Chronic Toxic Overload Chronic Toxic Overload CREDIT: Brett Elliott

145,000 reasons to do a Detox

Friday 22 December 2017, 5:29PM
By Brett Elliott, Medical Herbalist

I recently had a discussion with a doctor and she said to me "there's no such thing as Detox because the body doesn't have toxins. Detox is a word bandied around by those who practice quackery"

I replied "This is a point of contention for me. I hear this all the time from the medical profession as the term 'detox' is used in only one context 'drug detoxification" and I said to her "what about Panadol then? We know that this single drug can cause liver failure when taken in overdose, so how about the other 145,000 chemicals that are found in our household items and processed food industry? Wouldn't those things become toxic over time? Even water can become toxic if consumed in large enough quantities. We had put mercury in our teeth, lead in our petrol and bromides in our bread. Are these things not toxic? Every cell in the body secretes toxins, and all we are doing with herbs is supporting the natural detoxification organs of the body"

She fell silent...

In fact, there are over 145,000 Chemicals in our household cleaners, devices, cars, textiles, packaging and processed food industry and 60 million other chemicals worldwide.

What is a Toxin?

There are generally three types of toxic entities; chemical, biological, and physical: Chemical toxicants include inorganic substances such as lead, mercury, hydrofluoric acid, and chlorine gas, and organic compounds such as methyl alcohol, most medications, and poisons from living things. Biological toxicants include bacteria and viruses that can induce disease in living organisms. Biological toxicity can be difficult to measure because the "threshold dose" may be a single organism. Theoretically, one virus, bacterium or worm can reproduce to cause a serious infection.

Reproductive defects and infertility

A World Health Organization reported that in Alaska, the United States, exposure to such chemicals may contribute to reproductive defects, infertility and antler malformation in some deer populations. Population declines in species of otters and sea lions may also be partially due to their exposure to diverse mixtures of PCBs, the insecticide DDT, other persistent organic pollutants, and metals such as mercury. Meanwhile, bans and restrictions on the use of EDCs have been associated with the recovery of wildlife populations and a reduction in health  


Environmental factors including tobacco smoke, nutrition, physical activity, and exposure to environmental carcinogens are estimated to be responsible for 75-80% of cancer diagnosis and death in the US. About 6% of cancer deaths per year -- 34,000 deaths annually -- are directly linked to occupational and environmental exposures to known, specific carcinogens. The potential of environmental carcinogens to interact with genetic and lifestyle factors, as well as each other, in the development of cancer, is not well-understood. Nor are chemicals in the environment exhaustively tested for to their carcinogenicity. Therefore the cancer burden caused by exposures to environmental carcinogens may be even larger.

145,000 registered industrial chemicals

Another study at Stockholm University found that today there are around 145,000 registered industrial chemicals in the world, and by no means, all of these are tested and guaranteed safe. The spread of dangerous chemicals in our everyday environment could lead to a global human catastrophe.

"It is an issue as severe as that of climate change and it needs the same attention," says Professor Åke Bergman during Sweden's political week in Almedalen. Prof. Bergman calls for education at all levels, "We all need to know more about chemicals – schools should start teaching about chemicals from the first grade."

In addition to over many thousands of registered industrial chemicals, there are over 60 million other chemicals in the world. We all depend on chemicals. They are everywhere in our everyday environment; in our toys, furniture, kitchen-ware and in technical appliances.

"If we get exposed to endocrine disrupters at the wrong time in life it can have serious effects," says Professor Åke Bergman. "A number of human diseases can be caused by exposure to chemicals. We do not know yet how many, but research is ongoing."  

Food additives

There are over 500 food additives allowed into the food in New Zealand and this does not include the chemicals actually used in the factory during processing. The effects of artificial chemicals in food is relatively unknown, especially when these are consumed over a lifetime.


So what's it going to be? There is no such thing as a Detox or there's no such thing as a toxin? I think we have clarified the point about toxins, so when it comes to detoxification our body has a lot to cope with. It is obvious as we get older that our body finds it harder and harder to process everything that we throw at it ourselves, not to mention what the world throws at us. You can link dozens of health conditions to toxicity, but in a nutshell, anything that causes irritation, inflammation or an immune response is seen by the body as toxic or unwanted.  

In order to maintain health, we need to be able to eliminate toxins easily and quickly so they don't cause disruption. Too much alcohol can kill, and so can too much water. Everything has its limit and when above that limit things start to cause health concerns. Prolonged exposure can be fatal, and giving your body a break is a great way to get everything cleaned up and back on track. 

I hope that next time I encounter such an attitude about Detox that I have a link to this article at hand. 

Brett Elliott ®