Detox: TikTox?

Detox? A Lot of Pseudoscience

Sally Feltner MS, PhD Diet and Health, Food History July 20, 2020 5 Minutes

Before you dust off that juicer, you should take a long hard look at the latest fad – detoxing your body from alleged accumulated toxins from environmental chemicals that supposedly lead to illness. When searching Amazon, detox, natural, and hygiene is frequently mentioned in the titles of the latest diet books, not to mention the myriad of products from tablets, massages, tinctures and tea bags that promise to cleanse your body of these impurities and your hard earned money. You can go on two-day to seven-day detox diets which promise cleansing and weight loss. You may lose weight, but that is more than likely due to starvation rather than the diet itself. These toxins are never identified by the manufacturers of these products. When asked to provide some scientific evidence that support their claims, no one seems to be able to provide evidence that “detoxification” is not a bogus treatment.   Despite this, the detox industry has become a huge business with a little help from some celebrities like Ann Hathaway and Gwyneth Paltrow. If toxins build up in the body with no way to excrete them, we would die or need serious medical intervention. However, we have kidneys, a liver, a colon, skin and lungs that physiologically are designed to rid our bodies of any unnecessary substances we don’t need.

Detox is actually not a new concept.  Health reform began in earnest in the 19th century in America. During that time, there had to be a great deal of food anxiety; food often was adulterated with chemicals in order to make it palatable. As Upton Sinclair in 1909 writes of the meatpacking industry in his famous book, The Jungle: “And then there was “potted game” and ‘potted grouse’ and ‘potted ham’ made out of the waste ends of smoked beef… and also tripe, dyed with chemicals so that it would not show white… and potatoes, skins and all, and finally the hard, cartilaginous gullets of beef… All this was ground up and flavored with spices to make it taste like something.” Ronald Deutsch, The New Nuts Among the Berries: How Nutrition Nonsense Captured America, Bull Publishing, 1977.

Food preservation was crude and foodborne illnesses were rampant. People had little resources to turn to in dealing with even the common diseases of society. Whom did they have to rely on for medical advice on how to remain healthy in an age of so much misinformation and confusion? People were vulnerable to just about any ideas from anyone medical or nonmedical that would help them to maintain health and avoid disease.

In the 1848 edition of Buchan’s Domestic Medicine was listed the general causes of illness: “diseased parents, night air, sedentary habits, anger, wet feet and abrupt changes of temperature.” “The causes of fever included injury, bad air, violent emotion, irregular bowels and extremes of heat and cold.” I’m going with the “diseased parent theory.
Cholera, shortly to be epidemic in many British cities, was caused by rancid or putrid food, by ‘cold fruits’ such as cucumbers and melons, and by passionate fear or rage.” William Buchan, Domestic Medicine, 1848: A Treatise on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases; Google eBook .

There are two major ideas that flourished and dominated  the 19th century that led to the premise that toxins must be removed from the body by detoxification – auto-intoxication and the natural hygiene theory..

AUTO-INTOXICATION

During the 19th century, people were told that constipation was at the root of most diseases and the term, autointoxication, became the mantra of the medical community. In 1852, a publication called The People’s Medical Lighthouse, a series of popular scientific essays on nature, uses and diseases of the lung, heart, liver, stomach, kidney, womb and blood had this to say about this common digestive problem: “daily evacuation of the bowels is of utmost importance to the maintenance of health”; without the daily movement, the entire system will become deranged and corrupted.” People’s Medicine Lighthouse, Lecture 71. Harmon Knox Root, A.M, M.D. 1852.

The term auto-intoxication was coined by Charles Bouchard, a French physician. Other physicians further defined the theory by describing the phenomenon as caused by the putrefaction or decay of proteins in the intestine generating offending toxins. This theory dominated a major part of the 19th century and has survived to this day

The obsession with the auto-intoxication theory led to the marketing and sales of a myriad of bowel cleansing products along with laxatives, enema and colonic irrigation equipment. These gimmicks are still available today. Although doctors prescribe colon cleansing as preparation for medical procedures such as colonoscopy, most do not recommend colon cleansing for detoxification. Their reasoning is simple: Your digestive system and bowel naturally eliminate waste material and bacteria; your body does not need colon cleansing to do so.

In fact, colon cleansing can sometimes be harmful. Colon cleansing can cause side effects, such as cramping, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. More serious concerns with colon cleansing are that it can increase your risk of dehydration, lead to bowel perforations, increase the risk of infection, and cause changes in electrolytes. Civilisation and the colon: constipation as the “disease of diseases. James Whorton BMJ 2000; 321: 1586-9

According to Quackwatch In 2009, “Dr. Edzard Ernst tabulated the therapeutic claims he found on the Web sites of six “professional organizations of colonic irrigations.” The themes he found included detoxification, normalization of intestinal function, treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, and weight loss. He also found claims elated to asthma, menstrual irregularities, circulatory disorders, skin problems, and improvements in energy levels. Searching Medline and Embase, he was unable to find a single controlled clinical trial that substantiated any of these claims.Quackwatch, Gastrointestinal Quackery: Colonics, Laxatives, and More, Stephen Barrett, MD. August 4, 2010 www.quackwatch.com

My own investigations of the online “yellow pages” in searching for “Colon Cleansing” revealed that there were about twelve establishments advertising this service in my city of Asheville, North Carolina as of this writing.

