Now that you have cleansed and activated the body’s three major detox organs, you are ready for a final week’s full detoxification. This is pretty intense and entirely optional, but if you feel like you really want to go for it, here’s what you can do. I recommend that you do this if at all possible, because now that your detoxification system is functioning optimally, you have a unique opportunity to rid your body of even more deeply buried toxins, ones that you could never before access and release.
Although some readers may be tempted, I counsel you not to jump in and undertake this program without first following the protocols in the prior eight weeks. The reason? Again, you must prepare your organs—and do it in the right sequence—in order to detox safely.
Sending Your Body the Right Signals
For a more active detox, there are certain ways to “tell your body” that it’s time to intensify your detox. Since your liver, kidneys, hair, and skin are always getting rid of the toxins in your blood, you need to amp up the messages to the cells and the fluids between your cells to start releasing. During this week you will send those messages by:
• Decreasing the number of calories you are consuming
• Continuing an alkaline diet—by limiting animal protein and consuming lots of fruits and vegetables
• Sweating out toxins through taking saunas
• Drinking green drinks
• Releasing toxins from the lymph system through massage
The diet that you started following in chapter 6 is alkaline. Now I’ll show you how to up the ante, should you choose to.
In this, the final week of the Nine-Week Toxin Solution, you may slightly reduce your caloric intake by eating nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods. Although the mild calorie restriction you will undergo during this final week is highly beneficial, many people avoid undertaking a detox (or fast) because they fear being hungry. Yes, assuring adequate nourishment is fundamental to survival. Yet with the current barrage of bad food, an active hunger trigger isn’t the survival advantage it once was.
Processed foods, designed to seduce our taste buds, easily trigger hunger, leading people to eat bad food. Nearly one-third of our population is obese, suffering from a host of ensuing health problems. Getting used to feeling slightly hungry during week 9 is not life endangering, it’s life prolonging.
Over the millennia that we evolved as a species, food was not always available. People who could not endure temporary food unavailability died out. But the rest of humankind evolved. When people burn fat for calories, the body releases ketones into the blood. Ketones cause mood elevation when they reach the brain, ensuring that you don’t mope around, fail to take appropriate action, and die from starvation when you’re hungry. Instead, you are genetically designed to function even with reduced calorie intake. The benefits to calorie restriction are increased longevity and decreased chronic disease burden. The animal research may apply to humans as well. The life-span-increasing effects of caloric restriction were first shown in fruit flies. (Fruit flies are easy to study because they have a short life span.) This research has now been reproduced in one of our close relatives, the rhesus monkey. Restricting the monkeys’ calories increased average longevity from twenty-six to thirty years—a remarkable 15 percent increase in life span!1
How to Restrict Your Calories
Begin by keeping a food diary for three days prior to launching week 9 of the plan. Please note exactly what you eat, and consult any of the many available apps to easily determine your current calorie baseline. Whatever your baseline, dial it down until you are consuming five hundred to one thousand fewer calories a day than previously. (This assumes your weight was stable. If you were gaining weight, you’ll need to restrict calories more.) This means about one thousand calories for an average woman and fifteen hundred for an average man. Remember, your goal is not losing weight—although you will—but rather balancing your release rate with your elimination capability.
Caloric restriction, along with the other features of this plan, sends your body the message that it’s “time to detox.” The lower your calorie count, the quicker the detox process. I have supervised many water fasts and am a great believer in fasting’s benefits. Nevertheless, accelerating detox (through caloric restriction or fasting) is safest to do only after all the detox organs have been prepared. For those who fear or dislike fasting, simply reducing calorie intake is a safe and practicable way to experience many of its benefits.
By adjusting your calorie consumption, you adjust the rate of detox. If possible, do this for the final week to harvest the full benefits of the Toxin Solution.
Many cultures recognize the value of saunas, but one of their prime benefits is detoxification. Without necessarily knowing that, in cultures as diverse as the Native American, Finnish, and Japanese, people have experienced the same feeling of vitality that most people feel today after a good, long sauna. The research has now clarified the reasons: sweating is excellent at getting toxins of all classes out of our body.
A normally gentle and friendly giant, Roger had become increasingly irritable recently. I learned this when his wife, Sheila, brought him to me. The day before, Roger had become furious over some trifle and had thrust his fist through a wall in their home. Sheila felt frightened that he might hurt her and their children. Had the family been unknown to me, I might have called social services. However, in this case I knew Roger, and was myself surprised to hear of this change in him. I began to investigate further.
Roger owned a small home-construction company. The firm was growing, but Roger did a lot of the work himself rather than subcontracting to others. While his primary skill was carpentry, he was now also doing fine cabinetry, plumbing, electrical work, and painting. At this point in my practice, I was now suspecting that anyone with disease might be suffering from toxicity. Roger’s exposure to solvents from the cabinetry varnish and metals released from the copper pipes he installed, along with chemicals from the drying paints, all resulted in a substantial toxic load. Solvents are highly toxic chemicals that can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. The good news is that we are pretty good at detoxifying solvents. The bad news is that we can be constantly exposed to them.
But Roger was unwilling to follow my suggestions. Stop exposure to toxins? Nope. Hire someone else to do it? Nope. Well, you get the idea. He would not take herbs or vitamins, and he thought hydrotherapy was a joke. I don’t know why I thought of it, but in desperation I asked if he liked saunas.
He smiled. It turned out that his wife had asked him to build one for their home, but he had been too busy with the paying customers. He then sheepishly apologized for being so rude and admitted that even he feared for his family when he got so angry. He decided to get together with his team and quickly built a nice sauna for their home. He then faithfully used the sauna for one hour every day, sweating profusely. As he began to release his toxic burden, he also relented and agreed to make his workplace safer so that he could avoid taking in additional toxins. Within a week, he felt noticeably better, and within a month he was back to his normal self.
The scientific literature shows the range of toxins excreted by saunas. In general, the concentration of most toxins is two to ten times higher in sweat than in blood, clearly indicating that the body is effectively utilizing sweating as a significant detoxification process.2
Table 7.1. Detoxification Through Saunas
Arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury
Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phthalates and phthalate metabolites (DMP, DEP, DBP, BBP, DCHP, DEHP, and DINP), perfluorinated compounds (PFHxS, PFOS, PFOA, and PFNA)
Increases lipolysis; increases production of growth hormone
It may interest you to know that even police and firefighters are using saunas for health reasons. A big health hazard for law-enforcement personnel comes from repeated exposure to methamphetamine and related production chemical compounds when they raid meth labs. With frequent exposure, the police officers, firefighters, and social workers develop chronic symptoms, some so severe that they become
disabled. Research suggests that half of law-enforcement personnel involved in this type of enforcement work develop varying degrees of chronic illness, symptoms, and disability. If you have ever had to deal with a meth addict, you can readily understand how bad this drug is for health.
For this severely exposed group, saunas every day for a month dramatically lowered their toxic load and decreased their symptoms 70 to 90 percent, allowing almost all to return to work.3 If you have no access to a sauna, use a stationary bicycle, and exercise hard enough to sweat. Again, it does not matter how you sweat, just as long as you sweat a lot and get rid of the toxins leaving your body as quickly as possible. In the instructions that follow, I’ll help you detox using a sauna safely and effectively.
The Best Way to Take Saunas
How often should you do a sauna? It depends upon how heavy a toxic load you have built up. I am not suggesting you take one every day, but every other day would be good.
Obviously, the best place for a sauna is at home, where you can do it by yourself, without exposure to other people’s toxins. If possible, open the window a crack so you can allow in fresh air while the contaminants evaporate from your skin and lungs and circulate out the window. Sit on towels and wash them thoroughly. The type of sauna does not matter; all that counts is that you sweat profusely. If, unlike Roger, you don’t have a home sauna, use one at a gym, but try to do so at times when no one else is in the sauna. I don’t recommend steam baths, since the steam will recirculate the toxins.
If you aren’t used to saunas, start at a lower temperature and work your way up slowly. Your goal is to sweat profusely for at least thirty minutes.
The key to optimizing your benefit from saunas is to get the temperature, duration, and hydration balanced properly. Ultimately, you should be perspiring in a way that releases an oily sweat. Here’s how you can achieve that.
