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The detoxification of the body

The term "detoxification" is often used interchangeably with "purification" and has become something of a fashion trend. Many dietary supplements are still advertised with the term "detox", even though this is illegal. Since this term is also not clearly defined, it includes a whole smorgasbord of ingredients - and it is often not clear to the customer what exactly the "detoxifying" effect of the respective preparation is supposed to be.

Therefore, at this point an introductory explanation should be given of what conventional medicine understands by "detoxification" and which organs in our body are primarily responsible for this.

Detoxification (“detox”) in conventional medicine

The absorption and release of substances from or into the environment is called metabolism. The body also takes in harmful substances that it has to convert or excrete. This process is called "detoxification" and takes place primarily in the liver, kidneys and bile. In addition, metabolic products are also excreted through the skin and respiration.

The liver is the body's main detoxification organ and is involved in the overall metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Toxic substances, which are often fat-soluble, are broken down in the liver with the help of a wide variety of enzymes and programmed to be excreted by making them water-soluble (so-called biotransformation). Water-soluble substances go back into the blood and thus reach the kidneys, where the pollutants are filtered out and excreted via the urinary tract. Poisons that are particularly difficult to dissolve in water and large substances such as heavy metals that cannot be excreted through the kidneys are stored in the gallbladder and finally excreted through the intestines.

Only when the body's own detoxification options are exhausted, according to conventional medicine, may it be necessary to intervene with "detoxification therapies"; e.g. in the case of renal insufficiency (à dialysis) or poisoning (à activated charcoal to bind toxic substances, gastric lavage or induced vomiting).

"slag" does not exist according to conventional medical understanding. However, it also knows harmful residues, which are defined differently in the biochemical sense. These include: Fat deposits (cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL), increased uric acid in the blood and tissues (leads to gout), long-chain sugar-protein compounds (related to aging processes, arteriosclerosis and damage to existing diabetes), excess antigen-antibody complexes, especially in autoimmune processes (e.g. lupus erythematosus, glomerulonephritis), lactate (lactic acid) or metabolites of medicines and drugs (e.g. marijuana residues in fatty tissue).

Detoxification (“detox”) in western naturopathy

The belief that internal cleansing of body and mind is good is widespread in many cultures and religions around the world. Fasting is an integral part of Ramadan in Islam - and Christianity also knows, for example, the forty-day fasting period before Easter.

Proponents of detox diets are of the opinion that our body is exposed to so many toxins and pollutants in the modern world that the body's own detoxification is overwhelmed, so that so-called waste products are deposited in organs and in the body connective tissue. These pollutants include an unhealthy diet high in fat and sugar, nicotine, alcohol, environmental toxins and stress. Regular detox cures should rid the body of these waste products.

In western naturopathy, a detox cure is usually understood to mean a juice cure. This is the idea of ​​the so-called“base fasting”, in which acid-forming foods are avoided. On the following juice days only fruit and vegetable juices are drunk, which should stimulate the metabolism and digestion. Such cures are usually accompanied by massages, baths, sauna and long walks, which are supposed to increase the detoxifying effect.

Detoxification in Ayurveda

When it comes to the Ayurvedic understanding of "detoxification", one has to deal with the concept of "Ama", which translates as "undigested". If the digestive fire Agni is not strong enough, food is not fully metabolized and Ama is formed. Ama is white, sticky, foul-smelling, cold, heavy, impure and most comparable to the "slags" in the understanding of western therapeutic fasting or the toxins in conventional medicine.

According to Ayurvedic understanding, almost every illness can be traced back to an accumulation of Ama and can be felt as exhaustion or heaviness and can be recognized by a thick coating on the tongue. Depending on where in the body the Ama accumulates, diseases then occur. For example, if Ama gets stuck in the lungs, this can be the cause of chronic bronchitis.

Accordingly, Ayurveda starts with the strengthening of the digestive fire Agni and the elimination of Ama as part of a "detoxification".

The "supreme discipline" for detoxification in Ayurveda is the so-called "Panchakarma" cure. First, Agni is strengthened so that Ama can be burned - ideal with the so-called "triple heat" (Trikatu) of ginger, black and long pepper. With oil therapies, the doshas are loosened from the tissues and liquefied with heat treatments so that they can be taken to the next possible place of digestion. Finally, the accumulated doshas are removed with vomiting, laxatives, and enemas.

After such a "detox" cure, so-called "rejuvenating" measures can be initiated according to Ayurvedic understanding - the so-called "Rasayanas". These should increase vitality and stimulate the immune system. Ashwagandha is particularly suitable as a rejuvenating agent for Vata constitutions, Shatavari for Pitta types and Punarnava for Kapha constitutions.

Detoxification in TCM

In TCM, all food taken in should follow either the yangpath or the yinpath. On the yang path, they are burned and transformed into heat and movement, on the yin path, they are transformed into substances that nourish and regenerate our body. The unusable part of the food is excreted via urine, stool and sweat.

While from a Western perspective, the liver and kidneys are primarily responsible for detoxification, in TCM it is primarily the spleen. When the body is overwhelmed with detoxification and elimination, or when the spleen is weak, it stores what it cannot metabolize or eliminate in the body. In TCM, this is called "damp heat". "Heat" in TCM means that the yang (stands for warmth, among other things) dominates in relation to the yin (stands for cold, among other things). And this internal heat gradually simmers the bodily fluids, causing dryness. The trigger for many diseases.

According to TCM, the spring months are particularly recommended for "heat therapy" (i.e. in a figurative sense "detoxification therapy"), since this is the time when the organs important for detoxification, the liver and gallbladder, are assigned.

