Wednesday, September 17, 2008

To Detox or Not to Detox, That Is a Question

I think I'm getting a little bit dramatic today, channeling Hamlet and all! A wee bit ago, my friend Van asked me about detox and since I was not clear of what kind of detox she asked, I tracked her down and she told me she wanted to know more about the whole body detox. Now, here's the thing, I have either the honorable tittle of "M.D" or "Ph.D" attach to my name so far (but I may get the later one some day!) Therefore, I'm not legitimate to give any of you health-related advice. However, I do have my own detox experience and if you want to know about it, please feel free to join. So this blog entry is a bit different as I'm not giving you any advice, I'm just basically sharing my own personal thoughts about the whole detox process. I just want to make sure you understand this point so nobody is will sue me for advising without a license. (Plus I'm a really broke makeup addict, I don't think you can get any money from me anyways!)

So with all those disclaimers, informed-consent forms signed and seals with IRB approval etc, if you still want to know more about detox, go ahead and click "read more". For those of you who are about to leave, please come back later as I promise to post something else that may interest you.

See, I really love you guys. Now, group A (aka the adventurous and curious ones) please feel free to click!

So what is detox anyways?

Image from Culinary Healing

Detox is short for "detoxification." According to The American Heritage Medical Dictionary, detoxify is defined as:

1. To counteract or destroy the toxic properties of a substance.
2. To remove the effects of poison from something, such as the blood.
3. To treat a person for alcohol or drug dependence, usually under a medically supervised program designed to rid the body of intoxicating or addictive substances.
For my master's thesis, I've got to see first hand the environmental effects of toxic compounds on human health and it's not pretty. Nowadays, environmental advocate groups denounces a lot of compounds that deems to be toxic to human beings and some of them can be found in beauty products (phthalates, sulfates, toluene in nail polish, and parabens.) Some research shows that we spend about 60-90% of our daily activities indoors and can get exposure to various chemicals through indoor exposure. Sounds interesting/tiring/mind-numbing? Well, it's a part of my thesis, people!

So really, the thread of indoor exposure is real. However, more research of effects of toxic compounds on human needed to be performed -> sounds exactly like a line of everybody's research papers these days. I don't want to poke fun at folks but the last point is serious: more research needs to be done! Environmental advocate groups are really quick to denounce these compounds based on some research done in rats with high concentration of chemicals induced to the poor rats' bodies. And just to be clear, rats and humans are not the same. So yeah, more research needs to be done!

Ok, let's go back to our agenda shall we? About 2 years ago, I started detoxing here and there. Living in this town brought a total lifestyle change to me. It also brought a lot of new perspectives to my life and I do appreciate it. This town is really green and healthy. Also, there's a health food store called New Leaf Market that sells all sort of things. It also has free magazines with nice recipes and updates to vitamins and new health trends. In short, the town is kind of indie. From New Leaf, I knew a bit of detox and during the same time, my face broke out really badly. Of course, the stress of moving to a new environment took a toll on me. Plus, my diet that consisted of ramen noodles and canned tuna was not the most stellar one either. One advantage of detoxing is having a clearer complexion and I do agree with that. However, the time I detoxed was probably one of the worst time I felt.

The first detox I did was with pills: I bought a pack of a seven day detox plan. It was simple: take pill(s) at the A.M and P.M for a week straight and I would feel better. But before I felt better, I felt worse: lethargic, cranky, moody, and headache-y. After that one week, I slowly went back to my usual self and my skin cleared up significantly. I used the same plan twice until a New Leaf employee told me that detoxing was not supposed to give me a headache. She also pointed a different product to me and that was a two-week plan package. The later one gave me a much better experience. And my skin also cleared up.

So why did I stop detoxing myself?

First of all, the whole detoxing process is nothing but fun: the plan is complicated, I felt lethargic and cranky, and worse of all, I went to the bathroom for number 2 many times a day (and night as well!) As you would notice, some of the ingredients are diuretic and make you go to the bathroom a lot. So after you detox, you feel lighter because you lost a lot of fecal matters. However, if you eat enough fibers and your digestive system functions well, you do not have any problems going to the bathroom doing number 2. So really, those detox plans do not perform anything your body can't naturally do.

How about the clearer complexion? During the process, to combat lethargy I drank a lot of water, more water than I usually took during that time. And we all know water hydrates cells which leads to less inflammation (at least that was what Dr. Perricone said!) Also, during the detox process, I had a much better diet so it might be a cumulative effect.

But needless to say, I stopped detoxing more than a year ago already. Nowadays, I improve my quality of living by eating a better diet that composes of less animal proteins (a fancy way of saying I'm some sort of a vegetarian, yo!) My skin does look and feel better without the meat but for the sake of having enough nutrients, I incorporate some fish to the diet. I do not drink milk because of the hormones in milk. Soy milk is more of my type although soy yogurt tastes awful!

For those of you who are still reading, here are the changes I made (and would like to make) to improve my health and my skin:

  • Eating a more sensible diet with less animal proteins: it's actually good for the environment since livestock contributes methane, a green house gas, to the atmosphere. Also, the energy cost to raise a pound of meat is much higher than that to grow a pound of beans.
  • Eating more fruits and veggies: it comes as phases, sometimes I'm a fruit/veggie fanatic, sometimes I'm not. But I make sure I sneak some of them in my main courses.
  • Take care of my skin by using less abrasive products and mineral makeup.
  • Exercise more: it's still in my work-in-progress list and I know I need to exercise, stat!
  • Drink water: dehydration is a sneaky bastard, it can damage your body more than you can imagine. A headache due to dehydration is nothing, imagine a painful kidney stone!
And because I'm not the expert, if you want to read more about detox, please feel free to read what Dr. Haas has to say. I know this is an awfully long post (without any picture of me wearing makeup), I will definitely find something that may spark your interest. But again, feel free to ask me requests, I will answer if I know :)

Take care and come back for part 2 of the day.
Your Makeup Blogger

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  1. Thanks nho - hug - I plan to have myself detoxified and I already started looking around. Something called Dr. Natura came up ?!

    Know anything good about it ?

    I do eat healthy, a.k.a Vietnamese food not fast food. I do exercise and drink a moderate amount of water. Hmmmm, yet, I really need to do something to my body since I am feeling bloated a lot of times lately.

    Thanks again nho ah ! - hug and kiss - he he

  2. Hi Van,

    You're welcome babe! One of your comments is a duplicate so I deleted it, hope you don't mind.

    I heard about Dr. Natura back when I used to detox. To me, it's a long program that's more than a month (I think 3 months!) That's way too long for me, plus one of the products (the tea) is a mild laxative.

    As long as you're not constipated or anything, you should be fine. The first detox feels really horrible to me. You're fit and I don't think you really need it. If you want to detox, maybe you need to try a shorter program for first timers. Go to health food store and ask people there, they know a lot about it. Better yet, find a naturopathic doctor (ND).


Dear Dao...


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