Cleanses & Detoxes: Help or Hype? (And my personal experiences with both)

The terms “cleanse” and “detox” are often used interchangeably, but they can have slightly different meanings. Both terms lack a “standardized” definition in the medical or scientific community, with their use typically associated with alternative or holistic health practices. 

A “cleanse” often refers to a short-term dietary approach aimed at removing toxins or waste products from the body. It may involve eliminating certain foods while consuming other specific foods, juices, or nutrient or herbal supplements to support the body’s natural detoxification processes.

Benefits seen from doing a cleanse:

  • Increased energy
  • Weight loss
  • Improved bowel habits
  • Reduced muscle aches and pains
  • Possible identification of food sensitivities
  • Avoidance of processed foods

A “detox” occurs primarily through the liver, along with other organs such as the digestive tract, kidneys, and skin. The liver is where the primary mode of detoxification occurs, where harmful substances are supposed to be transformed into less harmful and easier excretable forms. Unfortunately, a vast majority of the population has a flaw in at least one of the liver’s detoxification pathways, causing a vast array of health issues and symptoms.

In 2022-2023 I took a 62-hour refresher course just on detoxification. Because of this knowledge, I see how just taking a detox product or doing a detox on one’s own can cause more harm and damage. For instance, there are five reactionary steps that take place in Phase 1 of the liver’s detox process, which will only happen if eight nutrients or nutrient categories are there. If you aren’t getting enough of your B vitamins for example, the toxins processed in Phase 1 won’t get to phase 2 for removal preparation, so are reprocessed back into the body.

Perhaps Phase 1 is working OK, but things get held up in Phase 2 because there is a problem with one or more of the six reactions in this pathway or there are insufficient nutrients needed to make these steps work. Drugs and chemicals that need to be eliminated can’t do so and therefore go right back into fat cells to be stored. Doing a simplified detox product or protocol for a couple weeks isn’t going to fix everything that may be going wrong. It took me months to take these classes. Doing a full-blown detoxification is going to take at least that long and should be individualized for every single person.

And the #1 rule before engaging in a detox is this: NEVER start a detox if you are constipated. You need to fix the issues in the gut first, by having 1-3 regular, toothpaste-like consistency brown bowel movements a day. If you’re not pooping, any toxins released from the body have no place to go, other than back into storage.

The 2nd rule is that a detox should be done very slowly. The goal is to NOT release large amounts of toxins into the body all at once, which can make one feel tired, sick and miserable—especially if what has been released can’t be eliminated. 

Benefits seen from doing a detox:

  • Organs can take a little vacation, if fasting is involved
  • Toxin elimination through bowel movements, urine, and sweat
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved nutritional and hydration status 
  • Improved focus
  • Weight loss

Potential problems with a detox:

  • Herxheimer Reaction, where toxins are eliminated from fat storage in the body so quickly, that the person experiences flu-like symptoms
  • Reabsorption of toxins released back into the body as the liver AND gut are not working properly
  • Nutrient insufficiencies or deficiencies due to prolonged fasting or eliminating specific foods or food groups for a prolonged period of time, causing other health issues

I have done both a group cleanse and a group detox and experienced benefits and self-awareness from both:

From the cleanse (which I do 1-2x a year):

  • I eliminate all sugar, alcohol, and processed foods (which I can overdo during the holiday season or vacations), which keeps me on track long past the cleanse, as I no longer desire the unhealthy stuff
  • It makes me much better at meal planning 
  • Bloating and bowels are improved
  • Aches and pains were reduced

From the detox (which was an intermittent fasting keto detox, which I only did once):

  • No hunger
  • Increased energy
  • Achieved faster weight loss than other methods tried
  • Experienced low blood glucose on day 4 and had to quit. This was because the plan had no protein—only healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables. This showed me that I am a person that definitely needs animal protein on a regular basis.

I will again be doing my annual group cleanse, which I lead and support. If you are joining me to jumpstart your health, please go to for more information.

Here’s to Your Health!


Leave a Comment