NATURAL HYGIENE

Isaac Jennings, MD put forth the original ideas of natural hygiene in 1822 and became known as “The Father of Natural Hygiene.” He helped to developed a healing system called “Orthopathy” that claimed that Nature knows better than the most learned physicians of the time. That could be true – my opinion. Among earliest promoter of natural remedies was Samuel Thompson, a New Hampshire farmer who prepared “botanics”, as they were called, made from native herbs. In 1835, Dr. William Alcott, a graduate of Yale Medical school mixed part time farming with his medical practice. Other professors from Dartmouth and Amherst followed. A popular health cure came in the form of water cures. In 1849, the Water Cure Journal, Physiology, Hydropathy and the Laws of Life, edited by Dr. Russell Trall entered the health reform movement. By 1850, the Journal had 20,000 subscribers. Dr. Trall is quoted as saying: Typhoid and pneumonia are neither more nor less than a cleansing process – a struggle of the vital powers to relieve the system of its accumulated impurities”. http://www.whale.to/v/trall2.html.

A vulnerable public eagerly received their proclamations due to limited information and confusion on the causes of disease. Other proponents among many included Arnold Ehret, a German author of several books on diet, detoxification, fruitarianism, fasting, food combining, naturopathy, physical culture and vitalism. There was also Herbert M. Shelton who opened schools in Natural Hygiene and founded the American Society of Natural Hygienists Universal Healing, wwwuniversalhealingbelize.com/Brief- history- of –naturalhygiene.

In a previous post, the misguided principles of detoxification were supported and practiced by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg .  Detoxification still is alive and thriving in the form of a pseudo-medical concept..  The bottom line:  Detoxification is  primarily designed to “sell you something”.  If you want to “detox”, do not smoke, do exercise and eat a healthy balanced diet.

IVERMECTIN: FACT OR FAD?

With so much information available on the Internet, it’s difficult to know what to do when we hear or read something about a medical “breakthrough” that may benefit us personally or perhaps help a friend or relative. How can you separate the sound information from the highly questionable?

Many people believe what they want to hear.

The products offer solutions to important problems that have few or no solutions in orthodox health care.

We all hope that these solutions will be the “one” that provides positive “cures” of the medical condition in question. In other words, we’re constantly searching for the “magic bullet”. Covid-19, fraught with controversy is no exception.

Ivermectin is a drug used to treat parasitic infections in animals and also is used to treat scabies and lice infestations in humans. Needless to say, it is questionable to use it as a treatment for Covid-19 infections.

CLICK HERE.

COVID-19: Immune Boosters or Snake Oil?

Are We Just Talking Snake Oil?

In these days of the pandemic, there are promises and claims made that can cure or prevent the COVID-19 virus from occurring. Should you believe these claims or are they just snake oil? Sadly, most are not proven, and no safety or efficacy has been established. Some have stood the test of time as folklore, others, not so much.   I am not a promotor of taking diet supplements unless a doctor says you are deficient in certain vitamins or minerals.  But here is what is known about a few that can possibly end up on Dr. OZ.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins C, D, A and the minerals zinc and selenium can be grouped together as they may help by shortening the duration of primarily respiratory diseases (colds, flu and Coronovirus).  Vitamin C and D both can act as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory compound. You can get required amounts as a multi-vitamin-mineral compound – there is no need to take them individually or use mega-doses.

Garlic

Fresh, aged extract and garlic supplements may reduce the severity of respiratory infections. It has been described as: lipid-lowering, antithrombotic, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antiparastitic. Garlic has also been shown to fight the common cold (often caused by Coronoviruses.)  It also should be mentioned that in the world’s oldest medical text, the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, garlic is mentioned repeatedly. It was also reported that it was fed to slaves and soldiers in the ancient world to keep them healthy. And of course we all know that it has warded off vampires in almost any Dracula movie in history.

But back to research – Seventy patients were given a high-quality standardized garlic supplement for 12 weeks while another group were given a placebo. The garlic group had only 24 colds during the study, compared to 65 for the placebo group. The average duration of symptoms was less than half for those taking the garlic.

Of course, this is only one study, however, the active garlic ingredient called allicin was written about way back in 1944 in a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemistry Society.

Beta-glucans – What are They?