The central components of such a therapy are grain cures, during which one is only cooked rice for 10-14 days, for example, and which is intended to eliminate moisture and heat.Yin and yang are brought back into balance. Physical therapies such as cupping massages also help to stimulate the metabolism and eliminate harmful substances. Finally, acupuncture can help move the Liver Qi and tonify the Spleen

In addition to the grain cure, the following things should also be considered in everyday life, whether heat problems can also be avoided in the long term:

  • Dandelion tea – is cooling and has a particular effect on the organ circuits of the liver and stomach
  • Eat cool vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus, aubergines, mushrooms, celery, etc.; on the other hand, avoid warm things like leeks, garlic, onions
  • Eat cool raw vegetables such as lettuce and cool fruits (berries, lemons, organs, melons, etc.)
  • Reduce stress and alcohol, do not smoke
  • Regular exercise to prevent qi stagnation
  • Soy products, algae and cereals such as rice, spelt, millet, quinoa, legumes and lentils reduce moisture and heat

Finally, it should be noted that detoxification, fasting cures, diets, etc. are viewed rather critically in TCM . And this is mainly due to the two main types of life energy Qi: The prenatal Qi (also called "Jing"), which is formed from the energy of the parents and is finite (when the prenatal Qi is exhausted, the person dies). And the postnatal Qi, which is mainly formed from food, breathing air and movement. So if you don't feed your body enough while fasting for a long period of time, it has to fall back on the precious and finite jing.

Important nutrients for our detoxification organs

Choline helps maintain normal liver function and supports its enzyme system. Choline is also of great importance for metabolism and fat transport, because it is necessary for the transport of triglycerides and other fats from the liver to the tissue.

Calcium contributes to the normal functioning of digestive enzymes and normal energy-yielding metabolism.

Guduchi extract is said to have a strong detoxifying and purifying effect in Ayurveda, whereby the liver is said to be supported in its detoxifying effect. In addition to the rejuvenating and circulatory-strengthening effect, Ayurveda also attributes blood-cleansing and detoxifying effects to it. In addition, according to Ayurvedic scriptures, Guduchi has a balancing effect on all three doshas and strengthens the digestive power.

Triphala Extract consists of equal parts Amalaki (Myrobalan tree), Bibhitaka (Belerian Myrobalan) and Haritaki (Chebulian Myrobalan) and is said to balance all three doshas. According to Ayurvedic understanding, Bibhitaki removes Ama from the fatty tissue and optimally influences the fat metabolism. According to Ayurveda, Amalaki helps with detoxification due to its strong digestive effect.

Maitake is used in TCM for maintaining health and strengthening the liver and gallbladder, especially on the maitake (Grifola frondosa). Two animal studies on rats from 2019 and one on mice from 2018 have shown a positive effect of maitake on lipid metabolism and in particular on fatty liver disease:,,


Dandelion contains bitter substances that cause more saliva and stomach acid to be released. At the same time, they promote the release of digestive hormones and enzymes and stimulate bile activity. Through these effects, dandelion stimulates the appetite and gets the digestion going.The medicinal plant can also help if the stomach bloats after a high-fat meal and an unpleasant feeling of fullness. Other ingredients in the plant, such as flavonoids and plenty of potassium, can have a slightly diuretic effect. Dandelion is therefore often found in so-called blood purification and detox teas. In addition to the bitter substances known for their healing effects, the dandelion plant contains carotenoids and plenty of vitamins B, C and E. The medicinal plant also contains minerals such as potassium, calcium and iron, but also flavonoids, coumarins, triterpenes and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, many people use the medicinal plant in spring cures and fasting cures to cleanse the liver and purify or detoxify the body. Dandelion promotes the release of waste products from the tissue and supports the liver in breaking down the toxins so that they can be transported out of the body. The blood is cleaned by the herbal remedy and liver diseases such as cirrhosis or hepatitis can be alleviated, liver dysfunction can be improved.

A study in rats published in 2017 shows that dandelion protects against lead poisoning prenatally when dandelion is given to the mother rat:
This study Rats 2018 shows that mulberry and dandelion extracts may have the potential to improve some of the pathologies associated with excessive alcohol consumption
A published in 2017 Study shows dandelion root polysaccharides may be useful in preventing paracetamol-induced liver damage:

Cinnamon promotes and stimulates intestinal activity and can prevent digestive problems such as flatulence and a feeling of fullness. In addition, certain components of cinnamon are believed to affect blood sugar levels. Laboratory tests show that cinnamon increases the release of the hormone insulin.

Milk thistle

The milk thistle comes from the Mediterranean region and has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb to treat liver diseases (there is no scientific evidence for this). The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is made up of various natural phenols. The presumed protective effect on the liver is explained by a stabilization of the cell membrane of the liver cells thanks to silymarin, which prevents cell toxins such as alcohol from penetrating the liver cells.

A 2017 study concludes that high doses of silymarin is a good choice to improve biochemical liver profile and quality of life in patients with chronic HCV liver cirrhosis.
This study published in 2017 concludes that silymarin has beneficial efficacy in reducing transaminase levels in fatty liver patients.

Legal consumer information

German and European case law wants to protect consumers from supposedly misleading claims. The statements made here refer to the original Ayurvedic and TCM texts. This knowledge, which has been handed down for thousands of years, is based on experiences that are passed on from generation to generation. It should not be claimed that the products described here have any effect in the sense of western medicine. All products are dietary supplements; they are not medicines and have no medicinal effect. If you are ill and need medical care, please contact your doctor or pharmacist.


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