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There are a lot of misconceptions out there about detoxification.
The most common being that you have to force your body to detox using extreme measures. The opposite is true actually – your body detoxes naturally each and every day through breathing, sweating, and bowel movements.
While you don’t have to go to extreme measures for this to happen, it is helpful for your liver, kidneys, and gallbladder if you do what you can to support this process. The best way to do this is by using the following naturopathic detoxification therapies:
What you eat is really important for detoxification. It’s so important, in fact, that I wrote all about it in a separate blog post. You can get all the details for my naturopathic cleanse, here.
2. Colon Hydrotherapy
Colon hydrotherapy is the gentle cleansing of the colon with warm water. This is one of my favorite naturopathic detoxification therapies because it allows you to remove toxins, like encrusted fecal matter, gas, and mucus that may have been accumulating in the colon for years.
If you dive into this detoxification therapy a bit more, you may see information stating that colon hydrotherapy destroys gut flora. This information is false – you have trillions of flora in your colon and your body can and will replenish that flora. You can support your body in its effort by taking a high-quality probiotic after your colon hydrotherapy session.
I recommend getting a colonic once a month t keep your body clear of toxins.
During a cleansing period, I recommend taking the following supplements:
Activated charcoal and bentonite clay are especially important if you’ve been exposed to heavy metals or mold as they will absorb some of the toxins as they exit your body.
This is one of the naturopathic detoxification therapies that I mention most frequently. I love this therapy so much that I purchased a sauna for my home and use it 2-3 times each week.
That’s because saunas encourage sweating, which is very important for the body’s natural detoxification process.
Studies have found that our sweat contains 2-10 times more toxins than blood or urine. If we don’t sweat, these toxins get stored in our fat cells. This is why people who have more body fat tend to be more toxic, age faster, and have more chronic diseases.
When you sweat, you’re releasing all the toxins that have been stored in your fat cells – heavy metals, pesticides, chlorine, parabens, and phthalates from beauty products, as well as solvents.
I recommend incorporating saunas into your health and wellness routine 2-3 times each week for 20 minutes, at a temperature of 120-130 degrees (or as tolerated) – you should be drenched by the time you walk out!
After you sauna, take 2 capsules of activated charcoal with 1 Tablespoon of food grade bentonite clay in water. Drinking this will help bind all the toxins in your body for safe removal.
5. Dry Skin Brushing
This is one of the simplest of the naturopathic detoxification therapies that I recommend to patients. It’s a great way to stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps your lymph nodes release toxins and infectious bacteria and viruses. It also helps to break up fatty tissue and remove excess water from your cells.
Not sure how to do it?
There’s a step by step tutorial here.
This is different from colon hydrotherapy and involves applying hot and cold water to your body in a shower, pool, jacuzzi, or under supervision in a clinic.
You can take advantage of the benefits of hydrotherapy in the comfort of your own home by spending 2 minutes in a hot shower, then switching to 30 seconds of cold water – repeat this cycle 3 times, ending with cold water.
This naturopathic detoxification therapy dilates and contracts the body, gently shocking your organs, so they are encouraged to begin the cleansing process and remove toxins from your body.
As I mentioned in the first blog post in this series on detoxification, I recommend cleansing at the start of each new season for optimal health and wellness. These naturopathic detoxification therapies are gentle and safe enough, however, to do on a regular basis to encourage vitality.
In the next blog post if this series, I’ll be revisiting the food component of detoxification with some of my favorite recipes. I can’t wait to share them with you!
Birds chirping, flowers blooming, warmer weather…spring is in the air. This time of renewal and new life is a great time for a gentle detox, which is why this month I’ll be sharing my naturopathic cleanse and recommendations for detoxification.
For many of us, a cleanse is something that we consider doing once or twice a year, and typically it involves several days of drinking green juices and watered down nut milks.
Psst…there’s a better way!
