It’s time to pack away the Christmas chocolates and unpack the wheatgrass juice again, says naturopath Sally Mathrick.

‘Detox’ existed centuries before superstars made the lemon juice and maple syrup diet the latest fad. Back then, it was called depuration, fasting or cleansing and it did more than counteract an overly indulgent festive season!


Depuration means ‘to make pure’ through the action of reducing the burden of accumulated harmful substances within the body. It has been used for thousands of years. Spiritual masters regularly practiced purification processes. Many religions have cleansing practices woven into their calendars.

Spiritual gurus and religious figures have been cleansing their bodies for centuries. Judaism has Yom Kipur, a day of fasting for atonement; Islam has Ramadan, a month of daily fasting to burn away the sins of the year; Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, inspiring Lent and Buddha learnt to fast to cultivate compassion and patience, leading the way for regular fasting retreats.

Detox programs don’t have to be ‘religious’ or follow any particular belief. However as they cleanse our physical and mental selves one attains easier access to the subtle, spiritual aspects –  with the ultimate aim of dusting off the spiritual genius in us all.

A natural cleansing programme is the most important step you can take to reduce and detoxify toxicants. Enlisting advice from a trained health professional about how to construct your cleansing regime is advised.

The body responds well to gentle treatment generally, and particular in today’s toxin burdened environment. The more radical the approach with detox, the greater need for professional supervision. It needn’t be just a three-day cleanse; removing toxins in today’s world may take years or even decades.

Why purify?

Worryingly, our world is becoming increasingly toxic, and, consequently, so are we.

Over 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been introduced into the environment since the 1940s and, daily, we are confronted by these synthetic chemicals. Personal care and cleaning products; air pollutants; contaminants in our water; pesticide residues and artificial additives to our foods and fire retardants on our new clothes are just a few examples of what sort of toxins we are exposed to in a ‘normal’ day.

No matter what you do, toxins are unavoidable – they result from normal activity within body cells and are created by bacteria or poorly digested food in the gastrointestinal tract. Toxins also enter the body via the air we breathe, the food, water and drugs we consume or the chemicals from the skin and hair products that we use.

Detoxification processes

It is important for to support our natural detoxification processes to deal with this increased burden.

To protect us from the cellular damage caused by the action of destructive free radicals, our bodies’ cells are constantly being detoxified. However, when toxin levels are too high, the body works hard to protect itself by storing toxins, oftne in fat and bone marrow cells.

A natural depuration programme will support the body to purify via internal cleansing processes that transform these toxins into products that can exit the body.

Correct depuration will lead to a reduction in inflammation too. Inflammation is recognised as a keystone for most chronic health diseases. Regular detox is part of a preventative health program.

Bad Habits

A depuration program helps to transform bad habits into good ones. When cleansing it’s recommeded t stop drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, consuming sugar and other drugs (of course, if on prescription drugs, discuss with your practitioner if this is suitable).

Also reduce your caffeine intake is suggested, to help the body relax more.

Breaking bad habits is challenging. Get support from people, practices and supplements to help you make the change.

Voice within

Be aware of toxic criticisms, either towards yourself or others. Can they be communicated with a healthier constructive voice instead?

Our thoughts affect our physical function more than we realise.

Minimise your toxin exposure

Get online to investigate where hidden toxins are lurking, then take decisive steps to eliminate them. With personal care products, you can check specific products for toxicants through resources such as Throw away all suspicious items. For household cleaning products you can look at the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on the ingredients in cleaning products. Avoid all that list ‘fragrance’ on them, as these are totally unregulated and potentially disruptive to your hormones.

Then adopt non-toxic solutions like white vinegar and eucalyptus oil. Select Earth friendly products.


Lessen Harm

Your major detoxification organs need to functioning optimally. If organs are at suboptimal function, toxins are unable to leave the body.

Liver support:

The simplest support for the liver is St Mary’s thistle seed, which balances both phases of liver detoxification as well as having antioxidant action.

Other nutritional support include the amino acids arginine and methionine and herbs turmeric, globe artichoke and dandelion root.

Drink herbal teas, particularly rosehip and green tea, which are rich in antioxidants.

Eat rainbow-coloured fruits and vegetables to ensure you get a broad range of antioxidants and beneficial plant chemicals.

Kidney support:

Support your kidneys by regularly drinking pure water.

Drinking strong nettle leaf tea can nourish the kidneys.

Organic mineral rich vegetable broth is a lovely kidney supporter during depuration.

Crunch grape seeds, as they contain a strong antioxidant action.

Digestive support:

Aim to chew each mouthful 20 to 25 times.

Correct chewing ensures saliva is well mixed with the food. This process is so important to digestion and assimilation and can reduce the toxic burden enormously and free up the body’s energy for cleansing. portion of the colon then released, taking with it excrement and toxins.

Enemas can be carried out at home with a chemist-purchased kit.

Enhance elimination

Toxins are eliminated through faeces, urine, sweat, breath, tears, bile and other bodily fluids. Support these vehicles as, if suppressed, toxins can circulate through the body and interfere with healthy function.

■ Sweating is a great way of eliminating synthetic toxins and heavy metals through the skin. Try going to a sauna to break down fats and liberate toxins.

■ Practising deep breathing is another way of eliminating toxins. Yoga asanas are an ideal accompaniment to any detox program.

■ Exercise is fundamental in any cleansing program. Cardiovascular movement, increased blood flow and sweat all aid depuration. The exercise should not be too intense particularly if fasting.

■ Scrape your tongue every morning to remove the build-up of bacteria.

■ Slow down and relax. The stress level of contemporary life and a lack of relaxing time out stimulates the nervous system that thwarts toxic elimination.

■ Good fibre must be taken during a detox. Oat bran, rolled oats and psyllium are all great aids as are a range of well-chewed raw vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

■ Colon hydrotherapy involves gently injecting pure warm water into the large bowel.



A depuration programme can vary in dietary guidelines. Few include dairy and meat products. If you do eat them, it is important to ensure they are organic and well chewed.

Avoid processed foods and eat organic and spray free. Pesticides on fruit and veg can be partially removed by soaking them in a bentonite clay bath, vinegar and/or detergent.

Supplementation is also important. Look for combination antioxidants with vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, bioflavonoids, zinc, selenium and other liver herbs.

Source pure water. Filter both drinking and body washing water.

Ensuring that your body is continuously refreshed is vitally important, even more so during a cleanse

The Benefits

Regular depurtation and fasting rejuventates the body and freshens the mind. It restores your personal clarity and perspective, and it imbues a sense of self control that empowers you to make change.

Now is a great time to cleanse.

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