Beta-glucans are large molecules made up of multiple sugar units—beta-glucan may offer a number of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, improving blood sugar management, and boosting the immune system. As a soluble fiber, beta-glucan itself is not digested, however, it slows food transit in the intestines. Studies report when beta-glucans bind to immune cells like natural killer cells (NK cells), T-cells and macrophages, the activity of these cells is increased.

Many studies have supported the idea beta-glucans have a wide range of protective effects, including improved resistance to infections, liver protection, and cardiovascular benefits. It also appears to help inhibit tumor growth in mice. Americans need more fiber in their diets – so this compound can help provide the amount we need daily.

Sulforaphane

“Sulforaphane has also been shown to have antiviral properties. Studies have shown that sulforaphane reduces viral load in the nose, increases NK (natural killer)  cell production, displays antiviral activity against H1N1 Influenza virus, and can suppress replication of Hepatitis C Virus and inhibit HIV infection of macrophages through Nrf2. Interestingly, heat shock proteins which are produced upon sulforaphane consumption are also known to have antiviral properties. This is a quote from the web page, Orthomolecular.org. This site promotes using megadoses of nutrients and claims are made that have not been investigated (to my knowledge).

NOTE: Since sulforaphane can be easily obtained by consuming cruciferous vegetables that include broccoli, Brussels’ sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. No need to take ultra-processed supplements that may not contain any or all of the  beneficial nutrients found in “real” foods. Sulforaphane is also purported to be a potent cancer fighter and there is some evidence to support these claims.

Elderberry

Elderberries are the dark purple fruit of the elderberry shrub. A rich source of antioxidants known as anthocyanins, elderberry is reputed by some to be effective in treating the common cold, flu, constipation, hay fever, and sinus infections. Others contend that it may be useful in treating toothache, sciatica, and burns, among other things, but some of these claims are less supported by research than others.

The European elder (black elderberry, Sambucus nigra) is the species most often used in supplements, although other elder species also produce anthocyanin-rich berries. There are several elderberry supplement options and preparations, such as gummies, lozenges, syrups, teas, and more.

Many of elderberry’s health benefits can be attributed to anthocyanin. As an antioxidant, anthocyanin works by clearing the body of free radicals that damage cells at the DNA level.1 It also has antiviral properties that may prevent or reduce the severity of certain common infections.

Elderberry also exerts anti-inflammatory effects, reducing swelling and pain by tempering the body’s immune response.

Elderberry juice syrup has been used for centuries as a home remedy to treat the cold and flu, both of which are caused by a virus. The syrup is believed to reduce the severity and duration of the infection if taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms. Some preliminary evidence from small studies supports this claim.

A 2016 study from Australia reported that, among 312 long-haul airline passengers, those who used elderberry extract 10 days before and five days after their flight had 50 percent fewer sick days resulting from a cold than those who didn’t.  In addition, passengers who used elderberry had less severe colds based on a scoring of upper respiratory tract symptoms.

What elderberry did not appear to do was reduce the risk of getting a cold; both the elderberry group and placebo group had more or less the same number of infections.

However, a 2012 study suggested that elderberry could help prevent influenza infection by stimulating an immune response. Choose a low-sugar capsule or tablet, not as a sugary syrup.

Source: Elderberry: Benefits and Dangers.  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/elderberry

 Buyer Beware

If you choose a supplement, take them in moderation and inform your doctor as some could be antagonistic toward other prescription drugs you have been prescribed. Keep in mind the following found on dietary supplement labels: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not inteneded to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any dieaase.”

Sources:

University of Maryland Medical System: Immunity Support Boosters

For a comprehensive list (it’s very long), search COVID-19 Schemes, Scams and Misinformation,

Stephen Barrett, M.D., William M. London, Ed.D, MPH July 18, 2020

Diets and Blood Types???

A naturopath called Peter D’Adamo popularized the idea that a any diet based on blood type could help a person achieve good overall health and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. For example, it is proposed that those people with type O can tolerate certain meats while those with type A should avoid meat in general. Are there any health benefits associated with this type of diet – vegan or otherwise?

However, research on the effects of a blood type diet is scarce, and the studies available have not proven its effectiveness. For example, the authors of a 2014 study concluded that their findings did not support the claims that a blood type diet provides specific benefits.

CLICK HERE.

Good Advice About Liver Cleanses

Really?????

Detoxification of the body has been claimed for centuries as being necessary for good heath. It all began with snake oil salesmen that traveled the country in covered  wagons with their tonics and elixirs (potions)  that promised cures for just about any ailment and continues until this day.

Most of the claims are now considered pseudoscience. The following article explains it all. Don’t waste your money – we have our own built-in detoxers – the liver and kidneys will do a great job – that is part of their function in the body. Granted a healthy diet full of plant-based foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help the body carry out these functions. But be skeptical of supplements that promise your liver can be magically transformed to its healthy state. This is where the pseudoscience often promises unfounded claims.

CLICK HERE.