Detoxification and detox cleanse are hot topics, now that marijuana legalization has occurred in some states.
What is Detoxification?
The detoxification definition, simply put, is the “physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism”. The liver is in charge of removing toxic substances from the body. Detox is a term that also refers to “the period of withdrawal” when the body “returns to homeostasis after long-term use of an addictive substance”. Alcohol detoxification is one example. Detoxification removes poisons from the body, in medicine, by the use of antidotes, dialysis, and chelation therapy. For common usage, there are alternative medicine practices that promote liver detoxification with a detox cleanse. A natural detox cleanse could be dietary (water fasting, juices), or it could occur via special products (foot pads, oil pulling).1 Fasting, juicing, cleansing detox, colon cleaning, master cleansing, and detox diets are all forms of detoxification available. Some people do a cleanse detox to lose weight, while others might try to get certain substances, such as marijuana, out of their system. Detox diets “allegedly purge the body of chemicals and toxins” via “herbs, pills, potions, colonics, and/or fasts to rid the body of impurities”. The low-calorie diets can have downsides, such as protein deprivation and dehydration, leading to fatigue and headaches. They might even lower the metabolism.2
Ways to Detoxify
Detoxification has been practiced in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries in order to nourish, cleanse, and rest the body. Removing the toxins, and then putting healthy nutrients into the body, is said to provide protection from disease and to maintain health. It is believed that cleansing the blood and removing impurities in the liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines, lymphatic system, and the skin can help the body. Fasting, for example, is thought to stimulate the liver to remove toxins, promote elimination through the intestines and kidneys, improve blood circulation, and refuel the body. Some suggest detoxifying once a year, although children, nursing mothers, and patients with cancer, tuberculosis, or degenerative diseases should not engage in this practice. There are many toxins in the environment, and these are said to lead to fatigue, sluggish elimination, allergies and irritated skin, infections, puffy eyes, menstrual problems and bloating, and mental confusion. Before going through detox, people should consult a healthcare professional and eliminate refined sugars and saturated fats, cigarettes, alcohol, and coffee, which would act as “obstacles to your healing process”. Natural alternatives should be substituted for “chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products”. It is also recommended that people reduce stress with meditation, yoga, or Qigong. Some of the recommended types of cleanses include “fasting on liquids for two days, followed by a carefully planned five-day detox diet” or “a three- to seven-day juice fast”. After the cleanse, some lifestyle changes should occur, such as eating fiber, taking certain herbs and vitamins, breathing deeply, continuing to reduce stress, hydrotherapy, sweating in a sauna, detox foot spas, and exercise.3
Effectiveness of Detoxification and Detox Cleanse Products
For marijuana uses, THC and THC-COOH stay in the body for various amounts of time, depending on the amount and rate of consumption, body fat, metabolism, health, and what is consumed. Seven days is “the half-life of THC metabolites”. Most people will be free of these metabolites within a month. The reason why many cleanses are not effective is because “fat cells will continue to release THC metabolites into your system over time”. Drug tests check hair, blood, and urine. Urinalysis is the most common tests, and it checks for THC-COOH. The test is accurate and inexpensive. Blood tests, unlike a urinalysis, “will show impairment”. A hair test is the least common type of test, and it can detect THC-COOH for months. To beat a drug test, some people will try to drink a lot of water, but this method could flag the test for tampering. To mask diluting, some try taking vitamin B to make the urine yellow or they take creatinine (which would be flushed out in diluted urine). Some of the detox drinks contain vitamin B and creatine. Some people try to pass the drug test by avoiding exercise, which “will break down your fat cells”, using synthetic urine, or by collecting urine in the cup from the “’middle’ of the pee stream”.4 Many of the THC detox products are expensive, and several websites promote various products, such as Toxin Rid, Mega Clean, and One Shot Concentrate.5 It is difficult to say what the best detox cleanse is, since many of the products available do not do what they say they do. Marijuana detoxification products can be very expensive, as well, and they may not help the user pass a drug test. The kits often “contain a mixture of compounds such as goldenseal, vinegar, niacin, or vitamin C, activated charcoal, lecithin, and herbal teas/powders” and “research suggests that none of these compounds speed up the process of eliminating marijuana”. By using the products to pass the test, most labs “also test for the presence of these compounds”. Additionally, passing a test one day might not mean passing on another day since “levels of cannabinoids and their derivatives in urine can fluctuate”; therefore “time is really your best bet for passing the test”.6
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