Detoxification & Cancer Recovery

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.

The 4 Most Toxic Foods To Avoid During Cancer Recovery

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Supporting 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 backed up, 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.

Minimizing 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 the chemotherapy or 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 waste build-up rather than from the treatment itself. The good news though is you can do something about it.

What To Do

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, you will need to be more gentle. The farther you move away from treatment though the more aggressive you can go. First, here are the strategies I can safely recommend to everyone, even those moving through treatment. All of the following suggestions will support all three systems; digestive, detoxification, and immune.

  • First, 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.

Safety Concerns

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 quite 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.

Take Home Message

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 need help setting up your best cancer recovery diet, let me know. And if you want to receive more articles like this one delivered straight to your Inbox every week, Join The Tribe.

The 4 Most Toxic Foods To Avoid During Cancer Recovery

This FREE Guide will help you take the First Step in helping your body heal!
By knowing what foods will feed your cancer vs. slow it down, you and your family can begin to take control again.


Where should I send your FREE Guide?