One popular concept found online regarding health and wellness is detoxes and cleanses. These practices have often been suggested as good ways to lose weight, eliminate toxins, and promote overall health. There are several commonly suggested ways to do a detox or cleanse. One question that often goes unasked is whether these techniques are healthy, safe, and effective.
What are Detoxes and Cleanses?
The first thing needing clarification is that we are not talking about the CDC-recommended chelation therapy. This form of detoxification aims to reduce toxic metals in the body in serious cases. When speaking of detoxes and cleanses, we are not addressing this procedure.
“Detoxification” programs may involve a single process or a variety of approaches. These include:
- Periods of fasting
- Limiting food to only juices or certain drinks
- Limiting diet to specific foods
- Using dietary supplements or other products
- Herbal cleanses
- Using hydrotherapy, laxatives, or enemas to cleanse the colon.
- Limiting environmental exposures
- Sweating it out, such as in a sauna
You’ll often find these kinds of programs advertised online, utilized as a part of a naturopathic course of treatment, or at health centers. Regardless of their effectiveness, it’s possible for the advertised cleanses to be falsely advertised and even unsafe.
There isn’t much research that’s been done on cleanses and detoxes. Some of those who have used them report benefits in insulin resistance, blood pressure, and fat loss. However, these studies have not been as rigorous as required for their results to be definitive. They often use a limited number of participants and/or have issues with the study’s design. There’s also a notable lack of peer review involved in these studies.
One well-regarded study in 2015 showed that there wasn’t anything compelling to continue researching these topics. Another, done in 2017 indicated some initial weight loss, but this was tied to reduced calorie intake. Once When participants resumed a normal diet, the weight came back. The long-term effects of using detoxes and cleanses have not been studied.
Are Detoxes and Cleanses Safe?
The overall track record of cleanses and detoxes are questionable, to say the least. The FTC and the FDA have cited companies for selling these products. In certain cases, this is the result of the inclusion of potentially harmful or illegal ingredients. In others, claims were made of the ability to treat diseases that were unsubstantiated. Medical devices, such as enema kits, were cited for being marketed other than medical use.
When considering starting a detox or cleanse, it’s best to consult your health and wellness specialist first. They’ll set proper expectations for the results you may see. They’ll also help you determine if the cleanse is safe and if it will address the concerns you’re hoping it will. In the end, any cleanse, or detox should be overseen by a medical professional to ensure your health and safety. Reach out to your specialist today to get more questions answered!