Detoxification

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Detox, short for detoxification, in general is the removal of toxic substances from the body. It is one of the major functions of the liver, lower gastrointestinal tract and kidneys, but can also be achieved artificially by techniques such as dialysis and (in a very limited number of cases) chelation therapy.

Types of detoxification

Alcohol detoxification

Alcohol detoxification is used as a form of drug rehabilitation to treat alcoholism or other drug addiction. The process involves abstinence to clear the drug from the body, accompanied by social and environmental support during the associated physiological and psychological changes.

Metabolic detoxification

An animal's metabolism can produce harmful substances which it can then make less toxic through oxidation, conjugation and excretion of molecules from cells or tissues. Enzymes that are important in detoxification metabolism include cytochrome P450 oxidases,[1] UDP-glucuronosyltransferasess,[2] and glutathione S-transferases.[3] These processes are particularly well-studied as part of drug metabolism, as they influence the pharmacokinetics of a drug in the body.

Alternative medicine

Certain approaches in alternative medicine claim to remove toxins from the body through herbal, electrical or electromagnetic treatments (such as the Aqua Detox treatment). These toxins are undefined and have little scientific basis, making the validity of such techniques questionable. There is no evidence for toxic accumulation in these cases, as the liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials including metabolic wastes. Under this theory if toxins are too rapidly released without being safely eliminated (such as burning fat that stores toxins) they can damage the body and cause malaise.Using detox foot patches [2] is thought to help extract toxins via the feet and the method is gaining popularity in Europe. It is a widely-used alternative health detoxification method that is well-established in Asia.


Diet detoxification

Certain diets have an underlying assumption that the body accumulates toxins that must be removed, especially after periods of over-eating or the consumption of non-nutritious and processed foods. As with alternative medicine, the 'toxins' removed are undefined and are ascribed to foods, the environment and the body's own wastes.

Evian and marketing

In 2004, Evian began to use the term 'detox' to market and sell their bottled water. Taglines included "Detox with Evian," "Evian. Detox," "Evian - Your natural detox," and "Drink at least 1.5L of Evian every day to help cleanse your system inside out." The marketing campaign has included a five-step process aimed at personal health. Although the first step advocates drinking any kind of water, the company claimed their particular water was particularly efficacious because it was filtered through a "mineral-rich Alpine region." There is no consensus among health experts that Evian is healthier than any other type of processed potable water.

Methods of detoxification

Drug detox is performed in many different ways depending on where one decides to receive treatment. Most drug detox centers simply provide treatment to avoid physical withdrawal to alcohol & other drugs. Ideally, a trained detox facility will incorporate counseling and therapy during detox to help with the psychological distress that the individual may experience as well. Less conventional methods for eliminating toxic substances from the body include the modification of the diet and addition of certain herbs and rituals such as colon hydrotherapy, body cleansing, juice fasting, and saunas. All of these methods are claimed to assist the body's natural detoxification process, but none has been proven.

See also

References

  1. Danielson P (2002). "The cytochrome P450 superfamily: biochemistry, evolution and drug metabolism in humans". Curr Drug Metab. 3 (6): 561–97. PMID 12369887. 
  2. King C, Rios G, Green M, Tephly T (2000). "UDP-glucuronosyltransferases". Curr Drug Metab. 1 (2): 143–61. PMID 11465080. 
  3. Sheehan D, Meade G, Foley V, Dowd C (2001). "Structure, function and evolution of glutathione transferases: implications for classification of non-mammalian members of an ancient enzyme superfamily". Biochem J. 360 (Pt 1): 1–16. PMID 11695986. 

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