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Detox for health: Is it necessary?

Published: October 07, 2016

Detox remedies have a history
Detox remedies have a history

Despite the lack of evidence for or against the practice of detox, and warnings from the scientific community about the dangers of detox diets and products it is evident that people respond to advertisements for these cleansing devices.

The detox industry, which has been established over many years, rakes in millions of dollars every year for manufacturers and retailers.  But what do detox programs do for the consumer?
In January 2009 a group of young scientists, "Voices of Young Scientists", released a report of an investigation of 15 detox products sold in the United Kingdom. The Detox Dossier, as the report is known, revealed that:

  1. "No two companies seem to use the same definition of "detox"
  2. "Little, and in most cases no, evidence was offered to back up the detox claims".
  3. "In the majority of cases, producers and retailers contacted by the young scientists were forced to admit that they are renaming mundane things, like cleaning or brushing, as "detox"."

The investigation also identified that manufacturers of detox products could not provide a clear understanding of "detox", or proof that their products worked. Furthermore, much of the information provided about how the body works was incorrect.

In general, the authors of the report felt that "detox" is being used as a marketing slogan, and the people who sell the products often have no professional training.  
At best the products do no more than what the body does naturally and at worst detox products may not be tested, and could be potentially toxic and dangerous.
Claims which promote detox
While the term "detox" lacks definition, the core of a detox program or regime is usually a restrictive diet and in some cases fasting.  The length of the program can vary from a one day fast to a 30 day "cleanse". 
Detox programs often advocate elimination with the use of some type of laxative in addition to a restrictive diet. The consumption of lots of water and/or herbal teas may also be part of a detox program. 
The supporting "theory" for a detox program can vary, but commonly...link to the full article to learn more.

Related Topics

Diet  Nutrients  Your Body 


Sense about Science
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth