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Detox Cleanse: Enhancing Your Health with Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Approaches

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on June 1, 2023

Detoxification, sometimes popularly known or referred to as a 'Detox Cleanse,' when carried out over a period of time as part of a health plan, is a vital function of the body, one that naturopathic and functional medicine practitioners pay particular attention to. Naturopathic doctors refer to the organs of elimination, such as the liver, kidneys, gut, skin, and lungs, in the body as 'emunctories.' This article explores the role of detoxification in maintaining optimal health and shares tips on how to enhance your body's natural detoxifying functions.

Understanding Detoxification

In simple terms, detoxification refers to the process where the body neutralizes or eliminates toxins. This can involve heavy metals, pesticides, additives in food, airborne pollutants, and waste products that result from normal cellular activity.

A healthy body is typically equipped to carry out detoxification processes efficiently. However, in today's world, we often expose ourselves to high levels of environmental toxins and stress, which can overload our body's detoxification capabilities. This can result in a variety of health problems, including chronic diseases and autoimmune disorders.

Detox Cleanse: A Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Perspective

From a naturopathic and functional medicine viewpoint, a 'Detox Cleanse' isn't about drastic fasting or consuming certain 'miracle' products. Instead, it's about supporting and enhancing the body's innate detoxifying abilities. It involves a holistic approach focusing on nourishing foods, adequate hydration, regular exercise, and reducing exposure to toxins.

Key Elements of a Detox Cleanse

  1. Nutrient-Dense Diet: Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides the body with essential nutrients that aid detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, for instance, are rich in sulforaphane, a compound that promotes detoxification pathways in the liver.
  2. Adequate Hydration: Drinking plenty of water assists in flushing out toxins and supports overall digestive health.
  3. Regular Exercise: Physical activity encourages circulation in the blood and lymph system, enhancing the body's natural detoxification process.
  4. Sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for the body's healing and repair processes, including detoxification.
  5. Reducing Exposure to Toxins: This involves choosing organic food where possible to limit pesticide exposure, using natural personal care and cleaning products, and ensuring good indoor air quality.
  6. Mental Health: Stress management techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, and meditation can help maintain hormonal balance, which is essential for optimal detoxification.

Supplements for Detox Support

Certain supplements can also support the body's detoxification processes. These include:

  • Milk Thistle: Known for its liver-protecting qualities, milk thistle contains silymarin, a powerful antioxidant that can aid liver detoxification. (1)
  • Glutathione: Often referred to as the body's "master antioxidant," glutathione plays a key role in neutralizing harmful free radicals and helping detoxify heavy metals. (2)
  • Probiotics: These beneficial bacteria aid in digestion and help detoxify harmful bacteria and other compounds from the gut. (3)

Remember, before starting any supplement regimen or a Detox Cleanse, it's important to consult with a holistic healthcare professional who is knowledgeable in naturopathic and functional medicine. This ensures a personalized, safe, and effective approach to enhancing your health and wellbeing.

Detoxification is a complex, continuous process that your body performs to keep you healthy. By embracing the principles of naturopathic and functional medicine, you can support your body's natural detoxifying functions, leading to improved health and vitality.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice.


  1. Abenavoli L, Capasso R, Milic N, Capasso F. Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytother Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):1423-32. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3207. PMID: 20564545.
  2. Bains VK, Bains R. The antioxidant master glutathione and periodontal health. Dent Res J (Isfahan). 2015 Sep-Oct;12(5):389-405. doi: 10.4103/1735-3327.166169. PMID: 26604952; PMCID: PMC4630702.
  3. Pop OL, Suharoschi R, Gabbianelli R. Biodetoxification and Protective Properties of Probiotics. Microorganisms. 2022 Jun 23;10(7):1278. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms10071278. PMID: 35888997; PMCID: PMC9319832.

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