Natural Foods Merchandiser

Cleanses give body TLC

Singer John Mayer may believe your body is a wonderland, but to naturopathic doctors, your body is more like a used car.

Just as a car needs regular maintenance to function properly, the body needs regular detoxification and cleansing, says Holly Lucille, N.D., who practices in Los Angeles and is past president of the California Naturopathic Doctors Association. "There's so much stuff in our environment that burdens our body, our detoxification system needs assistance in getting rid of it," she says. "Cleansing our bodies is like changing the oil in a car—it's something you need, whether you think you do or not."

Research shows the average American is exposed to more than 100,000 chemicals, 25 percent of which are hazardous to human health, says Erika Horowitz, N.D., of San Francisco Natural Medicine, a natural medicine clinic. "Cleansing is an initial line of therapy for tons of different conditions because of all the chemicals our bodies confront on a daily basis." Chemical buildup in the body can lead to a whole host of health problems, including autoimmune disorders, fatigue, weight gain, fibromyalgia and hormonal imbalances, Horowitz says.

Naturals manufacturers make a variety of cleansing products that detoxify the body's digestive system, including two of the most important elimination channels: the liver and the colon. NFM asked Lucille and Horowitz, along with manufacturers Nature's Secret, based in Los Angeles, and Green Bay, Wisc.-based Enzymatic Therapy, to discuss what digestive-system cleanses do, when they should be used and what ingredients to look for.

When to use it

Key ingredients

Whole-body cleanse Focuses on main elimination channels, including the colon, liver, kidneys and skin

Ideally, once a season, but each fall and spring is OK

Blood purifiers: - Burdock root and red clover Plus the same ingredients as colon and liver cleanses

Colon cleanse Clears out the colon and balances intestinal flora, which is considered the first line of defense against toxins

Between whole-body cleanses When suffering from: Chronic and persistent constipation, diarrhea, flatulence Chronic digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome Food allergies To jump-start weight loss

Fiber, which soaks up toxins, scrubs the intestines and nourishes healthy bacteria: • Psyllium husk, oat bran, pectin, guar gum Laxatives: • Cascara sagrada, senna, magnesium hydroxide, magnesium citrate Mucilaginous herbs, which help the digestive system work more effectively: • Marshmallow, slippery elm, fenugreek Soothing herbs to reduce cramps and gas: • Peppermint, fennel, ginger Probiotics to crowd out harmful bacteria and aid digestion: • Acidophilus

Liver cleanse Detoxifies the liver, which is the largest internal organ, filtering toxins at the rate of 1 liter of blood per minute

Between whole-body cleanses or to begin a cleansing program When suffering from: Hormonal issues such as premenstrual syndrome or menopause Skin problems such as rashes or eczema Excess alcohol consumption Excess vitamin consumption To jump-start weight loss

Protecting herbs, which regenerate liver cells and help block toxins: • Milk thistle, licorice Amino acids to break down toxins: • L-theanine, L-methionine, L-acetyl-cysteine, glycine, taurine Bile-stimulating herbs: • Artichoke, dandelion

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