giving it a while to check your experience of any untoward effects. Usually I suggest that my patients watch three different time periods for these food reactions, since many responses can be ’delayed’. First, watch immediately and over the first hour after eating the food. Also pay attention later in the day, up to six hours later. Then, observe how you are when you wake up the next morning. Do you feel a little foggy or have a hangover? If you had any reaction to the food or substance, if you feel worse (fatigue, irritability, itchy skin, digestive upset, and mood or energy changes are some possible reactions) or have any of the symptoms you had previously experienced, you are probably reactive to that food.


    How do you begin this purification process? First, take an honest self-assessment. What are you hooked into? What are your habits or abuses? How ready are you to take a break from them? Then, set up a plan, in writing, stating what you will do, for how long, and what you wish to achieve. Use a programme you know or can read about clearly, such as my Detox Diet or a juice cleanse. You can find these and other references on my website. It helps if someone you know and trust has done it. It’s also great if you can find a friend or family member to do it with, to help each other get through any hard times and to have someone with whom you can share your success.

    Some of the benefits of detoxification are an improvement in mental clarity, physical wellbeing, and spiritual energy, as well as the lessening of many symptoms. And you can also lower your body weight, your blood pressure and your cholesterol level, and probably use less medication. Many people claim they feel ‘better than they have in years’.

    In truth, what I attempt to do in my writing and practice is to place your health and that of your family back into your own hands, because so much of it is up to you. Be your own best doctor. It really matters how you live – what you do and what you eat, and what you think and feel. Take hold of yourself and your habits, and do what you can to be vital and healthy. Use the latest rage and the oldest sage – the Purification Process – to improve your health. It is really worth it! Be well.

    Editor's note: For more articles on how to detox, read: Detox with the Docs, Detoxifying Health Techniques and Acudetox for Addiction. And if you enjoy spring cleaning, keep it free of toxic cleaning products. For guidance, read our article: Uncovering the Dirt on Cleaning Products

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