Whenever someone I know is about to detox for the first time, the first question after “Are you sure this is gonna work?” always seems to be “Will this make me feel bad?” followed closely by “Will I have to take time off from work?”
My straight answer to all three is “It depends”.
And it does depend.
No two people are alike, nor do we live the same lifestyle or have the same level of toxicity in our bodies when beginning an internal detox program.
There are, however, some facts we all have in common.
Your body is detoxing all the time. Your liver, kidneys, lymph and skin continually process toxic wastes and eliminate them via urine feces and sweat. When the amount of toxins is greater than the speed at which your body can eliminate them, a cleansing reaction or “healing crisis” occurs. A healing crisis is fancy language for catching a cold or the flu. Most of us don’t generally choose to catch a cold. In fact, we’ll do just about anything to avoid getting sick. However, when you elect to detox using a cleanse kit, you voluntarily start a healing crisis and your body will react in kind.
Here’s what you can expect and how to make it go away faster.
Headache – The most common cleansing reaction. Caffeine withdrawal, in particular, plus the increase of released toxins causes muscles to constrict and tighten around the neck, shoulders and temples.
Remedy: Drink more water. Soak in a hot water tub. Light exercise. A cup of Chamomile or Mint tea, each have a soothing, settling effect on muscles and tension.
Backache – Since your intestines and colon reside in your lower abdomen, increased dietary fiber form larger bowel movements.
Full of toxins, stools are highly acidic and can cause temporary lower back pain as they are eliminated from your body.
Remedy: Stretching to loosen muscles, fruit juices have a laxative effect and will speed up bowel movements. Lower back pain associated with colon cleansing usually subsides after the 3rd or 4th day.
Light-Headedness – Dizziness is also a common cleansing reaction at the beginning of a cleanse as your body adjusts to the flood of toxins into the bloodstream.
Remedy: Increase water intake. Eat pieces of fruit like grapes, apples and/or pineapple. Take a break and stop moving until the dizziness passes. If the problem persists, cut back on the cleanse kit dosages and/or contact a health care provider.
Nausea – Stomach upset can be caused by a liver overburdened from processing toxic waste. It could just be something you ate, but when you’re cleansing, all your organs of detoxification are kicked into high gear.
Remedy: Carrot juice diluted with water, coffee enemas, and or mint tea.
Cold & Flu Symptoms – Runny nose, slight fever, scratchy throat, muscle aches and general fatigue.
Two or more of these symptoms at a time may mean you need to shift the detox into a lower gear to let your body process the toxic overload.
Remedy: Get plenty of rest. Drink plenty of fluids. Prolong the cleanse a few days by taking less fiber and/or herbs than the kit recommends. You will still get the same benefits, but with greater comfort.
Bad Breath/Smelly Odor- All humans are connected from mouth to anus by one continuous tube.
The old saying goes “you are what you eat”, but if what you eat is unusable, your body will either get rid of it or hide it in a place where it will cause the lease amount of harm.
During a detox those hiding places are destroyed. Putrid waste that has been festering in the dark comes to light and it doesn’t smell too good. Your breath and sweat may become a little fragrant.
Remedy: Brush your teeth often. Tongue scraping also helps. Suck on citrus fruit wedges (lemons, oranges), gargle with salt water or baking soda and water.
Emotional Changes – Depression is one of the first symptoms of sugar withdrawal. Cravings for sugar and complex carbs like pastries, bagels or cookies and the denial of those cravings can cause frustration, anger and hyper-sensitivity.
Remedy: Remove the offending item(s) from your view. Throw away or give your favorite sweets and carbs to a trustworthy neighbor to hold before you begin a cleanse so they won’t be a temptation.
If that’s not possible, eat a piece of dried fruit or drink a cup of tea sweetened with Maple syrup (grade B, if possible).
If you’re feeling particularly down, take a walk, pet your cat or dog or go see a funny movie.
Keep remembering why you choose to cleanse and think of all the amazing improvements in your health that you will be able to see, feel and smell in just a short time from now.