Do you need to detox? If you are alive, the answer is  yes!  Generally, when you think about health,  completing some type of detox comes to mind. As you are making your New Years resolutions, you are probably including weight loss, healthier diet, having  more energy, or just feeling better this New Year. When it comes to detoxing, your body is already striving hard to do that literally 24 hours a day.  Some of the key organ systems involved in detoxification are:

  • Intestines
  • Lungs
  • Nasal epithelium
  • Kidney
  • Reproductive system
  • Liver


The absolute first step to detoxing is to identify what you are being exposed to and STOP the exposure. If stopping the exposure is not possible at this time, start by decreasing it or taking precautions to minimize exposure.


#1 Stop exposure

The most important part of any detox is to stop your current exposure so that the body can work to clear its total body burden. That means if up to today you have been eating fast food, using harmful chemicals on your body, in your home, or outside in your yard – stop. To assess if the products that you use every day need to be thrown out in the New Year and replaced with products that will not add to your total body burden visit:

Once you’ve assessed the ranking of the items that you use in your home, like your laundry detergent, soap, cleaning products and food quality, start taking steps to switch the harmful items in your home to ones that are not harmful to you and your family.

 #2 Eat Organic Cruciferous vegetables every day

Cruciferous vegetables belong to the brassica family. Vegetables in this family include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and mustard greens. These foods contain chemical constituents that activte both phase I and phase II detoxification enzymes. That is a really big deal! That means they help you detox! One such compound is indole-3-carbinol, which is also a powerful anti-cancer chemical. The net result of consuming cruciferous vegetables daily is significant protection against several toxins, especially carcinogens. If you are not sure what vegetables and fruits that you eat should be organic and with which ones it does not matter, check out the Environmental Working Group’s clean 15 and dirty dozen.


 #3 Move

Your body requires movement. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. Just move! I recommend at least 150 min of moderate to high intensity exercise a week. Moving helps to mobilize extracellular toxins to be released from stored organs and adipose tissue. Please remember to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise routine.

Read about the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise.


 #4 Sleep

That’s right, if you get less than eight hours of sleep a night, than you are operating impaired. Your alertness, productivity, creativity, and general health are all affected. Between the hours of 11:00pm and 6:00am the body is working hard to cleanse, repair and regenerate for the trauma of the next day. Between the seventh and eight hour of sleep is when your body gets almost an hour of REM sleep.

That means that if you are a six-hour sleeper, or if you are waking frequently through out the night you are missing an important opportunity to repair and to prepare your body for the coming day.


#5 Apply Castor Oil Packs

Using castor oil packs over the abdomen (never take castor oil internally) nightly is a great way to decrease inflammation and increase circulation and lymph movement. This is a part of my families’ nightly routine to provide gentle support to the liver, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive tract. Here’s a handy resource about using castor oil packs. 




#6 Use Fever Baths – The Poor Man’s Sauna

Although I am a huge advocate of saunas I recognize that not every one has access to a sauna to use daily or weekly. The great thing is that you do not need a sauna to gain the health benefits of inducing short febrile state.  You can work up a great sweat by getting into a hot bath and drinking a cup of hot tea. Using diaphoretic herbs to help facilitate sweating is immensely helpful in achieving this state.  Here are a few choices of diaphoretic botanicals to use:



Achillea millefolium(Yarrow)

Matricaria recutita (German chamomile)

Sambucus spp (Elderberry)

Fever baths are a great complement to any detox program they should be done at least once a day for 10-14 day period. 1-2 cups of Epson salt can also be added to the bath, which can help reduce inflammation. The Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) offers mild detoxification support through the skin.

To increase your detox and immune support, you can stand in the shower right after you get out of the hot bath and allow cool to cold water to pour over your body for 5-10 minutes. This is contrast hydrotherapy and will increase circulation through out the body.

(If you have a known cardiovascular condition please consult with your Doctor before trying fever baths).


#7 Bowel detoxification

Bowel detoxification should be personalized based on a Digestive Analysis. Intestinal flora plays an important role in health. The micro biome of your gastrointestinal tract are involved in nutritional status and affect immune function, carcinogenesis, toxin load, and aging. If there is dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) in the GI tract, this must be addressed for proper detoxification to take place.  If seeing a naturopathic physician to assess GI tract health is not an option then stopping sugar intake, increasing soluble fiber  and taking probiotics is a good start. If probiotics have caused you GI upset in the past try a probiotic that is FOS-free. Follow the link to See Dr. Joy’s favorite probiotics.



#8 Use Choleretics and Cholagogue


These herbs help to facilitate movement through the biliary tree. This is important because your phase 1 and phase 2 detox pathways, which are heavily concentrated in the liver, will take the toxin that body is trying to detox and will put it into the bile to be dumped into the duodenum of the small intestine which will be removed through the gastrointestinal tract. Providing liver support and bile support is a great way to enhance any detox protocol. Including foods that support the liver are a great addition. Some liver supporting foods are beets, garlic and green tea.



  • Berberis spp
  • Chelidonium
  • Curcuma longa
  • Taraxacum officinale

If you are taking any prescription medication please consult a Naturopathic physician to check for drug interactions before starting any botanical supplements.


#9 Drink water

Water is essential to life; it is the body’s principal chemical component making up around 60% of a person’s body weight.  Every body system depends on water. It is needed to carry nutrients to the body’s cells, provide moisture to the body’s mucous membranes like the nose, ears, and throat tissue, and water is needed to flush toxins out of the body’s organs.

When you are hydrating, it is best to drink water that is filtered and has not been stored in plastic containers.  Filtering water will remove chlorine and chlorine by-products. Avoiding water that has been stored in plastic containers will prevent exposure to chemicals like BPA, phthalates that are linked to hormonal imbalances due to endocrine disruption.

It is important to limit exposure to environmental pollutants; however, it is better that you are drinking water frequently than avoiding it due to these factors.

Aim for the goal of half your body weight in ounces a day and see the difference in your health.  It is expected that with increase water consumption that you will have the need to urinate more often (1-1.5 hours).

This is good since you will be removing waste from the body and keeping your kidneys happy.



Remember: nutraceuticals and botanical medicines are powerful therapies. Before starting a detox program or introducing nutraceuticals or botanical medicine into your daily routine, you should consult with a licensed naturopathic physician.

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.