Are you one of the millions of people who, worn down or stressed out by modern life, have been seduced by myths that the recipe for glowing good health involves little more than sticking dudgy-looking patches on your skin or slugging down Aloe Vera and wheatgrass smoothie? Unfortunately, observed Professor Atan Boobies, a university toxiologist, “such a world only exists in the fairy tales peddled by the burgeoning detox industry. An industry where robust and exacting science is unapologetically dismissed in the whirlwind of mind-boggling products and diets that extravagantly claim to cleanse the body and flush harmful toxins from our system.
“As a toxicologist, I can say categorically that detox diets and products that claim to do the same are at best, a money-gorging waste of time and, at worst, can even make you ill. The science is not merely insubstantial. It is, frankly implausible. It is also unnecessary. According to him, Mother Nature, honed by years of evolution, has gifted the human body with a very efficient detoxing system of our own – in the form of the liver, kidneys and intestinal tract.
Every day, these three major organs breakdown and eliminate harmful substances from the body – some that come from our environment, and some that are by-products of natural chemical process in our body. We are further protected by an extremely efficient barrier between us and the environment: our skin. Together, they form a detoxification system that is robust, sophisticated and versatile enough to withstand the normal levels of ‘impurities’ we put into our bodies. Yet we are constantly told by adverts and he media that we must ‘detox’ from such things as caffeine and alcohol because they allegedly attack the body, which is defenceless in their make.
It is because of these supposition that a team of reputable scientists, including Professor Bobbies, set out to investigate the outlandish health claims of numerous detox plans. Their results were published in the Making Sense of Chemicals guide published last year. “What worried me most is that some of the claims on products would be laughable if they weren’t cynically exploitative and potentially dangerous,” he observed. “Some detox products might actually cause health problems rather than solve them. For example, some detox tablets contain liquorice extract, which is recognised in medicine as a treatment for those suffering from constipation, since it can stimulate the gut – so those who take could suffer from an upset stomach.
“But worse than that, because liquorice lowers potassium in the body, it can also cause serious problems such as high blood pressure and fluid retention. Other products were simply pointless. For example, one detox patch claimed to help prevent a `stagnating lymphatic system’. Now, the lympatic system which is responsible for draining fluids from tissues, is anything but stagnant: in fact, it circulates several pints of fluid every day. If it ever stagnated, it would cause inflammation of the lymph nodes, which is very painful. You’d know about it without needing a detox patch to tell you”. If you’re tempted to use gimmicks like this, Boobies advice you make sure you read the small print beforehand. For example, the side-effects of a `detox foot-patch’ containing vinegar – which claims to help arthritis joints – include irritation of the skin.
Another example are skin smothering detox wraps which you wear around your body (but not the head) for about half an hair at a time. The effect – especially if the material isn’t permeable enough – will be like wrapping the body in plastic which could irritate the skin and even cause swelling because fluid will not be able to circulate properly around the body. If kept on for a prolonged amount of time, this could lead to impaired circulation and even of blood clots. Besides, since one of the functions of our skin is to form a protective barrier against the outside world, toxicologists don’t see how some flimsy patches which look like wilting tea bags could do much good.
Detox socks and patches worn on the feet are especially bizarre in their assertions that they can somehow magically flush the body of toxins. Tight socks could cause circulation problems – and prevent fluids from moving around the body – and sleeping in them at night might encourage athlete’s foot or other fungal infection because of the lack of breath ability.
Here, Professor Boobies gives his verdict on some of the most popular detox treatments …
Foot patches: Claim – Contain a natural crystal called tourmaline and wood vinegar to detox the body. Fact: The soles of the feet have the thickest skin so are the least likely place from which to extract toxins from the body – if extracting toxins in this way is possible. It is simply fanciful regardless of what these products contain, to suggest otherwise – not only is the skin too thick but the pads cover too tiny area.
Lemon Maple Syrup: Claim – A drink made from organic natural tree-syrup, mixed with fresh lemon juice, water and a pinch of cayenne pepper, to dissolve mucus and waste, as well as having stimulatory heating effect which speeds up the metabolism, helping it cleanse and eliminate toxins. Fact: There is nothing special in the syrup and lemon that you couldn’t get in the balanced diet and they will have no detoxifying effects. The cayenne may make you feel not and sweaty.
Exsom Salts Bath: Claim – An Epsom salts detox bath stimulates the lymph system and encourages increased oxygen and blood flow to our body Fact: A warm, relaxing bath can lower blood pressure and inhaling steam can have a relaxing effect. But there is no detoxing effect.
Detox tablets: Claim – A blend of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants including beta-carotene and N-acteylcysteine, to support the body’s natural eliminative processes. Fact: This wouldn’t have any impact at all. N-acteylcysteine would not be needed in a normal diet, which already contains similar substances. Added antioxidants are no use those already on a balanced diet, and, at very high levels, beta carotene has been linked to cancer.
Detox Socks: Claim – These draw out and absorb stagnant lymph fluid, toxins and other impurities. Fact: Even if the socks did help remove toxins – which is implausible – they only cover a tiny fraction of the skin’s total surface area. And lymph fluid rarely stagnates.
Body Wrap: Claim – Helps eliminate harmful toxins from your body and provide essential vitamins and minerals to your ski. Fact: Swearing is a natural process and that’s what the wraps may make you do. But perspiration is not a major rout for removing harmful substances, so sweating more will have no effect. His wouldn’t make any difference.
Foot Spa: Claim – An ‘Energizing cartridge’ create a flow of electrons and a bio-energetic field into warm salted water to rebalance and harmonise by sending signals up through the lymph glands to stimulate the detox process. Fact – the skin – especially n the feet – is the least effective place to draw any thing from the body. If you could penetrate it to ‘send signals to the interior of the body, the effects would be catastrophic, because it would mean we could seriously alter the function of the body by signals through the skin. This would result in total imbalance of the body’s normal functions.
Leading a horse to the brook! (Humour)
A man drove too fast down a country lane, skidded on some boulders and ended up in a ditch. Fortunately, a farmer appeared moments later, leading a big black horse. When he saw the man’s predicament, he offered to help. “If we tie a rope round the car, I think old black Bess here will be able to help get it out”. So, they tied the rope from the horse to the car and the farmer shouted, “could on Star-light, pull as hard as you can!”, but the horse didn’t move.
Then the farmer shouted, “come on Silky one, two, three. Pull!” But still the horse didn’t move. So for a third time, the farmer yelled, “OK, Dublin, pull now!” Nothing happened. Then he called, “Go on Black Bess my beauty, pull hard”. This time, the horse took the strain and slowly pulled the car out of the ditch. The motorist was very grateful but also a little puzzled. “Don’t mind me asking”, he said, “but why did you call the horse by all those different names?” “Well, it’s like this”, explained the farmer, “Old Black Bess is blind and if she thought she was the only one pulling, she’d never have bothered trying”.