Detoxification

How Chinese Medicine Addresses Detoxificationherbal detoxification foot soak

It seems that every other time that you enter a health food store the sales associate recommends that you use a detox to cure all that ails you. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, detoxification herbs are only employed when specifically indicated. Toxins in Chinese medicine are considered "Heat" generally, and many of the herbs used to clear Heat are bitter, "Cold" herbs. Long-term use of very Cold herbs may disrupt the Yin-Yang balance of the body and can damage the Spleen energetic organ system if taken for an extended period of time. Often, simply supporting and nourishing organs responsible for eliminating toxins is a much safer and effective way to promote excellent health.

herb leaves

Acupressure Points for Detoxificationessential oils for acupressure

Learn How to Apply Acupressure Here!

herb leaves

Lymphatic Detox in Chinese Medicinecr-organic-lymphatic-gentle-detox-herb-formula.jpg

The lymphatic system consists of a myriad of delicate vessels found in almost every tissue of the body containing blood vessels. These vessels perform essential functions including the removal of waste products produced from cellular metabolism. The proper function of the lymphatic system is vital for proper immune system performance. This vital system is often overlooked in detoxification programs. The lymphatic system is often referred to as the ‘back alleyway’ for trash removal of the body. In Chinese medicine one wants to "move" Blood and Qi to effectively break up any congestion of the lymph nodes and to use herbs that help to drain toxins. Consider our organic Central River formula!

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

herb leaves

Liver Detox in Chinese Medicineorganic liver detox herbal remedy

The liver is actually considered a gland, and performs a large number of vital tasks including storing vitamins, producing cholesterol, and synthesizing fatty acids from sugars and amino acids. As a detoxifying organ, the liver dilutes toxic substances such as metabolic waste, pesticides, and alcohol, with less toxic substances before sending them to be excreted from the kidneys. The fact that the liver is negatively impacted by toxins and alcohol is well recognized in our culture. In Chinese medicine, a more common imbalance associated with the Liver energetic organ system is Liver Qi Stagnation which may be marked by anger, frustration, gynecological diseases, or stressConsider our organic Peaceful Warrior formula!

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

herb leaves

Skin Detox in Chinese Medicinedetoxification-kit-essential oils acupressure

The skin is the largest organ involved with detoxification. Air conditioning is a recent phenomenon; traditionally, people have had more opportunities to sweat. In our comfortable air conditioned cars, offices, and homes, it is unusual for us to perspire. One of the more efficient ways to eliminate toxins is through a good sweat. While a swift walk or hike would do the job, there are diaphoretic herbs that produce a good sweat also. These are most useful at the onset of a cold or flu to release pathogens to the surface; they would include catnip, elder, ginger, and lavender. 

In Chinese medicine toxins play a big role in the pre-mature aging of the skin and can lessen the tenacity of the dermal layers. Also, "Heat-toxins" are the cause of many skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, rashes, and acne marked by redness and inflammation. Additionally, the skin is part of the Metal Element and Lung energetic organ system and must be supported while treating skin disorders. Toxins can accumulate in the Blood and cause Blood Stagnation, so one treayment strategy is to move Blood while simultaneously removing Heat. Consider our organic Central River formula!

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

herb leaves

yin valley organic herb tonicKidneys and Detoxification in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the proper function of the Kidney System is maintained or repaired with tonic herb formulas taken over time and tonification acupressure points. In western herbalism, kidney herbs typically refer to potent diuretic herbs that will stimulate the kidneys directly such as dandelion. While sometimes useful, over-stimulation of the Kidney energetic organ system according to Chinese medicine can further damage the system and weaken the kidneys rendering them even less efficient in their ability to eliminate. The kidneys and bladder are vital in the elimination of the toxins from the liver. The Kidney energetic system in Chinese medicine typically suffers from deficiency rather than excess and since toxins are Yang in nature one would want to nurture Kidney Yin. Consider our organic Yin Valley formula!

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

herb leaves

Large Intestine Detox in Chinese Medicine

This obvious route of elimination is well recognized and appreciated in both western and eastern medicine. While natural laxative herbs such as cascara sagrada and senna are widely available, it is more important that the large intestine is able to perform on its own. There are many herbs that heal the walls of the intestine such as aloe and marshmallow. Other herbs are vital in restoring the necessary "Large Intestine Qi" so that the bowels have the energy necessary for peristalsis such as bitter orange. There are actually a multitude of strategies that can help restore proper bowel movements naturally. TCM often includes oily herbs such as black sesame seed, blood building herbs such as mulberry fruit for dry bowel movements, and bitter herbs such as gentian to stimulate bile flow and begin the myriad of digestive events that must occur for a healthy digestion

Related Article: Constipation Causes in Chinese Medicine

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

herb leaves

Other Important Detoxification Considerations

Heart Fire-Free Radicals

Toxins in the body result in free radicals (unstable-erratic molecules: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8298182) that circulate internally causing damage to the walls of arteries and can damage the Heart. This is sometimes refers to "Heat in the Blood" in Chinese medicine. Herbs that destroy free radicals are plentiful in active phyto-chemical compounds such as polysaccharides, quinines, flavonoids, saponins, alkaloids, terpenes, phenolic acids compounds and tannins, etc. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22512585).

