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Tired, sluggish, bloated? Time to detox? “Don’t buy the hype”

Thanks to Loretta Marron OAM, CEO of Friends of Science in Medicine for this very timely post.

***

Loretta Marron writes:

Feeling tired, sluggish and bloated? Recycling bin rattling with empty bottles & cans? Belt a bit tight? What about  that New Year’s Resolution to live healthier this year? This might be the perfect time to ‘detox’ – a great way to get a fresh start to 2015 – or is it?

‘Detoxing’ is heavily promoted in magazines, newspapers, television and via the Internet. Potions, pills, patches and foot spas, sold in supermarkets, health food stores and pharmacies, are targeting those of us who have overindulged during the festive season.

Costing up to $90, you can purchase “powerful  formulatonics and tablets containing concoctions of Milk Thistle, Bitter Orange or artichoke, claimed to speed up your metabolism, “restore an efficient flow [of] Qi, while supporting your liver as you ‘detox’.

Don’t want to take pills? What about removing ‘toxins’ through your feet? A number of options are available for ‘foot style’ detoxing, based on the concept of reflexology (where areas under your foot correspond to various internal organs). According to the packaging, detox foot patches, at around $5 per patch, not only remove toxins, but purify your blood, while boosting your immune system. You stick them onto the soles of your feet before going to bed and the toxins are ‘sucked out’ as you sleep.

If you want to spend up to $1,000, Detox foot spas claim to use osmosis to pull bad substances from your body, sending them out through your feet. Apparently these machines also clean out your parasites and improve your sex life, with the added bonus of reducing your wrinkles!

But what, in reality, are toxins? From bee stings to botulism, they are poisonous ‘natural’ substances, usually ingested or inhaled. While some are harmless, some can cause disease and be deadly. The sponsors of ‘detox’ products rarely identify which elusive ‘toxins’ they are targeting.

So what is detox? There are two kinds. One is legitimate and proven medical treatment for drug addiction. The second is based on ‘removing’ unnamed toxins, usually to counteract the effects of poor lifestyle choices, including too much partying. Exeter University Professor of Complementary Medicine Edzard Ernst says the word has been “hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment”.

Is there any evidence? Read the fine print and you will find that any claims are based on “traditional use” or feature caveats such as: “Products featured are not intended to diagnose, prevent, mitigate or cure any disease and has (sic) no approved therapeutic claims.”

These detox products have another thing in common – there is no science behind any of them. Ernst says: “they do not work; they do not eliminate poisons from the body, they merely eliminate cash from your wallet”. There have been numerous complaints upheld against advertising claims for detox goods, but sometimes, with some tweaking of the advertising to soften claims to “may help with”, it remains business as usual.

In reality, your kidney, liver, skin and lungs are detoxifying 24/7. If they were not, you would be in need of serious medical attention. Despite the hype, all these advertised ‘detoxifying’ methods are sheer nonsense.

So don’t be sucked in by the ‘detox’ industry, get real! Wake up to the fact that your body does this for you all day every day – and all night. It does not need any help. While most of these products might not be dangerous (the only concern of government regulators), they are a waste of money. Flushing “your system of impurities” is a myth and a money-making exercise. Trust your body to look after itself. Your body, and all the bodies from whom you are descended, have been doing this for hundreds of thousands of years – otherwise you would not be here! Don’t fall for today’s ‘snake oil salesmen’