The best way to detoxify is to stop putting toxic things into the body.
~ Andrew Weil
Did you know that nowadays we take in what used to be a 90 year supply of toxins every 30 days? Yikes!!
Researchers found 287 different toxins in umbilical cord blood of newborns. 180 of those cause cancer, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development. Breast milk is now considered the most toxic beverage!
The US currently produces more than 400 lbs of chemicals every year. Most of it is invisible, but if you’ve seen images of floating islands of plastic waste in the ocean, it’s not difficult to imagine the entire planet covered in toxins.
Toxic chemicals are one of the two causes of disease (the other is deficiency of nutrients). When toxins enter the body they disturb normal functioning of cells. This results in malfunction or in other words dis-ease.
Toxins destroy the body. Just like the last straw that broke the camel’s back, as toxins build up in the body, they will eventually cause it to break down.
Knowing that babies are already born poisoned, we can deduct that the same is true for our animal friends. What this means is that ALL ANIMALS BENEFIT from detoxification support no matter how healthy or young they are.
Unfortunately, toxicity is our reality today.
Thankfully we are in control of some of the toxin intake of our animal friends. Food, water, unnecessary vaccines, drugs, what we use for body products, household cleaners, etc. (Basically, don’t add toxins to your animal that can be avoided.)
But not only that, we can also help their bodies detoxify at least some of that load of poison.
One of the best times to do a cleanse is in the Spring – right about now! In Chinese medicine every organ is related to a season. Spring time is “Liver time” and the best time to help the body get rid of what accumulated. Dandelion, ramps, asparagus, onions and other spring greens and vegetables grow to assist the body in this process. If we look to nature we can see that it’s all perfectly set up.
This part is very important in order to do it safely. After all we want your animal to feel better, not worse.
Which organ is most involved in the cleansing process?
The liver! I did give it away earlier, but good for you if you got it right. If you help the liver to work well, you will have healthier animals with a better functioning immune system and improved ability to heal and stay healthy.
Step #1: Feed your animal a species-appropriate diet for at least 2-4 weeks before starting. That’s very important, because the liver and every other cell of the body needs to be able to function as well as possible during detoxification and that requires good nutrients.
Step #2: Optimize liver function. We want to do this by supporting the liver with good nutrients as well as herbs.
Step #3: Make sure your animal isn’t constipated. Once the toxins are mobilized from storage, we want to make sure they leave the body and don’t get reabsorbed. Clay can be added to help bind toxins at the gut level.
A healthy gastro-intestinal tract with its microbiome greatly contributes to the removal of toxins but also the prevention of toxin assimilation into the body.
Many people worry when they hear the word “detoxification”. Visions of diarrhea, feeling sick and having to ingest disgusting things can come to mind. But nothing is further from the truth. If you prepare your animals well, you should see minimal issues while they go through the process.
What if they are really sick?
Whatever the case may be, I highly recommend that you work with a holistic veterinarian. It’s important to give the right support at the correct dose in order to detoxify safely. You also need to know what you might see in the process. If your animals is sick you need to be particularly careful and proceed slowly, in order to avoid destabilization and worsening of symptoms
Detox agents and methods
Liver Support: Milk thistle is probably the most well known herb to support the liver. I also like dandelion root, gentian root, wormwood, ginger and other herbs for this organ. Usually, I combine it with herbs that support the cleansing of blood such as red clover, yellow dock root, etc.
Kidney support: Kidneys also benefit from detoxification. Herbs that promote diuresis such as uva ursi, corn silk, horsetail, asparagus, etc. can often be found in detox formulas.
Binding Agents: Adding binding agents such as charcoal and clays to shuttle the toxins out of the GI tract can be beneficial, as well as those that bind toxins within the blood and tissues such as chlorella for example.
Vitamin C is a very potent antioxidant. It has the power to neutralize some toxins especially in high doses, which I don’t recommend right before dental work that involves attempting to numb nerves. I did that once and local anesthesia just wouldn’t work. It was a bit painful ;)!
Others: Amino acids, flavanoids and B Vitamins are also used to aid detoxification.
Exercise: If your animal is able to exercise, this too will assist the body through improving blood flow.
Fasting: Avoiding all food for 12-24 can be very beneficial for dogs (not for cats and horses!!). Some people institute 1 day of fasting per week to mimic natures where they would sometimes go hungry.
Many roads to Rome
Detoxification is not a one-time thing because exposure continues no matter how well you feed your animals and how naturally you live. I recommend a little detox daily through good food and incorporation of veggies and fruit that support the body’s function. During Spring and Fall, I would intensify the process by adding herbs and some of the above-mentioned agents.
If your animal has more significant health issues you may need to go slow but continue for a longer period of time. But always work with your holistic veterinarian to make sure that what you’re giving your animal is appropriate and dosed correctly. Just because it’s an herb or ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it’s safe.
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