The first day, start at 110 degrees Fahrenheit for fifteen minutes. If you start sweating within five minutes and are sweating heavily by ten minutes, this is the right temperature for you. If not, increase the temperature to 120 degrees the next time you take a sauna. If you aren’t heavily sweating within ten minutes, increase the temperature to 130 degrees. You should sweat profusely. Once you determine the right temperature—the one that prompts you to sweat heavily within ten minutes—stay in the sauna for at least thirty minutes after you started.
Don’t overdo it. If you are really toxic, or if your physiological system is not yet strong enough, you can’t use as high a temperature or stay in as long.
When you use saunas to get rid of toxins, always replenish the trace minerals lost in your sweat.4 While many people think of replenishing only salt, the reality is that all trace minerals are lost. There are several ways to do this: through the green drinks I recommend in the next section, or by taking a good- quality trace-mineral supplement every day.
Weigh yourself before and after to assure that you are consuming enough fluids. If you lose weight, add an additional volume of fluids to match the weight you lost. For example, if you lost one pound, you need to consume an extra two cups of water. With every two cups of water, take a trace-mineral supplement.
Finally, if you have any serious disease, such as heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), uncontrolled high blood pressure, or poorly controlled diabetes, you must first check with your doctor before using a sauna. Saunas during pregnancy are definitely not advised until after at least the first trimester. Also, no alcohol! This ought to be obvious, since you are trying to detoxify. Although sauna deaths are extremely rare, when they do occur, 44 percent are due to alcohol consumption.5
Vegetable juices are rich in trace minerals, helping to replenish those you lose in the saunas. Green drinks made from green tea and vegetables, especially vegetables from the cabbage family, are also very effective in upregulating Phase I and Phase II liver-detoxification enzymes.6 In addition, their high level of antioxidants protect cells from the toxins being released. I recommend a pint a day, but be careful to avoid too much green tea, since the caffeine it contains can make you jittery, which you don’t want.
You can either make a green drink yourself or buy a premade product. Green drinks are easy to make if you have a juicer or blender. I prefer machines that keep the pulp with the juice, since the fiber is an important part of the detoxification process. Be sure you buy plenty of organically grown greens; you may be quite surprised by how much is needed for a full glass.
While fresh is best, it does take some work, and cleaning up can be a hassle. If you prefer a more convenient solution, premade green drinks are very convenient. But please be sure you buy from a reputable, high-quality company. There are a number of good products available. Two that I like are Enriching Blueberry Greens, by Natural Factors (full disclosure: I consult for their health-care professional product line) and Pure Synergy Superfood, by the Synergy Company. I have carefully inspected the manufacturing facilities of both companies and use their products myself.
Since our interstitial spaces and lymphatics contain a lot of toxins, a good-quality massage will help drain these out more quickly. I could not find any direct research, but I did find some that certainly supports the importance of massage. Several studies have shown that when infants with jaundice are massaged, the bilirubin that turns them yellow is eliminated 20 percent more quickly after just four days of twice-daily twenty-minute massage.7 Clearly the massage is getting the bilirubin in the tissues back into circulation so it can be better eliminated. Despite the paucity of research, I’ve found that massage is very helpful with my own patients in decreasing their discomfort while detoxifying. That is why during this final week, I recommend that you get a massage one to three times.
You have now completed the Nine-Week Toxin Solution. You have accomplished a lot: avoided toxins where you can, altered your diet, and cleansed and strengthened your body’s three main organs of detoxification. Finally, you capped that off with a week of intensified toxin release through caloric restriction and sweating out toxins, supported by the added nutritional boost of green drinks, along with massage to release any toxins stored in your lymphatic system and interstitial spaces. Although you may have felt a little rocky at times during the detox, by now you should be feeling a lot better than you have been in a long time.
Congratulations on completing the program. The improved energy, better sleep, and greater stamina and resilience that you now experience are a testament to your body’s rejuvenative capacity. This is a program that you can also repeat periodically. I recommend undertaking it three to four times per year. While most of the program can safely be followed during your regular life, week 9 is a great one to do if you have a break or vacation. Because the caloric restriction makes this week resemble a minifast, it’s a wonderful opportunity to rest and complete your recovery.
Remember: although you have taken a break from toxins, the toxins themselves are still out there in our world. How can you maintain and build on what you have accomplished?
The next chapter answers this question.