Finally, while many testimonial and anecdotal accounts exist of health improvements following a "detox", these are more likely attributable to the placebo effect; where people actually believe that they are doing something good and healthy. Yet, there is a severe lack of quantitative data. Some changes recommended in certain "detox" lifestyles are also found in mainstream medical advice (such as consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables). These changes can often produce beneficial effects in and of themselves, and it is accordingly difficult to separate these effects from those caused by the more controversial detoxification recommendations.
Body cleansing and detoxification have been referred to as an elaborate hoax used by con artists to cure nonexistent illnesses. Most doctors contend that the 'toxins' in question do not even exist.[16][17] In response, alternative medicine proponents frequently cite heavy metals or pesticides as the source of toxification, however no evidence exists that detoxification approaches have a measurable effect on these or any other chemical levels. Medical experts state that body cleansing is unnecessary as the human body is naturally capable of maintaining itself, with several organs dedicated to cleansing the blood and gut.[18]
The premise of body cleansing is based on the Ancient Egyptian and Greek idea of autointoxication, in which foods consumed or in the humoral theory of health that the four humours themselves can putrefy and produce toxins that harm the body. Biochemistry and microbiology appeared to support the theory in the 19th century, but by the early twentieth century, detoxification based approaches quickly fell out of favour.[6][7] Despite abandonment by mainstream medicine, the idea has persisted in the popular imagination and amongst alternative medicine practitioners.[8][9][10] In recent years, notions of body cleansing have undergone something of a resurgence, along with many other alternative medical approaches. Nonetheless, mainstream medicine continues to view the field as unscientific and anachronistic.[9]
This article was co-authored by Lisa Bryant, ND. Dr. Lisa Bryant is Licensed Naturopathic Physician and natural medicine expert based in Portland, Oregon. She earned a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and completed her residency in Naturopathic Family Medicine there in 2014. This article has been viewed 2,974,726 times.
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Various modalities of body cleansing are currently employed, ranging from physical treatments (e.g. colon cleansing), to dietary restrictions (i.e. avoiding foods) or dietary supplements. Some variants involve the use of herbs and supplements that purportedly speed or increase the effectiveness of the process of cleansing. Several naturopathic and homeopathic preparations are also promoted for cleansing; such products are often marketed as targeting specific organs, such as fiber for the colon or juices for the kidneys.

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This article was co-authored by Lisa Bryant, ND. Dr. Lisa Bryant is Licensed Naturopathic Physician and natural medicine expert based in Portland, Oregon. She earned a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and completed her residency in Naturopathic Family Medicine there in 2014. This article has been viewed 2,974,726 times.
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