Steve Meyers is a Managing editor that has been in the natural products industry since 1997, spreading news and information, and wielding his trusty red pen. Despite a degree in English literature from Arizona State, he is a closet science geek and is attracted to the blips and bleeps behind natural health. "Invincible" in college, Steve later realized pizza and beer does not make a healthy diet, and figured some serious diet changes and natural remedies were in order--especially detoxifying the liver.
I May Never be the Same Again! - 01/16/2007
I am scared. Or, should I say, apprehensive. Not scared. Before the holidays, I signed on to undertake a liver detox in early January, which included a colon detox before Christmas. I spared you the colon detox blog, but I think it will be informative to blog daily on my experience with the liver detox, a 5-day program I started today.
I'm taking part in Baseline of Health® Foundation's group detox, which technically began Jan. 3, but due to various obstacles in scheduling, I've chosen to start two weeks after the group. They are done, of course, and their experiences (based on feedback) range from success to failure, from elation to discomfort.
One of the reason's I decided to take on this experience is because Baseline and it's founder Jon Barron provide tons of support for everybody on the group detox. In addition to the usual literature on what you need and what to expect, they host a couple conference calls to provide detoxers around the world with specific details and tips on how to make the drinks and how best to handle the tinctures (which have notoriously bad tastes). Well, let's back up a little.
We all know what happens to our eating habits over the long holiday season starting with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year's. Detoxing can help repair damage from this unstable diet, as well as break the bad habits you adopt over this period of over-indulgence. In a nutshell, the colon detox addresses digestion and the intestinal tract, which is the key to the other detoxes. Then, the liver detox targets the body's second largest organ, which detoxifies the blood and regulates fat stores, in addition to hundreds of other functions involved in regulating, synthesizing, storing, secreting, transforming, and breaking down many different substances in the body.
As for the detox itself, it is five days of not eating anything solid, especially not fat. Barron provides an allowance for a raw organic fruit or veggie salad (no oil) on days one and two, but I will try to mimic his 5-day solid-food fast. If that weren't challenging enough, there is a special drink to make and take each morning, on top of a slow-brewing special tea for ongoing consumption; a potassium brew from root vegetables; and two tinctures, one for liver support and one for blood support.
Despite attempts to make me think that the morning drink—a blend of fresh ginger root, orange juice, pure water, a lemon and an escalating amount (each day) of olive oil and fresh garlic glove—would be like an Orange Julius after blending, the drink was difficult to stomach. The garlic is powerful, and this only on day one. Oh boy!
Now, Barron and company did not mix words when describing the tinctures as unpleasant to the taste. Most of the feedback from detoxers confirmed this fact. However, while I can't have any alcohol all week, for obvious reasons, I like Barron's suggested method of preparing 1 oz. of apple juice with the required number of drops of the tinctures, then shooting it like bad whiskey. The veggie juice chaser helps, too.
The blended drink helps to wring the liver and gallbladder, ridding them of accumulated fat, cholesterol, and toxins. And the tinctures help regenerate the liver and cleanse the blood. Ok then, I'll tough it out, as the results sound good.
The special herbal tea that soaked all night then simmered in the morning was a delicious relief 15 minutes after the morning drink. It is a mixture of lipotropic and other herbs beneficial for the liver and kidneys. It helps with the flushing process and also helps tame any discomfort or nausea from the overall detox. There are no rules on how much tea I can drink throughout the day, and I'm going to drink this stuff like it's the fountain of youth.
Right now, 12:30pm, first day, I feel pretty good, minus the garlic comeback. I haven't craved my usual yogurt and granola and whole grain toast morning fare, but it is early in the detox. I'm still scared, because I know the effects of the morning drink and the tinctures have yet to surface, and the thought of putting more garlic and olive oil into that a.m. drink is making me a bit nauseous. It is hard to stomach, and I hope it doesn't cause perceived nausea to blossom into real nausea (a condition I rarely experience).
Check back throughout the detox for daily and/or hourly updates on what I am taking and how I am feeling. My hope is not that it dissuades or persuades you to undertake this or a similar detox, but I would like to share my experience with all of you, many of whom I know have done or are considering doing a detox.
Day 2 - 01/17/2007
So, I think I am doing well with the detox. Sure, I grumble about a few aspects, but I am following it, as directed. Yesterday evening and night were pretty easy, save the tinctures. I enjoy concocting different juices for my meals, and I feel good about the variety of produce I am consuming. Incorporating a juice-only day into my regular regimen might not be a bad idea.
Just to make sure I was doing everything right, I re-listened to the John Barron conference call from the night before the detox began (Detox Program). I like that his is online for occasional reference. It reminded me that any globs I see in my bowel movements might not necessarily be the plethora of gallstones people talk about seeing during detoxes, but it is actually little olive oil soap. Fascinating. See, people used to make soap by combining oil with lye, an alkalizing agent. With the alkaline environment created in the intestinal tract, the increasing olive oil in the morning flush drink during the detox can similarly create beads of olive oil soap. As much as I like olive oil soap, I'll stick to the store-bought variety.
Now, I've just had my morning glass of water and then the two tinctures. I've decided the liver support tincture is not so bad. The killer is the blood support tincture. It contains red clover, chaparral, burdock root, goldenseal and a bunch of other herbs that help cleanse and detoxify the blood. It actually burns my mouth. I am trusting it is doing me some good. It's all about faith, right?
