If we agree that toxic chemicals are a major driving factor for cancer, then we must also agree that detoxification is one of our best prevention & recovery strategies.
When your body is burdened by high levels of toxins, the detoxification system becomes sluggish and waste starts to build up. The accumulation of both toxins and wastes contributes to cellular damage and ultimately disease formation.
In my post, Detox 101, I outline all the ways you can take action to support your detoxification pathways in order to both detoxify and eliminate toxins quickly and efficiently. Implementing these strategies on an ongoing basis will greatly reduce the likelihood of cancer developing in your body.
In this article though I want to take a look at how Detoxification plays a role in Cancer Recovery. Once cancer has been identified, detoxification can both enhance recovery and minimize side effects from conventional treatments. Let’s look at how.
Support Cancer Recovery
There are three essential systems involved in effectively recognizing and eliminating cancer cells. These are your systems of Digestion, Detoxification, and Immunity.
When all three of these systems are working in harmony, your body has the foundation it needs to effectively manage rogue cells when they appear.
All of us create cancer cells in our bodies every day but not everyone develops cancer! That’s because these three systems determine whether those cells are identified and destroyed or left alone to grow and thrive.
All three systems must be enhanced together in order for your body to recover as quickly as possible. As your immune system targets and kills cancer cells, if the detoxification systems are sluggish or burdened, then the dead tissue will not be efficiently eliminated. Furthermore, if your gut is sluggish or backed up, then even when detoxification is enhanced, there will not be efficient elimination of the waste. You can see the problem.
Minimize Side Effects
When you move through traditional cancer treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation) a natural result is dead cancer cells and tissue. Of course this is a good sign, this means the cancer is being removed and the treatment is working.
The problem though is now your body needs to clean up these cells. Not to mention the toxic chemicals you’ve just been exposed to from chemotherapy or other medications you’ve been taking. Plus the subsequent damaged tissue following radiation. This puts an extra burden on an already sluggish and tired liver.
Many side effects associated with conventional treatments such as fatigue and brain fog or muscle aches and pains are often a consequence of toxic build-up rather than from the treatment itself. The good news though is you CAN do something about it.
The extent of your detoxification efforts will greatly be determined by where you are in your cancer recovery journey. While you are moving through treatment, and immediately following treatment, you will need to be more gentle. The farther you move away from treatment, the more aggressive you can go.
As a first step, here are the strategies that are safe for everyone, even those moving through treatment. All of the following suggestions will support all three systems; digestion, detoxification, and immune response.
- Remove as many Toxins as possible from your diet and your environment
- Get as many Colorful Fruits & Veggies in as possible: aim for 8+ servings of veggies and 2+ servings of fruit each day; smoothies & green juices, as well as soups, can be a great way to meet this goal
- Focus especially on Leafy Greens & Cruciferous Veggies: both of these groups of veggies directly enhance detoxification and support the liver
- Drink lots of Fluids: especially when moving through chemotherapy or radiation, you’re fluid needs will be higher
- Gentle Exercise: keep moving…..for many reasons; including supporting your immune system and keeping your gut moving. It can also help release stress and tension.
- Sleep: the hours you sleep are the hours your body can focus on healing and recovery, so getting solid sleep each night is essential
- Emotional Detoxing: your mental, emotional, and spiritual burdens can be just as taxing on the body; especially your immune system. This should not be overlooked and steps should be taken to help off-load some of these burdens. A daily meditation and journaling practice can be incredibly helpful as well as avoiding sources of these mental toxins (toxic people, the nightly news, social media, etc.).
- Deep Breathing: not only do breathing exercises help release stress and tension but the lungs are an important detoxification organ and can be enhanced with deep breathing
- Epsom Salt Baths: at least a couple times a week I suggest soaking in an Epsom Salt & Baking Soda Bath to help flush toxins through the skin. An added benefit of the magnesium found in Epsom Salt is it relaxes the muscles and can help improve sleep. DIRECTIONS: for 1 bath add 2 cups Epsom Salts + 2 cups Baking Soda to a hot bath and let dissolve ~5 minutes. You can also add in essential oils if you’d like; lavender, frankincense, etc. Don’t use soap to not interfere with the action of the salt and soda.
- Add Extra Fiber & Probiotics if necessary to keep your colon moving and eliminating
Once treatment is complete continue the above strategies. The toxins can linger in your body for quite some time following treatment. As you feel stronger, you can also incorporate the following strategies to further enhance the detoxification process.
- Sweating: this is the fastest way to eliminate toxins and can be accomplished with exercise, a hot bath, or a sauna; ideally it should be done every day for ~30 minutes
- Dry Brushing: other than exercise, dry brushing is the only other way to move lymph, which is another important system of detoxification
- Fasting: once your weight is stable, incorporating fasting can further help the body detox and re-boot the immune system
- Detox Tea: add in 2+ cups of a detox tea each day to support your organs of detoxification; both Traditional Medicinals and Yogi Tea make great Detox Teas
- Supplements: it could be helpful to add in specific supplements to further enhance detoxification and recovery, however it is very difficult to make a blanket recommendation as this will need to be personalized for each person.
Is It Safe
In a way, a Detox or Cleanse is kind of like chemotherapy. It’s using plants or fasting as the medicine but it’s definitely going in there and killing cancer cells. This of course is great but can also be intense. It’s causing a release of toxins that can burden the body if not all the detoxification organs are healthy and “open”. If you’re already losing weight and feeling sick then a gentler course of action would be more prudent.
Your Personal Detox Plan
Detoxification is a critical component in cancer recovery and prevention. There are simple things you can add in to support detoxification, even during treatment. Once treatment is complete, stepping up your detoxification efforts will enhance your healing and recovery.
As an Integrative Cancer Dietitian, it is my job to guide people towards the best Cancer Recovery diet for them and this includes supporting detoxification. If you would like to learn more about how to put together a cancer detoxification plan, book a one-on-one call for a free planning session.