I want to share with you my own personal practice and what I consider the best detox to do in the summer. Like it or not, all of us are exposed to harmful toxins everyday. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and things we touch contain toxins. Back in the 80’s the EPA did some studies (National Human Adipose Tissue Survey) measuring toxin levels in thousands of surgery patients and cadavers. 100% of the of the people tested had heavy metals, aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, lead, mercury and 1,4-dichlorobenzene. 90% had PCBs, dioxins, benzene-related organic compounds and benzene. These findings are consistent with the testing results I’ve seen in my practice. Those are a lot of big words, but what it means is that YOU, YES YOU, HAVE TOO MANY TOXINS RIGHT NOW INSIDE OF YOU!
Some great resources to see which toxins are a problem where you live are:
1. Scorecard (www.scorecard.org) You can get an in-depth pollution report for your county, covering air, water, chemicals, and more.
2. AirNow (www.airnow.gov) The Air Quality Index is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted the outdoor air is, and what associated health effects might be of concern. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health.
Often toxins are at the root of the chronic health conditions many of my patients experience. Since we all are going to be exposed to these toxins, we need to be using the best detox methods and tools we can.
Here are three articles that I wrote that explain more about how we test for toxins, the effects of toxins and some of the other treatments for toxins:
- Phthalates Can Make You Fat and Sick!
- Research Reveals Cardiovascular Diseases’ Most Overlooked and Curable Cause
- The KEY to Weight Loss
Its true. Some estimates are that the body can eliminate in 15 minutes through the sweat the same amount of heavy metals that would take 24 hours to eliminate in urine.1 Our bodies, through sweating, can get rid of every category of toxins. In the summer sweating is the best detox because, well, it’s hot and everyone sweats when it’s hot…duh.
In order for sweating to be the best detox we have to incorporate a few tricks. See, the toxins are stored in the body’s fat. When I say fat, we all think about the fat we’d like to lose. However our brain and nerves are made up of 70% fat. The marrow in our long bones is filled with fat. Whether it’s through sweat or urine, our bodies aren’t good at getting the toxins out of the fat. So if we are just relying our elimination pathways, most of the toxins will continue to be stored in the fat. This is where we need some tricks to make sweating the best detox method.
The first trick for the best detox is to heat up the core of the body, not just the skin.
If just the skin is heated up, like in the traditional Finnish-style saunas, the detox effect of sweating is much less because it’s only skin deep. In order to get the toxins out of the fat deeper inside the body, it needs to get heated up. When the core of the body gets heated up, the blood vessels in the core dilate in order to try and cool it. This increase in circulation helps get the toxins out of those fat reserves that are deeper in the body. There are two ways to get the core of the body heated up. The first is exercise. Any good aerobic exercise will work as long as it produces a sweat. The second way to get the core heated is with a Far Sauna. Far Sauna works by heating the body below the skin about 1.5 inches deep. Far Sauna is the only kind of sauna that works by heating from the inside out. I personally prefer the first way because exercise will work better at heating and exercise gives me many more benefits that a Far Sauna can’t give me.
The second trick for the best detox is to help the fat release the toxins in it.
That is exactly what Niacin (vitamin B3) does. Niacin causes fat cells to explode (lipolysis) which then releases the toxins.2 Isn’t that cool? Once the toxins are out of the fat cell, one of three things can happen. The toxins can be removed through the skin through sweating, or the toxins can be removed through the GI tract, and last, the toxins can be reabsorbed. Reabsorption is not just bad because the toxins stay in the body; these released toxins if not removed can be reabsorbed in places like the brain. Once in the brain toxins are harder to remove. The good news is, I know another trick that will make certain that the toxins are eliminated and not reabsorbed.
The third trick for the best detox is activated charcoal.
Activated charcoal is like a chemical magnet. It’s been used for years when someone has been exposed to a poison. If activated charcoal is taken soon after a poison swallow it will soak up the poison and render it harmless. Can you see where I’m going here? If activated charcoal is taken after the niacin it will bind up any toxins that get into the GI tract.
The fourth trick for the best detox is to maximize the elimination of the toxins through the skin.
This trick is super easy because niacin is the tool that will help remove the toxins through the skin. If you’ve ever taken niacin, you’ve experienced the “niacin flush,” and chances are you’ll never forget the first time you experienced it. 😮 Niacin causes the super small blood vesicles in the skin to open up so much so that the skin turns bright red. Getting a large increase in blood flow in the skin while sweating makes getting the toxins that are in the blood much easier to sweat out. As you can see niacin is a really important part of the best detox.
The other trick that helps get the toxins to move out through the skin is exercise. Exercise gets the heart pumping and the blood flow going which mobilizes the toxins.