Well, it is time for my morning flush drink. Today it gets two cloves of garlic and two tablespoons of olive oil. I'm almost resisting it, but it is time. Check in later to see if I suffer any of the side effects --headaches, nausea, etc.--that many people report. I have been lucky so far!
Day 3…Still Rollin' - 01/18/2007
I am at the halfway point of this liver detox. I'm slinging back those tinctures three times a day and dealing with the morning dose of garlic. I admit I have already dreamt and thought about the food I will eat next week. For some reason, I'm craving a falafel…some tahini and veggies and a nice whole wheat pita. Ok, enough.
Before then, I have two more days of juicing and tincturing. Then, a raw salad is my first "food" meal back. For now, let's go over what is happening to me.
Last night/evening I felt energized. I reorganized and cleaned my whole kitchen, and I got a few other things done around the house (that I had been putting off endlessly). I went for a combination walk-run last night and, aside from a little tummy cramp towards the end, I was fine. It felt good. Needless to say, I was a little slow in rising this morning. However, I have yet to experience any headaches or extreme fatigue, as reported by some detox-ers. I do feel a rumbling around on occasion, and sometimes it feels like my stomach is tightening. I guess this is all normal. And, I have to admit, the "hunger feeling" (that other stomach rumbling) is not so bad, here on my third day.
I also haven't noticed anything too unusual in my bathroom activity, except urination is more frequent, which can be expected in a liver detox. The countless gallstones some people report seeing during liver detoxes, have not made themselves visible to me at this point. Perhaps they won't. I'm not sure what all this means, but I assure you I am following the directions to a "T" and trying my best to stay positive and active.
Check back in later for an update, as I am now in the heart of this detox and there will surely be some effects presented.
Homestretch: Dehydration?! Gallstones?! - 01/19/2007
I must admit, I've been a bit concerned about dehydration. Now, as a hiker and athlete I always knew that if I hadn't peed in a while, I was probably dehydrated. Well, incomplete as that logic may be, I can't rely on such analysis during this detox. The deliciously spicy liver tea and the dreadfully bitter liver tincture each contains herbs that have diuretic properties. So that explains the frequency of urination. But these herbs also help flush out toxins and boost kidney health. Also, colon corrective blend taken each night of the detox further explains why I consume very little but go to the bathroom a lot. This is why the Baseline of Health® encouraged me to drink water frequently throughout the day. Apparently, the psyllium taken at night during the detox swells up and provides the bulk in stools by absorbing a considerable amount of water. Thus, detoxers can become easily dehydrated if water consumption is not sufficient.
Now as to why I haven't noticed any gallstones? Some people see tons, while others see few. Beyond that simple reason, the nightly psyllium husk dose might provide an answer. According to Barron, in promoting elimination psyllium tends to encapsulate and make things harder to see. Detoxers might also confuse soap beads for gallstones. All the olive oil in the morning drink can create little mini-soaps in the alkaline GI tract. Either way, Barron assures whether you see gallstones, soap beads or nothing at all, it is hard to tell what is really be eliminated; the important aspect is how you feel from the detox.
Well, I don't see anything, and I generally feel OK. I ebb and flow between high energy and fatigue, but nothing I can't handle. I bet new parents feel this way for months…or years! I occasionally get some sensations in my sinus cavities in my head, and I feel tightening in my stomach sometimes, but there is otherwise no noticeable physical manifestation.
Well, there are the finer points of detoxing and elimination for ya—maybe no one will be eating tonight, after that tutorial. ;)
One day left!
Looks Like We Made It! - 01/21/2007
Well, I made it, as did hundreds of other people two weeks ago. The end of my detox has come and the fast is broken. Yesterday evening I ate a couple of cherries and a raw veggie salad w/avocado. I heard those who finished the detox earlier have reported heightened senses, especially taste and smell. Well that cherry was the best cherry I think I ever had (and it wasn't even a Bing). The advice on breaking the fast is to ease your body back into normal food again after five days of just juice. This means raw veggies and fruits for the first day or two then a progressive escalation to normal foods. It's like if you drain your car's oil. Would turn around and put used oil from a car in a junkyard? Despite the euphemism "auto recycler", most of us wouldn't want junky oil passing through our car's working parts and fresh filter. Nor do those fresh off a detox want junky food junking up our working parts and fresh liver. Thus, pizza, wings and meat will have to wait. Sure, the regular diet will slowly work its way back in, but that is why people detox and cleanse a couple times every year, like changing your oil and filter.
I'm fine with salad…for now. My fruit salad this morning was vibrant in color and taste. As I said in an earlier post, it isn't a bad idea to incorporate some of the aspects of the fast/detox into my regular diet. I feel I do a pretty good job of eating good foods, especially when eating at home, but I think I might incorporate more juice days, as well as slip some fruit salads into my morning rotation of low-fat yogurt and granola, and grainy, healthy cereals w/organic milk. On some days I might even lighten a lunch or dinner with a veggie juice. I realized during the fast that a good portion of my eating is mental. When I knew I couldn't eat the solid foods in my cupboard, I just forgot about them (for most of the time).
I know many people in the history of detoxes and of the world have endured fasts far longer than mine. But I still feel a sense of accomplishment. I love food. I love cooking it, eating it and sharing it. Five days is long for a foodie. Now that I've reached the end of the fast/detox, through the bitter tinctures (taken faithfully) and the anti-vampire morning drink, I wish there was a "fast fairy" to leave a dollar under my pillow...or one of those cool new iPhones…or even a falafel.