There are numerous other detox organs that prevent our bodies from becoming toxic, inflamed and overwhelmed by chemicals and pollutants to the point where our bodies are the ideal environment for disease to manifest. These include the brain, the lungs, the skin, the lymphatic system, the colon, the gallbladder, and the appendix.
The brain is the control centre for bodily processes including detoxification and it has its own mechanisms for cleaning itself. The lymphatic system does not extend into the brain, so the brain has its own purifying system called the glymphatic system.
“This waste removal system is called the glymphatic system, and it works by pumping cerebral spinal fluid through the brain to flush out toxins and potentially harmful protein waste”
This not only clears the brain for many benefits like reducing brain fog, tiredness, and cognitive processing but also reduces the risk of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. This process may also reduce the risk of other diseases like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and ALS (2). The glymphatic system plays a very specific role in reducing the underlying causative factors of these diseases. It reduces the formation of beta-amyloid plaque which is associated with the disease (3). The clearing of this plaque that links to the disease that impacts memory and cognitive processing is an energy taxing process. Hence, this may be the reason that the glymphatic system cleansing happens during sleep.
The more the accumulation of toxic substances, heavy metals, medications, alcohol, and inflammatory foods in the body, the more mitochondrial dysfunction. So, there is less energy for the metabolic activity of the brain. If energy is diverted from this metabolically active organ for detoxification needs, then slower processing, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties could result (4). In order to regain energy for the glymphatic system and for the rest of the body’s detoxification to both occur, sleeping and bodily exercise may both increase glymphatic activity. It was found by the research team led by Nedergaard that during sleep the brain shrinks helping the glymphatic fluid to flow through and remove toxins from the brain better (3). Sleep, then, not only provides more energy for whole body detoxing but, also, adjusts the brain for this process to occur more readily. Moreso, exercise is known to improve brain function. Additionally, it has been shown to increase glymphatic activity in mice after five weeks of voluntary running (5). This is similar to the lymphatic system in which a lack of physical activity is also more likely to lead to blockages and toxicity.
There are numerous ways to help this process of brain detoxification. One of the main ways is linked to the fact that the glymphatic system uses cerebral spinal fluid (rather than lymphatic fluid) and it is connected to the spinal cord. As well as general physical exercise, chiropractic adjustments, and having a good posture, may improve brain detoxification by improving cerebral spinal fluid flow (6). Chiropractic adjustment releases toxins, improves posture, and relieves tension, as well as improving cognition and brain detoxification. There are also a few other ways to increase cerebral spinal flow. These include intermittent fasting, yoga, standing at work, whole-body vibration therapy, pranayama and breathing exercises, massage, and hydration (6). All of these involve increasing energy flow in the body which will promote lymphatic and glymphatic movement. There are also numerous foods and herbs which help brain detoxification. These include cocoa, turmeric, spinach, avocado, celery, rosemary, bacopa, and sage (7). These foods protect the brain and improve brain function, as well as improving glymphatic detoxification by providing energy and protection against free radical build-up leading to damage with antioxidants.
Another detox organ is the lungs which are vital for breathing, circulation, and stress release. Toxins from air pollution, smoke, and other sources can collect in the lungs, as well as other organs, leading to inflammation and various lung conditions (asthma/cystic fibrosis/lung cancer). The lungs function better in a healthy body and basic health choices can improve the lung’s self-healing ability. These include not smoking, eating anti-inflammatory foods (leafy greens and berries), staying hydrated, exercising, avoiding artificial scents, and breathing exercises (8). This helps with healing after toxin exposure, as well as the process of growing strong lungs from childhood to withstand exposure to sources of air pollution or smoke that are toxic to the lungs. There are a few other practices to directly release toxins and excess mucus from the lungs. These include steam therapy, controlled coughing, postural drainage techniques (breathing in various positions with the chest lower than the hips), and chest percussion (9). Heat, movement, and breathwork help the airways to clear and to stir up the free release of toxins, mucus, and carbon dioxide.
Smoking, air pollution, and vaping cause much more damage than most expect to lung function. “Toxins can damage airways and lung tissue and make it harder to breathe” (10). Thus, inciting self-healing processes with lifestyle factors is a must for easy pain-free breathing. There is a substantial contrast between breathing in nature and breathing in artificial scents like air fresheners and candles made from inorganic materials. This is that artificial scents contain chemicals that damage the lungs and halt detox, whilst fresh air from nature expands and heals the body tissues (11). Fresh air can be brought into the home by opening windows and having a home layout that is open and spacious. Meanwhile, artificial scents can be replaced by smudging with herbs to cleanse the air and diffusing essential oils. There are various herbal drinks to cleanse the lungs which contain antioxidants and reduce inflammation. These include green tea, cinnamon water, ginger and turmeric drink, and smoothies with high vitamin ingredients like apples, beetroots, and carrots (12). These will help to reduce inflammation and mucus build-up, whilst promoting the detoxification and healing process.
