Health Guide

Detoxification therapy

What is it?

Detoxification therapy is a system of treatment that is intended to eliminate toxins from the body. The theory is that toxins create an added stress to the body and weaken the entire system. The body's energy reserves, immune system, liver, kidneys, digestive system, lymphatics and nervous system are all strongly affected when there are excess toxins in the system. Proponents believe that after detoxification therapy has eliminated the toxins, the body will be able to re-establish a balance, reverse disease conditions, and prevent future diseases from occurring.

Detoxification is constantly occurring in the body. The major systems involved in the detoxification process include the lymphatics, digestive tract, liver, lungs, skin, gall bladder, and kidneys.

Toxins can be defined as any substance that causes tissue damage or causes functional problems in the body. External toxins are mostly a result of modern society. The increased toxic exposure from industrial chemicals, pesticides, food additives, heavy metals, medicines, solvents, preservatives, chemical fertilizers, and hormones has caused toxins to accumulate in the body faster than the body can eliminate.

Internal toxins are created during normal body functions and poor digestion. Correcting digestive problems is a major goal in detoxification therapy. Improper bacteria balance and undigested food in the intestines are the major causes of internally created toxins.

Detoxification therapy cannot be defined as a single treatment and often includes a number of the therapies listed below. It is more easily described as a basic philosophy with a wide variety of treatments that are in support of the concepts of detoxification. Examples of detoxification therapy include, but are not limited to: fasting, hydrotherapy, skin brushing, massage and manual lymph drainage, detox diets, colon therapy, vitamin C therapy, herbal remedies, chelation, hyperthermia, metabolic detoxification, homeopathic drainage, and any other therapy that help remove wastes from the body.

Detoxification therapy is offered by many different practitioners, including alternative medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, occupational therapists, naturopaths, nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists, body workers, and lay people. When choosing a practitioner, make sure you ask about their training and if they have helped others that have your health problem

  • American College of Advancement in Medicine (714) 583-7666
  • American Colon Therapy Association (310) 390-5424
  • International Association of Professional Natural Hygienists (305) 454-2220
  • American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (800) 206-7610


1. Burton Goldberg Group: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup, WA; 1994.

2. Cassileth BR: The Alternative Medicine Handbook, 1st ed. WW Norton & Company, NY, NY; 1998:16-21.

3. Inglis B & West R: The Alternative Health Guide. Alfred A. Knopf, NY, NY; 1983: 120-132.

4. Sifton DW: The PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY; 1999.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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