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Lung Qi and Detoxification

Sufficient Lung Qi is necessary for detoxification through the breath, arguably the most important path of detoxification in the body.

Related Article: Lung Energetic Organ System and Breathing Problems
herb leaves

Detoxing and Chinese Medicine

A well thought out natural herbal body detoxification program can be safe and beneficial. In many cultures spring tonics were utilized as a once-per-year cleansing. In the last 50 years we have been exposed to man made toxins and synthetic pesticides those previous generations never had to cope with. It is now imperative that we utilize these natural herb remedies to realize our full health potential. Increasingly, pharmaceutical medicines are a source of toxicity for us; it is even in our drinking water.

Toxins and foreign substances in our tissue can lead to premature agingdisease, and pain. Natural herbs for detoxing can be beneficial if your body is not independently eliminating toxins efficiently, or you have been exposed to a large amount of toxins; these would include pesticides, air pollution, plastics, pharmaceuticals, cleaners, solvents, alcohol (in large quantities), preservatives, food coloring, heavy metals, chemicals, hair dyes, etc.

Detoxification-type herbs must be respected because they are designed to 'remove fire toxins' from the body according to Chinese medicine. In order to remove fire toxins, you must utilize very Cold herbs typically. Eventually, these energetically Cold herbs can cause a Yin/Yang imbalance in the body and can damage the Spleen energetic organ system. In some cases a 6 week course of detoxification is beneficial before patients begin tonic herbal therapy

Our body does an amazing job of eliminating toxins all by itself. It is only when the body becomes overwhelmed with a large quantity of toxins, or an especially potent toxin, that it is unable to perform the various functions of elimination. The body is wise, and initially attempts to store toxins in fat cells far away from vital organ systems. This is why people often become ill when losing weight rapidly. The less desirable scenario exists when the toxins circulate in the arteries or are lodged in organ tissue or muscle tissue. Often, toxins act as free radicals; these unstable molecules bounce about and create tissue damage.

Some herbs are called "blood cleansers"; this is a bit of a misnomer. Organs are ultimately responsible for cleansing the blood, and there are specific herbs that act to strengthen and/or stimulate those organ systems. Detoxification using herbal remedies is an age old practice that was often performed once a year in the spring-time. Back in the day, foods that could be stored without refrigeration were on the heavy side with salted meats, grains, but not many fruits and vegetables during winter. It is worth considering increasing the consumption of organic greens, vegetables, and fruits in your diet to naturally detox. The traditional winter diet tended to require a detox in spring, and many of these detoxes were in the form of bitter spring green and herbs that were early to emerge after the freezes passed; these would include cleavers, dandelion, chickweed, plantain, and poke (poke weed is toxic if not prepared correctly).

These days, we face different detoxification issues. Modern agricultural methods and international shipping opportunities provide produce year round, but at the cost of our consumption of pesticides and the production of more pollution. Therefore, a yearly detox support is still necessary, but for different reasons. An herbal detox would best be performed in a season other than winter as the herbs used to remove "fire toxins"  tend to be cold in nature. 

herb leaves

References

Ghobadi Pour, M., Mirazi, N., & Seif, A. (2019). Treatment of liver and spleen illnesses by herbs: Recommendations of Avicenna's heritage "Canon of Medicine". Avicenna journal of phytomedicine9(2), 101–116.

Latief, U., & Ahmad, R. (2017). Herbal remedies for liver fibrosis: A review on the mode of action of fifty herbs. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine8(3), 352–360. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.07.002

Li, S., Tan, H. Y., Wang, N., Cheung, F., Hong, M., & Feng, Y. (2018). The Potential and Action Mechanism of Polyphenols in the Treatment of Liver Diseases. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity2018, 8394818. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8394818

Nassan, M. A., Soliman, M. M., Ismail, S. A., & El-Shazly, S. (2018). Effect of Taraxacum officinale extract on PI3K/Akt pathway in DMBA-induced breast cancer in albino rats. Bioscience reports38(6), BSR20180334. https://doi.org/10.1042/BSR20180334

Allen, J., Montalto, M., Lovejoy, J., & Weber, W. (2011). Detoxification in naturopathic medicine: a survey. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)17(12), 1175–1180. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2010.0572

dr catherine browne herbalist

Dr. Browne's Shared Insights and Experiences

It is not common for me to prescribe detoxification herbs in clinic as the acu-points are so fast and efficient at removing Toxic Heat. I have had a number of occasions where patients who worked in fields that exposed them to toxins (airplane/car painting, hairdressing, etc.) over many years really did require something like Peaceful Warrior formula, but they also used Restore the Middle Way formula at the same time to help protect their Spleen Qi. The Central River is a much gentler detoxification formula that I typically use for patients following chemotherapy or lymph removal.

I put together this little PDF downloadable booklet that I would like to share with you that has more acupressure point ideas for detoxification support linked here!