By Kate lead writer, and Lindsey, contributing writer
How We Detox from Illness
My view of illness has changed over time. It has taken me quite a while to get over my fear of illness and develop a new perspective, one that allows me to trust myself and the body. This has helped to improve my family’s health over time. Today I want to share a little bit more about what we, personally, choose to do if we run across some type of minor illness.
The “Off” Day
Everyone has those days where they don’t feel “quite right” but they aren’t quite sick, either. You know…a bit of a sniffle, a slight sore throat, fatigue, lack of appetite, but it never turns into anything and the next day you’re fine. And you think “Oh, that was weird, must have been something I ate.” It’s probably your body detoxing something it’s come into contact with, so that you don’t really get sick! This is what I am talking about.
With all of that said, my approach to these minor “I don’t feel quite normal” times is not ignoring it, and certainly not suppressing it. In fact, my goal is often to do something to produce symptoms to help clear my body of whatever is going on in order to restore health. I intentionally go through a short, minor detox in order to regain my health quickly.
I find that I have days like these every few months, perhaps a bit more often in the winter, when illnesses are circulating. It’s very rare that I have days where I’m actually sick and need to stop my normal activities and just deal with it. I am able to be exposed to illnesses frequently and not get knock-down-drag-out sick because I try to approach exposures and minor illnesses in this way.
Your body has a number of different detox pathways. They include:
- Other (pus from infections and such that happen only rarely)
These detox pathways help to clear the junk out of your body. Stopping them is a bad idea, because it stops your body from being able to release the junk! Allow them, support them, even increase them temporarily to get over the problems faster. You may even choose to cause them in some cases!
I cannot tell anyone else what the “right” answer is. Everyone’s body chemistry is different and they will have different ways of supporting their bodies. This is not medical advice. This is what I’ve figured out works well for me and my family.
Our Detox Steps
Step 1: Electrolyte Drink
I make an electrolyte drink with ginger, lemon, honey, sea salt, and water. I will drink 4 – 6 cups of this over an afternoon or evening (a few hours). I find I am very thirsty yet water doesn’t help during these times. This drink encourages my body to re-balance electrolyte levels as well as encouraging fluids to move through and be excreted, taking with it all the junk that has built up. For a more serious illness, I may add extra herbs to this, but it is rarely necessary. If you’re not interested in mixing your own, Earthley offers an electrolyte powder mix.
Step 2: Detox Bath
I fill a bathtub with very hot water (or very warm when I am pregnant) and add Epsom salts or Real Salt bath salts and baking soda. I soak in this for 20 minutes or so. The heat opens the pores and causes sweating, and the salts help to draw out toxins. Here’s a detox bath kit already put together.
Step 3: Rest
These two steps usually make a person very tired. At this point, rest is required – sleep if possible. Sleep as much as needed, if you can. I lie down during the day and turn a movie on for the kids, or if it’s night time, I go to bed early and try to sleep as long as I can. If I haven’t taken Feel Better Fast earlier, I’m sure to take some while resting.
Step 4: Repeat, if Needed
Depending on how severe the illness is, I may repeat the above steps once or twice more. If I feel any indication that I need to – mild kidney pain, lack of appetite, continued tiredness – then I will. For minor illnesses it is often not necessary. But you should know, your body likely still needs to detox even after you are feeling better. I have found continuing these procedures for a day or two after most or all symptoms have ceased to be very helpful in completely clearing the illness.
Step 5: Fluids
At this point, I choose to drink a lot of water or herbal tea (often rooibos, sometimes nettle). A lot. Perhaps 60 – 100 ounces in the course of an afternoon. The idea is to flush out any remaining junk. You may notice that despite the large amounts of fluid that you are initially not needing to go to the bathroom as much as you would expect or that your pee is darker yellow than it ought to be. This is a sign that there is junk to be flushed out. Keep drinking, repeat the steps above if needed. At this point you probably already feel totally fine…. Don’t be fooled!
Step 6: Rebuild
I like to make smoothies with plain yogurt and add extra probiotic powder to them as well. I take cod liver oil or slather myself in some Vitamin D cream. I take a liquid herbal multivitamin. Basically, I am loading up on probiotics and key nutrients. I may also add herbal preparations/medicines at this point if I feel they are needed. I will likely also be using extra magnesium lotion – perhaps quite a lot extra. I gauge how much I need based on how quickly I fall asleep. If I feel restless or have trouble falling asleep, I put on more until I fall asleep quickly. I notice I sleep more deeply and longer and have more REM sleep when I use the lotion vs. not, which is indicative that my body is getting more restorative sleep. I also eat lots of nutrient-dense foods, like homemade soups, salads, etc. during this time.
Step 7: Maintain
I see a chiropractor once a week (more at the end of pregnancy) to keep my body in alignment. I see a massage therapist once a month (again, more at the end of pregnancy) to help work the junk out of my muscles. I try to keep active at home, walking around to clean, chasing the kids, taking them to playgrounds or out for walks, and when I am pregnant, stretching at night a bit. I try to keep up with minimizing junk, doing lots of nutrient-dense foods (keeping salad “stuff” and brown rice pasta with homemade tomato-vegetable sauce around is one of my favorite easy ways to get great foods, plus smoothies), and plenty of probiotics in different forms. I keep up with my daily dose of elderberry elixir to support my immune system. My goal is to keep things moving in my system and prevent any nutrient deficiencies.
This is the plan that works best for me. It seems to help us (my family) get over any illnesses – whether “barely there” or more obvious – quickly and easily. It supports our bodies’ need to detox gently and thoroughly and, I believe, has prevented us from getting truly sick as often! The kids have not really had any issues at all since I started doing this, despite me being completely freaked out for a couple of days after they were exposed to sick people! (After the last two years of heavy metal detox and the accompanying illnesses, I am over sick people. Thankfully it has been a lot better since last spring.)
Viewing the body more holistically has helped me to deal with health better, to keep us healthier, and to let go of all the little imperfect influences. Okay, we don’t eat a perfect diet and there are environmental toxins we just can’t avoid (outside our home). It is what it is. But knowing all of this makes me feel better because I can do what I can to help.