Detoxing Demystified: How Cleansing Works

An interview with Dr. Sara Celik, ND
By Jason Sebeslav

Dr. Sara Celik is a Naturopathic Doctor and Homeopathic Master Clinician with over 15 years of experience in the health and wellness field. She is a sought-after speaker and health expert that has contributed to various magazines and television programs. As national spokesperson for Renew Life Canada, Dr. Sara serves as an authority on educating the public about digestive health, detoxification and an integrative approach to optimal wellness. Dr. Celik visited the store to help mark our 40th anniversary celebrations and I had the opportunity to interview her on the topic of detoxing.
**NOTE: Catch Dr. Sara Celik’s seminar at our store on January 17, 2017. Click here for more info and to register your space! 

Jason Sebeslav: Unlike some other cultures, periodic cleansing, fasting and detoxing has never really been that common in North America. Should it be?

Sara Celik: Indeed it should. Canada recently ranked #14 on the list of “healthiest countries in the world.” If cleansing was more common in North America, perhaps we would have ranked better.

JS: What are some of the main health benefits associated with cleansing?

SC: There are plenty. However, the main benefit is a healthier digestive system. Most people will report less bloating, fewer food cravings and optimal elimination. Other benefits may include clearer skin, weight loss and more energy.

JS: Are there signs or symptoms that might indicate the need for detoxing?

SC: Since toxins circulate in the bloodstream, they can affect virtually any system in the body and result in a wide range of symptoms. Anything from fatigue, headaches, weakened immunity and digestive issues can indicate it’s time for a cleanse. In clinical practice, I have even recommended cleansing as a first step in the treatment of skin conditions, elevated blood sugars and high cholesterol.

JS: What do the herbs and other ingredients found in cleansing kits actually do to help support the body’s toxic load?

SC: Our bodies naturally detoxify each day. Toxins enter the body via the air that we breathe, the foods we eat and the personal care products we put on our skin. Our liver works relentlessly 24/7 to filter these substances so that they can be safely excreted by the body via stool, urine and bile. Herbal detox kits are not all created equal. It is important to look for a kit that contains a synergistic combination of herbs which address all seven channels of elimination―the liver, colon, skin, kidneys, lungs, lymphatic system and blood. Commonly used bowel cleansing herbs include rhubarb root, cape aloe leaf and triphala. However, in addition to removing impurities from the colon, it is vital to stimulate other elimination routes. For example, mullein leaf is an expectorant herb which will help remove respiratory mucous. Artichoke leaf, dandelion root and nettle leaf are natural diuretics that increase the excretion of toxins via urine. Burdock root, dandelion root and red clover flower are excellent skin cleansing herbs. So a combination of these natural herbal ingredients helps to ensure toxins are being addressed throughout the body, not just in the colon.

JS: People often ask how often cleanses or detox programs should be done. 

SC: For the average person, two to four times per year. Even with healthy eating and regular exercise, toxins from the environment make their way into the body. By taking a proactive approach to health and cleansing the body regularly, our objective is to prevent certain diseases which commonly develop as a result of a toxic internal environment.

JS: What about risks – are there people who should not consider a detox program?

SC: Yes. Cleansing is not safe in pregnancy or during breastfeeding. Those who are very weak and fatigued may want to build up vitality before cleansing or choose a gentler cleanse designed for first-time cleansers. Also, certain medications may interact with cleansing herbs, so it is a good idea to check with your Naturopathic Doctor before starting a cleanse if you are taking medication.

JS: You mentioned “first-time cleansers.” What would you recommend for those who are new to detoxing?

SC: I recommend a 15-day herbal cleansing program to my patients who have never done a cleanse because it is gentle on the digestive system and is easy to take. The herbs are taken in capsule form in the morning upon rising and before bedtime, stimulating all seven channels of elimination.

JS: How important is fibre to the cleansing process and what type would you recommend?

SC: The average Canadian is only getting about 10-15 grams of fibre per day, when they need between 25-35 grams daily. Lacking fibre is especially detrimental during a cleanse, because toxins may re-circulate in the bloodstream. We need two types of fibre to ensure proper elimination. Soluble fibre will absorb toxins and insoluble fibre will help move the toxins out of the body through stool. Since most Canadians do not get enough fibre through their diet, supplementing with a blend of 50% soluble and 50% insoluble fibre is recommended.

JS: Time for myth-busting! What’s the number one myth or misconception about cleansing and detoxing that you’d like to bust right now?

SC: Many people equate cleansing with deprivation and following a strict diet. I educate Canadians on the benefits of cleansing and they are often surprised to hear that you do not need to follow a strict diet to realize the benefits of the herbs. The herbs will work regardless of diet.

Appears in HWS Magazine Dec 2016