WHAT IS CELLULAR DETOX? And Should You Do It?
CELLULAR DETOX 101
As much as it may hurt to face it, we are living in a toxic world. At the root of most dis-eases, from migraines to cancer, are toxins and pollutants snaking their way into our bodies.
To combat heavy metal exposure, environmental and atmospheric toxins, viruses, excessive antibiotics, pharmaceuticals and other liver clogging chemicals, cellular detox is a vital process we need now more than ever. But, before we get started unpacking the ins and outs of cellular detox, why and how we should consider doing it, let’s consider the main reason people cleanse the cells: to counteract the negative impact of common daily toxins, many of which are difficult to avoid.
10 of these common daily toxins come from:
1.CARCINOGENS + HARMFUL COMPOUNDS FROM FOOD
2. CLOTHING, CARPETS + FURNITURE
3.CHEMICALS IN AGRICULTURE + CLEANING PRODUCTS
4.CONTAMINANTS IN DRINKING WATER
5. HEAVY METALS, PLASTICS + MICROPLASTICS
7. NON-STICK COOKWARE
8. OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS (PARABENS, FLUORIDE, ETC.)
9.RADIATION + ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS (EMFS)
10. STRESS + TRAUMA
When we work to actively eliminate these harmful compounds, we can powerfully reverse the negative effects that cause heachaches, fatigue, respiratory and digestive problems, and many more illnesses that are all too often treated with metal-heavy prescription drugs.
Today, we’ll explore a scientific explanation of what cellular detox is, unpacking terms like autophagy. Then, we’ll discuss some of the supplemental practices proven to work best.
Many people may not even know our body’s main energy source by name: Adenosine 5’-triphosphate (ATP), about 80 pounds of which is created, used, and replenished by the human body every single day!
Those 80 pounds of energy are powering 37 trillion cells, and those cells are your lifeforce. Toxins like heavy metals tend to build up at the cellular level in these processes, causing the mitochondrial membranes within the cells to produce a deficit in ATP.
ATP is like “energy currency” in your cells; just like storing money in a bank, this key molecule stores and transfers energy. Then, your body creates waste like free radicals, which then causes oxidative damage and cellular breakdown as a byproduct.
Our systems must balance both jobs—as much as we are creators, we are also destroyers. So, the critical act of creating energy also leads to the need for cellular cleanup. The key takeaway from all this inner duality? Our mitochondria (a.k.a. the cell’s engines) get weighed down by toxins, and then they slow us down. This can cause chronic fatigue syndrome and a host of other health challenges like brain fog, depression, digestive issues, and more.
WHAT IS A CELLULAR DETOX?
The process of cellular detoxification aims to remove harmful toxins at the cellular level, which makes it significantly more comprehensive than most other detoxes.
One example of a harmful toxin that is extra hard to detect—which many of us are exposed to but rarely think about—is lead. Lead can be found in our water (think: Flint, Michigan), in the toys our families play with, in the jewelry we wear, and in some tableware. As a result of high lead exposure, people experience headaches, constipation, vomiting, and even confusion.
The older we get, the more inefficient our cells become. Less energy production in relation to more waste creation leaves us increasingly susceptible to chronic diseases.
Do you see now that this is deeper than juicing, cleansing, and exercising? Cellular detox includes nutritious eating, but also relies on nutritional supplements to further revive cells.
HOW IS A CELLULAR DETOX DIFFERENT FROM OTHER DETOXES?
A cellular detox goes deeper than just juicing, eating clean, and exercising. A cellular detox does include nutritious eating (which we’ll get to later) but it also includes help from herbs and supplements to dig even deeper into cleansing, starting on a cellular level.
3 PHASES OF CELLULAR DETOX
The three major systems involved in cellular cleanup are autophagy, detoxification, and inflammation. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of the three phases of cellular detox:
1. PREP PHASE
2. BODY PHASE
3. BRAIN PHASE
Following all three phases helps ease us through the process for maximum health benefits.
In the Prep Phase, we aim to target the detox pathways that REMOVE TOXINS. While you’re in Prep mode, you’re likely to be taking supplements like high potency probiotics to flush out toxins from your liver and kidney. It’s important to note here that we recommend you always perform cellular detox with the support of an experienced guide.
Please do not embark on the cellular detoxification journey alone unless you have prior experience.
In the Body Phase, we’re starting to remove toxins at the CELLULAR LEVEL. While you’re in Body mode, selected supplements target deeper tissues such as the brain (addressed more in Phase 3), and you continue to cleanse your liver. The quintessential mitochondria are supported in this phase to help cellular energy reproduce efficiently.
In the Brain Phase, we begin weeding out the NEUROTOXINS IN THE BRAIN. In this final phase, supplements are intended to purify brain cells, thereby supporting a safe process of eliminating waste. For overall wellness, this is the critical conclusion to your detox.
