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The detoxification and withdrawal process can set you on the road to wellness, but you may experience symptoms that make you feel unwell during your healing journey. In this pamphlet, Dr. Michael Rahman N.D, explains what a detox diet is and what you might experience while your body is expelling toxins. Be aware that your symptoms may be minimal or almost non-existent but if you do experience symptoms there is no need for concern as it is a sign that your body is eliminating toxins and that your detox program is working.

What is A Detox?

A detoxification plan can help you accomplish many goals including weight loss, stress relief and recovery from various conditions. A detox typically requires the elimination of unhealthy foods from your daily diet and replacing them with ones that have a high density of nutrients. A detox may also require the elimination of nicotine, alcohol, recreational mediations, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, saturated fat, carbs, junk food and other specific items from your daily routine. In some cases, liquids such as broths, juices and teas may be recommended to give the digestive system a break from solid food. Homeopathic remedies intended to assist with detox symptoms or the detox itself may also be prescribed by a naturopath.

Why Detox?

A detoxification diet can provide many benefits includin

  • a boost in energy levels
  • optimization of organ function
  • lowered blood pressure
  • improved liver function
  • clear skin
  • reduces inflammation
  • reduces enema
  • better cognitive function
  • enhances mood

Possessing a physicality that is stronger, lighter and carrying a reduced toxic load can also assist with the prevention or acceleration of an illness in some cases.

Different Types of Detox

Our bodies naturally detox themselves, but sometimes we suffer a stall in that process or a toxic overload due to poor diet and lifestyle choices and exposure to toxins in the environment.

There are different types of detoxification that can support the body in waste product removal. Some deploy herbs and natural supplements to stimulate the internal organs to cleanse or heal themselves and others help regulate or accelerate the elimination of toxins through sweat, urine and elimination.

Your naturopathic doctor can help you decide which of the following programs is best for you.

Juice cleanse

This is a liquid detox diet that requires drinking freshly squeezed extracts from fruits and vegetables. It cleanses and optimises the lymphatic system, liver, colon, kidneys, gallbladder, and skin.  A naturopathic doctor can assess whether or not this is a healthy liquid fast for you and how many days it should last.

Liver detox

The liver is the organ that acts like a filter for the circulatory and digestive system and when it becomes overloaded with fat, toxins and heavy metals a detox can help it recover its function on its own. Toxins are flushed out of the body through urine and feces by only consuming naturopathic doctor recommended greens vegetables, grains, seeds and a possible potassium supplement.

Colon cleanse

A colon cleanse, also known as a colonic supports the elimination of toxins through a bowel movement. It involves the introduction of filtered water through a hose inserted through the rectum to flush out hardened stool. Substances such as herbs, vitamins, enzymes, coffee and natural supplements may be used to optimize the process.

Herbal detox

Herbal detoxes can assist with weight loss. A combination of natural herbs may be used to gently propel toxins out of the colon, liver and bladder and reduce blood sugar levels. Trust your naturopathic doctor to discuss your wellness profile to help determine if this type of weight loss cleanse is for you

Detoxification and Withdrawal

As you start eating better and your body adjusts to healthier habits and high-quality foods, it begins to eliminate waste products. This process may bring about physical or mental discomfort due to toxins exiting the body through the bloodstream, digestive system or lymph glands.

Symptoms of withdrawal include

  • bad breath
  • coated pasty tongue
  • constipation
  • cravings
  • diarrhea
  • flu-like symptoms
  • frequent urination
  • gas
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • lethargy
  • nausea
  • rashes
  • weakness

Cope with these flu-like symptoms the same way you would if you had the flu and drink plenty of fluids (especially water) and get lots of rest. These symptoms are a sign that the detoxification process is working and is often referred to as a healing crisis.

Dealing With Cravings

You might also experience cravings for foods or substances (such as nicotine, alcohol or sugar.)

Cravings for foods, or substances, which your body used to take in but are now eliminated for the purposes of detoxing can lead to common signs of withdrawal. This is especially likely if you considered yourself to be addicted to the substance you are trying to cleanse from body. You might be tempted to take medications or partake of a food or substance to relieve the symptoms, but this will only prolong the withdrawal period. The key is to take it easy and realize that any moods or discomfort will pass.

If you chronically experience symptoms for more than a few days it is possible you are experiencing withdrawal syndrome, which is more common in individuals with a long-term addiction to alcohol, drugs or nicotine.

What is a Healing Crisis?

A healing crisis occurs when you experience a temporary increase in symptoms while you are dealing with the detoxification process. This is caused by the immune system going into overdrive and may include flushing, chllls, and fever. This is not a cue to stop the detox diet, but an indication that the body is cleaning and repairing itself of all the toxins. This type of reaction to a detox program usually lasts from one to three days

There are many strategies for coping with a healing crisis.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

The more fluids you drink, especially water, the easier it will be for your body to flush out the toxins. Make an effort to drink distilled water or pure spring water. At least eight glasses of water is recommended during a detox cleanse.

Modified Fast

A naturopathic doctor may also prescribe a modified fast, which is a type of intermittent fast that allows a certain amount of calories to be determined after an assessment. This type of fast allows between 500 and 800 calories per day and eating is restricted to an 8 to 12 hour window from recommended healthy food. A modified fast typically lasts 3 days but may last longer, especially if the goal is weight loss or reversing a fatty liver.

Homeopathic Remedies

There are several homeopathic remedies used for detoxification that can be prescribed by a naturopathic doctor that can assist with the following:

  • improve organ function and redress any areas of weakness
  • decrease fluid retention
  • encourage better digestion and nutrient absorption
  • increase vitality and energy
  • boost immune function
  • balance moods

There are also homeopathic remedies that can target the elimination of specific classes of toxins such as metals, pesticides or petroleum products.

Use Herbs and Herbal Remedies

Be sure to include any fresh, dried or supplemental herbs as part of your detox regimen as recommended by your naturopathic doctor. Many herbs are natural diuretics that can help your body wash out waste products faster through urination, the colon or the lymphatic symptoms. Herbs that may be recommended are garlic, dandelion, chamomile and turmeric.

Hot Water Therapy

Taking hot showers during a detox can help your body eliminate toxins through the skin and help ease any congestion, aches and pains. Have the water as hot as your body can stand it and scrub your skin well, preferably with a brush. Hot showers may help in eliminating toxins through the skin.

Meditation and Mild Exercise

Meditation can help deal with the irritability and mood swings experienced during the healing crisis and mild exercise can help move toxins out of the joints, muscles and organs. Recommended mind-body practices include yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong.

Focus on a Healthy Lifestyle

A regimented detox diets may not be a needed ritual if you focus on some necessary lifestyle changes. Focus instead on a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains and vegetables and daily exercise to prevent toxic overload. Cutting out the lifestyle choices that drain your vitality such as smoking, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and foods high in sugar, saturated fats and additives can also go a long way to the maintenance of your health.

At the Pinewood Natural Health Center you can receive advice from a naturopathic doctor about how to manage the program holistically. Services provided at the Pinewood Natural Health clinic include naturopathic medicine including acupuncture, herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies and dietary counseling and homeopathy. Our integrated practice has a special focus on anti-aging therapies, weight loss, allergy testing, therapeutic massage and cancer support. Feel free to contact us online at You can also call us at our Toronto Clinic at (416) 656-8100 or at the Pickering Clinic (905) 427-0057.


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