Thursday, December 29, 2005

Detox Your Mind

The Australian Consumers' Association recently reviewed off the shelf detox kits.

Funnily enough, even though manufacturers claim the efficacy and efficiency of their kits, when approached by the ACA exactly none of them were willing to provide any evidence for their claims. In fact, the ACA state that
evidence-based research to support the testimonials was thin on the ground.

How surprising.

Most brands recommended various other supplements as well as the detox course (all handily provided from the manufacturer's own catalogue). EoR's Colonic Irrigation Award must go to Brauer, who suggest you use its product every six weeks (though at $A27 it's about half the price of the others).

The claims of these products are investigated:
They talk of how toxins accumulate in the body, and of the extra burden this places on the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms. And they point the finger at this toxic overload as being behind a host of ills including constipation, bloating, flatulence, poor digestion, heartburn, diarrhoea, lack of energy and fatigue.

Constipation and diarrhoea? And just what is the magical newage "lack of energy"?
The kits claim that their detox products "stimulate your body’s natural detoxifying functions", "improve the functioning of your digestive system", "work like an intestinal broom", "flush away potentially harmful toxins from your system" and generally give your body a "spring clean" to provide relief from these problems, improve your general health and wellbeing and leave you feeling revitalised.

What conclusion is reached?
The bottom line is that no studies have shown that a detox regimen increases the elimination of toxins.

Quelle surprise. ACA consulted dietitions (rather than holistic energy balancers) to assess the dietary advice offered by these products and, while they supported the advice to exercise and eat a sensible diet (but does anyone need to pay huge amounts of money to be told that?) they were also concerned about the unsupported and weird advice such as not mixing fruit and vegetables (why? do they explode?), not eating after 8pm, not eating citrus fruit (but lemons, appropriately enough, are okay) and avoiding table salt (though sea salt and herbal salt are permitted).

As to the contents of the supplements:
While there’s evidence for the intended effects of some of the laxatives and diuretics, the experts we spoke to thought the suite of supplements included in the kits has little or no known benefit that wouldn’t be acheived simply by following a healthy eating program. A high-fibre diet with plenty of water, for example, can have the same effect as taking laxatives and diuretics (with other nutritional benefits as a bonus).

EoR was interested to note that three volunteers tested the product, and all of them experienced "minor stomach troubles". Isn't that caused by toxin buildup, not removal?

The conclusion:
So did detoxing have a lasting impact? We checked back with our detoxers two months later, and they each noted that they now try to drink more water and eat more fruit, vegies and healthier food in general. Certainly a positive outcome, but what they learnt was no different from the advice given in every sensible diet plan (or CHOICE food article, come to that). Do we really have to spend $50+ and put ourselves through a probably unnecessary detox program before we take any notice?

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