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Yes, it is a scam!

I read at least once in a week in news papers and magazines here about detoxification methods of human bodies. Some even give tips on how to do it using interesting techniques. Some place ads saying that they would do it for a fee. Books, boxes or bottles, with some combination of “detox”, “cleanse” or “flush” in the product name. Supplements, tea, homeopathy, coffee enemas, ear candles, and foot baths all promise detoxification. Naturopaths offer complete detoxification protocols, including vitamin drips and chelation. The ads run like this...

" Our methods are clinically proven to remove toxins"

" Our techniques are backed by science"

" Our products are laboratory tested and provide immediate relief from your ailments"

“Detox” is a case of a legitimate medical term being turned into a marketing strategy – all designed to treat a nonexistent condition. The truth is you can't detoxify your body using these 'pseudo-science' techniques. Doctors say it is complete nonsense. ‘Detox’ has no meaning outside of the clinical treatment for drug addiction or poisoning. In medicine, detoxification means treatments for dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or poisons, like heavy metals. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals when there are life-threatening circumstances. Other detoxification claims are just packages promoted by by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated in your life time. There are the “ other toxins” that alternative health providers claim to eliminate. This form of detoxification is simply the co-opting of a real term to give legitimacy to useless products and services, while confusing consumers into thinking they’re science-based. Evaluating any detox is simple: We need to understand the science of toxins, the nature of toxicity, and how detox rituals, kits, and programs claim to remove toxins.

If your body really accumulates so many toxins that can't be eliminated by the body itself like these pseudo-science promoters say,  you would actually die of them!

Moreover, human bodies have 'natural cleansers' like kidneys, liver, skin, digestive system, lymphatic system and lungs to carry out detoxification processes.  

"Sense about Science" tried to find evidence for these detox claims but couldn't find any(1). When the scientists asked for evidence behind the claims, not one of the manufacturers could define what they meant by detoxification, let alone name the toxins! The language these pseudo-science people use is vague, toxins are not named, symptoms of  poisoned bodies are so vague and general ( headaches, fatigues, insomnia, hunger or lack of  it)  that you feel you really are under their influence!

There is no credible evidence to demonstrate that detox kits do anything at all according to scientists. They have not been shown to remove  “toxins” or offer any health benefits. Some have only placebo effects. The lifestyle implications of a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, lack of sleep, and alcohol or drug use cannot simply be flushed or purged away!

 In fact, some juice cleanses used in detox methods are so low in calories that they will slow down your metabolism. Any weight you lose is likely to be water, carbohydrate stores, and intestinal bulk. It will just return when you start eating normally again. Detox diets can cause stomach upset and blood sugar swings. Most detox diets fail to include enough fiber. And fiber is what helps clean our digestive tracts! Now, that’s ironic—a cleansing diet that leaves out the cleaner? If they’re high in fruit juices, they can cause blood sugar swings. This makes them downright dangerous for people with diabetes—and risky for many others. Detox diets don’t supply enough protein and can leave you hungry. When we don't get enough protein, we get hungry a lot faster. And protein deficiencies can make it harder, not easier, for our bodies to clear themselves of toxins. What’s more, without adequate protein, we lose muscle mass.

What is worse is some of these treatments are actually harmful! Like the coffee enemas (2). Coffee enemas are considered unsafe and should be avoided. Rare but serious adverse events like septicemia (bacteria in the bloodstream), rectal perforation, and electrolyte abnormalities have been caused by coffee enemas. Deaths from the administration of coffee enemas have been reported.

A laxative – Typically magnesium hydroxide, senna, rhubarb, cascara, etc. Laxatives are the ingredients in detox kits that give you the effect you can see (and feel). However, these ingredients can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances if not used carefully. Regular use of stimulant laxatives, like senna and cascara, are ill-advised for most healthy adults due to the risk of dependence and electrolyte depletion.

When I was very young even my mother used to give me and my sister these laxatives ( especially castor oil) now and then on the advice of my grand mothers. I remember I used to feel very week after the treatment. Now I know why and I advice all the mothers not to do this to their children.  Like other laxatives, you shouldn’t use it for long, or it can make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients and some drugs. If you overdo it, that can damage your bowel muscles, nerves, and tissue -- which can cause constipation.

Side effects can continue once a detox ends. Some people experience post-detox effects like nausea and diarrhea. Advocate call these “cleansing reactions” and will assure you it’s “toxins leaving the body”. A more plausible, science-based explanation is that this is a consequence of restarting the digestion process after a period of catharsis, where, depending on the extent and duration of fasting, little to no digestion occurred, and the normal gastrointestinal flora may have been severely disrupted. It’s the same effect seen in hospitalized patients who have difficulty initially digesting food after being fed intravenously. The detox ingredients, and resulting catharsis, may irritate the colon to such an extent that it may take time to return to normal.

So if you find ads for products like detoxifying tablets, beverages, beauty products or methods like colonic irrigation,  oil messages, tonics just ignore them. They aren't worth trying unless you want to waste your hard earned money. 

Just eat reasonable amount of food - not excess - for the food based toxins not to accumulate in your body. Try not to eat foods that might cause harm to human bodies. Eat sufficient amounts of vegetables and fruits. Drink enough fluids. Allow reasonable breaks between dinner the previous night and breakfast next morning (10-12 hours) for the body to function efficiently. These are some natural practices that help in body detoxification.

And if you face any health problems just visit  authentically trained medical practitioners. If your doctor can't do anything about them, it is true that nobody else can either!

References:

1. http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/debunking-detox.html

2. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/ask-the-science-based-pharmacis...

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