Toronto naturopathic doctor

Metabolic Detoxification

Clean From the Inside Out

Metabolic detoxification is the mechanism by which the vast majority of chemicals are removed from your body. Chemicals you are exposed to in the course of your daily life, and which can remain in your body’s fat stores long-term, include:

  • Hormone disrupting pesticides in foods
  • Cancer causing food additives
  • Food additives that have been linked to hyperactivity in children
  • Hormone disrupting toxic metals in fish
  • Chemicals in household cleaners that are carcinogenic, and have been linked to birth defects
  • Chemicals in air pollution that have been linked to heart disease
  • Hormone disrupting chemicals that are ubiquitous in the environment (e.g., in fire retardants, non-stick cookwear)
  • Liver-toxic chemicals in medications (e.g., antibiotics, acetaminophen [Tylenol®])

How does metabolic detoxification work?

Many organs participate in metabolic detoxification, but the organs most involved in this process are the liver and lymphoid tissue in the gastrointestinal tract.

“Toxins” you are exposed to are carried in your blood. Metabolic detoxification is a multi-stage process:

  • “Phase 1” of metabolic detoxification involves “extraction” of these chemicals from your blood.
  • “Phase 2” involves binding of these chemicals, usually to proteins, that act as “carriers”, to be, ultimately removed from your body.
  • Once “packaged” for removal, toxins are excreted in the urine, or into the gut via bile for excretion by bowel movements.

Is a metabolic detoxification protocol appropriate for me?

Anyone can benefit from periodic metabolic detoxification: we are all exposed to potentially harmful chemicals daily; we are not all genetically “efficient detoxifiers” (some of us are as much as 1000 times less efficient at detoxification than others); and research demonstrates that detoxifying efficiency can be improved using a metabolic detoxification program.

Completing a metabolic detoxification program may be ideal for you if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with a health condition that may be related to exposure to toxic substances (e.g., fibromyalgia, infertility, obesity, hyperactivity) 
  • Frequently experience non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, poor concentration, headaches , abdominal bloating, constipation or muscle aches
  • Work (e.g., farmer, painter) or live (e.g., old home, urban environment) in an environment where you are exposed to high levels of potentially toxic substances
  • Are a “smoker
  • Are planning to become pregnant
  • Have a score of greater than 15 on completion of a “Metabolic Screening Questionnaire” (a measurement tool for symptoms such as fatigue, poor concentration, headaches, abdominal bloating, constipation, muscle aches, etc. that may be related to inefficient metabolic detoxification)

Is there scientific support for use of metabolic detoxification programs?

Research has demonstrated that a metabolic detoxification program of as few as seven days can increase removal of chemicals by the liver by 23%, and reduce “Metabolic Screening Questionnaire” scores by 47%.

In a different study, a 10-week metabolic detoxification program decreased “Metabolic Screening Questionnaire” scores by 52%.

Are metabolic detoxification programs safe?

Metabolic detoxification programs are safe, with very few exceptions.

You should not participate in a metabolic detoxification program if you are:

You should not participate in a metabolic detoxification program without the guidance of a healthcare professional if you:

  • Are using a prescription medication that has potentially dangerous side effects
  • Are using a prescription medication to manage a potentially fatal health condition
  • Have diabetes mellitus
  • Have a liver condition
  • Have a kidney condition
  • Have a history of an eating disorder

I have none-of-the-above, should I consult with a naturopathic doctor guidance for my metabolic detoxification program?

Although you can safely complete a metabolic detoxification program on your own, you will optimize the results of your program with guidance from a naturopathic doctor.

A successful metabolic detoxification program requires management of many biochemical and physiological factors, including:

  • Minimization of potentially toxic substances in the diet
  • Mobilization of fat-soluble toxins from body tissues
  • Consumption of nutrients that support your body’s “phase 1” and, more importantly, “phase 2” metabolic detoxification pathways
  • Consumption of foods that minimize potential for side effects of a metabolic detoxification program
  • Consumption of foods that optimize kidney excretion of water-soluble toxins
  • Increasing of bile production and secretion to maximize excretion of fat-soluble toxins
  • Maintenance of daily bowel habits to ensure excretion of fat-soluble toxins
  • Protection, if appropriate, of liver cells

Many commercially available detoxification products address only one or a few of these parameters.

Naturopathic doctors are the most qualified healthcare professionals in the biochemistry of metabolic detoxification; and nutritional counseling and use of nutritional supplements and botanical (herbal) medicines to optimize your body’s metabolic detoxification potential.

Are metabolic detoxification appointments covered by O.H.I.P.?

O.H.I.P. does not pay for naturopathic medicine services, but as a government-regulated healthcare profession, services offered by naturopathic doctors, including metabolic detoxification appointments provided at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine are covered by most extended healthcare plans.

Learn about our Non-Celebrity Detox program.


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