The Detox Delusion - The UltimateFatBurner Blog

The Detox Delusion

We still receive questions and comments about detoxes and detoxifying a near-daily basis, and many of the products we review contain some sort of “detoxifying” element.

And although we have covered this topic in significant detail (see here, here and here!), the silliness – detoxes are complete nonsense – continues unabated.

Thus, I thought it was prudent to feature a little bit of a great article from the good folks over at Science Based Pharmacy, which clearly outlines, once again, the issue with “detoxes”…

They may line the shelves of your local pharmacy. Boxes or bottles, with some combination of “detox”, “cleanse” or “flush” in the product name. The label promises you a renewed body and better health – only seven days and $21.95 away. It’s the New Year – wouldn’t a detox from your sins of 2012 be a good idea to start the year? After all, the local naturopath offers detoxification protocols, so there must be something to it, right?

Wrong. This is a case of a legitimate medical term being turned into a marketing strategy. In the setting of real medicine, detoxification means treatments for dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or poisons, like heavy metals. Detoxification treatments are medical procedures that are not casually selected from a shelf or from a menu of alternative health treatments. They’re provided in hospitals when there are life-threatening issues.

So what’s with all the detox products in the drugstore?

To given the impression of science, “detoxification” is a term that has been widely embraced by alternative practitioners, and pharmacies simply want their share of the business. Anything can be a “detox” now, especially at the beginning of January: Diets, fasting, supplements, tea, homeopathy, colon flushes, scrub brushes and foot baths all mention detoxification. Let’s look at the most common product in the pharmacy: the seven- to thirty-day kits promising a whole new you. To evaluate the value of these detox kits, we need to understand the science of toxins, the nature of toxicity, and how detox kits claim to remove toxins. With this framework, it’s a simple matter to spot the pseudoscience and be a smarter consumer.

Premise One: Our bodies are accumulating toxins

The idea that we are being poisoned from within is not a new one; it’s a historical concept rooted in ideas of  sympathetic magic.  Called “autointoxication,” it drew a link between our bowels and other health problems. Clean out the bowels, went the theory, and you could cure any illness. Science led us to discard autointoxication by the 1900s as we gained a better understanding of anatomy, physiology, and the true cause of disease. Despite the science, however, the idea persists among the alternative practitioners, who don’t base their treatments on scientific evidence. Today’s version of autointoxication argues that some combination of food additives, gluten, salt, meat, prescription drugs, smog, vaccine ingredients, GMOs, and perhaps last night’s bottle of wine are causing a buildup of “toxins” in the body. But what is the actual “toxin” causing harm? It’s nothing more than a meaningless term that sounds scientific enough to be plausible. A uniform feature of detox kits is the failure to name the specific toxins that the kits will remove. For example Renew Lifeadmonishes you,

In today’s toxic world, cleansing and detoxification is a necessity. Toxins enter our body daily through the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Over time, these toxins build up and slowly start to affect our health in a negative way. Through cleansing and detoxification, you enable your body to better process this toxic load. Reducing the toxic load in your body decreases the risk of developing chronic health problems, improves overall health and immune response, and can increase energy levels.

CleanseSMART works to cleanse and detoxify the entire body, but with focus on the body’s two main detoxification pathways – the liver and the colon.

Note the vague language. Toxins are alluded to – but not named. It sounds somewhat plausible, but is non-specific. Note that even if you’re well (and presumably toxin free?) a detox is still recommended.

For more, see:

Author: Paul

Paul Crane is the founder of His passions include supplements, working out, motorcycles, guitars... and of course, his German Shepherd dogs.

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