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Detox, short for detoxification, in general is the removal of toxic substances from the body. It is one of the major functions of the liver, lower gastrointestinal tract and kidneys, but can also be achieved artificially by techniques such as dialysis and (in a very limited number of cases) chelation therapy.
Additional recommended knowledge
Types of detoxification
Alcohol detoxification is used as a form of drug rehabilitation to treat alcoholism or other drug addiction. The process involves abstinence to clear the drug from the body, accompanied by social and environmental support during the associated physiological and psychological changes.
An animal's metabolism can produce harmful substances which it can then make less toxic through oxidation, conjugation and excretion of molecules from cells or tissues. This is called xenobiotic metabolism. Enzymes that are important in detoxification metabolism include cytochrome P450 oxidases, UDP-glucuronosyltransferasess, and glutathione S-transferases. These processes are particularly well-studied as part of drug metabolism, as they influence the pharmacokinetics of a drug in the body.
Certain approaches in alternative medicine claim to remove toxins from the body through herbal, electrical or electromagnetic treatments (such as the Aqua Detox treatment). These toxins are undefined and have little scientific basis, making the validity of such techniques questionable. There is no evidence for toxic accumulation in these cases, as the liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials including metabolic wastes. Under this theory if toxins are too rapidly released without being safely eliminated (such as burning fat that stores toxins) they can damage the body and cause malaise. A new trend in detoxification is the detox foot patch, sold by a number of companies, and containing various herbal formulations. The foot patch is to be applied to the sole of the foot at bedtime, and it is claimed that toxins are extracted from the body and into the patch. The patches, popular in Japan, have begun to gain popularity, as well, in the United States in recent years.
Certain diets have an underlying assumption that the body accumulates toxins that must be removed, especially after periods of over-eating or the consumption of non-nutritious and processed foods. As with alternative medicine, the 'toxins' removed are undefined and are ascribed to foods, the environment and the body's own wastes.
Methods of detoxification
Drug detox is performed in many different ways depending on where one decides to receive treatment. Most drug detox centers simply provide treatment to avoid physical withdrawal to alcohol & other drugs. Ideally, a trained detox facility will incorporate counseling and therapy during detox to help with the psychological distress that the individual may experience as well. Less conventional methods for eliminating toxic substances from the body include the modification of the diet and addition of certain herbs and rituals such as colon hydrotherapy, body cleansing, juice fasting, and saunas.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Detoxification". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|