Detox on your own, using your body's system

Providence Health Team

You’re standing in the health aisle of your favorite grocery store, thinking vaguely about how you feel sluggish, studying the labels of an array of products that promise to detox and cleanse your body.

The claims are dizzying: Improve your digestion. Lose unwanted weight. Have healthy elimination. The ingredients are mystifying: Buckthorn bark, milk thistle seed, black walnut hulls. Is this for real?

Here’s some better advice: Keep walking.

Walk out of that aisle and into a naturally healthier life. Put into practice a set of practices that allow your on-board cleansing system — that is, your liver, kidneys and colon — to do their best work for you.

The trouble with detox treatments

Who doesn’t prefer a clean house to a disorderly one? Who isn’t drawn to the idea of purging bad things and installing good ones? That’s why cleanses and detox treatments are popular. The trouble is, there’s little evidence they do anything meaningful to improve your health. In fact, they may be harmful.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have each taken action against detox products that make spurious claims. Some have not disclosed damaging ingredients. Some make outlandish benefits, such as suggesting they can prevent cancer. 

As the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health puts it: “There isn’t any convincing evidence that detox or cleansing programs actually remove toxins from your body or improve your health. Weight loss on a detox diet may be because these diets are often very low in calories.”

You deserve credit for recognizing you could be healthier. Acknowledging the effects of processed foods, inadequate sleep and insufficient exercise is an important first step toward better health. So what’s next?

A few best practices for natural health

It’s likely you already know the things you should do to promote digestive health and a healthy weight:

  1. Eat a healthy diet — you know, vegetables, protein, fruit, grains, in appropriate portions.
  2. Stay hydrated — all kinds of problems can arise from not sending enough fluid into your system.
  3. Get regular exercise — calories in, calories out.
  4. Get enough sleep — insufficient rest can wreak havoc with your health.

Learn about natural health

We’re on record as promoting sensible routines to stay healthy:

Be kind to your kidneys

Acetaminophen and liver damage

Settle those digestive disagreements

Can obesity cause the same kind of liver damage as alcohol abuse?

Spring forward for better sleep (and exercise)

Drink up, cool off and chill out

The National Institutes of Health offers some guidance about detox and cleanses.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention invites you to rethink your drink.

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine offers advice on separating fact from fiction on detoxing your liver.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch writes on the dubious practice of detox.

Health Myth Busters: What's the value in detoxing your body?


Providence offers a range of services for digestive health. You can find a provider near you in our online directory

OR: Providence Digestive Health Institute

WA: Providence Digestive Health

CA: Providence Gastrointestinal Services; Providence Nutritional Counseling; St. Joseph & St. Jude Heritage Medical Group

AK: Providence Diabetes and Nutrition Center

MT: Providence Digestive Health

Recommended for you:

Is your tummy trouble all in your head?

Exercise gets your brain in shape as well as your body

Back to (Self-Love) School: 3 Steps to Returning to Yourself

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

Previous Article
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Providence registered dietitian Jill McCarty explains why eating breakfast every day is important and provi...

Next Article
Ho-ho-ho-liday stress? Here’s how to avoid it.
Ho-ho-ho-liday stress? Here’s how to avoid it.

Check out these tips on how to avoid holiday stress so that you can focus on the festivities.