, or detox
for short is the removal of toxic
substances from the body. In conventional medicine
, detoxification can also be achieved artificially by techniques such as dialysis
and (in a very limited number of cases) chelation therapy
. There is a firm scientific base in evidence-based medicine
for this type of detoxification. Many alternative medicine
practitioners promote various other types of detoxification such as "diet detoxification" but there's no evidence that detox diets have any health benefits.
Detoxification can also refer to the period of withdrawal during which a person's body to return to homeostasis after long-term use of an addictive substance.
Types of detoxification
Alcohol detoxification is a process by which a heavy drinker's system is brought back to normal after being used to having alcohol in the body on a continual basis. Serious alcohol addiction results in a decrease in production of GABA
neuro-inhibitor because alcohol acts to replace it. Precipitous withdrawal
from long-term alcohol addiction without medical management can cause severe health problems and can be fatal. Alcohol detox is not a treatment for alcoholism
. After detoxification, other treatments must be undergone to deal with the underlying addiction that caused the alcohol use.
Drug detoxification is used to reduce or relieve withdrawal
symptoms while helping the addicted individual adjust to living without drug use; drug detoxification is not meant to treat addiction
but rather an early step in long-term treatment. Detoxification may be achieved drug free or may use medications as an aspect of treatment. Often drug detoxification and treatment will occur in a community program that lasts several months and takes place in a residential rather than medical center.
Drug detoxification varies depending on the location of treatment, but most detox centers provide treatment to avoid the symptoms of physical withdrawal to alcohol & other drugs. Most also incorporate counseling and therapy during detox to help with the consequences of withdrawal.
An animal's metabolism
can produce harmful substances which it can then make less toxic through oxidation
of molecules from cells or tissues. This is called xenobiotic metabolism
. Enzymes that are important in detoxification metabolism include cytochrome P450 oxidases
, and glutathione S-transferases
. These processes are particularly well-studied as part of drug metabolism
, as they influence the pharmacokinetics
of a drug in the body.
Certain approaches in alternative medicine
claim to remove toxins from the body through herbal, electrical or electromagnetic treatments (such as the Aqua Detox
treatment). These toxins
are undefined and have little scientific basis, making the validity of such techniques questionable. There is no evidence for toxic accumulation in these cases, as the liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials including metabolic
wastes. Under this theory if toxins are too rapidly released without being safely eliminated (such as burning fat that stores toxins) they can damage the body and cause malaise
. Therapies include contrast showers
, detoxification foot pads
, the Master Cleanse
diet, oil pulling
, Gerson therapy
, body cleansing
, Scientology's Purification Rundown
, water fasting
, and metabolic therapy.
have an underlying assumption that the body accumulates toxins
that must be removed, especially after periods of over-eating or the consumption of non-nutritious
foods. As with alternative medicine, the 'toxins' removed are undefined and are ascribed to foods, the environment and the body's own wastes.