WHAT IS AUTOPHAGY + WHAT TRIGGERS IT?
If ATP is your body’s savings account, autophagy is its spring cleaning. Replacing old cells with new ones, the process of autophagy includes replacing “damaged” cells with newer, healthier ones. It also slows the process of aging, fortifies brain health, and improves the body’s cellular functioning at every level.
Autophagy is a response that is activated as a result of mild stress and the resulting free radicals that tell your body to clean up their cellular act.
Other autophagy triggers include intermittent or 24-hour fasting and aerobic exercise. Autophagy-supporting diets and habits include antioxidants, alkaline foods, good quality sleep, and proper water intake. Some experts believe a ketogenic-friendly diet (high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrates) can also assist with jump starting autophagy.
5 PRINCIPLES OF CELLULAR DETOX
Before you begin any cellular detox kit or program, get to know its guiding principles:
VITAL ASPECTS TO CLEANSING
Now that you know that cellular detox targets the deeper, more complex functions of your cells, involving a three-phase, five-principle program, you may be wondering about some of the more vital aspects. In order to have a successful cellular cleansing, many experts suggest the following diet and habits also be woven into the cleansing process:
SPRING OR FILTERED WATER
ALKALINE FOODS + HERBS
TIME, PATIENCE + A LOT OF REST
DEVOTION + DETERMINATION
It’s going to take at least seven to fourteen days to begin to see a positive change, so please keep in mind that replenishment and rejuvenation after your cellular detox is vital to maintaining long-term results. This is said to bring back electricity to the body.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO AVOID DURING YOUR CLEANSE
Industrial seed, nut + vegetable oils
Refined and saturated fats
Refined grains, refined flours
Refined and processed sugars
10 PLANTS THAT SUPPORT CELLULAR DETOXING
Used for: Adaptogenic, hepatoprotective, improves blood purification and blood flow, reduces stress-induced liver damage, supports DNA protection, supports immune and cardio protection.
2. IRISH MOSS OR SEA MOSS
Used for: High quality, fresh irish moss or supplements may contain up to 92 of 101 minerals needed.
Used for: Cleanses the liver, kidneys, gallbladder and blood.
Used for: Powerful mineralizer, alkalizer, rids the body of impurities, and supports blood, kidney and liver cleansing.
5. BLESSED THISTLE OR MILK THISTLE
Used for: These two are different plants that are often mistaken for one and the same. However, both are equally useful. Blessed thistle stimulates cellular regeneration, and aids with detoxification and cleansing, while milk thistle is said to induce autophagy.
Used for: Binds to pathogens, supports in filtering impurities, eliminates toxins, assists with lymph and liver cleansing.
Used for: Nutrient density, mineralization, and blood detoxification.
8. CHANCA PIEDRA
Used for: Antiviral, kidney, and gallbladder cleanser.
Used for: Immune protection, supports mucus removal, induces sweating and assists with blood purification.
10. ALKALINE HERBS
Used for: Think of any and all the spring greens, dark leafy greens, and nutrient dense herbs that you love incorporating into your recipes and teas. Top classics that you can find in most places in the world include: alfalfa, nettle, parsley, raspberry leaf, lemon balm, spearmint, fennel, mustard, and many more. Get creative, and be sure to incorporate them into your diet often.
+4 LESSER KNOWN RAINFOREST PLANTS USED IN CELLULAR CLEANSING
1. CORDONCILLO NEGRO, aka MATICO (Piper aduncum)
Used for: Heals wounds, increases digestion, kills germs, bacteria and viruses, and reduces mucus in the body.
2. CASCARA SAGRADA (Rhamnus purshiana)
Used for: Powerfully moves the bowels/stool and stimulates the liver.
3. GUACO (Mikania glomerata)
Used for: Reduces fever, cleanses blood, and heals wounds.
4. SARSAPARILLA (Smilax ornata)
Used for: Increases iron levels, purifies blood, and heals the skin/liver. Because it’s known to be overharvested, we suggest you use cultivated or ethically wildcrafted sarsaparilla. Please don’t contribute to depleting the rainforest!
SUPPLEMENTS USED FOR CELLULAR DETOXING
These are minerals made mostly of silica. They aid in the detoxification of various toxins and pollutants. Hint, hint: the dear plant horsetail helps with this!
A peptide consisting of three important amino acids, this is crucial to our bodies because every cell inside of us produces it. Some of the most beneficial foods for increasing glutathione levels are milk thistle, sulfur foods and foods that contain A-Lipoic Acid like spinach, broccoli, and carrots.
3. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Plant-based options include sacha inchi and chia oil, but if you’re using fish oil, please be sure it’s the highest quality!
4. ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOODS
While these are always a good idea, eating handfuls of these alive antioxidants daily versus just using dietary supplements is even more helpful.
5. DETOX-FRIENDLY FOODS
Anti-inflammatory herbs like cayenne, thyme, rosemary, and cinnamon will support detoxification, as well as daily health maintenance. Sulfur foods like garlic, asafoetida and onions in addition to berries and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, collards, kale, beets, leafy greens, etc) are great allies in your detox journey.
CAUTION: A HEALING CRISIS
As with other types of detoxification, you may feel cold, have difficulty sleeping, experience aches and pains, or suffer from headaches, especially in the beginning of your healing journey.
It’s normal to feel these things. It even has a name: Healing Crisis.
“A temporary worsening of symptoms after beginning a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) treatment,” is one definition of this crisis, which also is called a homeopathic aggravation, among other names. Your body is getting rid of junk!
Through the process of purifying and regenerating the cells, your body is releasing toxins, acids, and mucous residues that have been accumulating over many weeks, months, or even years. Do not try to suppress these symptoms! Instead, remember they are temporary, they will pass, and they are signals that the healing process is working and toxins are being eliminated from your system (as you intended when you started this journey … remember your goals).
TOP 7 BENEFITS OF CELLULAR DETOX
Flush out all toxins in the body.
In addition to eliminating disease- and cancer-causing compounds, your body becomes more adept at absorbing nutrients. This will support ATP production and stimulate organ functions.
Restore the colon’s “healthy flora”.
The body’s first line of defense includes the “good bacteria” within the colon. In the intestines, these healthy bacteria help with digestion and your regular toxin removal (beyond cleansing processes). If you want to be well, a cleansed colon is an excellent first step.
Give the liver a reboot.
Not only does the liver aid in digestion, it’s also a protein synthesizing hormone producing organ that detoxifies the body’s fluids. Its alchemy includes altering the composition of toxic substances, so in the cellular cleansing process, you’re helping the liver return to its best.
Decongest the kidneys.
A water-electrolyte balance is required to have efficient metabolic functioning, and while your kidneys filter blood, they’re doing that and more. Removing toxins and excess minerals in addition to urea is a tough job. When the kidneys are congested, you can be fairly certain poor health outcomes will follow, so a cellular detox can help decongest them before they fail.
Unburden the lungs.
Every day, the lungs take oxygen from the atmosphere, transfer it to the bloodstream, and then exchange it for CO2. This gets released back out into the atmosphere via the bloodstream. Like all the other organs that will be thanking you for doing a self-healing detox, the lungs benefit from the cellular cleansing process. At times, their function is impaired when they get overwhelmed with excessive internal pollution, but releasing toxins also relieves the lungs.
Let the skin “breathe”.
Modern yoga guru Dharma Mittra teaches in his yoga nidra classes to “breathe through all the pores of your skin.” Your body’s largest organ has the job of expelling toxins from the body, while also ingesting toxins from the environment via your hair, armpits, face, etc. It’s got nerve endings that help us feel and stay warm/cool, and when you detox, you’re allowing the skin to take deep, cleansing breaths by purifying what’s been stored there for a long time.
Dump the cellular debris in your lymphatic system.
This system is carrying lymph fluids all around the body, directionally towards your heart. It is the chief defender of your immune system, and it’s got a lot of waste (“cellular debris”) cycling through it, not to mention bacteria and proteins. When we sweat, some of these toxins get dumped back into our intestines to be removed, so why not help this complex system reset?
Attention home cooks: NEW detox-friendly recipe is here!
Treat yourself to this visually and nutritionally stunning cup of goodness. An easy overnight treat to help you wake up to better health, this vegan chia pudding is layered with oat yogurt and our Liver Vitality Greens, and topped with fresh fruit. Whether pampering yourself on a sunny day, getting ahead of the seasonal blues, or hosting brunch at home, this unique recipe is certain to make caring for your precious tummy feel like a hug from the inside out.
LET’S GET SOCIAL!
Cellular detox: know about it? Do you practice it? If so, what are your top cleanse techniques? Tag us on Instagram with hashtag #cellulardetox to tell us more about your experience.
This content is purely informational and introductory. For cleansing and detoxification protocols, we suggest you work with your chosen herbalist, healer and/or physician before starting any diet or detox program. If you’re in need of more guidance, we would be happy to recommend a specialist who can cater to your particular needs. We are not suggesting any of these herbs be used in place of medicine or as medicinal alternatives. Please use all plant medicines carefully and intentionally.
Key information and concepts for this article have been adapted from the following sources: HCF Seminars, Dr.Hyman, Dr.Christopher Shade, Dr.SebiGuide, Chiropractic Economics, Dr. Sebi, Athletic Muscle, and Nutri Advanced.