As a holistic practitioner I truly believe in honouring your body and it’s rhythms. It is for this reason that I am a day late posting my blog and you know what, I’m okay with that. I’m into Day 3 of our Spring Equinox Detox and the first two days were a bit rough. Both my husband and I were/are suffering from some typical detoxing symptoms and side effects. Instead of powering through what we were feeling we honoured it and went to bed early and took it easy during the day (hence the late blog).
For someone who has never detoxed before these side effects/symptoms could be quite alarming, but I assure you they are very normal. Your body is working hard to eliminate toxins and at the same time likely dealing from withdrawal. Let’s delve a little deeper into what’s going on in your body!
But Don’t I Detox All the Time?
Yes this is true, your body is in a constant state of detoxification. Organs like the kidneys, colon, liver and even your lungs are working daily to excrete waste and eliminate toxins. In fact, many of the organs in the body have the primary concern of eliminating waste products. However your body is likely not working at it’s most efficient detoxification level due to the lifestyle that most North Americans lead. Much of what we expose ourselves too on a daily basis can have a detrimental and cumulative effects on our body’s ability to remove toxins.
Refined sugar, refined wheat, caffeine, alcohol and processed snacks/meals are examples of foods that impair our body’s ability to detoxify. And chemicals like pesticides, fungicides, MSG, food colouring and so many more also have the same negative effect. Daily consumption and exposure to these will have a cumulative effect, which is why I recommend yearly detoxing to all my clients.
Severity of Symptoms
The severity of what you are feeling will greatly depend on your lifestyle and diet prior to the detox you are doing. If you drank a lot of coffee, consumed a lot of sugar and ate processed foods, your symptoms will likely be more severe and last longer than someone who ate a very clean diet and lived mostly caffeine and sugar free.
It will also depend on how much time has passed since your last detox. While I do recommend a yearly detox/tune-up for most people, it has been five years since my last detox. For one of the years I was either pregnant or trying to get pregnant and then I nursed for over three years. Finally it came time for me to embark on this adventure again. But I’ve had four years of caffeine and sugar dependence under my belt so this will not be an easy detox for me (bad coping mechanisms for the stress of parenthood). I knew this going into it of course!
If you are quitting coffee/caffeine and/or sugar during your detox you will also be feeling withdrawal symptoms as these substance leave your body and you begin to crave them intensely.
Typical Detox Symptoms
Every person is different so I hate cookie cutter approaches to things, however in the case of detoxification there are a list of the most typical symptoms. Depending on the person and situation you may experience some or all of these. Rest assured they will not last for the entire detoxification process. In fact the first 3-6 days tends to be the worst for people. But remember, everyone is different, so if you are experiencing no symptoms or symptoms on day 7 there is nothing wrong. So in no particular order here is the list:
Some sources say these are a rare symptom, but if you are eliminating caffeine and sugar you WILL get at least one headache. We had two days that were quite uncomfortable, but both my husband and I were ditching our 2+ coffee a day habit. It is interesting to note that often one of the major causes of detox headaches is dehydration as you are likely urinating more (see below).
Our liver works hard to eliminate many of the toxins in our body, but when it becomes overloaded (which can sometimes happen during a detox), the skin becomes a back up organ. You may experience some breakouts and acne, but they should be temporary.
Often the culprit of this is the increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. Smoothies, juicing and salads are common additions to ones diet during a detox and if you weren’t consuming a lot of these before, be prepared for a bit of gas and bloating. Once your body adjusts to this very healthy increase in fruits and veggies you will notice the digestive disturbances resolve themselves.
Some folks report nightmares during a cleanse. While I have never experienced this myself, in a way I can see it making sense. Perhaps your subconscious is eliminating unwanted thoughts/feelings right along with your body. Insomnia can be a result of changes in your nap routine. If you didn’t nap before, but started to because of detox fatigue you may have trouble sleeping at night.
A very common symptom during the first few days as your body adjusts to this new way of eating. Your elimination organs are working harder than usual as well. However if the fatigue persists it’s often due to insufficient caloric intake. If you are used to consuming a lot of calories from gluten-containing products and dairy you may feel extremely hungry and feel unsatisfied from your food selection. Remember to consume lots of nuts, legumes, seeds and healthy fats as a source of good calories. Detoxing doesn’t mean you have to starve!
Diarrhea is often a result of increased fruit and vegetable consumption. Once your body adjusts to this new level of health fiber your bowel movements will regulate. Constipation is a bit more rare and can often be as of a result of dehydration.
This is a good thing! Your kidneys are working hard to excrete toxins. Make sure you drinks LOTS of water to support this process and avoid dehydration. I recommend at least 2 litres a day depending on your current water consumption and body weight.
This is most often as a result of sugar elimination. As the sugar loving yeasts in your body start to die off they will cause your body to crave for their food source… sugar. The key is to not give in. Food cravings can also be a result of insufficient caloric intake.
In Chinese medicine is is believed that each organ has an associated emotional state. For the liver it is anger and for the kidneys it is fear. Whenever I detox I know my feelings irritation and anger increase. This is very natural and in fact quite healing. Allow these emotions to flow through and out of your body. Feel them and don’t suppress them. Perhaps warn your family members and those closest to you so they can prepare themselves for some volatility.
If you are currently detoxing I wish you well. I promise the symptoms will get easier to deal with and the end result will be WELL worth all the hard work you are putting in. If you are contemplating a detox you should join us. My husband and I are only on our first week and we hope to continue for at least 2-3 weeks more. You won’t be alone!
In good health,