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Detoxification or detox is the process by which the body undertakes to remove metabolic waste, which is discharged from the blood, tissues, or organs.

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History How does it work?
A typical appointment Timings/ Cost/ Sessions
Is it right for you?
Detoxification, or body cleansing, has a history dating back thousands of years and therapeutic fasting has been used as a cleansing process for over 10,000 years. An understanding of the effects of detoxification on the body can be attributed to ancient Greek civilisation. Around 400BC, Greek physician Hippocrates proposed the benefits of cleansing the body (internally and externally) to maintain good health.

Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient health care system native to the Indian subcontinent, has used cleansing processes for over 1,000 years. Detoxification processes developed further over the last three centuries as scientists and physicians gained a thorough knowledge of the body's functions and the chemicals and toxins that build up within the internal organs.

Complementary therapies along with natural remedies and good nutrition became essential treatments for detoxifying the body during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, detoxification methods utilise therapies such as Ayurvedic medicine, colonic hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathy, nutrition and acupuncture to cleanse the body of toxins.

The body becomes toxic through a variety of external and internal sources. External toxins and chemicals present in the environment enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, injection, skin absorption and irradiation. Internal toxins build up from undigested foods, dehydration and malnutrition.

Although the body has its own detoxification system (kidneys, liver, lungs etc.), environmental toxins and stresses can overburden that system. Detoxification aims to help the body's natural process of filtering and cleansing using a variety of alternative therapies. Colonic hydrotherapy for example aims to flush out toxic waste materials in the colon. These toxins can re-enter the bloodstream causing illness and disease in other parts of the body. Detoxification of the internal organs through nutrition and homeopathic herbal remedies can prevent disease, help with weight loss or insomnia and improve skin condition.

Water is important to detoxification and helps in removing waste products, transporting minerals and oxygen around the body and regulating body temperature. Therapeutic fasting redirects enzymes (that would usually enter the stomach) to the intestines and bloodstream where they remove waste matter, damaged cells, metabolic waste and pollutants. Fasting also rests the organs and glands enabling them to purify and rejuvenate.

Be prepared - It is important to remember that a number of therapies can help with detoxification and body cleansing. It is advisable to choose a practitioner who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your detoxification session is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main organisations are listed at the foot of this article. On finding a practitioner, ask about their expertise with detoxification and testimonials from previous clients.

If you choose to have colonic hydrotherapy, some colonic hydro therapists will recommend a specific diet to follow before your first session. On the day of your appointment, it is advisable not to drink or eat at least two hours before you see the therapist. If you're able to, try to have a bowel movement beforehand but this is not essential.

Before your appointment, spend time thinking about your condition and what you expect to achieve with detoxification. Make some notes before you attend about your expectations and concerns. If you have a few conditions, put them in order so the practitioner can address the most severe first. You may be provided with a questionnaire to complete before you attend and if you take any prescription or herbal medicines bring them with you to your appointment.

What to expect - During your first appointment your detoxification practitioner will ask questions about your medical history, diet and lifestyle. They may ask about any sensations, feelings or sleep patterns that you have. The practitioner may also carry out a physical examination or use various nutritional techniques such as food sensitivity tests, allergy tests or stool testing. This will help to see if you have any nutrition deficiencies, food allergies or high toxic levels in the body.

The results of these tests will give your practitioner a better understanding of your health and the best course of detoxification treatment. Your therapy will take a holistic approach (meaning the whole body) so keep an open-mind. The detox practitioner will suggest foods that will be beneficial to your detoxification and any foods that should be avoided. They may also recommend the use of supplements or suggest lifestyle changes such as relaxation or exercise during your detox.

The detoxification process will renew and refresh your body but be aware that it can cause physical and mental reactions. Some people can suffer side-effects such as acne, headaches, bad breath, diarrhoea or constipation. Others suffer with mood swings or emotional changes. These effects, however disruptive to your usual state, are a sign of the body flushing out toxins. However uncomfortable, you should avoid painkillers and continue to drink plenty of water. The symptoms should ease within a few days.

Depending on the type of therapy you use for detoxification, treatment times will differ. Expect to spend longer at your first appointment as your practitioner gains an understanding of your condition and recommends a course of treatment. Typically, your first session will last around 90 minutes with follow-up sessions about 60 minutes.

Costs, as with treatment time, will vary depending on your therapy so check with your local practice before making an appointment. Expect prices to range from £30 - £100. If your detox practitioner recommends any supplements or natural remedies there may be additional costs to cover this.

Detoxification can last from one day to one month and the number of sessions you will attend depends on your type of therapy and the recommendations of your practitioner.

Detoxification is safe when carried out under the direction of a trained practitioner. Cleansing the body of toxins can play an important part in maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle and is therefore beneficial to everyone even if you feel in good health.

Consult with your GP and detoxification practitioner about any problems or concerns you have as they are trained to recognise who should and shouldn't use detoxification.

This therapy or modality may help with:

Acne Addiction ADHD
Alcoholism Allergies Anemia
Arthritis Bad Breath (Halitosis) Blood pressure
Body Odour (BO) Chronic Fatigue Chronic Pain
Constipation Depression Dermatitis
Diabetes Diarrhoea Digestive Problems
Eczema Excessive Sweating Flu
Gastroenteritis (stomach flu) Glaucoma Headaches
Hormone Imbalance Hyperhidrosis Immune System Dysfunction
Incontinence Indigestion Influenza (Flu)
Insomnia Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Itching
Lymphedema Menopausal symptoms Migraines
Mouth ulcers Muscle Cramps Nausea
Obesity Osteoporosis Period pain
Pregnancy Rashes Sleep disorders
Tiredness Tremors Urinary Problems
Vomiting Weight Management

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Herbal remedies and fiber supplements are a popular colon detoxification alternative. Fiber has a unique ability to expand within the colon – collecting wastes and toxins and escorting them from the body by stimulating digestion. Many fiber cleanses are combined with digestive herbs to soothe and stimulate the GI tract.


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