Detoxing is the process of removing toxins from your body. These toxins are damaging and contribute to symptoms like early aging, fatigue, headaches, chronic pain and infections, weight gain, and acne.
Your body detoxes naturally on a daily basis, but I recommend supporting this process and taking it to the next level four times each year – the change of the seasons offers a perfect opportunity to reset and start anew.
The naturopathic approach to seasonal detoxification is a week-long process that involves preparing and eating whole foods.
Here’s the breakdown:
For one week, remove all inflammatory foods from your diet. Including…
- Refined sugar
- Processed Foods
- Nightshades (like eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes)
- Beans, except garbanzo beans
During this time, consume foods that are less inflammatory, like:
- Green leafy vegetables sourced from non-fracking locations (spinach, kale, chard, etc.)
- Healthy fats (avocado and olive oil only, no nuts or seeds)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Garbanzo Beans
It’s best to cook your own meals at this time, so you know what ingredients are going into your food.
For best results, you’ll want to eat veggies at least 3 times each day and drink lots of water with lemon or cranberry extract – this will help support the kidneys in detoxification. You can incorporate the other anti-inflammatory food into these meals as well.
It’s also a good idea to incorporate tea into your diet at this time. My favorites for detoxification are burdock, dandelion, and milk thistle. You can consume these in unlimited amounts.
Here’s a breakdown of how each day of the cleanse will look (using all of the recommendations above as a starting point)…
Days 1 + 2 of your naturopathic cleanse
For the first two days, remove animal protein from your diet. You can substitute with garbanzo beans or Bio-Transform smoothies twice a day to ensure proper protein intake.
Day 3 of your naturopathic cleanse
Have 4oz of organic turkey for lunch, in addition to green veggies, healthy fat, and lemon or cranberry water. You can also incorporate 1 Tablespoon of quinoa or buckwheat in a salad if your body can digest these without issue.
Day 4 of your naturopathic cleanse
Reintroduce organic chicken. You can also begin using avocado and/or coconut oil at this time.
Day 5 of your naturopathic cleanse
Reintroduce nightshades, like eggplant, white potatoes, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
In addition to shifting your diet for the week, you’ll also want to incorporate the following into your routine:
- Warm bath or Sauna for 20 minutes daily
- Skin Brushing (before your bath or sauna)
- Detox Plus, an antioxidant supplement that supports detoxification
- Gentle Fiber or another clean fiber supplement
- Colon Hydrotherapy to support the clearing of toxins from the body
- Sleep, 8-9 hours each night
- Meditation and journaling to clear and cleanse your thoughts
- Spending less time on your digital devices to avoid radiation and EMF exposure
Avoid intense exercise at this time. Instead, opt for walk-in nature, gentle yoga or pilates for no more than 20 minutes a day.
I know this naturopathic cleanse may feel like a challenge, but consider it a week dedicated to optimizing your health – an opportunity to enter into spring feeling as refreshed and renewed as nature.
It may also be helpful for you to know that I cleanse in this way and my patients have seen incredible results using this naturopathic cleanse – it doesn’t have harmful side effects, but can significantly improve overall functioning.
This month on the blog, we’re talking about colds, the flu, and other viral and bacterial infections. I’ve also been sharing resources to help you strengthen your immune system so if you end up with an infection, you can recover faster.
So far, I’ve shared information about supplements and alternative therapies that can be helpful for recovery and prevention, and this week, I want to talk about the (not-so) secret way that stress and mindset affect your immune system and your ability to recover from illness.
I know it may not immediately seem connected, but trust me, there’s a link!
From work to parenting, finances, and maintaining our health, there’s no doubt that most of us live very stressful lives. No matter what we do, stress can never be completely avoided. That said, it has the ability to severely impact the health of our immune system and ability to recover from infections and other illnesses.
I know, it feels like a catch-22: stress is ever-present and unavoidable, but its presence can adversely affect our health.
So what can you do – how do you keep yourself well despite modern-day stress?
