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The First and Most Important Step in Detoxification

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

We live in a world that constantly exposes our body to toxins - in our water, food, air, cosmetics, toiletries, cleaning producets, furniture, etc. The good thing is our body is intelligent and has natural built-in ways to detoxify; however, when the toxin burden becomes overwhelming and/or our organs of detoxification become compromised, the body cannot do its job. This is when a detoxification program is necessary.

The first (and often ignored) step of detoxification is to open your drainage pathways (colon, liver, kidneys, skin, lymphatic and glymphatic systems). This step is incredibly essential because you can't get rid of toxins if there is nowhere for them to exit. This is why so many detox programs fail and make you feel worse instead of better. They skip this step, stir up toxins, and then stress your already overstressed organs so you feel worse and become more toxic. The most common general symptoms of clogged drainage pathways are fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, and headaches. There are many other signs and symptoms associated with blocked drainage pathways that are organ-specific that will be outlined below.


Your colon is responsible for moving your stool (containing food waste and toxins) along its walls to be expelled. While you should have two formed (banana-like) bowel movements per day, many patients are only eliminating 1-2 times per week! This can cause an accumulation of toxins and lead to weight gain and other health problems.

Signs & symptoms of a sluggish colon:

  • constipation (less than 2 bowel movements per day)

  • diarrhea

  • irritable bowel (IBS)

  • gas

  • bloating

  • bad breath

  • extremely foul-smelling stools

  • body odor

  • hemorrhoids

  • abdominal cramps

Liver/bile duct

The liver is your body's primary filtration system. It is responsible for converting toxins into waste products, cleaning your blood, and metabolizing nutrients and medications. Your liver can become overwhelmed when the toxic burden becomes excessive or when you are overmedicated.

Signs & symptoms of a clogged liver or bile duct:

  • indigestion

  • difficulty digesting fatty foods

  • inability to lose weight and/or weight gain

  • gallbladder issues or removal

  • skin problems

  • blurry vision

  • night blindness

  • poor sleep

  • allergies

  • muscle & joint pain

  • high cholesterol

  • nutrient deficiencies

  • frequent urination


The kidneys are your body's second natural filtration system. Your kidneys filter your blood to remove waste and produce urine, and they prevent waste and fluid from building up in your cells. Heavy metal toxicity is a common cause of kidney stress that can be improved with proper detoxification.

Signs & symptoms of impaired kidneys:

  • feeling "tired & wired"

  • dark circles under the eyes and/or puffy eyes

  • dry & itchy skin

  • swollen ankles, feet & hands

  • metallic taste in mouth or bad breath

  • frequent urination

  • shortness of breath

  • constipation

  • poor appetite

Lymphatic system

A part of your immune system, the lymphatic system helps to protect your body from infection and disease. The lymphatic system helps rid the body of toxins and waste material and transports infection-fighting lymph fluid throughout the body.

Signs & symptoms of a clogged lymphatic system:

  • swollen lymph nodes

  • swollen fingers

  • cellulite

  • chronic fatigue

  • weak immune system

  • frequent colds, flu or sinus infections

  • cold hands & feet

  • allergies

  • digestive issues

  • food & chemical sensitivities

Glymphatic system

The recently discovered glymphatic system is waste clearance pathway in the brain and central nervous system. Heavy metals can accumulate in the brain and affect the glymphatic function.

Signs & symptoms of a sluggish glymphatic system:

  • brain fog

  • poor concentration

  • mental exhaustion

  • anxiety

  • depression

  • moodiness

  • memory loss

  • loss of smell

  • insomnia

  • disturbed sleep

  • headaches


As the largest organ in the body, the skin plays a vital role in detoxification by eliminating toxins through the pores via sweat. Toxins can get trapped in the skin if you are not sweating regularly. Additionally, if the liver is struggling to detoxify, the skin may be affected as toxins are trying to escape through the pores, resulting in skin breakouts and rashes.

Skin conditions associated with poor detoxification:

  • rashes

  • acne

  • rosacea

  • eczema

  • psoriasis

  • dermatitis

  • shingles

  • dry skin

  • itchy skin

  • oily skin

  • skin bumps

  • blackheads

How do you open drainage pathways?

A comprehensive lab workup (along with your signs and symptoms) will help identify which detox pathways need to be opened. Specific herbal medicines, natural supplements, and lifestyle and diet recommendations are used to support your drainage pathways one to two months prior to the detoxification of parasites, heavy metals, mycotoxins, candida, and/or chronic bacterial and viral infections.

A detox is not green juices or starvation diets. It is about identifying the underlying root cause (parasites, heavy metals, toxins, bacteria, virus, mycotoxins, candida, etc), supporting organ function, opening drainage pathways, and binding and eliminating toxins. Working under the guidance of a functional medicine physician, you can truly heal and detoxify your body efficiently and effectively.

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