Putting it all together
Okay, enough tricks. Let’s put this best detox protocol together. I strongly recommend that before starting a detox protocol like this, check with your doctor to make sure that you won’t get hurt. If you’re pregnant DON’T DO THIS DETOX! If you have blood pressure problems or other heart pathologies DON’T DO THIS unless your doctor approves.
First off it’s important to understand you have options on how to get this done. I’m going to break this down by principles. That way you can apply this approach to detox in a way that works best for you.
Best Detox Principle #1
Take niacin! Take niacin about 20 minutes before you heat up. Start with 50 mg of niacin and work up 50 mg at a time until you experience a niacin flush. Don’t worry, you’ll know when you have taken enough. For most folks about 100 to 200 mg is enough to get the job done. If you don’t get a flush then take more niacin the next time.
Best Detox Principle #2
Get hot! You need to get hot enough that you start to sweat. As I mentioned earlier exercise fits great here. The exercise can be anything that heats up and gets you sweating. You want to start the exercise about 20 minutes after taking niacin. Generally about 20 minutes of exercise is good enough, but the point is to get your body hot from the inside out. If you’ve never taken niacin and then started exercising it takes some getting used to. I remember the first time I did this. I was hiking in the desert on a hot summer afternoon, and it felt like my head was getting sunburned.
If you can’t exercise, the next best thing is to use a Far Sauna. As I wrote earlier the Far Sauna heats from the inside out. Just get in the Far Sauna about 20 minutes after taking the niacin.
Best Detox Principle #3
Stay hot! Once you get hot and start to sweat you need to keep hot enough to sweat for about 15 to 30 minutes. The actual temperature isn’t critical as long you are sweating. If you used exercise to get hot what you use to stay hot can be anything. You could just keep exercising, get in a hot car, get in a hot room, do hot yoga or get in any kind of sauna. The principle is you need to keep a good sweat going for 15 to 30 minutes. When you are just starting off work up to the 15 to 30 minutes slowly. If at anytime while working on this sweat you experience breathing problems, dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, nausea, nosebleeds or thirst get out of the heat, cool off, lie down and drink cool water.
Best Detox Principle #4
Get and stay hydrated! Be sure that you have been drinking plenty of water in the hours before you get your body hot. I recommend one quart per 50 lbs. of body weight per day, up to three quarts. It is important to drink an additional quart of water while sweating. It’s also important to replace the salts and minerals that are sweated out. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride are all lost through sweating. I use an energy and rehydration powder that I mix with my water while I sweat. Coconut water would be another excellent choice to replenish the nutrients that are lost while sweating.
Best Detox Principle #5
Take activated charcoal! After the sweat take about 500 mg of activated charcoal. Don’t take any medications or vitamin/mineral supplements with the charcoal, because the charcoal will soak them up and nothing will get in your system. Its best to wait two hours after taking activated charcoal before eating or taking medications or supplements.
Here’s How I Do This Detox.
Understand, I am in pretty good shape, and that I’ve been hiking for years and have worked up to what I’m doing. I don’t recommend what I do unless you’re used to hiking in the heat.
In the afternoon, I take 200 mg of niacin and get my backpack, towel, and one quart of water with electrolytes in it. I get in my vehicle and drive to a desert mountain. Once I arrive, I get out and hike for about 30 minutes. By the time I’m done hiking I’m sweating really good. I get in the vehicle, close the door and sweat.
I’ve measured the temperature in the vehicle and it varies depending on the day and which vehicle I took to the mountain. The temperature range inside the vehicle is from 115° to 130°. Now this is in Phoenix, AZ and the outside temperature is over 100° when I go hiking.
After I get in my vehicle I start drinking my water and drive home with the windows up and the A/C off. Total time in the vehicle depends on how I’m feeling and how hot it is. After I get out of the vehicle I take activated charcoal and go take a shower.
My application works for me. I want to encourage you to figure out what works for you. Ideally I like to do this 2 times a week, as long as it’s hot enough outside. If I had access to a Far Sauna I would try to continue this detox through the cooler months of the year.
Our exposure to toxins happens everyday. Helping the body get rid of these toxins is something that should be done year round. This is just one way to detox. There are important foods and nutrients that also are powerful detox tools. Stay tuned and I will write about these foods and nutrients in the future.
Like always I love to get your questions and comments below.
1Silver, Nina. “Chapter 3.” The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy. Stone Ridge, NY: Center for Frequency Education, 2003. N. pag. Print.
2Zhang, Youyan, Robert J. Schmidt, Patricia Foxworthy, Renee Emkey, Jennifer K. Oler, Thomas H. Large, He Wang, Eric W. Su, Marion K. Mosior, Patrick I. Eacho, and Guoqing Cao. “Niacin Mediates Lipolysis in Adipose Tissue through Its G-protein Coupled Receptor HM74A.”Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 334.2 (2005): 729-32. Web.