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8 Best Practices for Healthy Detoxification
8 Best Practices for Healthy Detoxification
By Vincent Pedre, MD

In my previous blog post, we talked about the importance of supporting the Phase I cytochrome P450 family of enzymes and Phase II conjugation pathways with specific foods and targeted nutrients. In this post, we’re talking about important considerations when creating a detox treatment plan for your patients.

What Should a Detox Treatment Plan Look Like?

When it comes to comprehensive detox support, the detoxification program will need to include key components. It may be a challenge to implement all at one time, so I am a big proponent of a phased approach, wherein different parts of the protocol are stacked in as the patient accommodates the necessary lifestyle changes or habits. By doing so, you avoid overwhelming the patient with more tasks than they can accomplish. It is best to start slow in some cases in order to ensure success, rather than overfilling the patient’s plate and leading to failure.

Here are some easy steps to helping your patients detoxify in our modern world:

  • Elimination Diet: An oligoantigenic diet that removes the most common inflammatory foods, such as wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, alcohol, coffee, peanuts, omega-6 oils, package/processed foods, and for some people red meat, is an important first step in improving the body’s ability to eliminate toxins by reducing the toxic burden of the foods eaten by our patients. As part of this goal, we want to encourage our patients to eat a plant-based diet, rich in phytonutrients that provide the detoxification substrates and co-factors listed in my previous post.

  • Colon Cleansing:You cannot detoxify if you cannot eliminate waste. Encouraging daily bowel movements is a key to this process. Constipation needs to be addressed early on in any detoxification protocol.

    Supplements and strategies that encourage elimination include:
    • Magnesium citrate: 200–400 mg daily
    • Vitamin C: 1,000–4,000 mg daily (to tolerance)
    • Fiber supplementation
    • Colon hydrotherapy (in cases of severe constipation)

  • Phase I Detox Support: Many Phase I-supportive nutrients can be found in nutritional products that can be prescribed to patients. Especially when there are deficiencies in the diet due to lifestyle factors, it is best to supplement these nutrients in order to insure the best detoxification potential for our patients.

    Supplements to consider:
    • B-complex
    • BCAAs
    • Functional meal replacement powder

  • Phase II Detox Support: This is mainly amino acids, which can be found in the foods we eat. Oftentimes, however, it is easier to get a patient to take a functional food protein powder that provides all the essential nutrients and amino acids needed for detoxification. Remember, Phase II is the slower phase, and it is highly dependent on the availability of amino acids, so dietary deficiencies play a strong role in disrupting Phase II clearance of toxins and internal metabolites. If a patient has low stomach acid, they may also not be getting the right amount of amino acids from the proteins they eat due to inadequate digestion.

    Supplements to consider:
    • Free-form amino acids
    • Betaine-HCl with peptidases
    • Functional meal replacement powder

  • Exercise/Sweating: Sweating is an important key to detoxification. Rather than call it exercise, I prefer to tell my patients to move in ways that please them. They can go for a run, bike ride, dance, attend a HIIT class, take on ballroom dancing, or simply play with their kids in the park. No matter what it is, moving and sweating is something we want to encourage our patients to do as part of a comprehensive detoxification plan.

  • Sauna Therapy: If you can’t get your patients to move and sweat for any reason, the next best thing is sauna therapy. There are several types of saunas that can be used for perspiration therapy. Traditional saunas use electric or wooden heat elements, and the heat does not penetrate the skin very deeply. Far-infrared saunas use far-infrared light to emit heat and penetrate deeper into the skin (about 1 inch), opening the pores, and allowing for the release of retained subdermal toxins in the fatty layer under the skin. These saunas tend to emit harmful levels of EMFs, which may pose a problem for people with EMF sensitivity, although companies are taking measures now to reduce the EMF exposure from these saunas. Near-infrared saunas combine light and heat therapy. The light from near-infrared rays penetrates the skin even more deeply than far-infrared, according to NASA experiments, showing benefits in wound healing and pain reduction. Regardless of which method is used, after sweating one needs to wipe the body down with a towel that is not reused and washed afterwards. Dry brushing before sauna therapy increases microcirculation to the skin and may help accelerate the release of internal toxins.

  • Technology Detox: In our advanced electronic lives, it becomes essential to have intermittent technology detoxes. A Jewish Orthodox patient recently reminded me of the importance of this. In observance of the Sabbath, she cherishes the tradition of turning all electronics off for 25 hours once weekly and described to me how greatly it benefits her levels of stress. It’s true. Over-exposure to electronics is part of the toxicity epidemic in modern society. We need to encourage our patients to take breaks from their devices, whether it’s a smartphone, workstation, laptop, or iPad.

    Instead, have your patients consider the following:
    • A walk in the park
    • An evening cut-off time when they shut off all electronics, including their Wi-Fi router
    • Forest-bathing
    • A technology-free vacation

  • Mental Detox: What is a mental detox? The greatest hindrance to patient progress and ability to stick with any program is the wrong mindset. And most patients self-defeat through negative self-talk. We don’t usually think of them as this, but negative thoughts are another form of internal toxicity that is in complete control of the individual. However, they can only be controlled when the person becomes aware of their habitual negative thought patterns. A mental detox is a release from these negative thought patterns, excessive worry, and feelings of inadequacy.

    How do you guide your patients to detox mentally? Have them do the following:
    • Create space for relaxation
    • Pursue a hobby they enjoy that takes them out of their usual mental space (e.g. knitting, painting, gardening)
    • Keep a gratitude journal
    • Express positive affirmations in the form of “I Am” statements (like “I am healthy.” “I am worthy of feeling good.”)
    • Meditate

By implementing these strategies, you’ll have your patients traversing the barrier between feeling unwell and wellness in no time.

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Vincent Pedre, MD

Dr. Vincent M. Pedre is the medical director of Pedre Integrative Health and founder of Dr. Pedre Wellness, medical advisor to two health-tech start-ups (MBODY360 and Fullscript), and a functional medicine-certified practitioner in private practice in New York City since 2004.

He is a clinical instructor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and is certified in yoga and medical acupuncture. On faculty at The Institute for Functional Medicine, Dr. Pedre taught the first AFMCP in Lima, Peru in November 2017. Most recently, he joined the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center as a Clinical Expert serving the Pillars of GI Health Program. He believes the gut is the gateway to excellent health. For this reason, he wrote the book, Happy Gut—The Cleansing Program To Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy and Eliminate Pain, which helps people resolve digestive and gut-related health issues.


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