Detox Part 4: Advanced Detoxification Techniques
Dr. Aaron Hartman
January 24, 2023
Would you like to learn about some of my go-to detoxification tools that I use with my patients?
Read This First
First, I want to say that the techniques in this post require that you work with a skilled practitioner. Last week's post discussed how clean water, air, food, and nutrients can support detoxification. Those are basic lifestyle changes that most people could do without needing to work with a practitioner.
The tools I discuss below are more advanced techniques, and it is important to make sure you're healthy enough to do them. So you really should be working with a practitioner, and always talk with your personal doctor before you try any of these.
Among its many other benefits, fasting also promotes detoxification. It actually ramps up phase 1 detoxification, which pulls toxins out of the tissues so that, in phase 2, we can eliminate them through sweat, stool, urine, etc. As we've discussed in previous posts on fasting, it's important to be sure that you're healthy enough to fast.
While the best results from fasting come from a 3-5 day water fast, sadly most Americans aren't healthy enough to even do a 24 hour water fast right now. However, intermittent fasting, 16:8 time-restricted eating, keto-flex, and fasting-mimicking diets can improve your metabolic health and are safer to do for most people. It's so important to talk with your practitioner first and figure out which one is right for you, so that you can start where you are and build from there.
There is some very interesting data coming out of Scandinavia about the health benefits of sauna use. I do personally use a far infrared sauna at home, and I recommend them because they're accessible, easy to use, and you can use them often. The literature on sauna use is almost exclusively on heat saunas, however, which are the larger saunas you might use at your gym and are about 180 degrees.
Saunas can help with detoxifying certain solvents and chemicals through your skin. There is also a lot of new research around the benefits of heat-shock proteins (HSP), which your body makes when your core body temperature is increased as with sauna use.
Again, it's important to check with your healthcare provider to make sure that you're healthy enough to use a sauna.
I'll also mention vibration devices that attempt to mimic exercise and movement. We have one at home, called the Galileo, that we use with our daughter. These are available in some gyms these days. While being physically active outside is ideal, not everyone is healthy enough to exercise, so these are sometimes a good option.
You may have heard of people getting IV vitamin C, IV glutathione, or other IV therapies. These can be powerful detoxification tools. Again, you have to work with a provider that is knowledgeable about this. Typically, these are prescribed by a practitioner of some sort. Through an IV, we're able to use higher doses, for example 20 to 30 grams of vitamin C. Some clinics around the country are using IV glutathione for kids with autism to help them detoxify mercury. There is some really interesting literature coming out on IV therapies.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
While HBOT is not currently available in central Virginia, hopefully it will be soon. HBOT involves spending time in an oxygen chamber with much higher levels of oxygen that is present in the air around us. This helps get more oxygen to tissues that have low oxygen tension, for faster healing. HBOT also actually speeds up your cells' metabolism, so that they will detoxify more quickly. This is a really cool concept and one that I think has a lot of promising applications.
Flushes or Detoxes
Flushes and detoxes have been used for thousands of years. I read about a kind of enema in the Middle East that was actually done around the 3rd century BC. So while they may sound strange in comparison to our current western medicine, they are not new.
The mildest flush that I sometimes recommend is a coffee enema. Coffee enemas can increase glutathione by 800% and also flush toxins from the GI tract. Again, work with your practitioner to make sure that you're healthy enough to do this, as there can be negative reactions to a coffee enema.
The next step up would be a vitamin C flush. This involves taking high amounts of vitamin C to flush out the toxins from the GI tract and liver. There are some concerns around kidney stones with high doses of vitamin C, which I've never seen, and which I actually question, but it is in the literature. So you should be aware of that.
Finally, sometimes I recommend a liver flush using large amounts of magnesium sulfate (clean and sourced appropriately) with olive oil to accomplish what I call a "liver squeeze" to dump out toxins.
These flushes can be very powerful for patients that are toxic and trying to get a whole body detox more quickly.
It bears repeating that it's so important to work with a skilled practitioner to make sure you're healthy enough to do any of these more advanced detoxification techniques. Some people can have a reaction, called a Herxheimer reaction, when they detox, which means that they need to be more gentle with detoxification. Knowledgeable medical supervision is critical with this.
Next week I'll talk about some special, unique aspects of detoxification around specific illnesses such as autoimmune issues, neurological diseases, and GI issues.
If this blog series on detoxification has been helpful to you, check out our website to learn more! We have many free educational resources there to support you on your health journey.
Since 2010, Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine has been helping people to restore their health and hope with an integrative approach to conventional and alternative medicine that’s entirely science-backed. We at RIFM believe everyone is made for health. We offer a comprehensive, in-person patient membership program to ensure you get access to the care you need to thrive.
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