The indiscriminate use of industrial chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals and radioactive elements is known to have a deleterious effect on the environment and on our health. We also know that toxins undergo bioaccumulation through the food chain. There are chances of synergistic effects that can occur in the long term. Combinations of toxins can be more potent than the sum of individual toxins.
Our body strives hard to detoxify us day in and day out through various excretory functions. But it is to be noted that toxins are not equally distributed through our bodies. Different toxins tend to accumulate in different tissues. This constant accumulation over the years may become detrimental to health. The body needs a helping hand to enable its ability to detoxify naturally.
Despite technological advances, it is quite difficult to determine a person’s toxic load and its clinical significance. However, the concept of detoxification has a long history. It is interesting to note that Ayurveda and naturopathy describe cleansing and purification processes as an aid to the body’s physiological process of detoxification.
According to Ayurveda, due to the effect of the overall environment — weather, improper diet and lifestyle habits — various toxins tend to accumulate in the body. These toxins can be exogenous (entering from outside) or endogenous (generated by our body). When these toxins are minimal, our body manages to excrete them through regular physiological processes. But when these toxins start accumulating, purification measures (panchakarma) must be adopted by consulting an Ayurveda physician.
An individual’s health depends on following a disciplined lifestyle regarding food, sleep and exercise. Ayurveda advises adhering to prescribed daily and seasonal regimens (Dinacharya and Ritucharya) pertaining to your routine.
If the following measures are adopted, chances of toxin accumulation are reduced:
l Opt for organic farm products whether staples, dairy, fresh fruits or vegetables.
l Always eat freshly cooked food. Avoid leftovers and packaged, canned or frozen foods. Never overeat.
l Drink adequate water.
l Periodical fasting (langhana), according to your capability, is always helpful.
l Avoid toxins entering your body. Try to reduce consumption of alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, refined sugars and saturated fats.
Sound, undisturbed sleep at night for six to eight hours will provide your body daily rejuvenation. If you wake up fresh every morning, then you’ve had your optimum quota of sleep!
l Regular physical exercise tends to improve the physiological functions of various organs, thereby helping them to function optimally in the process of natural detoxification.
l Stress usually triggers the release of stress hormones. Practise stress management by adopting yoga and meditation techniques to strengthen detox.
l Practise pranayama (controlled breathing). Breathe consciously and deeply for about 15 minutes, twice daily.
l Regular emphasis on ‘positive emotions’ is helpful.
l Regular body massage with oil (gingelly, mustard or coconut) will nourish and strengthen the body. For best results focus should be on head, ears and feet.
l Minimize use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products. Use natural alternatives.
Antioxidant-rich Amalaki (amla, Indian gooseberry) — either in the form of fresh fruits or tablets (1 tablet, twice daily), Chyavanaprasha (1 teaspoon, twice daily) will aid in detoxification. You can also include green tea and ginger-pepper tea.
Despite following such measures, if you find that any of the following organs aren’t functioning optimally, some remedial measures can be adopted:
l Skin which is exposed to regular environmental pollution needs supplements.
l For acne or pigmentation: Regular face wash and intake of neem and manjishta (1 tablet, twice daily) is helpful.
l For allergic rashes take Haridra (1 tablet, twice daily).
The liver is the body’s most important organ, functioning as a live filter to cleanse the system of toxins. It metabolizes proteins, controls the hormonal balance and produces immune-boosting factors and antioxidant enzymes. Liv.52 (1 tablet, twice daily) and Triphala (1 tablet, twice daily) as regular supplements will be beneficial.
Punarnava (1 tablet, twice daily) will aid in proper functioning of the kidneys which are the key excretory organs that push out a lot of toxins from our body.
Respiratory system — A half-teaspoon of tulsi (basil) juice extracted from fresh leaves with a teaspoon of honey can be taken twice daily to aid your lungs or 1 tablet of tulsi, twice daily.
Dr Srikanth is a postgraduate in Ayurveda and has been a consulting physician for the past 19 years. He is currently National Manager, Scientific Services, at The Himalaya Drug Company.