In contrast to the lungs which have more of a role in breathing than detox, the skin is the largest detoxification organ of the body and could be considered the most supreme. In opposition to mainstream advice and advertising, I think that many and most skincare products add toxic chemicals to the skin which block the pores and detoxification pathways. I have always found it doubtful whether most products cleanse, protect, smoothe, provide antioxidants, moisturise, tone, exfoliate, or hydrate the skin, as they claim to. A more realistic way to cleanse the skin is through hydration, exercise, steamy saunas, juicing, and getting enough sleep which will promote skin health. Meanwhile, a badass way to remove dead skin cells is scrubbing and brushing the skin with skin brushes or exfoliating skin stones. Hydrating foods will also boost skin detoxification, so the skin will be smoother and more clear. These include all fruit, avocadoes, seeds, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, chocolate, green tea, coconut, oatmeal, carrots, leafy greens, and sea buckthorn (13). These protect the skin from sun damage, free radicals, dryness, wrinkles, and cell damage, whilst boosting collagen production.
The Lymphatic System
Underneath the skin, along with the vascular system, there is the complex network of the lymphatic system. This is essential for the removal of toxins, chemicals, bad cells, viruses, bacteria, and waste that are absorbed through the skin or orally, breathed in, or stored not released from bodily processes. Accumulation in the lymphatic system is known to be a leading cause of all illnesses, especially cancer. Swelling is common with diseases like cancer because the lymphatic system has been compromised (14). Swelling is most commonly due to infection or removal of a lymph node, but could also just be lymphatic stagnation. There are various signs and symptoms of congested lymph. These include fatigue, swollen glands, puffiness, bloating, headaches, sinus infections, skin issues, stiffness, constipation, weight gain, breast tenderness, fogginess, allergies, and colds or flu (14). These are more minor issues, but more serious stagnation increases the risk of diseases like cancer.
There are also various organs of the lymphatic system. These include the adenoid, the tonsils, the thymus, the lymph nodes and vessels, the spleen, and the bone marrow (14). These organs are responsible for the formation of lymph fluid with white blood cells and other immune cells that circulate around the body. The most effective way to move the lymphatic system is by far a decent amount of exercise. This works because the lymphatic system functions against gravity through the musculoskeletal system for circulation (14). The lymphatic system relies on physical movement unlike other systems in the body which may rely more on energy from breathing, food, and hydration. As well as skin brushing which is an obvious way to move the higher surface lymph system, there are a few effective types of physical movement which are constructive at moving the lymphatic system. These include deep breathing, rebounding on a mini trampoline, and massage (14), as well as all forms of exercise.
Three other factors that improve the lymphatic system include diet, clothing, and stress levels. Lymphatic congestion is eased by lower levels of stress. The lymphatic system is linked closely with the nervous system and stress causes inflammation that contributes to stasis in the lymph system (15). This may be another reason that breathing exercises and massage are effective for lymph detox, as they are relaxation techniques. In terms of diet, all raw vegan foods especially fruit is august for lymphatic movement, as well as drinking water as this is hydrating and astringent. In particular, Ayurvedic medicine claims that red foods (pomegranates, cherries, cranberries) move the lymph most efficiently due to high levels of enzymes and antioxidants that banish toxins and free radicals from the villi, especially beetroot that also thins bile for fat digestion (15). In this way, the lymphatic system is closest linked with the digestive system, as absorption of nutrients through the villi also collects toxins and free radicals into the lymphatic wastage system. Another contributory factor to blockages and congestion in the lymphatic system is tight-fitting clothing, particularly bras. Tight clothing can “restrict the drainage of lymph fluids from surrounding tissues” (15). Free movement of lymph fluid depends on loose clothing for easier flow of lymph, then, and finding comfortable clothing will also lower stress levels, increase self-esteem, and help with self-confidence due to lower amounts of overall discomfort.
In terms of diet, the consumption of healthy fats (e.g. nuts, seeds, and avocados) are absorbed and transported by the lymphatic system for the absorption of fat-soluble minerals, but fruits are the most ideal food for detoxing and moving the lymphatic system.
“When the lymphatics are not flowing, we may feel our energy levels drop and fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K are poorly transported from the digestive tract around our body” (16).
These vitamins are essential for bodily systems and a healthy metabolism. The functioning of the immune system also links closely to weight gain. Lymphatic dysfunction can increase the risk of various factors associated with obesity including the production of leptin, the satiety hormone, high blood pressure, growth of fat cells, genes associated with obesity, and accumulation of belly fat (16). Therefore, detoxing and stimulating your lymphatic system is without a doubt a step towards weight loss!
