“Detoxification” with Pills and Fasting

Frances M. Berg, M.S.
August 15, 1997

It’s an irrational concept, yet an intriguing idea, that modern life so fills us with poisons from polluted air and food additives that we need to be periodically “cleaned out” (“detoxified”). Never mind that natural chemicals in our foods are thousands of times more potent than additives, or that most Americans are healthier, live longer, and can choose from the most healthful food supply ever available.

The elaborate, manipulative hoax of “detoxification” is gaining ground. Many people sincerely believe that their intestines, colon, and blood stream are subject to “clogging” by undigested foods and poisons. Food faddists seem to have a special fascination with bowels, colons, and body wastes.)

The supposed need to detox is promoted through extensive writings, advertisements and door-to-door pitches. This usually involves fasting several times a year for a few days while taking laxatives or diuretics to “clean out the system.”

Some entrepreneurs claim that detoxing is a great way to jump-start a diet by losing 5 or 10 pounds before you even begin the diet itself. And if their scheme is not about weight loss, “rejuvenation” is typically recommended afterward. People who are persuaded that these activities will restore vigorous youth can wind up hooked on an herbal regimen that costs several hundred dollars a month. The questionable products include:

  • In the “Inches Away plan,” the client eats no solid food for three days, drinks only water with lemon juice and honey added, and takes three kinds of herbal capsules. This is claimed to cleanse the digestive tract of accumulated waste and putrefied bacteria, clean out the major organs and blood, and give mental clarity because it stops the mind’s bombardment by chemicals and food additives. After three days of detox, the client takes four kinds of diet pills in combination, up to 30 a day, and visits the diet center for weekly body wraps and daily simulated action on 10 passive exercise tables.
  • In the Sambu Internal Cleansing Program, “Dr. Dunner of Switzerland” advises detoxing by drinking a special tea with pills that combine elderberries and birch-juniper.
  • The Herbal Cleansing and Detox Program from the Indiana Botanic Gardens of Hammond, Ind., includes a tea and tablets containing ginger, prickly ash, yellow dock, cascara sagrada, psyllium and uva ursi. “With your body free of harmful toxins, you will feel younger, better, healthier and happier!” Claimed benefits are increased energy, better digestion, normal weight maintenance, clearer complexion, good circulation, mental alertness, balanced function of vital cleansing organs, and stronger defense system. (Cost for a supply of tea and tablets is $29.90.)
  • The Health Center for Better Living of Naples, Fla., promotes Colon Helper and an amusing theory: “It has been proven by medical authorities that nearly half of all sickness starts in the colon . . . when the colon is kept clean, disease in the body is very rare.” After this the dieter might choose their Trim Fast pills, Herbal Food Combination Weight Loss Formula #59, Dieter’s Delight Herbal Tea, or Good-Bye Cellulite.
  • Detoxification Relief is marketed by Home Health of Virginia Beach, Va. It helps you stop harmful effects from “overindulgence,” or from tobacco, alcohol and pollution.
  • Dr. Clayton’s Natural Program for Weight Control combines three kinds of pills, two for cleansing and one for weight loss. Blood Cleanser is claimed to “detoxify the blood and tissues,” and the Herba-Clenz is for “cleansing and healing the bowel.”

The detoxification theory can enable con artists to gain great power over their customers by diagnosing and curing “potentially fatal” (but nonexistent) illnesses. “They have to invent the idea of toxins,” says Peter Fodor, president of the Lipoplasty Society of North America, “because that gives them something to pretend they can fix.”

It can be terrifying to believe that one’s body is being poisoned by toxins from within. But if this were true, the human race would not have survived, says Vincent F. Cordaro, M.D., an FDA medical officer. “A person who retained wastes and toxins would be very ill and could die if not treated. The whole concept is irrational and unscientific.”

More about “Detoxifcation”Scams

At the time this was written, Frances Berg edited the Healthy Weight Journal.

This article was posted on August 15, 1997.