When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands secrete cortisol and the sympathetic aspect of your nervous system turns on; the part of your nervous system responsible for fight, flight, or freeze. Hormones, like adrenaline and epinephrine, are also secreted.
The production of these stress hormones can weaken the lining of the gut over time, and since at least 70% of your immune system is in your gut, a weakness in one creates a weakness in the other.
Research has shown, however, that’s it’s not just stress that can deplete the gut and immune system. Our perception of the stress and the events contributing to it also have an effect.
So you can experience stress, but if you can maintain a positive or hopeful outlook about your situation, the stress you are experiencing may not affect your body as severely.
I see this often with my patients – the ones who make a conscious effort to think positively about their body and their illness tend to recover from colds, the flu, and other infections faster if they get sick at all.
The New England Journal of Medicine began studying this phenomenon in the 1990s. They looked at the correlation between how we perceive stress and its effect on the development of acute infections. Their results mirror the observations I’ve made of my own patients: maintaining positive emotions, positive beliefs, and a positive mindset during times of stress helps you to have a greater resistance to bacterial and viral infections, like a cold or the flu.
It has also been shown that the production of interleukin-6, an immune protein that is produced in the body wherever there is inflammation, is linked to our emotional state. More specifically, it is elevated in the presence of negative emotions in some individuals. This elevation can prolong recovery from infections and other illnesses.
A positive mental state really does make a difference.
It’s easy to allow ourselves to get caught up in stressful moments, let negative thoughts take over, and treat our bodies poorly because they don’t seem to be cooperating. Allowing this to happen, however, isn’t helpful.
Instead of beating yourself up during times of illness, understand that your body is simply doing its job – letting you know that the stress is too much and it’s time for rest and nourishment,
Give yourself permission to slow down, breathe, meditate, and rest. This is the perfect time to engage fully in your spiritual practice.
Be grateful to your body for reminding you to rest and take good care, and remind yourself of the best possible outcome: a healthy body and speedy recovery.
I say this often, but it’s important and relevant here: good health is more than eating healthy foods and taking the right supplements, nourishing your emotional and spiritual health is just as important.
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You did everything you could – washed your hands religiously; positioned yourself several feet away from sick coworkers and family members…everything short of bathing in hand sanitizer and hiding out in your closet waiting for cold and flu season to pass.
Despite your best efforts, you still got sick.
Don’t worry, it’s totally normal to get sick once or twice a year and it’s also possible to boost your immunity and shorten your recovery time with these 7 supplements:
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s stored in the liver and fatty tissues. It strengthens your innate immune system by turning on key peptides in your immune system that trigger a strong anti-microbial response, allowing you to quickly and effectively fight off invaders (1).
When fighting off a cold or the flu, I recommend taking a high dose, 15,000 – 20,000 IU, of Vitamin D for no more than one week to boost your immunity.
2. Vitamin C
You’ve most likely heard about the benefits of Vitamin C and may have even been given orange juice when you got sick as a child. This is because Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that protects against harmful molecules called free radicals. It also helps stimulate the body’s natural defenses against internal inflammation (2).
Taking 4 grams each day of a fat-soluble, lypo-spheric Vitamin C solution, can boost your immunity and reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children. This translates to about one less day of illness (3).
3. Whole Beta Glucan Particle
Whole Beta Glucan Particle is a healthy yeast that supports the body in fighting infections. In fact, soldiers in Iraq were given this supplement instead of antibiotics to help strengthen their immune systems and treat disease. It was shown to be effective in helping them to ward off colds, the flu, and other viral infections.
The “boss of detox” and a powerful antioxidant, this supplement is a great addition to your arsenal during cold and flu season. It can help boost your immunity to bacterial and viral infections and support a speedy recovery. I recommend taking it intravenously, if you can, when fighting off a cold or the flu.
This medicinal plant is high in antioxidants and Vitamin C. It has also been proven to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza (4). It helps to reduce upper respiratory infections and coughs, and it tastes great. You can get it over the counter in form of a syrup or an extract. If you’re feeling up fo it, you can also make your own.
