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Must We Be Cleansed?

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One of my mentors recently wrote about her resistance to embrace environmental medicine and detoxification in her practice due to lack of research on specific nutrients and protocols, as well as the questionable methods often employed in these types of programs. Of particular importance to me, she also described her philosophical conflict around using an approach that promotes the concept that patients ‘need to be cleansed’. She wrote that this felt ‘akin to Salem witch trials, dogmas and religious fundamentalism’.

As someone about to launch an internet-based cleansing program, this took my breath away.

The thing is that I completely agree with my dear mentor. I just think about it a little differently. For me, using the practices of cleansing and detoxification with my patients and with groups has become a gateway to refocusing patients on their diets, examining their relationships with food and reconnecting with themselves. A gateway. A hook. A neon sign that says ‘Start Here!’

Are there a lot of questionable cleansing techniques and programs out there? YES! Do we need more research on what really works? YES! Must we be cleansed because we have behaved poorly or because we are being poisoned from the environment? NO! It is not about purging or getting rid of any ‘evil’ within (or even without). It is about making simple changes that will help our bodies do what they were meant to do EVEN BETTER.

Like my mentor, I do NOT believe that harsh methods like fasting, laxatives, enemas and colonics are necessary to cleanse and detoxify. In fact, I have found that very simple attention to diet, support, and self-care can yield exceptional results. Over the years, I have minimized my use of detoxification-specific supplements, but I still recommend one because I believe that these nutrients (those that support the liver’s detoxification abilities) in conjunction with a clean diet allow the body to better handle the toxic burden it is exposed to daily. And I don’t need to wait for the clinical trials to see the importance of that. It is my firm belief that following basic cleansing and detoxification principles ALL THE TIME lessen the impact of environmental toxins over the course of a lifetime. That is why the 28-day program I have created with Chef Jennifer Brewer is really about making life changes and optimizing health long-term. The beauty is that the types of cleansing and detoxification practices that we employ decrease inflammation in the body, enhance circulation & lymphatic drainage, improve digestion & elimination, and support the liver. Who doesn’t need that? If I have to call it cleanse to get you interested, so be it.

Cleanse Organic launches in Fall 2010. Join the mailing list at


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