A few symptoms which suggest that a detoxification programme might be appropriate:

A history of increasing sensitivity to toxic xenobiotics1

Abundant use of pharmaceutical medications1
Exposure to toxic chemicals in the home or work environment1
Sensitivity to odours, perfumes and pharmaceutical medications1
Musculo-skeletal symptoms such as pain and inflammation1. Chronic pain, especially unresolved back problems are often related to toxicity
Cognitive dysfunction1
Worsening of symptoms after anaesthesia or pregnancy/lactation1
Migraines,4 chronic headaches, chronic fatigue2
Caffeine intolerance4
Garlic makes you ill4
Foul smelling stools4
Chronic fatigue syndrome4
Adverse reactions to sulphite food additives4
Psoriasis, acne4

What are xenobiotics?

Xenobiotics are any chemicals or substances that are foreign to our physiological systems. They can originate externally from toxic chemicals in the environment, or internally from food or drug by-products.

Environmental toxins include: outgassing from new carpets, upholstery and new woodwork, paint, pesticides, petrol, air fresheners, industrial gases and fumes, pollens, moulds, organochlorines, organophosphates, lead, mercury, cadmium, fluoride, chlorine bleaches, food additives and colourings, canned foods, garden herbicides2, dental and general anaesthetics, nicotine, petrol and diesel fumes5 to name but a few!

Internal toxins arise from partially broken down metabolites from food, low levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut, a low fibre diet, eating contaminated food, the normal production of free radicals, the presence of fungal infections which produce mycotoxins, bacteria and parasite infections which also produce toxins.

Toxicity can also be caused by high levels of sugar consumption, which, if poorly controlled, can cause the production of free radicals such as superoxide; glycosylated haemoglobin which is irreversible; the production of “bad cholesterol” [LDL] and arterial damage from the deposition of sorbitol.3

What is detoxification?
It is a process of decreasing the negative impact of toxins on our physiology. It assists the body to transform toxic molecules [which the body regards as poisons] into less toxic substances and make them suitable for excretion.  An inability to remove toxins from the body can be devastating to our health.4

Detoxification occurs through the liver, kidneys, intestines and the skin.

Why is detoxifying important?

Toxins that the body is unable to eliminate accumulate and are stored in adipose tissue.4 However, they can be released from these fat stores into systemic circulation at a future date causing significant health problems.3 Weight loss and lactation are just two instances when this may happen.

It is important to detoxify because if our detoxification systems become overloaded, there are increased levels of circulating toxins in the blood which can damage most of our body s systems.  A toxic liver sends out many alarm signals such as chronic headaches, chronic fatigue, inflammation and autoimmune diseases.4

The liver is the body s primary detoxifying organ.  Detoxification is carried out in two related processes known as Phase1 and Phase11. Phase1 involves an enzyme system which neutralises some toxic substances and converts others into more soluble forms which are then processed by Phase11 reactions.

In the intermediate stage between Phase1 and Phase11, the substances can be chemically more active and more toxic, so if Phase11 isn t working adequately, the intermediate substances can increase toxicity.

Phase1 detoxification can be promoted by:
Cabbage, broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Oranges and Tangerines
Caraway, Dill

And be inhibited by:
Red chilli pepper
Clove oil

Phase11 detoxification can be promoted by:

Cabbage, broccoli,
Brussels sprouts [as in Phase1]
Fish oil
And be inhibited by:

Deficiency of selenium, B2 and zinc
Low protein diet
Deficiency of folic acid, B12, vitamin C
Bland JS [1999] Detoxification: A Clinical Monograph
Washington: Institute for   functional medicine
Bland JS  [1998] Nutritional Management of Inflammatory Disorders.
Washington: Institute for functional medicine.
Bland JS [1997] Nutritional Improvement of Health Outcomes – the Inflammatory
Washington: Health Comm Seminar Series
Pizzorno J [1998] Total Wellness: Rocklin, CA: Prima publishing
Mansfield P, Monro J [1987] Chemical Children: London: Century Hutchinson