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General News    H2'ed 4/21/15

Deciphering Detox Therapies

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Do "detox" diets and preparations really work? Doctors and health care practitioners do not agree. While almost everyone agrees that the environment is rife with pesticides, heavy metals, chemicals and endocrine disrupters that can store in the human body--especially its fat--how to cleanse the body of the toxins is the subject of great disagreement.

For example, gastroenterologist Nasir Moloo says that the kidneys, liver, lungs and skin of healthy people provide sufficient detoxification without the help of preparations and aids. "Your body does a perfectly good job of getting rid of toxins on its own," says Dr. Moloo and there's "no evidence" that detox diets are "necessary or helpful."

James O'Donnell, PharmD. Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Rush Medical College in Chicago is even more forthright. When I asked him his opinion of detox therapies he said, there is "absolutely no scientific proof" of their effectiveness in "the form of clinical studies by competent clinicians," and "some of these 'therapies" have proven dangerous and deadly."

Can we clean out toxins?
Can we clean out toxins?
(Image by Martha Rosenberg)
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Yet a quick look at the medical literature finds that several detox therapies are indeed backed by scientific studies which give both rationale and evidence of their effectiveness. Here are a few of them, but make sure to consult your health care practitioner.

Indian Gooseberry (also called Phyllanthus emblica Linn and Indian amla)

In several scientific studies, gooseberry/amla, an ingredient in some detox preparations, has been shown to be effective in preventing and lessening the toxic effects on liver of alcohol, heavy metals (including "iron overload"), medications which can be toxic to the liver and environmental pathogens/fungi. The "hepatoprotective" actions of gooseberry/amla appear to be "mediated by its free radical scavenging, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and modulation of the xenobiotic detoxification process and lipid metabolism," says one study.


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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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