If the colon is unclean due to consumption of processed junk food and predominantly starchy foods, like bread and pasta, then toxins, chemicals, and residue will collect on the walls of the colon feeding disease and dysfunction in the body. Colon detoxification can include enemas and fruit/juice/water fasting which orally or anally cleanse the colon of food residue by washing through. Benefits include excreting more toxins and heavy metals with excrement, removing bad bacteria, removing food waste from the folds, stimulating and strengthening muscles with more bowel movements, and helping the lymphatic system cleanse also (17). Hydrating the colon will also move the lymphatic system whilst preventing and reducing stagnation across all areas of the body. This will also lessen the load of the main detox organs like the liver and the kidneys due to fewer toxins in the body.
There are numerous conditions and symptoms of gut issues. These include leaky gut, IBS, chronic fatigue, obesity, acne, and fibromyalgia for more serious conditions, whilst bad breath, headaches, cravings, nausea, itching, chest pain, and fatigue are symptoms of gut issues (18). Therefore, there are many conditions that can result from gut issues. Furthermore, colonic irrigation may be better for detoxing whilst protecting the colon than prolonged fasting.
Initial research suggests that the current trend for fasting—at least for longer periods—might deplete intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) levels (Source: HINDAWI). IAP is a gut defence protein found in our gut epithelium (gut lining). It detoxifies some substances that bacteria produce and prevents intestinal inflammation. Recent research shows that IAP can also prevent a pathogenic type of E. coli bacteria from adhering to our gut walls (Source: NCBI). (18)
That being so, an alkaline gut is really essential to prevent bacteria breeding, toxicity, acidity, and inflammation that will increase the risk of gut issues. Colonics may be a better option for colonic detox or fasting could be accompanied by highly alkaline foods like most fruits, lime water, or certain herbs (wheatgrass/burdock root/sarsaparilla/nettle).
The Gall Bladder
Next, the gallbladder stores the bile produced in the liver to help with digestion and absorption of mostly fat. In the meantime, the detox function of the gallbladder is also to remove waste away from the liver in the bile. Gallbladders need healthy fats and a chemical-free environment to function well.
“The problem is, many gallbladders have become lazy, congested, and even blocked with sludge and bile stones. When bile stagnates in an underworked gallbladder, it thickens and begins to stick to itself and form gallstones. Decades of processed foods and nutritionally bankrupt low-fat and non-fat diets, compounded by increased toxic exposures, have created a gallstone epidemic.” (19)
If working, the bile will more easily filter chemicals, drugs, heavy metals, and toxins in the bile, but the build-up of these can lead to health issues and gallbladder dysfunction. Symptoms of congested bile include hormone dysfunction, hypothyroidism, hot flashes, constipation, depression, migraines, insomnia, dry skin, chronic fatigue, yeast overgrowth, and parasites, whilst poor fat digestion signs include nausea, bloating, constipation, or pale stools (19). These conditions and symptoms suggest that you need to improve your diet and do a gallbladder detox.
In terms of diet, there are various foods that are known to prevent gallbladder issues. These include beetroot, artichokes, bitter herbs (argula/endive/dandelion/radichio/horseradish/gentian root/angelica root/rhubarb/senna), spices with capsaicin like cayenne, and cumin (19). These could be incorporated into the diet or the herbs could be taken during fasting. There are various other specifically recommended herbs that can support the gallbladder in different ways. These include milk thistle which regenerates, cleans, defends, and reverses damage, dandelion root which prevents and dissolves gallstones, and turmeric which has powerful antioxidants to fight toxins and free radicals (20). Thus, this combination of herbs is a mighty way to detox the gallbladder extensively.
Lastly, the appendix is the most abstruse organ in the body due to its lack of obvious function. Yet, conditions and illnesses relating to the appendix are known, namely, appendicitis. This is a condition of inflammation that can result if not cured in the bursting of the appendix that can be fatal. In terms of the appendix’s function, there are numerous ideas and theories about its function. One of these includes replacing immune defences after an illness.
“Smith and her team discovered that species with an appendix have “higher average concentrations of lymphoid (immune) tissue” in the section of the large intestine that is attached to the organ” (21)
This immune function means that an unhealthy appendix may impact recovery from illness. There are other less modern theories of its function. This includes that “scientists, including Charles Darwin, believed this small pouch protruding from the large intestine was a vestigial organ that once helped humans digest tree bark” (22). This may benefit digestion nowadays in terms of the digestion of tougher foods like nuts and wheat.
In terms of detoxing the appendix, there are various methods and consumables for this purpose. Healing the appendix involves promoting the body to naturally heal through various detox methods. Some of these could include juicing (apples/grapes/carrots/prunes/lemons), eating light and healthy (soup/fruit/steamed vegetables), and hydration (23). These foods promote healing, provide antioxidants, and help with cleansing and clearing the body of debris and toxins. Cleaning out the bowels and not having constipation are essential for healing. Two foods that soften stools to prevent constipation are flax seeds and psyllium husks (23). In addition to these foods that clean out toxins, various herbs reduce swelling and inflammation. These include fenugreek, tulsi, and ginger (24). If inflammation worsens then appendicitis can develop into a serious condition, so these herbs could definitely save the day!
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