Detoxification refers to the removal of toxic substance from human body by various methods. Detoxification takes place through various organs of the human body like lungs, liver, kidney and skin. Detoxification is also done by artificial methods like dialysis, acupuncture detoxification and chelation therapy. Alternative medicine therapies like detox diets also claim to detoxify the human body.
The function of the liver, lungs, kidney and skin is to remove any harmful substance from the blood stream. Lungs detoxify by exhaling. Liver breaks down the toxins into smaller compounds that are then cleaned by the skin and the kidneys.
Chelation Therapy uses chelating agents to remove metal ions from the body. Metals like mercury, lead, uranium, americium, polonium etc are harmful and act like poison in the body. Chelating agents that are used for detoxification are:
• EDTA : Dietheylene triamine pentaacetic acid
• DMSA : Dimercaptosuccinic acid
• BAL : British Anti Lewisite
• DMPS : Dimercapto-propane sulfonate
• ALA: Alpha lipoic acid
• Ca Na2 –EDTA : Calcuium disodium versante
It is a dietary course in which food consumption habits are changed to remove toxins and contaminants from the body. Proponents of this method claim improved health, vitality, immunity, weight loss etc.
The various methods used are:
• Calorific restriction.
• Increased consumption of certain types of fish like salmon.
• Fasting methods like water fasting and juice fasting.
• Consuming certain herbs.
In detox diets veganism is advocated in which fruits and vegetables form the majority component. Drinking more water and limiting alcohol is also advocated.
Detoxification also refers to drug rehabilitation to treat alcoholism and drug addictions. The process in these types of detoxification involves abstinence to remove the drug completely from the body and this is usually accompanied by social and environmental support. This support is required to prevent the patient undergoing withdrawal and depression. A non drug detoxification method widely used is acupuncture detoxification. Acupuncture detoxification was very successful during the 70’s cocaine plague in the US.
It involves a five point auricular (outer ear) protocol developed in the US by Dr Michael Smith. Presently in the US this acupuncture treatment and training is provided through the National Acupuncture Detoxificcation Association. Studies have found that patients are more likely to complete the treatment and stay away from drugs and alcohols.
Dialysis is a life support treatment used to detoxify the blood when a patient’s kidneys fail. Kidneys remove waste products from the blood like potasium, acid, excess fluid and urea in the form of urine. Dialysis machine does both waste removal and fluid removal. The method used to remove the toxins from the blood is by osmosis. Blood is passed on one side of semipermeable membrane and the dialysis fluid is passed on the other side. The dialysis fluid collects the toxins from the blood by osmosis through the semi permeable membrane.
Detoxification is done by various established methods like dialysis, acupuncture detoxification, chelation therapy etc. Some alternate medicine methods like detox diets also claim to purify the blood. However they are not proved medically.