All you need to know about detoxing

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Detoxification or body cleansing is a type of treatment that aims to rid the body of unspecified toxins or accumulated substances believed to have harmful short or long-term effects on individual health. Common ways include exclusive dieting, fasting, ukuphalaza (induced vomiting) and the use of laxatives such as Brooklax, black forest herbal tea and even castor oil. Some people believe that detoxification also encourages weight loss. Here’s all you need to know about detoxing.

All you need to know about detoxing

From time to time, many people go through some sort of detox process to rid their bodies of toxins. But, is this nurturing or harming your body?

Self-Cleaning Organ

According to Rosa Damesi, a retired nursing sister. Rosa explains that the human digestive system cleanses itself and doesn’t gather unnecessary material that requires external assistance to be removed. “A lot of people may not be aware, but our bodies have a very efficient detoxification system.

Our livers, gut, immune system and kidneys are responsible for cleansing our bodies. So, we don’t need to worry about that. Instead, you should eat food that is high in fibre, drink more water and exercise regularly. That will not only keep your bowels healthy and promote regular movement but will also ensure overall well-being,” she says.

The Spiritual Side

According to sangoma Vuyokazi Ngemntu, body detoxification is not only achieved through colon cleansing; the benefits are physical and spiritual, too. Other methods include ukuphalaza and ukufutha (steaming or using a vapour bath). Similar to colon cleansing, ukuphalaza is meant to decrease the amount of toxins in the body.

But, Vuyokazi warns that you should not do it frequently as it causes gastric reflux. Both methods can also be performed for spiritual purposes. “Ukuhambisa (colon cleansing) and ukuphalaza are the flushing out of toxins that may come in the form of foodstuffs ingested naturally or through herbal infusions that you are fed unaware by those with malicious intent,” she says. Ukufutha, on the other hand, is no different to a sauna, except that certain herbs are used to aid the detoxification process.

Most common among these herbs is aloe, which has well-documented cell regeneration and general cleansing properties. “Not only does this process open up the skin pores thus helping the body sweat out toxic substance, it also leaves your skin rejuvenated. It is a great form of cleansing your aura from whatever blockage you may be experiencing and a fantastic skincare technique,” Vuyokazi explains.

Health Benefits

Detox International South Africa, a holistic wellness retreat in Magaliesburg, encourages the colon cleansing process. Founder Midi Fairgrieve states that this is an integral part of detox that is achieved through the use of medication or ukucima – a method in which liquid or gas is injected into the rectum to expel its contents. It aims to promote fast and efficient elimination of toxins through an increased flow of bile and the passing of stools. Midi claims that this leads to deeper cleansing and detoxification at cell level.

Once the colon is cleansed, the natural balance of friendly bacteria is restored. These bacteria include bifidobacterium longum, bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, lactobacillus johnsonii and Escherichia coli. They help to digest food and absorb antioxidants found in some of the food we consume. Furthermore, the bowel works as it is meant to, resulting in the alleviation or complete elimination of ill health symptoms. “Colon cleansing and detoxification can have amazing effects on your appearance.

Your skin becomes vibrant, blemishes and other skin conditions disappear while water retention and cellulite are finally broken down,” she explains. As it turns out, the not-so-pleasant experience of ukucima and ukuhambisa that our mothers put us through was for the greater good of our bodies, after all.

Potential Dangers

Most people use laxatives to detox and for colon cleansing. But, these are typically prescribed for constipation. Pharmacist Thusi Mashodi explains that laxatives work by adding water to the stools, in turn making them large and soft. This triggers bowel contractions.

Some laxatives force the bowels to contract and push out waste. “Using a laxative as a means of detoxification can pose some dangers, such as dehydration and organ damage. This is because some of these substances, such as stimulant laxatives, are harsh and cause contractions. Additionally, laxatives have unpleasant side effects such as bloating and diarrhoea. It is also easy to be dependent on them when used too often,” he explains.

The Verdict

There is no existing scientific proof that our bodies need detoxification or cleansing. However, for thousands of years, people have been partaking in rituals, diets, medical procedures and fasting all in the name of body cleansing. There are a number of conflicting expert opinions from different healthcare practitioners regarding this. Some argue that body organs are self-sufficient and do not need any assistance to detox while others support the concept.

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