70% of your immune system is in your digestive system, so having a healthy gut is a sure way to boost immunity and prevent illness. I recommend taking a high quality probiotic with a bacteria count of 100 billion for recovery and prevention.
This is an over the counter supplement that contains a combination of 14 herbs, roots, and minerals. You’re probably familiar with many of them, like echinacea, garlic, goldenseal, zinc, and Vitamin A. Taking 2-4 capsules of this well-rounded herbal formula will also boost immunity.
In addition to the supplements mentioned, food can also be used as medicine.
When you’re feeling sick or coming down with a cold or the flu, it’s best to avoid the following:
- Refined sugar
These foods contribute to internal inflammation, increase mucus production, and slow down the immune system’s natural recovery process. Eating nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods like bone broth soups and green leafy vegetables, in addition to staying well hydrated, will help you recover faster if you’re sick and prevent illness during the times when you are well.
Want a little behind the scenes truth?
I’m writing this post while sick. Yes, even doctors get sick, but I’m helping myself recover by using all of the supplements I’ve mentioned in this blog as well as the therapies I mentioned in my last blog post.
I wouldn’t recommend anything to you that I haven’t tried myself, but you should still consult with a healthcare practitioner before taking supplements or starting any new medical regimen. Keep in mind, the dosages mentioned here are for adults only, please be sure to see your child’s pediatrician for more personalized recommendations and care.
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Now that we’ve differentiated between viral infections and bacterial infections, I want to dive a little deeper into treatment and offer a few alternatives to over-the-counter remedies and antibiotics.
If you have a viral infection, like a cold or the flu; or a bacterial infection, like a sinus infection, ear infection, pneumonia, or mono – what are some alternative therapies you can use to feel better, that actually work?
Intravenous (IV) Therapy
This is one of my favorite ways to help patients heal and recover from viral and bacterial infections. Not only does IV therapy provide a way to replenish the body’s vitamins and minerals, but it also provides hydration.
You may not feel thirsty when you’re fighting a viral or bacterial infection, but the high production of mucus and increased body temperatures that occur when you’re sick can cause dehydration.
This cannot be remedied by drinking water alone.
In these instances, IV therapy is a great alternative therapy to use since it increases the volume of fluids in the body, thins out the mucus, and supports the liver and kidneys in flushing the infection out of the body.
We offer IV therapies in our clinic. If you’re not in the area, find a location near you that offers alternative therapies, like intravenous therapy, as it speeds up recovery from both viral and bacterial infections (and a host of other conditions as well).
Spending time in an infrared sauna helps to increase body temperature. Since viruses and bacteria do not like extreme environments, increasing your body temperature can help your body get rid of the infection faster.
If you don’t have access to a sauna, don’t worry! You can still take advantage of this alternative therapy by taking a hot Epsom salt bath – use 2 cups of Epsom salt for a standard sized bathtub filled with warm water.
Wet Sock Therapy
This simple hydrotherapy technique is especially effective for relieving nasal congestion and boosting your body’s natural healing ability. All you need are a pair of wool socks, cotton socks, and water.
When your feet go from being very warm to very cold, the body immediately rushes to warm them up and return to homeostasis. To do this, it increases circulation and blood flow, which in turn moves blood through all your systems, including your lymph system, which amplifies your immune. It also increases white blood cell production which is beneficial in eradicating infection from your body.
Here’s how it work…
- Before bed, put your feet in hot water for 3 minutes – the water should be as hot as you can handle without burning your skin.
- Wet a pair of thin cotton socks in cold water, wring them out well
- Take your feet out of the hot water and put on the cold socks
- Put a pair of heavy wool socks over the cotton socks
- Sleep with the socks on – they will be dry when you wake
I do this therapy as soon as I start to feel run down, and by the next morning, I’m feeling a lot better. Wet socks can be done nightly while sick, and is even safe for children.
The aches, pains, and fatigue that we experience when we have a viral or bacterial infection are signs that you need to slow down.
You feel tired when you’re sick because your immune system is waging war against the unwanted viruses and bacteria in your body.
This takes a lot of energy!
Instead of pushing yourself, honor the need to rest. This alternative therapy supports the immune system and can help you recover more quickly.
The final alternative therapy can be prepared in your own kitchen!
- Grate 1-2 carrots
- Place them in a cloth or paper towel that is wet with cool water
- Fold the cloth, tucking in the edges to create a pouch-like compress
- Place the compress on your neck while lying down
The carrot poultice will help to draw out toxins, soothe inflammation, and fight infection. It is particularly effective for sore throats and other throat infections, like strep throat, thyroiditis, and swollen lymph nodes.
A few other alternative therapies you can use when you come down with the cold, flu, or other infection:
- Eat hot soup and drink hot beverages, like this lemon ginger tea.
- Rest in a warm environment.
- Cover your throat with a scarf when you’re outside to protect yourself from the cold air and wind.
It’s normal to get sick once or twice a year.
This frequency can actually strengthen the immune system.
However, using by these alternative therapies and incorporating the immune boosting nutrients that I’ll share with you in next week’s blog – you will recover more quickly when you do get sick.
One of the most common questions my patients ask me during cold winter months is: “how do I know if I have a cold or the flu?”
So in this blog post, as part of our month-long series on immune health, I want to answer that question as well as provide you with the information you need to distinguish between a viral infection and a bacterial infection.
As the temperature drops and we get further into winter, it’s very common for me to have patients come in with a cold, the flu, upper respiratory infections, and sinus infections. This happens so commonly in winter because our bodies can become easily depleted in colder temperatures, allowing infections to spread more quickly.
Both the common cold and the flu are viral infections that can be spread through airborne contact, meaning you can catch a cold if you breathe in air or touch surface that has been infected with the cold or flu virus through sneezing, coughing, or phlegm.
If you’re traveling on an airplane where the air is stagnant and recycled, work with children, or are a healthcare practitioner, it’s very likely that you will contract a viral infection during the winter months!
So now you know that a cold and flu are both viral infections, but how do you know which one you have when you get sick?
A cold is generally milder than the flu and presents with the following symptoms:
- sore throat that goes away after a day or two
- runny nose or congestion
- a cough that goes away after day four or five
- mild headache
- low fever (99-100 degrees), especially in children
The flu has similar symptoms, but they tend to last longer, come on more quickly, and are much more intense:
- muscle aches and soreness
- sore throat
- sometimes vomiting and diarrhea
Cold symptoms typically last about a week, while the flu can leave you feeling sick and run down for a week or more.
Neither of these is a bacterial infection, so they do not require antibiotics to treat.
However, if the symptoms persist for longer than a week, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with your healthcare provider as a viral infection, like a cold or the flu, can sometimes turn into a bacterial infection, like pneumonia, bronchitis, a sinus infection, or an ear infection.
It is not uncommon for a viral infection to turn into a bacterial infection and this occurs in part due to the amount and type of mucus that the body produces when you have a cold or the flu – a thick solution that is used to expel the virus from the body through sneezing and coughing. This mucus is the body’s natural defense, but it can also be the ideal environment for bacteria to grow and bacterial infections, like strep throat and bacterial pneumonia to develop.
It’s hard to differentiate between a bacterial infection and a viral infection by symptoms alone, so I always run lab work to check internal inflammation and white blood cell count if I suspect a bacterial infection. This data helps me to determine if my patient’s persistent, intense symptoms, and fever, are being caused by a virus or bacteria.
If the testing determines that a bacterial infection is present, antibiotics are recommended, along with other more holistic therapies that can help to provide immune support.
I will talk more in-depth about intravenous (IV) therapies and other holistic immune support methods (like these) that I recommend in the next blog post of this series on immunity and immune health. In the meantime, stay warm and well.
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